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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi,

I'm getting much closer to making the switch, from a VFR800 to a Ninja 1000. I still haven't had the opportunity to actually ride one yet (one of the benefits from living remote and having no dealer within a bulls roar), so I may have to end up making the decision sight unseen and get it delivered.

I think I can live with most of the things I'm going to lose switching from a VFR. The centre stand, the single side swingarm, etc.

One thing has me concerned, and that is the cornering characteristics. The think I love most about the VFR is that it corners like it's on rails. All other bikes I've ridden are twitchy, you have to hold them in the corner and it's too easy to change the line (you have to concentrate the whole time). Maybe ideal for racing, but for sports touring (for what I ride), the VFR almost sits exactly where you put it and doesn't want to change until you tell it otherwise - I get my most satisfaction out of sitting leaning over in the corner with the bike just as stable as.

So, I'm almost ready to make the switch and I then read this review:

https://www.bikesales.com.au/editorial/details/2017-kawasaki-ninja-1000-review-107726/

Admittedly the review is for a 2017 model, and I'm looking at a 2019. Is there much difference in the handling between?

So I'm looking for feedback as to how people find this in the twisties. I'd love people who are familiar with both the VFR and the Ninja to comment, but I'd still appreciate Ninja only owners to comment as to what the handling of the bike is like when it's in a corner.

Even if I do manage to get a chance to demo one before buying, it'll be a 'ride around the streets', and nothing that will give me the idea of what it's like in a sweeper, or S sections up the canyons, etc.

How would you describe the characteristics of this in corners? Is the article above a fair assessment. Is the 2019 model significantly improved with cornering compared to the 2017? Does the reviewer have no idea what he's talking about?

Cheers

Adam.
 

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Well, having ridden VFRs from 1984-2012 ('84, '87, 90, 98, 99, 99) and made the switch to the Ninja 1000 in 2012. I've had a 2011 Ninja and now have a 2014. All the major components haven't changed over the years, only the electronic assists.

In reading the review, it seems at first to me that the reviewer expected supersport twitchiness and was disappointed when it didn't handle that way. As it went on one thing he didn't mention was tire pressure. If his front tire was low it would handle the way he mentioned, heavy. It's possible had a defective bike.

The first thing most Ninja riders do is change the rear tire to a /55 profile. This makes the bike feel a lot lighter and also makes it very neutral in turns. I found the stock tires required a bit of pressure on the bar to hold a corner line but changing to Pilot Road tires with a /55 profile rear the bike was back to about the same neutral steering I had on the '99 VFR with maybe a bit lighter feel.
The VFR to Ninja switch was a natural one for me. Everything about riding the Ninja is easier and I found myself going a bit faster through all my familiar roads.

The hardest thing for me to get use to between the two was the loss of a center stand. After a few years I'm use to dragging out the rear stand all the time. Other than that, I think the Ninja was a fine successor to the VFR. Not the same fit and finish, not as smooth, no gear whine, but all in all a fine replacement. You can look at my list of mods in the .sig to see what I used to make it my perfect sport tourer.
 

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There are no advertised changes between 2017 and 2019. I have a 2018, and have run Metzeler M7RR (including 190/55 rear) since it rolled off the showroom floor. Like you, I have a dislike for nervous and twitchy road manners. Likewise, it should not feel truckish either! The Ninja 1000 has plenty of agility but is never edgy at all. With the current setup it stays planted in fast sweepers with very little bar input. Rider size is worth noting, 1'm 6'3” and 230 on the bike.

VFR: I had a '92 750 and that thing was pretty lively at times- it did a big boots-off-pegs tankslapper at speed while crossing a bridge on Highway 1 near Big Sur. It is the only bike to actually tuck the front end on me, doing it twice on uphill 180-degree left turns. Two tucks, two saves.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you both for your replies - very handy to know.

Rider size - @Rickifumi - thanks for mentioning that. Like you, I'm 6'3, but unfortunately closer to 260lb on the bike. (I have heavy safety gear ;-) )

I've never had a tankslap on the VFR thankfully, although I've had the tail go back and forth 3 or 4 times on a few occasions. (Conditions more slippery than I appreciated). Thankfully like you, stayed upright. Don't think it was skill - think the bike plus my poor reaction time worked in my favour because by the time I figured out 'oh crap' and had the chance to make some poor control inputs, the bike was settled back again.
@kenors - thanks for the suggestion about changing the tires away from the stock standard. I'll keep that in mind.

Hearing "The Ninja 1000 has plenty of agility but is never edgy at all. With the current setup it stays planted in fast sweepers with very little bar input." is music to my ears!

What's it like in the more tighter stuff. Is it similar for you? Light enough to not wear out your arms too much, but stable enough to not have to hold it there as well?
 

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I had a 2003 VFR for many years and put 45,000 miles on it. I was always looking for something similar but with more power and slightly more upright riding position. Bought a Ninja 1000 in 2011 and never looked back.

As mentioned before, the Ninja comes with a 190/50 rear tire. This made the bike need some pressure at the bars to hold a line through a turn. Switching to the 190/55 made the bike much more neutral. With the 55 rear the Ninja is as agile as the VFR. You can also slide the forks up about 5 mm and this will quicken the steering even more. Although a few have done this I never felt it was necessary after changing the tire size. The Ninja is also more comfortable as it is just a bit more of an upright riding position. It has better brakes as well. The big difference is the engine. Not as smooth as the VFR but way more power right where you need it in the midrange. By comparison the VFR feels anemic. With the VFR you had to be in the correct gear with the RPM's above 7000 rpm to get proper drive off the corner. With the Ninja you can just roll open the throttle and drive right off the apex, even if you are up one gear too high it will still pull nicely out of the corner.


The Ninja 1000 is what the VFR 800 should have been. I have zero regrets about letting my VFR go.
 
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2017-2019 is the same bike, except I think the 2019 they went to grey background LCD gauges instead of black background LCD like 2017-2018. Bought my 2018 Ninja 1000 without riding it. It simply ticked most of the boxes. The only other bike I seriously considered was the Yamaha MT-01 and it just doesn't have the wind protection I want.

Had a '90 VFR750 with Racetech fork valving and Penske shock. I'd say the Ninja 1000 handles very similarly. Not particularly quick steering, but very stable when it takes a set. I'll echo all the comments regarding the 55 series tire. Also, the stock bars are kinda ridiculous as they seem to angle up, and make you feel like your pinkies are higher up than your index fingers. Going to the Speedy Moto clip ons changed the angle and dropped the bars at the ends and made it feel more like my VFRs bars.

This post actually made me realize how many Ninja 1000 owners have come from either the Honda VFR or Yamaha FZ1. I've also owned an '09 FZ1, and now that I think of it, the Ninja 1000 like taking both of those bikes and combining them. The Ninja 1000 being a better sport tourer than my FZ1, but like the FZ1 much more power and torque than my VFR. Take all that and add the modern electronic riders aids I had on my '15 Yamaha R1, and it becomes a hybrid of three of my previous bikes.

In the end the only thing the Ninja 1000 leaves me wanting is outright performance for canyons and especially track days. 30 more hp and 50 less lbs weight and it would be the greatest hyper streetbike ever made. That in mind, I've come to the conclusion I just can't have one bike to do all I want, but the Ninja 1000 comes closest and down the road I can always pick up a salvage title 600 or 750 for the track.
 
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For sure look at other reviews for the bike. Look at reviews for the 2017 and newer machine. The older reviews won't help much for this specific bike as this one had some significant changes.

If you do, there are a few of them who do talk about handling, but nothing to the degree that this guy did. Also, I can see peoplemlike us jumping on a motorcycle and just riding away, but for someone who plans to write a full report, after the ride, he did a poor job of setting the machine up for his weight.

He jumps on and has no idea if the tires are inflated properly? Second, he's using rear shock preload in an attempt to dial in handling. This is something that should be set, for his weight, THEN a test rider makes comments....Third, he makes an incorrect statement regarding front end ride height. The forks can be moved up, or down...not much, but enough to change how the bike handles. Unless you have set up the front and rear preload, matched to your weight, s well as damping, that's a really poor time to make comments regarding a motorcycles handling.

His comparison to a kx 250 or at a zrx750 is strange, and not relevant. Mostly, it stands out that his review is so much different than the other tests.

Test riders are riding the same bike, so you really can't trust the reviews that are not VERY similar to each other. I believe everyone who replaces tires , on this specific bike, immediately comes back here and says how much better the bike handles. Maybe not everyone, but I know I've seen 20 or 30, maybe more.
 

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What's it like in the more tighter stuff. Is it similar for you? Light enough to not wear out your arms too much, but stable enough to not have to hold it there as well?
My local canyons are pretty technical. In some ways it's actually easier (not faster, just easier) to ride in the tight stuff than my '15 R1 was due to the more upright riding position and wider set bars allowing better leverage to facilitate transitions.

The best ridden supersports will ride away from you but at those speeds those guys are not leaving much if any margin for error. At the end of the day the bike is essentially the Z1000 naked/streetfighter with a full fairing, and in the canyons, it feels more like riding a big naked than sport tourer to me. When I think of sport tourers I think of bigger bikes like the FJR or the Concourse. The Ninja 1000 has way more sport than those bikes.
 
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On the Ninja 1000's backroad prowess, suffice to say that it encourages me to take the twistiest routes everywhere. For a guy like me, who loathes freeways and Interstates, it's a fantastic traveling companion- even with the hard cases loaded it's always ready for the squiggly stuff!
 

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If you borrow a friends bike, I can see jumping on and going for a ride.
It's different when you decide to evaluate a bike. At that point, the review is worthless if you do not take the time to set the bike up for the rider weight, tire pressure, lever angles, etc.

Maybe he did this and never mentioned it, the guy did not even offer his body weight.

I remember , years back, of an owner complaining about how soft his ninjas suspension was. It turned out that he was 6ft 5in tall, weighed 325lbs, and often times rode 2 up with his 225lb wife. The bike would have been worthless if it was good for his weight.

Speaking of worthless, you could also add any test that uses stock tires. Stock tires are oem grade, built to a price point, and are not at all similar to real, aftermarket tires, no matter the name or brand...especially with japanese bikes.
 

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Gen 1 cornered better with rear tire profile swap, early gen 1 only had rebound damping on one fork leg...always wonder if that mattered.

No matter what I could never dial in things to get away from the "drop in" feel during cornering transitions. ...loved the bike though.

I can tell you that the Gen 2 is much better planted right off the factory floor...but I am sure my wife can still pass me on the inside on her SV650.
 

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I have both a 2018 Ninja 1000 and a 2007 VFR800. Still ride both.

I'll come out with it now: my 2018 with the stock 50 series rear tire requires constant pressure at the bars to stay leaned over up to a point. If I lean it further, it no longer needs that constant pressure and it holds the line like it should. But for the first 10 degrees of lean it requires constant bar pressure. It bugged me enough to raise the rear spring pre-load to raise the rear end of the bike. This only alleviated the weird steering feel to a point at the expense of a firmer ride. Since my Ninja only has 1,600 miles, I haven't yet replaced my rear tire to a 55 series, which I will very VERY soon to get the neutral steering I so desire.

However my Ninja flicks into corners quicker than my VFR800, which BTW has aftermarket front/rear suspension upgrades (spring rate, damping, valves) that was tuned for my sporty riding style. This could just be a function of the N1000's riding position being way more upright than my VFR800, which puts much less weight on my arms. Also, the N1000 is much easier to ride fast in corners. Even tight, slow speed decreasing radius corners are much easier than on my VFR800. Again, being way more upright helps tremendously here. I didn't measure it but it seems like the N1000 may have a slightly shorter wheelbase that allows the bike to pivot around a tight bend faster....??? It sure feels that way.

Another thing I discovered with my N1000 is that its riding position is naked bike-like. That's right. It's sporty but upright. Similar to bikes like the GSXS1000, Triumph nakeds, Ducati nakeds, etc. There is only a slight lean forward. In fact, it makes my VFR800 feel downright sporty in comparison.

Finally, and this is a big one, the Ninja 1000 looks and feels modern and up to date by comparison. While the VFR800 looks and feels like a gentleman's standard bike, the N1000 feels like a modern, edgy, naked sport bike. It is sleek as hell. The rear is short with a fender that overhangs the rear wheel. And the powertrain is faultless. The engine is smooth up to about 7k RPM, then it takes on a sinister personality along with the characteristic inline four vibe as it races to redline. Picking up the throttle from closed at mid-corner, the engine lets out a raspy sound reminiscent of a F1 car. And the throttle response is seamless! There is not jerkiness from open to closed throttle. It is smooth as silk when that power comes back on. Sweet! Power is everywhere no matter what gear and what speed. A lot of power. It makes my VFR800 feel like an old 600cc bike of the 1990's--not slow but not fast either. The N1000's transmission has much shorter throws and the gears are spaced out much closer, adding to that sport bike feel. If I ride the N1000 like a sport bike, it feels every bit like one unless someone told me I can slap on hard bags and tour on it! It truly is THE Honda VFR1000 that VFR owners have been asking for since 2002!

Just do it. Get the 55 series rear tire, slap it on a 2019 Ninja 1000, and enjoy.
 

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Well, having ridden VFRs from 1984-2012 ('84, '87, 90, 98, 99, 99) and made the switch to the Ninja 1000 in 2012. I've had a 2011 Ninja and now have a 2014. All the major components haven't changed over the years, only the electronic assists.

In reading the review, it seems at first to me that the reviewer expected supersport twitchiness and was disappointed when it didn't handle that way. As it went on one thing he didn't mention was tire pressure. If his front tire was low it would handle the way he mentioned, heavy. It's possible had a defective bike.

The first thing most Ninja riders do is change the rear tire to a /55 profile. This makes the bike feel a lot lighter and also makes it very neutral in turns. I found the stock tires required a bit of pressure on the bar to hold a corner line but changing to Pilot Road tires with a /55 profile rear the bike was back to about the same neutral steering I had on the '99 VFR with maybe a bit lighter feel.
The VFR to Ninja switch was a natural one for me. Everything about riding the Ninja is easier and I found myself going a bit faster through all my familiar roads.

The hardest thing for me to get use to between the two was the loss of a center stand. After a few years I'm use to dragging out the rear stand all the time. Other than that, I think the Ninja was a fine successor to the VFR. Not the same fit and finish, not as smooth, no gear whine, but all in all a fine replacement. You can look at my list of mods in the .sig to see what I used to make it my perfect sport tourer.
This is my experience, too, having gone from a '99 VFR to a 2014 N1K. I have not changed the rear tire yet, but expect to soon. (I know - I just don't ride the bike enough ... my riding is split among four bikes.)
 

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Gen 1 cornered better with rear tire profile swap, early gen 1 only had rebound damping on one fork leg...always wonder if that mattered.

In the old days, forks, frames and axles were weak and flexible. Thats not so true, now. Having damping in only one leg is a non issue. As long as the set up is correct. For several years, Kawasakis kx250f dirt bike had a fork that had only one spring. One spring, twice as stiff...or damping, twice as strong, a non issue. Seriously, its nice. Very easy to track your adjustments. It's a good place to save money. Even aftermarket cartridges, in this application do the same thing.
 

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Not an expert on VFRs, but I did ride one for a weekend. 2001 model I think. Wonderfully balanced machine. My only niggle was the throttle response was a little difficult for me to get used to. And it didn't have rocket power, like my R6 did at the time.

I think the Ninja is way more upright than the VFR. Some guys call that more comfortable. But in stock form, the Ninja is way to upright for me. I had to put a 55 rear tire on, install clip-ons and a taller Corbin seat to get the Ninja more forward, and it could still use a little more steering angle for my liking.

My guess is, if you're the type that goes through the twisties sitting flat on the seat, you'll like the way the Ninja handles. If you like to put some body position into your cornering, getting off the seat over the inside peg more like a sportbike... you might feel like the Ninja is a little too upright and porky.

Just my guess. :)
 

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I bought a 2017 model primarily as commuter. All I did was ensure that the suspension was at factory setting and ride. The suspension feels bit unnerving at first I do not like the way it behaves when cornering, it is also a too firm to my liking.
When cornering, is it a bit difficult to lean to begin with must apply pressure and suddenly it tips over. It feels like it is falling into a lean and then it stabilize itself. It did feels better after a couple of weeks as the suspension settle.

At around 5000 kms I notice the front and rear tire is worn. Replace both with Michelin PR4 exact same profile as stock. Felt immediate improvement. I also started to adjust the suspension. After much trial and error, the best result is adding around 1/4 turn front and 6 clicks of rear preload for rear. Really not much different from stock. I also notice I need to watch the tire pressure. If under inflated say 2 psi it feels like I am riding bike with flat tire. I am around 105 kgs with gear, and ride with panniers.
This is definitely will not handle like a super-sport bike, however I would not trade it for one.
 

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I think the Ninja is way more upright than the VFR. Some guys call that more comfortable. But in stock form, the Ninja is way to upright for me.
My N1K is more upright than my VFR was, even with Genmar bar risers on the VFR. I'm 65 and have a herniated lumbar disk. The N1K is much more comfortable for me.
 

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I still own a 98 VFR 800 and also have a 2017 Ninja 1000. My VFR is setup with penske rear shock and DMR front suspension for my weight, so it does handle very well. Having said that, I find that the ninja handles even better in the twisties. I'm sure some of that may be the corning ABS possibly, however it does turn very well for me. I also changed the tires at 1500 miles, and as most have stated here, it makes a huge difference in the handling of the bike, much more neutral now. Those OEM tires are crap, however if you buy the same brand in a aftermarket version, they are good tires.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
A big thanks to all who have responded to this thread!

Through a fluke in timing, and being in the right place at the right time with a short window, I've just had an opportunity to ride a Ninja 1000!

The Ninja is no doubt a great bike. The first things that stood out to me was the weight, much lighter than the VFR (or so it felt), and the seat position which was much more upright than I expected (or wanted).

The next was the throttle responsiveness. Smooth was an understatement. Coming off the VFR which can be quite jerky at times, this thing was a dream. It would have to be one of the smoothest engines on a bike I have ever test ridden.

It's a nicer looking bike (IMO) than the VFR (more modern. I think Honda kinda lost the plot with the looks on the VFR in more recent times, especially with the VFR1200!).

I love the adjustable windshield as well. There is a lot to be liked with this model.

However there is one big fall back for me personally. I'm chasing something that closely resembles a VFR when it comes to a sports tourer. Coming from a VFR (the only road bike I have ever owned), I found it way too upright for my liking. @OCLandspeeder and @Liquidsilver were right on the money:


Another thing I discovered with my N1000 is that its riding position is naked bike-like. That's right. It's sporty but upright. Similar to bikes like the GSXS1000, Triumph nakeds, Ducati nakeds, etc. There is only a slight lean forward. In fact, it makes my VFR800 feel downright sporty in comparison.

I think the Ninja is way more upright than the VFR. Some guys call that more comfortable. But in stock form, the Ninja is way to upright for me.

<snip>

My guess is, if you're the type that goes through the twisties sitting flat on the seat, you'll like the way the Ninja handles. If you like to put some body position into your cornering, getting off the seat over the inside peg more like a sportbike... you might feel like the Ninja is a little too upright and porky.

Just my guess. :)
This was precisely my experience. I was 95% convinced the Ninja was going to be my next bike and I was prepared to put down a deposit. Now I've put it on pause...

Is this something that can be overcome with some basic mods? The Ninja 1000 is supposedly the closest thing to a VFR that I've been able to find so far (at least on paper). Is there a bike that better resembles the sportiness of a VFR without going overboard in the lean angle and being completley a sports bike? Or are there some simple changes that can be done to the Ninja that will give it that more sporty lean angle and feel in the twisties?

(I can do 450 mile days on the VFR comfortably, which I couldn't do on a R1, etc so I'm not looking for a pure sport bike. That's why I was looking for the Ninja, but it seems like it's going to be a completely different bike in the twisties compared to what I was looking for. (I do like to put some body position into the cornering getting off the seat) :-(

From my perspective, the Ninja 1000 better represents a sporty naked with fairings (aka Triump, MT09, etc) rather than what I would have classed as a sports tourer (VFR, Sprint Tripple, etc).

I haven't had the opportunity to sit on or ride a GSXS1000F, but I'm suspecting that they would be more similar to the Ninja than a Sprint/VFR?

Did others coming from the VFR feel the same way? Was it something you didn't like initially but got used to, and now enjoy the Ninja more? Or was it something you preferred from the start, so it worked in your favour.
 

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It feels like a naked because it simply put, the faired version of the Z1000 naked bike. So there's only so much that can be done to make it sportbike like.

Really the stock bars are just goofy. Switching to aftermarket clip ons will definitely change the way the bike feels to ride and make it sportier, and you'll note most of the people here on the sport side of the sport touring equation have switched out the bars for this purpose.

The other thing to consider is going to rearsets, since the rubber pegs and rubber bushing mounted foot controls flex a lot and don't provide a solid platform from which to weight the pegs when hanging off. That squishy feeling is not something I like when planting the balls of my feet on the pegs and my next mod is to purchase Sato rearsets to have solid pegs. There are much cheaper eBay knock offs available from China, but I will stick to the originals made in Japan.

That in mind way my bike is set up now, I don't have a problem hanging off the bike but it definitely felt pretty weird doing that with the stock bars. My only basis for VFR is the 1990 model, and I certainly don't think it was any sportier than my Ninja 1000 with speedy moto clip ons. My understanding is that VFRs only got heavier and less sporty since the one I had.
 
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