A ZX-14, Ninja 650R, re-tooled ZX-10R, two new Vulcans and a dual sport marked the on-road products revealed at Kawasaki's annual dealer meeting, held September 16-18 in Orlando.
Officials at Kawasaki Motors Corp. USA (KMC) call the 1352cc Ninja ZX-14 ($11,499) the company's latest flagship. In fact, it's the most powerful Kawasaki-branded bike ever created.
Powered by an in-line four evolved from the Ninja ZX-12R, the long wheelbase ZX-14 features Kawasaki's unique aluminum monocoque frame, an inverted 43mm cartridge fork and new Uni-Trak linkage rear suspension.
Available in Passion Red, Ebony, or Candy Thunder Blue, the unit has a front cowl adorned with quadruple projector beam headlights, front and rear turn signals integrated into the fairing and rear cowl, and a LED tail lamp featuring a unique “V” design.
Most apparent when first inspecting Kawasaki's new Ninja 650R ($6,299) is the bike's lightweight trellis frame; under-engine exhaust; and laydown, off-set single shock in the rear.
Kawi officials said they carefully studied the interface between human and machine to make the Ninja 650R a worthy bike for a wide array of riders. They said the unit - powered by a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected DOHC 649cc parallel twin - is tuned for medium speed commuting environments.
Visual highlights on the Ninja 650R include an aggressive looking headlight design, an windscreen and full fairing, a slim tail cowl with a flush-surface tail lamp, front turn signals integrated into the fairing, a two-tone seat and a sculpted fuel tank.
The most recent incarnation of the Ninja ZX-10R survived for only two years. Kawasaki says the 2006 Ninja ZX-10R ($11,199) received a complete engine, chassis and aerodynamic makeover. A new frame features a revised stiffness balance, new motor mounts, more centralized mass, a relocated swingarm pivot, and a race-spec Öhlins steering damper; output is aided by a new fuel injection system, a heavier flywheel, and improvements to the shift linkage; and aerodynamic performance was altered with a new fairing, seat cowl, and dual under-seat exhaust system.
The 903cc Vulcan 900 comes in two models - the 900 Classic ($7,299) and 900 LT ($8,499). The LT is outfitted with saddlebags, a special seat, passenger backrest and an adjustable windshield.
The 2,053cc Vulcan 2000 comes in four models for 2006 - The Vulcan 2000 ($13,499), 2000 Limited ($14,999), 2000 Classic ($12,999) and 2000 Classic LT ($14,499). The Classic LT comes standard with saddlebags, passenger floorboards, passenger backrest and windshield.
Finally, the street-legal KLX250S ($4,699), styled in the same manner as Kawasaki's KX motocross equipment, takes the place of the 250cc KLR.
Smaller brother to the '06 KLR 650 ($5,199), the KLX features an electric-start liquid-cooled, four-stroke, single-cylinder engine displacing 249cc. It's available in Kawasaki Lime Green or black.
- Guido Ebert