The winner of the 2014 Middleweight Sport Touring Shootout, the Kawasaki Ninja 1000, is now faced with a direct challenger: Suzuki’s all new GSX-S1000F. Both are inline bikes that can deliver a sporty performance but are made in a package that is more street-friendly than their superbike siblings, which are more track-focused. These two are a very enticing option. Especially to those that are most willing to trade their top-end horsepower for a broader and more usable powerband.
Both bikes also eliminate riding positions that are cramped and track-based, with more upright and relaxed ergonomics. There's no doubt that these bikes are versatile. They're capable of carving up canyons, running smooth on extended weekends away from home, and tackling commutes. They're also several thousand dollars cheaper than their superbike counterparts. Since both bikes are sractical and affordable, many have been very eager to see the similarities and differences between the GSX-S1000F and Ninja 1000.
Engine and power delivery
Kawasaki’s heart is composed of a 1043 cc inline four with 56 mm stroke and 77 mm bore, much like the Z1000 streetfighter. The power output is handled by two modes from the engine-- full and low. But the Ninja utilizes a three-mode traction control system by Kawasaki. There is also an option to turn off the TC if you wish to. As soon as the throttle turns, the engine responds immediately with impeccable fueling.
Unfortunately, the Suzuki’s initial throttle is jumpy, making it more difficult in dealing with tight corners than the Kawasaki. As soon as you get past the initial throttle though, you'll be greeted with a stronger linear power than the Kawasaki, which is essentially geared taller and higher than the Suzuki. But Kawasaki’s vibration is a lot more prevalent above 6000 rpm.
Both bikes have dialed-in transmissions with smooth and precise shifts. Kawasaki’s primary upgrade on the 2016 Ninja 1000 was the clutch’s new assist and the slipper cams that give the bike a much lighter pull and helps to stabilize the rear wheel at heavy downshifting. Between the two liter bikes, it could come down to a draw in terms of the performance of their transmissions.
As mentioned, Kawasaki has two modes per engine and three levels for traction control. The Suzuki has one engine mode but has four levels of traction control-- three levels and the OFF option. The Kawasaki has less clutter on the instrument console. It utilizes an analog tachometer with a digital display and speedometer. The Suzuki’s console is more compact and digital, including a gear indicator which is noticeably absent on the Kawasaki Ninja.
In the end, it comes down to which bike is more capable across the board. Personally, I would say it's the GSX-S1000F.
To my mind, this bike has the more complete package. It has a lot of power and gives the rider excellent comfort, whether on the freeway or a cross country trip.
Image credit: Auto Racing (Youtube)