Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R: First Ride
Since the inception of combustion engines, one aspect has always remained vital in the advancement of automobiles, and motorcycles on the whole and that is top speed. Year after year engineers have strived hard to make their motorcycles go faster than ever before and when it comes to the crown of the fastest production motorcycle the stakes get raised considerably. The roots of the Kawasaki ZX-14R can be traced back to the era between mid 1990 and early 2000, when the Japanese trio of Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki were engrossed in a dogfight for the tag of the fastest production motorcycle manufacturer. Kawasaki was ruling the roost till mid 1990’s with its ZX-11 before Honda clinched the crown from its grasp with the Super Blackbird. The boffins at Kawasaki didn’t take it too kindly and fought back with the ZX-12R to regain its crown. When most motorcycle enthusiast thought that the fight for the crown would be restricted between Kawasaki and Honda but that wasn’t to be as suddenly out of the blue Suzuki entered the fray with its Hayabusa in 1999 and was swiftly crowned the fastest production motorcycle in the world.
Also around this time there was a growing impetus in both Europe and America to place import limitations or ban open-class motorcycles due to their ever expanding speed ceiling. Fearing backlash, the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers and their European counterparts penned down an agreement to limit their bikes top-speed to 300km/h and it was labeled as the “gentleman’s agreement.” But Kawasaki didn’t take the success of the Hayabusa munificently and came out with its latest flagship, the ZX-14R to topple the Busa from the top in 2006. Suzuki was quick to counter and released the updated Hayabusa in 2008 and it appeared the bird would rule the roost in the near future. It seemed Kawasaki wanted to end this skirmish once and for all with the 2012 ZX-14R.
The supposed “gentleman’s agreement” to keep a tab on horsepower was tossed out of the window, and the fastest, most powerful production bike ever was released to a surprised motorcycle industry that never saw it coming. The ZX-14R was given an up-date to maintain its reign at the top by embracing excess in 2012 by hiking its displacement and endowing it with more power. To handle this jump in power, the bike was fitted with electronic aids like power modes and three-stage traction control. Kawasaki made its foray into the Indian performance market with the new ZX-14R and we got an opportunity to spend a day with the beast and to judge ourselves whether it really stands up to its reputation of a machine which was built with only one principle and that was SPEED or is there something else on offer?