2022 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX Review: Why I Bought One

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The funny thing is, I never intended to buy this bike. It just sort of happened by accident.

You know the sort of accident I mean – one of those unintended £12,700 ones that catch you by surprise.

Maybe that’s just me.

But if you saw this post from a few weeks back, you’ll know that my intention was (probably) to buy the new Honda NT1100.

On paper, the Honda satisfied the majority of my needs. On the road, however, it left me feeling underwhelmed and a little bit ‘meh.’

It was undeniably comfy and easy to ride. It had cruise control, Apple Carplay, a centre stand, and the option to fit a big, 50-litre top box. All of these were at the top of my list.

So why the hell did I buy a bike that is undoubtedly less comfy, lacks Apple Carplay, doesn’t have a centre stand, and is impossible to fit a top box to if you choose to instal panniers?

Well, the answer to that is simple. Because when I rode it, it put a smile on my face and lit a fire in my belly that had been missing for the last few years of riding my Africa Twin.

I rode it, and I loved it. And I wanted to keep riding it – despite not necessarily having anywhere to go. And as we all know, that is truly the hallmark of a great bike.

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX countryside at sunrise

Why I Love The Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX

Of course, I could give you all the tech specs like every other motorcycle publication – and I will. Later.

But as a reader, that doesn’t help you decide if a bike is right for you or not. After all, the NT1100 was perfect for me in theory. But in reality, it didn’t quite work out that way.

So in this post, I want to give you more than just the specs. I want to give you the reasons why I bought a Ninja 1000SX.

motorcycle on country road

The Quiet Guy In The Night Club

Have you ever been on a night out when a group of guys crowd around a pretty girl – all vying for her attention?

They try to outdo each other. Puffing out their chests, they cut down their challengers where possible. They use every opportunity to show off in an attempt to gain her attention.

And what does she do?

She rolls her eyes, brushes them off, and proceeds to talk to the quiet guy in the corner who isn’t fighting for her attention.

It’s not that he isn’t interested. It’s just that he’s happy in himself and confident in who he is. He doesn’t need to peacock or challenge.

That understated confidence is far more attractive to her than the over-compensation from the try-hards on the dance floor.

And that’s what the Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX is. It’s a supremely capable machine, confident in its abilities. It doesn’t need to show off or compete for attention at the biker cafes.

Why?

Because it knows how fucking good it is. And I love that.

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX - country road

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX: The Power

Look, I know the Ninja 1000SX isn’t the fastest bike in the world. But with a 0-60 time of 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 152 mph, it ain’t no slouch!

The power delivery is effortless – whatever gear you’re in. Below 6,000rpm it pulls like a bullet train. It’s linear, smooth, and controlled. And you lose all perception of just how fast you’re travelling.

There’s no drama. It doesn’t struggle. The power is instant, abundant, and intoxicating.

Below 6,000rpm, the bike is cool, calm, collected, and totally in control.

Stray above the 6,000rpm marker, however, and the Ninja turns into a beast with a temper.

The power is immense. And the world flies past you so quickly that it’s genuinely a shock to the senses – especially for me, having ridden an Africa Twin for the last five years.

But despite the relentless power, rage, and aggression that comes after 6000rpm, the bike remains unflustered, unfazed, and completely equanimous as it does exactly what you asked it to do.

The delivery of the 140 horses from the 1,043cc engine is exquisite. And unless you’re a supremely experienced rider with lots of time spent on tracks, the power of the Ninja 1000SX will never get tiring.

Nor will you ever run out of it.

close of side profile of motorcycle

It’s Well-Mannered

I think the main reason the power of the SX took me by surprise was due to the breaking-in phase.

For the first 600 miles, I wasn’t allowed to go above 4,000rpm. And whilst I could tell that the bike had more than enough power (even in those lower rev ranges), it was always impeccably behaved.

It wasn’t jerky like a lot of bikes are at lower speeds. Everything was smooth and effortless.

Considering the amount of power this bike has, I would say that anybody could ride it – providing they could control their throttle hand.

It’s not at all intimidating or hard to ride. And in situations where you have no intention of ragging it, it’s quiet, well-mannered, well-behaved, and ‘gentlemanly.’

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX angled front

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX: Engine Specs

Sitting indiscriminately beneath the angled styling is the 1,043cc, liquid-cooled, 16v, inline-four. And it’s a beauty! Having been around for some time now, Kawasaki has fettled and finessed it into what it is today.

With 82 ft-lb of torque, the unit offers instant grunt at the bottom of the rev range. And horsepower peaks at 142 at 10,000rpm – giving you power throughout the entire rev range.

As mentioned above, power is always plentiful. And overtakes (in any gear) are quick, precise, and effortless.

Get it in the sweet spot, and you’ll leave the 150mph mark behind with very few difficulties.

motorcycle side profile

The Quickshifter

I fully expected that this would be a five-minute wonder when I got the bike. I thought I would try it, and then turn it off when the novelty wore off.

How wrong I was!

As many other reviews have stated, the Kawasaki quick shifter on the Ninja 1000SX can be a bit clunky. And to get the best from it, you have to get used to it and fathom out where it works best and where you’re better off using the clutch.

As with most quick shifter systems, the change from first to second is a clunky affair. At slow speeds, I just use the clutch for a smoother change between first and second gear.

That said, it’s less clunky if you power through first gear and change into second when you’re giving it throttle. It’s still not what you would call ‘smooth’, but you can live with it.

From second gear onwards, the quick shifter is flawless. Providing you’re giving it even the slightest amount of revs, it’s smooth, consistent, and a joy to use.

Shifting through the gears with the quick shifter during spirited riding has completely transformed my riding – and I don’t think I could ever go back to not having a quick shifter after my experience with this one.

I really do love it that much, it’s an absolute pleasure.

Down Shifter

Changing down takes a bit of getting used to. It won’t do it if the revs are too low or if you’re not going quick enough. You can find yourself fumbling for the clutch if you leave a down-change too short before entering a bend.

The quick shifter won’t change down, and you end up having to change down using the clutch mid-bend – which isn’t always ideal.

But once you get used to it, I find the downshifting to be superb during blasts in the twisties. And as with the upshifts, the downshifter and blipper have changed the way I ride.

Admittedly, the quick shifter isn’t as refined as the rest of the bike – but it’s pretty damn close to being perfect. And let’s not forget that Kawasaki has been refining this bike since 2011, whilst the quick shifter only came around in 2020.

I don’t doubt that Kawasaki will refine the quick shifter on future generations of the Ninja 1000SX – and I’m positive it will be a major plus point of the bike.

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX quick shifter
Image: Kawasaki

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX: Fuel Economy

When I buy a new car, I always have a cursory glance at the mpg and fuel economy. With a bike, though, it’s not really something I pay attention to.

That said, I’ve been impressed with the economy of the Ninja 1000SX. 

I’m not too sure what Kawasaki quote as the mpg (I tend to ignore manufacturer claims on just about anything), nor have I read what other owners are getting to the gallon.

But for reference, I seem to get between 53 and 56mpg with a mixture of riding.

I had no idea what the fuel economy would be like when I bought the bike, but I would have surmised around 40-45mpg. So to find I’m getting in the mid-50s is a pleasant surprise.

motorcycle screen

Some Things I Don’t Like

It wouldn’t be a fair review if just spouted off about all the good bits. So I wanted to include a few things that I don’t like about the Ninja 1000SX.

I’m sure if you spoke to other owners, they would tell you about other things that piss them off.

But as with all things to do with bikes, it comes down to personal preference.

Tank Range

I find the tank range (and the ‘miles remaining’ indicator) to be a bit optimistic!

During the breaking-in phase, I rode up to North Yorkshire. Whilst on the A65, I was averaging between 50 and 60mph, and the miles remaining indicator said I had 180 miles until empty.

The thing is, I’d already done 120 miles. So the bike was indicating that I would get 300 miles out of the 19-litre tank.

And as much as I want that to be true, it just isn’t!

After filling up, I paid more attention to the mileage and let the fuel run down. Everything was reasonably accurate until I got to 45 miles remaining. From there, those 45 miles came down far quicker than the actual miles I was riding.

On my way to the fuel station (about a mile away), the remaining miles indicator had dropped from 45 to 40 – so you can see how quickly those remaining miles disappear from under you.

For my own riding, I know I can get 165 miles (comfortably) from a tank, with maybe another 30-40 in reserve. So I now look to fuel up when the bike tells me I have anywhere between 45 and 65 miles remaining.

Whilst the economy is pretty good, I feel this bike should be getting 200 miles to the bank before refuelling.

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX with pillion
Image: Kawasaki

No Centre Stand

I still can’t believe Kawasaki make this bike without a centre stand. I actually find it scandalous.

Yes, I know you can use a paddock stand to lube the chain. But if you’re a touring rider like me, how are you supposed to lube the chain on tour without a centre stand?

I got tired of the spray-and-push shuffle pretty quickly, so I ended up buying a Roller Stand from PitStop that is small enough to fit in my luggage whilst touring.

It works, but it’s not ideal. And considering this bike is a sports TOURER, I feel Kawasaki should make the effort to incorporate a centre stand into the frame for chain and bike maintenance.

rider with pillion riding in mountains
Image: Kawasaki

No Apple Carplay

Whilst the TFT is pretty and has all the information you need, there are limited places to mount a sat nav on this bike.

And whilst this is fine for commuting or a weekend blast, this is a TOURING bike – so there should be a designated place to mount a sat nav.

Worse still, there isn’t even an obvious place to mount a phone holder – aside from a yolk mount just in front of the fuel tank.

And whilst this works, you still have to look down to see your phone/GPS.

I feel this could have been avoided if Kawasaki had incorporated Apple Carplay in the TFT – as Honda has done on their NT1100.

apple carplay third party
Image: MotorcycleAudio

Others Specs

The aspects listed above are all well and good. But what about the other essentials of this bike?

Let’s look at some of the other components that make the 2022 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX such an excellent, well-rounded sports tourer.

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX: Price, Models, And Colours

The 2022 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX comes in three colours:

  • Emerald Blazed Green with Metallic Diablo Black & Metallic Graphite Grey
  • Metallic Matte Graphenesteel Grey & Metallic Diablo Black
  • Metallic Diablo Black & Pearl Robotic White

I went for the Black & White – simply because it was a bit different from the classic Kawaski Green, but not as ‘try-hard’ as the Matte Black (although it does look damn good!)

In real life, the Black & White is classy and understated. And it grows on you over time. I’m glad I went for this colour in the end!

It also comes in these models:

  • Base – from £11,829 in Black & White, or £12,029 in Green or Black
  • Tourer – from £12,929 in Black & White, or £13,129 in Green or Black
  • Performance – from £12,829 in Black & White, or £13,029 in Green or Black
  • Performance Tourer – from £13,929 in Black & White, or £14,129 in Green or Black

Real-World Pricing

To give you a real-world idea of how this works out on PCP, I traded my 2019 Honda Africa Twin (for £6,000) and put down a £750 deposit.

This left me with 36 monthly payments of £199 with an annual allowance of 8,000 miles.

You could reduce this price significantly by increasing the lease time to four or even five years and/or reducing the agreed annual mileage.

Suspension

With just rebound damping adjustment, 41mm forks handle the front end. The rear shock is a horizontal back-link component that can be adjusted for rebound damping and preload.

Straight out of the showroom, I found the suspension to be completely fine – the bike feels planted and stable at all speeds.

The front end responds well to lumps and bumps in the road, thanks to the bypass valve in the fork, which evens things out on crappy surfaces.

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX side profile at speed
Image: Kawasaki

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX: Handling & Tyres

I’ve been particularly impressed with the handling of the 1000SX in the twisties – both with and without panniers.

In the twisties, you can pull and push on the wide bars – allowing you to generate a lot of force for counter-steering with minimal effort.

Coming as standard on the bike are the Bridgestone S22 tyres – which I was dubious about at first, seeing as though Bridgestone tyres threw me off a brand new VFR800 a few years ago!

That said, I have to say I have no quibbles with the S22’s which seem perfectly stable and sticky in this summer weather.

The specially designed Bridgestone tyres concentrate on delivering excellent grip in wet and dry environments. And the dual compound means they should last a little longer, too.

Whilst I have no issues with the tyres, I’m still wary of Bridgestone tyres. And when the time comes to change them, I should imagine they’ll get swapped out for Pilot Road’s.

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX panniers from rear

Brakes

The brakes on the 1000SX aren’t the most super-duper on the market, but they just work, thanks to the IMU-controlled ABS braking system.

The front is powerful and progressive, and the back brake is sharp and precise – if not quite as powerful as other back brakes on other bikes.

Cornering ABS is automatic yet unobtrusive. I’ve had a few little rear-wheel slips since I bought the bike – none of which I was aware of until I got home and saw it on the bike’s telemetry.

Comfort

I had a few issues with comfort when I first picked up the bike, but these seem to have ironed themselves out now I’m used to it.

Firstly, whilst most shorter riders say they sit ‘in’ the bike, at 6 feet, I sometimes feel perched ‘on’ it rather than ‘in’ it.

But maybe this is because I’ve spent the last half a decade on adventure bikes.

I can also feel the weight of my body through my arms – again, probably due to coming from adventure bikes.

In the first few weeks of riding, I developed an overuse twinge in my left knee from the peg positioning. Being a taller rider, I felt I needed to lower the pegs and alter the angle. But this has since sorted itself out, and I generally find the bike ‘okay’ in the comfort department.

In general, I think the 1000SX will lend itself better to shorter or average height riders in the region of 5’6″ to 5’9″.

motorcycle panniers top-down

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX: Equipment & Tech

Starting with the TFT, I like the simple layout and high-visibility of the information on the screen.

The menu system works with the up, down, and select buttons on the left-hand bar – a system that works intuitively enough once you get used to it.

Riding Modes

Riding modes are also accessible through the dash and menu system – Road, Rain, and Sport.

If you want to personalise your setup to increase/decrease power, traction, engine braking etc, you can select the Rider mode which lets you manipulate these settings.

Rideology App

Also attached to the TFT is the Rideology App – a concept I played with the first time I rode out, but one I quickly became bored with!

It’s all good stuff, and the lean angles certainly bring out your inner 12-year-old – although ultimately, it’s all just a bit of a gimmick in the real world.

Bluetooth connectivity also alerts you to text messages, missed calls, and received emails – although you can’t actually access them, so now I turn it off.

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX - rideology app
Image: Kawasaki

Cruise Control

Perhaps more functional than the interesting (but pointless!) metrics is cruise control. Intuitive to use, it makes long-distance riding so much easier!

As you would expect, you can set your speed and increase/decrease it incrementally via the buttons on your left-hand bar. Activating the clutch or the brakes automatically disengages the cruise control.

A reverse-throttle motion also disengages the cruise control, and the ‘reset’ button takes you back to the original speed.

motorcycle cruise control and heated grips

Heated Grips

As part of the Touring pack, I got OEM heated grips installed on the bike. And whilst they’re convenient and easy to use, they’re actually not that great.

I’d rather have them than not have them. But there are certainly better grips out there.

Fortunately, I have heated gloves, too!

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX: Verdict

As mentioned above, I’m fully aware that the Ninja 1000SX isn’t the best bike in the world.

There are others out there that are faster, have better range, are more comfortable, and offer more toys and goodies. But they all come at a price.

But for me, the SX is a joy to ride. The power constantly excites me. The build quality is excellent. It does everything I ask of it and more.

If you want more power, perhaps look at the new Suzuki GSX1000GT – but be prepared to pay more and suffer even shorter miles to the tank.

If comfort is your thing, try Honda’s NT1100 – but again, be prepared to pay more, and you’ll have to be damn sure you won’t get bored of the engine.

Want somewhere in the middle? Try a Tracer.

But for me, the SX offers the best all-around package of power, comfort, quality, looks, equipment, and price in the current lineup of litre sports tourers.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s the best bike I’ve ever owned.



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7 thoughts on “2022 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX Review: Why I Bought One”

  1. Very insightful, thank you. And I like how you focus on feel rather than nondescript specs – again, thank you. One question I had reading this – have you considered the Versus 1000? Same engine, right? And certainly touring comfort… What are your thoughts?

    Reply
    • Hi Nick, I believe Givi now have a compatible setup, too. As far as I’m aware though, Kawasaki still maintains the SX should only be run with the panniers or top box – but not both. God knows why!

      Reply
      • It’s a fairly short wheelbase bike, tuned for fairly lightweight steering. And a bike which can go real fast. As well as accelerate hard enough to make the front wheel really light. And it doesn’t have a steering damper as a safety-catchall, should things get exciting.

        One sometimes wonders if it’s mainly about panniers-only being how the bike was originally designed, and was the configuration the work to absolutely ensure stability was done under the assumption of. Kawasaki’s own Versus 650 is lighter steering, makes up for the lower acceleration by a taller stance and less supportive rear suspension, and has an even shorter wheelbase. Yet Kawasaki offers that one factory packaged with the same panniers as the N1000, and a giant top box hanging way out there….. The Versys 1000, also so offered, does start using a lot of lane fully loaded at higher speeds, though. So perhaps it has something to do with the specific flex and damping characteristics of that same-as-N1000 frame and chassis.

        But these days, to me, the N1000 seems one of the most high speed stable machines out there. BMWs, which used to be on rails (K1300…) wallow all over the place these days (even the K1600) at speed. Seemingly only kept from flying off the road by standard issue steering dampers. Ditto KTMs. The FJR and Concourse/GTR are the real champs, if the task is 180+kph chasing down and disintegrating tumbleweeds by blunt impact force, while fully loaded in open dessert crosswind, while sitting upright.. But they’re on the way out seemingly everywhere. Replaced by lighter steering, flightier stuff (who the heck decides to optimise 1600cc 300+kg bikes for 1st and 2nd gear “twisties” anyway…) . Bummer if you ask me, since if I can’t carry luggage above 150kph/90mph, I’ll just take the NC750. Which does 145kph, with 135liters of overloaded factory bags, just fine. And both handles and comports itself perfectly well doing so. Even in some truly horrendous storms. But the N1000 (and new GSX-S1000GT) are tempting; for a bit more (more like any at all…..) responsiveness to throttle when sitting at those 145kph….. (Not to mention much better brakes…, and more exciting-at-speed engine characteristics)

        Reply
  2. I brought one in December last year, 2022 model ,black with red trim, great bike ,every thing you say is right ,best thing I did ,big change from an zzr1100 Kawasaki to the sx1000 ,power low to mid range is about the same, zzr blows it away up top ,sx1000 handling, braking ,riding positions, wins every time,
    but they are two different bikes ,from different generations ,

    Reply
  3. I bought one in August 2022. I have 4500Km on it now, can’t wait until next season. Coming from a Ninja 650, then a BMW f800st, this bike takes the cake. Best bike I have owned.

    Reply

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