Cayuga, ON – Ah, summer days in Canada; aren’t they lovely? The birds sing, the flowers bloom, the temperature drops to 7 degrees Celsius… The day Kawasaki’s Ninja Experience Tour hit the Toronto Motorsports Park in Cayuga was no different. Skies were overwhelmingly – and threateningly, at times – grey. Winds were unnecessarily strong and chilly, the track was cold, the bikes were cold, and things weren’t looking so good in the morning. Yet as soon as the event begun, the outlook of the day flipped.
Kawasaki had one of the most well-organized moto-events I’ve ever been to. At 8 am sharp, Kawasaki opened with a mood-setting video highlighting the glorious beasts that are the H2 and H2R. After some brief logistical conversations and a short rundown of the features of each new bike (which I will get to later), we were sent to gear up for the track. These bikes are very, very pretty, and they all scream Kawasaki.
Kawasaki’s motorcycles have always had a definitive personality to them, which I believe sets them apart from some of their competitors. A sort of edginess and spunk is present through all of their bikes, in both appearance and performance. The focal point of the event was most definitely the H2 and H2R, which encapsulate the essence of the Ninja lineup and enhance it further. I have heard a wide amount of debate about the sharp, aggressive styling of these ‘hypersports’, but, in person, I have never seen a more alluring, intimidating, and downright sexy motorcycle. The dash varies from the H2 to the H2R, and both are beautifully tailored to their individual purposes. Unfortunately, those machines were not fired-up over the course of the event. This was probably for the best: they’d need a crowbar to get me off of it (and to think what that would do to the bike!).
Over the 4 sessions we took around the track, I got to play around with three of Kawasaki’s 2015 toys: the Ninja 300, the Ninja 650, and the Ninja ZX-6R. The Ninja 300 is a huge upgrade from the Ninja 250R, which I currently own. Manufacturers have been doing quite a bit to increase the overall reputation of lower displacement motorcycles, and Kawasaki has followed suit quite successfully. The styling has been completely revamped to mirror that of its older brothers, and the new 140/70×17 rear tire does a great job in beefing up its appearance.
Comparing it to the new 2015 CBR300R, the Kawasaki loses in the realm of low-end torque. Opening the throttle, from 2-5k, the Ninja pulls like a donkey pulling a slightly larger donkey. Past 5k though, the power band kicks in and the bike pulls quite proficiently. Riding position has been altered slightly from the 250r as well; the 300’s pegs have been shifted up and towards the rear by a slight bit, giving the bike more of an aggressive feel. I rather liked this, as it worked well with the image it was trying to portray.
The Ninja 650 looks exactly as I felt as it performed: adequate and satisfactory. Stylistically, I didn’t find the 650 to be overly eye-catching, nor did I find it to be an eyesore. It’s attractive enough and would make a great daily choice for the average rider. The throttle was responsive and the suspension was softer (as it was meant to be), but there wasn’t too much that stood out in terms of sheer sex appeal with this one. In my opinion, Honda’s CBR650F outclasses the Ninja 650 in terms of aesthetics and downright enjoyment.
The Ninja ZX-6R was my favourite bike of the event. The aggressive riding position immediately made me feel like I was in for quite the ride. Surprisingly, though the bike is meant for the track, the seat is relatively comfortable. The performance of the bike was spectacular; the 2015 ZX-6R has a new Separate Function Fork – Big Piston (SFF-BP) suspension system. This system includes a spring in both tubes, with adjustable preload in the left tube and damping in the right tube. Combined with its pinpoint handling, the ZX-6R was a stellar motorcycle to ride on the twists of Cayuga.
From the initial speeches to the goody-bag at the end of the event, Kawasaki did a fantastic job in showcasing its new 2015 lineup of fantastic bikes on the track. They’ve pulled through yet another year, exhibiting their true passion for riding through some well-designed and well-engineered motorcycles.
First Ride: 2015 Kawasaki Ninja Experience Tour