The engine on this Ninja is a 1043cc inline-four. It makes 142bhp and 111Nm of peak torque. Now, the torque might peak at 8,000rpm, but the 1000SX is more than alive and kicking, and in a tearing hurry right from 4,000rpm.
Whether you are puttering around the city at under 3,000rpm or going hell-for-leather with the engine ready to bounce off the rev-limiter, the engine always sounds purposeful. At slow speeds, it has a don’t-mess-with-me kind of growl. And when you open the taps, it switches to a sweet symphony of a Japanese inline-four. The latter never fails to give you goosebumps.
It is a very potent engine too, which seems to have torque everywhere. Open the throttle with enthusiastic intent, and the bike will pick up and hurl you towards the horizon. What’s more, it’s unbelievably tractable. It went from 30kmph to 170kmph before we started running out of the road, in sixth gear, without a step or stutter. It was just one seamless, hold-on-for-your-life unabated acceleration, akin to going from full throttle to take off in a plane, only amplified.
We did this in Sport mode, which gives the SX a bit more spunk. But, even so, the bike remains surprisingly manageable. The Road mode, meanwhile, works well for commuting and touring, where one might prefer smoothness over alertness. The difference is primarily down to how aggressively the bike responds to throttle inputs. As for the Rain mode, because it was mostly hot and dry, and only slightly wet on one occasion, we skipped that option altogether.
The handling, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. At crawling speeds, the Ninja feels slightly cumbersome and disconnected. But, pick up pace, and on straights and around fast open corners, the Ninja feels planted and predictable. It’s easy to find a good rhythm with the motorcycle.
Around a sequence of tighter corners, however, the bike does tend to move around a bit. It’s not alarming, but you know you can’t take the Ninja for granted. It’s best, therefore, to trail brake into corners and watch with amazement how an otherwise heavy and soft motorcycle digs its front into the tarmac and keeps its line without effort or drama. Then, of course, you start getting on the throttle, and the bike’s squishiness begins to surface. But, I am sure some of this can be dialled out with the Ninja’s adjustable suspension.