HomeTechnical Reviews2008 Kawasaki ZX-14

2008 Kawasaki ZX-14


Every champion knows sustained dominance is only possible with constant improvement.
Such is the case with Kawasaki’s Ninja® ZX™-14. Since its debut
in March of 2006, this motorcycle has ruled the open class sportbike roost with
nearly non-stop magazine comparison victories. Even though the 1352cc Ninja
ZX-14 won lavish praise for its massive torque, effortless power, agile handling
and comfortable ergonomics, Kawasaki engineers were not willing to leave the
door open to potential challengers.

The 2008 ZX-14 retains all the great features that made it a legend, plus more
bottom, mid and top-end power. Changes to the engine and exhaust system allow
it to comply with strict Euro-III emissions and tightening noise regulations.
To meet noise standards, the engineers focused on reducing internal mechanical
noise instead of muzzling the exhaust system. The result wasn’t a power
loss, but an overall improvement of the engine character and an actual increase
in the ZX-14’s legendary peak power! Yes, you read that correctly. Emissions
and noise levels are lower, peak power is higher, the mid-range hit is stronger
and smoother and low-end torque has been increased. A win-win solution for all,
in our books.

To achieve those stringent emission levels, a third honeycomb catalyzer was
added in the collector, joining the two honeycomb catalyzers already in each
silencer. The secondary air ports in the cylinder head and its cover were made
approximately 20 percent larger to permit an easier air flow into the exhaust
system. A new Air Switching Valve (ASV) caps off the low emission updates and
can handle approximately five percent more flow than the last year’s version.

Conquering the challenging Euro-III regulations
is admirable, but Kawasaki took it to the next level on the ZX-14 with changes
to its 1352cc engine which improve the power characteristics while meeting noise
regulations. The injection system was first to receive attention in an effort
to boost peak power, give a more linear mid-range and stronger low end torque
with the same user-friendly personality. The fine-atomizing fuel injectors had
their lateral spray angle increased from 15 to 20 degrees to disperse the atomized
fuel over a wider area and the intake porting was revised to provide optimum
flow characteristics. Outside of the engine, the exhaust silencers feature refinements
to the capacity of the first and third chambers and the lengths of the pipes
projecting from the baffle plates have been adjusted. Next the entrances to
the connecting tubes (joining header pipes 1-4 and 2-3) were enlarged approximately
75 percent to compensate for the new collector shape, which was altered to allow
the inclusion of a third honeycomb catalyzer. These changes were a major component
of the enhanced the torque characteristics, especially in the low rpm range.

Reducing internal mechanical noise allowed for
the engineers to employ comparatively little exhaust modification to meet noise
mandates and consequently the exhaust system could remain free flowing for greater
power. Lower mechanical noise was attained by revising the piston profiles and
adding a urethane insulation sheet to the inside of the magnesium chain cover.

The engine and exhaust system weren’t the only areas updated for 2008.
The ZX-14’s chassis design is every bit the equal of its power plant.
Using an advanced version of Kawasaki’s unique aluminum monocoque design,
its frame is lightweight and very strong. Switching to die instead of gravity
casting for the cast aluminum sections of the main frame resulted in lighter
parts, allowing the Kawasaki engineers to shave weight on the already slim and
compact frame.

Featuring a relaxed sport riding position, the ZX-14 is compact without being
cramped, with its bars positioned within easy reach. The narrow engine, monocoque
frame, and fuel tank provide a slim rider interface. Footpegs are low-set to
give ample legroom and the low seat height and narrow seat front make it easy
to plant both feet on the ground when stopped. Comfort levels are high enough
that riders might think they’re on a dedicated sport tourer, but one twist
of the ZX-14’s throttle is all it takes to remind anyone this is the world’s
quickest and most powerful production motorcycle.

Uninterrupted fairing lines give the ZX-14 a smooth, flowing appearance from
front to rear due in part to the monocoque frame that goes over the engine and
doesn’t protrude through the cowling. Quadruple projector beam headlights
adorn the ZX-14’s front, with low beams in the two center lenses and the
outer lenses containing the high beams and position lamps. The turn signals
are cleanly integrated into the fairing and rear cowl with a unique “V”
design LED tail lamp capping off the sleek aerodynamics of the ZX-14 that reinforces
Kawasaki’s aircraft heritage.
This blending of form, power, and handling characteristics yields a motorcycle
with appeal that extends far outside of its high performance audience. The Ninja
ZX-14 lives up to its Ninja heritage, by surpassing the competition.

Key Features:

  • Reduced emissions and mechanical noise with
    more peak power and low-end torque for 2008
  • Well-balanced aluminum monocoque frame provides
    superb stability and reflexive handling
  • Flagship ride quality with rider friendly
    ergonomics and that distinctive Ninja styling
  • Excellent control and feedback from the 43mm
    inverted fork and fully adjustable Uni-Trak rear suspension
    1,352cc Four-Cylinder, DOHC Engine
  • Tuned to provide smooth power across a very
    wide rev range while raising Kawasaki’s legendary horsepower standards
    to a new level
  • Revised cylinder head and head cover with
    20% larger secondary air ports to flow more air into the exhaust
  • Carefully planned engine design keeps it compact
    and narrow
  • Chrome composite plated aluminum cylinder
    bores are lightweight, durable, and quickly carry heat away from the combustion
    chamber and piston for supreme durability at high power outputs

Reduced Mechanical Noise

  • Revised piston profile produces less noise
    for 2008
  • New urethane insulation sheet added to the
    inside of the magnesium chain cover to aid in reducing mechanical noise


  • Third honeycomb catalyzer added to the collector
    help meet strict Euro III emissions standards
  • Revised internal silencer construction minimized
    impact of emissions regulations, preserving top-end power
  • Exhaust connecting tube entrances enlarged
    approximately 75% to compensate for new collector shape (revised for the third
    catalyzer) for enhanced low rpm torque characteristics

Gear-Driven Dual Engine Balancers

  • Already in perfect primary balance, dual secondary
    balancers virtually eliminate unwanted vibrations for extremely smooth engine
    operation and reduced rider fatigue

Ram Air Induction

  • Central Ram Air duct produces a straighter
    path to the airbox for maximum intake efficiency
  • Takes cooler, high-pressure air from in front
    of the fairing and guides it through the air cleaner and into the engine for
    maximum power output

Digital Fuel Injection

  • New intake porting optimizes flow characteristics
  • New injectors feature an increased lateral
    spray angle from 15 to 20 degrees to disperse the finely-atomized fuel over
    a wider area
  • Fine-atomizing injectors produce 75µ
    droplet size
  • 44mm Mikuni throttle bodies are fitted with
    sub-throttle valves, controlled by the ECU to provide precise response, make
    DFI® performance smoother, and met Euro III emission requirements
  • 32-bit ECU works with dual throttle valve
    system to further enhance throttle response and control

Digital Ignition

  • Digital Timing Advance enhances low-and mid-range
  • Four individual spark plug-mounted ignition
    coils fire each spark plug independently to achieve the optimum timing for
    that cylinder at that instant
  • ECU includes an idle speed control system
    for easier starting and warm-up

Radial Pump Clutch Master Cylinder

  • Hydraulic clutch features a radial-pump clutch
    master cylinder for smooth and precise clutch engagement

Next-Generation Monocoque Aluminum Frame

  • Lightweight, monocoque frame is a hollow aluminum
    box that arches over the engine from the steering head to the swing arm pivot.
    It is narrow, strong, rigid and very light
  • New for 2008, the frame’s cast aluminum
    sections – steering head and swing arm pivot areas –are now produced
    with a die casting process instead of gravity casting resulting in further
    weight savings
  • Engine is rigidly mounted to the frame to
    increase its torsional rigidity. Using the engine as a stressed frame member
    also saves approximately four pounds
  • Engine positioned forward in the frame, and
    the wheelbase and front/rear weight balance were carefully designed to achieve
    high-speed stability and responsive handling
  • Massive head pipe casting contributes to frame
  • Houses the air box and air filter in a space-saving
    design that actually simplifies air cleaner maintenance. Two screws hold a
    plate on the left side of the frame that allows air cleaner access
  • Battery is also housed within the frame and
    has simple access through the back side of the frame

Inverted 43mm Cartridge Type Front Fork

  • Damping rates offer stiff initial action to
    resist front-end dive when braking
  • Stepless damping adjustment improves suspension

Bottom-Link Uni-Trak® Rear Suspension

  • Linkage rates provide linear suspension action
  • Bottom-link design concentrates the weight
    lower in the chassis for a lower center of gravity, which makes the motorcycle
    more nimble

Radial Mounted Petal Front Disc Brakes

  • Radial mounted four-piston front brake calipers
    utilize integrated mounting points at both the top and bottom of the caliper,
    with the mounting bolts inserted through the rear of the caliper instead of
    the side/front. This makes the caliper more rigid, which improves brake feel
    over a wider range of operation
  • A separate brake pad is used for each piston.
    Individual pads provide increased cooling efficiency and can absorb more heat
    without deforming so they maintain consistent brake feel stop after stop
  • Petal design brake discs provide better cooling
    and warp resistance
  • Radial-pump front brake master cylinder improves
    brake performance and lever feel
  • Wheel rims feature center ribs which are slightly
    offset so tire balance weights can be located precisely along the wheel’s

Wind Tunnel-Designed Bodywork

  • Monocoque frame goes over the engine the fairing
    is uninterrupted by protruding frame spars, adding to the extremely long and
    low styling.
  • Both the front and rear turn signals are integrated
    into the bodywork and have clear lenses to enhance the appearance
  • Quadruple projector beam headlights give the
    ZX-14 a distinctive upper fairing. The outer lights contain position lamps
    and the high beams, while the low beams are in the center lamps
  • Lightweight Denso radiator with high-density
    cores provides maximum cooling efficiency

Full Instrumentation

  • Dual analog speedometer and tachometer with
    white faces are easy to read
  • Multi-function LCD digital display includes
    an odometer, two trip meters, fuel gauge, gear position indicator and a clock
  • Programmable shift indicator lamp illuminates
    at pre-set rpm to signal rider upshift
  • Programmable clutch engagement lamp illuminates
    at pre-set rpm to signal the rider to engage the clutch
  • CAN (Controller Area Network) interface between
    the gauges uses fewer wires while allowing a greater volume of information,
    such as estimated fuel mileage, to be exchanged


Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four
valve per cylinder, inline-four
Displacement: 1,352cc
Bore x stroke: 84.0 x 61.0mm
Maximum torque: 154 N/m {15.7 kgf/m} 113.5 lb-ft @ 7,500 rpm
Compression ratio: 12.0:1
Fuel Injection: DFI® with 44mm Mikuni throttle bodies (4)
Ignition: TCBI with Digital Advance
Transmission: Six speed
Final drive: X-Ring chain
Rake / trail: 23 degrees / 94 mm
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire: 190/50 ZR17
Wheelbase: 57.5 in.
Front suspension / wheel travel: 43mm inverted cartridge fork with adjustable
preload, 13-way compression and 11-way rebound damping adjustment / 4.6 in.
Rear suspension / wheel travel: Bottom-Link Uni-Trak® and gas-charged
shock with adjustable preload, stepless rebound and compression damping adjustments,
adjustable ride height / 4.8 in.
Front Brakes: Dual semi-floating 310 mm petal discs with dual radial-mounted
four-piston calipers
Rear Brakes: Single 250mm petal disc with twin-piston caliper
Overall length: 85.4 in.
Overall width: 29.9 in.
Overall height: 46.1 in.
Ground clearance: 4.9 in.
Seat height: 31.5 in.
Dry weight: 485 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 5.8 gal.
Color: Metallic Midnight Sapphire Blue
Atomic Silver
Special Edition: Metallic Flat Spark Black/Metallic Persimmon Red
MSRP standard / Special Edition: $11,699 / $11,999
Warranty: 12 Months


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