The long sayonara: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R updated… is this the farewell tour?

The Kawasaki ZX-14R lives on but only in the United States, where the sportsbike-touring behemoth of a motorcycle has received an update for 2021

Kawasaki ZX-14R US Spec 2021.jpg

The KawasakI ZX-14R has been given a minor facelift for the US market where it remains on sale for what is expected to be its final update before riding into the sunset.

Still boasting the biggest engine of any mass production motorcycle, the 1441cc behemoth has been in production since 2006 but tightening emissions regulations and a shift towards lighter, more practical motorcycles means the ZX-14R has been steadily dropping off price lists globally.

As such, it is only in the United States - home of long, wide and expansive highways perfect for such a machine - where the sportsbike-cum-tourer is still on sale. It’s also the last big market for which emission regulations are somewhat more flexible.

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The changes are subtle, reduced to cosmetic tweaks, such as a fresh paint scheme - Pearl Storm Grey - Metallic Diablo Black - and red accented graphics. It freshens up a design that has remained largely unchanged for 15 years, so it’s unsubtle in a chunky, imposing way though it is perhaps more visually divisive than its nearest rival, the Suzuki Hayabusa.

Speaking of the Hayabusa, while there are few indications Kawasaki will go to the expense of penning a fresh ZX-14R either soon or ever, the firm is probably still watching closely to see whether the surprise emergence of a second generation ‘falcon’ this year will stir enough interest to warrant a re-think. Alternatively, it could funnel those remaining sales away so as to confirm the ZX-14R’s expiry date.

If you are living in the United States and prefer your tourers to be somewhat punchier off the line and friskier on the lean angle, the ZX-14R still offers a wealth of appeal.

Pumping out 197.2bhp and peak torque of 153.5Nm surging via a six-speed gearbox, it comes with the same electronics package as before and doesn’t meet Euro5 standards.

On the one hand the ZX-14R’s appeal is measured in its relatively uniqueness - not least that massive engine - but being unique can only be achieved with limited sales. 

She’s big, she’s not as clean as she should be and she’s probably the last of her kind. Yet we still miss her.