Rumors are swelling around the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 (the Kawasaki ZZR1400 for friends on the other side of the pond). First up is that a new updated Kawasaki ZX-14 is set to debut by the end of the month. Expected to be only a cosmetic makeover, the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 will mechanically be the same as the current model.
Looking farther down the pipe though, it would seem from reports and patents that Kawasaki has been eyeing putting a supercharger on the hypersport machine, presumably to better position the ZX-14 against the increasingly more powerful 1,000 superbikes, like the company’s on 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R.
According to MCN, at least four patents have been published that show Kawasaki working on a supercharger system for a motorcycle that looks like the ZX-14/ZZR1400. Additionally according to Visordown, the model revamp is now just weeks away, and will feature few, if any, mechanical changes. With that information in mind, it’s not clear when the supercharged hypersport will be out, though it would make sense that the model is one or two more model years down the pipe from where we are now.
The Kawasaki ZX-14’s revamping adds weight to the idea that this upcoming update is a precursor to the bike being replaced, with the cosmetic changes being made to help move remaining bikes off dealer floors more quickly. That line of reasoning is supported by the lack of mechanical changes, which suggest Kawasaki doesn’t want to invest more money and time into the ZX-14, and instead just wants to see a sales boost from customers.
While forced induction is commonplace in the automobile realm, the idea has never permeated motorcycles with great expanse. In a market segment fueled by outright performance, but not stifled by racing homologation, the idea of turbochargers and superchargers making their way onto hypersport machines seems more like a matter of “when”, and not a matter of “if”. Considering motorcycle manufacturers can more easily bump up model performance figures with forced induction, there’s another incentive for manufacturers to go down this route. If true, it will be interesting to see how this changes the hypersport marketplace.