Years sold: 1984-1986
MSRP new: $4399
Blue Book retail value: $1600-$1700
Basic specs: A 908cc, dohc, 16-valve inline-Four making a claimed 113 horsepower. It ran the quarter-mile in 11.18 seconds at 121.65 mph and had a measured top speed of 145 mph.
Why it won: The 900 Ninja was a landmark motorcycle with an unprecedented balance of power and handling achieved through a formula that was unheard of at the time: provide near-liter-size engine performance in a 750-class-size motorcycle. That concept was emulated by other manufacturers and has evolved to the point where some of today’s potent sportbikes offer full literbike engine performance in a 600-size chassis.
From the Ten Best story: “This isn’t your usual Japanese sportbike that has been compromised by the need to appeal to the masses; this is a hardcore performance motorcycle aimed directly at the hardcore performance rider. There are other ’84-model Superbikes that have a wider scope, that are smoother or more comfortable or faster in a straight line. But the Ninja is without equal when it comes to generating excitement on a twisty backroad. And that’s what a Superbike is all about.”
Useful resources: Google “Kawasaki 900 Ninja” and you’ll find countless sites devoted to this memorable machine, including dedicated forums, for-sale posts, technical discussions and a lot more.