Road Test Review
When the Kawasaki Concours 14 sped onto the sport-touring scene for 2008, it easily arm-wrestled the competition into submission. With its liquid-cooled, 1,352cc in-line four derived from the time-warping Ninja ZX-14 sportbike, the mighty Concours puts 144.2 horsepower to the rear wheel—4.4 more than the K 1600 GT even though the BMW has a 297cc displacement advantage (the BMW wins the torque war, with 115.8 lb-ft to the Kawi’s 95.3).
The complete reinvention of the Concours, after being in Kawasaki’s lineup mostly unchanged for more than two decades as the ZG1000, was about much more than just horsepower. Variable Valve Timing helps the engine run more smoothly and efficiently, the Tetra-Lever Swingarm eliminates shaft jacking and the KIPASS (Kawasaki Intelligent Proximity Activation Start System) key fob is an added security measure. By ticking all of the boxes that are important to us—performance, handling, comfort, value, reliability and practicality—the Concours 14 was a shoe-in for Rider’s 2008 Motorcycle of the Year.
We loved its large, 35-liter saddlebags and standard tire pressure monitor and heated grips, but were less enamored with its bulk, poor wind protection and felt engine heat. Updates for 2010 included a larger windshield, better heat management, improved handling, the introduction of KTRC traction control and an upgrade to K-ACT (Kawasaki Advanced Coactive-braking Technology) on ABS models (Rider, February 2010 and on ridermagazine.com).
At just $309 more than the Yamaha FJR1300, the $16,199 Kawasaki Concours 14 is one of the best deals in this test. But, like the BMW R 1200 RT, it’s showing signs of age. Adopting the engine and chassis improvements of the new 1,441cc Ninja ZX-14R would strengthen its position as el jefe of horsepower and improve handling. For the long haul, it could use adjustable ergonomics, cruise control, a trip computer, better wind protection and more fuel capacity.