Kawasaki’s strategy for their high-performance tourer is simple and unveiled by the class’s nature. So while a BMW R1200GS will take you around the globe on virtually all kinds of surfaces, the Concours 14 is the second best choice for such a trip and only if planning to keep it on the streets.
Resembling the Ninja ZX-14 both in style and performance, the Concours brings touring goodies down the scene and improve life on board without sacrificing performance. In what concerns the 2009 model year, this requires no serious upgrades to the engine and chassis, but the bike does distinguishes thanks to the new Black and Red colors. Like for any veritable touring bike, ABS is also available but only as an option.
The first thing needing to be mentioned related to such a bike is the type of engine powering it and if that is as reliable as well as high performing as owners demand. In this case, it would be enough just to mention that the 2009 Concours 14 features the Ninja ZX-14 1,352cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valve per cylinder, inline-four engine which gets Variable Valve Timing. This ensures proper low and midrange acceleration without cutting in the top end or increasing fuel consumption. This feature virtually transforms the engine into a touring-worthy unit while we didn’t heard anyone complaining about the reliability of this engine, be it mounted on a Ninja or a Concours. The bike has been on the scene for quite a while now and riders have even managed to gather as much as 15-20.000 miles on it with just the usual maintenance which isn’t expensive by any means even for this category.
A top performer, the engine is fed through a digital fuel injection system with 40mm throttle bodies and gets a six speed gearbox for reduced fuel consumption on the highways. Kawasaki has went the whole way with this sports-tourer and fitted it with a Tetra-Lever shaft drive which works silent and requires less maintenance as well.
For an 89.4 inches long piece of motoring, the Concours impresses by managing to offer a 32.1 inches high seat. The center of gravity is low for great high speed cornering and the bike’s 670.3 lbs (679.1 lbs of the ABS model) seems lost in the accelerating process. The 310mm petal discs front and 270mm rear disc brakes are worthy of being fitted on any sport bike and so are the suspensions (43mm inverted, telescopic fork with adjustable rebound damping and spring preload offering 4.4 inches of travel and Tetra-Lever with stepless rebound damping adjustment and remote spring preload adjuster offering 5.4 inches of travel).
With a spacious seat, an electronically adjustable windscreen, multi-function LCD digital dash, the Kawasaki Concours 14 spoils both riders and passengers during those long trips. And by having a 5.8 gallons gas tank, this bike can definitely go before needing to refuel. Ever since 2008, a tyre pressure monitoring system comes as standard equipment so what was I saying about the riders feeling spoiled?
Kawasaki launched the Concours 14 (1400 GTR, in Europe) as we all know it at the end of 2007. The all-new bike was based on the Ninja ZX-14, but distinguished thanks to the panniers, shaft drive and adjustable windscreen. Before the new introduction, the Concours name reflected Kawasaki’s vision of sport-touring with the ZG1000, a motorcycle produced with little upgrades from 1985 to 2006 and which paved the road for the 1400cc model very well apparently.
Honda has also long been a player on the sport-touring market and the 2009 ST1300/ST1300 ABS represents their evolution pinnacle yet. As you will read in the review we liked too, this bike is powered by a fuel-injected 1,261cc, liquid-cooled, longitudinally mounted 90-degree V4 engine, features a five-speed gearbox and shaft final drive. The seat and windscreen are both adjustable and you get a pair of detachable saddlebags. Two models are available, one with and one without ABS. You simply don’t get more touring than that although a sixth speed would have increased efficiency.
The 2009 Yamaha FJR1300A/AE is yet another sport-touring alternative, a better looking one if you ask me. The engine behind that beautiful fairing is a fuel-injected 1,298cc, liquid-cooled, inline four-cylinder, DOHC, 16 valves engine and we still don’t get a six-speed gearbox. Well, at least the shaft is there as well as the adjustable windscreen and cool instrument panel.
Although dedicated to comfort and gathering up miles, the Kawasaki Concours 14 is an aggressive looking motorcycle, a generously sized one, we might add. It features a full fairing, big headlights dominating the front end, a middle-sized adjustable windscreen and car-like mirrors. The ‘long and low’ routine applies, resulting in an aerodynamic overall motorcycle characterized by a low center of gravity as most units are positioned as low as possible (take the 5.8 gallons tank as an example).
The seat is low and spacious while the hard luggage compartments offer plenty of storage capacity for those long journeys and don’t mess with the bike’s overall design. This thing rolls on a pair of 17-inch wheels, 120mm wide front and 190mm wide rear.
For 2009, colors available are Metallic Diablo Black / Flat Super Black and Candy Diamond Red / Flat Super Black and stand out as the only datum of the Concours.
The Concours 14 is pretty much considered an evolved Ninja ZX-14 as the sport-touring bike allows for an upright riding position while offering a significantly more comfortable seat and better wind protection, but the bike doesn’t lose the engine’s sporty aptitudes. As a result, riders will enjoy the 102 lb/ft of torque at 6,200 rpm as well as the 156 hp maximum output until the 10,500 rpm redline. These figures allow the Concours to be named leader of the sport-touring class and we couldn’t agree more with the title as we were offered quite a blast during each straight portions of road that the bike’s big nose indicated.
Fitted with KI-PASS, the engine starts with great ease and provides a refined exhaust noise and the least mechanical noise coming from the engine. The fancy dash lights up providing the rider with all information possibly needed so all there’s left to do is to electronically adjust the air flow and get on going.
As mentioned before, the low center of gravity together with a 59.8 inches wheelbase work together to allow for sharp cornering and high-speed stability at all times, even when covering great highway distances at a top speed of 155 mph. That’s when the windscreen and ergonomics prove valuable, but the fact that the engine doesn’t sound craved at all unveils the great fact that it was capable of plenty more, but engineers went for the lower revving and greater reliability alternative.
The suspensions bring a major contribution to the bike’s stability and the four-piston calipers front and two-piston caliper rear brakes ensure that the ability to stop is also transformed into a point worthy to brag about on the Concours 14. Optionally, riders can go for the non-linked ABS system and obtain impeccable results on less grippy surfaces so this is a great overall bike.
Between sport and touring, we dare mentioning that this Kawasaki tilts the scale towards sport. Our main argument is the engine performance while all the ‘additional’ equipment such as the performance brakes and suspensions ensure things stay in the same register.
Depending on either the 2009 Kawasaki Concours 14 features ABS or not, the price starts at $14,299 (ABS-equipped model) or $13,499 (ABS-free model).
Not much has changed ever since the bike’s introduction, but now as a popular sport-touring model it gets even more attention than when first introduced, bringing major benefits to the happy manufacturer. The greatest part about the Concours is that despite the fact of being the biggest, fastest and – in our opinion – the best looking, it has the lowest MSRPs and you simply can’t beat this combination.
Engine and Transmission
Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valve per cylinder, inline-four with VVT
Bore x stroke: 84.0 x 61.0mm
Maximum torque: 102.0 Lb/Ft @ 6,200 rpm
Compression ratio: 10.7:1
Fuel Injection: Digital Fuel Injection w/ 40mm throttle bodies
Ignition: TCBI with Digital Advance
Transmission: Six speed
Final drive: Tetra-Lever shaft drive
Chassis and Dimensions
Rake / trail: 26.1 degrees / 4.4 in.
Front tire: 120/70 ZR-17
Rear tire: 190/50 ZR-17
Front suspension / wheel travel: 43mm inverted, telescopic fork with adjustable rebound damping and spring preload / 4.4 in.
Rear suspension / wheel travel: Tetra-Lever with stepless rebound damping adjustment and remote spring preload adjuster / 5.4 in.
Brakes, front: Dual floating 310mm petal discs with four-piston calipers
Brakes, rear: Single 270mm petal disc
Fuel capacity: 5.8 gal.
Seat height: 32.1 in.
Wheelbase: 59.8 in.
Overall length: 89.4 in.
Overall height fairing lowered / fairing raised: 50.8 in. / 55.3 in.
Overall width at handlebars / at saddlebags: 30.7 in. / 39.4 in.
Curb weight: Concours 14 / Concours 14 ABS: 670.3 / 679.1 lbs.
1,352cc Four-Cylinder, DOHC Engine with Variable Valve Timing (VVT)
Gear-Driven Dual Engine Balancers
Ram Air Induction
Digital Fuel Injection
Radial Pump Clutch Master Cylinder
Monocoque Aluminum Frame
Radial-mount Petal-type Front Disc Brakes
Tetra-Lever Shaft Drive
Antilock Brake System (Concours™ 14 ABS)
Bodywork Optimized for Sport Touring