Kawasaki Concours 14: Lightweight with great balance – SFGate

11 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Kawasaki Concours 14: Lightweight with great balance – SFGate
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Kawasaki Concours 14: Lightweight with great balance

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The Concours 14 from the Green Team at Kawasaki conjures up a new image of a superbike.

In terms of its appearance, the powerful Kawasaki super-sport cruiser is executed in a highly streamlined design, with its futuristically styled full fairing whose vent strakes match the ribs found on the hard bags.

The Concours 14 visually appears to be much larger than it really is. In physical terms, it is actually surprisingly compact. The wheelbase is 59.8 inches, with an overall length of 89.4 inches.

The seat height measures a comfortable 32.1 inches.

There are a host of useful technological features included on the Kawasaki Concours 14. There are three computers and a lighter-weight, simpler wiring system in the form of the Controller Area Network that enables the electronic equipment to communicate more effectively.

There’s also an electrically adjustable windscreen to accommodate riders of varying heights. A power outlet allows for plugging in a GPS, radar detector or mobile phone.

The Concours 14 is available in two models – one with ABS brakes, and one without. Base price for the non-ABS version is $12,899, while the antilock Braking System adds another $900 to the equation.

Both models are powered by a 1,352 cc, four stroke, liquid-cooled in-line four-cylinder with the first true Variable Valve Timing system on a production bike, and digital fuel injection with four 40 mm throttle bodies that develops 140-plus horsepower and 102.5 pound-feet of torque at 6200 rpm.

The motor mates to a smooth, six-speed manual sequential gearbox with a positive neutral finder and gear indicator in the instrument panel. Power reaches the rear wheel via a final shaft drive with no jacking effect in evidence.

Suspension componentry consists of 43 mm inverted cartridge forks with adjustable preload and rebound damping up front, and a bottom-link Uni-Trak setup in the rear with remote reservoir gas-charged shock absorber and spring pre-load and stepless rebound adjustability. The rake and trail are 26.1 degrees and 4.4 inches, respectively.

Braking duties are handled in front by dual 310 mm discs with radial-mounted dual four-piston calipers and single 270 mm disc with twin-piston calipers in the rear.

KI-PASS (Kawasaki Intelligent Proximity Activation Start System) brings keyless operation to the bike world. The fob houses a transponder that activates the removable ignition/lock key when within a 5.25-foot proximity. The fob also contains an integral standard key for unlocking the fuel-filler door, saddlebags and seat.

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There’s even a mileage locator that activates should the rider drop the fob for some reason when motoring down the road.

The mileage locator initiates a signal on the dash, displaying the distance from the location that the fob disappeared from range, enabling the bike to be turned around, backtracking to that point, hopefully allowing the fob to be found. The bike doesn’t shut down when the fob is out of range when it’s running.

My test Kawasaki Concours 14 bodywork was sprayed in Neutron Silver metallic, an attractive, easy-to-keep-clean color. The base price was $13,799, while the price as-tested came to $14,399, figuring average dealer prep and handling fee of roughly $600, which is variable.

The Concours 14 is substantial in the heft margin, but don’t let that fool you – it delivers exceptional balance under virtually any riding condition, from long freeway stretches to challenging mountain back roads with switchback elevation changes. Both smooth asphalt and rough surfaces are reduced to equal measure for the Concours 14, which is compliant across the board in terms of ride quality. As far as handling characteristics go, the Concours 14 is a dream to throw a leg over.

The mid-positioned controls, seat position, plus high and wide handlebars (at least for a bike in this category), allow the rider added leverage for increased confidence and control.

Low-speed maneuvers are a breeze as well. If I had to make a complaint at all, it would be that the seat (even though comfortable for medium-distance sojourns) would benefit from a little more padding.

I really only scratched the surface when relating the qualities of the Concours 14. It is filled with features and information to keep the rider informed as the motor whirrs effortlessly and quietly toward its destination. The Kawasaki Concours 14 is a phenomenal two-wheeled road-going machine.

— For more columns and reviews, visit sfgate.com/cars .

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