10 Reasons Why The Kawasaki Concours 14 Is A Great Sport Tourer
Jul 30, 2023
The Kawasaki Concours 14 is a powerful and refined touring bike with great sports capabilities
The Kawasaki Concours 14, also known as the ZG1400 in the United States, and the GTR1400 in other markets, is a sports-touring motorcycle that was introduced in September 2007, but its original beginnings can be traced back to the original GTR Concours 1000 (ZG1000) that was released in 1986. The GTR Concours set new industry standards, outperforming even the BMW “Flying Brick” K100LT while still being more cost-effective. Fast-forward twenty-two years, Kawasaki overhauled the GTR 1000, replacing it in 2008 with the Concours 14 based on the Kawasaki ZX-14 platform. Largely seen in the United States, Europe, and Malaysia, the bigger displacement Concours raised the bar for sports touring when it was released in 2008, winning the best tourer awards for three consecutive years.
Over the years, Kawasaki has revisited the Concours 14, continually improving its features. Upgrades included enhanced bodywork design, improved heat channeling, the addition of ABS for enhanced safety, and ergonomic changes to optimize rider comfort. The rearview mirrors were also repositioned slightly higher to provide better visibility of oncoming traffic. Despite its continued evolution, electronic cruise control continued to elude the Concours. Regrettably, Kawasaki has decided not to continue the model for 2023, perhaps marking the end of an era for this iconic sports-touring motorcycle. Nonetheless, the Kawasaki Concours 14 will be remembered for its exceptional performance and sports-touring capabilities that it has offered riders around the world.
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The Concours 14, affectionately known as Connie, may not have all the rider aids one would come to expect from today's motorcycles, but it has enough to hold its own. With its huge fairing and tall, electronically controlled, motorized adjustable windshield, it does a great job of keeping the oncoming rain, cold, and wind down to a minimum, even for slightly taller riders, and with heated grips, it makes a long winter journey a lot more comfortable.
Despite missing some crucial advancements, especially ride-by-wire technology, she stacks up well against more advanced motorcycles The bottom line is that it has most of the features that touring riders want; a touring bike with sports capabilities, ZX-14R power, refinement, and comfort. She's very much a tourer out of the box minus the top case, and given its price, it's the most practical sports tourer to buy.
Like the ZX-14R and the ZX-12R before it, the Kawasaki Concours 1400 shares the same chassis bloodline, a first by Kawasaki in the world of motorcycle production. The all-aluminum monocoque chassis though, goes back to the history of their two-stroke, four-cylinder KR500 factory GP racer, but the idea to create one for a production motorcycle originated around the ZX-11 (ZZR-1100 in Europe), when a chassis designer while viewing one without any bodywork, it gave him the idea that the intake system and air-box could not only be a frame but double up as the air-box itself, an idea that was nixed by the big bosses at Kawasaki at the time.
Not only does a monocoque chassis improve aerodynamics, but being narrower results in a more compact machine, with a small frontal area as compared to dual-beam frames. While the frame is further enhanced by the engine acting as a stressed member, it also helps handle the power from the Concours engine, while the narrowness at the headstock area with no angled beams on either side allows the steering angle to be increased.
The Kawasaki Concours 14 is equipped with a 1,352cc inline-four engine with a bore and stroke measuring 84mm x 61mm and has a compression of 10.7: 1, which is an indication that it should be comfortable with 89 octane gas where premium is not available. Combined with RAM Air with digital ignition and injection featuring 40mm throttle bodies with dual valve technology, it has impressive torque right from the get-go, through mid-range right up to its top-end.
Its acceleration is brutal, while at low speeds the Concours is laid-back, doing anywhere between 32 - 35 mph in sixth gear, and it achieves this by altering its camshaft profile, thanks to its Variable Valve Timing (VVT), which helps deliver smooth power free from sudden surges. All this allows Connie to generate 155 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and a torque of 100 foot-pounds at 6,200 rpm which is good for a top speed of over 150mph.
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The engine management platform is only half there compared to other motorcycles and compared to its younger sibling, the Ninja 1000SX, you find half the tech missing on the Concours, though it does score in a couple of departments.
Long journeys require a lot of fuel and this is where Kawasaki’s ECO (Fuel Economy Assistance Mode) mode comes in handy. Where gas stations are unavailable, being able to conserve whatever fuel is left is handled by activating a switch on the handlebar. The ECU switches to a leaner fuel map in which ignition timing and fuel injection prioritize fuel economy by managing engine response and power when ridden at a constant throttle. When used in conjunction with the economical riding indicator, which indicates a high fuel efficiency with its ECO icon, if ridden properly, fuel savings are significant. Given she does weigh 690 lbs, good ‘ol Connie will return 44mpg on a full tank (5.8 gal) providing you don’t have a heavy hand. At 6,000 rpm with the throttle at 30% which translates to 80-ish mph, she will be economical.
Kawasaki offers a range of accessories designed to complement and enhance the already impressive capabilities of the Concours 1400 sport tourer. These accessories are tailored to meet the demands of riders seeking added comfort, storage, and convenience. Riders can opt for touring windshields, saddlebag liners, tank bags, and touring seats, just to name a few.
Apart from the Akrapovic titanium exhaust slip-on, the other notable accessory for the Concours 14 is a 12-gallon top case that features the Kawasaki logo on the sides and rear and is large enough to store two full-face helmets. To mount the top case, the standard rear rack needs to be replaced with a baseplate that is available from Kawasaki. Other requirements for the top case are colored top cover panels to color-match to the motorcycle and a one-key system for security. Sadly the rigid, water-resistant bag with compartments that make it easy to pack your belongings is not included with the top case, but it is available separately from Kawasaki's Parts & Accessories.
The Concours 14 is equipped with advanced electronics using a modern CAN (Controller Area Network) which uses fewer wires in its harness where information such as speedometer, tachometer and odometer, two trip meters, fuel gauge, estimated fuel mileage, gear position indicator, outside temperature, clock and tire pressure (via the battery operated sensors within the tire in the front and rear wheels) is displayed on the Concours LCD instrument panel.
Kawasaki has come a long way in developing electronic rider aids for its motorcycles. Having always been behind its European counterparts in this department, Kawasaki has steadily upped their game and introduced them into their motorcycles. Good examples are its H2 series, the ZX-10R, and Ninja 1000SX which have a suite of electronics that would shame any car on the road.
Connie benefits from Kawasaki's impressive engine and chassis management technology that includes Dual Throttle Valves, KTRC (Kawasaki Traction Control), K-ACT, and KIPASS (Kawasaki's Intelligent Proximity Activation Start System), but a lot of the tech found in the Ninja 1000SX is not available with her. One continuing gripe with Kawasaki is the non-availability of electronic cruise control to this day which would take her touring capabilities to the next level, but due to the fact that there is no ride-by-wire system, and adding hardware to it would only complicate its already established electronic system, besides adding weight, Kawasaki have chosen to keep the Concours as is.
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Just like its counterpart, the ZX-14R, the Concours 14 acceleration capabilities demand maximum braking power. Equipped with radial-mount front calipers managed by a radial-pump master cylinder and featuring petal-style rotors on both wheels, this brake system offers riders powerful and reliable stopping force, instilling confidence and control. Taking it a step further, the Concours 14 ABS enhances this stopping control with the added insurance of ABS, Kawasaki's Intelligent Braking System, and Advanced Coactive Braking Technology.
Kawasaki's K-ACT(Kawasaki Advanced Coactive-braking Technology) ABS is an advanced brake system that links the front and rear brakes for stable braking. Previous generations of the Concours using K-ACT (Kawasaki Advanced CoActive-Braking Technology) experienced progressive surges in linked braking power on the front brake that were not smooth when the rear brake pedal was actuated. Kawasaki revised these settings allowing for a more natural braking feel that is both linear and predictable, especially during low-speed maneuvers like U-turns.
Dual semi-floating 310 mm petal discs with radial-mount, opposed 4-piston, 4-pad calipers
270 mm petal disc with opposed 2-piston caliper
43 mm inverted fork with rebound damping and spring preload adjustability / 113 mm (4.4 in)
Bottom-Link Uni Trak + Tetra-Lever, gas-charged shock with rebound damping and spring preload adjustability / 136 mm (5.4 in)
The Concours 14 rigid aluminum monocoque chassis curves over the engine from the head stock area to the swingarm pivot with a chassis geometry that has a rake angle of 26.1°, a trail of 112 mm, and a wheelbase of 1,520 mm. Given its touring capabilities, the Concours 14 handles like a sportbike, with responsive and precise steering on the straights, though cornering takes some effort when trying to hold a really tight line, it is stable.
Over the years, Kawasaki has addressed several handling issues, especially at low-speed by introducing a low-friction steering-stem seal to lighten up the steering at these speeds. It also addressed front fork issues by adding more oil to offer further resistance as well as providing stiffer settings for the remote adjustable rear shock for better handling and carrying more payload.
While the heart of the Concours 14 may lie in its high-tech engine, its aluminum monocoque chassis provides the vital platform to convert the power smoothly. With the help of its 43mm inverted fork and a reliable shaft drive system, the rigid chassis can efficiently transfer the engine's torque down to the road effectively.
The Tetra-Lever shaft drive is perhaps its standout feature that provides a clean, low-maintenance solution. The system uses an innovative four-link design that counteracts the lifting and squatting effects that shaft drives have a tendency to do during on-and-off throttle maneuvers. This clever design isolates the torque effects from suspension action, delivering a performance almost similar to traditional chain drives. As a result, the Concours 14's powertrain has received widespread acclaim for its silky and lash-free thrust delivery, making it both reliable and impressive on the road.
Tarun is a gearhead who has been riding and working on motorcycles for over 25 years. A certified Kawasaki and Ducati mechanic, he loves working on motorcycles and is happy to have quit the software and gaming industry when he did. He has held the position of Manager for Service / Senior Manager for Sales & Marketing at India Kawasaki Motors Pvt. Ltd. and Manager for Service at Ducati India Pvt. Ltd. Born and raised in Rugby, England, he is now based in New Delhi, India spending his time consulting on setting up workshops when he can, working on motorcycles and all stuff that is cool. He considers himself fortunate to have ridden a lot of different motorcycles, thanks to a group (G.O.D.S) that he was once associated with and currently owns a Kawasaki ZX-11 and ZX-12R. He regrets not being able to keep a stable of motorcycles.