The motorcycle that led an entire generation into the future is more alive than ever. Technology, esthetics, ergonomics, aerodynamics, all these categories have improved and so did the Kawasaki Concours. Read on to find out more about the ultimate touring bike.
Close your eyes and think of an iconic non-classic big bike of the 80s and 90s. The photo of the Kawasaki Concours comes right to your brain. Back when we were watching Robocop and drooling on the vehicles of the future. Kawasaki, the huge Japanese vehicle manufacturer, was designing and building them already.
The first of the line to land on this side of the world was the Kawasaki GTR 1000. It was a hybrid motorcycle, ready for long trips and super powerful. The engine came from the Kawasaki Ninja and could reach an astonishing 120mph. The name given to the bike for the American market was ZG1000. The year of introduction was 1986, and it revolutionised the industry, setting a new standard.
The same year Kawasaki introduced the ZG1000 to the American Market, BMW released the K100LT. Despite being a little faster, the BMW was widely overtaken by the Japanese motorcycle. According to specialised magazine Motorcyclist, the ZG1000 was far superior in every aspect possible. This sky-rocketed the Kawasaki Concours´ reputation plus the difference in the price tag was significant. The Kawasaki was two-thirds of the price the BMW was.
The motorcycle suffered minor changes between 1986 and 1993. The 1994 version featured some changes on the forks, instruments cluster, controls and front wheel, fender and brakes. It was greatly received by the specialised media and kept the same features until 2006. That was the last year of production for the ZG1000 AKA Kawasaki GTR 1000 in Europe.
By September of the year 2007, Kawasaki presented to the world a larger version of the acclaimed GTR 1000. The Kawasaki GTR 1400 also known as Kawasaki Concours 14 was born. It sported a larger engine based on the ZX-14 (from the Ninja line). Besides that, it presented some drastic esthetical and functionality changes. It kept the four-cylinder scheme but with 16 valves and fuel injection. The Kawasaki GTR 1400 offered ABS as an optional feature right from launch. The motorcycle is capable of delivering 153 horsepower (believe me, it´s a lot). Although it is really powerful, it takes turns and moves around fairly easily.
By the year 2010, the bike went through a bodywork and engine cooling system redesign. These changes relieved the rider from some of the heat and made it more manoeuvrable. Also, there was an upgrade regarding fuel consumption. The Fuel Economy Assistance Mode can be activated when the bike is at less than 6,000rpm and 80mph. I don´t need to say at this point that she does need a lot of fuel to move that huge engine.
The fuel tank is big enough not to make too many stops, but not as big as the original. The Kawasaki GTR 1000 sported a 7.8 gal tank. The Kawasaki GTR 1400 sports a 5.8 gal gas tank. The drastic change between the GTR 1000 and the Kawasaki Concours 14 was top speed. As per the Motorcyclist magazine test, the top speed was of 152.8mph (almost 250km/h). This motorcycle is a powerful and fast touring machine with enough comfort for long rides.
To be completely frank, the Kawasaki GTR 1400 2018 is not the first one I tested. I have been on board a Kawasaki 1400 2017 and various Kawasaki Concours 14s. The first thing that stroke me about this bike is that they got rid of the hot air blow. This used to be a huge minus for riding long, especially in the summer. Another fantastic addition is the new seat-cover that won´t absorb the heat. Thanks a lot, Kawasaki, for thinking about us riders in the hot summer. It is annoying to leave the bike in the sun and get burned by it. Somehow the material will reflect and not absorb heat as well as humidity.
The rigid monocoque frame proved to be a vast improvement adding to the overall stability. The electrically-controlled three-position windshield was a huge plus too. The previous models of the Kawasaki Concours were too short and non-modifiable. There are some bikes in the same price and power range with no protection for riders. Imagine reaching the 120mph zone with no wind guard. The Kawasaki Concours 14 also provides a vent for added comfort. The big plastic carry bags are handy. To open and close them with the dedicated transmitter (no key involved) is excellent. I tend to forget things, and this comes utterly handy for someone like me.
The only drawback I can still find in this motorcycle is the performance at lower RPM. When you go out touring with friends, you want to appreciate the landscape. When you are travelling through some amazing natural attractions, your RPM is 3,000 to 5,000. At this level and 85mph, the Kawasaki Concours is nothing astonishing. The big engine only wakes up when you are pushing it. This is definitely a drawback when it comes to the overall experience of the motorcycle. Most of us who like doing big miles on beautiful places enjoy the roar and the landscape. Having to choose is really annoying. Turning the throttle transforms the Kawasaki Concourse into a low-flying missile. You can really feel that 153 horsepower between your legs pushing forward. If the driving in the mid-speed range was a little more comfortable, it would be perfect.
The rider position was dramatically improved since the Kawasaki GTR 1400 2017. Rearview mirrors were lifted, and the seat was positioned further inside the chassis. Also, the Fuel Economy Mode proved to be useful in the long run, although it takes away some of the fun. In city environments where the torque is most needed and used, it is reduced. What really helps in the city is the centre being lower than most big bikes. This gives riders the ability to lower both feet on the ground. Padding out of a traffic light and full stops are not as hard as they seem to be.
The heated grips and the position of the instruments are convenient too. The ease of reading the speed and RPM at a glance is crucial. You get two big round clocks and a central LCD with additional info. It happened to me a lot with other bikes that had cluttered menus to be guessing speed. Here it is straightforward and allowed me to keep my eyes on the road. Where they should be, right?
A not-so-good feature for those of us who drove the Kawasaki GTR 1000 is the fuel capacity. With the smaller 5.8 gal tank, there is a limitation for certain roads. You can´t make two hundred miles on a single tank. This will not allow you to cross certain inhabited territories. It is annoying for a bike this big and prepared for the road. I never liked tracing my route depending on gas stations. The first incarnation had a smaller engine and a million more flaws, but a 7.8 gal tank.
There are some small details I would like to give thumbs up to Kawasaki for adding. The little space in the front left side is super useful. When you travel routes with tolls, you need money to be close. Also, documentation or any other important stuff can be there for easy and quick access. But the most significant thing about it is that it locks and unlocks upon startup. Again, people like me who tend to forget things it is awesome.
The Kawasaki GTR 1400 2018 and the Kawasaki GTR 1400 2017 are about the same. No changes at all. It is a powerful, comfortable motorcycle and a dependable transport in continuous evolution. I´m certainly a fan and will love to see the improvements as time goes by.
The Kawasaki Concours comes with a pair of very sturdy carrying saddlebags as a default. They are awesome, plastic, match the colour of the bike and open/close automatically. With a motorcycle as big as the Kawasaki Concours, it is tempting to go far. Going far on holiday with that special someone might require some more storage space. For that reason, this 47-litre top case is convenient. It is rugged, waterproof and utterly secure. I can go on holidays with a backpack, some socks and underwear, but my wife can´t. I got it aftermarket, and it is her favourite thing on the bike (after the rider, of course)
It is hard to believe for me that this doesn´t come as a factory standard. The tank bag is so handy! Having all you need just at your fingertips on the gas tank feels as if it was almost a no-brainer. I bought it aftermarket, and the guy who sold it to me thought the same. We were both riders, I could tell, and he was like: “Yes, I know, I get that all the time”. So, Kawasaki, come on!
Although the Kawasaki Concours has a tremendously well-designed seat, this is superior. Especially for those of us like me who love riding long distances. It is simply fuller, feels more rugged and install is a breeze at any service centre. It is a great addition to your-
Smart Turn System (STS) – This is a very tiny fix that can be made to any bike. It works much like the one found in cars. The little installed device will sense when your ride has done the turn and automatically turns turning lights off. It is an excellent addition especially for those who also drive cars. It will fit your Kawasaki Concours like a dream. Once you try it, you´ll do like me and install it on every bike you own.
Smart Break Module(SBM) – Shutting down the throttle of the bike will immediately make you go slower. In fact, most bikers on the road hardly ever step on the breaks but use mostly only the throttle. At least that is what I do all the time. This great little device senses the speed and the down-shifting. Once it does, it will engage your stop light immediately. It could avoid many accidents. I definitely feel more secure with it when on the highway or a big road. You can install it on your brand new Kawasaki Concours.
With all the pros and the cons, for experienced riders like me, this motorcycle is a go-to. If you love the open road, the comfy specs and the significant power, this is the bike. Kawasaki thought of everything and riding your Kawasaki Concours is like a missile over silk. Try one yourself see why the Kawasaki Concours is a benchmark for other brands.