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  • March 31, 2015
  • Dirck Edge
  • Chris Rubino and Dirck Edge
  • 59 Comments

2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS: MD Ride Review, Part Two

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After putting hundreds of miles on the 2015 Kawasaki Concours 14, we offer our final installment on the powerful sport tourer that began with our report from the press launch and continued with Part 1 of our longer term evaluation.

Of course, we test our share of powerful motorcycles here at MD, but within the sport tourer category the Concours 14, with its huge 1352cc inline four with variable valve timing stands out for its seemingly effortless acceleration at nearly any RPM level. On the freeways here in Southern California, the bike is in a select group of machines that, at 75mph or higher, surges forward aggresively when the rider demands without needing a downshift from 6th gear despite carrying a pillion and a heavy burden of luggage.

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But Kawasaki has taken pains to make the awesome motor simply a complement to a chassis that offers up excellent handling and comfort for the rider. This is a large heavy motorcycle, quite correctly viewed as existing toward the “luxury” end of the sport tourer spectrum, so you won’t be “flicking” it on its side entering a corner as you would a supersport, but the Concours is nevertheless a willing partner when ridden aggresively.

The bike has excellent balance, and feels lighter than it should once underway. Kawasaki has refined this bike with carefully selected changes since the modern Concours was first introduced for the 2008 model year. That bike was already very good, but the refinements have resulted in an outstanding luxury sport tourer.

We have already heaped praise on the redesigned windscreen, and further testing only reinforced this impression – for this 5’11” rider, no other stock windscreen has provided such broad, buffet-free protection. That’s saying a lot, and the importance of smooth air flow in the lower settings offered by the electrically adjustable screen, coupled with near silence in the highest position is well understood by every long-distance rider or commuter who has struggled to correct annoying wind buffeting with hack saws and aftermarket shields.

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We found the seat supportive and comfortable for both rider and passenger, although as we pointed out in our earlier report, your passenger will need to be nimble enough to mount the bike with the bags installed, which seem to get in the way without some minor gymnastics. There is adequate leg room for average sized passengers, but taller passengers may feel a bit cramped on longer rides.

Along with comfortable ergonomics and excellent wind protection, the balance we spoke of earlier, improved by a stiffer rear shock spring for 2015 makes the Concours 14 freight train stable at higher speeds in a straight line, but still able to change direction without much rider effort. Handling is both predictable, and very confidence inspiring with good feedback from the tires and well damped suspension. The big Kawasaki won’t change direction like a lighter sport tourer, such as Yamaha’s FJ09, but it proves to be a more relaxing companion on longer tours at higher speeds. It has that composure you are looking for in a luxury sport tourer.

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As we said earlier, the instrumentation is very thorough and legible with a LCD screen, as well as large analog tachometer and speedometer (complimented by the new silver bezels for 2015). The classic look of the instrumentation fits with the character of the bike.

The integrated saddle bags were easy to use and easy to remove. The bike looks good with the bags removed (see the photo in Part 1), as Kawasaki was careful to integrate their mounts. The bags are not long front-to-rear, but are quite deep and offer good overall capacity, including the ability to hold a full-face helmet.

At higher freeway speeds, the right mirror blurs out from vibration somewhat, which is surprising given the fact that the Concours 14 is still quite smooth for the rider at those speeds. The other negative for some potential purchasers in this category is the lack of electronic cruise control. Frankly, this is a feature some riders covet, while other riders rarely use it. You need to decide for yourself whether it is important.

The linked brakes with ABS continue to impress with both their power and their feel. This is a lot of motorcycle to haul down from high speeds, and Kawasaki has equipped the Concours 14 with a braking system up to that task.

We averaged right around 40 mpg, which translated to a substantial range between fuel stations given the 5.8 gallon fuel capacity.

In the end, Kawasaki has carefully refined the 2015 Concours 14 ABS. The engine performance and the rider comfort, together with supreme high speed stability can make you feel like you own the highway. On back roads, this big machine still has the handling and feedback to give you confidence attacking corners. Shaft drive, and the proven design, mean there should be no long term maintenance surprises. At a U.S. MSRP of $15,499, this has to make your short list for luxury, high performance sport touring. It is available in two colors, including Candy Lime Green and Metallic Spark Black. Visit Kawasaki’s web site for additional details and specifications.

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59 Comments

  1. Its no K1300s but I like it and cheaper then my K1300.

  2. Its the ugly step brother to my K1300s but heavy on the step part.

  3. Dr Ron says:

    CC is a MUST if you have even mild carpal tunnel syndrome….it’s the difference between not riding beyond your hometown vs the whole continent is your backyard playground! -Dr Ron

    • Stuki Moi says:

      On a bike as powerful, stable, serene (and now windprotected) as this, it’s also the difference between keeping it safely at 10 over, and unintentionally creeping straight into jail.

      I’m sure the pressure to add cc, as well as general cost and perhaps emissions concerns, will force Kawi to adapt rbw throttles on their bikes, at which point adding cruise is largely cost free. I personally feel Kawi has across the board the nicest, crispest, most responsive yet smoothest, throttles in the business, so I’m not 100% sold on this inevitable development. But hopefully they can tune their rbw to keep the incredible feel of their cable operated system.

    • paul246 says:

      A simple and cheap Thottlemeister keeps my carpal symptoms away, no need for an expensive and complex electronic cruise control.

      • mickey says:

        I use a cramp buster on my touring bike, but truth be known I’d rather have a real CC. Last year I rode from Ohio to California and back in 11 days. A real CC would have come in real handy crossing some of those western states

        • paul246 says:

          Again, look into a Throttlemeister, they are perfect for the superslab and cost less than $150.00. They work well.

    • stinkywheels says:

      I just got back from a 1600 mile ride on an 03 RC51. 500 miles of straight 4 lanes with 1100 miles of twisting Ozark 2 lanes. I just purchased an OmniCruise and it was a godsend. I’ve used Throttlemeister and Crampbusters on all my bikes and this is the ticket. $50 and a handful of bands for every bike in the garage. Screw all the complexities of RBW. It’s American made, well made, priced right, fits most everything and doesn’t take up much grip room. I know it sounds like a commercial, but my 50+ year wrist wrist thanks him.

  4. Radioguy says:

    For months I studied and compared all the competition in this class. For my money when all was said and done I purchased a new Triumph Trophy SE. I call it my Beemer Beater (sorry R1200RT). In this category the Trophy’s combination of a big, beefy 1215cc triple along with a long list of standard features makes the Triumph a real winner. The deep, throaty growl of the big triple is also a nice plus.

  5. sma shooter says:

    I know that this is a big, heavy, feature-laden bike with performance just this side of amazing, both solo and two-up. I’m sure it’s well-engineered and does exactly what its builders wanted it to do. And by the way, I like the green! But I have to comment: These days, CARS deliver more than 40 miles per gallon. I’m surprised that some manufacturers haven’t begun offering systems like cylinder cut-out for highway cruising, when all that power isn’t needed. I know no one buys one of these fast, pricey bikes to win economy runs, but they ought to be more economical than they are. Just a thought.

    • mickey says:

      VFRs have that feature and it is universally hated.

      • paul says:

        If you’re referring to the V-Tec system I don’t think Honda wanted to improve fuel ecocnomy, but rather wanted to boost torque at lower revs.

        Also, it isn’t universally hated, I like mine just fine.

        I also like the fact that is DOESN’T have gear drive cam whine, can’t stand that sound.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        VFRs just turn two of the valves off per cylinder: they don’t cut the cylinders themselves out.

      • mickey says:

        Oh, he wants two of the 4 cyls to quit working altogether? Thats a lot of loaded up weight for 2 cyls I would think. Like having a 700 pound 700 cc twin.

        • Selecter says:

          Which only takes a few HP to do. Steady-state cruising doesn’t require more than that type of power. People seem to grossly over-estimate how much power/ccs they really need to have while just covering ground on the highway.

    • Colors says:

      Cars that get 40mpg don’t run 10’s in the quarter and aren’t governed to 186mph.

      And given that performance I’m more than satisfied with 40mpg. Show me a car that can toss down those kind of performance numbers and still achieve 40mpg. Show me a car that will give me those kind of numbers and keep the price tag under 50k.

      If you want a bike that runs on 2 cylinders, is half the displacement and achieves 50+ mpg then get a… Ninja 650, BMW F800, Yamaha FZ-07… and so on. Lots of options out there no need to neuter big GTs in search of more MPG.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “they ought to be more economical than they are”

      ok, why…?

      ought to be, or you WANT them to be…?

      careful, use of the word “ought” is to point a finger at the laws of physics.

  6. Bob Loblaw says:

    I don’t see too many C14s on the Police Rodeo videos; mostly they use ST13’s and the RTs.

  7. FNFAL says:

    I don’t know why, but the Kawasaki greens never get old for me. It must harken back to my youth.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Kawasaki greens never get old”

      they keep for days in the crisper. toss with balsamic. enjoy.

  8. Jlewis50 says:

    I have a 08 and love it. It s heavy at walking speeds but once underway is is great. With after market wind screen, seat and bar risers, heated grips it is an awesome ride. What sets the apart from any touring bike is the motor. Nothing is as strong as it…nothing….it is a beast. I am currently putting 157hp to the rear wheel with subtle perks, full exhaust and a PC5. I often forget to gear down and have left intersections in 3 gear,in error. It will haul. By my GPS, It will run 152mph two up. I am 6’4 255 and it wheelies at will if not easy on the throttle. Think ZX14 on the power. Maybe a weak zx14.
    I do wish it had cruise and some other more refining features but it is a great value still. Many carry over models can be had for less than $11k.

  9. Gary says:

    I’m so glad they remembered to include an outside air temperature readout on the instrument display. I hate that feeling of shock I get when I climb off my bike and it’s really freezing out.

  10. Gordon Haight says:

    The Kawisaki 1000 makes more sense to me– lighter handling and a whole lot less moola. But that’s just me.

  11. Jose says:

    ” viewed as existing toward the “luxury” end of the sport tourer spectrum” I don’t think so…Lack of cruise control, heated seats, heated grips, integrated sound system and with those handlebars. you can’t install basic nav or cell phone brackets.

  12. Vrooom says:

    I’ve got a C14, it’s amazingly fast in a straight line. It’s handling is a bit sluggish jumping off my Ducati, but otherwise better than you’d expect for the weight, which is approaching 700 lbs. Great ergonomics, great weather protection. The FJR turns in a bit better, but doesn’t pull as hard as this does (having owned both back to back). For big mileage days it’s a great bike. For a 200 mile twisty backroad ride there are better options.

    • xLaYN says:

      if your plan was to make someone envious… I have great news for you… you did it…

  13. Provologna says:

    I suspect my ideal touring bike is more along the lines of a BMW R1200ST, if they still make such model.

    Among imaginary/dream bikes, my ideal ride might be an inline-6, 1000cc-1200cc, possibly with auto-manual dual-cluth gearbox.

  14. Mike says:

    NOTE: My comments based on the 2008 model and passenger feedback comparing pix in this test to our 08. It appears based on article pix that passenger issues we had with our 08 have not changed in the 2015 model….could be wrong.

    PASSENGER NAY VIEWS
    1. The rear seat angle has the passenger sliding forward. (See sideview pix above)

    2. The ground to seat height difference between the rider and passenger is in the 4″-5″ range. If the passenger is the same height as the rider……..they will sit 5″ taller! If the passenger is taller than the rider…..you get the point. The electronic windscreen adjustment helped. (See sideview pix above)

    3. The passenger seat is somewhat short for any combination of taller, medium or sorta plus size passengers. The Corbin is 1.5″ or so longer, but foam was far too hard. (See sideview pix above)

    4. The passenger seat to footpeg length is too short if your passenger is 5″8″ or taller this will be a problem (see side view pix above)

    >>>>>

    OVERALL NAY VIEWS
    The 08 did not have compression adjustments on the front or back……….this was a massive issue over abrupt bumps in the road with fully packed side bags, top bag, tank bag and riding two up with a passenger as the ride was far too stiff and uncomfortable for rider and passenger ….and no standard adjustments solved this.

    OVERALL YEA VIEWS
    1. Amazing motor, transmission and drive train………other areas also

    2. Precision feel and riding impression throughout

    3. Great performance solo and two up

    4. Pretty much happy with everything ….exceptions stated

    OVERALL NAY VIEWS
    1. Ignition FOB/whatever it is called……60 years of riding and never disliked any motorcycle feature more. To this day do not understand the purpose/improvement it brings to ownership.

    2. Solo riding…. no issues other than the lack of compression suspension adjustments front and back as stated………if you are looking for a Sport Tour bike ….you owe it to yourself to test this bike. Two up riding lots of time….take your passenger on the ride and go for a long test ride.

    • Gordon Haight says:

      Looks like a Road King would suit you better.

      • todd says:

        No, read his Overal Yea’s. Engine/drivetrain quality and performance is important to him as is the quality of suspension. I think a Gold Wing would be more appropriate.

        • Gordon Haight says:

          If he’s concerned about passenger comfort,’he really ought to look elsewhere as his pillion will never be happy on the NINJA.

      • Mike says:

        Gordon & Todd….reading comprehension…. give it a try every so often.

  15. Neil says:

    “This bike is TOP HEAVY! – Kawasaki Concours Forum”

    • Norm G. says:

      so are a great many actresses…? but we men always find a way. we’re good like that…! 🙂

  16. Jeremy in TX says:

    Seems like a great value for the money.

  17. Gary B says:

    Always liked the new Concours, now that it’s in awesome Kawasaki green it might be time for me to part with my FJR. No cruise control doesn’t bother me, never had a bike with it. I stay away from the interstates and ride the twisties as much as possible so cruise isn’t any issue. What would be nice is factory heated seat. I ride to work at 6 am throughout the spring and fall when temperatures can be below freezing.

  18. North of Missoula says:

    I like to be able to see the engine on a motorcycle. It reminds of a Honda Pacific Coast in key lime green.

  19. Alex says:

    That tiny looking kickstand gives me anxiety.

  20. bentoolong says:

    Love it, but funny you mention the cruise control. I would not buy a bike in this category without it. Seems like a glaring omission.

    • Kagato says:

      agreed. if a Triumph Tiger XRX comes with CC standard–how can Kawasaki not have it on this “touring” bike? I don’t get it.

      • Dave says:

        Its a motorcycle you don’t need a cruise control.

        • mickey says:

          You may not NEED it, but some people like it, the same as adjustable suspension, heated grips, gear indicator, ABS, traction control, TPM, etc. Everyone has their own preferences.

          • Dirck Edge says:

            I demand the seat have a built-in hemorrhoid massage. Deal breaker if it doesn’t, but that’s just me.

          • mickey says:

            So sorry Dirck. The creme isn’t cutting it eh?

          • Neil says:

            I remember one painful ride to Daytona from Melbourne FL. Oh, never mind!

          • Blackcayman says:

            …”for all the good those suppositories
            did me I might as well have shoved them up my @$$”…

          • xLaYN says:

            Meanwhile at HemorroidsDaily.com
            the pillow makes everything smoother, think of it like a well tuned suspensions on the new Concours ZX14, I know it holds well its line but we are talking for up to 9/10 paces.
            Now that I mention that I have some brief review on how the package as a whole works with this settings once you are hard on brakes…

          • Lenz says:

            Adjustable suspension and ABS desirable, the rest mere frippery ….. in my humble opinion of course

          • Tom K. says:

            Kind of like that first ride after getting out of Joliet Penitentary. I was drafted into the football team – went in as a tight end, came out as a wide receiver. Stay in school, kids….

        • david says:

          Well, If you eat a lot of miles on the freeway slab, cruise control is great help. I wish for it on my FJR gen II when attacking freeway from one point to another. Otherwise, cruise control is not needed.

    • Caribooster says:

      It is too bad that Kawasaki missed the CC on the Concours. They have it on the Voyager and it works great! You do not use it all the time but when you are “slabbing it” on the Interstate during those long days it is a welcome addition.

  21. HARRYISCOOL says:

    MY DREAM MACHINE.