Customers talked and Kawasaki listened. While rapid reinventions are a hallmark of the sport bike segment, sport-touring designs are typically not revisited with the same frequency. However, only two years after the introduction of the original Kawasaki Concours 14, we find ourselves standing in front of the updated version that is set to roll into your local Kawasaki showroom.
When Kawasaki reopened the CAD drawings for their big-gun Concours 14, the goal was make it a more touring-friendly mount. This objective evolved from discussions with existing Concours 14 owners who had complained the motorcycle exhibited a bias towards sport performance that overshadowed its usefulness as a touring machine.
There were other concerns as well. The Concours 14 was accused of being a slow-cooker, the heat radiating from its 1,352 cc engine enough to cause riders discomfort and their demand for a cooler motorcycle. Addressing this issue, Kawasaki engineers have reworked the fairing and promised the new version to be far more efficient at heat management.
But will coddling the needs of long-distance voyagers result in a neutered version of the high-performance, ZX-14 derived sport-tourer? We’ve travelled to the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains in Southern California to find out. The roads here are a mixture of long desert plains and tight mountain switchbacks, and we can’t think of a more suitable environment to test this sport-touring machine and gather a first impression of the improved model. You’ll find our full report of Kawasaki’s powerful trans-continental express in the January issue of Cycle Canada.