2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS First Ride Review

2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 Test

8 Things You Must Know About The 2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

Instead of engaging in the technology wars that bump up the price of motorcycles, Kawasaki has chosen to carefully upgrade the 2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS with cost-effective changes that reposition the big sport-tourer as a budget high-performance touring sport bike.

Not stone age by any means, the 2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 has traction control (on or off, no other adjustments), a Fuel Economy Assistance Mode (no other power options from standard), ABS (on or off, no other choices), tire pressure sensors and keyless ignition. What you won’t find is electronically adjusted suspension, let alone anything as sophisticated as active suspension that changes settings on the fly.

By sacrificing those electronic assistants, you are able to get a high-performance sport-tourer based on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R hyperbike for $15,499. If you like to ride more than push buttons and determine settings, the Concours 14 ABS is certainly an appealing choice.

Let’s take a look at the refinements and how much impact they have.

1. The Concours 14’s new seat is the first thing anyone will notice, as it has an improved ergonomic shape, as well as the modern front cutaways to allow you to reach the ground more easily. Not a huge improvement, but a nice incremental one. Plus, it looks nice with the contrasting stitching.

2. Looking down at the 2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 instrument cluster, you will see silver-colored plastic bezels around the two clocks. Yes, that does look better, and sets off the speedo and tach nicely from the background. Still, I’d rather have a large LCD mph readout than an analog dial with lots of small numbers (topping out at 180 mph).

3. Start the 2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 up and look down at your right foot and you’ll notice a new heat shield. This first ride was on a cold day (down into the 40s), so this wasn’t a big issue. Even if the effect is minimal, the extra protection gives the exhaust system a more finished look.

4. Kawasaki dropped the first gear ratio in an effort to make it easier to handle at low speeds and when taking off. As Kawasaki pointed out to me, a large number of Concours 14 riders take passengers along, and this probably helps in that sort of situation. Riding solo, it’s not necessary. There is enough power on tap to take off in 2nd gear without even noticing you hadn’t clicked down to 1st (there is a helpful gear-position readout).

5. Another effort to assist the rider at low speeds is a new steering stem seal on the C14. This is the sort of thing you can’t notice without riding the two bikes back-to-back, but upgrades like this always enhance the riding experience.

6. Getting into a more functional upgrade, the 2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 has a new windshield, and it makes a big difference. Like many touring bikes of late, the Concours now has a low closable vent in the windshield. With it open, turbulence is significantly reduced. Additionally, with the vent closed (or on the older windshield), a low-pressure bubble behind the windshield develops at high speed, which can suck the rider in and cause fatigue. The new windshield and vent is a huge improvement, and probably the only time you’ll want to close it is in heavy rain (as we did). As before, an easy-to-operate left-thumb rocker switch is used to raise and lower the windshield.

7. For 2015, Kawasaki has recalibrated the Concours 14 ABS’s linked braking. The new master cylinder and ABS module reduce the amount of braking power sent to the front wheel when the foot brake is pressed. This means the front end dives a bit less under braking, but it also means the braking power of the foot pedal is reduced. This is something of a draw, and how much you like this change comes down to personal preference. Certainly, riders who are aggressive and use the hand brakes extensively will applaud the change. More passive riders who enjoy the ease of actuating the foot pedal while holding on fully to the grips will not be as enthusiastic.

8. As part of the effort to make the Concours 14 a bit more sporting, as well as more passenger-friendly, the rear suspension has been stiffened a bit. Most of our testing was in the rain or on wet roads, so we weren’t able to push the C14 hard enough in our first ride to test that. However, we can tell you that it wasn’t stiffened so much that it took away the comfortably plush ride that makes the Concours an excellent long-distance touring mount. Also, the 2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 gets a remote preload adjuster that is tool-free.

The rest of the Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS remains unchanged for 2015, save for the lime green color, which is striking in person. It was a great sport-touring motorcycle going in, and it only gets better for 2015. The technology race is leaving the Concours behind, but that doesn’t seem to bother Kawasaki. There’s still a large group of riders who prefer simplicity and price to riding on the cutting edge. For them, the 2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 is ready to ride.

Photography by Kevin Wing Photography

Riding Style
Helmet: Fly Racing Conquest
Jacket: Rev’It Poseidon GTX
Basewear top: GatorSkins Thermal Long Sleeve Shirt
Gloves: Rev’It Vapor H2O
Pants: Rev’It Vapor
Basewear bottom: GatorSkins Thermal Charcoal Thermal Pants
Boots: Joe Rocket Sonic R Waterproof Touring

2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS Specifications
• Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, inline-four with variable valve timing
• Displacement: 1352cc
• Bore x Stroke: 84 x 61 mm
• Compression Ratio: 10.7: 1
• Fuel System: EFI with four 40mm throttle bodies
• Cooling System: Liquid
• Ignition: TCBI with Digital Advance
• Transmission: Six-speed
• Final Drive: Tetra-Lever shaft drive
• Frame Type: Monocoque Aluminum
• Rake: 26 degrees
• Trail: 4.4 inches
• Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: 43mm inverted, telescopic fork with adjustable rebound damping and spring preload / 4.4 inches
• Rear Suspension / Wheel Travel: Tetra-Lever with stepless rebound damping adjustment and remote spring preload adjuster / 5.4 inches
• Tire, Front: 120/70 ZR17
• Tire, Rear: 190/50 ZR17
• Brakes, Front: Dual floating 310mm petal-style rotors with four-piston calipers, ABS
• Brakes, Rear: Single 270mm petal-style rotor, two-piston caliper and ABS
• Overall Length: 87.8 inches
• Overall Width: 39.4 inches
• Overall Height (windshield down/up): 52.9 inches / 57.7 inches
• Ground Clearance: 4.9 inches
• Seat Height: 32.1 inches
• Curb Weight: 690 pounds
• Fuel Capacity: 5.8 gallons
• Wheelbase: 59.8 inches
• Color Choices: Candy Lime Green, Metallic Spark Black
2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 MSRP: $15,499


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