2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS First Ride Review

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Highs
  • Optimal blend of speed, handling, and comfort
  • Improved braking function and ABS calibration
  • Incredibly agile for a 700-pound motorcycle
Lows
  • Still no cruise control
  • Linked braking feature can’t be disabled
  • No mechanical starting key (electronic key fob instead).

Big power, big comfort, and big storage— this is whatKawasaki’s Concours 14 ABS ($15,499) is all about. And for 2015 this touring cult favorite gets a small batch of enhancements to allow it to compete with the pricier competition.

Starting with the powertrain, the Concours 14 continues to be powered by a modified, variable valve timing (VVT) equipped version of Kawasaki’s big displacement 1352cc Inline Four yanked out of its Ninja ZX-14R hyperbike. The VVT affords better fuel economy at lower rpm without sacrificing wailing top-end punch. In fact the last time we tested the Connie, it unleashed nearly 135 horsepower and almost 90 lb-ft of torque (at the back tire). Muscle is augmented through a six-speed transmission and shaft drive that is virtually maintenance free aside from 7500-mile fluid changes (same interval as engine oil).

Although it’s a couple years old now, Kawasaki’s Concours 14 ABS continues to impress with its optimum blend of speed, handling, and comfort.

Inside the gearbox, engineers fitted a shorter first gear in an effort to improve launching and parking lot speed maneuvers. The update is complemented by a reduced friction headstock seal.

A reshaped windscreen is larger and continues to be electronically adjustable. It also features an adjustable louver to help reduce wind buffeting behind the handlebar.

Although it’s been a while since we’ve ridden a Concours 14, these two updates didn’t net much of a difference based on memory. Though to be fair, the Concours continues to be a surprisingly nimble motorcycle, especially when you consider that it weighs nearly 700 pounds. Handling is aided by a favorable center of gravity and quality suspension components.

The Concours 14’s instrument panel is mostly unchanged aside from a stainless-steel face bezel. The speed and tach are easily enough to read but we wish the LCD was larger.

The suspension offers the best of both worlds: more aggressive road holding on twisty sections of tarmac and favorable bump absorption on rougher surfaces, too. As before, the rider can easily modify the shock’s preload setting with a handy adjustment knob. However, modifying the fork preload setting must be done the old fashioned way with tools.

The action of the suspension can be tweaked further via separate rebound damping adjusters, front and rear. The Concours also comes outfitted with a premium and highly versatile set of sport-touring rubber in the form of Bridgestone’s Battlax BT-021 hoops. The wheels employ sensors that monitor the tire’s air pressure and display it on the instrument display, which features a silver stainless-steel bezel as opposed to the black plastic face.

The Concours 14 ABS sees a few key upgrades in the stopping department including a new front master cylinder and a new ABS controller from Bosch. The updates are noticeable with improved braking sensation.

While we’re hard pressed to notice much difference in terms of engine or handling dynamic, in the braking department we did. A newly designed master cylinder powers a pair of four piston calipers via a second-generation linked braking system with a Bosch-sourced ABS controller.

The Concours continues to sport a shaft final drive requiring nothing more than fluid changes every 7500 miles.

We’re not a big fan of front-to-rear, or vice-versa, linked brakes. But the new system performs as advertised and can be a worthwhile feature for less experienced riders. Considering its size and high-levels of performance, this isn’t a motorcycle we’d classify as ‘novice friendly.’ Nevertheless, braking sensation is significantly improved allowing the rider to use the front brakes harder with better feel between the road surface and tire.

(Top) Sport-oriented riders will cherish the Concours 14 excellent road holding capabilities on curvy roads. (Center) The seat has been reshaped for improved comfort. It also wears a special heat resistant cover sourced from Kawasaki’s Jet Ski division. (Bottom) For an nearly 700-pound motorcycle, Kawasaki’s Concours 14 is an exceptionally nimble machine.

In terms of creature comforts, the 2015 Concours now benefits from a reshaped electrically adjustable windscreen with three-way adjustable louvers that help reduce wind buffeting behind the handlebar. The shape of the seat was also modified for enhanced comfort and features a special heat resistant seat cover gleaned from Kawasaki’s Jet Ski division. A tank pad now comes standard and protects the paint from damage from zippers and/or belt buckles.

The Kawi also boasts a 12-volt power plug (located below the instrument panel) and easy-to-mount/dismount hard cases capable of swallowing 35 liters of cargo each. And if that’s not enough, there’s also an even larger 47-liter accessorial top case ($274.95).

Engineers fitted a lower first gear and reduced friction steering stem seal, however we couldn’t feel any difference compared to the ’10 version.

Other features of its electronic package we appreciate are its efficient traction control and heated grips, but wish cruise control could be added to its electronics array.

Although the platform is a few years old now, Kawasaki’s top-of-the-line sport-touring bike continues to make us believers with its near perfect blend of performance and comfort. Factor in its lofty build quality, three-year warranty, not to mention it’s $700 lower MSRP (compared to the ’14 model), and the 2015 Concours is one heck of a value for those seeking a cable heavyweight sport-tourer.

The Concours 14 ABS is available in two flavors for 2015: Candy Lime Green and Metallic Spark Black.

Kawaski Concours 14 Tech Specs

  • Engine: 1352cc liquid-cooled Inline Four; 16-valves
  • Bore x Stroke: 84.0 mm x 61.0 mm
  • Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
  • Fuel System: Fuel Injection
  • Transmission: Six-speed
  • Final Drive: Shaft
  • Front Suspension: 43mm inverted fork; 4.4 in., travel
  • Rear Suspension: Tetra-lever coil spring shock; 5.4 in., travel
  • Front Brakes: 310mm discs with four-piston calipers
  • Rear Brake: 270mm single disc with twin-piston caliper
  • Tires: Bridgestone Battlax BT-021 120/70-17, 190/55-17
  • Length: 87.8 inches
  • Width: 39.4 inches
  • Wheelbase: 59.8 inches
  • Seat Height: 32.1 inches
  • Fuel Capacity: 5.8 gallons
  • Curb Weight: 690 lbs.
  • Colors: Candy Lime Green; Metallic Spark Black
  • Warranty: 36-month unlimited mileage
  • MSRP: $15,499

2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS -  15 499. The Concours continues to sport a shaft final drive requiring nothing more than fluid changes every 7500 miles. Although its a couple years old now  Kawasakis Concours 14 ABS continues to impress with its optimum blend of speed  handling  and comfort.
Engineers fitted a lower first gear and reduced friction steering stem seal  however we couldnt feel any difference compared to the 10 version.The Concours 14s instrument panel is mostly unchanged aside from a stainless-steel face bezel. The speed and tach are easily enough to read but we wish the LCD was larger.The seat has been reshaped for improved comfort. It also wears a special heat resistant cover sourced from Kawasakis Jet Ski division.

(motorcycle-usa.com)

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