2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS

Text: Ken Freund • Photography: Kevin Wing

While other manufacturers raise their prices for the new model year, Team Green drops the list price of the Concours 14 by a whopping 0! This potent sport-touring model was 
introduced for 2008 and last freshened up in 2010. Changes for 2015 are modest but add up to a significant total. There’s a lower first gear, lighter steering, 
firmer rear suspension, a new windscreen, and revised braking—
along with a few other goodies.

Powertrain and Performance

Kawasaki’s Concours 14 is powered 
by an impressive, yet civilized, 1,352cc engine sourced from a previous iteration of Kawi’s Ninja ZX-14R sportbike. The fuel injected Concours 14’s four-cylinder power plant features dual-overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, and variable valve timing (VVT). The result is strong, responsive torque across a wide power band. It’s rated at 102 lb-ft of torque at 6,200 rpm. Although Kawasaki doesn’t provide a horsepower rating, it’s around 140 hp at the wheel, and acceleration is stunning when you open it up. Yet, it is so docile at low rpm that you can do 35 mph in sixth gear!

First gear is six percent lower to make it easier to accelerate away from a stop, especially with a passenger onboard, and on hills. The six-speed manual gearbox is slick shifting, and clutch action is smooth with moderate effort. At 60 mph in sixth gear, indicated rpm is a leisurely 2,750 thanks to the 2.036:1 final drive ratio.

Additional features include Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC) and a Fuel Economy Assistance Mode. However, the Concours 14 does not have a throttle-by-wire system, so one won’t find power modes or electronic cruise control.

Chassis and Handling

The frame is an aluminum monocoque utilizing the engine as a stressed member, with an aluminum Tetra-Lever shaft drive rear swingarm with 5.4 inches of travel. Up front there’s a 43mm inverted fork with adjustable spring preload, rebound damping, and 4.4-inches of travel. A single rear shock is adjustable for rebound damping and has a remote spring preload adjustment. The rear suspension was stiffened slightly to improve stability when a passenger and luggage are onboard.

Ride quality is sporty-firm without being harsh. Low-speed steering has always been heavy on the C-14. Kawi changed the type of steering neck seal for ‘15, which seems to reduce drag somewhat, but a wider handlebar would help. The Connie can lean into a corner deeply and holds a line well through the turns. High-speed stability is excellent, and the bike is confidence inspiring. At 690 pounds with fuel (claimed), the Concours is a heavy motorcycle, and it feels that way at low speeds, but as speed increases the weight seems to melt away. With a GVWR of 1,172 pounds, that leaves 482 pounds for riders and cargo.

Also among the 2015 updates are refinements to the ABS system and master cylinders. The revised dual-mode linked braking reduces the application of the front brake when the rear is applied. Standard Mode, which is recommended for solo and sporty riding, has less linked effect upon initial application. High Combined Mode, which is recommended for two-up riding and touring, has a stronger linked effect. Linked braking is good for riders who are in the habit of using mostly rear brakes, but I prefer to select my own ratio for each stop.

Features and Ergonomics

A redesigned electrically-operated windscreen incorporates a new three-position (two open, one closed) vent. At highway speeds the new screen works. When the vent is opened, head buffeting is reduced noticeably.

I found the saddle to be suitable for an all-day ride. The seat base was narrowed at the front, allowing shorter riders to reach the ground easier. It’s also covered with a new anti-slip material to prevent sliding under hard braking, featuring double-stitched detailing. The passenger seat is now flatter and longer for more comfort, and there’s a Touring Seat available.

The standard heated grips have a variable dial, which keeps fingers cozy. If the weather turns hot, a new exhaust heat shield reduces radiated heat on the rider when stopped.Instrumentation is unchanged except for new silver bezels. There are plenty of useful functions, including instant and average fuel economy and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). A fairing storage box stows small items, and there is a 12-volt DC power socket.

KTRC uses the ABS sensors to detect wheel speed and reduces engine power if wheelspin is detected to maintain rear tire traction. However, if it had throttle-by-wire control, it would be more precise and effective.

There’s a new rear luggage base, and the standard color-matched Kawasaki Quick Release (KQR) hard saddlebags can be removed or fitted in seconds. The bags are locked with Kawasaki’s One Key system, which allows them to be locked with the ignition key. The same applies to the optional color-matched KQR 47-liter topcase.

Final Thoughts

For 2015, Kawasaki’s Concours 14 ABS is offered in either Candy Lime Green or Metallic Spark Black for a suggested retail price of $ 15,499. This is a decrease of $ 700 from last year and positions the bike as the lowest-priced model in the open-class sport-touring category. If riders can get along without cruise control and electric suspension controls, this is a powerful, capable sport-touring machine that delivers a lot of bang for the buck!