Classed as a Sports Tourer like the Honda STX1300, BMW GT1200 and Yamaha FJR1300, this bike has power in abundance, with the engine taken from the ZZR1400, although de-tuned it was always going to be quick and with 155bhp at 8,800rpm it certainly is.
To go with the speed you need some serious stoppers and this bike has them. At the end of the 43mm fully adjustable forks are twin semi floating ‘petal’ discs which are gripped by four pot radial callipers with ABS. To say these brakes work well is a gross understatement, they are fernon, phernom, fantatstic!
However there is a slight problem, when slow riding I tend to ride the rear brake just to balance the bike better, unfortunately when you do it on this bike the ABS pulses so you never have a consistent pressure making it awkward. In an off road car park at Brands Hatch, on loose gravel, I had to use both feet to keep the bike up which only left me the front brake which locked up everytime. Be aware.
The rear end has a Bottom-Link Uni-Trak with gas-charged shock, there is a pre-load adjuster on the left had side for when riding 2 up and/or loaded. The final drive is by Kawasaki’s Tetra-Lever shaft drive unit which is designed to reduce lift, squat, and driveline lash while smoothening acceleration; in conjunction with the Concours 14\'s slipper clutch, it works like a dream.
The riding position is very neutral, the distance to the bars will be comfortable to the vertically challenged with all controls easily to thumb. The seat is shaped for comfort which is plentiful with the front of the pillion seat raised to prevent your passenger sliding into you on braking. The mirrors are set below the height of the handlebars so no elbows, just a clear view of the road behind.
The dash is well laid out with dial type rev counter and speedo, the LCD display gives you your gear, average speed, overall mpg and current mpg, tyre pressures, 3 trips, fuel and temp gauge’s. There is more but I can’t remember them all.
Two additions that are very useful are the electric screen and 12v socket in the facia, this meant I could use my sat nav with the car plug which I can’t do on some other similar bikes. Also there is the cubby hole on top of the tank which will take a mobile phone + other items such as change for tolls.
For security it is fitted with KIPASS (Kawasaki’s Intelligent Proximity Activation Start System). Similar to the Harley system you have a fob which holds a transponder and there is also one fitted to the bike, if it is not within 5 feet the bike will not start. It means you can leave it in your pocket and forget about it – as long as you don’t forget which coat it’s in before going for a ride.
The ignition switch has four positions, on, off, steering lock and FSS (fuel, storage, Seat). To remove the key you need to push it in then turn to the desired position, you can only remove it in FSS mode.
So what’s it like to ride? very good! I decided to ride to our AGM in Hereford and the choice of bike proved a bonus, it was 212 miles door to door and we had all day to do it so used as many back roads as possible.
On the motorways it rides like a real tourer, the engine pulls you along at any rate of knots you could want, if you wanted to get somewhere yesterday this bike would have a go for you. It’s comfortable riding position means less stress on you and the adjustable screen does a good job of keeping you out of the wind, however two points of interest. 1. If I was 3 inches shorter I would have been ore protected, and 2. The wife said she got more buffering on the back than on the Pan where there was none, maybe a wider screen would fix it?
After having a thrash at my motorway speeds on the M20, M25 and M3 we headed into Reading for a cuppa before part 2 of the ride. Suitably refreshed we headed west out of Reading onto the A417 which runs across to Cirencester in Gloucestershire which turned out to be better than the map showed.
In areas in was fast sweeping bends followed by long open straights and then tight twisty bits, a wonderful road with good surfaces and on a bike that handles very well it was a lot of fun. Despite the fact that the bike weighs in at 679lbs with ABS and a full tank, plus 2 people at around 30 stone I was very impressed.
Providing you concentrated on your road position and were in the right gear prior to hitting the bends it tracked extremely well, it has a ground clearance of 125mm, or just under 5 inches you have plenty of lean angle to play with. Footpegs and road could easily become firm friends.
Flicking through the box was a little clunky changing up, but that was solved by using clutchless changes which smoothed it out, changing down was smooth and effortless. 41 miles later we arrived in Cirencester not realising the distance we had covered as it had been so easy, the next bit of road would really test the handling though.
After another coffee we headed off on the last leg to Hereford, the first section was dual carriageway all the way to Gloucester and around the ring road until we hit the A40. This road goes all the way to Fishguard but we were only going as far as Ross on Wye, once your out in the country parts of this road tighten up – a lot.
It was at this point I realised just how well this bike handled, despite the weight I found I could probably throw this bike into a corner faster than I could physically ride it. You can feel what the tyres are doing as you throw it on it’s side like having a mini camera sending pictures to your brain, and if you felt you were going a tad too fast you could ride the rear brake. The confidence it gives you excellent.
On our return on Saturday night it was the same route except the A417, we just blatted down to Swindon and back on the M4, and as it got dark I managed to check something I don’t normally, the lights. They produce a very bright wide flat beam which lights up the road impressively well and on full beam you could spot bombers but the same old problem arises when you hit the corners.
As you lean you lose part of the beam from the inside light while the other one lights up the opposite side of the road, hence I did slow down a bit as not being able to see where your going can be a hindrance.
This bike comes with side panniers which will each take a full face lid-tested, and you can get plenty of clothes in for a trip away. The majority of people will I imagine fit a top box which will finish it off nicely. We never had rain so couldn’t check they were waterproof but the seal inside points to them being so.
Extra’s available include a high screen at £106, low gel seat at £280 and engine guards at £262, not cheap I must admit but I suspect there will be OE parts available somewhere?
So the last piece which I have saved till last is the mpg. I have seen all kinds of figures on the internet which you have to take note of as there are no official figures from Kawasaki, but I was pleasantly surprised.
I did a total of 689 miles over the 4 days I had the bike and it averaged 45.67mpg, from a 22 litre tank it should get you around 200 miles. However, if you use a lot of the power available to you this will drop quiet dramatically the wrong side of 90mph.
All in all a very good bike, in particular, the handling is up there with any bike in the class and, outside that group. If your looking for a bike like this you would be doing yourself no harm by trying one of these, it ticks all the boxes.