When Kawasaki introduced the Concours to the world in 1986, it took the Sport Touring category of bikes to a whole new level. Similar in style and performance to the Ninja 900 and Ninja 1000 models, Kawasaki was determined to explore new avenues without tampering with the previous lines. The Concours was given slightly smaller carburetors, a shaft drive, front and rear sub-frames, and modified ramp cams. However, in 1994 the bike was given a major upgrade with the latest in digital instrumentation, controls, as well as redesigning the shock and brake systems to create a machine the likes of which had never been seen before. A full decade later, with minimal changes to the motorcycle, the Concours Base was still a force of modern innovation other manufacturers envied.
The four-stroke 997cc engine is a big reason why the Concours connected with bikers, and it is still used in many Kawasaki models to this day. It delivers an impressive 95.5 horsepower at around 9,000 rpm. The pulling power peaks at about 6,000 rpm where the maximum torque of 65.7 lb-ft is reached. There's still plenty of pulling strength, anywhere between 3,000 to 9,000 rpm range, as the engine was designed to keep a fairly high torque between the top four of the six gears.
One of the big advantages to the bike is the extra-large fuel tank. When reading the specifications on the Concours, it could easily be thought that the 7.5-gallon fuel capacity must be a typo. Fortunately, this is not the case and, with a relatively high-for-its-weight 37.5 average fuel economy, riders enjoy almost 300 miles of roadway between every fill up. The seat houses an inner layer of triple-density foam so those extended journeys down the open road are less taxing on the riders rear end.
It's not just the fuel tank that's large – the entire motorcycle is impressively exaggerated, compared to most bikes in the same class. The bike stands 55.7 inches at its peak, though the seat height is low enough (at 31.1 inches) to accommodate all but the shortest of riders. While not the longest bike ever produced, it's just a hair over 7.5 feet in length. While the size certainly commands respect, perhaps more important is it allows for a good amount of storage space that other models lack. The two saddlebags are 17.0 inches long, 12.5 inches wide, and 12.0 full inches deep, providing nearly three cubic feet of storage which could easily fit a full grocery bag of goodies with room to spare. The Concours Base doesn't stop there with storage. Two locking compartments in the front make it easy to store a wallet, house keys, gloves and other small items with no worries. If that's not enough (and apparently Kawasaki felt it wasn't) the rear of the bike is fitted with a rack to hold even more items should the saddlebags and front compartments become full. It's easy to see why Kawasaki kept this design around for so long, and while 2007 ushered in a new era for the line with the Concours 14, it was more out of the desire to do something new rather than because the motorcycle was outdated.