2010 Kawasaki Concours 14
Even more techno-trickery for the touring Ninja
Those 10-spoke aluminum wheels roll over from last year's Connie, but the Bridgestone BT-021U radials make steering much more linear, though it's still a bit slow. Kawasaki say's they'll last longer, too. ABS is optional once again, adding $700 to the sticker price. This time a lighter, more compact ABS system links front and rear brakes, and KTRC traction control is part of the deal. Kawasaki Advanced Coactive Braking Technology (K-ACT) is an electronically governed dual-mode system. Stop the bike and a switch on the left bar lets you choose between two modes. The sportier Low Combined setting is designed to deliver a sporting level of front brake when you step on the pedal. High Combined mode puts progressively more front brake under your right foot. The front brake lever's effect on the rear disc is the same in either mode. An icon in the LCD dash shows the current mode.
Peel away the 2010 plastic and you'll see an aluminum-monocoque skeleton carried over from the '08 Concours 14, which is in turn a stronger version of the '06 ZX-14 frame. Like Kawasaki's first monocoque streetbike, the 2000 ZX-12R, this one is relatively narrow between the knees. The downside? It's a bit top-heavy, too. The 43mm fork legs are the same on the outside, but each one carries 25 milliliters (.84-ounce) more oil than last year for more precise steering and extra stability at speed.
The ZX-14-derived 1352cc four is essentially a transplant from the '08-'09 model. Dual balance shafts allow solid engine mounts. Hydraulically variable valve timing fattens the power curve from 4000 to 6000 rpm without letting thrust flatten out on top. The diaphragm-type slipper clutch uses coil springs to stifle driveline slack. A quartet of links in the Tetra-lever swingarm keeps all that torque from jacking up the rear suspension when you're on the gas or squatting on its haunches when you roll off. This time, Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC) is on the case, constantly comparing wheel-speed data from the ABS sensors. Spin the rear faster than the front and it dials back fuel delivery, intake airflow and ignition timing to match power output with available traction, regardless of how far you twist the throttle. KTRC activates when the engine starts, but you can turn it off-or back on-with a switch on the left bar, on the fly.
An ECO indicator in the LCD cockpit comes on whenever the engine is sipping super unleaded efficiently. Switching to ECO-mode takes conservation measures one step further, cuing a leaner fuel map in the fuel-injection ECU, potentially increasing fuel mileage by up to 25 percent. It works in any gear, but all systems revert to normal above 6000 rpm, 30 percent throttle or 80 mph.
Extensive analysis of Computational Fluid Dynamics data yielded bodywork that dispenses with engine heat more efficiently and directs it away from the rider. The 2010 fairing flares out further on either side. New panels close the engine/fairing gap while larger side vents give hot air a more convenient escape route. No more slow-baked shins.
The electrically adjustable windscreen is 2.75 inches taller and wider at the top to nix buffeting and wind noise at freeway speeds. New vents on either side of the instruments balance low-pressure air and subsequent turbulence inside the cockpit. Mirrors ride 1.6 inches higher to provide a better rear view and steer more wind around your hands. Heated grips are standard for 2010, adjustable via a knob just below the new storage compartment below the left grip. An electromagnetic lock secures it above 25 mph, or when the ignition is switched off.
The Kawasaki Intelligent Proximity Activation System (KI-PASS) is back, automatically awakening the ignition and other vital electronics with a pocket-sized fob when you're within 5.25 feet of the bike and powering down 3-4 seconds after you step away. Since losing said fob can ruin your day, the 2010 Concours comes with a smaller secondary fob with a 4-inch range so you can stash it in your luggage. New hooks toward the rear of the cockpit make securing a tank bag easier.