2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R | Doin' Time

Photography by Kevin Wing

WRIST: Dave Sonsky
MSRP (2012): $14,699
MILES: 3939
MPG: 36
Mods: Silkolene oil, K&N filter

As the 3000-mile mark and a track day approached it was the right time for some general maintenance. Silkolene’s Pro 4 synthetic 10W-40 (www.silkoleneusa.com; $14.95/liter) replaced the original oil, and a K&N filter (www.knfilters.com; $13.99) installed easily thanks to its 17mm attached nut—coincidentally the oil drain plug is also 17mm, so I only needed a single tool to take care of both the filter and drain plug. It’s the little things that can make maintenance a simple task instead of a chore, and being able to tighten the filter with a socket seems so civilized versus trying to tighten it with oily hands and a cumbersome filter wrench.

The Kawasaki’s stock Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact tires were still surprisingly “round,” so no need to make a switch there, despite the 300-plus mile round trip to the circuit. This really says something of their durability—particularly the rear’s—as it regularly deals with enough horsepower to square off a lesser rear tire in a single weekend of hard upright riding.

While on the topic of tires (and traction), my main objective of the track day was to experiment with the various KTRC traction-control settings. With two dry sessions and plenty of tinkering through the modes in the bag, the clouds began to spit, making the track dangerously slick—yet perfect to test the TC to the limit.

During the dry sessions Level 1 was ideal. It allowed the rear to step out but gathered it back before things ended in tears and broken bike (and body) bits. In the wet conditions the 14’s TC is not as predictable, but Level 2 works impeccably. The mild slide/spin characteristics offer enough confidence to twist the throttle to the stop while still leaned over, almost in total disregard for the consequences such behavior would typically bring. Level 3 is very obtrusive, and ZX-14R owners should already have enough inherent skill to relegate that mode to…riding on a frozen lake? And no, I’m not saying that’s coming next, though Frank might go for it.

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