Generally speaking, turning 130-something horsepower loose on an expanse of wet, slippery white plastic in a hotel parking lot is very bad idea. But since our friends at Kawasaki said it would be okay, I did it anyway. They set the whole thing up to show off the 2010 Concours 14's KTRC traction control system. After a day on the road, a cold Anchor Steam sounded better than skidding around in cold water, but they'd gone to all the trouble of bolting on a set of outriggers for the occasion and that beer wasn't going anywhere.
To see exactly how slippery our mystery plastic was when wet, I cue up for a pass with the traction control circuitry switched off. Roll onto the white stuff and grab a handful. The rear Bridgestone spins up to an obscene speed roughly 15 times greater than the front and the 679 lbs. of motorcycle head for a very solid looking brick wall. Thank God and Jeff Herzog for the outriggers. Wobble through the parking lot for round two, and it's thank God and Kawasaki engineering for traction control. Make sure the system is on – no KTRC light on in the bottom corner of the tach face – ease on to the slick stuff, roll the throttle wide open and…nothing. Sensing imminent disaster well before I would, the computer backs power to down to match available grip, the exhaust note goes flat and we trundle safely back onto actual grippy blacktop. No outrigger assist necessary. Nice. Kawasaki says KTRC is a safety feature and not a performance enhancer. That's fine with me. Heading into winter and the possibility of actual precipitation on L.A. freeways, we need all the help we can get.