And what of the KTRC traction control and K-ACT ABS? We purposely ran the new Concours over gravel patches and grabbed a handful of throttle just to see how it worked, and found it functioned as advertised. A more graphic demonstration was given when Kawasaki reps had us ride an outrigger-equipped Concours over a wet plastic runway that had even less traction with the TC on and off. While not an absolute failsafe (remember that it's possible to cause a loss of traction without the throttle), it will definitely help when pulling out of dirt lots or when accelerating over wet pavement.
The K-ACT linked ABS provides a decent amount of feel for an ABS-equipped system, although its progression rate can be a little unnerving for the uninitiated. In standard mode, braking with just the front brake seems like any normal brake system until you start to use the rear brake pedal past a moderate amount; at that point, the braking progression ramps up pretty quickly and you gain stopping power faster than you expected. In High Combined mode, the progression rate just begins much quicker into the pedal travel; it almost feels like a power assist in many instances. Luckily it doesn't cause the chassis to become unruly when the braking power ramps up because of the linked system; instead of the front end diving, the bike just squats down on the suspension more and quickly bleeds off speed. Since the braking is linked regardless, we opted to just use the front brake lever for best results when riding aggressively in the canyons.
Filling In The Blanks
It's not often that a motorcycle manufacturer listens and follows consumer suggestions as closely as Kawasaki has with the new Concours 14. And it's even more rare that a manufacturer would spend the resources to enact those changes in such a tough economic environment. But our brief exposure to the 2010 Concours 14 was enough to know that Kawasaki is onto something, and they're justifiably proud enough to introduce it at a time when everyone else is severely pulling back and standing pat. We've just taken delivery of a '10 Concours test unit, so stay tuned for a full test, as well as a comparison to the rest of the 2010 competition.
2010 Kawasaki Concours 14
MSRP: $14,599/$15,299 ABS
Type: Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC inline four
Bore x stroke: 84.0 x 61.0mm
Compression ratio: 10.7:1
Induction: Digital fuel injection w/40mm throttle bodies, single inj./cyl.
Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Bridgestone BT-021U
Rear tire: 190/50ZR-17 Bridgestone BT-021U R
Rake/trail: 26.1 deg./4.4 in. (112mm)
Wheelbase: 59.8 in. (1519mm)
Seat height: 32.1 in. (815mm)
Fuel capacity: 5.8 gal. (22L)
Claimed wet weight (full fuel, ready to ride): 670.3 lb.