The Kawasaki Concours 14 leaves the garage for the last time and takes a legendary name with it. The 2022 model, of which there are probably still a few around, has a sticker of $18,999 – you would be hard press to find the combination of performance, comfort and touring ability anywhere else for a price that is close.
The Kawasaki Concours has a legendary history. The original Concours, the ZG1000, deserves most the credit. When new, which was a very long time ago, the original Concours was one of the first modern sport touring machines with a true emphasis on the sport side of the riding spectrum – saddlebags and speed. The bike was so good at it purpose it didn’t need to be radically changed for a long, long time. While towards the end, after so many years on the market, the Concours ZG 1000 began to look dated having received only the merest of visual updates over its long life – but it still looked good. The styling was simple, clean and avoiding styling cues that may have been cutting edge at the time but didn’t age well.
For the 2007 model year Kawasaki replaced the Concours with the Concours 14. The new bike was not the subdued stately machine that its predecessor was but rather a close companion to the fire breathing ZX14 superbike that had arrived on the scene to replace the awesome ZX-12R (another of our all time favourites)albeit with more comfort, better touring ergonomics and a shaft drive. There is no doubt that the new Concours was an improvement over the old bike. Power was close to double and featured rider aids with advanced tech that would have been a pipe dream for the original bike.
But beyond prodigious power was it a better bike for its intended purpose? Part of the problem was that the Concours 14 arrived in an era of motorcycle development when bigger almost alway equated to better. And who know, in some regards maybe it is. More power, more comfort. But the surprise is, considering the appearance of both bikes, that the Concours ZG1000 and the Concours 14 weighed in almost identical – albeit the wet weight of the 14 included a few less litres of fuel than the ZG1000. Just that alone proved that the art of motorcycle engineering had change dramatically since the Concours 1000 was on the drawing boards in the early ’80s. The Concours 14 itself went on and on although not the twenty year run of the ZG1000, it seems to have lasted 15 years. The Concours 14 has disappeared from both the Canadian and American market as a 2023 model. This doesn’t come as a complete surprise. The Concours had already been discontinued in most markets around the globe as other more current sport touring options came available – even some from Kawasaki themselves.
Kawasaki realized quite a while ago that the Concours 14 might have become too big for many riders looking for a sporty sport touring option. Team Green introduced several options that might appeal to these riders. First there was the Ninja 1000 – still very much a Ninja but with slightly higher bars and a set of saddlebags but without the shaft drive that made long distance touring almost maintenance free. Kawasaki took another run at creating a sport touring bike from a sport bike with the H2 SX SE which grabbed a detuned mill from the H2R to power this sport touring option. The price tag was large though as the bike broke the $30,000 threshold. But these wasn’t the only options from Kawasaki. The Versys 1000 while dancing around the edges of the category was never an ADV machine but it was a very sport oriented touring bike.
With the Concours 14 gone, is the related Ninja ZX-14 soon to be shown the exit lane? We have to think yes. Kawasaki has made it clear that the future of their high power sport and sport touring machine will be small displacement forced induction engines. The sheer monstrous displacement of the Ninja and Concours 14 – 1352cc – is old school – albeit effectively utilized in the new Hayabusa but there are new ways of creating the big numbers. Perhaps if another Concours comes along Kawasaki will look to their new found enthusiasm for electric mills.