A true sport touring bike

The Kawasaki ZX-14R is packing the highest number of stallions among motorcycles, in a chasis that is as stabel as a high speed train.

Text:    Frode Johansen
Photo: Ruth Helen Kjærran / www.rallyruth.com

If you let it run flat out for ten seconds it will give you 140+ mph, now that is what I call quick for a stock touring bike. But if the cops catch you at that speed, some countries will even put you in jail for it.

A design showing power
The bike is looking like it is doing 200 mph just standing still, the wide front with the ram-air intake in the middle. The Ferrari profiles on the side, nice built in turn signals and a nice ass. One thing that does not look good is the exhaust system, it looks like something designed in the last century by some cigar designers. And for a top of the line bike like this, that is just not good enough. But you are in luck, there are many after marked exhaust systems out there. Hopefully it will not be a problem finding something a whole lot prettier than the original pair.
The power when compared
If you look at the numbers of stallions alone, there is no bike that can match the ZX-14R. If you take the weight into account you realise that most of the 1.000 cc super sport bikes will keep up with it. And if the road turns into an orgy of hairpins and tight turns, the ZX-14R will be left behind. Unless a MotoGP rider is on the ZX-14R and you are on the super sport bike. If you plan to use it as a every day commuter bike, you would love to live up north in Australia or close to the super highways in Germany where speed limits are, well, non existing.
Letting it loose
It is a big bike, long and not very light on its tires as the super sport bikes or the all mighty SuperDuke from KTM. The gearbox is smooth and double shifting is easy and fast. When I hit the open road with it I sense that it is very stable, both straight forward and in corners. Put your bags on it and hit the road for a nice long road trip, and you will have found its purpose. For those, like me, I would wait for the Concours 14 as a touring bike. And don’t even get me started on the ugly, single, huge, misplaced silencer on the Concours 14. The reason I would wait for the touring bike is that I set a new record on the ZX-14R, as it took 30 minutes before the back of my neck started hurting. But that is more my old body, than the bikes fault.

When it comes to pushing power this bike has loads of stallions stuffed with torque. But I must admit to be disappointed when it comes to the power bellow 5.000 rpm’s. An engine this big should have tire ripping pull from at least 4.000 rpm’s. Having learned this I revved the engine up to 6.000 rpm’s and gave the two hundred stallions an order; “-Run like a herd of gay elephants was heading up your asses”. Then all I had to concentrate on was, HOLD ON, because it turned into one hell of a run.

Overtaking long trucks gives me a feeling of putting a space ship into overdrive. Just a second after I pass the truck it is suddenly just small dot in the mirror, and the wind hitting my upper body, arms and helmet tells me that it is time to slow down. Keeping the pace up thru long corners is very easy, and several times I was just smiling like an idiot as I loaded more and more power on the back wheel thru the corners. And before I had much time to think it was time to break hard, one gear down, slide a litter over and enter the next corner. And I kept thinking, this bike might as well have been running on rails. But I also felt the weight of the bike when I went into a tight right left combination, that I know I did both faster and with less work a few days later on a GSX-R 750. The large brakes match the power and weight of the bike, and it gives me a good feel for what is going on when I brake hard.

Some would like a little more wind protection, but I think it is good enough for most of the trips done on it. I felt a balance between the wind and weight reduction on the wrists at around 80 mph, and haven’t it been for my neck I could have really put some miles on this bike.

Several tests have proven that this bike is a good drag strip bike, and Kawasaki has also focused on the straight forward speed. Several tests show that it will run mid 9 seconds on the quarter mile with a top speed of over 140 mph in stock condition.

But if you really want to impress the cops as you outrun them for the second time, install a Nitrous Oxide system so that you can pull some lunatic 140+ mph wheelies. So if they do catch you, all you need to say is, “-I want a layer, a good one”. Two hours later, after walking home, you sit down at the computer and send an angry mail to Dainese. Letting them know that the racing leathers and boots should be made a hell of lot more walking friendly.

My thoughts after the test
This is a thru competitor to the touring bikes that still have one foot in the sports bucket, as the Hayabusa, Sprint ST, K1200S and so on. I believe that with some new mapping and a new exhaust system there will be more power down low, and even more on top. And it would look a whole lot better with some new silencers. It really have enough power for road use in standard mode, but this only apply to the riders that believe the word “enough” exists. Due to my neck I would wait and get the Concours 14 touring version. But if you fit the bike, this is e very good sport touring bike with loads of power and stability. And with a few changes it will be so good looking, that your girlfriend would have no problems with it sitting in the living room during the cold season. She might even put some spot lights on it to really make it sparkle.



The dry facts

  • Engine type:                 Inline four cylinder, liquid cooled

  • Displacement:               1.352 cc

  • Claimed Horsepower:  190 hp (200 hp with ram-air)

  • Claimed Torque:          113,5 lb-ft at 7.500 rpm

  • Wheelbase:                  57,5 inches

  • Seat height:                  31,5 inches

  • Front tire:                     120/70 ZR17

  • Rear tire:                      190/50 ZR17

  • Fuel tank:                     5,8 gallons

  • Dry weight:                  474 lbs.

  • Price:                           $11.499




The photographer...

The European name of the beast...

Just standing there looking so Cool, the bike I mean, or, ehhh....

Looking at those guys working is fascinating...... Wonder how long they can keep doing that...

"It's true, see, I have a camera so I am a photographer... So would you please take of that bikini top?"

Hopefully someone have been arrested for putting these cans on here....

THANK YOU to the Powersport center and Norwegian motor import (NMI)

for letting me have a go at some of their bikes :-))