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I returned from a two-week vacation of sorts a few days ago, and promptly called around the local dealers. One of them promised to have both an ABS and a non-ABS model on the floor, so yesterday I dropped by to have a look.

I'll start with the good. When you lift the C-14 off the side stand, and then sit on it and tilt it from side to side, it feels like it weighs about a hundred pounds less than it actually weighs. It is downright uncanny. Manifestly, the center of mass is extraordinarily low, and because the inertial moment about the roll axis plays such a fundamentally important role in handling, I expect that the C-14 will have much more responsive handling than the FJR.

Among the other observations that I made, the build quality appears to be exceptional. The body panels all fit tightly, and it just had the overall look and feel of high quality in design and construction.

Moving toward things that were less impressive ... even though much has already been said about that little compartment on top of the faux tank, I found it highly annoying upon close inspection. It is too small to hold anything more than a pair of glass or a small pair of gloves. It was difficult to open and close. Worst of all, it will almost certainly complicate the installation and use of a tank bag. It does however appear that it should be a simple matter to remove, although the faux tank might not look as clean as it would if they had left that goofy thing off.

I lifted it on to the center stand, and even though it took surprisingly little effort to do that, I was annoyed by the fact that I could not find any way to grab the bike while doing that. The best grab point seemed to be the support for the tail rack, which requires you to reach sort of over the pannier and grab it further back than is ideal. This will lead to some number of bikes falling over when the owner, being just a little too careless, allows it to lean just a little too far to the opposite side, and then discovers that there is no good way to hold on to it. The unfortunate few to whom this happens, will of course be unhappy when they find out how much it will cost to repair all the damage.

The angle of the windscreen remains fairly constant as it is raised and lowered, which is a desirable, and which constrasts sharply with that kludgy design that Yamaha uses on the FJR. The angle, however, appears to be too vertical to avoid excessive turbulence. Fortunately, the windscreen has a single clamp on each side, so it will not be nearly as difficult as it was with the FJR, to devise a wedge-shaped spacer of sorts that will push the whole thing out a little while tilting it back another ten to twenty degrees. If I decide to buy the C-14, I will probably start to work on that right away.

Moving on now to the reason that I probably will not be buying a C-14. After discovering how light it felt, my interest in the bike was re-invigorated. Today I got up and spent and hour or two washing the FJR, and then rode it to the dealership so that they could look it over and make me an offer. I told the sales guy that I didn't need to put any miles on the Concours, but that I did need for someone to roll it outside so that I could start the engine and feel for vibration in the handlebars. After a bit of haggling over numbers and so on, he rolled the bike outside and started it up. I let it run for a minute or so, and then I put my hand on the throttle and slowly ran it up to six or seven grand. I was totally taken by surprise by the amount of high-frequency vibration throughout the rpm range. The FJR is much smoother. I would judge the difference between the FJR and the C-14 to be as significant as the difference between the XX and the FJR, which is a significant difference. Now, I fully expect that a few people will reply to this and argue that this was not a fair test, that it will smooth out after it warms up, or that it will smooth out as it breaks in, or that it will get smoother after the throttle bodies have been properly synchronized, or the valves adjusted, etc., etc., etc. I have no intention of arguing with anyone over that, so I'll go ahead and repudiate such notions right now. It doesn't work that way. A whole lot of people made similar claims about the FJR, but it is just ignorant nonsense offered by people who don't know what they are talking about. Except for when there is something very seriously wrong with an engine, such as one cylinder mis-firing, the vibration is a function of how well the engine is balanced, and none of that stuff will have any appreciable effect. Nor is it at all likely that there will be any appreciable difference from one unit to the next, and so even though people will claim that their Concours-14 does not vibrate, I know better. I will offer this advice to anyone who is looking to the C-14 as an alternative to the FJR specifically because they do not like the vibration of the FJR: before you put down your money, pay very careful attention to the amount of vibration that you feel. Don't believe what other people tell you. Check it out for yourself, and don't believe anyone who tells you that it will ever be any different from what you experience.

In closing, I'll say something about the fancy rear suspension. What this actually does is replace the fixed pivot point with a virtual pivot point that is located in front of the bike, and that moves slightly as the suspension moves. With a fixed pivot point, the slope of the line that passes through the wheel contact patch and through the pivot point, changes as the contact patch moves higher and lower relative to the chassis of the bike. As the slope of that line changes, so does the relationship between that line and the center of mass of the chassis. The effect of the articulated rear suspension, in total, is to permit the slope of that line, and its relationship to the center of chassis mass, to remain more constant as the suspension moves. That is an advantage to be sure, but to put it into perspective, the static location of the pivot on shaft-driven motorcycles has traditionally been nowhere close to the ideal location. The FJR's vertically stacked transmission shafts permitted a nearly ideal static location for the pivot. The shaft effect on the V65 Magna that I rode twenty years ago was bothersome, but I rarely even notice the shaft effect on the FJR.
 

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Seems like all the reports of vibration are coming from Colorado. Must be the elevation causing the vibes.

The report posted by SwedTourer of a journalist ride in California couldn't have been more positive about the smoothness and vibration free.
 

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Observations

Your findings are in complete contrast to several published reports about the smoothness of the C-14. My findings today were that the bike is very smooth and no buzzy bars that make you shake your hands every hour or so like on the FJR. But then there is no perfect bike but the C-14 offers much more than the FJR. No need for a Power Commander to just get it where it's throttle response is manageable, great seat and buttery smooth transmission something the FJR only has after say 5000-8500 miles. This will be a class leading machine that even Honda will have to deal with, it will convert many a rider as it has done with me. We all can find things wrong with any bike just find the one that suits you and ride and ride and be happy.:mfclap :mfclap
 

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Come on KS give us a break, you have been trying to find fault with the C14 all along, even before it arrived & to forego a test ride when I for one know that is the only true test of whether or not anyone would want a bike, unbelievable! :rolleyes

How can the smoothness be an issue when virtually all the tests say it isn't an issue. Did you ask if the injectors had been synched or the balancers adjusted :headscratch Any complaint of vibes on ZX-14's seem to have been eliminated by tweaking the balancers. My GPZ1100S only has one balancer & that is very smooth indeed, Kawasaki do know how to build a smooth sports tourer.

As for the suspension linkage & geometry, I thought the set up there was so that it countered & eliminatated the torque reaction that is inherent in the crown wheel & pinion set up of a shaft final drive system. Not sure what you mean by the angles of dangle :headscratch coz the wheel is round so whatever angle the rear suspension is at the tyre will still sit on the road just the same.
 

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Seems like all the reports of vibration are coming from Colorado. Must be the elevation causing the vibes.

The report posted by SwedTourer of a journalist ride in California couldn't have been more positive about the smoothness and vibration free.
I'm the guy from Colorado. I believe my bike might have something different about it. I'm not alone in saying there is vibration. All the friends that have ridden the bike say the same thing. My plan is to do my 3K dream trip to Tahoe next weekend and take it into the shop to see if they can figure out why I have the vibration. I don't want to give the C14 a bad name. I do believe this problem can be fixed. If given a choice between Living with the vibration and living without the bike, I'd live with the vibration. The bike is too good in all sorts of other ways. Here are my current thoughts on the bike after 1000 miles.

I've been pondering what I would say to Kawasaki about the overall design. Here is my list so far.

1. The windshield creates wind noise at the highest position (I'm 5'10")
2. I'm experiencing a bit more vibration than I expected, but hope I find a simple solution (more miles, sync carbs, synthetic oil).
3. Locking compartment in the fairing would be nice. I think there is room.
4. The little storage on the tank is cheesy. I expect it to break any moment.
5. Disappointed in the user friendliness of the trip computer. Clearing low fuel warning and loss of range while on "reserve" is really disappointing.
6. It would be nice to have a slightly larger tank (6-6.5 gallons).
7. There is heat but I think this is expected of any 1000+ cc high performance engine
8. Attaching a GPS will be a bit of a challenge. I'm working on some simple solutions for this.
9. Tip over touch points to save the fairing
10. Heated grips for us mountain / year round riders!!
11. Have the computer buttons on the handle bars to make it easier to reach - but only after you fix the Range problem ;)
12. Kawi could have raised the mirrors. It would have had two nice benefits. a) we might be seeing less luggage. b) have the mirrors do a better job of breaking the wind on the handle bars. My old K1100RS was very comfy in the winter. Never really needed winter gloves because the mirrors protected the hands.
13. The Stove Knob Key or FOB need a hole for a key ring. When I add my top case, I don't have any place to put my key

The list I *love* is much much longer.
1. The handling is unreal. So little effort to carve up a canyon
2. The Bridgestone BT021s are a great choice. I have 1/2" chicken strips and I hate leaning over in corners.
3. All the technology is really cool KIPASS, VVT, ABS, slipper clutch, trip computer and electrically adjustable windshield (even if I do keep it in the lowest position all the time)
4. Seating position is exactly what I was looking for - upright and slightly leaning forward
5. Brakes are perfect. Light touch, perfectly controllable
6. Dead solid perfect clutch, transmission, and shaft drive
7. Love overdrive on long stretches of highway. I suspect I can get over 50 MPG loping along at 60 MPH.
8. Seat is OK. I always ride long distances with a Gel pad and Sheepskin.
9. The motor -- oh my g*d what a motor. Torque, HP, all of the above
10. Easiest center stand I've every encountered
11. Very good looking luggage. Perfect design. Easy to get on and off the bike.
12. Bike looks good with or without the luggage
13. Gas mileage (44-45) is excellent considering it is a 160 HP motor
14. Extremely easy oil changes. Oil filter and drain plug are right together. Big hole for filling oil. Thank you, Thank you Kawasaki engineers!! Great oil capacity (5 quarts) to extend time between oil changes
15. Great frame, no flex.
16. Great Suspension - biased more toward sport riding than touring, but good compromise
17. 15K valve adjustments. Don't have to see a mechanic for 2 or 3 seasons of riding.

Frankly there is nothing on the market right now that would scratch my sport touring itch than the Concours 14. Not BMWs, FJRs, Ducatis, Nothing!!

Risked a divorce to get one. Can't wait till I have 20+K miles on it.
 

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Hello Scooter_Scum, should have my bike in a week or 10 days and holding my breath that it's vibration free. Thanks for your report and I'll give you mine when my wheels arrive.
Bob
 

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Another awesome report, thanks Scooter! :mfclap I hope you can get to the bottom of the bad vibes you're getting. Several have suggested fuel injection probably outta sync. Let us know what you find out.
 
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