Big-bore cruising with style
Kawasaki is a contender with the 1400GTR, writes Craig Duff
SUBTLE is not a term normally used to describe Kawasaki’s 1400GTR, but it’s one that suits the big-bore cruiser.
And I’m not talking about the looks or the 304kg mass. A range of minor tweaks has transformed the Kwaka into a genuine contender against the old-guard tourers such as BMW’s RT model.
It still doesn’t have the features or ultimate finesse of something like a Gold Wing, but neither does it have the price tag. And it’s not that far off the iconic Honda. The revised fairing vents do a great job of funnelling heat away from the rider’s legs and the horizontal styling lines are neatly carried over on the panniers, making the dressedup ZX-14 one of the best-looking long-range tourers in the field.
I’d happily pilot this bike all day thanks to a super-supportive seat and an electrically adjustable screen that angles the elements away without any unwanted turbulence or water coming in.
I’ve never been a fan of in-yourface screens at normal speeds — give me the the wind over the scratch-scored plastic any day — but the GTR manages the best of both worlds. The airflow is neatly directed to the top of the helmet before the screen comes up to visor level, so there’s no need to look through the screen.
The 1352cc in-line four-cylinder is a blunt-force weapon that doesn’t react to a pillion or a full load in the massive panniers that flank the bike. Crack the throttle and there’s a near instant response as 139Nm goes straight through the shaft drive and propels the bike up to the legal limit.
It is limited only by the programmed fuel-efficient mode — identified by an icon on the dash— that activates when the throttle is opened at less than 30 per cent. In that mode conservation comes at the cost of crispness, but the GTR never feels sluggish.
There’s also the reassurance of a combined anti-skid braking system and traction control. It takes a fairly hefty twist of the grip to force the 190mm-wide rear wheel to break loose, even in the wet, at which point the software reduces engine power.
You can feel it, but by the time you do the drama is over.
Kawasaki may trail its Japanese rivals in the sales stakes, but it’s making ground and, with machinery like the 1400GTR, it’s covering that ground with style and class.
Big time: the 1400GTR is one of the best-looking tourers.