Hot ri­val to big tour­ers

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By CRAIG DUFF www.nt­

SUB­TLE is not a term nor­mally used to de­scribe Kawasaki’s 1400GTR, but it’s one that suits suits the big-bore cruiser.

And I’m not talk­ing about the looks or the 304kg mass— a range of mi­nor tweaks have 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.

nd 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 dressed-up ZX-14 one of the best-look­ing long-range tour­ers in the field. The qual­ity is up there too, in ev­ery­thing from the switchgear to the mount­ing sys­tem for the pan­niers.

The key­less start­ing sys­tem is a smart touch — the fob can be safely stored in an in­side pocket — and the dig­i­tal dis­play is easy to read and tog­gles through use­ful in­for­ma­tion such as in­stant and av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion, re­main­ing range and tyre pres­sures.

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.

I’ve never been a fan of in-your-face screens at nor­mal speeds — give me the the wind over the scratch-scored view from be­hind the 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 blunt­force weapon that doesn’t re­act to a pil­lion or a full load aboard 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 only limited by the pro­grammed fu­el­ef­fi­cient 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.

Low speeds are the bane of any big bike and that’s some­thing to be aware of with the GTR.

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.

Kawasaki may trail its Ja­panese ri­vals in the sales stakes but it is mak­ing ground and, with ma­chin­ery like the 1400GTR, it’s cov­er­ing that ground with style and class.

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