Hot rival to big tourers
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.