Kawasaki Demo rides

Charles Scappaticci scapco at ecentral.com
Mon Jun 6 12:39:34 PDT 2011

I got up Saturday morning and rode the Geeper out to Bandimere
Speedway to test ride the new Ninja 1000 and the Concours 14, neither
of which which I had ridden before.  The course was excellent and the
rides lasted about 40 minutes.  For those who know the area, we left
Bandimere and turned south on C-470 to Ken Caryl and then took the
back roads to Deer Creek canyon.  For those who have done a Durango
rally, this is the twisty canyon we first take after leaving my house.
 The riding speed was spirited enough to get a solid impression of how
the bikes handled. We then turned right on Turkey Creek canyon to hwy
US 285 where we were able to hit redline the first two to three gears
before slowing down to run with traffic, then back to C-470 and
Bandimere.  I have ridden these canyons several times already this
year and it made a perfect course to allow me compare them to the GPZ.

My impressions (YMMV) of both are as follows:

Ninja 1000
The Ninja 1000 has a good upright seating position and I was very
comfortable with it.  I am not tall (5'8") and thought the seat to peg
distance would be a little short for anyone over 6 foot.  The wind
protection is not as good as the GPZ although not bad.  The windscreen
can be adjusted while moving, but it takes both hands.  The motor is
smooth and more powerful than a stock GPZ although I felt my GPZ as it
sits would out run it.  Bear in mind my GPZ is piped, jetted, geared
down two teeth on the back and has an ignition advancer.  The seat
gets hard pretty quickly and slopes forward and it's certainly
something I would replace.

The initial turn in on the bike was a little stiff, sort of like
riding on slightly squared off tires, yet the bike I had only had 1700
miles on it.  I looked at the the tires after the ride and they
appeared to be slightly squared off already and I chalk it up to
crappy Bridgestone tires.  It would probably be fine with new or
better tires.  Once turned, it was comfortable to lean and change
directions in the corners and had good accelleration out of the
corners.  There was some driveline slop, but I'd bet one could shim
some of that out.  It feels and steers lighter than a GPZ and handled
nicely, but the gearing is a little lower and I found myself reaching
for a 7th gear a couple of times as 70mph is a little over 5K rpm's on
the tach.  Also, the rear brake felt pretty wooden and I'd probably
change the rear pads.  Hopefully the aftermarket will come up with a
rear shock, and although this one felt fine, if it's like the GPZ
shock, it's toast around 15K.

My overall impression was good although as previously stated, I'd
install a Corbin and probably dump the exhaust as I'm not all that
fond of the four outlet exhaust.  There were no hard bags to look at,
but with the minimal rear fender being more like a sport bike it would
probably dirty the bags and any gear you were hauling some, even with
the factory hugger.

Concours 14
I know several of you lucky bastards already have a Concours 14 and my
impressions of that bike were that it is as good as everything I have
read.  Everything falls right to hand and the bike is very comfortable
to sit on.  This one had both the ABS and traction control although we
were unable to test either one out.  It feels much lighter than it's
advertised weight and I was instantly impressed with both the power
and handling.  It took the tight corners of Deer Creek canyon with
ease and was pretty confidence inspiring.  Hard accelleration was
pretty nice, but with the gears spread a little wide, 6th gear was
almost too high, something a Concours owner there at the demo rides
agreed with as he said he almost never uses 6th gear.  Some idiot had
been playing with the grip heaters when I got on the bike and they do
indeed work.  For my height, the adjustable windscreen worked well at
all heights.  I found I liked the lowest position best, but the
tallest would be nice in the rain.  My only real negative about the
Concours was it seemed to have a lot of play in the driveline, I had
expected it to be a little tighter although that certainly would not
influence my decision whether or not to buy one.

My overall impression of the Concours is WOW!!  I had a woody all the
way home wondering how I could get my hands on one, but alas between
saving for my daughters college and child support, that's not likely
to happen.  Honestly, money aside, I would own both, the Ninja 1000
for rides to the store or blasting solo down the canyons and the
Connie for those really fun, long trips or two up touring.  If money
was an issue, and it is, I'd buy the Connie first as it would do about
everything I wanted and then try to find a smaller lighter bike, maybe
a KLR 650 or a Ninja 650/Versys, etc.. (not the ZX6R).

I also came away with a couple of other impressions.  One, I think the
GPZ fits right in the middle between these two bikes, not as sporty,
but not as heavily touring oriented.  Two, mine still feels tight
after more than 50K, it didn't feel loose or sloppy as compared to
these two bikes with only 1,700 miles on them.   Three, barring
something unexpected happening, I've still got a pretty damn good and
capable bike until some money comes along, and even then I'll keep the
GPZ, as what is a 17 year old bike with a salvage title and over 50K
going to get me in a sale?  Not enough to let it go, I'd rather keep
it for someone who comes to visit to ride.

Charles S.
95 GPZ1100

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