Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Concours 14. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Concours 14. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Concours14 Farkles & Mapping the Most Complex Bike I've Yet Owned


As the proud new owner of a C14 Kawasaki Concours, here's my attempt at getting my information and data in order so I can work on it:









1400GTR C14 Datasheet:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YKkFc5Hy8Ltze3bAQw16NszdoNsS7UkC/view?usp=sharing 







Owner's Manual:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/13P9lxVAX_ksfnklncqZVbd7Hk6JMBPGo/view?usp=sharing (2013)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/17e1cmQ2Xr8qLOjYUo3p3jYbzIhxY433T/view?usp=sharing (2010)




Concours C14 Parts Diagrams (I find these handy for disassembly as it shows part blowouts):

https://www.bikebandit.com/oem-parts/2010-kawasaki-concours-14-abs-zg1400c/o/m148769

Concours Owner's Group (COG) C14 Resources & Information:

http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=77289.0

•Using the center stand on asphalt during very hot days is not recommended as it may sink causing a tipover.  Don't let this happen to you!  http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=75073.0

•KIPASS and no starting issues http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=77015.0

•Shifting into first gear from neutral whilst stopped can illicit a 'clunk'.  This is normal, but check your idle speed.  It may have been set too high from the factory.  Mine was set to 1800rpm.

•Do not overtighten the oil filter.  You'll regret it when you try to remove it.  Hand tight is fine.

•The 08-10 US models do NOT have oxygen sensors.

•When it's warm outside, bike on the side stand, tank nearly full or full, expansion may force gas/oily mixture out near the stand. Nothing to be concerned with.

•Check your battery installation.  Some have been installed incorrectly.  The + terminal should be on the outside.

•California bike information http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=77512.0

•Periodically check the tightness of the battery terminals.  They have a tendency to work loose.

•Headlight aim may be maladjusted.  Mine were pointed straight down.

•The right hand mirror assembly may not be correctly mounted on the fairing.  The mirror mounts within a recess in the right fairing.  There have been reports of the mirror assembly being tightened down while not correctly seated causing cracks in the fairing (dealer issue if so).

•Flash to Pass (FTP) switch will cause the highbeams to come on during rain events.  Dielectric grease slathered on the switch solder blobs will prevent this from happening.

•Check your exhaust header to manifold nuts.  They have a tendency to loosen up over time.  They may require tightening a few times before they stay tight. 13ft/lbs torque

•Check all your fasteners for tightness.  Unless you have an exceptional dealer, this is typically overlooked.

•Check your oil level before accepting the bike from the dealer.  The oil is checked with a sight gauge on the right side.  If there isn't any oil showing in the glass with the bike level it needs to be topped off.  Check your tire air pressures as well (42/42)

•Do not over-tighten the rear drive oil plug drain bolt. It strips out easily.  It doesn't take a lot of force.  Do not over tighten the fill plug either.  You'll regret it.

•Steering stem fairing brace can work loose.  Two bolts hold it.  Several occurrences of these coming loose.  http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=66729.0

•Steering stem top center bolt (the one covered by the black plastic cap) can work loose http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=84261.0

•If you disconnect the battery, tire pressure indicator on screen will be blank until you ride it again

•If you are lucky enough to get your second FOB in a plastic baggy, you need to either write down the number on it or keep the baggy somewhere safe for reference purposes in case you lose it.  Applies to the 08-09 models.  Not sure if it applies to the '10s.

•Check for rust on the gas tank under the seat.

•Suspension settings document. http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=68962.0

•There are bungee hooks within the side cases http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=71049.0

•Front and rear accessory leads.  http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=69830.0

•Bike on center stand and rotating rear wheel.  If you hear clicking, get it to the dealer to check it.  We've been finding several issues:  front spline dry; missing cir-clip on a joint: loose caps.  http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=71444.0

•2010 Glove box fix/modification - http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=70804.0  http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=75933.0

•Good discussion on replacing stem bearings with tapered bearings. http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=76699.0 and this one http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=71221.60

•Gas tank removal 2010 but should work for the others as well http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=73537.0


Kawasaki web site for checking VIN number (warranty status, recalls)

http://kawasaki.com/DefaultFrame.aspx?strContentURL=/SITE/VIVEHICLEINFORMATION/VICHOOSEVEHICLE.ASP

Kawasaki customer service number (949)-770-0400 then 1, then 5


2011 C14 Product Specs - http://forum.concours.org/MGalleryItem.php?id=20

2010 C14: Product Specs ABS http://www.kawasaki.com/Products/Product-Specifications.aspx?scid=25&id=442

Kawasaki Canada 2010 ABS Information (Good stuff) http://www.kawasaki.ca/model/concours-14-abs/technology:1191

2010 Feature Changes - http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=78874.0

2010 Brochure - http://forum.concours.org/MGalleryItem.php?id=21

Color - Candy Neptune Blue/Flat Super Black

All bikes: Date of Manufacture - on the left side of the steering neck

On board Diagnostic codes http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=81027.0

READ THIS FIRST!!  Interesting facts for the C14 part 2

http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=77332.0

Part numbers for the C14  http://forum.concours.org/index.php?topic=67677.0[/list]

WINDSHIELDS:

https://www.aeroflowscreens.com/Kawasaki/Kawasaki_AeroScreen_and_Accessories.htm

https://advrider.com/aeroflow-windscreens/

christine@aeroflowscreens.com for an accurate shipping quote and ordering assistance

http://www.zggtr.org/index.php?topic=18400 suggests the Aeroflow is exceptional, but they don't ship easily to Canada (add $50US to the price) and cost $220US for the average size one.  $331 for a windshield is steep.  It's hinted that you can get small and tall screens but I don't want a sail on the front of the bike, just a smart windshield that doesn't overly stress the mechanism, provides reasonable protection and looks good doing it.  That Aeroflow's webpage isn't secure and looks very amateur isn't convincing me to move in that direction.   No pic because they don't have one on their site.

https://motorcycleinfo.calsci.com/Concoursprod.html


California Scientific seem to have it together.  They give details on how to select the right size screen and their site is both informative and works.  It's also HTTPS secure.  The CalSci screen is nicely shape and comes in regular or super wide.  It also has a back pressure relief hole in it.  They're at $200US per screen.  I'm in between a large and an XL on their chart but I think I'd go with the large as I don't want a sail in front of me, nor do I want it stressing the mechanics.


https://www.amazon.ca/National-Cycle-V-Stream-Windshield-N20102/dp/B001KNYQ9W

The National Cycle V-Stream seems quite common.  FortNine has them too:  https://fortnine.ca/en/national-cycle-vstream-windshield   The details on it seem to suggest it's a quality thing.  From FortNine I avoid all the trying-to-buy-from-a-small-US-business headaches and shipping is included.  At $247CAD and with no customs or shipping surprises, it's also significantly cheaper than the other two.  No venting for back pressure but it's a pretty thing that claims much improved wind protection without being a sail.

If you like watching someone hit things, this'll do it for you:


MRA X-creen:
An MRA screen came with the Tiger and I'm a fan.  They aren't cheap but they work well while keeping a low profile that wouldn't stress the motor.  Good back pressure management too.

Twisted Throttle used to do Canadian orders without and faff, but now they're in USD and I'm worried about surprise costs for shipping and customs.  They're already at $325CAD before any other surprises come into play.

http://www.zggtr.org/index.php?topic=21318.0

Think the German designed MRA is expensive?  The Cooper Dawg is five hundred US ($614CAD)!
http://www.copperdawg.com/c14sportscreen.html  It's pretty, and transforms the look of the bike, but I don't know that it's much good at deflecting wind.



https://ultimatemotorcycling.com/2020/05/24/2020-kawasaki-concours-14-abs-buyers-guide-specs-price/


C-14 Physical measures and capacities

Weight incl. oil, gas, etc: 313.0 kg (690.0 pounds)
Seat height: 815 mm (32.1 inches) If adjustable, lowest setting.
Overall height: 1290 mm (50.8 inches) 4 ft 2.8 inches
Overall length: 2230 mm (87.8 inches) 7ft 3.8 inches
Overall width: 1001 mm (39.4 inches)
Wheelbase: 1519 mm (59.8 inches)
Fuel capacity: 21.95 litres (5.80 gallons)

Uhaul Van Dimensions (https://tkmotorcyclediaries.blogspot.com/2021/04/motorcycle-pick-up-on-budget.html)

Inside Dimensions: 9'6" x 5'7" x 4'8" (LxWxH) (will fit C14 easily)
Back Door Opening: 5'1-1/2" x 4'1-1/2" (WxH) Bike might be a touch too tall (windshield removal?, angle it?)
Deck Height from Ground: 2'5"


Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Perils of Riding Someone Else's Bike





It was a cold and windy ride through the Superstition Mountains yesterday.  The route we took after taking Gaylen's advice at azride.com gets you out of the city and into the desert quickly and lets you bypass most of the urban sprawl east of Phoenix.

Our trusty mount was a Kawasaki Concours 14.  I thought it would be interesting to compare my 20 year old Concours to a younger one.

After I got myself turned around and rode ten minutes the wrong way into Phoenix, we got moving in the right direction and soon found ourselves on the Bush Highway, a twisty, bumpy highway that doesn't go anywhere - I guess that's why they named it that.


It took me some time to get used to this unfamiliar bike.  The gear shift was very close to and felt lower than the foot peg which made for awkward shifts, and the brakes felt very (dare I say over?) assisted unlike the old-school hydraulic brakes on my classic Concours.  When you applied the front brake you stopped in a hurry causing my pillion to plough into the back of me a number of times until I got really ginger with brake application.  The other off-putting part was that each time I used the front brake it was accompanied by a loud electrical whining noise like a cicada chirping.  Sometimes it would stop when I let go of the brake, sometimes it would keep whining afterwards.

I was unsure if this was a Concours 14 thing (doubtful) or an azride.com maintenance thing.  CoG didn't suggest any known brake electrical noise problems so I suspect this is a maintenance issue.  The azride.com website didn't mention what year the Concours was (unlike other rental sites which tell you it's a 2015 but show you a five year old bike), but based on the body the bike we had was a pre-2011 model.  Maybe it's starting to get cranky in its old age.


Taking a water break on the Bush Highway.  It was about 15°C, comfortable riding weather.
Up in the mountains it was 5°C when we stopped for lunch.
After owning three Kawasakis I have to say, man do they know engines.  Every one I've owned or ridden has had a jewel of an engine and this Concours was no different.  Passing through the tunnel leading out of Superior, the engine sounds echoing off the walls were spine tingling - it sounded like something straight out of MotoGP.

With that big wobbly wind screen up
high you're in a big air bubble, but it
looks ungainly.  Fortunately you can
lower the screen in town to restore
a sportier look.
The engine didn't disappoint in power either.  My Connie does the business with carburators and 300 less ccs, but what this bike does with the monsterous ZX14 1300cc lump is truly ominous.  I've ridden fast bikes before and this is one of the fastest.

On mountain roads this newer Concours felt smaller than my bike though they weigh the same.  The newer bike is much narrower and quite wasp wasted compared to the chunky older model.  That monumental engine that produces sixty more horsepower than my bike probably helps with that feeling of lightness too.

Wind-wise, I was able to ride in jeans all day into single digit Celsius temperatures without a problem.  The heat that pours off my Concours was absent on this one, though it was a cold day so it wasn't something I'd notice anyway.

The windscreen is electrically adjustable and at the top it stopped all but the top of my head getting hit by wind (I'm 6'3" and I had given up on windshields doing anything for me).  My bike gets me squarely in the shoulders and up all the time.  I didn't like how much the windscreen wobbled at speed, it looked flimsy, not to mention goofy in its highest position.  Once I was back in town I lowered it back to a less Jurassic Park look.  Goofy or not though, it made a cold ride through the mountains much more bearable.  A transformable windshield is a piece of magic, though a more solid feeling one with manual adjustment would do the job better.  I'd rather not have the added weight and complexity of the electrical one.
You can see just how ridiculously high the risers
are in this view of the Concours back in the lot.
The big googly-eyed headlights don't do
much for me either.

I've got a 32" leg and find my bike a bit cramped.  The ZG1400 was a bit more relaxed in the legs.  After a couple of hours in the saddle I had no problems.

The ergonomic problems began where azride.com made changes.  The huge risers they installed on this Concours looked like comedy units off a 1970s banana seat bike - huge bull horn things that put the grips right under my nipples, or so it felt.  They pushed me so far back that I was riding more on my tailbone - cruiser style - than I otherwise would have.  The narrow Concours 14 seat wasn't build for this contortion and it became quite uncomfortable.  It makes me wonder how the stock handle bars would have worked.  I have low risers on my old Concours and have a slight forward lean, which I prefer to a bolt upright or reclined stance.




No fancy paint, electrical wind screens or whining
electronics, but it's a solid old thing that does the
business with gusto.  I'm still wishing for the
bike bag to magically whisk my bike along.
All of the electrical noise from the brakes and fuel injection made me cross.  I don't mind electronics (I teach computer engineering), and my Ninja had EFI that was bullet proof, silent and efficient, but when the electronics are whirring away it is intrusive and just reminds you of another expensive thing that will break on you.  I don't feel that this Concours 14 gave me a fair idea of what the breed is capable of.  I'd especially like to try a newer one to get a better sense of the machine.  Maybe Kawasaki will be doing a riding tour again next year and I can try a 2016 model.

That whacky old-guy handle bar riser (and accompanying sore ass) conspired to make me long for my own bike.  It might not have the heat management, or easier reach to the ground (which I don't need anyway), or fancy moving windshield, but my old Concours feels solid, is usually the fastest thing on the road when you twist the throttle and offers a satisfying mechanical simplicity that I missed on this electronically whinny newer machine.

Sunday, 11 July 2021

Ergo-cycling: Concours 14 vs Tiger 955i for 6'3" Me

 Cycle-Ergo, the motorcycle ergonomics simulator, is a great online resource for getting a sense of what you'll look like and how you'll fit on a bike.  Unlike cars, your options with bikes aren't as easy as sliding your seat back or adjusting the steering wheel.  To make ergonomic changes on a motorbike you need to change hardware and mechanically adjust it to make it fit.

The other day I was out on my trusty 2003 Triumph Tiger 955i.  I came off a Kawasaki Concours 10 to the Tiger and while the Connie was comfortable, it made my knees ache on long rides.  The first time I sat on the Tiger it felt like a bike built by people the same shape and size as me because it is.  I can go for hours without putting a foot down without a cramp on the Triumph.  This got me thinking about the differences between the big Kawasaki that sits next to the Tiger in the garage these days.

Cycle-Ergo gives me a quick way to check out the differences.  Forward lean is much more pronounced on the Concours 14 (12° vs an almost vertical 4° on the Tiger).  Knee angle is the same and my knees aren't bothering me on the Connie but hip angle is 6° tighter on the Kawasaki which explains the cramps I was feeling after today.

I sold a Honda Fireblade to bring the 1400GTR in and that bike had an extreme 'sports' riding position which was basically like doing a push-up on the bike (you lay on it) - it ain't easy on the wrists.  There are advantages to this aggressive riding position.  When you want to get down to business in corners a forward lean gives you a more intimate relationship with the front end, which is why sports focused bikes tend to sit a rider the way they do.  If I lived somewhere where roads were dancing with the landscape instead of cutting straight lines across it I'd have happily kept the Fireblade, but in tedious Southwestern Ontario it didn't make much sense.

Today I did a 200km loop on the Kawasaki and the constant lean does make it tiresome on the arrow straight roads around here (I have to ride 40 minutes to find 10 minutes of curves).  In the twisties the Concours is much more composed than the taller, bigger wheeled Tiger.  The Concours is a 50+ kg heavier bike but you can see in the animation that it holds its weight much lower than the Tiger.  In the bends today the Connie was fine but the SW Ontario-tedium I have to deal with most of the time has me thinking about ways to ease that lean.

There are solutions to this in the form of 'bar risers' which are blocks of machined metal that you slip in under the handlebars to bring them taller and closer to you so you're not stooped.  For me the lean also means I'm putting a lot of weight on my, um, man-parts, which end up pressed against the tank due to the lean.

Here's the difference between a stock
Concours 14 and the Murph's Kit bar
riser modification.
I had a look around at bar-risers.  There are number of people who put them together including some cheaper Chinese options but I ended up going with Murph's Kits C14 bar risers.  Murph is well known in the Concours Owners Group and has been producing Concours specific parts for decades.  His risers aren't quite as tall as some of the others and look to solve the problem without over-solving it by giving too-tall handlebars that spoil the lines and the purpose of the bike.

The biggest ergo-thing I did on the otherwise well-fitting Tiger was getting a Corbin seat for it which makes it a long distance weapon.  I'll eventually do the same thing for the Connie but I think I can make do with the stock seat this year and then do the Corbin over the winter.  That doesn't stop me from mucking around with the Corbin seat simulator though:



By next spring I'll have a C14 that fits but it isn't as easy as sliding the seat back in a car.  In the meantime we've got the Lobo Loco Comical Rally coming up at the end of the month.  That requires a minimum of 400kms travelled in 12 hours and will need more than that if we're going to be competitive.  I'm hoping my bar risers will be installed and I'll bring the good ole Airhawk out of semi-retirement to keep me limber over a long day in the saddle.

If you're thinking, "oh, a long distance motorcycle rally, that sounds like fun, you're out of luck on the Comical Rally, it sold out!  Lobo Loco is doing other rallies later in the summer though.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Targeting Repairs on 2010 Kawasaki Concours C14: windshield motor and hydraulic clutch gasket

Windshield Motor Details


Concours Parts Diagrams.  Handy for working out how
things together.






Video breakdown of how to get into the windshield motor on a C14 Concours:

"There are two relays (up and down) that are identical.  They're on the bracket that blocks the air filter removal.  Looking at them with the fairing off on the left side.  They are the first two that look alike.  I rather doubt that both of them are bad as you said it wouldn't work at all.  If only one direction worked then you could swap relays to see if you could narrow down the problem to one relay."

There is a connector to the motor.  Disconnect it and check the following:

    +         -            switch position     standard voltage

green     red              Free                      0

green     red              Up                         battery voltage

red       green            Free                       0

red       green            Down                     battery voltage

"30 amp fuse for the windshield motor: I would start at the connector to the motor and work backwards if the voltages aren't there or right.  Older model," but:  http://www.zggtr.org/index.php?topic=10532.0

***

The long and the short of this is that I need to test the wiring and then jump the motor to see if it works.  If it doesn't, taking it out looks like a pretty major operation, but then everything on the C14 looks like it's over engineered, which isn't a bad thing.

I can't believe how over-engineered the battery holder was!  Heavy and much more complicated than it needs to be, but that's kinda the vibe of the bike.










Pneumatic Clutch Cover

The former owner thinks it's leaking, but it seems pretty happy (no drips under the bike).  I'm going to torque it on properly to begin with and then keep an eye on it.

https://www.cmsnl.com/kawasaki-zg1400caf-concours-14-2010-usaabs_model21885/partslist/#.YH9iJehKiHs

***


Another angle to take is just to remove all the electrical plumbing added by previous owners in order to ensure the bike is to spec.



Other Resources

C14 Common Issues:  https://motorandwheels.com/problems-kawasaki-concours-14/

Kawasaki plastic rivet: Manufacturer # 92039-0051

This have gotten fragile on this 11 year old C14 that's enjoyed 11 freezing Canadian winters followed by 11 boiling Canadian summers.

This kit from Amazon is automotive clips, but there are 50 in it that are a very close match to the Kawasaki part.  The OEM clips are hard to find.  For what that kit costs, I'm going to give it a shot and see if they work with it.  If not, I have some handy clip removing tools and a pile of optional sizes for the future for not much money.  The Kwak parts are $4US each.  50 of those (if I could find them) would be over 200 bucks, so I'll give the generics a shot.

Some of the louvred electronics pins have also broken (like I said, the plastics are starting to get fragile on this thing), so having a multi-pack is handy in other ways.


***

I'm just going to keep chucking GTR1400/C14 Concours/ZG1400 windshield details on here as I find them online.

The windshields on these seem to run into problems, especially if they're stressed while fully extended while operating at high speeds.  I hope something on here gives you what you need to figure out the problem.  COG members tell me the windshield motor assembly costs north of a thousand bucks, so this is a DIY situation (unless you've got thousands to chuck and an older bike).

The solution came in the 2015 model when the windshield came with a vent that reduces back pressure and stress on the unit.  Putting in an aftermarket or updated stock windshield will probably help you avoid windshield motor headaches.  It's on my to-do list for this bike.




Thursday, 19 August 2021

Kawasaki Concours14/GTR1400 Kawasaki Foot Peg Ergonomics

Taking bend out of the bike: the
changes pegs and bar risers
have made so far.
The Concours 14 is an excellent long distance weapon, but it's built for someone much smaller than me.  When you're tackling motorcycle ergonomics you can't just slide a seat back, you've got to physically change parts, and the Concours parts aren't fit for my intentions with it.  I sold a Honda Fireblade to get this bike and it wasn't a like for like replacement.  If I'd wanted (or been able to use) a full on sports bike I'd have kept the 'Blade, so I'm not trying to pretend the Kawasaki is anything like the Honda.  The side of the C14 I'm interested in is the long distance/two up riding bit.

With that in mind this otherwise stock, low mileage 2010 Kawasaki Concours felt like it was trying too hard to be a sports bike when it simply isn't one.  The Honda only gave up 15 horsepower to the Kwak but was over 100kgs lighter!  After one 2+ hour ride the steering, while quite touring in appearance with long bars sweeping back from the headstock, are way too far forward and low for what I want to use the bike for.  At 6'3" and 250lbs I'm also clearly not the average rider Kawasaki was aiming at with the rider ergonomics.  To solve the lean I put in Murph's Kits bar risers which bring the grips 3/4 of an inch back and 1-3/8 inch up toward the rider.  This resulted in a 3% less lean and they installed very neatly, looking stock.

I could live with the pegs but my knees were feeling it on longer rides and my big feet meant I was sitting pigeon toed while trying to keep my feet off the rear brake and shifter.  What sold me on Murph's Kits rider pegs was the promise of no more awkward, pigeon toed foot positioning thanks to the angle in them.  They were straightforward and quick to install (10 mins?) and reduced knee angle a couple of degrees while also allowing me to rest my big wamps on the pegs instead of having to hold my feet off them awkwardly.  A nice bonus is if I hook my boot heels on the new pegs they drop into the windflow under the bike and feel great in vented boots on a hot day; no regrets with that choice either.

But none of this has helped my passenger feel comfortable on the bike, which was a major reason I pitched the Fireblade for a sports tourer.  WIth the panniers on the Connie leaves no room for passengers with big western feet.  The passenger pegs are also set very high, so high you'd have to be seriously into yoga to look comfortable on them.

Unfortunately, Murph ran out of gas after the rider pegs and doesn't offer any passenger peg alternatives.  A bit of lurking on message boards uncovered VicRay Custom Performance who machine a set of passenger pegs for the Concours 14.  Vic sends these kits out himself and it took a few weeks longer than Murph's deliveries (don't sweat Canadian deliveries if you're dealing with Murph, he's got them down!).  Vic's passenger pegs finally arrived this week and I installed them this afternoon.

The instructions were hand written but the installation was well explained and straightforward.  The quality of the machining is excellent and the extension of the pegs means we should have no more passenger ergonomic headaches while riding with panniers.  The rubber isolation and width of the alternate passenger peg also promises greater comfort.  We've been busy with work (contrary to popular belief, teachers work in the summer), but I'm optimistic about this choice too.  The new passenger pegs fold up neatly and suit the look of the bike.  If you didn't know they weren't stock you'd just assume they are.

The last piece of the puzzle is the seat.  The C14 seat is narrow and gets to be quite miserable on longer rides with an awful lot of pressure on your, um, parts.  Alanna described it as, 'hard on the vagina.", so it's uncomfortable for both rider and passenger.

The last time a poor OEM seat made me sad a Corbin saddle solved the puzzle.  I'd have gone for a used one but they retain their value and the used ones I could find were within a hundred bucks of getting my own custom designed seat.

Pre-pandemic my Tiger seat showed up in a surprisingly quick four weeks.  I'm five weeks into having ordered this time but I fear COVIDtime will strike again and the saddle won't show up for some weeks yet.

The pegs relax the legs and the bar risers ease the crouch.  Big Blue is more comfortable than it has ever been and is starting to show the promise of the touring/sports/muscle bike I was aiming for.  Once that Corbin lands it'll be ready to ironbutt on.





Monday, 21 June 2021

Kawasaki Concours 14 GTR1400 ZG1400 Tires & Suspension Setup

I finally got around to adjusting the Concours' suspension.  It was pretty unsettled on uneven pavement so I went with the list shared online and aimed everything at 'right on the money' which works out to front spring preload of 14mm and rebound dampening of 3 clicks out from all the way in.  The rear got set to 20 clicks in on spring preload and 1 and 1/4 turns out on rebound dampening. 


It's a significant improvement over what the bike was set at before.  On uneven pavement it feels much less likely to bounce and wander.  On smooth pavement it now tracks much better and isn't such a struggle to hold a line with, though it still feels heavy.  That might be my own fault coming off a Honda Fireblade to the Kawasaki though.

The existing tires on the bike are Michelin Pilot Road 4s which people in the know swear transforms the bike's handling.  I had a look around and the rear tire's 2715 stamp means it was built in the 27th month of 2015.  My best guess on the front is that it was 1918 or 2019 in the 18th month.  If that was the case then Declan, the guy I purchased the bike from, put these tires on it in or around 2019 so they're not only lightly used but also recent!
They passed the safety easily and aren't flat spottted or low on tread so a couple of very low mileage years is likely, which means I'm not in any rush to replace them.  That didn't stop me from having a look at what new tires for it would cost anyway just so I'm ready (end of 2022 riding season?) to replace them.
Going to a 190/55/R17 rear tire (stock is 190/50 ZR17) raises the back end a bit with a marginally thicker sidewall and stops the bike from feeling so vague.  Bike Magazine describes the handling of the GTR1400 as 'not good' and I think this dropin vagueness is what they're referring to.

Another nice surprise on this used bike purchase is that the former owner put new tires on only a couple of years ago and then barely used them, but now I've got some ideas about where to go next.


Sunday, 11 April 2021

Zero Sum Game: motorcycle restoration as a hobby

The Fireblade project motorcycle has moved on to its next owner.  It had been sitting in a garage for the better part of a decade before I got my hands on it; the result of a bitter divorce.  The fuel system was shot and had dumped gas into the engine.  It had just over twenty-five thousand kilometres on it, but hadn't been used in a long time.

Over the winter of 2019/20 I rebuilt the carburetors, resealed and sorted the fuel tank and got a new petcock, all of which conspired to put the otherwise eager Honda back on the road again.  When I checked the valves they were exactly in the middle of spec and some of the cleanest internal parts I've ever seen (thanks to the gasoline in the engine?).

Once the fuel system was sorted and the bike had a few sympathetic oil changes and other maintenance addressed (like new tires and a K&N air filter), it was licensed and put on the road where it performed flawlessly for a year.  When I sold it the odometer read just over twenty-seven thousand kilometres, so two thousand of them were mine.

The 'Blade was a lovely device.  If I didn't live in such a tedious place and ride-on track days were a possibility (they aren't anywhere in Ontario - the rare track-days that do exist are for rich people who trailer in race prepped bikes), I'd have hung on to this remarkable thing and let it do what it does best: explore the more extreme limits of motorcycling dynamics.

Trying to do that on the road makes no sense.  Ontario's roads are in atrocious shape thanks to our brutal seasons and lack of sane governance.  If you can find a piece that isn't falling to pieces, it's arrow straight because Southwestern Ontario is also geologically tedious.  We had a Californian trip a few years ago and drove up to Palomar Observatory outside of San Diego in the mountains.  Those are twelve miles of the most technically demanding roads I've ever seen.  That I had to drive them in a rented Toyota RAV4 is a crying shame.  If I lived anywhere near roads like that, owning the Fireblade would make some kind of sense, but I don't.

In our tedious, conservative province, this Honda Fireblade makes as much sense as owning a lion.  In three seconds it can take you from a standstill to jail time.  I only just discovered what happens to it at 8000RPM the week before I sold it.  Up until then I was astonished at how quickly it accelerated, but if you keep it cracked the madness becomes otherworldly.  The Honda Fireblade's athletic abilities make it a perilously expensive proposition in our police state and there is nowhere you can let it off leash to do what it was designed for (without buying a truck and trailer and stripping it back to being a race bike).

I was hoping to put racing stripes on it and really do it up, but then you have trouble selling it around
here where individualism is frowned upon.  Am I sad to see it go?  I honestly wrestled with the idea of waving off the buyer and keeping it, but instead decided to aim my limited space  toward another bike that would not only be more generally useful in the bland vastness of southwestern Ontario, but would also make me a better dad; the Fireblade is an inherently selfish thing.

If Practical Sportsbikes thinks it's the number one 90s
sportsbike, then it is! They helped me sort out the fuel system!
I bought the sidelined 'Blade for $1000 and then paid an extra hundred to get it delivered to me.  The new tires ($400) and a set of replacement carbs ($250) that I mainly needed to replace hard parts, along with the carb kit and other rubber replacement parts as well as multiple oil changes and filters, and some replacement LED lights for the broken stock ones, pushed my cost for the bike up to about $2000.

It cost me $500 for insurance for the year - mainly because I don't think my company (who doesn't usually do bikes but do mine because I've been with them for over 30 years) didn't realize what it was.  I sold the bike for $2500 as is, though it's currently fully operational and road legal, which means I got to ride the best bike of its generation and something I wished I'd owned in university when I was younger, fitter and more flexible for no cost.

That (of course) doesn't consider my time, but this is a hobby and if I can make it a zero sum hobby then I'm much less likely to feel guilty about it.  I'm going to miss the Fireblade, it was a lovely thing that spoke to me.  Having a 23 year old Japanese super-model whispering in your ear as you ride along was thrilling and I'm going to miss it.  Should I eventually find myself living somewhere where a sportsbike makes some kind of sense and where I can exercise it as intended on a track, I'll be quick to rejoin the tribe.





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In the meantime I contacted a fellow in Toronto who has a latest-generation Kawasaki Concours 14 that he couldn't sell in the fall (I was in-line but the 'Blade failed to sell so I didn't go for it).  He still has the Concours and we're lining up a cash sale for next weekend.  My first three bikes were Kawasakis and this would be my second Concours.  I've owned a first gen C-10 and my son and I rode a first gen C-14 through the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, but this one's a gen-2 C-14 Concours, which makes it one of the only bikes out there that can comfortably carry my now-adult-sized son and I two up.

I've always been drawn to Kawasaki engineering and I like their style.  This one is very low mileage (only about 30k) and needs some TLC (the owner is older and dropped it while stationary which is why he's moving it on).  Once sorted this Connie will have a lot of life left in it.

What makes it particularly useful to me is that it's a capable sport-touring machine that's built like a brick shit house, can cover the endless miles we face in Canada and can still entertain in the corners.  It also happens to be powered by the same motor that drives the ZX-14R hyperbike.  It may sound juvenile but I grew up in the 1980s and they had me at Testarossa strakes!

One of the side benefits of Concours ownership is that they have one of the most active and engaging clubs around: the mighty COG (Concours Owners Group).  I got stickered and t-shirted up with them as a full member when I got my first Connie, but have since been exploring other bikes.  I'm looking forward to re-engaging with them when I'm a Concours owner again.


Kawasaki Heavy Industries has weight in Japan!