The Kawasaki 1400GTR, the Consumate Fast Tourer

Kawasaki Thailand has chosen this day to launch their new grand-touring Kawasaki 1400GTR, the third flagship in their international fleet after the sportbike ZX-10R and the sports tourer ZZR1400 (for now not available in Thailand).

The Kawasaki 1400GTR, packing 280kg, a claimed 155 horses and 260km/h potential. The Kawasaki 1400GTR is a high performance grand tourer, big power, big speed, loads of weight, panniers, comfy riding position, which goes head-to-head with Yamaha's FJR1300, BMW's K1200GT and Honda's Pan European. It's big selling point over its rivals is its 'sporty' handling.

Like a Kawasaki ZZR1400, but with a big riding position and mirrors. The Kawasaki 1400GTR engine and chassis are loosely based on the ZZR1400, but it feels nothing like it. The 1400GTR is high-up, tall and top-heavy; the ZZR was low and sleek. The engine, with modified internals: different crank, rods, pistons, cams and transmission, plus smaller throttle bodies and reprogrammed fueling, it produces about 155 horsepower plus, not 160 horsepower like the ZZR.The engine with DOHC,16 valves with variable valve timing offer performance without compromise: low-down or top-end power, both no problem. VVT over excellent fuel economics without compromising available power.

The changes give the Kawasaki 1400GTR less peak power and less peak torque than the Kawasaki ZZR, but with a better spread and a lower peak (8800rpm, not 9600rpm) for touring purposes. And although the 1400GTR is substantially less potent on paper than any of its rivals, namely Yamaha FJR1300, and BMW's K1200GT.

The chassis started out as Kawasaki ZZR too, but like the engine is far removed from its origin. A pressed aluminum monocoque spine runs from the headstock, over the engine to the swingarm pivot; the forks are 43mm upside-down Kayabas; and the brakes are four-pot radial Nissin. But that's the end of the ZZR resemblance: the 1400GTR gets shaft drive, anti-lock brakes, longer wheelbase and lazier steering geometry. It also gets much more weight and a higher center of gravity than the ZZR.

These last two facts become apparent as soon as you straddle the beast. It's a very heavy bike, 279kg is almost class-leading lardage, and it certainly feels it. Where the Yamaha FJR1300, Honda Pan and BMW obscure their weight by carrying it low in the chassis, the GTR is top heavy.

Once you're rolling, though, the reason for placing the weight high up comes clear, Kawasaki's big selling point over the Yamaha FJR1300, Honda Pan and BWM's K1200 is the Kawasaki's handling. Based on Kawasaki's market research, Kawasaki felt traditional touring riders didn't just want the usual tank range, comfort and relaxed engine... they also wanted 'sporty' handling.
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