2008 Kamp Kawasaki

Text: Ken Freund • Photography: Kawasaki

Once a year Kawasaki hosts a get-together for its friends, the media, as well as past and present racers. The event is always scheduled to coincide with the AMA races at Infineon (formerly Sears Point) Raceway in Sonoma, California, and special guests at this year's gathering included Gary Nixon, Jay Springsteen, Rickey Gadson, Jimmy Filice, Jason Britton and others.

The Saturday and Sunday racing highlights were rounds one and two of the premier superbike class competition. And on each day the superbike results were amazingly similar, as Ben Spies held off the pack with a lead of several seconds, followed by his teammate Mat Mladin. A few seconds later Jamie Hacking took third place, with a tight group hotly contesting their positions finishing close behind.

Other than our attendance at the races, we were able to get in some good seat time on a number of models in Kawasaki's current street lineup, including the Concours 14, Versys, KLR650 and Z1000. Our route took us over the coastal mountains just north of San Francisco and along the coast near historic Point Reyes, an area encompassing a lovely mix of vineyards and wineries, old-growth redwood forests, babbling brooks and awe-inspiring ocean views.

Concours 14

Riding the Concours 14, we were reminded just how powerful it is - and how nice it is to have more power than you really need. Propelled by a husky 1,352cc four-cylinder, DOHC mill with gear-driven dual engine balancers, variable valve timing, and digital fuel injection, there's a surplus of power, even when riding two-up.

Along the way, the power-adjustable windscreen became our next best friend too. As blazing hot inland temperatures gave way to chilly ocean fog, the screen could be moved up to block the cold wind or down to cool us off. The optional ABS and tire-pressure sensors are great features, but we'd like to see the steering made lighter, heated grips and perhaps an audio system option. The MSRP on the Concours 14 ranges from $ 12,899 to $ 13,799, considerably less than some competing sport-touring machines.

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For the complete article of the riding impression(s) and technical specifications, please purchase the September/October 2008 back issue.