New Motorcycle Time

One of the more annoying things I’ve discovered over the years about using the Hayabusa as a Sport-Touring platform is the lack of dealer support when I’m on the road. Nothing like sitting in a shop and they only have Sport tires because “who would tour on a ‘busa??” or “we won’t change your tire because it’s a Suzuki” (both in Fairbanks after getting a flat in the boonies) or “we don’t carry a chain for your bike” when in Maine or “here’s an old cranky (and cracked) front tire since we don’t typically carry sport-touring tires” in Virginia. I love the hell out of the ‘busa but if there’s a problem on the road, you’d better be able to fix it yourself or be prepared to pay a few bucks. On the plus side, it’s only had a mechanical, leave me on the side of the road once (rectifier/regulator burned out in Boulder) so it’s pretty reliable mechanically.

So on the road support is one of the key issues for me in selecting the next bike. The other is a bike somewhat similar to what I have in speed, comfort, and handling. A few years ago, I took a new Concours out for a ride and was pleasantly surprised by the speed; not quite as fast as the ‘busa but pretty close, comfort; not quite as leaned forward but yes a sportier position than a standard or cruiser, and it handled pretty close to how my ‘busa handled. After the test ride, getting back on the ‘busa had me shaking my head πŸ˜€ “Nope, not getting rid of the ‘busa; still better” but now I have a passenger who has no interest in riding her own bike and really wants to go places and see things. So I need to think about something a touch friendlier for her. πŸ™‚

I’ve been calling and checking in on the local dealers, both Kawasaki shops. The G-Force folks in Boulder had a blue 2013 Concours with 0 miles. It had been sitting in the warehouse for the past 3 years gathering dust. Jeanne and I stopped in last Thursday to check it out and were able to see it but since it was still in the warehouse, unable to actually ride it. The salesman was willing to get a new battery and give me a call when he got it out, no later than this past Saturday. At the local shop, we checked out the new C14 but it was higher that I really wanted to spend at $15k before all the rest of the bits (closer to $16k). They had a few older C14’s, 2008 and 2011 along with a couple of BMWs, a 2000 at $5k and a much newer bagger at $17k. Still floating around my price point.

At this point I started looking further, into Denver itself. The G-Force place in Lakewood had a 2015 FJR, no price though and the Fay Myers place had a 2013 Concours in Blue for $10k with the saddlebags and trunk already. Still no call by Saturday so we headed out on the ‘busa.

First G-Force for a test ride on the FJR. 2015 FJR, no price on the website. At the dealer, price was $15,000 which was right at my limit, meaning there would be several hundred bucks more if I couldn’t get a break downward. The sales guy put me on the bike but nothing about the controls. I tried to start it by hitting the emergency flashers (which are the same place as the starter on most bikes πŸ™‚ ) and during the ride I asked if they had heated grips as the grips were pretty warm. He said “nope!” but the grips were pretty hot by the time we got back to the dealer πŸ™‚ The ride itself was 5 minutes or 2 miles per the paperwork and escorted with me following the sales guy around the block. It took a minute or two to get used to how responsive it was, how quick. It just leaped ahead. Nice there. The bike felt small to me I guess was about the only complaint. Like I was on Rita’s old 250 again. Not scrunched up small but narrow with my knees sticking up a little feeling. Anyway, the ride around the block was okay. I was able to get a little speed and it was quick, no doubt.

Next up, Fay Myers for a test ride on the Councours. 2013 C14, price $9,999.00. 3,300 miles when I got done riding it. I’d chatted with some web bot on Friday to arrange a ride but they never called the dealer I guess. The sales guy had to carefully get it out of the back row and take it back to service to get the tires pumped up and checked and make sure it was in test ride shape. It has been sitting in the bay for 2 months (52 days). I asked if Jeanne could ride and he waved his hand, “no problem” and I asked if there was a time limit and the sales guy said, “nope, take it out for 30 minutes if you like”, he walked me through the controls real quick, most things in the normal place. There was a button on the other side of the left grip that I think adjusted the suspension, I didn’t quite get what he said with my helmet and earplugs in. I took the bike for a quick, non-passenger ride around the parking lot a few times to get used to it and then let Jeanne get on. We headed out and cruised up and down the side and main roads for 10 minutes before hitting the freeway up to the next exit to see how she felt at higher speeds. The bike doesn’t have as much get up and go as the FJR or my ‘busa but it does have speed once it winds up. I was able to get up to speed without a problem with Jeanne on the back and the mirrors were perfect for seeing all around me (the FJR mirrors were similar). I brought it back in without a problem.

Overall, my Hayabusa is quick but the FJR is quicker with the C14 feeling a bit pokier.
The passenger pegs on the ‘busa are pegs. Both the FJR and C14 had heel rests for the passenger which Jeanne loved.
The ‘busa is certainly lower to the ground and the ergos are certainly forward. Both the FJR and C14 were tall. The FJR ergos were basically sit up and beg where the C14 was more forward which I preferred.
The ‘busa has my trunk which I could transfer to either the FJR or C14 if necessary. Likely there’s a standard Givi to FJR or C14 luggage rack mount somewhere. The C14 did already have a smaller Kawasaki blue and branded Givi trunk with the apparent tail light option, although not connected (or not there; maybe just reflectors).

Ignoring that the Fay Myers dealer was a lot more amenable about taking the bike out, the C14 was still the more appealing to me bike. After getting the VIN and Dealer information and passing it along to the Credit Union (preapproved loan), I received approval and notified the dealer. I paid the difference between the loan and total cost and the bike was mine. Thursday Jeanne and I drove down to Fay Myers to pick it up and ride it home.

Few observations from the ride and of course bits I picked up from reading the owner’s manual Thursday night.

I bought a new Shoei helmet at Fay Myers as since I had a new bike, I got a discount. I also bought a set of Frogg Toggs for Jeanne for the upcoming trip. The new helmet is much nicer than any other I’ve had but quite a bit more expensive that I’d anticipated. But I really did want a nicer helmet this time around. I will note that a new helmet and riding home in 2 hours of rush hour was extremely painful, especially around the jaw line. Just need to break it (or my jaw) in.

Ready to go, I put the spare helmet (I brought one just in case I didn’t get a new one) in the saddlebag. They tried to put the paperwork and a few other bits in the trunk but I couldn’t figure out how to secure it. I closed it but nothing I could do while at the dealer could secure it. Since I’m in the wind, I’m not too worried about something flying out. Heck, I left my Givi unlocked on the ‘busa riding through a heavy rain storm in Oklahoma with a bunch of gaming books and my laptop and nothing even got a raindrop. Still, I put the paperwork and stuff in the left saddlebag instead just in case. Once I got home, I removed it from the bike and brought it inside where I could examine it in better light and after a few minutes figured out how to secure it. The label does say “push” but it wasn’t real clear to my simple ‘busa mind πŸ™‚ But pushing on the bottom of the catch had it pop over and secure the lid and it’s good now.

When riding her home, I was cycling through the LCD using the top button on the dash to check air pressure, temps, and other bits of information. Turns out there’s a little gray switch on the back of the left bar instrument cluster (see the bit next to the clutch reservoir in the first pic) that cycles through the display without having to take your hands off the bars.

There’s a ‘eco’ mode which leans out the mixture when just riding the slab. Default is off. There’s also a ‘twisty’/’slab’ mode for the brakes, default ‘twisty’ oddly enough.

The windscreen does lower (drops to basic when the key is turned off) and raise. At the top, it blocks the wind which is a bit uncomfortable if you’re used to the wind keeping you from full weight on your wrists. About 50% to 75% is good for me. And you can set the default height for when you turn on the bike.

I do need to chase down something for the pegs. It doesn’t have to be full floorboards though. I have heel rests I created for the ‘busa which work perfectly (just a couple pieces of slab steel bolted to the pegs). Even the next day, my arches were a bit sore. Same with getting a “throttlemeister” as I have it for the ‘busa and a taillight modulator. I think I have the ‘custom dynamics’ modulator (or something like that).

It’s interesting that many of the mods I did on the ‘busa to make it more of a touring bike are already on the C14.

I have the service manual on order and need to have a second FOB configured for piece of mind. I’ve also ordered Canyon Bars with highway pegs and sent an email to a guy in Florida who was recommended as he had a replacement, better tuned, ECU for the bike. $300 though so we’ll have to see on that one.

Riding it to work Friday and it was pretty responsive. It might have been just that I had a passenger during the test ride that the C14 felt a little poky. We’ll see as the weeks progress.

Two week trip in June. That’ll be the real break in πŸ™‚

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2 Responses to New Motorcycle Time

  1. Barbara Stuart says:

    Sounds like you did some good comparison shopping. The fact that you are thoughtful and considerate for your passenger comfort speaks well! Showing helmets are supposed to be the best…. Gotta protect the brains! We see the idiots with sunglasses only and figure they have no brain worth protecting. The pictures show a gorgeous bike, I hope it is comfortable for you both on your trip.

  2. Pingback: Hayabusa and Concours Sport Touring Comparison | Motorcycle Touring

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