Other Motorcycle: ’08 Kawasaki Concours 14
Sprint GT VS. Kawasaki Concours 14 (GTR1400)
I bought a new 2011 Sprint GT (in Aluminium Silver) a couple of weeks ago for riding in Connecticut. Still have my 2008 Kawasaki Concours 14 (GTR1400) in Florida. Thought some might want to know how I think they compare, in case you are thinking of buying one or the other.
Engine: Kwak has more power (156 hp vs. 130 hp and 103 ft. lb VS. 80 ft. lb.) but since the Sprint is about 110 lbs. (50 kg.) lighter this is not that apparent.
The Kwak engine is turbine-smooth and quiet while the Sprint is rougher, but has an entertaining engine sound. Neither make my hands numb.
Engine Heat Management: The 2008-2009 C14’s got a lot of comment on excess heat. It never really bothered me, maybe because I never ride in shorts. In 2010 the fairing was redesigned to better dissipate heat, but I have not ridden that.
On the Sprint, if I’m in slow traffic and the fan goes on, I feel plenty of heat, but only on the right calf and not really bothersome.
Fuel Economy: Sprint wins easily. Kwak introduced a fuel economy mode in 2010. My ’08 gets 36 mpg when I am heavy on the throttle and maybe 40 if I baby it. The Sprint is getting 45 mpg riding it pretty hard. Even with the new Kwak economy mode it can’t touch the Sprint, plus I’m left wondering when would I use this economy mode.
How do I know when I may need all the power I can get? These are U.S. gallons (3.79 L), not Imperial (4.4 L). One U.S. gal. = .8 Imperial or one Imperail gal. = 1.2 U.S.
To translate my U.S. mpg into Imperial mpg you divide by .8. So, 36 mpg U.S. /.8 = 45 mpg Imperial.
Handling: Most reviews make a point of saying the Kwak handles well for its weight. Maybe so, but the Sprint is significantly better in the curves and just as good on the straights. Slow speed turns and circles are very easy on the Sprint, not so on the Concours. With the Sprint I feel I can take the bags off and go play holigan – not like on my former Kawasaki ZX12R or Buell 1125R – but still have some good scratching fun.
I don’t feel like doing this on the C14 – too big, too heavy and not enough road feel because I am sitting more upright.
Brakes: Both have powerful brakes that stop quickly and with sufficient feel. The C14 can be bought without ABS. The GT has ABS standard. The 2008-2009 C14 ABS brakes are not linked and neither are the Sprints GT’s. Beginning in 2010 the C14 ABS brakes are linked with high or low linking effect rider selected via a handlebar button.
ABS can not be truned off on either bike.
Screen protection: Kwak is better with its larger, electrically adjustable screen. However, I still had to buy a Cee Bailey Euro Cut to solve the wind buffeting. The 2010 Concours has a taller screen but many owners still replace it.
I’m 6’4 (1.93m) and experienced quite a bit of helmet buffeting on the Sprint GT. I added a Laminar Lip this week and it helped, but the Kwak with a Cee Bailey is better. Either bike with the stock screen is marginal.
Comfort: Nod goes to the C14 due to my Corbin seat and Cee Bailey Euro Cut windscreen. You sit more upright, the Cee Bailey windscreen in the full up positon gives a good quiet ride and the bike’s wide body shields the rest of you. However, I am surprised with the Sprint’s comfort.
Even though I sit more forward neither my wrists nor shoulders become uncomfortable and the Laminar Lip now gives me fairly clean air on my helmet. Both bikes accomodate my long legs well.
Seat: Many reviews said that the Concours has a comfortable seat, but I found it so uncomfortable I replaced it with a Corbin. The Corbin made it an all day bike. I find the stock Sprint GT seat to be very comfortable.
I ride solo, so no comment on passenger comfort.
Styling: Very subjective, but I think the Sprint is much better looking. Take the bags off, and it almost looks like a sports bike.
Wind protection: Kwak’s wider body gives better wind protection, but the Sprint’s is good enough for big miles and its slim frontal area is pleasing to the eye.
Drivetrain: Kwak’s shaft drive has some jacking to it that sometimes makes smooth shifting and throttle modulation more difficult than the Sprint’s chain. I assume you know the pros and cons.
Transmision: C14’s is smoother. Never have to search for neutral – when stopped and in 1st gear, just pull up with your toe and the transmission automatically goes to Neutral. Sprint is a little bulky and neutral sometimes a search. However, my Sprint is brand new and the transmission is becoming smoother, but I don’t expect it to approach the C14’s.
Also the C14 has a slipper clutch, so downshifts don’t run the risk of skids.
Headlights: C14 the clear winner with the best headlights of my motorcycling experience – wide, clean, bright with no dark holes in the spread. Sprint GT lighting has been reported as improved, but is not in the C14’s class. Plus, on the C14 the headlights can be adjusted from the dash, which is convenient if you switch between solo and two-up riding often.
Bags: Both bikes have roomy and water proof bags that are easy to remove. Both accept full face helmets. The Sprint also has two helmet attachments under the seat to use when your bags are full – Kwak not.
Instrumentation: C14 wins here. All modes can be changed with a handlebar mounted button (beginning in 2010) while the Sprint requires reaching to the dash. Plus the Sprint labels for different modes (like mpg, range, etc.) are ludicrously small and difficult to read.
Mirrors: Both just OK. With the C14 the bags obscure 1/3 of the mirrors. With the Sprint my elbows obscure 1/3 of the mirrors (is it my long arms?). A tie for me.
KPASS vs. Key: The C14 uses a fob that communicates electronically with the bike and when near you can start it. Just don’t leave your fob behind and turn off your engine as you then have 10 seconds to restart before it is locked up. Plus the fob’s battery when low will set off an immobilizer message so keep a battery handy. I can do without KPASS, which to me is a solution to a non-problem.
Just give me a key and knock a few hundred dollars off the price, thank you.
Traction Control: Its a big plus, I think, even though I have never had an incident where TC would save me. C14 has it (beginning 2010), Sprint not.
Cruise Control: C14 has (beginning 2010), Sprint not
Heated Grips: C14 standard (beginning 2010), Sprint option
Electrical outlet: C14 has one 12V on the dash, Sprint has one 12V outlet just inside the fairing at the left knee. In addition the Sprint has one 12V outlet inside the optional top box.
List Price: Concours 14 (ABS) $15,900, Sprint GT $13,400 (ABS is standard)
I just bought a new 2011 GT for $8,995 and the lowest price I’ve seen on a new 2012 C14 is $12,800
My overall take-away: If I had to take a trip across the U.S. I would pick the Kwak, but I would likely be bored. I get a real thrill when riding the Sprint, while with the C14 its more like just civilized transportation. The Sprint is much more involving – nice engine note, better handling, better looking (especially with bags off) and much lower priced. The straighter the road the more I would favor the C14, and the more curves the more I would favor the the Sprint GT.
The C14’s traction control may make it the safer bike, but the price advantage of the Sprint makes it a real deal in the sport touring catagory.
Last edited by JohnD; 06-04-2012 at 09:57 PM. Reason: more info.
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