For more than three decades, Kawasaki motorcycles were a mainstay in the police bike market. They were even immortalized as the preferred ride of California Highway Patrol Officers Ponch and Jon on the popular TV show "CHiPs." But since 2005, real-life motor officers haven't had access to Kawasakis, as the company chose to leave the law enforcement market.
Today, Kawasaki is once again making police bikes. The company's new Concours 14 represents its attempt at recapturing a share of the law enforcement market now owned by BMW, Harley-Davidson, and Honda.
The Concours 14 boasts the safety features and performance that motor officers have come to expect from their rides. "It's a rider's motorcycle," says John Griffin, Kawasaki's government/fleet sales manager. "It works with the rider very instinctively."
Griffin says the Concours 14 is well suited to police duty. "It can carry 441 pounds of equipment and gear," he explains. "But it's quick and fast. It's designed to handle the high speeds and quick stops demanded by police duty."
The police version of the Concours 14 offers many must-have law enforcement features. It has improved lock-to-lock steering for a tighter turning radius and suspension that's been adjusted for police work. The electrical system on the police version is also designed specifically for emergency work. It includes a secondary battery and a secondary wiring harness with 12 fused circuits.
But what really sets the Concours 14 apart from the previous generation of Kawasaki police bike—the KZ1000P—is its safety features such as a low tire pressure alert, traction control, and anti-lock brakes. The brakes are designed not to overheat even under the toughest conditions presented by law enforcement duty. They have very large rotors, 310mm in front and 270mm in back.
The Concours 14 needs such big brakes because, as Griffin says, "It's a rocket." With a four-stroke DOHC multi-valve engine that generates 150 horsepower and 100 foot-pounds of torque at 6200 RPM, the Concours 14 can put up blistering quarter-mile specs: 10.52 seconds and 130.5 miles per hour. Griffin says one of the reasons for the Concours 14's excellent acceleration and top end is its variable valve timing. "The technology gives you more torque from bottom range to midrange to top end," Griffin says.
Of course, working motor patrol is about more than just zipping down the road at high speed. It's about long hours on a bike and Kawasaki realizes that. Creature comforts on the Concours 14 include three different sizes of seats, standard heated grips on the 2010 model, and optional heated seats, as well as an electrically adjustable windscreen.
Kawasaki says the Concours 14 sells for $16,000 to $22,000, depending on options and equipment. Griffin adds that another selling point for the bike is its low maintenance and repair costs. It requires one valve adjustment at every 15,000 miles, and Griffin says that service costs about $400. He adds that a clutch replacement costs less than $400 retail, including labor.
The Concours 14 is currently on duty with the El Paso Police Department, the Idaho State Police, and the Woodburn (Ore.) Police Department. Griffin says motor officers are thrilled to see Kawasaki back in the market. "They are bouncing off a rev limiter; they're that enthusiastic. We are fielding several calls every day from agencies."
Editor's Note: This article initially quoted Kawasaki's Griffin as saying that the 15,000-mile service costs less than $100. Rather, it is the initial 600-mile service that costs $100 or less since the bike does not need a valve adjustment.