When Kawasaki announced its 2015 lineup last week, it outlined its existing models which are returning largely unchanged from their 2014 versions. However, there were a couple of desirable models that were conspicuous by their absence.
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Most notably, there was no mention of the exotically appealing H2 mega-sportbike that is being relentlessly teased with vague video releases. Details are still a few steps below sketchy, but clues in the video indicate the H2 will be powered by a supercharged inline-Four engine, likely in the 1000cc displacement range (the original H2 Mach IV was 750cc, two-stroke, inline-Triple). If so, its power output will surely top 220 horsepower to clearly surpass the current ZX-14R, and may even go quite a bit further up the horsepower ladder, which would make the H2 the most interesting motorcycle of 2015. Full details will be announced September 30 at the Intermot motorcycle show in Germany.
Suspiciously, Kawasaki didn’t mention anything about a Concours 14 in its 2015 press releases. When we tested it in our recent Heavyweight Sport-Touring Shootout, the Connie felt like the oldest bike of the group, lacking contemporary S-T features like cruise control and electronically adjustable suspension. Still, the C-14 didn’t fall short by much, demonstrating that its platform is still strong, so we can’t imagine Kawasaki forcing it into retirement. Instead, we suspect an upgrade similar to that of the 2010 model year which saw the Connie gain KTRC traction control and K-ACT ABS among other niceties such as heated grips and updates to the trip computer.
If a significantly updated Connie is indeed in the works, we would expect it to be fitted with cruise control and electronic suspension – two items its closest Japanese rival, the Yamaha FJR1300ES, already carries. If the C14 expects to battle toe-to-toe with its European competition, Kawasaki can enter battle knowing it doesn’t need to do much with the mighty ZX-14-based engine. Instead, going the tech route and updating electronics, such as variable ride modes, would seem a more reasonable choice. Maybe smart ABS, similar to the system KTM is employing. Or clutchless shifting both up and down, like BMW has started adopting.
If Kawasaki does nothing else, we hope the Concours14 receives a 55-series rear tire instead of the 50-series rubber currently fitted. We’ve already experienced favorable handling differences with this switch, making it a no-brainer in our eyes. Updates of the magnitude seen above come at a price, but if they do appear, the Connie would be a very formidable contender in the S-T wars. Since the Kawi was the least expensive competitor in our recent Sport Touring Shootout, we think that the Concours 14 would still remain pretty competitive with our list of electronic additions if the price increase could be kept to around $1,000 above the current $16,199 MSRP.
Also absent from Kawi’s 2015 announcements was the Versys, a bike highly regarded by those who value versatile functionality combined with sporty performance and excellent comfort all delivered at a reasonable price. The Versys hasn’t been updated since 2010, so we wonder if we might see a revised version debut at one of this fall’s shows.If it does, we’d like to see a bit more power squeezed out of its parallel-Twin motor, upgraded brakes and a skosh more legroom to suit longer legs.
And speaking of Versys, rumors and spy photos of a significantly revised Versys 1000 are circulating. The new Versys 1000 Kawasaki unveiled at EICMA 2011 never made it to America. Some conjecture that its looks would’ve been laughable in the U.S. market, and the bike really did have a face only a mother could love. The whole thing appeared to have been designed, maybe a bit too quickly, around the engine and frame of Kawasaki’s then-current Z1000.
The alleged new Versys 1000 looks much more like an Italian adventure bike. Like the Multistrada it appears to imitate, and like the previous Versys 1000, this one will probably be way more road-biased – but you can also expect ABS and TC. And if you do go off-roading, the big Versys should be cheaper to put back together than the Italian version. With adventure-touring bikes being a strong market segment these days, including a recently spied BMW S1000XR which is also powered by a liter-class inline-Four, it wouldn’t be too surprising if we saw an updated Versys 1000 make its American debut for 2015.