The instrument cluster is an interesting mix of old and new. It retains the same layout as before, but the fonts and colours have changed. The shape of the indicating lights has changed as well, giving it a very modern look. What has changed are the options on the digital display in between the clear analog speedo and tacho: you can now select one of three modes for ABS and traction control, what Kawasaki likes to call “K-Trac”. This is easily operated via a button on the left handlebar. Other than that, the ZX-14R remains as easy to figure out as an ordinary 150cc motorcycle. This is an extremely good thing, because it is such an intimidating looking motorcycle. Of course, the usual assortment of modern technology is present on the display, among which are twin trip meters, fuel consumption, distance to empty, etc. Another nice touch is that the seat height is adjustable. No doubt this feature is appreciated in South-East Asian countries where average height is, well, below average.
The seat itself is a one-piece seat like a run-of-the-mill motorcycle and I’m very fond of it because it has just the right amount of support, give and grip. The rear seat is also quite comfortable, unlike other big motorcycles where you’d be better off sitting on a small rock. Those massive pentagonal mufflers that are present on both sides require concentration on the part of the pillion.
As the ZX-14R is a sport tourer rather than an all-out supersport motorcycle, it is comfortable to ride – it doesn’t feel like you’re doing a headstand, and unlike Honda’s VFR1200F, it isn’t a compact riding position. My 40-foot tall frame found it just about right, and moving around on the bike for corners also comes easily and naturally. This riding position is what makes it a good motorcycle to have in traffic if you absolutely must have a faired motorcycle – there is less weight on the hands and the front of the motorcycle, which makes steering easier.
The stock screen is big enough to duck behind no matter how large you are, which makes it easy to maintain high cruising speeds for extended periods of time. The new noise regulations in developed markets have robbed it of an exhaust note at regular speeds – in our crowded city ride, even blipping the throttle didn’t have an effect on some noisy rickshaw drivers! I’m sure that most owners will ditch the stock exhausts for something with a little more noise immediately. The stock exhausts are perfect for a long day in the saddle though – they’re just loud enough to make you feel alive without annoying you. That said, the second the errant rickshaw drivers took a look at what was in their mirrors, they moved over in a hurry.