I have today ridden the GTR1400 thanks to Dave Fox Motorcycles of Ramsgate. I am in the market for a good tourer and currently own a Honda STX1300 and previously an ST1100. I was keen to have a change and the GTR looked like the best alternative having already considered the BMWs and the Yamaha FJR. The former was discounted due to it being wider at the rear then the front which is suicidal going through Blackwall Tunnel rush hour traffic. And the FJR just doesnt offer any weather protection.
I am 5' 10" and the GTR is a tall bike, I can just get both my toes down. For some this could be a problem. Once rolling, the bike is beautifully balanced even at low speed and the clutch and gearbox are a joy to use after the clunky Pan. To make a fair comparison I rode an '07 STX1300 three hours earlier which only had 280 miles on the clock. The bike I rode was brand new (3 miles) so it would be unfair for me to comment on the engine; but even though it was stiff the smoothness was evident. Controls are standard layout and easily accessible. The LCD screen is easy to read in any light, unlike the Pan which disappears in bright sunlight.
Watching the current MPG can be a little frightening until you are in the sixth gear (overdrive, which is superb). This is one thing the Pan is sadly lacking, it needs a sixth gear, so again the GTR scores.
The panniers offer excellent storage but the little storage box on the top near the fuel filler is a bit of a waste of time and could prevent the use of a tank bag. There is, in my opinion, only one major problem with the GTR1400 and that is the front screen. It is just too small. If you are a sports bike rider then you may find it acceptable, but coming from a touring bike, it is a joke. At anything more than 40mph the wind buffeting is unacceptable as there is no weather protection for the upper body - and this is with the standard screen fully extended. This included the top and sides. A
s the bike was so new I was asked to keep it below 4000rpm, which is fine as this still takes you to over 70mph comfortably, but I would not wish to do any distance at this speed or higher with that screen. With the Pan, I can do 80mph (on the continent of course) in silence. I know that a larger touring screen is going to be offered and this needs to be at least 6 inches wider and a minimum of 8 inches taller than the standard screen to make it acceptable for distance riding. The lower body is superbly protected with a brilliant fairing.
So in summary, Kawasaki has the potential for making the GTR1400 the ultimate fast touring bike but it is sadly falling short unless they rethink the front upper body protection. I am holding off ordering my next bike as I truly hope the GTR touring screen will be man enough for the job in which case it is a no brainer for me. However if they don't get it right it will be back to the Pan European with its clunky gearbox, questionable finish, disappearing display and lack of a top gear. That is unless BMW widen their mirrors or shrink their panniers...