Friday, July 27, 2012

ZX-14 Comfort Modifications.

Today, Brady Steffl, from the blog, Behind Bars left a comment on my blog, asking how I could do 700 miles a day on a Ninja. Well Brady, here you go. These are the comfort related modifications I've made to my 2009 Kawasaki Ninja Zx-14.

The very first thing I did to my '14 was to change the seat. On the way home from the dealer, I noticed that the stock seat felt like a 2x10 with a vinyl cover over it. It was also tipped forward so the "boys" were being crushed into the gas tank. The seat would be OK if I were constantly hanging off and dragging a knee in the corners, but not so good on the highway.
I had read on a few of the Zx-14 forums that the seat from the new Kawasaki Concours 14 was a direct swap and very comfortable. I watched a Concours 14 forum, waiting for someone selling the stock C-14 seat. It turned out to be the best $125.00 I've spent. The seat swap involves trading brackets between the seat pans.
The ONLY thing I'd change would be to buy a C-14 seat from a newer model. The newer ones are all black, the earlier ones like I bought are black & gray. The stock Zx-14 seat cowl won't fit on a C-14 seat, but I can live with that.
The stock Zx-14 seat

The Concours 14 seat.

I also installed a set of bar riser blocks from Helibars. The machined and anodized aluminum spacer plate is only .75" thick, but it makes a huge difference. The spacer raises the bars just enough to help take some of the weight off my hands, and some of the bend out of my back.

Left bar with riser block removed. Fork adjustments easy to access.

Right side bar with Helibar spacer in place. Fork adjustments now sit slightly recessed.

The last thing I did was to change the wind screen. The stock screen is fine for the track. But in real world driving, which includes bugs and rain, a taller one is a plus.
Stock clear screen, and a Zerogravity Sport/Touring screen.

Some people on the Zx-14 forums will install foot pegs from a Buell Ulysses. That swap lowers the foot pegs bout an inch and a half. I've never felt the need to do that. I have plenty of legroom.

I've changed to Michelin Pilotroad 2 tires and get 10,000+ miles from them. I've mounted a Ram Ball in the steering neck to mount a GPS. I added a set of Givi V35 PLX side cases on SW-Motech mounts from A Throttlemeister helps with the ability to take my hands off the bars to rest them a bit.
The changes I've made, make is possible for me to cover fairly long distances in relative comfort. At nearly 40 MPG and a 5.8 gallon tank, at 200 miles I'm ready to sit up and stretch.


  1. May I ask why you chose the ZX14 over the Concours 14?

    1. The dealer had a Candy Lime Green Zx-14, and would trade almost even for my Goldwing. Plus I already have an FJR.
      I used to think the FJR was the smoothest bike I'd ever been on, until I rode the '14.

  2. The issues you had with the '14 new sound like the ones with the Gladius, seat titling forward and bar risers needed.

    It is god to know the modifications made a huge difference.

    1. Ya, you probably don't want the... umm boys.. no the.... never mind.. It's not comfortable to slide into the tank. Risers were an easy thing to do. They came complete with longer bolts, took only 10 minutes to do.

  3. Erik:

    We all know you are a hard-core, long distance, freeway rider rolling on huge miles to get where you want. I seldom take the interstates but this was an exception for me. I had my bike set up for freeway travel, installed highway pegs and even used a GEL pad and amazingly I didn't get as much condensation within the male apparatus system. I also didn't get leg cramps due to blood vessel restriction in my inner thighs. As you say, it's the small things that work.

    glad you made it home FAST and safely.

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

    1. Bob, I usually try my hardest to avoid Interstate Highways, but once I set my sights on home, that rule went out the window!
      Nothing worse than sweaty tender bits and monkey butt. Gotta give them some air and movement along the way!

  4. Erik,

    Nice, thanks. Sorry it took me so long to find it, I was watching the feed for your update, but apparently I have a bunch of dumb in my eyes and can't see properly. Thanks for shooting an email.

    So, you can go that far on a Connie seat? Honestly, I'm impressed, I've always likened that seat to a paverstone painted in vinyl. I also put 1.5 or 2" risers on the Concours, which was as much as I could install without changing the hydraulic lines (didn't want to mess with that when it was brand new) but I regret not going whole hog and buying the risers with the pullback. That looks a whole lot more comfortable. Honestly, my back is the worst when I'm riding, after a few hundred miles it feels like there is an oyster knife worming between my thoracic vertebrae.

    Last I bought a jumbo windshield, but not the jumbo jumbo windshield from cee bailey. I suppose that's not a hot swappable item, cause I love my cee baily. Although, here again I thought the second to the biggest change would be enough, but it wasn't. I get a fair amount of head wind.

    I thought for sure you'd have more extensive changes than this. Maybe you do and you just want to humiliate me, cause I 800 miles is miserable for me. Maybe I'm a colossal wiener, but you win.

    Oh, and I love PRs. I've really enjoyed them.

    Also, I'm getting a set of 'canyon cages' pretty soon. They're crash bars for low speed/no speed drops. (which happens when you've got a 700 lb, fully loaded machine, sad to say.) But better yet, it'll give me a place to mount proper foot pegs. I'm pretty excited. Given the amount I'll have invested in this thing, though, I might just go with a BMW next time. I could have gotten all this stuff standard - though I would have missed out on all the fun of upgrading, and would pay through the nose for it. And the maintenance. Can't win. can you?

    Behind Bars

  5. Brady, If thought the Connie seat was bad... you ought to try the Zx seat. I likened it to a 2x8 with a cover, and tipped forward. I find the Connie seat to be a dream in comparison.
    Some Zx owners have stacked 2 sets of risers. A .75" Helibar and a .5" of another brand. I guess there's just enough slack in the lines and cables. I'm OK with just the Helibars.
    Crash bars would've saved me in Oregon. I dropped it making a super low speed, bar at full lock turn. DOH!!!. Oh well, it least that's over.
    Windshields are a matter of taste. I rode out to Oregon last year, after the Sturgis rally. I had the stock screen on. I noticed a lot more bug hit! My jacket was filthy. The Sport-tour screen is nice, but it can be almost a little too tall, making it warm to ride behind.

  6. Hi Erik
    I'd be interested in your thoughts on the sports touring screen? I'm currently running the double bubble on my 14 which is a great compromise screen but for longer runs I'm thinking of picking up a touring screen.

    You may be interested in my blog


  7. Glen, I have made long distance trips with both screens. The touring screen definitely makes a difference. You'll feel less wind and be better protected from bugs or gravel that passing cars can kick up.
    The small, stock screen will allow more bugs to hit your jacket, but it also allows for a lot more air flow. If you wear a mesh jacket in HOT weather, the small screen would be nicer. The small screen also lets the wind help take the pressure off your arms and wrists at higher speeds.... I guess you'll have to try both and see which one works best for you!

    Good luck.

    Oh, you've got a nice blog!

  8. Thanks. This is really only for big rides to remove some pressure off the neck at highway speeds over many hours. It certainly sounds like it would be worth a try.

  9. Hi Erik - do you know if the seat pans are the same on zx14 and Concours 14?

    1. I'm not 100% sure... I just had to change a couple of screw on brackets and I was good to go!!!