• D R Sessum

Updated: May 21


1 Introduction

2 Tools that you will need

3 Let’s Begin

3.1 Remove the cover

3.2 Layout the new design

3.3 The final product

1 Introduction

So, you just got your first Kawasaki Concours 14 and you’ve noticed that it stands a little tall in the saddle, or rather the saddle itself is tall.

Yeah, it’s about 32 inches tall. If you’re like me and sporting a 30-inch inseam, sitting flat footed at a stop is going to be awkward.

There are some solutions, and it depends on how much you are willing to spend and how long you want to wait.

The first and simplest solution is to buy a seat to replace the OEM one. There are several models available, and the prices vary, but they all have one thing in common, the are not cheap. The average price is around $450. Plus, you’ll have to wait for the seat to get shipped to you. And some of these seats are custom made which means more waiting.

The second choice is to modify the stock seat. Before I got my C14 I had a C10 many years ago. The OEM seat on it was a lot worst than the OEM C14 seat. I took my seat to an automotive interior shop. The owner told me that he could rebuild the seat to have the contour that I wanted, and it would be comfortable. He said that he could add a denser foam padding in the areas that got thinner because of reshaping. All I needed to do was to shape the seat and then bring it to him. He recommended that I “borrow” the electric turkey carving knife and use it to carve the seat.

The finished result was fantastic! It looked like a factory job. I took a trip and logged some 12-hours days in the saddle and never felt it. The cost was less than $100 plus my part. He even reused the original cover.

Fast forward. I got a newer model Concours in August of 2020. I took a few trips on it and found that the seat was better than the C10, but it was tall. Backing up the old girl was a pain to say the least.

I thought about buying a new seat for 1 second. Then I realized that I could do the same thing with this seat as I had done with the C10 seat. This time I would do everything. And if it didn’t work, then I buy a seat.

So here is what I did to modify the OEM seat on my 2009 Kawasaki Concours to go from


2 Tools you will need

You’ll need a few tools, but nothing expensive. As I mentioned earlier, you’ll have to carve the foam padding to the contour that you want. I’ve seen You Tube videos where the person is using a razor blade to remove the excess foam padding. This creates a rough surface that is hard to smooth out later.

The electric knife will allow you to carve away thin layers at a time in large widths very easily.

Before we go any further with the carving, we need to remove the cover. For that, we’ll use a pair of pliers, regular or needle-nosed, and a modified flat blade screwdriver to get the staples out.

The final tools you may have but if not, they are available at Harbor Freight. They are a pneumatic or electric stapler and drill with a flap disk or wheel grinding head. (See attached photos.)

Pneumatic Stapler Flap Disk Grinder Flap Wheel Grinder

The stapler was less than $35 at Harbor Freight.

3 Let’s Begin

3.1 Remove the cover

You only need to remove about half of the seat cover. Start at the front and use the pliers and screwdriver to remove the staples from the bottom of the seat.

3.2 Layout the new design

Next, using a Sharpie draw an outline of the new contours of the seat. I also used a large bowl to set the curve.

My goal was to lower the seat deck 2 inches. I used a square to get the height that I wanted.

As you cut away material continue to monitor the depth with your measuring tools.

Start cutting. Using the electric knife remove layers of material about a ¼” at a time.

I left the front tip of the seat its original height. I wanted to seat contour to cause me to sit back more rather than forward. Further back is where I started cutting deeper into the material to reach the 2-inch depth.

In this photo you can see the air grinder with a rough grinding head. I used that at first. Later I settled on the flap disk head and an electric grinder

Now, you’re just going to cut and measure, and cut and measure.

Feel free to periodically place the seat on the motorcycle during your shaping and try it out for proper fit.

This flap grinding wheel worked the best in removing material evenly. You can shape the foam rubber easily. It left the best results too.

A word of caution:

Wear a face mask and eye protection because the grinder really pulverizes the foam into a semi-fine dust.

One of the other complaints about the OEM seat is that it is wide. As I sculpted it lower in the middle, I also cut more of a slope in the sides.

3.3 The final product

After you have gotten the desired shape, just pull the cover back over the front section. The cover will be loose, so just pull it as tight as you can while using the pneumatic or electric stapler to secure the cover material.

The seat cover will start to tighten up to the new seat shape as you ride, especially when the weather warms.

Yes, I see some bumps that I could have smoothed out better. The good thing is all I have to do is take the cover of and use the flap wheel. I’ll save that for winter.

Right now, it’s time to ride.

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  • D R Sessum

Updated: May 21

When I was a new officer looking a becoming a Motor Officer I had owned a Kawasaki GPz550. A traffic cop friend recommended that I learn the ways of the liter-size bikes if I wanted to better my chances of getting through the course. He also said, “Don’t just go out and get a used cop bike to practice on. Get something that you’ll want to keep in case you decide that you don’t want to be a Motor Officer.” The agency where I worked used the Kawasaki KZ1000 for traffic operations. My first liter-sized motorcycle was a 1990 Kawasaki Concours ZG1000.

I rode police motors for 11 years. Motorcycle training for police work has high speed riding in it, but it’s more about slow speed operations of the motor. Not just going slow in a straight line. You must maneuver the motor through a wide variety of patterns without stopping or blowing out of the pattern. If you make it through you get the prized flying donut pin, your “wings.”

I had also learned the same technique on the ZG1000. Aside from the fairing and driveshaft, it was very similar to the KZ in throttle response and clutch operation. The training officers called the clutch technique operating in the “grey area of the clutch.” The clutches held up in part because of the liquid cooling and also because the RPMs were low. You applied just enough throttle to move the motor then turn it off. Later, I found out that a similar technique could be used on the dry clutch BMW motors.

On the Beemers, the same throttle action was used however, the clutch was either engaged or not engaged. The dry clutches didn’t like being slipped. So for slow speed operation, it mainly came down to throttle response.

I recently acquired a 2009 Concours 14 is with ABS. It was stock. While riding it around, I noticed a few differences in it and the other motorcycles that I had ridden. For one thing, when I took off from a stop, say a traffic light, I couldn’t just ease off the line without using the clutch a lot more than the ZG1000 or KZ1000. I knew that it had to do with the C14 being fuel injected. If you rolled on the throttle too quickly it would launch you like a fighter jet from an aircraft carrier.

Before I talked to Steve, the owner of Shodabeen Engineering, I thought that I’d have to live with riding the motorcycle one of two ways, either a lot of clutch management or just Top Gun. He explained to me that the fuel injected C14 would operate like a carbureted motorcycle after he flashed the ECU.

Once I got the flashed ECU back and installed, my first real evaluation was to take the motor to school. I rode over to a nearby school and used the parking lot. Shodabeen suggests that the play in the throttle cables be 0-2mm. I had mine set as close to 0mm as I could get. I started out with a basic serpentine run. I rode in a straight line weaving left to right as if I was going around cones. The throttle was very responsive.

Next, the 180-degree turn within two parking spaces. The average parking space is 9 feet, unless you go to a Costco parking lot. Most motors, including Harleys and BMWs, can make this turn. The operation of throttle and clutch to make it happen. As I arrived at the turning point, the entrance to the pattern, I did a wig-wag with the front wheel, then locked the forks in the direction that I wanted to go. The motor started to fall that way and as it did, I applied power and drove it out the opposite direction.

It sounds simple. It is, but you have to really trust that you will have the power when you ask for it. With this ECU flash, it was there. I ran a few more patterns like that and then it was time to check out the other end of the tach.

I was out on the freeway mixing it with the traffic. I needed to merge from one freeway to another. The motor was in 3rd gear as I approached the end of the on-ramp. I saw my opening and just rolled the throttle back as I went through the gears to 5th. It was so smooth as the engine went through the power band. Steve told me that the flash would give me 5th gear roll-on throttle power. He wasn’t lying.

Riding along in OD at about 75 mph in the fast lane, a cage came up on me. I just rolled back the gas and away I went. I looked at the speedo, 90+, and I didn’t even twist it that much!

I like the original Concours because I could see the potential of having two motors in one. The new C14 is even better. With the ECU flash, Steve at Shodabeen has done what he says, he engineered it the way its designers were trying to make it.

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  • D R Sessum


This is an instructional on converting the front and rear turn signals on the Kawasaki Concours 14 to running lights and directional signals. We will also upgrade the rear lights with a trailer lighting kit and brake light strobe.

We will proceed as follows: 1) removing the cowlings, 2) removing the turn signal housings, 3) add 3-way connectors to the new 1157 sockets, 4) wire the front circuit, 5) wire the rear circuit, 6) install the strobe and trailer conversion modules, 7) test the system, and 8) close everything up and road test.

The OEM turn signal bulbs are Type 1156 (from this point on, I will only use the number when referring to the bulbs, not the word “type”). 1156 bulbs have a single filament. To make a bulb do two jobs, marker and directional, it needs two filaments.

The 1157 is the two-filament standard. It has been around for a long time. Recently, LEDs have taken the place of incandescent bulbs, and the manufacturers make LED bulbs for all the standard types.

Below are before and after photos of what you have and what you should have when you finish the LED conversion.




I got all the parts online. I have included links to the suppliers. I did not list the LED headlights and parking lights, but I got them from SuperBrightLEDs.com.

Dual Connector Socket

Dorman 85830 Rear Socket Assembly is what I chose, but other brands will work

with the 1157 bulb. You need four at $7.85 each.

LED Bulbs

The first LED bulbs that I bought were the style where the LED chips are not covered. That is pretty common, and I have the same bulbs in my car front turn signals. They are 1157 White/Amber for marker lights and turn signal lights. The front LEDs are $14.95 each.

I chose that same style for the rear turn signals only in red/red. While on a ride with a friend, he told me that my rear turns signals were barely visible. So, I went back to SuperbrightLED.com and found another 1157 Red/Red.. It just so happened to have a cover over the chips. The colors are red and red, with one red brighter than the other. The rear LEDs are $11.90 each.

The Concours uses the type 67 Light Bulb for the license plate light. $6.25

Electronic LED Relay

I added this relay to eliminate the rapid flashing of the LEDs in an incandescent electrical system. This is a better alternative to the load dissipating resistors, and there is no wiring needed. You just unplug the OEM relay and plug this one in its place. $14.99

Brake Strobe

The Brake Strobe will flash three fast times, three times slower, and then give a steady light as long as you hold the brakes. The unit is smaller than the trailer converter, and they can be taped together with double-sided tape and easily tucked away in the tail area. $16.97

Hopkins 48895 Incandescent LED Taillight Converter

This unit is what makes the rear of your Concours light up like Christmas! Once installed, the brake lights and the turn signals will activate when you apply the brakes. When not braking, the turn signals will work like turn signals. When braking and using turn signals, the turn signal for the direction you activate will flash, and the other signal will just get brighter along with the brake light. $28.99

Electrical Connector Kit

It may seem like overkill, but it is a good idea to use connectors. If you ever must take this system apart for any reason, you will be glad that you installed the connectors. The kit comes with 2-way, 3-way, and 4-way connectors. We will use the 3-way connectors, but since the light modification, I have used some of the 2-way connectors on another C-14 project. $12.99

Wire Splice Kit

The last thing on this list you may not need or already have. I like to use these splicers for putting test circuits together. You don’t have to cut any OEM wires to build the circuit and get the bugs worked out. However, for the final circuit, I like to use a soldering iron, heat shrink tubing, and wrap all the new wires in electrical tape like an OEM harness. With all the vibrations coming from motorcycles, you don’t need one of these splices shaking, even a little. You’ll use these again. $10.99

Step 1: Remove the Cowling Panels

1A: Front Panels

This is not a tutorial on removing the cowling panels. However, I will try to guide you along to save you the time of looking for the procedure. Start at the top with the right and left inner covers. They run horizontally from the windscreen to the fuel tank.

Remove the seat.

Remove the three (3) screws (these are the only screws of this size that won’t have the nylon washers) in each panel, and then the pop-out rivet on the top front just behind the windscreen. Do this for both sides. It is probably best to have a clean area to set all of the cowling parts. I used a folding table.

Remove the glovebox top. Leave the screws in the bottom.

Remove the glovebox bottom. Put the screws in it.

Remove the hot-air deflectors on the center cowlings.

Remove the center cowlings. They run from the fuel tank down.

Remove the side cowlings. You can reach inside and unscrew the two (2) screws that hold these panels to the lower cowling, and you won’t have to remove the entire piece. Don’ forget the two (2) that are on the radiator side.

As you remove the side cowlings, you will have to disconnect the turn signal harness

connector. This is where the connector kit will come in to play later.

1B: Front Light Housing

Attached to the inside of the side cowling (Figure 1.1) is the turn signal housing. Plugged into that is a grey socket that holds the bulb for the turn signal. Just twist the socket counterclockwise and remove it. Unscrew the turn signal housing from the side cowling.

Look at the socket hole. It has two (2) cutouts around the circle. 1156 sockets have two, and 1157 sockets have three (3) cutouts. This is the tricky part. You can remove the outer lens to make it easier to clean out the debris.

You have to make two new cutouts in the rim. You will keep the largest cutout and make the new ones 120 degrees apart. See Figure 1.2. I used an index card and traced the outline of the new socket. Then I cut out the center without cutting the slots. I then marked the card where the slots landed. Finally, I cut out the slots. Make small cuts and go slow. Then try to fit the card on the socket. It might take a few tries, but it’s better than ruining the turn signal housing.

Once you are satisfied that everything fits, then it is time to make the real cuts in the housing. Use a sharp razor cutter or Exacto knife. Make small cuts into the rim of the opening. Try it for fit, then adjust, and try again. By the time you get to the rear light housings, you’ll be a pro.

1C: Rear Panels

The rear cowlings are not that bad. There are four (4) plastic screws underneath that hold the side panels in place, and you only need to remove them plus a couple of metal screws on the top on each side of the motorcycle.

Remove the cover for the electrical devices. Figure 1.1

Remove the toolbox (Figure 1.2). Lift out the ECU and place it off to the left side of the frame (Figure 1.3).

Remove the two screws on the body part under the luggage rack in Figure 1.4 and remove the part.

Remove the luggage rack.

Remove the brake light. Just unscrew it and set it off to one side. Don’t try to disconnect it.

The screws for the rear turn signal assembly are there. Find them and remove the assembly.

1D: Rear Light Housing

Once you have the rear turn signal housings free of the assembly, the modifications will be just like on the front housings. Remove the outer lens and modify the rim inside the housings. Now, let’s do some wiring.

Step 2: Assembling the 3-way Connectors and New Sockets

2A: Assembling the 3-Way Plugs

Assemble the 3-way connector parts and crimp the tips to ends of the wires. Insert the tipped ends into the connector. The tips will only go in one way and lock. The red caps are inserted into the open ends of their respective connectors.

The black sleeve on the wires in Figure 2.2 came from the OEM socket assembly

If you look inside the connector, as shown in Figure 2.6, you will see either a rectangular post or hole that separates one electrical hole from the other two. You should use the separated hole for the ground wire.

Repeat this step for the remaining sockets. Set the new sockets assemblies aside for later.

Step 3: Front Turn Signals

3A: Locate Power Source for Front Lights

The power for the front maker, or running, lights will come from the parking lights. There is a red/blue wire that runs with a black/yellow wire that powers the parking lights. It is on the right side of the front cowling. Figure 3.1

3B: Run Power for Front Marker Lights

We are splicing into the red/blue wire and run a lead across the motorcycle along the inside of the front fairing to the left turn signal connector. I used a wiring conduit to house the new wire run through the front fairing. That is the yellow wire in the photos. You can remove a wire from a connector by inserting a jeweler screwdriver into the end to release a catch. Figure 3.2

In the photos below (Figures 3.3, 3.4 & 3.5), you can see how I soldered the yellow wire that will power the marker lights to the red/blue wire that powers the parking lights. I removed the red/blue from the connector so that I could slide a piece of heat shrink tubing over the soldered joint. Then I replaced the wire in the connector.

3C: Installing 3-way Connector to Main Electrical Harness

The next part is removing the OEM 2-way connector of the turn signal circuit and adding the new 3-way connectors. Just cut the grey and black/yellow wires close to the OEM connector as seen in Figure 3.6. The grey wire is for the right side lights and there is a green wire on the left side.

I used the male ends for the removable parts like the sockets and the female end for everything on the motorcycle harness. Figure 3.7 Repeat 3C for the left side and the rear turn signals

Once the connectors are in place, you can plug the new sockets into the connectors on the motorcycle and test the front lights. Figures 3.8 & 3.9

Step 4: Rear Turn Signals

4A: Locate Power Source for Rear Lights

The license plate light power source will provide power for the rear marker lights. That will be a red/blue wire running with a black/yellow wire (Figure 4.1).Splice into that wire to get switched power for the new marker lights/turn signals.

Figure 4.1 shows the OEM connectors for the rear turn signal lights.I reused them with the new wires.This made it easier to integrate the new components into the OEM electrical harness.

Step 5: Install Trailer Lighting Kit and Brake Light Strobe

5A: Install Trailer Light Converter and Brake Light Strobe for Rear Lights

You can use double-sided tape to attach the Trailer Light Converter (seen in Figure 5.1) to the Brake Light Strobe (seen in Figure 5.2).

Use the Taillight Conversion Diagram as a guide to help you install the components. There are three (3) systems, and the way they work is as follows:

System 1 Engine On -> Front & Rear Marker Lights ON

System 2 Turn Signal/Hazard Switch –> Turn Signals ON or Hazard Lights ON

System 3 Brake Switch-> Brake Strobe->Taillight Converter->Brake Lights & Turn Signals ON

Lay everything out, and do not cut a lot of wires yet. Try to get as much as you can temporarily wire together and working before making any permanent connections by soldering. I prefer soldering to using crimp connectors because once you get everything working, you then have to try and fit it all in a small space in the rear of the motorcycle. Crimped connections might come apart either by maneuvering the components into place or just vibration from the motorcycle.

Test your new lighting system and make any necessary adjustments. Once you are satisfied that it all works, you can solder those temporary connections. If something doesn’t work, double-check the wiring.

Step 6: Replace Front and Rear Cowling Panels

Replace the front and rear cowling panels. Tighten most of the cowling screws with the nylon washers by hand and avoid overtightening to prevent damaging the cowling.


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