Updated: Aug 2, 2022
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.