2008 Kawasaki Models - Photos & Preview!

More 2008 info trickles in, this time from KMC. First surprise for 2008 is the Versys making it's way Stateside. Read along and check out info about the 2008 Versys, Concours14, KX450F and KX250F.

If you want more information about the Versys, check out Bikeland's Exclusive Road Test and Review located in our Article's Archive!

Click here for the Versys road test and review!

Hi-res photos at the end of this article!


Big Comfort, Long Travel Suspension, and Innovative Styling:
One Versatile, Fun, Street-Savvy Motorcycle

The new 2008 Kawasaki Versys™ is a machine which occupies a hard to define sweet spot in the motorcycling universe. Is it a practical commuter? Long-legged urban assault vehicle? Sportbike? Light Tourer? The answer on all counts is a resounding Yes! This isn't a niche specialist but rather a jack-of-all-trades with user-friendly versatility as one of its many charms.

The 649cc parallel twin and the neutral handling and light steering chassis of the Ninja® 650R sportbike made the perfect starting point for this comfortable gridlock commando. A swoopy gull-wing swingarm, long-travel inverted 41mm fork, six-spoke superbike-inspired wheels, adjustable-height windscreen and a comfortable cockpit were combined to create a motorcycle that just begs to be ridden wherever the pavement might lead.

The compact liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, 8-valve, 649cc parallel twin engine was modified for the Versys motorcycle so it delivers smooth power that's well-suited for off-the-line acceleration and flexible torque in the cut-n-thrust of a rider's morning commute. This engine's overall characteristics are entertaining for even the most advanced riders, yet predictable enough to inspire confidence in less-experienced motorcyclists.

Its suspension offers the next level in sophistication: an advanced Showa rear shock featuring a free piston and two-stage damping valves for progressive compression damping which firms significantly as the shock moves through its stroke. This allows a longer wheel travel with a feel that is initially soft like a dual sport, but firms to near sportbike levels as suspension loads escalate. Of course, this advanced shock is fully-adjustable and connected to a beautiful aluminum gull-wing swingarm that is longer than average, thanks to a short/compact engine and chassis.
Up front, the Versys suspension continues the high-tech approach with a fully-adjustable 41mm tapered-tube inverted fork that combines the best of off-road and sportbike suspension action for a stiffness balance that is a perfect compliment to the chassis settings. In addition to a more-comfortable ride, the long-travel suspension's soft-stroke allows easy control of the chassis' running angle by shifting the rider's weight.

Complimenting the able suspension is the carefully designed cockpit that features a two-piece seat constructed to provide optimum comfort to both the rider and passenger. An easy-to-read and informative instrument panel allows riders to quickly scan the gauges and get their eyes back on the road. Capping off the comfort list is an adjustable windscreen that can be raised or lowered to three positions in 20mm increments.


Supersport performance with long-distance touring comfort

The new Concours™ 14 and Concours 14 ABS combine breathtaking engine performance, impeccable handling and a comfortable riding position with clean, convenient shaft drive, locking hard luggage, an electrically adjustable windscreen and a host of other features to create the most impressive long-distance, high-speed machine on the market today.

An aluminum monocoque chassis, radial-mount brake calipers, inverted fork, and ram air induction are all features riders expect to find on top-of-the-line supersport machines. However, instead of riding a high-strung racetrack missile, they can enjoy these high-performance features on Kawasaki's new Concours 14 sport touring motorcycles. They are the first representatives of an entirely new genre of high-performance motorcycle: the Transcontinental Supersport Tourer.

Because it's a Kawasaki, the Concours 14 is naturally designed to do much more than just take a rider from point A to point B. Thanks to its sporting heritage, the new Concours 14 is not only an awe-inspiring road burner, it can also carve up mountain roads like a true supersport bike. For those riders who cross state lines the way others cross town, this machine offers more excitement than anything else in its category.

The Concours 14 may be a physically impressive machine, but as soon as riders flip the side stand up, they'll be astonished at the bike's lightweight feel. The confidence-enhancing ABS brake system (Concours™ 14 ABS) features radial-mount front calipers operated by a radial-pump master cylinder, for the superb control and powerful, reliable braking performance that continent-crossing sport riders expect. Belying its tourer-like appearance, the Concours 14's phenomenally responsive handling characteristics make the other bikes in its category seem like transports by comparison. This provides the Concours 14 rider with a feeling of complete control for spirited, confident journeys.

In addition to an incredible level of sporting performance, the new Concours 14 has the functional touches of a Grand Touring machine. Features include KI-PASS (Kawasaki's Intelligent Proximity Activation Start System), the first electronic authorization system in its class, and an accessory power outlet located near the cockpit for powering portable electronics, grip heaters and other accessories. There's also an electrically adjustable windscreen, shaft drive and detachable, locking side cases, so the Concours 14 is always ready for a high-speed ride to the local hangout or that favorite spot... fifteen hundred miles away.

The Concours 14 is much more than a sportbike with tacked-on touring features; it's an integrated high-speed touring system. Wind protection for rider and passenger is based on a supersport-style design philosophy, aerodynamically curving wind around the riders to reduce buffeting that occurs when wind curls around screens that simply "block" the wind. Additionally, maintenance chores on long-distance trips are minimized thanks to quiet and reliable shaft drive. Featuring a special four-link design, the Tetra-Lever shaft drive system significantly reduces driveline lash during sport riding and helps ensure smooth acceleration when exploiting the engine's incredible power output. In fact, power delivery to the rear wheel is so smooth and so direct that it gives the same natural ride quality as a chain.

The Concours 14's touring prowess doesn't stop there. The included hard luggage features a slim, integrated design which mounts the cases closer to the machine's centerline for excellent mass centralization. Sensors in the front and rear wheels monitor tire pressure and display this information on the instrument panel, giving riders peace of mind during two-up high-speed riding or when carving up a mountain road.

With all the equipment needed for safe and exciting long-distance riding mated to a decidedly supersport core, the new Concours 14 amplifies all the best riding features that motorcycling has to offer. Motorcyclists carry a driver's license, but Concours 14 riders should bring their passports, too.


Better Shifting, Improved Handling and Extra Reliability

You just can't argue with results. Kawasaki's KX™250F motorcycle has been a dominant force in professional supercross and motocross racing over the last two years. Now, this world-beating machine gets even better, with a host of refinements offering improved shifting, quicker handling and boosted reliability.

The KX250F was a model of speed and consistency throughout the 2007 AMA Supercross Lites seasons, sweeping both the AMA West Region Supercross Lites and East Region Supercross Lites championships plus the National Arenacross titles. Now, the lessons learned on the racetrack come home to roost in the 2008 machine.

New crankcases provide increased rigidity in the areas surrounding the crankshaft, transmission input and transmission output shafts to transfer torque more-efficiently and improve overall durability in the toughest race conditions. A new shift lever, positioned three degrees higher, offers a finer spline pitch so that it can be adjusted more accurately and provides more-positive shifting.

To compliment the increased longitudinal rigidity introduced on the 2007 KX250F's frame, the 2008 model features new engine mounts which use a 10mm longer spacer to reduce torsional rigidity. This new chassis rigidity balance provides even quicker steering, better rider feel and a boost in rear wheel traction.

Subtle suspension refinements improve suspension feel, turning response and bottoming resistance. These changes include smaller air passages at the top of the fork cartridges which provide an enhanced air "spring" effect for smoother compression damping, while .5mm thicker fork piston rods provide increased rigidity and smoother response through the middle of the suspension's stroke. Updated settings in the rear shock provide a smoother mid-stroke response to compliment the changes in the front fork valving, while a slightly higher ride height provides quicker handling and a more aggressive feel.

The 2008 KX250F will be available in Kawasaki Lime Green, with factory-look black alumite coated rims standard.

Racers who ride their KX250F at designated events are eligible to receive support from Team Green™, Kawasaki's amateur racing support program. Each year, Team Green provides regional support vehicles and highly trained technicians at more than 100 events, offering technical information and assistance to those who race Kawasaki products. Kawasaki also offers a comprehensive contingency program for amateur and professional riders who place well at designated events.


Refined Power Delivery for Improved Holeshot Performance

A host of improvements make the 2008 Kawasaki KX™450F motocrosser easier to ride and more reliable than ever. A newly-revised powerplant and improved shifting highlight the improvements made to the dominant AMA and World Supercross GP Championship winner.

With little doubt about the ample power of the KX450F, the 2008 engine received smoother, more user-friendly and linear low-rpm throttle response and torque delivery. These changes result in reduced fatigue, allowing riders to go faster for more laps. The improvements were achieved with new wedge-shaped crank webs, combined with a new heavier flywheel, resulting in reduced engine vibration and better low-end performance. Reliability of the engine was enhanced via a new connecting rod material with a harder surface, a revised gear ratio and rotor on the oil pump for increased oil circulation and the piston-cooling oil jet was redesigned to prevent oil from being trapped under the piston.

The bottom end changes are coupled with a new shift cam shape and a wider track on the shift drum to permit easier and more consistent gear selection in the KX450F's five-speed transmission. An ultra-smooth coating on the intake ports improves intake efficiency and throttle response, while revised ignition data provides easier restarting and a new five-bolt oil pump cover round out the engine upgrades.

Already a great handling motorcycle, the 2008 KX450F further benefits from new engine mounts spaced 10mm farther from the engine. This allows a slight decrease in torsional frame rigidity making for quicker turning and increased rear wheel traction.

Complementing the chassis change, the Kayaba fork and shock settings were fine-tuned to improve the front / rear balance for quicker turning and slightly stiffer settings were made to improve the bottoming characteristics. The overall suspension action is even smoother now through the addition of the friction-reducing Kashima Coat treatment on the inside surfaces of the outer fork tubes and the shock reservoir.

The 2008 KX450F will be available in Kawasaki lime green, with new black alumite-coated rims for a factory appearance, and aggressive graphics.

Source: Bikeland.org & Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.

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