Poll Of The Day: ZX-14R At The Foot Of Canal Street Edition

John Boutte and Paul Sanchez wrote “At The Foot Of Canal Street” when they realized that both of their fathers were buried in the same cemetery. It’s a brilliant tune because it suggests that death is a redemption, not a failure. Boutte takes the song uptempo on his solo album, “Jambalaya”, and that’s the version I prefer, but the Sanchez/Boutte collaboration is the original.

I have this idea that I’m going to ride a motorcycle to New Orleans. Exorcise the past. It’s 925 miles from my house to where Sanchez and Boutte buried their fathers, but that’s the freeway route. Don’t think I’d take that the whole way. Instead, I’d try to make it a two-day trip each way. Maybe two and a half. Stop in Memphis, Clarksdale, all those places.

This had seemed like the perfect trip to take with a Diavel but after a few conversations with various friends, and reading comments left here, I think the Diavel might be a little too pretentious, too self-conscious. Current thinking, therefore, is that the best bike for the job would be the mighty Kawasaki ZX-14R, the supreme 197-rear-wheel-horsepower zef chariot that also has a “rain mode” and anti-lock brakes. I think I could cover 300-400 miles a day on such a vehicle before I needed to take any Vicodin.

It’s possible I’ll change my mind; it’s also possible that I won’t be able to justify the money, particularly in light of my Obamacare-related out-of-pocket expenses for my broken leg, which are currently at $7,178 and rising with a whole new reset to deductible coming in just eleven days.

Still. Doesn’t mean we cannot have a poll to liven up our Sunday.


In this poll, I will ask you, my valued reader, to pick a color scheme from the astoundingly crass range of ZX-14Rs that are still available brand-new from dealers in the Midwest. Without further ado:

Choice #1: 2016 Special Edition, Carbon Black
2016black

Pros: all black and evil and cool and stuff
Cons: At the age of 44, I’m trying to avoid self-consciously “tough guy” aesthetics. No discounts yet.

Choice #2: 2016 Black/Green
2016green

Pros: Really like what they did with the amount of green this year.
Cons: No discount yet.

Choice #3: 2015 30th Anniversary, Black/Red/Gold
2015se30

Pros: My first bike was a 1986 Ninja 600R in THIS EXACT COLOR!!!!!
Cons: The British invented a word for bikes that look like this: naff

Choice #4: 2015 Green/Black
2015green

Pros: About as nice as the 2016 scheme, and available at a $3500 discount!
Cons: It’s a bit unsubtle in person.

Choice #5: 2015 Carbon Black
2015black

Pros: Hey, it’s a big flat-black Ninja.
Cons: It’s a bit, uh, “Monster Energy”, isn’t it?

Choice #6: 2014 Green
2014green

Pros: The cheapest option — some shops still have these.
Cons: Not sure if this or the 2015 green is better. They mainly differ from the seat back.

There are also some red 2014 bikes out there cheap, but I’m not really interested in the plain black/red combos. The poll therefore:

Pick A ZX-14 Color

  • 2014 Green: save some money, it looks pretty much the same! (27%, 15 Votes)
  • 2015 Anniversary Red: why not have TWO retro sportbikes? (25%, 14 Votes)
  • 2015 Green: save three grand and take the old paint scheme (21%, 12 Votes)
  • 2016 Black: tell everybody your name is "Kylo Ren" (13%, 7 Votes)
  • 2016 Green: has to be green to be a true Kawasaki (7%, 4 Votes)
  • 2015 Black: Monster Energy connotations don't bother me (7%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 56

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As always, thank you for humoring all of my mental diversions and illnesses, particularly in the area of two-wheeled objects!

25 Replies to “Poll Of The Day: ZX-14R At The Foot Of Canal Street Edition”

  1. Mattcho

    Voted For the all black but feel I should admit that these aren’t my thing at all. Haha.

    Can’t beat a BMW for touring; go test ride some if you’re not familiar with them. Better yet, but one with some miles on it and save a ton of cash! Can’t speak highly enough about my experiences with them.

    New Orleans area roads suck at best. Terrible to drive on in a truck/SUV, can’t imagine em in a bike…much less navigating the yahoo locals you’ll be riding around! Only thing worse than riding around NOLA on a bike would likely be the ride home after the bender that the trip will certainly become.

    Can’t wait to read all about it tho! And does the Royal Sonesta park bikes?

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I rented a K1600GT in San Jose and put 300 miles on it back in September. Astonishing vehicle, really. And I have some experience riding a K1200LT. But the BMW “thing” isn’t for me. I’m also allergic to BMW servicing costs. After 22 years of Japanese bike ownership I have a sense of how to do it semi-cheap.

      With that said, I really like that K1300S, but I think the ZX-14 has it beat in most areas at 2/3 the cost.

      Reply
      • Mattcho

        Cheers to all that; you gotta be you.

        For what it’s worth, my bikes were old and high mileage. Sold em 2 years ago when I left CA. I think the K was a ’91?? And the RS was ’96? (Dang I can’t remember anything since kids!) Maintenance was all done by me in the garage, it was quite inexpensive and pretty easy overall. Adjusting the valves on the RS was the only tricky thing I remember.

        K had ~100k miles at purchase and ~115k when sold after 3 years of ownership. RS was ~68k & 100k after 5 years.

        Anyways, buy the all black one!

        Reply
  2. GertFrobeBodyDouble

    I would be fine with the riding position of a zx14 but I can’t ride 500mi a day AND fight the wind with my neck the whole time

    that’s why I got a Concours for my cross country trip. dat electric windshield.

    Reply
      • Todd

        I ride a ’12. Very few niggles about this bike, and all are easily corrected. The seats a 7 on a 10 scale. Not torture but you can do better. No cruise. This bike was made to eat up miles but Kawi bean counters left it off. The throttle is a conveniental cable so that may be a factor. Throttlemiester ($150) or electronic units (up to $1k for a kit out of Australia) will remedy this. Last as the stock tires. Bridgestone Battleaxe. I got 12k out or the factory rear, 6k on the front. Switching to performance rubber will absolutely transform the bike. New suspenders won’t make this much difference. You’ll be amazed. Pirelli PR4 is the tire of choice on the forums.

        The hits far outweigh the misses. First up is the power. Unless you are coming off a Busa or ZX-14- you’ll be impressed. This bike will lift the front wheel shifting into 2nd at 70, lift the front leaned over on an on ramp under acceleration, hit an honest 125 in 3rd and still get 48 mpg in the freeway with a gentle wrist. Reflashing the computer will net further gains. TPMS, heated grips, power window, great bags, great fit and finish, outstanding brakes, etc. The deal cinched for me was price. I wanted a K1600GT. Left over C14s have DEEP discounts. $10,999 isn’t unheard of. No ask youself, is the BMW worth another 10k?? Nope. I ran to the Kawasaki dealer and have been smiling ever since.

        Reply
        • Bikes

          Mr Baruth, you’re too young and craving the sporty to get onto a party barge like a C14 or K1600 or FJR1300. There’s no doubt every bike in that class is astonishing (and don’t listen to the BS about one being better than the other because there isn’t a bad choice, other than possibly the Triumph Trophy).

          However, if you still crave having your arms pulled out and getting some lean on, you’re probably a few years out from getting a softer sport-TOURER like that.

          This fall I was all set to get a deeply-discounted 2014 FJR1300 – standard cruise control and heated grips, metallic rootbeer paint you can swim in, dead-nuts reliability, and enough speed to see off pretty much anything else on the road. But doing a thorough demo proved it was…large. The calm pocket of air behind the giant screen freaked me out – I was up to triple digits in a few seconds but hardly noticed. Corners were okay, but there is not much frisky about them. My experience on C14 and K1200GT in past years was similar.

          Next year, at nearly 50, my next SPORT-tourer will be a ZX14R; hideous graphics be damned. I’m already doing frequent 600-mile days on a similar sporty bike, with just a dry bag strapped on the back. Years ago I used to do crap like that on a CBR600F1 or RC51, and succumbing to heated grips, cruise, and a plush sit-up-and-beg seating position at this age feels like capitulation. I will have an FJR1300 eventually…I’m just not ready yet to give up diving into bends feeling like I’m holding onto the front axle (especially when I’ve ridden 1500 miles to get to that particular curvy road).

          Reply
          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            Thank you for writing this. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the idea that the Connie or FJR1300 might be a better idea. But I really want that Saturn-rocket/low-class/zero-fucks-given attitude that the ZX-14R has in spades.

            On the other hand, I looked at insurance for it last night. MY GOD. I could never finance it. I’ll have to make sure there’s no lien, because collision coverage is murder on the hoof.

          • incorrigibull

            If one must answer the poll, one ought to align with the green/’14 team.

            But perhaps a better question is, what are you *really* looking for? GertFrobe, Todd, and Bikes points seem to get to the issue. If you are looking at powerful sport tourers… why not consider powerful sport nakeds that can do pleasing touring duty? Thinking the Z1000, old well-modified Honda 919s, an S4RS. Hell, why not the CBR1100 Blackbird + $10000 for other projects? The 919 and S4RS would be eaten alive by a ‘busa or ZX-14R, but the Z1000 and Blackbird would hold their own. All could be used for occasional tree stump removal. Most if not all of these models will be better in town, in turns, and draw more appreciative nods from riders and women.

            You’ve claimed to be an iconoclast before, and riding the ‘busa would strengthen your case. Likely the first and only time shell cordovan has graced a ‘busa gearshift.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            It’s amazing how rare good Super Blackbirds are. And the good ones have 70,000 miles on ’em.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            YOW. I don’t see any prices for new builds but it looks like the used ones are fetching $30K, maybe MORE?

  3. Scuttle

    Other than being an ugly color scheme for a modern bike Black/Red/Gold is just wrong for a Kawasaki. I voted for the 2014 because the rear seat cowl looks better in black than the green on the 2015 for my tastes. Either one is fine. I would take the Black/Red/Gold over the monster energy color scheme…unless you want to be associated with people who called each other brah.

    I actually like white bikes when it is done well. The white Ninja 300/650 are good examples. My current bike is Orange (not my first choice but I got a good deal) so what the hell do I know.

    Reply
    • Roamer

      Lets try that again.

      Go with the red. Flat black is not easy to spot – testing shows that anything is safer for a biker than black. Also, emo. And I’m usually opposed to ‘traditional’ color schemes, I.e. ‘all Ninjas must be green’. The red looks very good and is the most eye-catching (for a rider, therefore, the safest) color scheme out there. Given the price tag of the bike, the savings aren’t worth not liking what you ride. I paid extra to get the Suzuki Copper paint when I bought my SV650S and am glad I did. Not because it’s traditional, but because I think the bike looks damn good that way.

      Reply
  4. Dirty Dingus McGee

    Unless the resale value is important to you, the 2014 makes the best sense from a dollar standpoint. Might be enough to cover the cost of the trip.

    Reply
  5. Cptbkl

    Philippians 3:13
    The only trip that will exorcise the past is a spiritual one. I speak from bittersweet experience. Ponder. Learn. Realize that it has no power over you. It is easy to forgive the other. Much harder to forgive yourself. Let the pain slide off your shoulders. Reach out for the promise of today. One day, to your surprise, you realize it no longer matters. And then, to your astonishment, you realize you cannot really remember. Peace.

    Reply
  6. JDN

    It’s gotta be a Kawasaki, it’s gotta be green – enough said. I’m cheap so I’d go ’14.

    That said I’d probably be looking for something a bit further down the line on the comfort scale.

    You already have the vfr for the ‘sport’ side of sport touring – Makes sense to have something more on the Touring side for this trip.

    They tend to be on the ugly side, but ‘ADV’ style bikes can be crazy comfortable for long distances – and they have way more comfortable leg positions than something like the zx14 or vfr. I picked up a used Multistrada 1200 back in September for <9k and rode it back to DC from Colorado. It'll make your VFR feel slow, but still be wayyy more comfortable. It's also much more capable than I am riding wise, so I don't think I'm missing out on anything wrt handling.

    If you have to have new there's always the Yamaha FJ09 – Heard good things, but haven't ridden one.

    Reply
  7. gaudette

    The red looks amazing! At worst it could hurt resale to a Kawi purist. At best it’s disguised as a relaxed sport tourer. Longest one day ride for myself was from Savannah to Miami on a street triple. My brother and father rode on a gsxr600 and hayabusa. Round trip was from Myrtle Beach to Miami and back in 3.5 days. It was tough to balance being a tourist while covering significant ground. The hayabusa is a great highway machine that begs to be driven hard while stuffing the rider in a position that, while not uncomfortable, limits appreciation of the surrounding terrain. I’m sure the ZX-14R is an even more of a batshit crazy no compromise machine.

    Reply
  8. -Nate-Nate

    Wait , what ? .

    Are there actually any Motocyclists here ? .

    I thought you’d bought a Honda InLine four cylinder Moto ~ unless it’s a 400 – 4 , just tune it , slap on some decent tires , new chain and _GO_ ~ you’re recovering a broken leg so make it a fun trip , not a cannonball run .

    Or , not .

    Read Mark’s thoughts on ‘ it’s the miles that count ‘ and see if you can wrap your mind around that concept .

    If not, well and good , go hyperspeed and have fun .

    -Nate

    Reply

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