14 Sep 2012

Kawasaki GTR1400 - a customer complaint

The following article was written by the owner a Kawasaki GTR 1400.  It details the problems he has had with the bike and with Kawasaki in his 15 months of ownership.

The complaint is ongoing.  We will post updates as and when they occur.

We will be sending the article to Kawasaki UK and asking for a response.

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No Mr Kawasaki it is not acceptable
At the end of May 2011 I purchased a brand new black Kawasaki GTR1400, the first time I’ve bought a brand new motorcycle in 20 years and the most money, by some distance, I have ever spent on a motorcycle.
Why did I choose new and why did I choose the GTR1400? 
I ride all year, both for pleasure and simply as day to day transport, I also carry pillions fairly often, so the GTR fitted the bill perfectly. I looked at the BMW K1300GT but the deal on the GTR was so much better it convinced me to go with the Kawasaki. I chose new as because I cover a lot of miles compared to most motorcyclists, usually around 15,000 a year, a comprehensive warranty seemed like a good idea. How right I was, but not for the reasons I had envisaged.
During my 15 months ownership my GTR has spent 7 weeks, so far, at the dealer not including servicing, this equates to a week roughly every two months. The list of faults started after a few months with the battery, just as I was heading off for the ferry, not ideal but also not unusual. The dealer was very helpful and had a replacement prepared and ready to go. However I still had to get to them to return the faulty one and swop it over, delaying my trip for an entire day. Next was the failure of the KIPASS (Kawasaki Intelligent Proximity Activation Start System) which decided to shut the bike down, whilst I was travelling at 25mph, had it done so at motorway speeds I dread to think of the consequences. This fault, I must stress, appears to be an isolated case and took a fortnight to diagnose and repair correctly. Finally the KIPASS ECU had to be replaced, something which the dealer had recommended on day one but Kawasaki Motors UK (KMUK) wanted to explore other possibilities. Once the ECU had been replaced, and a new transponder coded to it, the bike was back to working order. Next I noticed that the paint on the tank, under the seat, had worn through and was beginning to rust, not ideal on a bike that had only covered just over 6,000 miles at this point. The dealer took photos and submitted a warranty claim, KMUK agreed to repair the paint and fit a protective layer over it to prevent it reoccurring.
The next problem appeared at the same time and 4,000 miles later still has not been totally rectified. The clutch lever started coming back to the handlebar alarmingly quickly, so back to the dealer I went, after another round of debate between dealer and KMUK the master cylinder was replaced. The bike now went as it should, but whilst cleaning it I realised that the shock absorber adjuster was seized, so contacted the dealer again and asked them to order a replacement so that it could be fitted at the same time as the paint was repaired. The panel that houses the heated grip control had also cracked so would be replaced at the same time. On presenting the bike to the dealer for repair I found that the only part in stock was the heated grip panel, and that my clutch was failing again, this time a new slave cylinder was required.
More debate between dealer and KMUK and it transpired that the shock was on back order, but after speaking to KMUK they would send a demo unit to be fitted until the new one arrived. Two weeks later the shock arrived, just as my clutch started to fail again!
So Kawasaki’s ‘Flagship Tourer’ is great as long as you can get to a dealer every two months to have it fixed. The amount of time and money wasted has been considerable, around £500 in finance payments alone for a bike I haven’t been able to ride, plus the cost of my time and travel. I have been in contact with KMUK customer service and their response has been polite, but action is what is required. In response to my last complaint they retorted;
If it is of any reassurance, the majority of issues you have experienced are not indicative of this model and is not a true representation of the 1400GTR in general.
Now this may be the case, however this does not address the issues with my bike.
However, I can confirm that we have seen a few cases of the preload adjuster seizing on the rear shock absorber. This is purely caused by lack of use and to prevent any reoccurrence in the future, we would recommend periodic use of the adjuster to keep the mechanism in the adjuster working freely.
So I should alter the suspension setting every time I use the bike? Never had to with any other bike.
Unfortunately, with any mass produced item using many different components and using many different suppliers providing these parts. Occasionally components can fail, which is why Kawasaki provide a Two Year Warranty with all our Motorcycles to cover these eventualities and to rectify them as quickly as possible through our Dealer Network.
An excuse used by almost every manufacturer but not an acceptable one when you have repeated failures. But please do not worry because you can buy more.
For further peace of mind we do offer an extended warranty, which can increase the 2 Year Manufacturers warranty to a 4 Year Manufacturers warranty. The current price of 'Warranty Plus' is £350 inc Vat, which maybe something worth considering depending on how long you intend to keep the motorcycle for added peace of mind.
I am frankly depressed and disgusted by my experience, I was a huge fan of Kawasaki having previously owned a ZZR600, 1100 and 1200 and a ZX6R as well, but I’m not anymore. I am not unreasonable in my expectations, I know I have to treat my bikes with ACF50 and regularly clean them, that nuts and bolts will fur and need replacing and that every motorcycle will have a few issues.
So is my GTR fit for purpose as a ‘Flagship Tourer’?  I would say no. I rely on my bike as I don’t own a car, and to have to lose it for a week every two months is NOT acceptable Mr Kawasaki!