I like that Kawasaki is updating the bike. I own a 2017 V1k and love it. Shame they put so much effort in the bike and still dump it in tar - hideous and dangerous black color schemes.
I love the new electronics for cruise control, dash and lighting. Improvements were definitely needed there - especially the lights. Engine performance is damned near flawless on mine. Don't see how they can make that better. No complaints.
While this is definitely a cool bike, I will not be buying it. I hope they keep the 'standard' V1k offered or I suspect they will be losing lots of customers.
I love my bike, but for $17k starting price, I would explore other options more seriously before buying it.
The one thing I can say after my first year with my bike, it is lovely on the road but definitely struggles on even light trails. This is definitely an on road bike. This year we will be looking at the V650 for the first time for off-road work. Excited to see that one at work and play.
There is a non-SE version as well, loses the electronic suspension, cornering lights, quickshifter, TFT dash and bluetooth connectivity, but keeps the cruise control, hopefully a non-electronic version of the Showa Balance Free fork, and the IMU and cornering ABS.
The Tracer GT is definitely much cheaper, but doesn't have nearly the features of the SE. I would expect a non-SE V1k to be priced around where the previous V1k was or maybe a little more.
Another wild card is the new Multistrada 950S, it may be priced close to the V1k SE and picks up the electronic skyhook suspension and TFT dash from the 1260S, also all versions of the Multi 950 get standard cruise control for 2019. A wire wheel Multistrada 950 Enduro is also coming alongside the new 1260 Enduro.
A BMW R1200RS is also just a smidgen over 19k when equipped to the level of the V1k SE LT+, though the RS is going to be a more aggressive riding position. A comparable R1250GS is north of 24k.