2010 Sport-Touring Shootout: Ducati Multistrada vs Honda VFR1200F vs Kawasaki Z1000
You say tom-a-to, someone says tom-o-to.
Your riding buddies say they can tour on any bike. You say most touring-oriented bikes have a sporty side and therefore make the best sport-tourer.
Oops! Did we just allude to one of the more controversial, even incendiary, topics in modern motorcycling?
Today, when someone utters the word sportbike, the likely response is a GSX-R, an R6, a Honda CBR, or some such thing. But ask a rider to describe his or her ideal of a sport-touring machine, and the answers are wide ranging.
Sure, lots of folks would naturally point to the likes of Honda's venerable ST1300, Yamaha's FJR1300 or BMW's K1200GT or R1200RT, as prime examples of sport-tourers. Each bike offers good to great wind protection, hard saddlebags as standard, robust engines and some darn good handling qualities.
Yet for every rider that sees those sleds as icons of S-T, many other enthusiasts would scoff at the idea of most of them handily slicing up canyon roads.
To these folks, practically all that's required is a tank bag, a set of soft saddlebags lashed to the tail section of their R1, and maybe a GPS or other accessories as-needed. Voila! Instant sport-touring motorbike! "After all," they say, "Sport touring is about sport capability while traveling, and my bike equipped the way I want it is lighter, handles better, and costs less than a turnkey ST."
Location: Wilmington, Nc.. building fantastical shit
i think for a bike to TRULY be deemed "sport-touring", it, above all things, must be comfortable. a bike that one would be touring on (I.E. racking up a TON of time and distance on) is completely worthless if you cannot fathom a 1000 mile day without it ending at the destination's local chiropractor. that being said ( and for me, taking precedence in what would affect my personal decision on a machine) power is a close second.
being "out in the open" so to speak on freeways and long stretches of lonely tarmac, oft times you're confronted with times where you need to get the hell out of the way. whether it be a drunk driver, a drowsy trucker, or inclement weather approaching, i like to know that a bike will scoot if the need arises. as well, a machine build for speed is far more "at home" on highway runs. smaller motors with shorter gearing to compensate for lack of power tend to live hectic lives, whereas something beefy like the concours/GTR1400 will happily purr at 4000-6000 rpm for HOURS and hours on end with never so much as a whisper to being disgruntled about it.
thirdly, but so close to 2nd it's practically tied, is overall "trustworthy-ness" of the bike...
mechanically, and electrically. being an electrical engineer AND motorcycle mechanic, i know most faults of most machines. i would not trust a stock ZX7R such as my P4 model on a long haul if it were stock. i know all too well the weaknesses in the electrical system. mainly the keyswitch. MY personal bike? absolutely. as i've modified it heavily and i trust it. but, knowing the faults.. no. not in stock form.
trusting your machine will not break down is great peace of mind when you're a million miles from nowhere, have little cash on you, no phone service, and the road you're on produces a passer-by once every few hours.
coming in fourth on my personal list, but so close to 3rd it might as well be second, would be overall performance. having ridden just about everything from the ugliest, ludest longest choppers and cruisers, to goldwings decked out with every option, to $50,000 racebikes, i have seen the full spectrum of performance. i think a sport-toured should simply be well-rounded. maybe not be overly conditioned in just one field, but be great at everything. cali run down PCH outside of Monterey Bay? should be able to handle the twisties so as to not become part of the gorgeous landscape. coming down Rt. 30 West in Ligonier, Pennsylvania? it should be able to handle the ride down the mountain without catching the brakes on fire. Gap run? should be able to reasonably handle the corners of Rt. 129 with a planted feel and confidence. maybe not OVERLY inspiring as say, a ZX6-R with an Ohlins rear shock, Race-Tech gold valves, and EBC HH brake pads.. BUT. it should be able to handle whatever you decide to throw at it with little complaint and smooth and sure-footed completion of the task.
it really is almost impossible to find that perfect sport-tourer. i have a soft spot for the Honda ST1100, VFR and Goldwing. they're all ALL-DAY comfortable, have plenty of power, are nimble and ride like a cadillac. BMW makes a stellar platform with everything they do, but they're a touch tall, maintenance can be a lil pricey, and finding one in a reasonable price range can be a chore.
the Concourse 12 and 14 are stellar works with great looks, great power, and a parent bike that was the king of it's class upon its debut.
suzuki's venerable 'Busa lost the sport-touring title to the drove of squids and custom bike builders wanting to make a motorcycle equivalent to the Honda civic. i would ride a Hayabusa across the world in a heartbeat, tho. they're incredibly comfortable and very fun, and plenty capable when the junk stock pads and tires are swapped for something magical.
Yamaha's line up of various F-series bikes and cruisers has always made me happy. their massively reliable and comfortable. one thing i never got into was clutchless electric shifting, but, thats just me. personally i was a little creeped out not seeing a clutch lever. just. looked unnatural! haha...
theres scores of amazing bikes that i would readily pile onto for an 8000 mile trip around the USA, but best believe if it doesn't meet what i deem to be the big 4 for motorcycle selection, that bike doesn't even make the pre-list.
about 95% of sportbikes in general do not make that list.
►Sept09 B.O.T.M. winner◄
Originally Posted by RacinJason44
Never lick a hooker in the coin purse.
Originally Posted by nizzmister
Bike pulls real hard and smooth, kinda like Supra's mom, but without the regret