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Running on Fumes

Sport-Touring Test Underway

Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Our sport-touring steeds gaze at the Columbia River.
Our sport-touring steeds gaze at the Columbia River (top) before approaching our Day 1 destination, Aberdeen (bottom).
Its been my experience that coast towns are either fluffy tourist havens  or gritty working towns with a little bit of dirt under the fingernails. Aberdeen is the latter.
With the first days of Fall approaching, it’s time to get those long-distance tours finished before the rain and cold take over for good. Here at the Motorcycle USA HQ in Medford, Oregon, we’ve rustled up a trio of bikes for this year’s sport-touring comparison: the all-new Triumph Sprint GT, Honda VFR1200 and Kawasaki Concours 14. Yesterday we bolted up Interstate 5 through Portland and turned west to the coast on Washington’s Highway 4 then north on US 101 to our night’s digs at Aberdeen. It’s been my experience that coast towns are either fluffy tourist havens, or gritty working towns with some dirt under the fingernails. Aberdeen is the latter. Already the scenery’s been amazing on Day 1 and today promises even more, with good weather and a great riding up the coast and through Olympia National Park.

Now before you get down to the comments section and start typing “Sport-touring, but why no (FJR, BMW K1300, Honda ST1300…). We snagged the bikes that were available, namely the all-new Sprint GT. BMW is keen to have its new Inline-Six K1600GT be its featured flagship touring model, but the big Beemer is unavailable as of yet. The FJR was not available either, as it appears there may be a redesign in its future too. So the 2011 Sport-Touring test will be a massive humdinger that we’re already looking forward to! For the here and now, we’ve got our Sprint GT, VFR and Concours 14.
Post Tags: sport-touring motorcycle, sport-touring comparison
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Comments
TG -AT makes sense, for most September 23, 2010 12:26 PM
SilverStreak, you have a point. However, the Sport Tourers still have far better wind protection, power, and handling than the best of the ADV bikes. Are there a good number of people out on the AT's instead now, yes. But if you're really looking for the best bike to ride on pavement, for a long day, it isn't the ADV bike.

My point is simply that the ST's aren't going to go away, only lose market share to those interested in the gravel as well.
SilverStreak -I would have bought one of these four years ago, but September 23, 2010 10:23 AM
The sport-touring class will likely morph into the adventure-touring class with the likes of 1200cc models such as the Super Tenere, R1200GS, MultiStrata 1200, and new to be released Triumph 1200 AT. They can do everything the sport-touring bikes do, plus keep going at the end of the paved road, a huge advantage. Plus they weigh less overall, around 575-590 lbs. even with panniers. That means the A-Ts are easier to handle, have greater range, or offer more carrying capacity. I'm still keeping my FJR for the superslab, but my next bike will definitely be one of these adventure-touring class bikes.
RE57 -Project Manager September 22, 2010 03:21 PM
I'm anxious to see the results with the (kinda) new Honda, but I think it shouldn't fall into this class. From all I've read it's more of a gentleman's sportbike, like the VFR800 was before it. Once they come out with a no s*** Sport Touring version (integrated bags and all), then I believe it should be compared to the others. Right now I'm just curious to see how it stacks up, even though I would never consider it as a replacement for my ST1300... yet.
someguy79 -Olympic Peninsula places to see September 22, 2010 10:47 AM
Go visit the Hoh rainforest if you brought your wet weather gear. Even better, go up Hurricane Ridge. It's a nice twisty ride with great views.
TG -Selection makes sense September 22, 2010 09:42 AM
The Connie has been winning the ST shootouts, so even unchanged it makes sense to be included. The other two are new for the segment, and it's logical to test them against the regular champion. I mean really, when was the last time any of the three you mentioned won a comparo (K13GT, FJR, or the dated ST)?

As to my prediction (knowing nothing of the Sprint): The Sprint is a good all arounder, but doesn't impress. The Honda impresses as a comfy sport bike, but isn't comfy enough to hang with the Sport Tourers. The Connie has a hell of a motor, comfort, but slow handling. Even so, the C14 wins, especially when price is involved.