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2011 Luxury Touring Motorcycle Shootout

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


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2012 Honda Gold Wing - Luxury Touring Comparison Video
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The ultimate luxury touring motorcycle of all-time goes up against BMW’s K1600 GTL and Can-Am’s Spyder RT Limited watch the 2012 Honda Gold Wing Comparison Video and see what bike comes out on top.

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2011 Can-Am Spyder RT Limited - Luxury Touring Comparison Video
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Watch us test drive Can-Am’s three-wheeler as it faces off against other luxury touring motorcycles in the 2011 Can-Am Spyder RT Limited Comparison Video.

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2012 BMW K1600 GTL - Luxury Touring Comparison Video
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BMW’s all-new flagship luxury touring motorcycle is aiming for the top spot in this shootout. Watch and see how it fares in the 2012 BMW K1600 GTL Comparison Video.

In the grand scheme of things the luxury touring motorcycle niche is a relatively new category. Sure, motorcycles like Honda’s iconic Gold Wing have been around for decades, but it wasn’t until the last few years that this segment has seen dangerous competition from other brands. Fast forward to today and we’ve got three big name players from distinctly different parts of the globe represented in Motorcycle-USA’S first annual 2011 Luxury  Touring Motorcycle Shootout.

Having invented the class in the mid ‘70s, the Honda Gold Wing is the benchmark when you consider the phrase luxury and touring. Although it certainly didn’t need it, engineers gave it a mild facelift for ’12 which we covered in detail during our 2012 Honda Gold Wing First Look, 2012 Honda Gold Wing Quick Ride and 2012 Honda Gold Wing Adventure Ride articles.

Like before the new G-Wing ($27,099 as tested) continues to make use of a horizontally-opposed and liquid-cooled 1832cc six-cylinder engine that’s powerful enough to power many small cars. The engine is mated to a conventional five-speed manual gearbox that shifts power to the back tire via a shaft drive. The engine is mounted within in a twin-spar aluminum frame that utilizes technology gained from Big Red’s sportbikes including the CBR600RR and CBR1000RR (both two-time Supersport and Superbike Smackdown shootout winners, respectively). Well-calibrated front and rear suspension (with electronic pre-load adjustment) and strong, linked triple disc brakes (with optional ABS) ensure safety, comfort and, of course, performance. Sophisticated gadgetry consisting of an iPod and XM-compatible stereo (with CB and intercom functionality), optional GPS and airbag not to mention heated seats, grips and cruise control are all standard.

Two years ago, Canadian-based powersports brand, Can-Am, released its curious Spyder RT which we test drove in the 2010 Can-Am Spyder RT First Ride. Based off its three-wheel Roadster platform, the RT ($28,099 as tested) was developed for persons looking for a new touring experience beyond what the two or four wheel worlds have to offer.

Powered by a motorcycle-derived V-Twin engine that pumps out 998cc’s of liquid-cooled muscle, the RT utilizes two forward wheels with automobile-style suspension and brakes and one rear drive wheel. Either a manual five-speed transmission (with hand-operated clutch) or optional electronic sequential manual five-speed gearbox is available that puts power to the rear tire via belt final drive. The rider pilots the Spyder with a conventional handlebar. Copious storage capacity and touring-friendly amenities including heated seats/grips, cruise control and an electronically adjustable windshield are also part of the package.

2011 Luxury Touring Motorcycle Shootout
2011 Luxury Touring Motorcycle Shootout torque dyno.2011 Luxury Touring Motorcycle Shootout horsepower dyno.
Though BMW has a far reaching history in the motorcycle touring segment, until this year it lacked a true luxury tourer capable of going head-to-head with the best from Japan and Canada. That changes with the introduction of its all-new K1600 GTL ($26,340 as tested).

Hailed as one of the most advanced touring motorcycles ever built, the K1600 GTL has big shoes to fill before we even threw a leg over it in this comparison. Fortunately for BMW, it seems to be living up to the hype per Editorial Director Ken Hutchison’s dissertation from South Africa in the 2012 BMW K1600GTL First Ride. As stated in 2011 BMW K1600GT First Look and BMW K1600GT Reveal at Jay Leno Garage articles, this new Beemer is powered by a high-tech, liquid-cooled 1649cc Inline-Six with a conventional manual-style six-speed gearbox. That marvelous engine is hung within a fairly lightweight chassis (for its class) that features the German company's proprietary Duolever front end and Paralever rear suspension that operates through a single-sided swingarm and shaft final drive. A slick, and very forward-thinking user interface allows the rider to control many of the gizmos including the height of the windshield, stereo, cruise control, seat/hand heaters, and suspension and engine power modes via buttons and a flick of the rider’s left wrist courtesy of the multi-function control.

To evaluate the differences between these three machines we mapped a long 750-mile (one way) route from Southern California to this summer’s Red Bull USGP at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. This two-day trek led us through an assortment of different road and weather conditions which made it quite clear where each of these bikes fits in the class. To help authenticate our opinions we ran each bike thorough our standard gamut of performance tests to give readers the most information as possible. Points were then assessed via our tried and true modified Formula One system thus revealing the ultimate luxury touring mount.

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Honda’s VFR800F Interceptor faces off against the Ninja 1000 ABS by Kawasaki and Aprilia’s Mana 850 GT ABS in this unconventional sport-touring shootout.
2014 BMW R1200GS Adventure First Ride
BMW adds the water-Boxer updates to its R1200GS Adventure for 2014, and MotoUSA takes a spin on the dirt and street in Arizona’s high desert terrain for a first ride review.
2011 Luxury Touring Shootout 1/4 Mile
2011 Luxury Touring Shootout 1/4 Mile
2011 Luxury Touring Shootout Braking
2011 Luxury Touring Shootout Braking
2011 Luxury Touring Shootout MPG
2011 Luxury Touring Shootout MPG
2011 Luxury Touring Shootout 0-60
2011 Luxury Touring Shootout 0-60

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Comments
PC80098   May 15, 2013 04:57 PM
Guys are you kidding me? You guys sure missed the boat here. Compare trikes to trikes! Not Bikes to a trike. How dumb can you be?
colbert98   January 15, 2013 11:51 AM
I'm a first time biker and had no desire to hold up a bike at nearly 65 years of age. The Can/Am RT SE5 fits the bill. It has enough power to stay with or ahead of traffic. It provided a lot of safety and comfort features that make me want to stay on the road. It's fun and 998cc is big enough. I got it new for 20K and my wife wants to learn how to ride it. With all of the safety features it makes you very comfortable in turn and on wet surfaces. I road it today in the rain without a problem. It is not a conventional motorcycle but boy is it fun to be out there with them.
IntoTheWind   October 27, 2012 12:06 AM
Next time compare trikes to trikes, not trikes and bikes and the review would change all together. Seems on this one you completely missed the mark with your review, give you a second chance, make it right comparing each on a level field and will see who ends up on top of the game. It's now in your hands to do the right thing for all viewers.
IntoTheWind   October 26, 2012 11:47 PM
Next time compare trikes to trikes, not trikes and bikes and the review would change all together. Seems on this one you completely missed the mark with your review, give you a second chance, make it right comparing each on a level field and will see who ends up on top of the game. It's now in your hands to do the right thing for all viewers.
Mike48   October 13, 2011 12:41 PM
Obviously Adam Waheed has not been riding all that long and doesn't look further back in motorcycle history than ten years. Otherwise he would not have made the ridiculous statement: "In the grand scheme of things the luxury touring motorcycle niche is a relatively new category. Sure, motorcycles like Honda’s iconic Gold Wing have been around for decades, but it wasn’t until the last few years that this segment has seen dangerous competition from other brands." I don't know how he defines "dangerous competition" but back in the 1980s there was plenty of competition in the luxury touring motorcycle niche between the big four Japanese manufacturers. You had the Gold Wing which developed a market that Harley-Davidson had failed to exploit with the Electra Glide. Then Honda was joined by Yamaha with the Venture & Venture Royale, Kawasaki with the Voyager 1300 & XII and Suzuki with the GV1400 Calvacade. All these machines were much more direct competition for the Gold Wing than any product from BMW or the cruiser based touring motorcycles currently available. I'll ignore the ridiculousness of comparing a Can-Am Spyder three wheeler to a motorcycle. They are in totally different market segments. In the first paragraph of your article you managed to destroy all credibility as a knowledgeable motor journalist. Well done!
motousa_adam   September 20, 2011 05:10 PM
+ 1 on Eduardo23226 comment below-- well said
Eduardo23226   September 16, 2011 10:15 AM
Let me get this straight..The Can Am costs $28K, it gets 22 MPG, it combines the worst of a car (no leaning, it takes up a whole parking space, poor MPG) with the worst of aspects of a motorcycle (weather exposure, saftey issues and expensive to buy/maintain)???

I'd rather drive a Ford Fiesta...

And before the Can Am guys get their feeling hurt and blast me with "You don't get it..." I will tell you that 1. I have ridden them more than once 2. You are correct, I don't get it. (I buy bikes to go fast, stop fast, LEAN and make 50+ MPG.) 3. I could understand purchasing one only if I were physically unable to no longer handle a bike.
Mitch   September 8, 2011 09:22 AM
Very nice review guys, however seeing as how many of these bikes will be ridden 2-up for long periods of time I am also curious how accommodating each model would be to a passenger during a long haul and not to mention how it would effect the handling of the bike overall (at least for the BMW and Wing). I'm surprised how many reviews written about these bikes don't include much if any info or opinions on passenger comfort when you consider how many of these high dollar tourers are purchased by professional men with wives and older children. I know if I were in the market for one a "happy passenger" would be one of the top features I would be looking for because having an unhappy one can put a downer on a trip no matter what you ride.
csabre   September 7, 2011 03:31 PM
This is a top notch video review of these motorcycles. The reviewers did not hesitate to offer their candid opinions of these machines. I think the rating was correct in that the BMW has indeed taken touring to a whole new level. The Gold Wing is still good, but it is time for an update. Again, a great review, well written and delivered.
ynot   September 6, 2011 06:14 AM
sorry for the double post, lack of patience.
ynot   September 6, 2011 06:06 AM
dudes, first of all as you said,,"it's not a motorcycle" so why compare it to a motorcycle? why not do another test and compare it to three wheel vehicles, conversions, harley trikes etc. another thing, you guy's didn't ride it long enough to really get the hang of it. ask any spyder ryder and they will tell you it takes some miles to get it. some of your points are well taken, many spyder ryders long for a 6th gear, better gas mileage, and maybe some would like more hp. one thing the spyder takes no back seat to is conversation stater. my wife and i must have been delayed on our last trip (a 7 day ride) for at least 4 hours answering questions from other folks, bikers included. me and my v-strom was never included in the conversation, other than a couple of folks thinking it was a beemer.
ynot   September 6, 2011 05:53 AM
dudes, first of all the RT is as you stated "not a motorcycle". next you guy's didn't ride it long enough to get the hang of it. and last but not least why not do another test and only include three wheel vehicles. conversions, and harley trikes. some of you points are well taken as many spyder ryders long for a 6th gear, better gas mileage, and some rethinking of buttons and controls.