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2008 Super Sport-Touring Comparo Conclusion

Monday, February 4, 2008
2008 Super Sport-Touring Comparo
Our 2008 Super Sport-Touring Shootout saw many miles of fog and rain, but the miles were memorable skirting the California coast.
2008 Super Sport-Touring Conclusion

After recuperating in some dry clothes our test riders got down to the task of rating these incredible machines. As is often the case, picking a winner is the most difficult aspect of our testing process, so we leave it up to the raw numbers from the scoresheet. Our evaluation form is broken down into ten categories, with ten points possible for each. We also doled out five points apiece for the standings in dyno horsepower, dyno torque, tank-empty weight and range. The following are our results.

Fourth: Honda ST1300
Rating: 91.25
Engine: User Friendliness 8.8
Engine: Open-Road Performance 8.8
Transmission/Clutch 9.5
At its highest setting the Honda ST1300 windscreen provided plenty of protection  blocking out the wind and rain entirely for most of our testers.
The Honda ST1300 may have finished fourth, but it surprised us with able handling and a smooth, yet lively, motor.
Handling/Chassis/Suspension 8.3
Brakes 8.8
Ergonomics/Riding Position 8.5
Fit & Finish/ Instruments/Cockpit 7.5
Appearance 7.0
Grin Factor 7.8
Value 7.5
Dyno Horsepower 1
Dyno Torque 2
Tank-Empty Weight 1
Range 5

While we aren't shocked that the Honda took fourth in this ultra-competitive class, the ST1300 surprised us. Based just on looks, the Honda appears slow and conservative, yet behind the controls the heavy machine is deceptively fast and an able handler. As a solid touring platform, the tried and tested ST1300 has the benefit of age and Honda's touring expertise. Although we only had 1000 miles in the saddle, we have a feeling the V-Four will run for decades and come 2015 there will be plenty of old codgers refusing to abandon their stalwart ST1300s.

The K1200GT utilizes BMW s proprietary Duolever and Paralever units for suspension duties  delivering a respective 4.5 and 5.3 inches of front and rear travel.
Although it didn't fare as well in this year's comparo, the BMW K1200GT is a fantastic sport-touring mount.
Third: BMW K1200GT
Rating: 95.5
Engine: User Friendliness 8.5
Engine: Open-Road Performance 9.3
Transmission/Clutch 8.3
Handling/Chassis/Suspension 8.0
Brakes 7.3
Ergonomics/Riding Position 9.0
Fit & Finish/ Instruments/Cockpit 9.5
Appearance 8.5
Grin Factor 8.5
Value 6.8
Dyno Horsepower 4
Dyno Torque 1
Tank-Empty Weight 5
Range 2

How does the mighty fall? Well, credit the finicky tastes of our testing crew. The BMW was victorious in our 2006 comparo by a narrow 3-2 vote. Of those five testers, only two carried over from '06. The blights on the Beemer scorecard came in the braking and value department. Still, the BMW has a gratifying motor and can be pushed hard in the curves. Many of our impoverished riders whined that if they had the disposable income, the exclusive BMW would be their bike of choice.

Compared to its competition  the C14 s windscreen left us wanting more protection from the elements.
While its mega motor impresses, the Kawasaki Concours 14 falls short in the final scoring. Improving range and low-speed handling just might push the new Connie over the top.
Second: Kawasaki Concours 14
Rating: 98.25
Engine: User Friendliness 8.8
Engine: Open-Road Performance 9.3
Transmission/Clutch 8.3
Handling/Chassis/Suspension 7.5
Brakes 8.3
Ergonomics/Riding Position 8.5
Fit & Finish/ Instruments/Cockpit 8.3
Appearance 9.0
Grin Factor 8.5
Value 9.0
Dyno Horsepower 5
Dyno Torque 5
Tank-Empty Weight 2
Range 1

Sometimes an all-new model blows the doors off its competitors. Other times it takes a few years to dial it in. The C14 is a noble first-year effort from Kawasaki, but it's monster motor doesn't make up some of its deficiencies. The Kaw felt less spry than its competition in the handling department, and with its greedy motor demanding constant open-throttle application, the 5.8-gallon tank was always the first to need filling. Sub-200-mile range does not befit a "touring" bike. Still the C14's got the looks and motor to spare. Find a way to add another gallon capacity, while improving its low-speed handling and the new Connie just might come out on top in future comparos.

Suspension is provided by Yamaha s Soqi 48mm fork and a single rear shock  each unit delivering a respective 5.4 and 4.8 inches travel.
Although a 2007 model, the Yamaha FJR1300 claims victory in our 2008 shootout by exhibiting no major weakness.
First: Yamaha FJR1300
Rating: 106.25 (96.75 AE)
Engine: User Friendliness 8.8 (8.0)
Engine: Open-Road Performance 8.8 (8.3
Transmission/Clutch 8.8 (8.0)
Handling/Chassis/Suspension 9.8 (9.5)
Brakes 9.8 (9.8)
Ergonomics/Riding Position 8.5 (8.5)
Fit & Finish/ Instruments/Cockpit 9.0 (9.0)
Appearance 9.0 (9.0)
Grin Factor 9.5 (8.8)
Value 9.5 (7.0)
Dyno Horsepower 3 (2)
Dyno Torque 4 (3)
Tank-Empty Weight 4 (3)
Range 4 (3)

The Yamaha does nothing wrong and everything well. While its motor can't match the Kawi or BMW, it is a more than capable powerplant. The FJR looks sharp, has impressive fit and finish and is an absolute dream when the road starts getting curvy. The unique paddle-shifting AE version fared better this year, moving up from last place to just ahead of the BMW.

Check out what our test riders would pick if it was their money on the line in our For My Money section.

Let us know what you think about this article in the MCUSA Forum.
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Martin -Owner of an FJR  October 13, 2010 01:01 AM
I've been riding metric cruisers for years. I liked the relabilty. I bought my first Sport/Touring bike this year. I researched several bikes but did not ride any of them beforehand. I ended up buying an FJR. It took awhile to become accustomed to the forward riding style. The more I ride the FJR the more I love it. It doesnt turn the heads like my VN 2000 but the performance and nimbleness are FAR superior. It's like comparing apples and bananas. I recently rode with a friend who has GSXR 1000. He said that my FJR was the fastest bike that he has rode with.
Walter -Honda or BMW  October 5, 2010 08:28 AM
These are all great bikes, but if the category is sport touring, then factors such as a passenger, range, rideability over a long weekend need to be considered. In this case the Honda ST1300 and the BMW K1200GT come out on top - the FJR1300 is way too uncomfortable and the C-14 is better now as a 2010 model. So the winner is a tie, BMW and Honda, with Kawasaki in 3rd and Yamaha in 4th. That is the way it is !
MJ -Sport Touring Comparo  June 28, 2009 09:15 AM
I too did my share of research before moving from a Cruser (Vulcan 1500) to a SportTouring alternative but once I rode the Yamaha FJR 1300... I never looked back. I"m now into my second year of ownership and with very minor modification (Cal-Sci windshield, Metzler tires and top bag) it really just keeps getting better. It offers confident sport driving characteristics and with the additional storage of the top bag all day touring comfort. No matter what you choose just make an opportunity to test drive each one so you can make sure your decision is based on your needs and preferences... not the hype or opinions of anybody else. After all its you thats going to be living with the decision.
Greg and Rob -Pillion's comment  June 17, 2009 06:28 PM
Great article, my wife and I have test ridden them all including a R1200RT and a K1300GT, our current ride is a Honda ST1100 and we feel it's time to update, we are a team and the choice must appeal to both of us, after a long test on the FJR, her comments at a set of lights were "this is the puppy for me", now is it the standerd or the electronic clutch, Black or Sliver, decisions decisions. Cheers from down under.
lt1 -C14 low-speed handling  May 30, 2009 10:03 PM
With the stock Bridgestone tires, the C14 is very sensitive to tire pressure. From the comments, it would appear that the testers were running the tires under-inflated. Also, the C14 responds very favorably to the Michelin Pilot Road 2's as a replacement tire. FWIW, the factory tall windshield is under $150, not $400.
Bechego -C14 or FJR?  May 23, 2009 11:41 AM
Test rode the C14 today and I must say, I like it a lot! I test rode the FJR in the past and one of the things I did not like was the power; it was not punchy enough (I currently own an R1). The C14 felt more responsive. The handling felt very good, although I did not flick it much at low speeds. At 20+ mph it was very nimble. The brakes are great. I did NOT like the poor protection the windshield provides. Kawi sells an upgraded shield for another $400, which I feel I would have to buy by winter. That makes the price difference with the FJR a little smaller. Tough decision. Safe Riding.
Just Greg -Great road test. How about reliability  May 4, 2009 01:18 PM
Thank you for a greeat road test. Absolutely you looked for the things I would have. One thing that you can't get in a short term test like this is long term reliability. I want to drive my bike without making friends with my mechanic. I am a bit concerned with the Yamaha's 1 year warranty - and some of the minor but annoying issues I found on the Yamaha forum. What do you FJR owners think about this? No big deal or something to consider?
v max owner -great article  April 27, 2009 10:11 AM
As a owner of a 97 V Max, who is looking to change to a ST, I found this to be a great article! Now, I just have to test both the FJR and the C 14 and then make the decision. It will come down to personal comfort and ergonomics as to who gets the nod! Keep those great reviews coming!!
v max owner -great article  April 27, 2009 10:11 AM
As a owner of a 97 V Max, who is looking to change to a ST, I found this to be a great article! Now, I just have to test both the FJR and the C 14 and then make the decision. It will come down to personal comfort and ergonomics as to who gets the nod! Keep those great reviews coming!!
BKKAWAZX9R -Great Article Awesome Bikes  April 22, 2009 12:47 PM
I've been looking for a sport tourer for some time now and like another poster here I whittled my choices down to 2 bikes. The FJR and the Concours. I have owned sports bikes from all the Japanese manufacturers from my start with a Suzuki GP100 through most of the 80's 2-stroke 350's to the latest liter sports bikes and have loved them all. Today, I'm going to pick up my new ZX14A. I would have been happy with the FJR also but $11k for a 2008 Concours!!! And that engine!!! I have orderd the Corbin Trunk that matches the bike, so that my wife will ride with me, and the Corbin Seats. I rode one up PCH from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara and was blown away by the bikes ability. Also, no more chains to oil and adjust. Ride safe everyone!
Tom D -FJR Owner  April 5, 2009 01:41 PM
I did a lot of research on all the bikes mentioned and saw the same things. KAwi- too new and rattley, the BMW too much $$ and value???, the ST - too bad it looks like a Jetsons bike and the Panel is from 1977, the FJR - Rocks everything
Nick -Hot Ride  April 2, 2009 12:31 PM
Living in South Mississippi is hot enough, add the heat from the FJR while sitting in traffic sucks......but once this baby hits the open road......Sweeeeeet
jjumpup -Great Article  March 22, 2009 08:48 AM
I have been considering moving from a cruiser to a sport touring model for about two years (while waiting for finances to align) and have done a little research into all of these bikes. I always find myself drawn back to the FJR, especially the AE model. This was a great hands-on and seemingly unbiased review of all of them. It really sounds like no matter which one you decide on, you really can't go wrong. Thanks Again!
JK1300GT -Have you owned one?  February 27, 2009 11:05 PM
I bought a new FJR in 06 after reading these comparisons, but sold it in 08 after only 5,000 miles. I just ordered an 09 K1300GT after one test ride. The FJR had good power and excellent handling, but the windshield created a ton of turbulence at the base of my helmet. The throttle was hard to open even after unwinding it once. The Beemer might be expensive, but try setting the electronic cruise control, or turning on the seat heaters on the FJR. And be sure to ask Yamaha about their 3 yr/36,000 mile warranty. Oh yes, for 09 you get Stability Control and Tire Pressure Monitoring. 23,800 is a lot of money these days, but excellent resale makes the pain bearable.
Will -Much Needed Info  February 15, 2009 09:00 AM
The article and reader feedback has been great. I sold my FZ6 in order to move up to a sport-tourer. The FJR has been my top pick, but I looked at the C14 because it was new and has the ZX14 motor. What I keep coming back to is the standard ABS and tried and tested design of the FJR. I think overall, articles like these and owner feedback has helped make the decision easier. Stay safe.
Trent -Great Article  February 13, 2009 09:16 PM
I own the FJR and feel lucky to have bought the bike I would have told myself to buy if I could go back in time to the date of my purchase. I also really like the C14 but in the end I would get the FJR again. The BMW is a better looking bike and has some very cool features and the ST does nothing for me. They are all great bike and it is nice to know you can't go wrong with any of them.
Ron -BMW Power Brakes  February 3, 2009 03:46 AM
BMW discounted the the power brakes at the end on the 2006 for all models except the K1200LT. What K1200GT did you test?
Captain Chris-C14 owner -Super-Sport Touring Comparo  January 23, 2009 06:21 PM
I was one of the 1st to own a Concours 14 and I have never regretted it.I used to ride a Yamaha FJ1200 which I liked very much, but needed something more comfortable for an all day ride.I considered an FJR, but I didn't want another 5 speed bike, so the Concours 14 was my ticket to ride.After a few modifications-larger windscreen, Corbin seat, Heli-bar risers and 2 Bros. c/f exhaust it's a fantastic bike that looks great and is scary fast.I don't have any complaints about this Kawasaki(which happens to be my 1st) at all.
Meerican -BMW  January 19, 2009 10:12 PM
Great article!!! Thanks for doing the research for us. I purchased a K1200GT. I love all the nifty features, especially the cruise. But they have engine problems, bigtime. I'm requesting a lemon law buyback on mine. It has spent way too much time in the shop. They can't fix it either. Check out Kbikes.com. You'll read about all the problems these (very expensive) bikes have. I'm going back to Japanese!!!
Jonbrain -great info  January 12, 2009 10:53 PM
Thanks for this great information. Sold the Valkyrie, so on to a sport tourer. BMW-way too expensive. Honda-way too old. That leaves two...
Bain Dramage -Correction to post  January 3, 2009 09:56 AM
OOOPS! Typo! My post should read "Dollar for dollar the FJR beats them all, NOT the ST. ST is a second-place machine.
Bain Dramage -Great review - very accurate and fair  January 3, 2009 09:53 AM
The ST-1300 is a great bike, but until Honda updates it, it will continue to play second-fiddle to Yamaha. If your riding consists of 500+ mile days on the Interstate, then the BWM is the way to go. For a mix of commute, sport, and long-distance, the Yamaha cannot be beat with the ST-1300 taking a solid second place. Dollar for dollar, the ST beats them all, as this article clearly demonstrated. What could Yamaha improve? 1) slightly wider fairing and larger shield for more protection. 2) 6th gear 3) 1400cc engine
Allan Thomas -ST1300  January 3, 2009 12:02 AM
Your evaluation of the bikes were great, but you didn`t realize that the ST is better for needling through traffic as we do in california. The saddlebags are in line with the front left and right mirrors, giving the rider a better judgement for riding between traffic. The saddlebags on the others are a little too wide for everyday commute here in california. On long trips, they might be what a rider needs for hauling more gear, but my opinion for California riders, The ST has the performance, the styling, and the agility for the traffic we encounter on a daily basis. Those of you who are considering buying the other bikes for the price, think hard, and save a little more money, because this design is timeless.
Will -FJR Owner  December 22, 2008 04:30 PM
Love the article.I also love my FJR,the only complaint I have is the lack of cruise control,other than that I'm very pleased.
Brandon -Dang..  December 17, 2008 02:14 PM
I was convinced I wanted the Kawi and didnt want to hear that the FJR might be as good or better. That low speed handling has come up before in my research.. Dang!.. Just DANG!! Also living in Seattle I need protection from the elements.. D A N G !
TJ -FJR Owner  December 17, 2008 12:29 PM
Good article. I purchased an FJR a few months back and I agree with your findings. The only thing I would change about the bike is the seat. The current seat is a little "hard" for my tastes. I plan to install an aftermarket seat early next year.
Raymond -Excellent!  December 13, 2008 05:45 PM
Have narrowed my sport touring choice to the Concours and the FJR. Both seem ideal for what I'm looking for. This article really provides some much needed insights from experts. Don't like the low MPG of the Consours nor the low speed handling. Will test drive the Kawi later this week. It appears either bike will be a blast to own.
BHJP -Nice review  November 23, 2008 03:01 PM
Good read but you should have included the BMW R1200RT. According to other articles on the web it puts the K1200GT to shame! Cheers.
Tim -Great article  November 15, 2008 04:56 AM
Hi guys, Great article. Thanks for putting in such an effort. Surprising results to say the least. Love your work far away in Down Under. Ta' Tim
Jmibolaya -Unbelievable road test!  November 10, 2008 11:19 AM
How the heck do you guys publish this stuff w/o charging the reader? Fantastic! The only thing better would be to deliver the bike to my house to test ride myself. Thanks.