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2010 Sport-Touring Shootout V

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wanderlust instills riders with an urge to roam. There’s nothing like riding through virgin territory and the delight of discovering a new favorite stretch. Thanks to the sport-touring genre riders can get to those unexplored routes in comfort, but still enjoy shredding some pavement upon arrival.
Videos Our Sponsor
2011 Triumph Sprint GT Sport Touring Video
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A 2011 model, we got our first sampling of the Triumph Sprint GT in our ST shootout. Watch the 2011 Triumph Sprint GT Video to see how its stacks up.

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2010 Kawasaki Concours 14 Sport Touring Video
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The old vet in this three-bike test, the Concours 14 brings stellar touring credentials to this shootout. See the 2010 Kawasaki Concours 14 Video for more information.

Videos Our Sponsor
2010 Honda VFR1200F Sport Touring Video
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We've sampled the VFR1200F numerous times since its debut, but never in our yearly sport-touring comparison review. Watch the 2010 Honda VFR1200F Video for our impressions.

Purpose-built touring platforms, sport-tourers feature engine and handling befitting a bike with sport in its nomenclature. It’s a delicate balance, as the demands of sport performance often require a compromise with touring comfort. Yet the ST class is rife with rigs that can still bring thrills, along with practicality.

Our Sport-Touring tests tend to be big and comprehensive, but are bound by the availability of test units, which limited our options this year. BMW refused to lend out its 2009 comparison-winning K1300GT, with the Bavarian marque having already announced its replacement in the new Inline-Six-powered K1600GT. Likewise, Yamaha wasn’t keen making its FJR1300 available – with an update seemingly forthcoming for one of our all-time favorite ST rides. Yet even with two of the heavy hitters nixed for 2010’s shootout, we still had three new or upgraded bikes to work with.

First up is Triumph’s touring platform, the Sprint GT. The British manufacturer returns its Sprint as a 2011 model, but with a tweaked engine, revised bodywork and updated chassis. The changes aim to enhance the Triple-powered Trumpet’s touring abilities, with this comparison our first encounter with the GT.

Back for its third go-round in a Motorcycle USA Sport-Touring comparison is the Kawasaki Concours 14. The Connie has been a strong contender ever since its 2008 debut, resurrecting the Concours name with an Inline Four derived from the ZX-14 and a chassis more capable than its bulky looks and spec sheet weight might imply. For the 2010 model year, Kawasaki further refined its C14 with significant upgrades, including production traction control, as well as touring upgrades like standard heated grips.

The 2010 Honda VFR1200F represents our final comparison entry. It could be argued that the new VFR isn’t a true sport-touring ride, yet the new VFR has been promoted as a touring capable mount ever since its debut. Our 2010 test bike came adorned with optional saddlebags, centerstand and heated grips. Desiring some new blood in the touring class, we couldn’t refuse sampling a touring-kitted VFR sampling to see where it rated in an official shootout.

Along with the usual commuting runs, our Sport-Touring tests include, surprise, surprise, a long-distance tour. In 2008 we navigated the entire breadth of the Pacific Coast Highway from southern California to our Oregon HQ. Last year we went back to the coast again, this time tracing up the Oregon shoreline routes. So it made sense to hit the coast again, this year completing our Pacific Coast reconnoiter by tracing up and down Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Logging more than 1200 miles in three days, we sampled freeway, highway and backroad terrain, not to mention some city congestion as well. Not surprisingly in the Northwest, one day was filled with rain (we rode through areas that average 12 feet of annual rainfall – that’s feet, not inches), which allowed us to evaluate rider comfort in the harshest terms.

2010 Sport Touring Shootout
On the road again... For our 2010 Sport-Touring shootout we took the three test bikes for a 1200-mile jaunt up to the Olympic Peninsula and back.
As standard operating procedure, dyno runs gathered peak horsepower and torque numbers. Curb weights (fully-fueled and including saddlebags) were recorded on MCUSA’s Intercomp scales. Observed fuel consumption during our journeys netted each bike’s average miles-per-gallon efficiency, which also determined the real-world range for each mount. All the hard data filed and ranked, we also rated the bikes on the judgments of our test riders.

Author of the past two comparisons, my opinion returned for testing duties, as did two of last year’s guest test riders, MCUSA photog extraordinaire Tom Lavine and his riding buddy Don Livingood. As for the credentials of our guest test riders, both are retired cops and avid motorcyclists. And both hitch their legs up over the saddle with a grimace or two, but with zero complaints. Which is to say, Tom and Donald are the sport-touring demographic personified: gentlemen of a certain age with disposable income and a healthy taste for adventure and road-going performance. The two also make for terrific company and brutally honest evaluation, with TV-MA language as salty as the surf crashing on the Washington shoreline.

Enough with the back story, let’s dig into the evaluations, hot off the electronic press.

Recent Touring Reviews
2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure First Ride
KTM has upped the ante in the adventure-touring game with the 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure. We headed to the Canary Islands to sample all that this new motorcycle has to offer.
2015 Yamaha FJ-09 First Ride
MotoUSA gets its first ride impression aboard the all-new FJ-09, as Yamaha retools its best-selling FZ-09 for sport-touring duty.
2014 BMW R1200GS vs KTM 1190 Adventure R
See the 2014 BMW R1200GS face off against the KTM 1190 Adventure R to see which is the better all-around adventure touring mount.
2014 Middleweight Sport-Touring Shootout
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.

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azhenryz -oops  October 26, 2010 08:39 AM
Yeah, I didn't do the best job proof reading in my previous post. I meant to say that the VFR1200F's true competition is the K1300S, Hayabusa and ZX14. For now the only true Sport Tourer in Honda's line up is still the ST1300. Speaking of which, one of my riding buddies is a policeman who rode an ST1300 during his stint riding motors for his department. He liked it so much he bought the civilian version for himself. And let me tell you, he can flat fly on that thing. Pace with grace. Sometimes there is nothing wrong with slightly dated technology. But back to the subject at hand. The VFR1200F is simply too uncomfortable for me. And the passenger accommodations are a joke. And not just the pillion seat either. I've seen pictures of the bike two up, and because of the riders far reach to the bars the passenger is hung out like a parachute. If the passenger is not seated close enough to the rider turbulence can make for a very uncomfortable and insecure ride. And an adjustable windshield is a must. Finally, I am very interested in the BMW K1600GT, but I suspect its price to be prohibitive. When dealers around the country are offering the Concours at a couple thousand off, with incentive financing, it's hard to resist. Perhaps after the K1600GT has been out a few years I'll be able to find a used one. Until then I'll have to "make due" with the poor mans continental express.
Murf - Sport touring  October 25, 2010 11:30 AM
Where was the BMW entry into this test..RT1200 or the GT1300 ?
MikeD -To azhenryz...  October 23, 2010 05:38 PM
The T Version is due next year, not a chance for this shoot out.
That(VFR1200T) is suposed to fight the C14,K1300GT,R1200RT,FJR1300,who else im missing?

Shamu(VFR1200F) is suposed to go against the K1300S,Busa,ZX-14,etc.

Hope Yamaha comes out of the Toilet and brings a Fresh FJR to the Fight.

The K1600GT-GTL bikes are on a class of themselves (O_O )
azhenryz -The Hunt For Red October  October 22, 2010 03:12 PM
While reading your 2010 "Sport Touring" shootout I was reminded of the line Sean Connery's Capt Ramius delivered to Alec Baldwin's Jack Ryan in the movie The Hunt For Red October. He explained to Ryan, "I've read this book. Your conclusions were all wrong." Your "Red" pick in an "October" test had me thinking the same thing. While I've never ridden the Red wonder bike, I did take my lovely bride by our local Honda dealer to look at one. We currently have an '08 Suzuki Bandit that needs to be replaced with something more capable of pointing north from our Arizona home to the Canadian border. Your review truly didn't give the paint job on the VFR1200F it's proper due. It is simply dazzling in person. But one look at that back seat and my wife said, "Uh, no." Just for the heck of it I did take the time to sit on it. Yikes! Sport Touring? Really? Not at my advanced 57 years of age, and not for the kind of 300 to 500 mile days I like to put in, thank you very much. I'm certain, as you have written, it is a very fine machine, with all the attention to detail Honda has become famous for. But a sport touring bike? Not for me. Instead of a Red October we'll be cruising over the our local Kawasaki dealer to check out the true color of the month ... Neptune Candy Blue. And by the way, what happened to the VFR1200T, the real sport touring bike that was supposed to replace the ST1300? That's the bike you should have been testing. The VFR1200T should put up against it's true competition ... the BMW K1300S, Suzuki Hayabusa and Kawasaki ZX14. Oh well, guess we'll have to wait until next year when the Beemer Six arrives ... and possibly a new FJR as well.
Bram Frank -Aside from the fact . . . . .  October 22, 2010 02:46 PM

. . . . that 2 of the 3 bikes in this shootout are not Sport Touring machines, you'll find most of the comments at the end of the last page of the article.
SilverStreak -The Touring Range Factor  October 22, 2010 11:17 AM
FYI: My four year-old Yamaha FJR1300 recorded a 196 mile trip yesterday on mostly interstate roads, consuming 4.434 gallons of fuel, that equals 44.20 MPG. For a 6.61 US gallon tank, that means a range of 291 miles. Average speed was 73-77 MPH in 5th gear @ 3900-4000 RPM. While on the superslab, the computer readout was showing 49-51 MPG(?). Theretically, a maximum range of 300 miles is possible non-stop interstate without a passenger and/or heavy gear.