Now its time for the final rankings. We have returned our scoresheet from last year’s test for consistency, ranking the bikes in a 10-point system: Ten for the winner, 8 for second and 7 for third, with ties possible in each category.
A note on the scoring: We rate bikes and award numeric values because it’s the best system we’ve come up with to rank performance. We concede that sometimes the sum of the parts add up beyond the scoresheet totals. So please accept these evaluations in the manner in which they are given – honest opinion and our best effort to deliver information to the reader. The best bike for each rider depends on a myriad of factors, including personal preference, and will not always be the bike we deem the top rated. The true goal in these shootouts is to examine the differences of these bikes and reveal their personality and character. Please feel free to disagree and share your opinion in the comments section below.
Triumph Sprint GT – 130 points:
The Triumph Sprint GT is an all-rounder with improved touring capabilities and the most affordable pricetag.
The GT is a better touring mount than the ST. The bags are beyond spacious and the handling is still sharp but delivers more stability. The long-range comfort has also improved and that is key to touring success. The Inline Triple remains characteristic, even if the new exhaust robs the Sprint of some charm. The steady power from the three-cyclinder delivers ready torque across the rev range and that is a useful trait whether you intend to do more sport or touring.
The new fairing and swing arm keeps an attractive profile, but head to head with the polished Kawasaki and Honda, the British beauty comes across as less refined. However, its MSRP, by far the lowest in our test, makes up for the complaints and the lack of amenities.
In this three-bike shootout, the Sprint proved the closest kin to the VFR, the two almost a micro-class by themselves – supersport-touring. In pure comfort, it edges out the the Honda by its seat alone, but it just can’t keep up with the VFR’s potent power and unrivaled handling. As an all-around no frills sport touring bike, the Sprint GT excels.
As a touring platform, the Kawasaki takes the cake, offering the most favorable long-distance amenities in stock trim.
Kawasaki Concours 14 – 130 points:
Believe it or not we hate ties too. But the numbers add up to what the numbers add up to. The Kawi’s engine pulls like an obedient brute, with pure reliable power, everywhere. There’s really no fault to find. But it doesn’t get under our skin quite the same way as the other powerplants. Engineers will toss darts at our mug shot to hear us say it, but can an engine be too refined?
Super comfortable, the Connie is big and built for packing on the miles. Though it feels its size on tighter roads and during low speed maneuvers, riders will be surprised at how this heavyweight handles.
If your métier is piling on miles, the Concours is your bike. Hands down. As Tom repeatedly said as we skirted near the Northwestern-most point of the contiguous U.S., “If we’re heading to Miami tomorrow, I’m taking this sum B.” Regardless of points on a scorecard, if riders weight the touring more than the sport, the C14 wins.
Honda VFR1200F – 142 points:
The Honda VFR1200F, capable of a trackday and thousand-mile tour, delivers high-performance thrills and a refined gentlemanly package.
We’ve sampled some sporty rides over the years in our ST comparos, but none have been in the same class as the new VFR. Claims that it’s really a cheater may have a ring of truth to it, as it does lack the amenities to make it a full touring rig on the level of the Concours. Yet we piled on the miles and we were none the worse for wear.
Ten miles of twisties on the Honda make up for 90 miles of its less than optimal touring prowess. It’s the on-road performance of its V-Four, faultless brakes and class-leading handling that power it to a win in our measure.
All told the Honda VFR1200F delivers premium sportbike performance in a touring capable package. It’s a bike as comfortable on the racetrack as it is in the fastlane.