1-Best Sport Tourer?

Best Sport Touring Motorcycle

Part 1 of 5


A better question would be, “is” there a best sport-touring motorcycle?

Speaking from real world experience, the answer is “Yes” and “No.”

On the one hand, there is no clear, class-leading, “best,” sport tourer. However…if you landed on this page and are reading these words, you are likely interested in which may be the “best” sport-touring bike for one specific rider: “YOU.” And that’s something these comparisons should be able to help you with…especially if you are able to handle some controversy and a few practical assumptions.

Let’s start off with a preliminary definition to put us on the same road and going in the same direction….

“Purpose-Built,” Sport-Tourer Definition

Sport-touring bikes blend (compromise) the high-performance characteristics of sport bikes with the comforts and long-range capabilities of luxury-touring bikes. Sport tourers typically have better handling characteristics than the largest touring-specific motorcycles (such as the Honda Goldwing and BMW LT).

Sport-touring motorcycles are more comfortable to take on longer rides than their purebred, sport-bike brethren (such as a Suzuki Hyabusa or Kawasaki ZX14).

Of course you could travel overnight, across country, or even around the world, on any motorcycle, but there are certain features that can make the trip more enjoyable.

This is a short list of hardware requirements for a narrow-focused, PURPOSE-BUILT, sport-touring bike:

  1. Large fairing and windshield to protect the rider from the elements
  2. Saddlebags with ample luggage storage for rider and passenger
  3. Large gas tank to go longer distances with less fuel stops
  4. Shaft drive to eliminate chain-drive maintenance while on the road

Sport Touring Motorcycles

Here are some examples of sport-touring bikes that come factory equipped as outlined above:

Each of the above bikes comes standard with ABS, or has ABS as an option — except for the Concours ZG1000 which does not have ABS available (and is not manufactured anymore).

Someone is sure to ask why there is a Concours ZG1000 on this list, when 2006 was its last model year, having been replaced by the Concours14. Two reasons: One, the original Concours and the Concours14 are so very different from each other that they really are completely unique motorcycles. And two, the original Concours was manufactured for 20 model years (1986-2006), hence, that bike is routinely available in the used-bike market, and is still common currency in the sport-touring world.

The BMW K 1300 GT is the new kid on the block here, having been announced in the fall of 2008 as a 2009 model. This is a revision/upgrade of the K 1200 GT, another exceptional bike. Hence, if you are looking for used bikes, the K 1200 GT would represent a more readily available model than the newer K 1300 GT.

I wish I could say that was all there would be to some controversy on this website. Alas…the following is where the main controversy begins…

Click To Read Sport-Touring Controversy