Sunday, 16 February 2014

2013 Test Rides, Part 3. Touring / Sport Touring

2013 Test Rides, Part 3.  Touring / Sport Touring

I’ve grouped the touring and sport touring classes into once mainly because in my opinion they are one in the same today.  My idea of a true sport touring cycle is a sport bike with bags, much like my 1999 Triumph Sprint ST 955.

1999 Triumph Sprint ST, what I measure all touring bikes against.

Honda Gold Wing


  1. The handlebar position.  This is a personal “issue”.
  2. It’s too quiet.  Again a personal “issue”.


  1. Comfort King!
  2. The sound system.
  3. Great handling for such a large motorcycle.

After spending 4 days and riding 1,400 km (870 miles) riding this beautiful touring motorcycle through Arizona, including a portion of Route 66, the Grand Canyon and the Red Rock area around Sedona, I now “get” the Gold Wing.

The “big” Wing has been the premier touring motorcycle for over 30 years and for good reason.   It works!  It’s powerful, reliable, can pack more then you need and it’s comfortable.  It also is the best handling large motorcycle I’ve ridden to date.

A word of warning though, if you bring a passenger along, this will be the only motorcycle they’ll ever want to ride on. 

Yamaha FJR1300


  1. The color, and lack of color options.
  2. Include the trunk.


  1. The looks of the motorcycle.
  2. The seat.
  3. This is one fast touring bike.

Yamaha classifies the FJR1300 as a sport touring motorcycle.  It’s really a touring motorcycle that has a great engine and has been put on a bit of a diet.

Compared to the other “sport touring” motorcycles on the market the FJR1300 would be considered “low tech” and a bit of a dinosaur.  That’s what I like about it.  I found the FJR smooth on the road with great wind protection and when you twist the throttle, it goes NOW!

Kawasaki ZX14R

Yes, this is a sport touring motorcycle!


  1. I love everything about this motorcycle.


  1. The engine.
  2. Everything else.

The ZX14R is too big to be a sport bike and it’s too sporty to be a touring bike, however throw some bags on this bike and it’s the ultimate sport touring motorcycle.

I had the privilege of testing this bike with Kawasaki Canada and the only word that comes to mind is WOW!  Here’s a motorcycle that’s comfortable and easy to ride at legal speeds and yet it will launch to “you’re going to jail if caught” speeds with just a twist of the throttle.  The fun and scary thing is 200 kph (124 mph) feels like 100 kph (62 mph) on most other motorcycles.

Which would I buy?  For long days in the saddle, especially two-up, the Gold Wing would be the motorcycle I’d put in the garage.

Gerald Trees

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