Just what is a sports-tourer these days? Used to be a middle-for-diddle model with zero sex appeal, but these days it could be anything from a superbike with luggage to a purpose-built mile-muncher...
There was a time when motorcycles were grouped together in neat little classes. Have you seen your bike on a racetrack? Yes, so then it’s a Sportsbike. If it’s got a monster engine as well then that makes it a Superbike. Does it have flat bars and no fairing? Yep, well that makes it a Streetbike. We used to call them naked bikes, but Streetbike is far more contemporary. Off-road style tyres and a large fuel tank? That’s a big Trailie (if you’re very old) or an Enduro if you’re more up to date. Does it have panniers, and how big? Large then it’s a Tourer, smaller then it’s a Sports-tourer. Biking was a simple place.
Then things started getting confusing. Streetbikes appeared with half-fairings and pillion grab rails, Enduros popped up with street tyres, Tourers became smaller and lighter and Sportsbikes started to become less peaky and easier to ride. No longer did your class-leading Superbike try to break your wrists while simultaneously giving your left foot repetitive strain injury through numerous gear changes as you chased a wafer-thin powerband. And now, in 2008, things have reached a head. After a discussion in the office none of us could agree on what a Sports-tourer was, so we gathered together four that represent the new breed.
Starting off with the benchmark, Honda’s VFR800. The original Sports-tourer refined over two decades. Then we have the new breed, Triumph’s Tiger 1050 was a big Trailie, then they lost the knobblie tyres and gave it panniers. Next is Yamaha’s FZ1 Fazer. Comfy riding position and fairing matched to an R1 engine and decent chassis. And finally, Suzuki’s monster GSX-R1000. Easy power, great fairing, surprisingly comfortable and with a set of throw-over panniers, capable of any trip you can throw at it. Gentlemen, let’s tour...
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