Mid-range Mile Munchers: Top 10 Sport Tourers of 2021 (up to 1000cc)

Sport Tourers are popular once again with an impressive selection of quality mid-range options boasting myriad of talents - but which is the best in class?

Yamaha TRACER 9

We’ve mentioned previously that Sport Tourers have been increasing in popularity recently as manufacturers blur the boundaries of what exactly defines one, from the dedicated mile munchers to those that still relish a twisting back road, to others that throw in a dose of go-anywhere ability.

It means there are numerous quality options available right now regardless of your requirements, your budget and you performance specifications. 

We’ve covered the ‘big’ Sport Tourers here already but what about the more modest sub-1000cc Sports Tourers? What do you get for your money and which are the best? 

With 2020 bringing us the Yamaha Tracer 9 and long distance focused 7 GT, and Triumph introducing the Tiger 850 Sport, the choice has just widened. To help you make yours, here are our Top sub-1000cc sports tourers, in price-ascending order…

CF Moto 650 GT (from £5,799)

While Chinese brands are certainly a familiar fixture in the scooter and low displacement motorcycle segment, there are still only a handful of options further up the power stakes. However, of all the marques making in-roads west, CFMoto is arguably the most convincing. 

Closely associated with KTM, CFMoto benefits from its credible and modern liquid-cooled engines, proven cycle parts and styling inspired by Kiska Design (who also style KTMs), while it offers a range of larger bikes between 250 and 650cc.

Of its three 650cc offerings, also including the naked ‘NK’ and adventure ‘MT’, the GT tourer is the most relevant here – and also CF’s flagship. It’s a credible sports-tourer, too – within reason. It looks good, is well finished, is comfortable and has decent equipment including a colour screen, two power sockets, manually adjustable screen and LED lights. It handles and brakes well enough, too. 

Instead, what chiefly lets the GT down is its performance. At peak the 650cc twin produces just 60bhp and also lacks much by way of mid-range grunt compared to the similarly sized Kawasaki Versys 650. Then again at almost £2,000 cheaper with prices starting at £5,799, there is a lot of bike for you buck with the CF Moto.

Honda CB 500 X (from £6119)

If your budget is under £7K and want a motorcycle that can rough it up a but when necessary but will largely only look the part then the crossover Honda CB500X is arguably the best affordable urban adventure tourer out there. It was first introduced in 2013 as the adventure-styled variant of Honda’s all-new, A2-targeted, CB500 family, along with the CB500F roadster and CBR500R sports, all three being powered by a new, 47bhp parallel twin in a budget, but capable and novice friendly chassis.

And, by being right on the 47bhp limit yet being smooth, responsive twins when most rivals had less powerful, single cylinder engines, they were hugely popular, too. The X is the tallest, roomiest of the three and was most recently updated in 2019 when it gained a styling refresh to be more in line with the likes of Honda’s Africa Twin and larger front wheel.

The result is the best CB500X yet – still slick, smooth and novice friendly but also roomy, comfortable and genuinely long-legged. Of all the bikes here bar the two more expensive 650s, the CB is undoubtedly the best all-round roadster.

Kawasaki Versys 650 (from £7549)

The Kawasaki Versys has always slightly awkwardly straddled the classes, which allows it to be a broadly talented motorcycle for those wanting versatility (geddit?) or not focused enough for those that need something more specific.

Nonetheless, the adventure/sport hybrid has proven to be one of motorcycling’s best-value all-rounders and has been a popular draw for Kawasaki since its debut in 2006. Based on the punchy, affordable ER-6 parallel twin platform it had roomier, more upright adventure style ergonomics, plenty of weather protection and practicality, with street tyres and wheels it was a decent handler and the 650 twin was a proven performer. 

Best of all, it came at a bargain price. That bike was improved in 2010, given a complete restyle and 5bhp performance boost to 68bhp in 2015. And the result, at not much over £7K remains one of the best value motorcycles on the market. 

Kawasaki also offers a ‘Tourer’ version with panniers and hand guards, and a ‘Grand Tourer’ with an extra top box, riding lights, power socket and more.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 (from £7699)

Kawasaki’s Versys (above) may be good value, but it perhaps loses the title of ‘best value’ to the evergreen Suzuki V-Strom 650 ‘adventure tourer’, which was so successful on its launch in 2004 that it spawned a loyal customer base that today swears by the.

With the SV’s 645cc V-twin, the V-Strom is fun and flexible even today despite its enduring years, while the upright, roomy adventure style chassis makes it a genuine versatile sports-tourer at a relatively bargain price. 

Given a complete overhaul in 2011, the V-Strom adopted its current guise in 2016 boasting 71bhp, plenty of flexibility, great, real world proportions and a surprisingly fine-handling chassis. And although lacking the finesse, equipment and gloss of more expensive rivals, it’s practical and easy to live with, while there are some fantastic deals to be had around now too..

Besides, if you want a bit more, Suzuki also offers a more rugged, off-road XT version with wire wheels, hand guards and so on for £300 more. As with the SV650, Suzuki’s middleweight V-twin have received an engine updated for 2021 to adhere to Euro5, which has resulted in a very slight drop in power. 

Prices for that model have also yet to be released. Either way, however, the V-Strom remains a brilliant and bargain-priced all-rounder.

Yamaha Tracer 7 (from £7,947)

The motorcycle that redefined what we thought was possible from a middleweight budget all-rounder. First introduced in 2016 as a half-faired, roomier, more practical version of the roadster equivalent, the Tracer 700 has been a sales hit for Yamaha in Europe, more so since the latest generation model was revealed in 2019 to bring it right up to date. Adopting Yamaha’s new single digit nomenclature as debuted on the recently revealed Tracer 9, the Yamaha Tracer 7 is a comfortable and refined ride, with performance and handling proving sharper than the Versys or V-Strom.

With a new name comes a new trim too with the more practical GT added to the mix with its panniers, high screen and comfort seat. If you want the best of all worlds, the Yamaha Tracer 7 is the class leader.

Triumph Tiger 850 Sport (from £9,300)

Another newcomer for 2021, the Triumph Tiger has been trimmed and slimmed into a more road-orientated package than its adventure-focused 900cc sibling, becoming the Triumph Tiger 850 Sport.

Primarily a replacement for the erstwhile entry-level Tiger 900 XR, although it uses the same 888cc triple, it’s been detuned and down-specced in an attempt to corner a more affordable market, it packs 84bhp (down from the 900’s 94), offers mid-range punch, features two rider modes, an adjustable screen and even a full colour TFT screen. Costing £9,300, it’s £200 less than the outgoing 900 and promises bags of ability, performance and practicality for a very tempting price.

Honda VFR 800 F (from £9,999)

If you’re a fan of Honda’s original V4 VFR and are tempted by the revived 2014 version, here’s another Sport Tourer you should most certainly consider. Essentially an ‘adventure sport’ version of the latest VFR800 (ie more upright, adventure-style riding position with the bodywork to match), the first version actually predated the VFR by being launched in 2011. 

That version, with its oddball styling, wasn’t a success but restyled and improved for 2015 it’s now a Sports Tourer you shouldn’t overlook. The V4 is as good as ever, ergonomics and comfort (including an adjustable seat) are excellent, it may lack riding modes and the latest bling but it has an adjustable screen, heated grips and a refinement and sense of solidity few bikes can match.

No, it’s not quite as quick or as new as a Tracer 9, but it exudes a competence and reassurance few bikes can match and is fairly impressive value as well.

Yamaha Tracer 9 GT (from £11,197)

If we consider the Yamaha Tracer 7 to be the best Sports Tourer all round, then it is the Yamaha Tracer 900 that runs it a close second… for now. 

Arriving hot on the heels of the new Yamaha MT-09, the new ‘9’ makes use of a new 889cc engine, which bumps power up from 113 to 117bhp and feature a new, lighter Deltabox chassis. 

Until we get to sample it though, we can’t rank it just yet but the outgoing Tracer 900 remains a fine option, while there are bound to be some great deals to be had right now.

The first generation brought brilliant dynamism and value with extra comfort (via a new seat and fairing added practicality (bigger tank, luggage options) while being excellent value. That bike underwent a makeover to gain more comfort and better equipment and looks in 2018, while a GT version, with a colour TFT dash, heated grips, uprated suspension, quickshifter and colour-matched panniers arrived the same year. 

With the Tracer 9 promising to be a cracker (prices notwithstanding) you may want to wait, but if you want to bag a bargain head down to your Yamaha dealership today.

Ducati Multistrada 950 (from £11,995)

There was a time when Ducati used to insist there’d never be a smaller, more ‘entry-level’ version of its sophisticated and effective ‘adventure sports’, the Multistrada 1200. That all changed in 2017 (a full seven years after the debut of the first 1200, mind) when the Multistrada 950 was launched.

 Although lower spec (twin swingarm) and with less power (113bhp from the 937 Hypermotard unit compared to 160 from the by then 1260), the new ‘junior’ MTS was still brisk, fine-handling, sophisticated and versatile – all the things you want from a sports-tourer.

Best of all, though, while big Multistradas were, by then, the wrong side of £15l, the 950 could be had then for under £11K, Better still, it was joined in 2019 by an S version with electronic semi-active ‘Skyhook’ suspension, more advanced electronics, quickshifter, cruise control and more. 

Today, the base version, now at £11,995, still represents the best all-round value.

MV Agusta Turismo Veloce (from €13,990 - £12,563)

MV Agusta does a sports-tourer? Oh yes, in fact the Italian exotica legend has done for years, the Turismo Veloce (Italian for ‘touring speed’) originally being launched back in 2015, although it’s largely seemed overlooked since. 

The Turismo Veloce is ‘adventure sport’ style being upright and with some of the look of an adventure bike about it, so is a bit like an ‘MV Multistrada’ if you squint. But, being an MV it’s powered by the Italian marque’s sublime, potent and raucous 110bhp 800cc triple as used in its F3 800, 800 Brutale and 800 Dragster. 

It’s not perfect; the dash is fussy, the fuelling a bit iffy low down and luggage options are expensive. But there’s now a cheaper ‘Rosso’ version, it’s undeniably classy and effective and it can be a potential steal second-hand thanks to less than favourable residuals.

If most MV Agusta models are bought with your heart, then the Turismo Veloce is probably the marque’s sole offering that is also for your head...

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