Top 10s

Top 10 sports tourers

Ten bikes that'll comfortably shrink a country in the blink of an eye​

Comfort and speed, with a dash of great handling are some of the ingredients that make up the perfect sports orientated tourer. Today's Top 10 is a breakdown of the best sports tourers that you can buy.

Sports-tourer buying advice.

With buyers of new sports-tourers migrating to adventure bikes, now’s the time to bag a versatile bargain:

  • These bikes tend to be well looked after by mature owners who service them. Steer clear of anything with any tasteless bolt-ons, small plates, loud pipes, small indicators or other rude boy modifications.
  • Some extras are worth having. Quality hard luggage and aftermarket suspension are particularly worthwhile as carrying capacity is handy and these bikes can do loads of miles heavily laden so original suspension can get tired. 
  • High mileage bikes are not uncommon and can be good value for money – if well maintained and that includes things like greasing the rear linkage, head bearings and looking after suspension. 
  • Buying privately can be worthwhile as you can check out the owner as well as the bike, pay less and these machines tend to hide less horrors than most. Do a data check. www.mycarcheck.com do an online one that includes motorbikes for £3.95. For that money it’s not worth travelling to view a bike without checking it first.

Click next to begin the countdown

10. Yamaha Tracer 700

10. Yamaha Tracer 700

The Yamaha Tracer 700 shares much of its DNA with the MT-07, on which it's heavily based. That’s a good thing – it means the Tracer 700 is powered by that playful, torquey 689cc parallel-twin engine, which delivers exactly the punch you want once you’ve reached some hairpin-ridden European mountain roads. It’s also cheaper than a lot of its competition.

Much like the MT-07, the Tracer 700 could do with some firmer suspension, but its only really noticeable once you’re really shifting on a twisty road.

Its mile-munching credentials are boosted by a bigger tank than the MT-07, more stability courtesy of a longer swingarm, plus a wide and high set of bars along with a screen, so when the inevitable motorway slog begins, there’s decent protection on offer, plus a comfy ride position.

Engine: 689cc four-stroke liquid- cooled DOHC four-valve parallel-twin
Power: 75hp at 9,000rpm
Torque: 50.15lb/ft at 6,500rpm
Weight: 196kg wet

Click here to read our review of the Yamaha Tracer 700.

9. KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

9. KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

Engine: 1301cc V-twin
Power: 173hp
Torque: 106.2 lb/ft
Weight: 205kg (dry)
Top speed: 180mph
 

This list wouldn't be complete without a coule of bikes that specialise in getting from A to B in a hurry, and the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT is the first.

Heavily-based on the bonkers 1290 Super Duke, the 1290 Super Duke GT hasn’t been neutered and its 1301cc V-twin still packs 178hp and 106 lb/ft torque, tempered by lean angle-sensitive traction control and ABS. And while we’re on the subject of technology, the GT also has semi-active WP suspension and a quick-shifter as standard.

There’s no denying the GT’s fire power and technology is complimented by a few additional tweaks such as an adjustable screen, padded seat and larger fuel tank to make it that bit better at going the distance. It’s got all the ingredients to make it the best sports tourer money can buy, and you’ll need a fair bit to own one because at nearly £16k, the 1290 Super Duke GT isn’t cheap, but if a fast, fun, mile-hungry machine is what you’re looking for, you probably won’t be disappointed.

Click here to read our review of the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.

8. Honda VFR800F

8. Honda VFR800F

Once-upon-a-time it was the class leader and although that may no longer be the case, that doesn't exempt the VFR800 from this list. The most recent incarnation of the VFR800 is from 2014, when its changes included new suspension, a new sub-frame and exhaust plus heated grips and traction control.

Powered by a 782cc V-four, the VFR800 emits an addictive sounding howl when it’s revving hard and the VTEC is in full effect.

Good brakes and suspension mean it gets into corners with ease and handles with composure. It feels sporty to sit on – purposeful, like it would happily handle a track day at Almeria after you’ve finished riding there. It’s a sports tourer that’s grown up but exciting, sporty and exhilarating - just like a VFR should be.

Engine: 782cc, 16-valve, liquid-cooled V4
Power: 105hp
Torque: 53.3 lb/ft 
Weight: 242kg

Click here to read our review of the Honda VFR800.

7. Triumph Sprint GT

7. Triumph Sprint GT

Leaning more towards touring than sport, the Sprint GT comes equipped with massive panniers, offering 62 litres of luggage capacity as standard. It’s also got a gel seat plus a huge fairing and a 200-mile tank range. Its single-sided swing-arm gives it a long, 1537mm wheelbase, and the steering can feel heavy but the kickback is good high-speed stability.

Engine: 1050cc, 12-valve, fuel-injected triple
Power: 123bhp
Torque: 75 lb/ft
Weight: 210kg

6. Ducati Multistrada 1200/S

6. Ducati Multistrada 1200/S

It may look more like an adventure bike than anything else on this list, but we like to think of the Multistrada as a sports tourer on stilts. Why? It’s versatile, and a slick blend of comfort, 160hp V-twin performance and superb handling. Thanks to good wind protection and niceties like a power socket and cruise control, the Ducati Multistrada is firmly in your corner when it comes to covering distance – which it’ll do briskly thanks to the effortless way it gathers speed.

The latest incarnation is packed with more technology than ever and is one of the most refined, capable and fine handling bikes in this list thanks to its semi-active suspension, an inertial measurement unit, traction control, cornering ABS and four riding modes.

Engine: 1198cc V-twin
Power: 160hp
Torque: 100.3 lb/ft
Weight: 232kg / 235kg (S)

Click here to read our review of the Ducati Multistrada 1200 and 1200 S.

5. BMW R1200RS

5. BMW R1200RS

There are better town bikes, touring bikes and sports bikes, but you’d have to buy one of each to beat the RS. Three words that come to mind when talking about the R1200RS are: pace, poise and comfort. Pace is provided by the 1170cc boxer engine and its 125hp, which is tempered by traction control and riding modes. It’s a torquey, smooth and rev happy engine that sounds great too. Poise comes from the comfy ergonomics and sweet handling, and comfort is taken care of thanks to a fairing that deflects wind around the rider. The result? An assured sports touring package that's more than just an R1200RT with a bit of fairing added on.

Engine: 1170cc DOHC twin-cylinder boxer 
Power: 125hp
Torque: 92 lb/ft
Weight: 236kg

Click here to read our BMW R1200RS review.

4. Suzuki GSX650F

4. Suzuki GSX650F

Looks like a sportsbike but it’s Suzuki’s budget Bandit with a fairing and a few tweaks (improved rear shock, slightly lower bars). Sports-tourers tend to be premium motorcycles with the capacity and price to match but like the Yamaha Tracer 700, the 650F’s a far more modest machine but still does the job fine. It may not excite as much as faster machines but it’s a hugely competent all-rounder in the middleweight fighter-bomber role. It’s cheap to run with low insurance and servicing costs, inexpensive tyres and modest fuel consumption. Problems are almost non-existent when buying second-hand, but look for evidence of low speed tumbles.

Engine: 656cc, 16-valve, fuel-injected inline four
Power: 86bhp
Torque: 46 lb/ft
Weight: 216kg

Click here to read Suzuki GSX650F owner reviews.

3. Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa

3. Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa

The Hayabusa was top dog for speed and power for years. But it’s a capable, comfortable super sports-tourer too. Gargantuan midrange power, superior handling and more miserly fuel consumption beat the Blackbird but build quality and brakes aren’t so good, plus the Suzuki won’t accommodate a pillion or luggage as well. Reliability’s excellent although aluminium subframes can cause problems (a steel replacement’s available) and there’s the odd gearbox gremlin. An all-new model replaced it in 2007 with even more power and torque but more weight too, and a few revisions in 2012 updated it further, althought in truth, it's still very similar to the original 1999 bike. Still not pretty.

Engine:1299cc, 16-valve, fuel-injected inline four
Power: 175bhp
Torque: 99 lb/ft
Weight: 215kg

Click here to read our Suzuki Hayabusa review.

2. Kawasaki ZZR1400

2. Kawasaki ZZR1400

More of a hyper tourer than a sports tourer, the ZZR1400 has 200hp on tap and is severely fast. The 1441cc inline four-cylinder engine effortlessly accumulates speed, making the ZZR1400 difficult not to ride everywhere at Mach 3. Thankfully it’s also got traction control and riding modes to help keep things in check when things are becoming rapid.

A good set of stoppers and a solid front and mean good stability and balance under hard braking, with the feeling continuing on the way in to corners too.

The ZZR1400 might be a big girl but she handles – better than you might think it has any right to and on track there’s no doubt you’d have a lot of fun hunting down sportsbikes...

… But this is a machine made for rapidly devouring the miles and it’s well equipped to do that thanks to a roomy ride position that doesn’t destroy wrists and a large but firm seat.

Engine: 1441cc, 16-valve, DOHC inline four-cylinder
Power: 200hp
Torque: 103.8 lb/ft
Weight: 269kg
 

Click here to read our review of the Kawasaki ZZR1400.

1. Yamaha FJR1300

1. Yamaha FJR1300

A glove box, electric screen and heated grips. Surely those are three key ingredients for a sports tourer? Yamaha thinks so which is why you’ll find them all on the current FRJ1300, which also gets a sixth gear for 2016.

Powered by a 1298cc inline-four, the engine is flexible and bestowed with a smooth spread of torque.

It’s big, but it handles well and will get cranked over more thank you might expect before things start grounding out. The FJR is rounded off with good brakes, LED lights, a sipper clutch and electronically adjustable suspension.

Panniers take care of luggage needs and are easy to remove, and the heated grips and cruise control are exactly the sort of small but significant features that make the trip from Calais to Cannes that bit better.

Engine: 1298cc in-line four
Power: 146.2hp
Torque: 101.7 lb/ft
Weight: 292kg (wet)

Click here to read our review of the Yamaha FJR1300.

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