What's the best touring bike? (2)
Kev, did you ever do a review of Crosstourer DCT? Sat on one yesterday and will prob demo it soon (disappointed at fixed seat height)
For a pure touring bike I would go with a BMW 1200RT, I ride lots with a guy who has one and its some machine, great weather protection, plenty of shove from the 110 bhp boxer twin and loads of luggage space with the factory cases, which gives you the opportunity of having some spare capacity to shove jacket liners etc in easily whilst your on tour.
Yes, I could live with one of those!
I run a 990 SMT which doesn't make a bad tourer when fitted with a top box and waterproof bag bungeed to the passenger seat, what it looses on pure touring excellence it more than gains back when the roads get interestingly twisty, a fantastically exciting bike to ride!!
I also have a year 2000 BMR 1100R which has the BMW hard panniers, just done a 3 day, 1,000 mile weekend in Scotland on this and can't really fault it, comfy, handles brilliantly ( I have Ohlin's shocks on it ) and it will squirt up to 110 mph at the twist of the wrist, more than fast enough for touring.
So, what makes a good touring bike?? basically anything your comfy on and can get enough luggage on, and also brings a smile to your face!
In my opinion it was the BMW R1200RT until only recently but now it just has to be the all new Triumph Trophy! Just ordered one after test riding it for a full day. I have had Pan, FJR & RT in the past & all were great bikes but the Trophy comes straight in at top of the class! Kevin Ash has written a review on this website so don't take my word or it! There are numerous reviews on the web & to date I have not found one bad word against the Trophy!
For me the best sport/touring bike is the 2013 Kawasaki ZX14R with, now available in North America, ABS.
A center stand is available from Kawasaki. With handlebar risers and a touring windshield I think it would pass well for a one or two day trip sport/tourer, as long as you are on paved roads.
The engine is reasonably smooth and user friendly and has good 60 – 80 MPH roll on power in 6th gear.
It’s definitely not a tall rounder.
The tank is of sufficient size to get at least 200 miles when ridden at normal speeds.
From other forums the typical mileage, when cruising at normal speeds, was about 40 MPG US or 48 MPG UK. If true, this is not bad for a 190 RWHP motorcycle and is very close to what I am presently getting on my old bike.
I think the prices of the ZX are reasonable for what you get.
I don’t plan on replacing those big mufflers any time soon. Changing them would cost a lot since it usually involves the additional expense of ECU re-mapping or modifications.
I finally purchased a reasonably good Shoei helmet. It’s a big improvement over my old cheap lid which flopped around on my head at speed. The new hat is also a lot quieter and much more comfortable. Should have brought it a long time ago.
Maybe if things work out, later I can pick up a good low mileage 2011 or 2012 Kawasaki KLR650 to explore those roads where the pavement ends.
Well when riding around pisces du europa in N spain i remember shouting inside my helmet thankyou kev and thankyou honda ,(kevs review swung it from me getting a second hand er6f)tho i kinda wished i waited for a second hand one at 4300 for a 3k miler i see on cheepbay. That would of paid for another month in Europe. 16500 miles since feb and i have no intention of selling whatsoever.The nc700x is a cracker and can carry loadsa weight without effecting handling .Of course more powerful bikes are fun but there outa my league for servicing ,tyre life, and mpg.Hope i can squeeze the money for a Norway stint next summer. I Really like the Shoie Qwest but ive ripped apart some eardefenders and used the foam to fill the gap for intercom up to alieviate some low frequency turbulance noise.Its so annoying when earplugs pop out a bit though usually if they survive the helmet being put on there good for a bit. To well inserted they all hurt my ears a bit. Its a poor area of motorcycling in my opinion. Its true i wouldnt brag about my 60 to 80 roll on power but its kinda fun working the bike hard and ive held 95 for long periods where allowed with small stints up to 115 (eventually)I think it will be easy to home maintain too looking at the engine access. I look forward to jag passing me with an even bigger grin on his zx tho :)
At 70 to 80 MPH cruising you still are getting a lot better MPG and are saving a really big bundle in insurance. Here a ZX14R will set me back over $1500.00 CAN per year for insurance.
I won't talk about tyre life and replacement costs.
Crusing at 95 MPH with your Honda is really pretty good and more than sufficient. In the twisties you would have the advantage I am sure.
Imagine your grin when you pass me and have to wait at roads end for me to catch up!
Ok Jag & Kharli then I will pass both of you with a really big smile on my face!
Ok Rob60, enjoy your grin.
First one back wins and buys the beer.
Kharli is toooo cheap and I'll be broke. Especially after having to purchase a trailer to truck the bike home. My loving wife doesn't like me riding in traffic.
Who would want a bike with THREE cylinders anyway. Just doesn't sound right. I have seen a three cylinder tractor.
What's with those BMW's with those big cylinders stuck out the sides? OK for setting the valves I guess. Kind of like 1/2 an old VW air cooled engine. Very old school technology like H-D me thinks.
My is a nice cool lager!
Good choice Rob60,
The one big advantage of the heavy ZX14R is that as a result of it's weight it has a lot of "down thrust". Helps keep the wheels on the ground, or so I have been told.
So it's 600 lbs will really pay off keeping ahead any Ducati in the twisties.
Having done some 220 miles in really rather cold (But thankfully dry) conditions today my 2011 Triumph Sprint ST 1050 is one of the best touring bikes I've come across. The weather protection isn't as good as my previous BMW 1200RT but that triple sound and the horizontal torque curve just make it a cracking machine.
Glad I got the heated grips though!
I met a really nice older guy on a ferry with a really loaded up cbf 125 . It turns out he was a lifelong biker but had had a stroke leaving him weakened and unable to ride heavier bikes . He obviously was thoroughly enjoying himself. I guess any chance of going touring on any bike i would take ,the adventure outweighing any pros and cons of whatever bike, mines a homecrafted ipa if your buying :) ,well if were all a bit short pimping our bikes ill nick some of me m8s homebrew.
Any bike will do, as far as I'm concerned.
Jag, have you actually got the zzr1400 now? If so, tell us more.
Take a look at Blitz Motorcycles website, under "lifestyle" for a more " casual" approach to "touring". Ok, it's mainly an image thing, but what isn't? It lifts the spirits anyway and there are some cool bikes. Some well produced video's.
Main thing is, have fun!
Nice one pittsy. i`m definatly not going to wash my bike now! I wish Scotland would allow that casual riding but it can get truly attrocious. Ah it made me feel like just getting on my bike right now..looks outside ..pouring down on frozen roads covered in hawthorn from the hedge cutting ..sigh.(well i cant actually see a road i live down a dodgy farm track) Maybe we should start a cool link comment heading for days like this when i really cant get out :) I had to go to utube to find a better speed if that helps anyone else but it misses the intro from the blitz site. Yeah bikes are getting a bit away from the i can fix it look but on the other hand they dont need fixing..touches head
"Nice one pittsy. i`m definatly not going to wash my bike now! I wish Scotland would allow that casual riding but it can get truly attrocious. Ah it made me feel like just getting on my bike right now..looks outside ..pouring down on frozen roads covered in hawthorn from the hedge cutting ..sigh.(well i cant actually see a road i live down a dodgy farm track) Maybe we should start a cool link comment heading for days like this when i really cant get out :)"
Really good idea kharli,
Winter is sooo long here in Canada. You get up and go to work in the cold dark and come home in the cold dark for months on end.
I pass the bike every morning when I go to work. Sometimes I give her seat a gentle tap.
To feel inspired sometimes I view the Isle of Mann TT youtube videos. That to me has to be the Holy Meca of motorcycling. The riding skills are at such an amazing unbelieveably high level.
"What's with those BMW's with those big cylinders stuck out the sides? OK for setting the valves I guess. Kind of like 1/2 an old VW air cooled engine. Very old school technology like H-D me thinks."
... hhmm, not sure you've really thought those comments though JAG?
Porsche think opposed cylinders are good enough for their flagships? Nobody ever called a Subaru WRX STI slow? I've driven a Scooby Rally Car and it was positively violent, very easy to crash. The hand built C63 AMG I drove on track was a complete pussy-cat by comparison. I've yet to read a bad review of the new BRZ too.
I notice that my H-D has cruise control, gyroscopic sensors controlled auto-indicators, intelligent management cylinder shut-down (when caught in traffic jams on hot-days), a tank that's engineered without seams, hidden internal wiring, keyless proximity controlled ignition and fenders cut accurately by laser beams. Technology not featured on a ZX14R for instance?
Of course techno stuff featured on the Kawasaki such as Brembo ABS brakes, RBW throttle, fuel injection and light-pull clutch are also present and correct on the 'Olde Skool' cool H-D too.
I think HD engines are an antiquated design on paper. However they look, sound and feel good - which is what matters to cruiser owners, more than outright performance. However, the rest of the bike uses a lot of modern and even unique to HD tech.
Sometimes that tech is on show - for instance, Which manufacturer was first with 'full' LED headlight for instance? HD's 'Daymaker'. Other times it's on show, but not immediately obvious - H-D paint is four times thicker than their competitions. And sometimes it's not visible at all - a Softail shock selling the illusion of a hard-tail frame, for instance.
I'm not saying H-D make the best touring bikes, or are the best marque to own. Personally I'd love a T-Max, an 848 Streetfighter, and a whole host of other bikes to go with my HD, if the funds were burning a hole. All I'm saying is, that modern Harley's are just that. And boxers have pioneered many tech facets such as magnesium heads, telelever, and CAN to name but three.
I think the best two up touring bike at present is probably the (not so nice sounding anymore IMPO) Trophy or an RT for anyone who doesn't need the extra performance or (reputedly, very well balanced) weight of the Triumph. For those touring solo or long weekends with a partner, who prefer lightness, then the best option (and my personal preference) would be the F800GT - it proves that you don't need a whale of a bike, like my own, to tour in comfort with decent practicality at an affordable price and running costs.
I think everyones right and the beers good . and lol jag im a bike patter too. But big country Canada must be great in the summer ,as is Scotland especially in the years when we actualy get one !!
And captain..it was those old thumping H-D from the local biker gangs that probly got me into biking (even tho my first bike was a dumped suzuki ts i used to throw in the back of my truck and sneak into the local gravel pits...followed by a far to long break)they sure have the phwoooor power and jag zz is a truly awesome machine...id be interested actually in the story of all you nice chaps intro into biking if you can spare the time and kev dont mind :) .For me the Ash on bikes site is slowly migrating into an intresting bike orientated social media but i guess thats living in the middle of nowhere :)
CS said. "tank that's engineered without seams"
Weren't a lot of classic, vintage and veteran bike tanks seamless? So in one sense a seamed tank is "modern". A sign of the mass production era of motorcycles. A seamless tank surely though, is a sign of skill and quality? A show of indulgence, when a more efficient and cost effective method is available. Nowt wrong wi that.
Kharli said. "id be interested actually in the story of all you nice chaps intro into biking if you can spare the time and kev dont mind "
There is a thread, going back a few months, started off with that exact aim.
Jag said. "To feel inspired sometimes I view the Isle of Mann TT youtube videos"
Yes, there are some truly breathtaking on board videos from the TT.
Got you Captain Scarlet ;-)
I was hoping if I poked the bear with a little stick I would get a reaction. You really socked it to me.
Great overall summary and all good points CS
Nice to have so many options and types isn’t it.
I think their basic designs have been around for so long probably because they work so well for so many riders. I’m just a little jealous because I don’t have one.
In regards to touring bikes,
I read an article about a chap who toured the world on a 6 HP Douglas many years ago. When people asked how fast does it go he answered, "I'm not interested in how fast it can go, I am only interested in how far it can go."
In regards to racing,
It's not the fastest that wins the race, it's the one that crosses the finish line first.
Kharli said: "Maybe we should start a cool link comment heading for days like this"
"I think their basic designs have been around for so long probably because they work so well for so many riders."
... it's a little bit of that, a little bit of fashion too. In the late seventies/early eighties, most HD dealers were on a hiding to nothing really. The Evo 1340 engine, Arnie's iconic FB and living on the never-never credit in the yuppie late eighties helped drag them out of the mire that might had otherwise been as bad as the AF era. Same with the boxer too. Kicking around since '23, copied by Ural and then not developed for an age. But when BMW tried to kill the line off after the K was introduced, the (then) pipe and slippers brigade got all national home service on them and demanded the boxer stay available. With the demand quantified, BMW built the 1100 and with the help of a well known actor, and another actor who makes his living by being friends with the first actor, the rest is history as they say.
"I read an article about a chap who toured the world on a 6 HP Douglas many years ago. When people asked how fast does it go he answered, "I'm not interested in how fast it can go, I am only interested in how far it can go.""
... times have changed but that's not a bad ethos is it? If I wanted to cross continents on undetermined roads, I'd choose a Tenere 1200 every time. More dependable than a politician's lie.
"It's not the fastest that wins the race, it's the one that crosses the finish line first"
... I rode a circa 260 mile route a couple of weeks ago that I've ridden a few times previously on the Diavel and eXplorer. I was genuinely quite suprised to find out that by the end of the trip I'd actually covered the total distance quicker on the Road King Classic. It obviously wasn't the top end of the HD that made the difference, I was only cruising at 70-85 mph. It was the six gallon tank that didn't need filling up, the thorax protecting screen and the wonderfully comfortable saddle that enabled me to use up twice as many miles between leg stretches. I finished the day more refreshed and was also able to wear more kit and peel off layers to stuff in the luggage as the day got hotter (70F/20C today). Tortoise and hare, who knew?
"Maybe we should start a cool link comment heading for days like this"
.. interestingly Symantec (pedantic?)kicked in to say maliscious cookie on that web link? Maybe it was nothing? This isn't my machine, I use a proper box (Mac) personally! :-D
"I read an article about a chap who toured the world on a 6 HP Douglas many years ago. When people asked how fast does it go he answered, "I'm not interested in how fast it can go, I am only interested in how far it can go.""
If you fancy a good touring bike read try 'Lois On the Loose'. She went from top to bottom of the Americas on a Yam XT225. In another book she covered Africa on a Yamaha TTR250. Lack of power seemed to be more than offset by light weight in most countries. I love that scene in The Long Way Round when the cameraman was literally riding rings round Charlie McEwans big beemers on a little Voshkod. All that said I'd give my eye teeth for one of them big Ural trucks....
On the "first to finish" quote I found, much to my surprise that I often rode faster on the Guzzi Cali (as a solo) than I did on the XJR1300 I traded in for it, particularly on wet roads (not an uncommon condition!!).
"... I rode a circa 260 mile route a couple of weeks ago that I've ridden a few times previously on the Diavel and eXplorer. I was genuinely quite suprised to find out that by the end of the trip I'd actually covered the total distance quicker on the Road King Classic."
Funny you mentioned that CS.
This spring on one of my early outings on the old naked Honda V65 Sabre I was zipping along on a 4 lane highway. Traffic was light. Off in the distance I saw what looked like a cruiser. Full of beans I picked up speed to catch up. The bike was running good. As I got closer I saw that famous rectangular taillight. It was a full H-D dresser with a passenger cruising along at about 75 MPH.
I finally had my big chance to put a H-D in its place. With my head full of thrust curves, RWHP and power to ratio graphs I dropped it down into 5th and let her fly. Boy did she go. I blasted right by that old thumping V2. I so wanted to show what a hot V4 could do. Well I passed the H-D right proper. Got up to over 100 MPH but after a very short time I was done. With the wind blast and a loose fitting helmet flopped back against my neck I slowed down to just over 60 MPH. A few minutes later as I approached my turn off, that old, heavy, low HP H-D had caught up and passed me.
I was finished but they just kept on rolling along as comfortable as can be listening to some tunes.
I ate a little crow that day.
He just looked and smiled as he passed me.
unconventional rebel wrote,
"All that said I'd give my eye teeth for one of them big Ural trucks...."
Is that the truck that carried the bikes across the river?
Now that's a TRUCK! It must be all wheel drive. The thing was half under water and at a very bad angle. I thought it would have turned over in the river.
I don't think even a tank would have tried to cross.
Weren't a lot of classic, vintage and veteran bike tanks seamless? So in one sense a seamed tank is "modern"
... that's a good point Pits. I certainly concede you are indeed right. But, maybe, just as fast-food is a relatively modern invention, efficiency doesn't always equate to progress! ;-D
Good comments Rebel/JAG. Big-twins of all angles and manufacturers that are comfortable, are real easy to click off the numbers on the odometer. I guess it's their galloping lope that makes them the big-easy.
Now that's a TRUCK!
... yes, that was awesome wasn't it! I still think they could of got across it on KTM 125's mind!
.."just as fast-food is a relatively modern invention, efficiency doesn't always equate to progress! ;-D"
Couldn't agree more captain. I wasn't trying to argue (honest!), it was just a thought to mull over, as we are now doing. As has been pondered recently on the multistrada thread, what constitutes "quality" isn't always so easy to define.
I look at the seam welded tank on my 93 fzr thou, and it doesn't look out of place. The weld quality is good, the paint application and whatever corrosion resisting techniques have been employed, have worked well. Mainly though, it looks right because the seam sits very nicely on top of the ally beam frame. On a more "traditional" looking bike, the seam hangs there, all sharp edged and ugly.
Remember the days when bikes had seam welded silencers? Uurgh. Terrible to look at and they would disintegrate into a pile of rust before your very eyes.
Progress. Now that's an interesting word. The opposite being regress? I think we are now in an era of regression, when it comes to quality of manufactured goods brought to market. I fear it may get worse, before it gets better. But can't progress also mean just literally moving on? Look at evolution. It has produced (some would say culminated, but that's ridiculous) us. Are we progress? When it comes to working for the good of the planet, you'd have to say no. Are we a regression? Once we are extinct, will evolution have replaced us with a yet superior product? I just hope the next lot don't make seam welded silencers. : D
In two simple words you pretty much summed up what I tried to express in my entire post.
I like it!
For me you now have two famous bike classification terms,
Tall rounders and big-easies
Progress and change
Things change. Progress is a human judgment of change. Is change good or bad?
If a rock fall down a mountainside is it good or bad? It really depends on your point of view. If you get hit by it then to you it’s a regression. Change will happen if we like it or not. Change will happen with or without us.
In the end change is just an event.
Time will tell
"what constitutes "quality" isn't always so easy to define"
... the best definition I've heard is a succinct one: 'Meets Requirements'.
As requirements are personal and therefore subject, it stands to reason that people's opinions of what represent good, bad, and indifferent, are really down to a mixture of historical and current experience vs their own perceived expectation levels.
If you can clearly define the requirement versus a datum, then you have a good yardstick for measuring quality. E.g. 'The end result must feel better than Ohlins TTX suspension to me'. But in the main it's all subjective.
Vehicle wise, I always seperate 'design, components, fitment and reliability' in terms of quality. Most bikes will have some components which are badly designed, using cheap materials, are shonkily fitted and at some point will give up the ghost. Other aspects will be fit for purpose, utilise quality raw materials, be lovingly attached and represent a paragon of operational reliability. Without evaluating all four aspects which are crucially entwined in their relationships, the overall picture is not normalised and therefore harder to gauge 'quality' wise.
I'm a VP of Quality, and have been in continual improvement / quality roles for a score and ten decades, so I spend a lot of time thinking about all this kind of milarky!
"I look at the seam welded tank on my 93 fzr thou, and it doesn't look out of place"
... I hear you can get used to acne too ;-D
"The weld quality is good"
... I prefered Yamaha's built quality to Honda's in the early 90s. There's not much in it nowadays either. A Fazer of any capacity or age is a good buy too.
" I think we are now in an era of regression, when it comes to quality of manufactured goods brought to market"
... hhmm, I'm not sure I can think of any good examples? Honda certainly dipped from the nineties to the noughties, but the VFR12 and CrossTourer are more VFR800 true to form in terms of build quality nowadays. Harley's are certainly far better built than they've ever been before. They were really ropey 20 years ago and had some bad legacy stuff even a decade ago really. Maybe mass produced goods have taken a step back? Then again, look at the iPad/iPad Mini - how do they make a trillion per week and yet retain that high build quality? I guess some more exclusive items have held their own too - I bought my wife a Mulberry handbag for her birthday and the quality of that is really lush - thinking of making another saddelbag out of it ;-D Anyway, you're probably right in some instances, any examples would be good!
"'Big-easy' - In two simple words you pretty much summed up what I tried to express in my entire post"
... it's a gift! ;-D Journalist Dan Walsh used to have a knack for that. He used throwaway comments like 'stick naked fool' or 'happy as a fat man in a truck' and it just instantly planted the right level of self painted image into your head of what he was talking about. Instead of simply acknowledging his words you were suddenly part of the scenery and along for the ride.
"For me you now have two famous bike classification terms, Tall rounders and big-easies"
... much obliged Sir, all proceeds to the Save the Meercats Foundation. Simples.
"Things change. Progress is a human judgment of change. Is change good or bad?"
... depends on perspective. Judgement and perspective. Is being human a good or bad thing?
"If a rock fall down a mountainside is it good or bad? It really depends on your point of view"
... it really depends on altitude. If one is above it all, it's not so bad :-D
"In the end change is just an event"
... unless the change is evolutionary, or an oxymoron of moving-constant, say 'time' for instance. As David Robert Jones once sang (in '72 I fink?) 'Time may change me - but you can't change time'. Mista Jones was completely wrong of course. There's usually some kind of dial on the back of the clock to account for BST etc. Tschh - what did they teach those kids back in school in them days?
My soapbox is beneath my feet.
Bike riders often confuse quality with specification.
Let me give an example.
Most people would say a paper cup is inferior in quality to a bone china cup.
However if the paper cup is made to specified dimensions, weight and finish then it is a high quality item but made to a low specification, especially if distortion, the resistance to fire and acceptability in the Ritz Tea Room are requirements ( I accept that it would suffice on Sundays at Box Hill )
The bone china cup made to poor dimensional control with distortion and misshaped by lady potters has poor quality but high specification if resistance to distortion, stable surface finish and the ability to withstand repeated dishwasher cleaning are key criteria.
So. what has this got to do with bikes?
BMW have high specification but poor quality as they cannot be relied upon to get you home for tea. Honda have high quality and specification as the Japanese are tea drinkers and anybody at the NEC who looked at the VFR would have stood in awe whilst their Starbucks became tepid.
Kwaka have improved immensely during the past few years but still rely on high caffeine riders who value........go and show at a good price, quality and spec somewhere behind......please discuss.
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