New rider looking for a sport touring motorcycle

Joined
Jun 23, 2009
Messages
107
Location
Michigan
I'm looking for an used entry level sport touring bike that's a good value. It'll be used mostly for highway on vacation with a load of fifty pounds or so. A Japanese bike is what I'm thinking. I've never owned a street bike and wonder what kind of recommendations I can get here.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 21, 2003
Messages
12,385
Location
Northern CA
With your limited requirements of "Entry Level sport tourer and load of 50 lb or so" there are a lot of bikes to choose from. I see recommendations for ST1300 but that is on the large luxurious end of the sport touring spectrum and may not be what you want. Outstanding bike. Consider getting a good decent used sport tourer for your fist one and riding it awhile. Until you have few thousand touring miles under your belt, you won't really know what's right for you. A Kawasaki Concours about 5 years old would be a reasonable starting point unless you specifically want something more on the sport side oif the equation.
 
Joined
Sep 27, 2007
Messages
388
Location
Canada
With the understanding that you already have some riding experience...I'd recommend a good used Honda VFR 800. One of the best all-round bikes Honda has ever produced. Does everything well.
 
Joined
Dec 21, 2003
Messages
12,385
Location
Northern CA
 Originally Posted By: paul246
With the understanding that you already have some riding experience...I'd recommend a good used Honda VFR 800. One of the best all-round bikes Honda has ever produced. Does everything well.
+1 That's another good one. If he's looking more towards the sport side, better than a Concours.
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2008
Messages
13
Location
okawville, il
I've ridden and/or owned a few sport tourers over the years. Here are my impressions: Honda ST1100s are great bikes, just a little old fashioned now. Good fairing, good range, decent handling. A real nice engine, just not super powerful. I dig V4s. I put 101k on my '93. Loved it. I put 700 miles on a rental ST1300 and while it was a nice enough bike, it left me cold. Terrific wind protection makes it a great choice in cooler weather. Mediocre seat and goofy styling (especially without the bags) turned me off. Maybe not quite as agile or stable at high speed as FJRs or Concours 14s. Kawasaki Concours 14s: it's all about the motor. I rented one and put 600 miles on it. Handling was so-so. Nice smooth ride though. Fuel range a bit shorter than ST13 or FJR. Fit and finish not so great, even a little cheap looking in spots. Stupid keyless ignition system answers a question nobody asked...super annoying. That keyless ignition is a deal breaker for me. Nice and cheap though, espeically without ABS. Yamaha FJR1300s are my favorite sport tourers. I've owned an '03 and an '06. '03-'05s are a bit more sporty, but their heat management isn't very good...miserable to ride on a hot day. '06 & later bikes are a bit more refined, better touring bikes, have ABS, and have much better heat management. Longer gearing and a little more weight means they aren't quite as good at sport riding as the earlier ones. Two nice features about FJRs in comparison to ST1300s and Concours 14s is the FJR's ability to run fine on 87 octane gas and longer valve adjustment intervals. I'm sort of half heartedly trying to sell my 22,000 mile '06 right now. Check it out on cycletrader.com and search on zip code 62271. BMW R1100RTs and R1200RTs feel a bit slow compared to the four cylinder bikes above. Nice handling though. A little expensive too. Great wind protection. I think of it as a smaller Gold Wing more than a true sport tourer. Plenty of BMW quirks; some guys like that and some don't. Triumph Trophy 1200 is big, feels even heavier than it is, but has a good motor. Chain drive is a drawback though, as is spotty fit and finish. One bike I wish I bought and never did was an Aprilia Futura. It's out of production now, but one demo ride I took almost sold me. Chain drive is a drawback. Super cool styling, good handling and performance. Decent bags. Best seat ever. If I could find a nice used one (not easy since they're quite rare) I'd really think about buying it. Futuras are very much on the sporty end of the spectrum, like a Ducati ST2/3/4. I have an Aprilia Tuono right now and I love it, so I'm definitely a fan of the marque.
 
Joined
May 25, 2005
Messages
4,009
Location
Calgary Canada
Triumph Sprint ST is a great sport tourer, so is the VStrom believe it or not. There's a real spectrum of sport tourers out there from "heavy-tourers" to "light-sporty". On the Heavy-tourers side of ST bikes would be in the BMW K1200GT, Triumph Trophy etc. The concours 14, ST1300, FJR1300 are the iconic sport tourers and are on the heavier side of the middle weights. On the light-sporty side would be the VFR's and the Triumph Sprint ST and then there's everything in between including the Vstroms, my K1200S, Duc. ST's etc. It's a sliding scale of comfort/weight/HP/handling/bag capacity etc. I toured fairly extensively on an 03 Sprint ST and was really impressed with that bike. I like the K1200S because it seems to do most things well, and I prefer to be on the sportier side of sport-touring with decent comfort, but it's no ST1300. A custom saddle would be a welcome addition for my bike, and you'll find this is a common upgrade for many sport-tourers. There's so many great bikes out there, and the first step is deciding what you value in a sport-tourer. Then you can figure out where in that spectrum you want to be. Go over and check out: http://www.sport-touring.net/forums/index.php Some great information is there.
 
Joined
Oct 17, 2004
Messages
3,397
Location
Midwest, Illinois
 Originally Posted By: tuonoboy
BMW R1100RTs and R1200RTs feel a bit slow compared to the four cylinder bikes above. Nice handling though. A little expensive too. Great wind protection. I think of it as a smaller Gold Wing more than a true sport tourer. Plenty of BMW quirks; some guys like that and some don't.
I loved my R1100RT. Used ones in fine shape are easy to find, and could fit a budget better than a new Concours or ST. Heated grips, power windscreen, ABS, shaft drive. The boxer engine is a proven design, and low maintenance. You may never ride another bike with as much built in character as a boxer BMW. I also second the VStrom as a capable sport tour mount. Accessories galore including great Givi bags. Dont overlook it's brother the SV650 and the SV1100. Both torquey V twins, the 650 has plenty of meat to move luggage and your typical 210 pound guy in leathers around. The 1100 gives you more pilot room with a good bar/peg relationship. A decent blast from the past was my 1100 Katana. I had a 92. It was comfy even 2 up with a Corbin gunfighter and lady seat. The in line four was typical.. meaning buzzy, but was simple to maintain being air/oil cooled. I pumped the hollow handlebars full of silicone, put on a Corbin seat, had a magnetic tank bag and a duffle bag as a passenger and rode from St. Louis, MO to Asheville, NC via Deals Gap taking the Blue Ridge from Cherokee. It was comfy the whole 8 days I was gone, and returned nearly 50 MPG. Those were the good old days. Good luck, and if you haven't done it, take the MSF safety course. PS, as an afterthought, I just met a man over Memorial day at the state park we were camping at. Originally from London,, now from NJ. He was "sport touring" from there to wherever on his yearly vacation from work and wife. On the road for 8 days at that point, he was working his way west on a Vespa 150 scooter with an extra gallon of fuel in an aluminum external tank, luggage racks added to the front and rear, and all his gear. Tent, bag, some snacks, clothes, cell, water. Everything was organized, and secure, with an obvious amount of thought and planning. He was getting about 60 MPG loaded, and it was apparent he was having a blast. Dont overlook the new maxi scooters is my point. Aprilia has the 250 SportCity, and the Scarabeo line goes to 500cc. My best friend at work has a new Yamaha T-Max. I have ridden long distances before, and would not hesitate a second to hop on either my current Aprilia Sportcity, or his T-Max, and take off anywhere.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 25, 2007
Messages
1,373
Location
Somerset County, PA
 Quote:
I've never owned a street bike
But, you HAVE ridden off-road bikes? If so, how much? Not trying to be a smart-aleck, but a lot of the S-T's mentioned are pretty potent, and you could get in over your head pretty quickly if you don't have some major seat time. My riding experience was the 'old-fashioned' way, where you started out small (my first was a 65cc CL-65 Honda) then work up gradually through the displacement ranks, but, nowadays that doesn't seem to be the way to go. Assuming you're a big boy who can take care of himself, I'd recommend something around/under 500cc as an entry level bike. There's not a whole lot out there in the "sport-touring" niche, but, something like a Suzuki GS500 would be a great one for a year or so. Then, sell it (they hold their value pretty well) and move up. My $.02. \:\!
 Quote:
take the MSF safety course.
+1!!
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2008
Messages
88
Location
Stockton, NJ
You are wise to go used but all used bikes need attention. The only thing I would add to the above is decide FIRST where you will have the bike serviced. Some will pick up the bike at your house! If you are an hour away from your mechanic you may need to buy a trailer (or a pick up truck). Ask to see the current owner's service records. A well serviced bike with 40K miles beats a questionable 20K bike any day. As a first bike, I think the Honda 750 is king regardless of year. Just add some soft bags and change the oil occasionally. I like the older Concours and the ST1100. BMW K75RTs are really nice also. The new FJR 1300 is the bike I would buy new. But new bikes are an expensive luxury. I enjoy my old bikes and have no need for higher cost toys. The reason I've been riding BMW is that the parts are available regardless of year. Harley is the only other brand that will supply parts indefinitely. My 1985 K100RT cost me $1500 and gets serviced at the dealer. You bring a 1985 Honda to the dealer and he may start laughing.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2005
Messages
295
Location
New Jersey
Concours, FJR, ST1300, even a VFR or FZ1 are great bikes but totally wrong for a first street bike. Way too much power and weight. Look at an SV650 or the more dual-purpose Vstrom650 with the same fantastic engine. Or the similar Versys 650. Yamaha FZ6 is also a great choice for an entry level sport tourer. All these can be fitted with hard bags and a million gadgets and farkles to eat up the twisty miles. And with power and weight that is easier to manage so you can enjoy yourself while gaining experience.
 
Joined
Jul 5, 2007
Messages
3,205
Location
Ball, LA
I really like the FJR1300, really nice bikes. From the reviews I have read comparing the 3 major players, Yamaha FJR1300, Honda ST1300, Kawasaki Concours, the Yamaha FJR1300 is the better of the three "in my opinion", and that is really all that matters to me.
 
Joined
Sep 11, 2007
Messages
10
Location
orange,ca
I have a 2003 Suzuki DL1000/VSTROM. I bought it used with 1200 miles on it about three years ago. I have 9000 or so miles on it now and would buy it all over again. Mine came with the Suzuki hard bags and top box, I have plenty of room for touring. The only mod I did was a Cobra fi2000r fuel injection tuner to fix a lean fuel mixture issue. The VSTROM has an upright seating position and decent wind protection and it is fairly sporty. It was/is my first street bike and it is easy to ride and relatively light 480lbs or so. If you want to tour don't buy a 500cc bike. I had dirt bike experience, like you. If you can handle an open class bikes power you can handle a VSTROM 1000. The newer bikes 2004-2009 supposedly run fine without remapping the fuel injection. Check out (stromtroopers.com) the forum has tons of info.
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2008
Messages
88
Location
Stockton, NJ
Buying a motorcycle is like picking a wife. Your personality needs to match the bike's personality. I have talked myself into and out of every bike mentioned on this thread. A guy I deeply respect told me that my bike was the worst one he's ever owned. It is the best bike I have ever owned and would never consider selling it.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2006
Messages
1,022
Location
Long Island, NY
1st generation (2001-05) Yamaha FZ1. Truly a UJM (Universal Japanese Motorcycle). Good comfort, fast and powerful, good fuel range. Get some soft luggage and a tank bag and it makes a excellent sport-tourer. Fantastic all-around motorcycle. (FWIW, I own both the FZ1 and ST1300) http://www.yamahafz1oa.com/
 
Top