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Old 07-31-2014, 12:55 PM   #1
KNanthrup OP
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Sport touring input - CBR1100xx, VFR, FZ1, etc

Looking for some input. I am in a transitional period, and the variables are driving me crazy. I have done a lot of reading on this forum and elsewhere, but I figured there may be newer experiences or ideas to be shared.

What I'm looking for: A sport touring bike (emphasis on the 'Sport'). Power and handling are important. Luggage capabilities are also important (for mostly weekend trips, but up to 1 week). Reliability is important. Reasonable comfort is a factor, but less so than the first two qualifiers. I've done a 2800 miles trip on my CBR1000RR and didn't mind the lack of comfort too much so a couple steps higher in comfort would be great. Fuel efficiency is not really a concern. A big factor, however, is price... I would be replacing my R1100GS so budget is in the ~$3,000-3500 range.

My current experience: I have 3 bikes in the stable; a track bike (CBR1000rr), a dirt bike/supermoto (KTM 380), and a dual sport (R1100GS). I am looking to replace the R1100GS for something more suited to my style. I say this with a bit of animosity, because I truly love the R1100GS. The main problem is that it just doesn't have enough 'sport' to it. I do a lot of twisty carving on long trips and I constantly have the poor thing flogged wide open. It simply does NOT have enough power. Additionally, the 19/17 tire sizing doesn't allow for me to run the style of 'sport' tire that I would like to uphold my confidence. Otherwise the overall comfort, handling, and luggage capabilities have been very good. I love how it feels like it carries it's weight low and it also has full Ohlins suspension, so IMO it feels great in the twisties. If the bike had an additional 40-50hp and normal 17/17 tire options I would be keeping it.

Current considerations: Due to budget constraints, my search has narrowed to some candidates that I believe to be worthy that are within my price range. I am completely open to suggestions that I haven't thought of. The 3 leaders thus are are: CBR1100xx Blackbird, VFR800, and FZ1.

(qualities based on my research)

CBR1100xx: Positives - Smooth engine, plenty of power, normal sport tire sizes, luggage options. Negatives: Heavy, ergos are not the greatest. Unknowns: Handling in the twisties, pillion comfort, reliability, brakes.

Side note: I have a lead on a '99 model that I could pick up for $1k. It is completely stock and has 60k miles and has been sitting for a couple of years. It will need a new battery plus maintenance refresh, and replacement of one fairing. But I figure that I will have about $2k of extra cash to properly outfit the bike and get it properly refreshed. Very tempting.

VFR800: Positives - Good ergos, great engine character, luggage options, lots of aftermarket support, looks good (IMO). Negatives: Heavy, a bit under-powered (IMO). Unknowns: Handling in the twisties, reliability, brakes.

Side note: Is it terrible that I like the 6th gen styling more than 4th and 5th? The popular opinion is that the 5th gen is probably the best of the VFR800, but it looks a bit 'dated' to me like my old 900RR. I might have to decide whether gear driven cams/no silly vtec/lighter weight is more important than styling.

FZ1 (1st generation): Positives - Good ergos, good power, relatively light weight compared to VFR and 1100xx, brakes. Negatives: Carbureted, Lack of protection from the elements? Not my favorite styling, but 'ok'. Unknown - reliability, luggage options, pillion comfort, long distance comfort, handling in the twisties.

Side note: It's hard for me to pick anything bad about the FZ1 as it seems like a good compromise of a sport-tourer. However, I just don't know enough about them to stack them up against the rest. I'd hate to go back to a carbureted engine, but I suppose a well sorted one should be fine.


Ok so those are my initial thoughts, does anyone have some useful input? One of my biggest concerns is that even though my R1100GS isn't 'sporty', it seems to handle extremely well with the Ohlins suspension. I'm really worried about getting something with lots of straight line speed but doesn't handle well. I've upset more than a few sportbikes with the ol' GS, but I don't know how it rates with the bikes mentioned above.

I've also considered the Triumph Sprint ST (955?) and Aprilia Futura as well, but I think the 'exotic' nature of them have sort of scared me away.

Cheers,
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Old 07-31-2014, 01:26 PM   #2
Racerrrx
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I've got lots of miles on a gen1 FZ1, and have ridden most gens of the VFR 750/800. No experience with the Blackbird, but I can imagine it's got similar thrust as my FJR with less bulk. All 3 should be quite reliable and equally mediocre on MPG. The FZ1 is a great bike, I sold mine after 30K+ because it was stupid overkill for the street and I knew it would land me in jail at some point- wanted to wheelie all the damn time. I never got too excited over VFR's, but at 46 they are starting to appeal more- will probably get a 99-02 at some point (800 pre-Vtec). All that said...a $1000 xx sounds hard to pass up...
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Old 07-31-2014, 02:03 PM   #3
Skidmarkart
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1100XX for $1k? Why did you sit there and type the rest of the message man! Get out there and buy that thing. It's a great bike, fits your description well, even at 60k has plenty of life in it, if it was well kept before it got PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome)... and did I mention it's dirt cheap?

If you let me know where it is, I will be happy to go... er... inspect it for you.
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Old 07-31-2014, 02:34 PM   #4
Mr_Gone
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KNanthrup View Post
VFR800: Positives - Good ergos, great engine character, luggage options, lots of aftermarket support, looks good (IMO). Negatives: Heavy, a bit under-powered (IMO). Unknowns: Handling in the twisties, reliability, brakes.

Side note: Is it terrible that I like the 6th gen styling more than 4th and 5th? The popular opinion is that the 5th gen is probably the best of the VFR800, but it looks a bit 'dated' to me like my old 900RR. I might have to decide whether gear driven cams/no silly vtec/lighter weight is more important than styling.
I can only speak about the VFR800, since I've owned one. I also preferred the 6th Gen looks. Great looking bike, in my opinion.

All those positives are true. It will handle very well in the twisties, but obviously not quite as good as most 600cc sportbikes because, as you noted, it's heavier. Reliability: rock solid. The VTEC engine is as reliable as the sunrise. Brakes were good not ABS, but not the worst, either.

As for under-powered: that depends. I rode two-up with my girlfriend (at the time) on the back and never felt like the bike was under-powered so long as I was in the right gear. It had enough torque to power up hills and blast out of corners with no problem. Of course, I'm old and slow and I'm sure other guys could squeak out a lot more mph than I could lay down.

Nevertheless, the VFR is a mix between sport and touring, probably closer to the sport end of the spectrum. Of course, sportbikes will be faster and touring bikes will be more comfortable. This is right in the middle. I did several 3,000+ mile trips on one and never had a problem with the bike.

Hope this helps.
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Old 07-31-2014, 02:44 PM   #5
TheBigTEA
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I can comment on the Black Bird and the Interceptor as I own one and used to own the other.

I went from a 1997 900RR to a 00 1100xx

The added power of the 1100xx did not make up for the gain in weight, loss of agility and I found the 1100xx to be less comfortable than the RR. I am 6' tall with shortish legs and longish torso. I will go on record and say I did not like my Black Bird all that much and was not at all sad when I sold it.

I recently went from a 2001 929RR to a 2006 VFR800.

I LOVED my 929. I mean I LOVED it. If that bike was to become a woman I would have married her straight away. Fast, agile, comfortable and gorgeous looking. One of my favorite bikes I have ever owned. 25k miles of trouble free ownership.

All that said I think I like my VFR better. It is not nearly as fast but I don't feel like despite the great gain in weight that it is any less agile in the corners. The weight seems to melt off the bike when in motion. And with the SGT seat the bike is all day comfy. And the V-four sound...man oh man. The V-tec doesn't really bother me, but I do miss the sound that the gear driven cams made (I had a 94 VFR).

My vote is for the VFR. Watch out for electrical gremlins (Stator, R/R), though the Sprint and Futura both have their appeal to me too. A V-twin and a triple? Yes please. I don't think the Triumph would be too exotic as they have a pretty healthy dealership network. Aprilia though..at least in my area would be rough.

Hope that helps!

EDIT: The 6th Gen is far and away my favorite looking VFR. Though the 2014 is catching up. The pics don't do it justice, go see one.
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Old 07-31-2014, 02:53 PM   #6
gearheadstu
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Came here to suggest the Futura, good to see its already represented.

Don't let the supposed exotic nature of the Aprilia throw you; to me, "Aprilia" is basically Italian for "Honda" in terms of fit, finish, and reliability. YMMV of course. That said, you're basically local to Moto International, a really well-regarded Aprilia shop.

And, while I hate to be that guy that recommends what I ride, if you are into the idea of the Futura, you might also check the Aprilia Falco. Sportier than the Futura, and as long as you're cool with soft luggage, can be a brilliant SPORT-tourer too.
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Old 07-31-2014, 03:02 PM   #7
Tim_Tom
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I'd also suggest the big Bandit and the mighty ZRX. Both provide a very torquey thrill and plenty of comfort for one or two. Both can be had in you budget with plenty of after market luggage solutions.

Perhaps also a ZX 12 could be tweaked into a good sport tourer.
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Old 07-31-2014, 03:10 PM   #8
dustin2
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I have owned a 1st generation FZ1 and currently ride a 6th generation VFR. Some thoughts:

On paper, the FZ1 is fantastic but I never really got comfortable with it. I found it big and clumsy in a certain way and I never fell in love with the chassis. I didn't enjoy the handling nor the ergonomics.

The motor was incredible and extremely well sorted for a carbureted motor. Very smooth, always started, never had issues. The engine would pull from 6th gear at any speed and pull hard. It was easily capable of 50 MPG despite the 140 hp.

The VFR, on the other hand, is a special bike. It's a joy to ride and hides its 540 lbs very well. The fit & finish are incredible and despite the sportier ergonomics, it's comfortable for 600+ mile days. The chassis is excellent and very well sorted for a stock bike. Handling is really very good and it's very stable & confidence inspiring.

The V4 is a great motor but it really lacks low end torque compared to the FZ1. Passing requires a downshift and to really get moving, you have to be above 7000 RPM ('in VTEC' if you will). Above 7000, it's a fantastic motor. Below 5000 RPM there are some fuelling issues that may or may not be fixed from 2006-onwards. I have a 2002, the first year. They also smoothed out the VTEC engagement which is a little less 'sudden'. You should find yourself averaging 40-45 MPG.

I love my VFR. Of all my 12 bikes, this is the favourite by far. It's the kind of bike that exceeds your expectations and definitely exceeds the spec sheet
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Old 07-31-2014, 03:14 PM   #9
TheBigTEA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dustin2 View Post

The motor was incredible and extremely well sorted for a carbureted motor. Very smooth, always started, never had issues. The engine would pull from 6th gear at any speed and pull hard. It was easily capable of 50 MPG despite the 140 hp.

The VFR, on the other hand, is a special bike. It's a joy to ride and hides its 540 lbs very well. The fit & finish are incredible and despite the sportier ergonomics, it's comfortable for 600+ mile days. The chassis is excellent and very well sorted for a stock bike. Handling is really very good and it's very stable & confidence inspiring.

The V4 is a great motor but it really lacks low end torque compared to the FZ1. Passing requires a downshift and to really get moving, you have to be above 7000 RPM ('in VTEC' if you will). Above 7000, it's a fantastic motor. Below 5000 RPM there are some fuelling issues that may or may not be fixed from 2006-onwards. I have a 2002, the first year. They also smoothed out the VTEC engagement which is a little less 'sudden'. You should find yourself averaging 40-45 MPG.
I can confirm that the fueling on the 06 is still "snappy" under 5k at less than 35mph and that the V-tec engagement is not always awesome. A PCIV cleans both of these issues up though.
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Old 07-31-2014, 03:17 PM   #10
dustin2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBigTEA View Post
I can confirm that the fueling on the 06 is still "snappy" under 5k at less than 35mph and that the V-tec engagement is not always awesome. A PCIV cleans both of these issues up though.
The fuelling was a bit shocking after coming straight from a Honda 919 to the VFR. The 919 was perfectly fuelled and flawless from idle to redline in any condition. Fantastic motor. I was sort of expecting this with the VFR but was a little disappointed. You get used to it, though.
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Old 07-31-2014, 03:41 PM   #11
klaviator
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I had an R1100GS and put 87000 miles on it. On tight twisty roads I never felt at any handicap compared to guys on sport bikes. Of course it starts to lack power if running at triple digit speeds. Compared to the GS, a VFR800 I rode steered like a truck. I never rode an FZ1 but recently rode an FZ8 which is supposed to steer lighter than the FZ1. It also felt truckish. I'd imagine the CBR1100XX would be the same but that's just a guess.

I'm sure any of these bikes will outperform the the GS on high speed roads and also be more comfortable cruising at high speeds. So you have to decide what is most important to you and where you will be doing most of your riding.
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Old 07-31-2014, 04:21 PM   #12
Rotoride
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There aren't many on craigslist right now, but the BMW K100s pop up here in seattle pretty frequently. It's a great engine and luggage is usually standard with the bike, and they can be had in your price range, I've also seen R1150RS's in that price range.

Why are bikes in seattle so expensive? maybe it's the time of year?

The FZ1 is a really nice bike, it would definately have the performance. The gearboxes on them are less than stellar though, I've never read about bikes with more bent shift forks than on the FZ1 and I've personally known people with them that have that problem.

The suzuki 1200 bandits can be had in your price range all the time, they have massive power and handle well. You might even have 500 to 1000 left over after getting one of those. They are great bikes although the engines are a bit primitive.
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Old 07-31-2014, 08:01 PM   #13
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Boom!

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Suzuki-Bandi...US_motorcycles
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Old 07-31-2014, 08:18 PM   #14
lake_harley
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Is your current CBR1000RR not street legal, or is there some reason you just wish to keep it for track only? Since you've already done a long trip on it (or anonther CBR1000RR?)and didn't sound like you found it unbearable, I was thinking put a set of helibars on it to improve comfort by a bit and you already have your SPORT touring bike in the garage! Go back to regular clip ons for track days.

Just thinking......

Lynn
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Old 07-31-2014, 11:06 PM   #15
KNanthrup OP
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Originally Posted by lake_harley View Post
Is your current CBR1000RR not street legal, or is there some reason you just wish to keep it for track only? Since you've already done a long trip on it (or anonther CBR1000RR?)and didn't sound like you found it unbearable, I was thinking put a set of helibars on it to improve comfort by a bit and you already have your SPORT touring bike in the garage! Go back to regular clip ons for track days.

Just thinking......

Lynn
Hi Lynn,
I appreciate the input, sometimes such simple concepts can be overlooked. The reality is that sometimes I think that I am trying to replicate the experience that I get my from my cbr1000rr but unfortunately that bike now runs full race plastics and race tires. It is still possible to convert back since I have the oem bodywork, but given the effort of doing so, plus having tires that won't operate properly at street temperatures, keeps me from doing so. In addition, it would be nice to have normal luggage capabilities rather than a backpack, and although comfort is a secondary concern, it would be nice to have something at least slightly better than a superbike. I think that ultimately I am looking for the best compromise. At 28 years old, im still willing to try stupid things.
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