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Old 06-29-2012, 09:06 AM   #1
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Sport Tourers; Where Art Thou?

I've come to the rather inescapable conclusion that sport touring motorcycles are among the rarest forms of transportation on Earth.
No matter where I go - unless it's to a bike rally - they are invisible. Nowhere to be found. On a motorcycle trip recently on my FRJ1300 covering about 1,400 miles I spotted ...
  • Probably 3 BMW R1200RTs
  • 1 BMW K1200S
  • 1 BMW R1100RT
  • 1 BMW R1150RT
  • 1 Triumph Sprint
  • 2 Honda ST1300s
  • 1 Honda ST1100
  • 1 Kawasaki Concours14
  • A couple of "I can't quite make that one out"s
In all those miles. In great motorcycle country.
The rest were old beat standards, dirt bikes, Gold Wings and, of course, Harleys.
Thousands and thousands and thousands of Harleys.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
But it really brought home to me once again, after riding for so many years, that the sport tourer is an odd bird that defies convention and appears not to appeal to very many people, which I find puzzling. To me, they're bikes that do so many things well (as long as it's on pavement).
What's your theory as to why sport tourers don't sell very well?
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Old 06-29-2012, 09:54 AM   #2
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I believe it is the fact that there are inherent compromises that neither the "sport" group nor the "tour" group are really prepared to accept.

Many that are looking for the sport attributes complain that the sport tourers are too heavy and don't have a sophisticated enough suspension, yada, yada, bitch, moan, ad naseum. (they want a GSXR-1000 that does not make them sore in the morning).

Many of the touring folks want true recliner like seating position and the wind protection of a civic with its windows rolled halfway down, telephone, stereo, coffee maker, active radar, (most car-like ride possible). If Lazy-Boy actually made the motorcycle seat you might be able to sell an FJR to this group.

Just look at the ridiculous farce the FJR 1400 thread turned into.

The other thing is that the majority of riders don't actually ride that far. Just look at how many bikes on this "adventure" forum are sold inteh flea market with < than 10k miles.

I just bought a used Bandit 1250 that I have put a couple of "touring" accessories on. Mostly because I could not afford the FJR that I wanted.

My sportbike friends call it a fat, slow pig and my touring friends want to know how I can stand having my knees bent that far for more than an hour...yada yada...

But I can go out and hang with/have a good time with either group.

Me and the Bandit are going to go cover ~1200 miles on the long 4th of July weekend.
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Old 06-29-2012, 09:55 AM   #3
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Neither fish nor fowl: not as sporting as a true sports bike (to heavy) not as comfortable as a true touring bike (less wife appeal). Then again, "adventure" bikes are rarely the best at any one thing either and they seem to be doing well. My guess would be that has more to do with image and the lack of available standards tho. Cruisers and crotch-rockets have become entry bikes for many. The folks I know on sport tourers tend to have many miles/bikes under there belt. That by definition tends to be a smaller group.
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:06 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Incredulous View Post

Me and the Bandit are going to go cover ~1200 miles on the long 4th of July weekend.
You go!
The Bandit's a terrific sport tourer and don't let anybody tell you differently.
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:22 AM   #5
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I have definitely noticed the same absence of sport-touring bikes, especially when I went on a cross-country trip.

There are two questions here:
1) Are there really that many fewer sport-touring bikes?
2) If there aren't really that many sport-touring bikes, where are they hidden?

For #1, the 'real' answer could be found in the number of bikes sold and registered. I dunno, but I'm sure those figures are out there.

I can easily see that the number of sport-touring bikes might seem under represented by the natural inclination for sport-touring riders to be on "b-roads", which are numerous and out of the way.

I have a Kawi Concours 14 (GTR 1400), with 32K miles on it. I avoid highways and actively seek out fire-roads. I am proud of myself when I find roads where I don't see anybody.
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:27 AM   #6
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I've had a few sport tourers, I found them boring to ride unless you go fast; like sport bikes on the street, yawn. If I want to rip, I'll get on the grid. American roads/laws are not really compatible with the way I like to ride if I'm on a sport touring bike. My last one was a BMW R1200ST ... great bike.
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:31 AM   #7
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1. Cost (most don't have that much free $$ to spend on a toy)
2. Time (most don't have the time to go touring)
3. Style (most ride what their buddies ride, and that means HDs or other cruisers)
4. Monofunction (other than sport touring, sport tourers aren't really very good at much else)
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:35 AM   #8
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Don't most people use their "ADV" bikes more as sport tourers? Whether they use them that way or not, I suspect they are what most people who used to buy Sport Tourers are buying these days.
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:40 AM   #9
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personally, I think your definition of sport tourers is already pretty wide if it encompasses RT's. I don't mean to open a can of worms, but a sport tourer should have a bit better performance than what the RT offers... anyway, that's just personal I guess.

I ride a sprint, and so far, it is just about the best bike in all aspects that I've ever owned. Nonetheless, the sprint GT that my nearest triumph dealer has on the floor, has been there for a very long time, and he just can't seem to give it away... a pity really. One ride on that triple and you're sold.

I guess the squids want higher HP numbers, and the tourers want more amenities..
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:44 AM   #10
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They are for people in the middle of their riding career. Done with sport or dirt, not yet ready for a Goldwing or Geezer Gide.

They also are not sold to lifestyle types - a squid wants a sportbike and a pirate wants a chopper, bobber, or bagger. Nobody really wants a sport-tourer - they buy them because they work. In a land where bikes are toys, that is a pretty small group.
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:52 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garp View Post
Don't most people use their "ADV" bikes more as sport tourers? Whether they use them that way or not, I suspect they are what most people who used to buy Sport Tourers are buying these days.
That's the gist of it in the UK and Europe; twisty but badly-maintained roads are better served with the 800cc+ ADV bikes that the old sckool sports tourers.

That said, no-one in europe would regard an RT as a sports-tourer; that's firmly in tourer territory, probably because we don't associated Harley with 'touring'. All relative I guess.
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:56 AM   #12
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Oh, some really good, thoughtful answers here ...
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:57 AM   #13
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I guess I consider the RT a sport tourer because it has removable hard bags, isn't as large as the LT or a Wing and handles very well with a decent motor.
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Old 06-29-2012, 11:06 AM   #14
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ADV bikes have also taken over a displacement category that used to have sport tourers.

Not long ago there were 800 VFRs, Sprint 855-955-1050, Duc ST2/3/4, Futura, etc.

Now we have Tiger 800/1050, F800GS, Wee Strom, duc went the Multistrada route, the VFR is a big $$ boat, Sprint gained 100lbs to be a GT then was discontinued for a 1200 shaft drive version.

The Kawasaki Ninja 1000 is the one of the few left on the light and sporty side of the S-T continuum. F800ST as well, though I don't like it.

Peeps like me just buy middleweights and look to the aftermarket for the 'touring' parts.
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Old 06-29-2012, 11:15 AM   #15
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The last numbers I saw on sport tourer sales was 6% of the U.S. motorcycle market, with cruisers constituting 51 %. IIRC, sport bike sales were under 10%.

I have noticed that in Europe, they are much more popular than in Canada / U.S.

My theory on why sport tourers aren't more popular is that most riders don't like the riding position, and most riders don't want to go super fast. And, as Grainbelt mentions, they're not lifestyle bikes.
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