BMW K1300S vs. Honda VFR1200F vs. Kawasaki Concours 14 vs. Triumph Sprint GT

Long distance calling

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Kevin Wing

2011 BMW K1300S | Price $19,974 (As Tested)

Despite carrying its most convincing muscle toward the top of the curve, the K-bike is quite cooperative down low. What you can’t see is its perplexing inability to build revs in any particular hurry, regardless of where it’s spinning.

Tech Spec

Engine type: l-c inline-four >

Valve train: DOHC, 16v

Displacement: 1293cc

Bore x stroke: 80.0 x 64.2mm

Compression: 13.0:1

Fuel system: EFI

Clutch: Wet, multi-plate

Transmission: 6-speed

Frame: Aluminum twin-spar with single-sided swingarm

Front suspension: Duolever with ESA II

Rear suspension: Paralever with ESA II

Front brake: Dual Brembo four-piston calipers, 320mm discs with part-integral ABS

Rear brake: Brembo two-piston caliper, 265mm disc with part-integral ABS

Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Metzeler Sportec M3

Rear tire: 190/55ZR-17 Metzeler Sportec M3

Rake/trail: 29.6/4.1 in.

Seat height: 32.3 in.

Wheelbase: 62.4 in.

Fuel capacity: 5.0 gal.

Weight (tank full/empty): 569/539 lbs.

Measured horsepower: 146.9 bhp @ 9250 rpm

Measured torque: 89.6 lb.-ft. @ 8000 rpm

Corrected -mile: 10.62 sec. @ 133.03 mph

Top-gear roll-on 60-80 mph: 2.71 sec.

Fuel mileage (high/low/avg.): 43/35/39 mpg

Colors: Blue/white/black, red/black

Availability: Now

Warranty: 36 mo., 36,000 mi.

BMW of North America
P.O. Box 1227
Westwood, NJ 07575

Bolting its handlebar further away from the saddle makes the BMW harder to manage for short people. Pegs are a full inch farther away from the seat than on the VFR, making long-legged riders very happy.

2011 Honda VFR1200F | Price $17,999 (As Tested)

The magic V-4 puts power and torque right where you want them from the bottom all the way up to 10,000 rpm, though it never feels as fast as it is until shortly after those curves cross at 5250.

Tech Spec

Engine type: l-c 76-deg. V-4

Valve train: SOHC, 16v

Displacement: 1237cc

Bore x stroke: 81.0 x 60.0mm

Compression: 12.0:1

Fuel system: EFI

Clutch: Wet, multi-plate slipper

Transmission: 6-speed

Frame: Aluminum twin-spar

Front suspension: 43mm Showa fork with adjustable spring preload

Rear suspension: Showa shock with adjustable spring preload and rebound damping

Front brake: Dual Nissin six-piston calipers, 320mm discs with ABS/CBS

Rear brake: Nissin two-piston caliper, 267mm disc with ABS/CBS

Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart

Rear tire: 190/55ZR-17 Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart

Rake/trail: 25.5/4.0 in.

Seat height: 32.1 in.

Wheelbase: 60.8 in.

Fuel capacity: 4.9 gal.

Weight (tank full/empty): 594/565 lbs.

Measured horsepower: 142.1 bhp @ 10,000 rpm

Measured torque: 81.4 lb.-ft. @ 8750 rpm

Corrected -mile: 10.23 sec. @ 136.82 mph

Top-gear roll-on 60-80 mph: 3.14 sec.

Fuel mileage (high/low/avg.): 47/31/40 mpg

Colors: Red

Availability: Now

Warranty: 12 mo., unlimited mi.

American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
P.O. Box 2200
Torrance, CA 90509

The VFR offers nearly 3 inches less legroom in its comfortably sporty ergonomic equation than Honda’s iconic ST1300 sport-tourer. Otherwise, the more conventionally positioned V-4 makes it roomier than its 727-lb. distant cousin.

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Why the Yamaha FJR1300 was left out of the competition I can't imagine. Triumph? Over Yamaha? Really?
I test rode the Triumph Sprint GT this past weekend. Damn I loved it. Now I'm contemplating a purchase but I really don't have to. I just want to. I would say that it is a touring sport bike where as the BMW is a sporty touring bike. The Honda seems to fall into a the former catagory also and the Kawi falls into a class with the beemer. I also test rode an older K1200 ...r? gt? whatever. And Im just not a fan of shaft drive.
Didn't you forget the FJR1300?  Just a few years ago it came in second to the Concours.

The BMW's sure are intriguing but all I ever hear is high maintenance costs and expensive repairs.  That has kept me on Kawasakis for 17 years.  Bikes and jetskis.  Reliable and powerful.  Best machines out there!
My lemon
Almost 4 years ago I bought my dream bike a 2007 BMW K1200S from Cliff's BMW in Danbury CT. After about 100 miles the bike started to lurch and jerk under 3000 RPM (tough to make right turns without pulling in the clutch and ride at low speed in 1st gear) Well the dealer did not have a fix so I did not have a problem... After repeated attempts to get it fixed finally after the start of my 3rd season they re-mapped it and it has been fine. They even did not charge me...(how nice was that after all that time to find out it was not me and the way I was riding the bike) 3 years ago I went in because my clutch chattered, slipped and would not let me take off fast. Needless to say my 0-60 MPH in 2.8 seconds bike was not. This is not my first bike and I have driven manual transmission cars for 33 years. Clutches last a very long time. I would bring my bike in and Dave the service manager, Brianna a service writer (at the time, now service manager) and Cliff the owner all said "this is normal" I don't think I have it in writing because they did not want it in the records. I went in many times and was told it is normal. The new owner also "said it was normal" at my last oil change  So no help here... so only about 50 miles later I go to trade the bike because I don't think it is normal. What a surprise that I was told I need a new clutch. It will cost me around $1000.00 for the clutch and the housing. Cliff's should have bought my lemon back and gave me a new bike. between the surging and the clutch my bike was a big disappointment and not what I paid for. With a 19K list price and I paid $17500.00 and I still have around 14 payments left. Thanks for listening and I will tell this story to whoever will let me. Needless to say don't do business with Cliff he has an insurance company now and I am sure won't have anyones interest but his at heart.
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