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

Long distance calling

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Kevin Wing

And the Winner Is...

Add up all the numbers. Think long and hard. The best sport-tourer still depends entirely on what sort of sport-touring you have in mind. Fast? Leisurely? Transcontinental hauls? Day trips? The winner should handle all that comfortably, two-up or solo, for a rational amount of money. Day or night, spring, summer, fall or winter.

If going long and fast trumps everything else, including the price tag, BMW’s biggest sporting four will go longer and faster than anything here. In exchange for unflinching physical and financial commitment, the K1300S delivers unwavering stability, precise handling and the sort of top-end rush usually reserved for pilots of Hayabusas and F-22 Raptors.

Devotees of clever engineering in search of a motorcycle that looks, feels and acts like no other will get one taste of that intoxicating V-4 and go with the Honda. It’s expensive for what you get. Stopping for fuel every 140 miles gets tiresome, and there’s that sloppy driveline to contend with. Carve the heart out of a tight second-gear corner, ease the horizon back to horizontal and pull the trigger at 6500 rpm. The VFR will give you 142 reasons to forget everything else.

The Triumph makes a simpler case, showing up with everything you need for a price more people can afford and never mind the rest. No electronic accoutrements. No electrically adjustable creature comforts. Just a comfortable, cooperative traveling companion for any stretch of pavement. Spend the money you save to amend a shortcoming or two, or on gasoline and cheap motels. Your choice. Therein lies the Sprint GT’s real beauty.

Then there’s the winner. Other bikes can run quicker here or feel more capable over there, but only one is very, very good at all the things that makes a big, fast sport- touring bike truly great. All hail the winner: Kawasaki’s Concours 14.

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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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