Displacement, as they say, is everything. BMW's straight-six uses its extra capacity--297cc over the next largest, 434cc above the smallest--to great effect. Sure, it gets beaten at the peak by the ZX-14R-derived Concours, but the K16 produces amazing power at very relaxed revs. What the charts don't convey is how quickly it spins up. The Connie and FJR trade punches up the chart until 6700 rpm, where the Yamaha begins to fade and the Kawasaki keeps charging. On the road, the difference is clear--you're looking to short-shift the Yamaha (wishing for an extra gear ratio or two) yet happy to let the Connie reach for the redline. Triumph stepped to the bar with the smallest engine and fewest cylinders. It's still a characteristically exciting triple, but it is thoroughly out gunned by more powerful competitors.
Impressive as the BMW's horsepower curve may be, it's the torque trace that gets us going. That ear-pleasing six rises above 100 lb.-ft. of torque at 4200 rpm and doesn't cross back down for another 2000 rpm. The steep downslope in the last third can't be felt from the saddle. Here's one case where the dyno charts truly reflect real life: The Yamaha is distinctly stronger and crisper right off the bottom than the Kawasaki, which feels a bit soggy; the Connie makes up for it later. And while the dyno saw a slight dip in the FJR's torque output at 4500, the ride-by-wire logic effectively covers up for it on the road. Triumph's small three-pot has the flattest, best-looking torque curve of the four. We just wish it were higher up the scale.