BMW, Honda, Yamaha | Sport Touring Motorcycle Comparison

Velocity. Luxury. Gadgetry.

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Kevin Wing

Pillion Parts
When you're passenger is happy, life on the road is a beautiful thing. But since the inverse is also true, choose carefully. Our pillion pilots liked the Honda's roomy accommodations best, complaining only about reaching back too far for the grab handles. BMW grab handles are more convieniently located, and its smaller pillion pad feels firm in the morning but perfect after 500 miles. The FJR's performance depends on the size of your passenger. Though repositioned pillion pegs are a welcome change, tall types still wished for more room. Especially after lunch.

Sport Touring Electronics: Essential or Extraneous?
"It's a fine line between clever and stupid" Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap
As soon as a digital ignition replaced your points and condenser, you knew the computers were coming. CDI begat EFI, ABS and GPS, and more electronic acronyms turned up every year. Like it or not, the modern sport tourist is surrounded by some degree of electronic gadgetry. Those of you who think that's a bad thing can fire up your Enfield Bullets and shove off. For everyone else, the question of which bits of sport-touring bright-think are actually useful (and which just drain the battery) is a good one. That's what we're here to figure out.

Ergos Explained
Settling into the FJR saddle reveals the most neutral, natural riding position of our long-playing trio. Offering a paradoxical combination of the tallest seat and the least legroom, the BMW's 10.3 inches of handlebar rise make its upright posture comfy enough, though it takes some getting used to. The ST1300's ergo package leans you forward at a more aggressive angle, but factor in more legroom than the other two and it's the most humane way to cover a lot of ground in a hurry.

Off The Record

Brent Avis - Hired Gun
Age: 30
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 200 Lb.
Inseam: 35 In.
Nobody likes sitting perfectly still for hours on end, especially in oppressive heat with nothing to drink or eat. But that summed up much of our lives with these travelers. Traveling across the country, these bikes make the worst parts of what is otherwise a rolling re-awakening of senses bearable, at the least. Pleasurable at best. Hey, we even have heated grips on two of the bikes here should the weather ever return to double digits. The Honda doesn't come so equipped, but I'll take it anyway. At the core the ST really is the well-sorted bike here. It fits my lanky structure well, and it doesn't come with GPS, electronic suspension or a computer controlled gearbox, which makes it that much more focused on the job at hand. Travel. And sporty travel at that. I'll spend the money I save on nicer hotels and libations when I get where I'm going.

Charles Everitt - Senior Editor, Motorcyclist
Age: 52
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 168 Lb.
Inseam: 32 In.
In more ways than I'd like to admit, I'm disturbingly average, especially when It comes to my height and weight. Among these three lardy, gadget-encrusted sport-tourers, that's a supreme disadvantage, especially when I'm trying to execute an otherwise simple slow-speed maneuver such as a 180-degree turn. These things' size and weight works against me enough that I wouldn't consider buying any of them. Yes, I can appreciate the luggage- and passenger-carrying benefits of these bikes' bigger-than-average dimensions, but I'd be infinitely happier riding, say, Honda's Interceptor-especially considering the big chunk of change I'd be saving as well.

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