Church of MO: Sport Tour 2006!

It’s an ill wind that blows no man good. Two years BC – Before the Crash – your sport-touring choices were considerably less plenteous than today. Or maybe these were the only three the crew could round up at a time when online mags were still scrambling for equal rights? Twelve years on, in the reign of Trump, if you got the money, honey, we’ve got many more great S-T/ ADV-bike options. Let us pray.


Sport-Tour 2006

BMW K1200GT :: Triumph Sprint ST :: Yamaha FJR1300AE

Kilroy Wuz Here.

That cryptic message, accompanied by a goofy drawing of a little guy with a big nose peeking over a wall, has been spotted in every corner of the planet. But what does it mean and where does it come from? There are those who say an anonymous GI scrawled it on the bulkhead of a troopship bound for North Africa in 1942. Others say it was actually invented by an unknown Australian or Kiwi soldier in WWI. Still another version of events is that Kilroy was a supervisor in a Connecticut shipyard who approved his riveter’s work by chalking the missive on finished bulkheads. Which is true? At this point, it’s impossible to know, so pick your favorite.

Three bikes, three different countries, three ways to sport tour.Three bikes, three different countries, three ways to sport tour.

So the same can be said of the ideal parameters of a sport-touring motorcycle. It can vary from something just short of a Honda Goldwing all the way to a single-cylinder MuZ Traveler. There are a few elements we can safely agree on, though. First, it must be comfortable, or at least more comfortable than your average racer replica. Second, it must have good wind protection, enough to keep you comfortable at triple-digit speeds. Third, it must be able to handle twisting roads with better-than-average competence. Finally, it should have locking hard luggage and humane passenger accommodations.

We here at MO realize that many non-ST bikes can be modified to meet the above criteria. Luckily, many manufacturers do it for you already, so you don’t have to. Otherwise, you would all buy Honda Nighthawk 750s and modify them however you require, and the MO staff would have to get real jobs. Fortunately for everyone concerned, you have lots of choices.

We know there are bikes that lean towards the very sporty end of the spectrum, and there are bikes that are so big, squooshy and comfortable you might as well get a full-dress touring rig. What we’re concerned with is the bikes that we think have the best balance of performance and comfort for us and how we ride. For this test we took three that we hadn’t tested and had an impromptu tour de California to see how they stacked up.

The bikes we chose have the most modern of everything, and are loaded with electronic, mechanical and styling innovations. From BMW, fresh from Managing Editor Pete Brissette’s intro report is the K1200GT. The Triumph is the Sprint ST, and the heavily revised and revamped FJR1300AE with anti-lock brakes and electric shifting represents Yamaha’s sport-touring ideal.

Bikes in hand, we needed an extra rider. Friend-of-MO Jack Straw is always available to drop everything, call in sick and spend a couple of days on the road with the regular crew of MOrons.

The destination was San Luis Obispo, heart of California’s Central Coast and more importantly, the center of hundreds of miles of twisty roads. It also has what must be the highest number of brew pubs per capita of any city in the USA. What more do you need? After hundreds of miles of riding, evaluating and trying to get phone numbers from co-eds, we had enough data to speak semi-intelligently about this trio of sport tourers. How do they measure up? Read on.

Meet the MOrons

Jack Straw

It's so windy!It’s so windy!

Jack Straw is MO’s local whipping boy. He lives a stone’s throw from the office, and he likes to throw stones. In order to fit in with the rest of the world and its demands that one have a “real” job, Jack dons the hat of a veteran tool and die maker. We don’t know if he has ever come close to dying while making tools, but he does make one helluva cool helmet lock extension out of titanium.

Jack is also a veteran of the road. He’s been riding, buying, fixing and selling motorcycles for about a millennium. And he’s been on a 1988 BMW R100GS for most of that time; he loves to travel by bike. Whether it be commuting or taking his wife on a trip, he’d rather do it on a motorcycle if at all possible.

When he’s not carving government-spec bits out of hunks of metal, he’s adding hunks of metal to his collection. Jack is a card-carrying anything-related-to-motorcycles pack rat, and damn proud of it!

His home garage and various storage spaces vary between full and slightly less-than-full. If he spots a rusty spoke from a 1973 Hodaka Ace lying in someone’s backyard he’ll find a way to get it, make use of it, re-sell it or store it for a future project with odds of completion rivaling the odds of winning a Nigerian lottery. Oh, we almost forgot. Jack also has the best working knowledge of California Speedway racing of anyone MO has ever known. Sounds like we should hire him…

This is not a picture of Pete. We wish Pete were this delicious.This is not a picture of Pete. We wish Pete were this delicious.

Pete Brissette, Managing EditorWith a heart of gold and fillings to match, a day with Pete is like a day without sunshine.

Working harder then Michael “Brownie” Brown and Don Rumsfeld combined, Pete’s been with MO for so long he’s practically a fixture.

He has mad knowledge of all things street and touring-related and spends much more time riding motorcycles than crashing them.

Al before he shaved his legs.Al before he shaved his legs.

Alfonse Palaima, Executive Editor

Alfonse will soon be starting his fifth year at MO, but don’t let that fool you; he’s actually a very skilled and capable…something.

It’s not every day you meet a guy who can take beautiful photographs, ride with more-than-marginal competence and do all that computer stuff necessary to make our site look pretty in that charming mid-1990s way.

Gabe Ets-Hokin, Senior Editor

What do we gotta do to get rid of this guy?

Thanks to the miracles of the modern pharmaceutical industry and a prescription pad a forgetful oral surgeon left on the bus, Gabe has made it through another year of shootouts, press intros and one-on-one basketball games.

Although he talks big, we’re suspicious of his claims of vast motorcycling knowledge and are looking to outsource his job to India.

The Contenders

Triumph Sprint ST
$10,899, $11,699 with ABS (2007 MSRP)

For those of you who desire a more sporty sport tourer, Triumph presents their Sprint ST. It was completely revamped for 2005, but this is the first time MO has had one for an extended test.

Triumph has decided to focus on three-cylinder motors for their entire sporting lineup, but that’s a good thing. They do three cylinders as well as anybody, and are known for smooth, torquey, reliable powerplants that combine the good characteristics of two-cylinder and four-cylinder engines.

This is the latest iteration of Triumph’s three-cylinder powerplant. The 12-valve cylinder head tops a block with 79mm bores and a 71.4mm stroke. Compression is 12.0:1, and mixture is ushered in there with multiport, sequential electronic fuel injection. A six-speed gearbox and X-ring chain final drive get those horses to the pavement. Our last ST we tested in 2004 gave us 109.65hp and 67 foot-pounds of torque, and judging by Triumph’s claimed crankshaft figures of 125hp and 77 lb-ft of torque, we expect this bike to make about the same (we’re sorry to say we didn’t have a chance to dyno any of these bikes).

The chassis has been revamped as well. The twin-spar aluminum-alloy frame is different from the Speed Triple’s, looking simpler but no less rigid. It puts 57.4 inches between tires, using an attractive single-sided swingarm (for easy on-the-road tire changes and chain adjustments, plus it looks nice) to hold the rear 180/55-17 radial-equipped rear alloy wheel. A monoshock with a nice remote preload adjuster holds things up out back, and a conventional, preload-adjustable 43mm cartridge fork holds the front wheel. Dual 320mm discs grabbed by four-piston calipers handle stopping duties, and a 255mm disc and two-piston caliper work in the back.

“It’s all wrapped up in curvaceous bodywork that definitely moves away from the safer, blander shapes of past Triumphs.”

ABS is optional and adds seven pounds to the Sprint’s 462-pound (claimed) dry weight. However, although Pete called the ST the “looker of the bunch”, he didn’t like the cut-out in the side of the bike that exposes the welds on the subframe. Jack was surprised, too; “fit and finish weren’t quite what I thought a bike in this price range — even the least expensive — should have.”

Gabe also noticed loose-fitting and thin plastic panels. We also found the chrome-paint piece in the center of the cut-out kind of tacky. “Sometimes simple is beautiful” is Pete’s advice to Triumph’s stylists.

The 5.2-gallon tank is plastic, which is no good for magnetic tank bags. The seat is broad and wide, with a roomy passenger platform (for 2007 the seat is narrower and lower in front and more thickly padded in the back of the rider portion) and a tall grab rail. A cool three-outlet exhaust peeks out from under the tail section, making plenty of room for luggage.

“Instrumentation and other amenities include a cool multi-function display similar to the unit on the Daytona 675 that lets you know fuel economy, range to empty, top speed (which is luckily easy to erase), time, and other bits of pertinent information.”

The screen on the 2006 is sportbike-low; the 2007 is fitted standard with Triumph’s taller accessory screen. A centerstand makes chain-adjusting — not to mention loading and washing the bike — more enjoyable. Getting on board the big burgundy Brit, we first noted a bike that was both small-feeling for a sport tourer and comfortable. Gabe thought the bars too low for sport touring, but Pete thought that “for being the sportiest of the sport tourers, the ST is surprisingly comfortable to be on for many miles.” The seat is pretty high, but it does narrow up front to help short people get their little feet on the ground. Pete found the saddle’s shape to be “excellent”, with “spot-on” firmness and a good shape. Jack thought it was “comfortable enough to ride for long distances…I tend to like a more sport-oriented seating position anyway.”

Once up to speed, the windscreen keeps your lower chest wind free, but warp speed is a noisy undertaking. The higher screen will help a lot with this. The passenger seat probably doesn’t offer the kind of comfort the BMW and Yamaha’s seats do, judging by size and thickness of foam. Although the Triumph is the least comfortable bike here, it’s better than most sportbikes — including the all-mighty Honda Interceptor — and isn’t that all you need?

OK, you probably want a rip-snorting motor as well. The Triumph has that, although in this company it doesn’t feel as powerful. However, the fuelling seems dialed-in, and the character-laden three-cylinder mill pulls with great vigor from idle to its five-digit redline, all the way entertaining the rider with wonderful music. “The exhaust note sounds as good as the triple-outlet tail pipe makes you think it will” says Pete, and we all agreed. What the powerplant lacks in dyno numbers it almost makes up for in versatility, offering up torque like a twin and top-end punch like an inline four, even if it’s a welterweight’s punch.

But these aren’t dragster-tourers, are they? Sport touring is about stringing together winding bits of road, and the Triumph is great to ride on two-lane tarmac. “I love Triumphs because the guys at Triumph design the bikes to perform on bumpy, twisty pavement” said Triumph-owning Gabe. Bias aside, the other testers seemed to agree; although the bike’s zaftig size and stubby bars meant Pete found the steering heavy, he thought the handling was “superb” overall, with it never becoming “unsettled during mid-turn line changes or mid-turn braking.” It does seem to favor high-speed sweepers with its long wheelbase and soft suspension, but “the ST will certainly hang with most sportbikes whilst doing it in comfort.”

While the Triumph handled well, it still didn’t stand out. Steering, stability and response from the suspension and chassis is about what you’d expect from a big sport-oriented motorcycle. It’s stable but not the most stable, light but not the lightest, quick-steering but not the most rapier-like bike you can buy. We all liked it, but it’s not the kind of bike that you’ll remember riding for the rest of your life, or even the rest of the day if you ride a lot of different bikes like we do. We all liked it, but it’s not the kind of bike that you’ll remember riding for the rest of your life…

Overall the Sprint didn’t have the refined, expensive feel the other two bikes possess. The front forks are adjustable for preload only, and while the ABS brakes worked just fine, Pete complained of a mushy feel; working the brake lever reminded him of “squeezing an over-ripe tomato.” The build quality also took away from the bike’s appeal, and overall the ST didn’t quite have the balanced, sport-tourer feel that the other two have. Honestly, it’s exactly what it looks like; a big sportbike with good ergonomics, a comfy seat and luggage. This may be all you need, especially if you only have $11,000 to spend on your traveling companion.

If it isn’t, then the Sprint ST isn’t for you, and it seems like this crew wants more tour than sport in their sport-tourers. Gabe said “after all, isn’t every sportbike or standard just a few modifications away from being a competent sport tourer?” The Triumph was a stellar-handling bike and fun to ride, but the lack of amenities, less-than-perfect build quality and bland feel overwhelmed the bargain price and put the Triumph in last place.

View all PhotosPHOTOS & VIDEOS

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Toronto to Consider Allowing Lane Sharing

Toronto, Canada, may soon become the next place in North America to allow lane splitting. Toronto’s city council recently approved a motion that could allow motorcycles to lane filter between lanes.

Lane filtering allows motorcycles to move between lanes to get to the line when traffic is stopped at a controlled intersection. It’s not quite lane splitting, but it’s a start.

It’s not quite the lane-splitting experience that my colleagues in California have long enjoyed; the proposal would only allow filtering when traffic is stopped, allowing motorcycles to move up to the stop line. But it’s a step.

The committee will prepare a pilot project to test lane sharing for final approval by city council. The motion already establishes the framework for the pilot project: it will be implemented along two streets that run through the downtown core, and it would only allow filtering between lanes of traffic but not along the curb. The goal is to minimize the risk of front or rear collisions while improving the flow of traffic.

I’m personally quite familiar with the two streets in the proposed trial. Richmond St. and Adelaide St. are a pair of heavily-congested one-way streets that run parallel through the city and also happen to be my route to and from the office each day. And as much as I welcome any progress toward legalizing lane splitting (even in the more limited form of lane filtering in stopped traffic), I don’t hold much faith in Toronto drivers being aware of the trial or understanding the specifics of it. The city has had separated bike lanes also running as a trial along these two streets for a few years now, and I still see several examples of cars parked in the bike path or illegally turning in front of cyclists on a daily basis. There will be growing pains, but as I said, it’s a step.

A row of bikes parked across the street from the Toronto office of MO’s parent company, VerticalScope. One of the proposed lane filtering streets runs through that intersection in the background.

The lane filtering proposal was joined by some other motorcycle-friendly ideas approved by the city. Toronto will also look at expanding the number of dedicated motorcycle parking zones (plus stronger enforcement against cars parked in those zones) and permitting motorcycles to use more reserved HOV lanes. The motion, which was approved 33-4 with eight abstentions, was introduced by city councillor and rider Anthony Perruzza with support from the Rider Training Institute, a not-for-profit riding school.

 

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Packing A Motorcycle For A Tour

The day of your departure is approaching, so it’s time to stop planning and start packing for your motorcycle tour. Hopefully, your planning has been thorough, and you’ve gathered all of the gear you’re planning on taking on your tour. Now, hopefully, a few days before you’re scheduled to leave, you should take a moment to pack all the gear on your bike. This is the moment that, like all of us who have taken trips via motorcycle, you discover you have too much stuff! Fear not, that’s what this initial packing effort is all about.

How To Plan For A Motorcycle Tour

What To Pack For A Motorcycle Tour

When it comes to packing a motorcycle, you want to get the heaviest items in your kit as close as possible to the Load Triangle (LT), which is defined as the triangle created by the two axles and the top of the rider’s head. Another way of looking at this is that you’re trying to get the weight as close to the bike’s center-of-gravity (CG) as possible. So, low and towards the center is best. That way the additional weight will have the least effect on your motorcycle’s handling.

packing a motorcycle

You’ll immediately notice that the heaviest things on a motorcycle, the rider and the engine, are central to the Load Triangle. Try to pack all your heaviest gear as close to the LT as possible.

Saddlebags

Be they OEM hard bags or soft ones you threw over the saddle, if you look at them relative to the LT, you’ll see that the leading edge is closest. So, put your heaviest items there. Things like your toolkit or camp stove are good choices. Also, you’ll want to balance the side-to-side load as much as possible. This not only keeps the load from affecting handling, but also helps softer, throw over the seat saddlebags ride more evenly on the motorcycle.

packing a motorcycle

Since there typically isn’t the same room on a sportbike for saddlebags as on other classes of motorcycles, you’ll be forced to pack less. The tail bag (top) helps, though.

Since a motorcycle leans to the left when on its side stand, put the things that you expect to access more frequently (like spare gloves or water) in the right saddlebag. You’ll have an easier time looking into a bag that’s tilted skyward. Also, on side-opening hard bags, your gear will be less prone to falling out when you open the bag. Owners of bikes with hard bags should seriously consider buying the OEM bag liners for their bike. That way, once you arrive at your night’s lodging, your gear can be easily carried into the hotel.

One easy hack for getting more clothing into your saddlebags is to pack small groups into zip-locking plastic bags. You zip them most of the way, compress the garments to force out the extra air, and close the bag. Instant space savings! This technique also helps to make sure your clothes stay dry if your soft bags leak or your hard bags are so overstuffed that they don’t seal properly.

packing a motorcycle

The trunk on a touring bike provides easy access to things that you may need to access frequently. Just don’t fill it up with your heaviest gear.

Junk in the trunk

People on big touring rigs with spacious trunks and cruiser riders who have big packs lashed to their sissy bar, need to avoid the temptation of putting heavy stuff in them. Look at the photo of the LT above relative to the bike’s trunk. Placing excess weight there can lighten the load on the front tire and potentially affect handling. The trunk is a great place for extra layers when you’re riding. Suppose you start off in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and you’re heading to points south, make sure you have room to store your warmer riding gear when it’s time to cool off. Also, if your trunk is stuffed with gear, you won’t be able to lock your helmet(s) away while you’re off the bike.

packing a motorcycle

Tank bags come in many sizes from the extra-large variety shown here to ones that are small enough to carry just a couple essentials. They are exceedingly handy.

Tank bag

Either you’re a tank bag person or you’re not. Often times, whether you favor tank bags depends on what type of bike you ride. Still, we’ve seen cruisers and full-dress tourers proudly wearing a tank bag. It seems that, back in the day of paper maps instead of smartphones or GPS units, tank bags were more popular because they provided a handy place to keep your map open. If you don’t like tank bags, you can always try a tail bag which offers many of the conveniences of its tank-mounted cousin.

You’d think that, because of its location within the Load Triangle, you could put lots of heavy stuff in a tank bag. Well, you’d be partially right. However, put too much weight there, and your bike will begin to feel top heavy. So, be reasonable. 

Tank bags are great places to put things that you need to access frequently. Consequently, we place gloves, sunscreen, bottles of water, and snacks there. Additionally, if your bike has some auxiliary power, you can run wires to your tank bag and make sure you keep your phone or other electronics charged. Very convenient. 

packing a motorcycle

This is an example of how to lash things to the back of a bike. Lashed to the back are a thermarest pad, a sleeping bag, a tent, a tripod, and (the only heavy thing) a camera bag carrying lots of batteries.

Lash it on the back

Motorcyclists everywhere should hail the inventor of the bungie net. There is quite simply no more versatile tool for strapping oddly shaped objects or combinations of objects to the back of a motorcycle. However, with that convenience and flexibility nets tend to lack some of the sheer strength of other methods of keeping items on your motorcycle. Look at seasoned travelers, and you’ll see they usually have a couple of bungie cords playing a supporting role to the net. Follow their example and you’ll avoid losing gear on the road – or worse – having it dangle down into your rear wheel, possibly bringing your fun to an abrupt stop.

The best items (other than a passenger) to place on the back of your motorcycle are usually large, but fairly light things like a tent or sleeping bag. If you didn’t plan carefully, you may end up with your warmer riding gear strapped back there when you peel off the layers. 

packing a motorcycle

Look past the excessive amount of camera gear necessary for a multi-bike shootout and you’ll see well-developed packing techniques. The ground cloth is cinched down on the tent, the sleeping bag is as compressed as possible, and the clothes are compressed in zip-locking bags. It’s all ready to go back on the bike.

Making the cut

As you test pack your bike in anticipation for a tour, you will inevitably find yourself trying to carry too much stuff. Now is the time to sort out what is truly necessary. Cut down what you’re carrying and repack your bike. Try placing different things in different places to see if this helps you include more gear. In the end, you’ll arrive at what you think is a happy compromise for your trip.  Now, you’re ready to hit the road. 

While you’re out enjoying long-distance motorcycling, you’re sure to bump up against one of the universal truths of travel: There’s always something that you forgot and something that you carried that you absolutely didn’t need. Make a note and remember for the next trip.

packing a motorcycle

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The 2018 Ténéré 700 World Raid Makes its Way to Morocco

Once again, we’re here to announce that the Yamaha Ténéré 700 is still not available. Surprise. What is available though, are some rad photos and video of rally racing legend, Stéphane Peterhansel ripping the T7 prototype through the Moroccan desert which once hosted the famous Dakar rally up until 2007. Next stop for the 2018 Ténéré 700 World Raid: Morocco. 

Yamaha Ténéré 700 Is Still Just A Prototype

Previously, Australian Dakar racer, Rodney Faggotter had his way with the 689cc Parallel Twin prototype in the land down under. Faggotter showed us what the machine is capable of in its current trim with the right man behind the handlebars. From pulling wheelies down Hervey Bay to blasting through the woods with the Ténéré Tragics, Faggotter showcased the versatility the new Yamaha is meant to imbue.

Yamaha Ténéré 700 World Raid Tour Hits Australia

The video begins with Rodney tossing the reins over to Stéphane Peterhansel in the Sahara Desert near Merzouga, a place Peterhansel knows well as is evident by his nine Dakar wins when the race was run in Africa. 

“Each leg of this journey is designed to bring people into the world of adventure that Yamaha is building with this powerhouse of freedom, the Ténéré 700 World Raid Prototype.” – Yamaha

With the Moroccan leg complete, the 2018 Ténéré 700 World Raid flies to South America where Adrien van Beveren takes on the T7 in Argentina. For the full Morocco story and all the latest news from the Ténéré 700 World Raid, visit the official website www.world-raid.com.

2018 Ténéré 700 World Raid

2018 Ténéré 700 World Raid
2018 Ténéré 700 World Raid
2018 Ténéré 700 World Raid
2018 Ténéré 700 World Raid

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Watch Niccolò Canepa Destroy Mere Mortals Around Suzuka

Niccolò Canepa is a bit of a journeyman in the racing scene. With stints in both MotoGP, Moto2, World Superbike, Superstock 1000, and Supersport 600, the Italian has now found a home in the Endurance World Championship, where he’s riding the factory GMT94 Yamaha R1. In this video, you can see why Canepa has raced in virtually all of the top-tier classes the world has to offer. In this practice session for the Suzuka 8 Hours, Canepa takes you on board as he slices and dices his way past lesser riders – all of whom would likely smoke the biggest hotshot at your local trackday.

The EWC enters its season finale on July 29 with the Suzuka 8 Hours – the largest endurance race for all of the Japanese manufacturers. For 2018 Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha are all fielding factory efforts with riders from both the World Superbike and MotoGP paddocks making a special appearance to take part in this race.

As for Canepa, we promise this video isn’t sped up – he’s simply riding the wheels off his Yamaha. Amazingly, during the practice sessions at Suzuka, Canepa and the GMT94 team aren’t the fastest team. In fact, GMT94’s fastest practice time so far – a 2:09.315 – is more than three seconds off the official Yamaha Factory Racing Team’s time of 2:06.273, set by mult-time Japanese superbike champion Katsuyuki Nakasuga. Nakasuga, along with his World Superbike teammates Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark, are the defending champions of the Suzuka 8 Hours and are looking to keep the crown for a second consecutive year.

Among the teams regularly competing in the EWC, YART Yamaha is leading the other FIM EWC full-season teams with a 2:08.005 quickest lap. This was good enough for 7th-quickest of the teams on track in testing, ahead of Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda’s 2:08.070 best lap. F.C.C. TSR Honda France set a 2:09.186, ahead of GMT94 Yamaha, and Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (2:10.581).

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