The Top 10 Best Sports Tourer Motorcycles For Crushing …

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If the new-for-2024 Suzuki  GSX-S1000 GX and Moto Guzzi’s new in 2023 V100 Mandello are anything to go by, Sports Tourers have been making a big comeback. And we’re not talking about ‘Adventure Tourers’, such as BMW’s big GS or Adventure Sports, such as Ducati’s Multistrada, with both having genes in off-road riding, however slight, here.

Instead, we’re talking about pure sports tourers, road bikes with 17-inch wheels and road rubber, which have enough street performance and handling to satisfy yet equally deliver long-legged comfort, practicality plus luggage and pillion-carrying ability.

Nor does that mean we’re restricted to litre-plus machines. Yamaha’s Tracers have long delivered brilliantly despite being under 1000cc while Chinese brand CF Moto’s 650GT proves that an effective sports tourer can be powered by just 650ccs.

But which are the best? Pack your dry bags, here are our picks of the bunch.

Kawasaki Versys 650

Although Kawasaki itself calls the Versys an ‘adventure tourer’, with 17-inch wheels, no off-road ambitions and a big brother with a transverse four engine, we don’t quite buy it, so both are included here.

Last updated in 2022 to bring its design into sharper line with the rest of the range, the Versys 650 is comfortable, affordable, versatile and has a usefully large fuel tank, too.

Its parallel twin engine is perky and effective, equipment includes a TFT dashboard, Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC), LED lighting and smartphone connectivity and, basically, the Versys 650 will tick most boxes on the proverbial wish list.

It sounds like the perfect motorcycle and in many ways the Kawasaki Versys 650, it just lacks a certain joie de vivre that makes Yamaha’s Tracer 7 and other bigger (and more expensive) machines a touch more appealing.

Price Engine BHP Torque Weight Seat Height Fuel
£8,349 649cc 66bhp 45lb ft @7000rpm 217kg 845mm 21 L

Yamaha Tracer 7

A model that really is hard to fault, the well thought-out Yamaha Tracer 7 sees off stiff opposition in the middleweight sports-tourer class largely thanks to the added attention to detail Yamaha has clearly paid to ensure it is as practical, comfortable and versatile as it can be.

With prices starting at £8,816, recent updates have freshened things up with revised brakes, tweaked suspension, a new five-inch TFT display and Bluetooth connectivity the highlights. Meanwhile, the flagship Tracer 7 GT – a £900 premium – adds larger cases, a more durable windscreen and a more rigid rear-end to handle added ballast.

Weighing less than 200kg, the Tracer 7 is sprightly through bends, but displays the maturity of the larger Tracer 9 on the straight and narrow, while the 689cc CP2 engine offers a fizzy 72bhp on tap to make it feel like a true all-rounder.

Price Engine BHP Torque Weight Seat Height Fuel
£8,810 689cc 72bhp 49lb ft @6500rpm 197kg 835mm 17 L

Yamaha Tracer 9 GT

It’s fair to say Yamaha’s sports-touring version of its MT-09 triple, the Tracer 9, has evolved into arguably one of the very best all-round motorcycles of all. Initially a slightly budget, more upright, roomier, faired version of the MT-09, it’s since been successively updated and refined and with a series of upspecced spin-off versions to now delivering almost everything anyone could want.

In GT spec, designed for longer days out on the road, the semi-active suspension is a boon, while the clear dashboard, heated grips, cruise control and quickshifter continue to make journeys as easy as they can be fun.

While the firm added a new flagship Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ variant to the range for 2023. Dubbing it the ‘most technologically advanced Yamaha yet’, the Tracer 9 GT+ brings radar-guided Assisted Cruise Control to the class, Unified Braking System to improve braking stability and a new TFT display.

Price Engine BHP Torque Weight Seat Height Fuel Cap.
£13,100 890cc 117bhp 69lb ft @7,000rpm 220kg 810-825mm 19 L

Read our Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ review now

Suzuki GSX-S1000 GT/GX

The GSX-S1000 GT was launched in 2022 as a renamed and overhauled reboot of the old GSX-S1000 F, was based on the similarly updated GSX-S1000 super naked and thus essentially was Suzuki’s answer to Kawasaki’s enormously successful Ninja 1000 SX. The GSX-S1000 GX (pictured), meanwhile, was introduced for 2023 as effectively an upspecced, ‘tall-rounder’ version of the GT with longer travel, semi-active suspension, more relaxed riding position and was targeted as a rival for Kawasaki’s similar Versys 1000.

Both deliver impressively in their subtly different roles. The GT is slick, fast and sporty, with great brakes and a meaty, 150bhp GSX-R-derived four at its heart. While the GX is more relaxed, better equipped and more comfortable, although its semi-active suspension takes some getting used to and it’s £2000 more expensive than the GT.

Depending on your preferences both make impressively able sports tourers although it’s worth remembering that, in most respects, their Kawasaki rivals are better still.

Price Engine BHP Torque Weight Seat Height Fuel Cap.
£12,799 999cc 150bhp 78lb ft @9,250rpm 226kg 835mm 19 L

Read our Suzuki GSX-S1000 GX review now 

Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello

While it is perhaps still best-known for its desirable retro-flavoured models and Americano-themed cruisers, historic Italian marque Moto Guzzi has been steadily revealing a more contemporary vision for its future in recent years, starting with the V85 TT and now this, the Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello.

All-new from the ground-up, the V100 Mandello is a something of an exotic curio in this company by presenting itself as a Grand Tourer, albeit one with just a splash of sportsbike spice. Making a strong first impression with its understatedly attractive looks, the V100 Mandello carries that elegance and poise onto the road, while the new 1042cc V-Twin has enough of a rumbling note to do something most Sports Tourers don’t; stir the soul.

On the flip side, the Mandello isn’t an ‘out and out’ Tourer, so if practicality and versatility are top of your needs, look elsewhere, but if you’re after a sophisticated ‘Sports… Tourer’ so to speak, then the Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello will prove very seductive.

Price Engine BHP Torque Weight Seat Height Fuel Cap.
£12,500 1042cc 115bhp 77lb ft @6,750rpm 233kg 815mm 17 L

Read our Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello review now

Kawasaki Ninja 1000 SX Performance

One of the triumphs of modern motorcycling yet one which came from humble beginnings, the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 SX ranked as our favourite Big Sports Tourers of 2020, and it’s remained a recommended choice ever since.

Originally launched in 2010 as a half-faired, sports-tourer version of Kawasaki’s Z1000 super naked, the SX proved an immediate hit due its mix of 140bhp, decent handling, faired practicality and, more than anything, its original sub-£10K value – all of which was sufficient to make it a Kawasaki best seller. 

Repeatedly updated since in 2014 (new brakes, suspension, styling, extra electronics and optional integrated panniers); 2017 (further chassis/electronics updates) and 2020 (renamed as the Ninja 1000 SX, sharper steering, new TFT dash, cruise control and quickshifter), it’s simply got better every time yet remains as good value as ever. 

If you want Japanese four-cylinder 140mph performance, semi-sports handling yet bags of practicality and features at a bargain price, it’s still a very accomplished choice. There are also lots of different spec options enabling you to get exactly the kind of sports tourer you want.

Price Engine BHP Torque Weight Seat Height Fuel Cap.
£12,149 1043cc 140bhp 82lb ft @8,000rpm 235kg 835mm 19 L

Read our Kawasaki Ninja 1000 SX review now

Kawasaki Versys 1000

Always an oddball, Kawasaki’s big Versys is also, nevertheless, an effective and popular sports tourer that simply can’t be ignored – especially for the price.

Originally launched in 2010 as an oddly styled ‘tall-rounder’ version of the Ninja 1000 SX, the big Versys was initially seen as some kind of mongrel mix of detuned 1000cc four-cylinder engine, tall, adventure inspired riding position (although with street 17-inch wheels it never had any ambitions to venture off-road) and budget affordability.

And yet, despite not wholly convincing handling and awkward bulkiness, it turned out that – if you’re after an affordable, comfortable sports tourer – it was exactly what many people wanted.

With three significant updates (including a restyle) and a raft of equipment options which now include not just luggage but semi-active suspension, the Versys remains a temptingly affordable big sports-tourer for those wanting an upright ride without the trappings of an adventure bike.

Price Engine BHP Torque Weight Seat Height Fuel Cap.
£10,879 1043cc 118bhp 175lb ft @7,750rpm 253kg 840mm 21 L

Honda NT 1100

One of the most significant new Sports Tourer launches in recent times, the Honda NT 1100 represented the Japanese behemoth’s return to the segment. 

Any new Honda is a big deal and when it comes to ticking boxes for the everyday rider, the NT 1100 is easily capable of meeting the needs of most; it is comfortable to ride, feels well put together and is chock full of clever touches to make notching up the miles fuss-free. In a way, it’s probably the ideal Sports Tourer if you want a motorcycle that does exactly what it says on a Honda-branded tin.

However, among similarly accomplished competition, the Honda NT 1100 rather blends into the background, or to put it another way, it is rather bland. The hyped-up X-ADV-inspired looks are a misstep in our view in it devalues both models, the 1100cc engine is big but not terribly powerful and getting on it doesn’t exactly stir the soul.

The NT 1100 is a motorcycle for motorcyclists more enamoured with wanting a Honda-badged Tourer, rather than the best Sports Tourer you can buy.

Price Engine BHP Torque Weight Seat Height Fuel Cap.
£12,499 1084cc 101bhp 104Nm @6,250rpm 238kg 820mm 20 L

Read our Honda NT 1100 review now

BMW R 1250 RS

 

Price Engine BHP Torque Weight Seat Height Fuel Cap.
£13,140 1254cc 136bhp 105lb ft @6,250rpm 243kg 820mm 18 L

BMW boxer sports tourer called the RS? What is this, 1976? Well, no, actually, although the latest version of the German firm’s revived RS sports tourer shares the name of the classic ‘70s poster bike, everything else is bang up to date – and as a Sports Tourer it all gels and works better than ever.

The BMW R 1250 RS was first revived in 1200cc form in 2015 as a half-faired R1200R roadster and while that may not sound very exciting it blended 125bhp with sweet handling, a spot-on blend of sports agility and touring comfort.

The uprated ‘ShiftCam’ version, as introduced in 2019, is significantly better still, while the boxer engine is both meaty yet slim and beautifully balanced; with 135bhp it’s now got significantly improved ‘go’. If only it had a touch more excitement.

A smattering of updates last year gave the BMW R 1250 RS a fresher lease of life, with modifications that include Dynamic Traction Control, a new ECO mode and new LED headlight.

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

Did somebody mention excitement? Let us introduce arguably the Sportiest Tourer of all, the KTM Super Duke GT.

It’s the bike that arguably does everything you could want of a Sports Tourer – comfort, range, sophistication, engaging handling – yet adds a blistering 173bhp and will turn more heads than its contemporaries. 

Trading the 1290 Super Duke R’s raucous attitude for a more refined, characterful personality, the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT brims with gadgets and gizmos, including its seven-inch TFT display with turn-by-turn navigation.

Under the skin, the 1290 Super Duke GT rides on premium and adjustable WP Apex forks, while its 23-litre fuel tank and ample luggage options will appeal to those who spend their summers on tour.
A touch more extreme than other large capacity GTs in its segment and not exactly cheap, either, what the Super Duke GT loses in refinement, it gains by making the journey – however long – just that bit more fun.

Price Engine BHP Torque Weight Seat Height Fuel Cap.
£18,999 1301cc 173bhp 141Nm @7,000rpm 223kg 835mm 23 L

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