At the end of the day... HAR­RO­GATE TO PETER­BOR­OUGH

RiDE (UK) - - Group Ride -

The fi­nal run back down the A1 gives a cou­ple of hours to con­tem­plate how the three bikes com­pare – and which flavour of sports tourer is best for tack­ling the many, var­ied de­mands of the Dales. The Yamaha MT-10 Tourer Edi­tion seems like a fine place to start, given it will be the most di­vi­sive. Some rid­ers will dis­count it as a true sports tourer for its lack of deep all-round prac­ti­cal­ity. The pil­lion pro­vi­sion is cramped, the ‘semi-rigid’ pan­niers are the small­est and only non-lock­able lug­gage here, and the tank range and fuel econ­omy mean that cover­ing dis­tance re­quires more fre­quent (and ex­pen­sive) stops. The snatchy throt­tle would ir­ri­tate in daily use too. A Tracer 1000 this is not, though for rid­ers who sim­ply want a way to stretch a su­per­naked’s solo silli­ness out for a few more miles each day, the ac­ces­sories are ef­fec­tive. The fly­screen in par­tic­u­lar de­serves huge praise for mak­ing a real, tan­gi­ble im­prove­ment to rider com­fort, as does the plusher seat.

BMW’S S1000XR sits at the op­po­site end of the sports tourer spec­trum. It’s the most multi-tal­ented with the best pas­sen­ger space, the high­est car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity and the long­est range. It’s also the only one of the three that comes with a cen­tre­stand and the only one with a full three-piece suite of hard lug­gage. If you’re se­ri­ous about do­ing dis­tance, this is the best choice. The only catch is those steady-speed engine vi­bra­tions – we heartily en­cour­age a test ride be­fore buy­ing, to dis­cover how much of a prob­lem you find them. Beyond the mo­tor­way, the XR is also a bril­liant back­road blaster, with su­perb han­dling, the strong­est brakes here, the best ride qual­ity (from its semi-ac­tive sus­pen­sion) and bucket-loads of will­ing, well-be­haved power. All of this does come at a price, how­ever – add the pan­niers, to com­pare like with like, and it’s al­most five grand more than the Z1000SX Tourer.

The Kawasaki is not ob­jec­tively the best bike here but it does of­fer the best value. Monthly PCP pay­ments are half that of the BMW and while it falls short of the XR’S fancy tricks – the SX’S sus­pen­sion is more ba­sic, its engine and brakes aren’t as po­tent, its wind pro­tec­tion worse and use­ful touches like cruise con­trol or a cen­tre­stand aren’t on the menu – it is a fun­da­men­tally sound all-rounder. Once you get it off the stan­dard tyres.

Back at RIDE Tow­ers, a show of hands re­veals all three of us would want to buy the S1000XR. Not be­cause it’s a BMW, not be­cause it has the most wid­gets and not be­cause it’s the clos­est to an ad­ven­ture bike, but sim­ply be­cause it’s the most com­pre­hen­sively ca­pa­ble pure road sports tourer.

“A show of hands re­veals all three of us would want to buy the S1000XR”

Fast and flow­ing, tight and twisty or mo­tor­way — sports tourers do it all

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