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