The “Sports Tourer” tag was one that was applied to bikes that manufacturers made that didn’t quite cut it as a sportsbike but weren’t woolly and fully dressed tourers either. In other words, they were a compromise.
So bikes like Honda’s Blackbird and Kawasaki’s ZZR filled that role, as did Triumph with their original Sprint.
The problem was they were a bit … well … “meh”. They didn’t scratch as well as sportsbikes or munch mileage as well as tourers. And this apathy towards them, wasn’t helped by dull paintjobs, something the Blackbird was struck with as was the Sprint with the awful green livery.
Then along came Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman and their journey around the world in 2004 – was it really that long ago? – on the BMW R1150GS Adventure which had until then been ploughing its own furrow. And sales of those BMWs soared as a result (KTM must have been kicking themselves at turning them down).
This led to the whole Adventure Sports market taking off, such that that now seems to be the focus for innovation with the Triumph Tiger and Ducati Multistrada being cases in point. Even Kawasaki have something similar with the Kawasaki Versys 1000 Grand Tourer. These are premium motorcycles, sold at premium prices: know your market and exploit it. The Tiger’s around £11,000 upwards and the Versys £10,000. The Multistrada starts at an eye-watering £15,000, heading on to £17,000+ for the better models.
So what of the Sports Tourer genre? Well there’s the Kawasaki Z1000SX Tourer at £10,000, though with the panniers fitted, you can’t fit a top case. Really? Foot shooting rules that bike out. The Honda VFR1200 at £12,500 with no hard luggage. The basic Suzuki GSX1250FA without luggage is a more sensible £7,800 (it adds £350 or so for side cases).
And then there’s the Sprint GT at £8,500 with luggage, down £1,000 from its launch price.
A mate has just got back from his Eastern European tour on his Fireblade and suggested I should definitely buy a Multistrada like the one another guy was riding. SuperBike TV reckoned you should also test ride one as it’s so good. Well it bloody well should be: it’s £17,000+ or the same price as two Sprint GTs! For that money, I’m better off buying the Sprint and having 8 years of European tours on it.