In this installment of Ask RideApart, "I'd be interested in the readers' thoughts about which Sportbike(s) would be best suited for a long (over 4 hours) ride."
Ask RideApart inquiry: “I'd be interested in the readers' thoughts about which Sportbike(s) would be best suited for a long (over 4 hours) ride.” –Joseph
Thanks for the note. It’s funny that you ask this question because just yesterday I conducted our first “road trip” on our Suzuki GSX-R600 project bike. I rode from San Jose, CA to Los Angeles, CA (just over 400 miles) and it was actually quite a comfortable ride with a total ride time of 6.5 hours including 2 stops for gas. The bike was averaging 47.5 miles to the gallon when held pretty constant at 80 miles per hour around 7,500 RPM in 6th gear which was an improvement over the already-impressive 42 MPG observed around the city. The bike handled the long distance ride with ease but I can’t say my body did the same…
In the comfort department, it’s tough to compare sportbikes to some of the other motorcycle formats available but the GSX-R definitely scores relatively high for a true supersport. I have had the privilege of conducting long distance test rides (everything from 300 – 1,800 mile stints) on a variety of sport bikes including the full line of 2013 middleweights and superbikes. I would have to say the Suzuki GSX-R600 or the Triumph Daytona 675R are the best all-around middleweights for long distance rides along with the KTM 1190 RC8 R superbike. The most important aspect of these bikes are the ergonomics placing the rear sets and your feet lower to the ground relative to the clip-ons and your hands higher and back towards your body. The KTM was by far the best in this category of all supersport bikes (middleweights and superbikes) on the market today. Jumping on the RC8 R was extremely relieving on the back, knees and wrists coming off the other supersports. Responsive handling, solid mid-range power and linear high-speed braking are also important metrics when considering a road-tripper and all three bikes mentioned excelled here as well but the KTM rose above with the extremely comfortable ride and extra power from the 1190cc v-twin motor.
Another option to consider would be a slightly less sporty format but just as much fun. A naked sportbike such as the Triumph Street Triple R or the Yamaha FZ-09 (hopefully the new FZ-07 will stack up as well) would be excellent candidates. Both of these bikes are at the top of this class with the further improved riding position over the true supersport bikes thanks to the risen and widened “dirt bike” bars, cushier seat and lowered pegs. The only drawback with this format is the wider bars and taller riding position makes the rider less aerodynamic and more like a sail in the wind at freeway speeds. However, after riding both bikes mentioned above, the Street Triple R is the winner in my eyes due to the increased “fun factor” (comfort wise, both are about even).
At the end of the day, picking the ideal sportbike for long distance trips is a tough call. These bikes are not designed for long hauls but for quick sprints around the race track. However, the KTM 1190 RC8 R would be my recommendation for the best true supersport bike or the Triumph Street Triple R in the naked sportbike department. Both would be awesome bikes on your long rides, trips around town as well as to the race track.
Thanks again for writing us and ride safe!