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Motorcycle Buying Guide: the GTs


by Pascal Bastien ,

Designed for extended road trips, without sacrificing rider comfort, this type of motorcycle emphasizes a smooth ride thanks to a relaxed, almost upright seating position. Plus, a passenger will also feel very comfortable, thanks to hand grips, and in some cases, a backrest.

Most GTs boast a big engine (1000 cc and more), wrap around fairing, large gas tank, centre stand, touring rack and trunk. Furthermore, some leave the factory floor with heated handles and an on-board computer. These bikes need a certain amount of experience to ride them well due to their heavier weights and bigger dimensions.

Motorcycle Buying Guide: the GTs

BMW R1200RT and K1600GT
The latest generation of the RT inherits a more effective and refined engine, delivering more usable torque, a smoother ride, improved ABS, adjustable suspension and a body design that has been pushed even further, aerodynamically speaking. Indeed, the R1200RT is very close to being the perfect GT.

The K1600GT is an exceptional bike. Despite weighing in at 342 kg, it offers plenty of performance and is a real pleasure to ride. And that’s because of its seriously rigid frame and topnotch quality components. A slew of superb ride assist systems and the silky smooth Inline Six-Cylinder engine don’t hurt either…

You’ll also appreciate the comfort of the riding position, the electronically adjustable suspension and the protective cover of the fairing. BMW only has to give the K1600GT a little bit more of the deluxe treatment and it’ll be right up there at the private jet level.

2010 BMW K1600GT front 3/4 view
2010 BMW K1600GT (Photo: BMW)

Honda ST1300A
Les années passent et la ST1300 fait toujours partie du segment avec son fameux V4. Elle revendique une prestation à mi-chemin entre le plaisir de pilotage d’une VFR1200 et le confort d’une GoldWing. Sans parvenir à combler ce grand écart, elle concile tout de même assez bien les aptitudes d’une moto GT ; plaisir, confort et convivialité.

On aimerait un peu plus de stabilité à haute vitesse. En revanche, sur une route sinueuse ou en ville, elle fait preuve d’une maniabilité déconcertante. On apprécie aussi le parebrise à réglage électrique et le système CBS qui conjugue un freinage combiné avant et arrière au levier droit et l’antiblocage, sans oublier les valises bien intégrées.

2012  Honda ST1300A right side view
2012 Honda ST1300A (Photo: Honda)

Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS
This flagship Kawasaki features traction control, combined front/back braking controlled by an anti-lock system as well as a ‘fuel economy’ mode. On board, the rider benefits from excellent protection against the elements, especially thanks to the electrically adjustable windscreen and the well-padded and ergonomically molded saddle.

Maybe little less comfortable than average for the category, the Concours 14 is nevertheless one of the most successful GTs on the market. It eats up the miles as well as the bends. That’s no surprise, coming from a company where performance is practically a religion.

2012 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS right side view
2012 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS (Photo: Kawasaki)

Moto Guzzi Norge GT 8V
This latest Norge GT definitely has some flair. A much more agreeable bike than a lot of its German counterparts, and it manages to set itself apart from the current Japanese line-up as well.

Moto Guzzi Norge’s designers have managed to create a comfortable touring frame, yet it handles almost like a standard sport bike. This is a difficult goal to achieve, putting the Norge in the same camp as the R1200RT, the only bikes in the category that can really boast about offering the best of both worlds.

2012 Moto Guzzi Norge GT 8V front 3/4 view
2012 Moto Guzzi Norge GT 8V (Photo: Moto Guzzi)

Triumph Sprint GT
Here's another bike that delivers a heady riding experience. As its name indicates, it has mostly been designed for long trips, and Triumph’s engineers have focused on its touring capabilities. Evrything is there: anti-lock brakes, saddlebags large enough to hold a full-faced helmet, a roomy, plush seat, an extended wheelbase and very comfortable suspension.

The steering is flawlessly precise on this agile bike, despite the weight of the machine and its supple suspension. The sleek 3-cylinder engine is efficient and sounds great, along with its well-staggered 6-speed transmission featuring a wet, multi-plate clutch. The only hitch: the transmission has a chain final drive instead of a cardan shaft, which is more common in this category.

2012 Triumph Sprint GT front view
2012 Triumph Sprint GT (Photo: Triumph)

Yamaha FJR1300
The FJR 1300 is one of those high-end machines that are fun to drive, yet just as comfortable as any touring bike. Well-crafted, its performance on the road entirely justifies the asking price. Though on the heavy side, minor snags are quickly compensated by a smooth, stable, and easy ride.

2012 Yamaha FJR1300 front 3/4 view
2012 Yamaha FJR1300 (Photo: Yamaha)

The FJR1300 comes equipped with a classic manual transmission or a semi-automatic transmission with an electric shift system (YCC-S), a nice option which further enhances ease-of-use and convenience. With its many qualities and impeccable finish, the FJR1300 is a wise choice for those who want a sporty, yet comfortable road experience.