This is the latest evolution of the classic BMW flat-twin sport-tourer, the kind of machine upon which the Germans built their foundation. Admittedly, the RT is more luxury-touring than the old RS models, but it has remained reasonably light (claimed 604 pounds wet), handy, and quick. This year is a big update, starting with the new 1,170cc wasserboxer engine, transplanted with appropriate mods from the R1200GS. It’s rated here at 125 hp at 7,750 rpm with a peak torque of 92 pound-feet at 6,500 rpm. New styling and lots of new electronics (TC, ABS, Bluetooth, and more) dress up what promises to be a more capable machine than ever. Coolest feature of all? Optional Shift Assistant Pro, which allows up- and downshifts to be executed without use of the clutch or moving the throttle. All the better for helping you concentrate on your cornering line. The base price is MSRP $17,650.
Late last year, a heavily redone VFR800F was unveiled. Yea! But American Honda wouldn’t say if it is coming to the US. Boo! The new currently Europe-only VFR features a 782cc V-4 with “softened” VTEC valve gear and is tuned for more bottom and midrange power, (claimed 105 hp and 55 pound-feet). Traction control and ABS go along with a new HMAS fork, and the lovely single-sided swingarm remains. The claimed 526-pound curb weight is 22 pounds less than the old model’s, while bags, top trunk, and a quickshifter are optional. An adjustable-height seat and heated grips are standard. LED head- and taillights are used, and the 5.7-gallon fuel tank should result in excellent range—figure 200 miles to reserve. There are even self-canceling turn signals. All these changes add up to a bike that appears sportier and tourier at the same time. C’mon, Honda, don’t hold out on us.
Motus MST & MST-R
The base MST (pictured above) and upmarket MST-R are burly, 1650cc V-4-powered sport-tourers in the grand tradition, and made in America. Specs are promising, with a claimed 160 hp for the MST and 180 for the MST-R, both bikes delivering 120 pound-feet of torque at 5,800 rpm. Motus talks about 250-mile fuel range, and 3,000 rpm in top gear is said to equate to 70 mph. Suppliers are a laundry list of quality names: Öhlins suspension, Brembo brakes, BST carbon-fiber (MST-R) or OZ forged aluminum (MST) wheels. Which also helps explain the MSRPs: $30,975 for MST and $36,975 for the R. Still, our ride on a prototype was promising, and the engine sound was amazing. Ready-to-ride weight is said to be 500 pounds, which, with the ponies on tap, means the Motus should go like hell.
Not new for 2014, but the rethought F800 that emerged in 2013 as the GT gave BMW’s counterbalanced parallel twin a welcome shift in direction toward more competent and comfortable sport-touring. BMW relaxed the riding position with higher bars and lower, more forward pegs but still kept it sporty. Power was bumped to 90 hp (plus 5). There are several optional seats of varying heights and a large number of accessories to help tailor the bike to your needs. One of the best attributes is a claimed weight of 470 pounds fully fueled. Optional luggage (including tank bag) allows for major carrying capacity. The F800GT remains one of the lightest, easiest-to-handle sport-touring-oriented machines on the market and, with a 2014 MSRP of $11,890, including ABS, it is a relative bargain in the class.