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Digital Subscriptions > Fast Bikes > Issue 328 > TOURED STUPID


Can three ‘sport tourers’ fit the bill for Fast Bikes? Three men, three bikes, three sets of tyres, many road miles and a cheeky track thrash will give us the answer…
Whi ch woul d you choose?

It’s all too easy to get snobby or elitist about sportsbikes. Stuff that doesn’t make nearly two-hundred ponies or feature at the front in British Superstock 1000 races often gets overlooked, sometimes even sneered at. Try boasting about a ‘lesser light’ down the boozer and it’s guaranteed you’ll raise a snigger or ten. If it ain’t the latest or lightest, can’t bust the dyno or a lap record, you’re really best staying schtum…

But while headliners like the amazing new GSX-R thou’ quite rightly get raved about and lusted over, there’s a fair selection of second-string stuff that warrants some recognition. Just ‘cos it ain’t seen as the ultimate, or can’t be rated as the best of the bunch doesn’t mean it can’t play a part. Out in the real world, miles away from any booze-fuelled bragging session, there’s a load of stuff that can do the business and make you happy. Plenty of speedy and capable kit worthy of a shout is on offer and well worth looking at. Just because it isn’t rated as the best, doesn’t mean it should be dismissed.

To prove the point, we picked a trio of such ‘also rans’ to see just how much lower they actually sit on the credibility ladder. To help identify their real ranking, we took our chosen three – Ducati’s new SuperSport S, a KTM 1290 Super Duke GT, and Kawasaki’s Z1000SX – on a 750-mile, three-day jaunt round some good roads ‘oop north. Bang in the middle of the study we fired ‘em round Oulton Park to see how well they coped with a track thrashing. If they were up to the task, fell short by either a whisker or a mile we’d know all about it alright.

Before we whizzed off here and there, we fitted some of Bridgestone’s ‘lesser’ rubber to see if the same story of ‘below the ultimate’ holds true with tyres. It’s likely you’ll not see the hoops we tried ever being levered onto any race bikes. And though we never went round to inspect all of the other bikes lapping at the No Limits trackday, there’s a pretty good chance none of what we’d chosen was being used by any of the other track day crowd, either.

Even so, we were pretty confident the Bridgestones on all three bikes could probably hold their heads high and put on a decent show. To help with the technical assessment of the black and round things (mainly over beers at the end of each day’s riding), we also took along an expert in the field in the shape of the tyre firm’s Euro sales boss Gary Hartshorne. Joining him was the mag editor’s former spannerman, Neil Windsor. I’d not met him before, but banter on the phone while making plans for the test suggested he’d fit the bill nicely.

We all met at Ducati’s HQ in Silverstone, chucked a bit of soft luggage on the bikes, glanced at a map for a minute or two and headed off to Oulton. None of us knew exactly how well things would go, but it was sure to be a right laugh finding out…

Kawasaki Z1000SX

I got to whizz around on the Kwacker for a few days before I met up with the others. Impressions weren’t too bad. It worked well enough and with a pretty flexible motor, good brakes, decent chassis manners, and an ability to cover ground quickly and comfortably, the SX seemed like it would score fairly highly. The only thing I was likely to knock it back for was a lack of any real basic appeal. By that I mean that all-important X-factor that gives you the horn and makes you want to get on the bloody thing and ride it as often as possible. Every time I clawed down the side stand at the end of a run, I had a ‘so what’ feeling about the bike. There’s no way I’d personally want to buy one.

To me, nomatter how decent the dynamic qualities of 1000 are, it just feels like yet another Japanese inline four. And then I got together with the others and their Euro tools.

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Fast Bikes is home to the best sportsbike tests on the planet and is packed with new bike launches, technical insight, hardcore action, masterclasses, racing, reviews and loads more.