I know that each rider has his own definition of what a sport touring bike should be. Some would say that it should be a sport bike with some bags thrown on with a back pack. Others would say that it should be a heavy weight bike that can pack on tons of miles, with plenty of power, wind protection and two up ability. Others just feel any bike that can be enjoyed in the twisty roads, no matter what type of machine, is a sport touring bike. I have to agree with most of them. Sport touring is a state of mind, more so than a specific type of machine. With that being said, let me give you my definition of a sport touring bike. And believe me it has changed over the years.
In my early 20’s and 30’s I was all about the “sport” in sport touring. I logged over 40K on a GSXR 750 with nothing more than soft bags and a tank bag. It did not hurt, that at that time, my father was riding a Goldwing. He had graduated from his sport touring days on his BMW 90/s. He could help with any packing that I could not fit on the Gixxer. Hard to pack tools and camping gear on a bike like that for a week or longer journey.
I have to step back and tell you all how I became addicted to the sport touring genre. My father was always doing trips and riding with friends. He would come home and talk about riding in the mountains without a care in the world. His eyes would light up at the thought of the next journey.
I know that there were times when I got frustrated with my dad
for being gone all day on a Saturday, but as I grew older I could understand the attraction. It was his get away from the stresses of life. I wish I could have seen that at an earlier age. he deserved those trips. My dad always had the touring thing going on no matter what machine he was riding at the time.
I loved those trips with my father and I did together. I wish every single day that I could ride with him again. He gave me his love of motorcycles and I will always love him even more for that. My father loved riding his bike. He loved that he could escape and not think of anything except the machine and the road he was on. I am sure all of us that ride a motorcycle can appreciate that.
As I grew older and got bigger, I decided that I really liked the added comfort of having a bigger, more powerful machine. I wanted to be able to ride longer than a few 100 miles without feeling like my wrists were going to fall off. So I started riding bigger machines. I also needed to have a bike that could handle two up adventures. My wife loves riding and she wanted to spend more time doing the touring thing.
I have to say that the reason I ride a motorcycle is three fold. I love the journey. I love the fact that I can travel the globe, listening to the sounds of the universe. I can smell what the world has to offer, both good and bad. I can see this beautiful land from the back roads while never running into another soul on the road.
The second thing is the thrill. Yes even at my age of 50, my motorcycle still gives me a thrill. Nothing is better than zipping down a twisty road with all of your attention focused on the next curve. Not a care in the world, just trying to hit the apex, brake when needed and accelerating out of corners, feeling your bikes tires griping the road. Nothing makes for better mind clearing therapy than a good couple of miles on a fun serpentine road. Its still makes me smile just thinking about it.
The last thing is probably the most important thing. The building of relationships. I love the fact that my life partner and I can enjoy the bike together. I am sure we get different things from the ride, but we both seem to enjoy the feeling of being on the bike. The way we smile at each other after a nice fun spirited ride. The secure feeling I get when she leans into me as we speed down the road, not a care in the world. Riding the bike has played a large part in our closeness and it has given us a glimpse of what our future will look like when the kids are gone and we can spend more free time together.
It also about all of the great friends we have made while riding the bike. We have some of our best friends in our life because we ride a motorcycle. The relationships we have built on journeys has been irreplaceable. Nothing beats enjoying a day on the bike and then ending the day kicking tires and enjoying good friends. We have made many memories while riding the bike and look forward to making many more.
So back to the initial question. What is sport touring? My definition is this. Now remember 5 years down the road or even a year from now this might change, but at this day and time sport touring to me is this. Riding a machine that has enough power for two people to have a spirited ride on a good twisty surface. Preferable in the mountains with excellent pavement and no traffic. (yes I know I am dreaming, but it is my definition.. right? ) Riding a machine that can log many miles while still having the ability to get your attention when the fun starts.
It must have enough capacity to handle a good 3 to 4 day journey with no issue. It must be reliable and it must be fun. It needs to be able to go 200 miles on a tank of gas or somewhere close to that number. It would be beneficial to have some decent wind protection for those times when slabbing is a necessity. The seat has to be good, it has to be comfortable to ride at least 400 miles a day without complaint.
Nothing else is needed, except good friends, twisty roads and enough time to go out and enjoy this thing we call sport touring.
I am already looking forward to our next journey. So until then, stay safe my friends and enjoy the ride.