Sport-touring motorcycles have a confounding job description. They need to be sporty and deliver plenty of performance capability while still managing to be comfortable enough for when the highway gets straight, flat, and boring. While both of our winners here lean towards the sporty side of the equation, they both manage to take the pain out of long days in the saddle while transporting us to distant locations with big smiles.

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When a bike is based on our 2014 Motorcycle of the Year and the 2017 MOBO Streetfighter/Hooligan runner up, you know it’s gonna knock your socks off. The KTM Super Duke GT does just that. In fact, during our Sport-Touring Three-Way back in April, the GT handily bested its two competitors. That victory, in addition to the mouth-watering experience we had testing it, is what nets the KTM Super Duke GT our selection as the Best Sport-Touring Motorcycle of the Year.

BMW S1000XR Vs. KTM 1290 Super Duke GT Vs. MV Agusta Turismo Veloce

The GT inherited one of the best engines on which we’ve ever had the pleasure of twisting the throttle. When we tested KTM’s 1301cc V-Twin engine, it cranked out 94.5 lb-ft of torque and a whopping 153 hp peak. All those ponies are controlled by an electronics package that includes Street, Sport, and Rain ride modes plus a semi-active suspension, Cornering ABS, cruise control, and a quickshifter. The GT also receives as standard equipment electronic tire-pressure monitoring, self-canceling turnsignals and LED cornering lights.

The SDGT’s visage would never be confused for anything other than a KTM. The sharply angled headlight and fairing are pushed forward into a distinctive snout. The windscreen allows enough breeze to flow past and help take the load off of the rider’s upper body and sporty grip position. Behind that, the touring range of the beast is augmented by a capacious 6.1-gallon tank. Bringing up the rear, an aluminum subframe supports the rider and passenger accommodations while providing mounting points for the standard (in the U.S.) saddlebags.

With a riding position decidedly on the sporty side of sport-touring, the GT manages to be aggressive without being uncomfortable during freeway stints. Get it on a serpentine road, and it will unwind the curves with its wide handlebar, formidable suspension, and ample torque. The seat is a reasonable 32.9 inches above the tarmac, and the pegs are rearward and high enough to offer good ground clearance without cramping folks who carry long inseams.

All that is cool, but it is the GT’s aggressive character that will really win over the hearts of performance-focused sport-touring riders. All that attitude and wide range of capabilities come with a big price – $19,999 – but if we could select any bike we wanted for a few days long tour that involved an abundance of twisting tarmac, we’d look no further than the Best Sport-Touring Motorcycle of the Year, the 2017 KTM Super Duke GT.

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The Kawasaki Ninja 1000 has been a MO favorite for a long time. So, we were excited when Kawasaki announced that it had been updated, and we were even more enthused when we discovered that Kawasaki had refined the Ninja 1000 in all the right places. While whole sections of the motorcycle remain mechanically the same, the big changes for the 2017 Ninja 1000 affect both power delivery and braking.

Although the big Ninja didn’t get ride-by-wire (or cruise control), some major electronic updates took place. A Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) allows additional precision in both the Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC) and the Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS). Using information gathered on five data points, the Kawasaki Cornering Management Function (KCMF) can intercede on the rider’s behalf when acceleration and braking requests exceed the limits of available traction. The engine, one of the things we’ve always loved about the 1000, remains mechanically the same, and the updated EFI settings still deliver grin-inducing acceleration from the bottom end right up to the rev limit.

The updated fairing clearly marks it as a member of the Ninja family. The windscreen is easily adjustable for fine-tuning the airflow over the rider as weather conditions require. Stylish saddlebags are available, and their mounting system no longer requires trimming of bodywork.

The Ninja 1000’s $12,199 (without bags) only adds to its desirability. The almost $8,000 dollar difference between the class-winning KTM Super Duke GT can pay for a lot of road trips, making the Ninja a great value choice for the Sport-Touring market, which is why it is the Honorable Mention in the MOBO Sport-Touring category.

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080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-cruiser 081517-mobo-categories-2017-touring-winner 081417-mobo-categories-2017-standard-winner
080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-sport-touring 080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-on-off-road-adventure 080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-dirtbike
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080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-electric 080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-technology 080117-MOBO-Categories-2017-product
  • Gabriel Owens

    Jmho but chain drive on a touring bike is a pita. When you’re racking up 600-800 miles a day it becomes a chore. Nothing wrong with chores, but I ride to escape.

    • Born to Ride

      I used to do 5-600 miles a week commuting on my Sprint. Center stand and single sided swing arm makes life so much easier. Clean and lube every other week(15 minutes) and adjust once a month(20 minutes). I have to say though, the shaft drive on my California is nice!

      • Sayyed Bashir

        I lube the chain on my KTM 1190 R and Suzuki Bandit 1250S every 600 miles. The center stand on both bikes makes it easy. Takes 5 minutes.

        • Born to Ride

          I always bust out the brush and the rags. Clean the chain off with silicon based degreaser, then lube with PJ1 meticulously around the chain in between the link plates and on the rollers. That’s why it even takes me 15 minutes.

          • Gabriel Owens

            Ive started power washing the chain, drying, then putting on the chain wax. Every 600 miles.

          • Born to Ride

            Always did that with my dirt bike when I got back from the track. Works real good like.

          • spiff

            Be careful with o ring chains.

          • Gabriel Owens

            Ive heard that.

    • WPZ

      There’s about 52,000 miles on the chain on my ZX1100E. I guess I must have quite a nether-regions injury by now.
      It’s the second chain, the first only went 47,000. The sprockets are still OEM.
      Vastly less trouble than a BMW final drive. Had a couple.

      • Gabriel Owens

        Very impressive.

      • bvail

        I’m impressed! Didn’t think one could get that kind of chain mileage.

        BTW I’ve had many Japanese shaft drives and nary a problem, but understand the Beemer issue. Many riders of BMW in IBR had DNF due to final drive failure.

      • HazardtoMyself

        I have to ask, how are you getting that mileage out of a chain? Which do you use?

        I can’t get more than 18k out of most. Usually it is 12-15k and they are done. That is cleaning & oiling every 400- 500 miles and keeping its slack in spec.

        • WPZ

          Not the first chain I’ve had success with.
          My first Kawasaki was a ’77 KZ650. The OEM chain went a little over 40K. The parts manager hung it up with a big sign on the wall behind the parts counter to let customers know it wasn’t Kawasaki’s fault their chains blew at 7K.
          The ZX went first on the OEM chain, and then this one is a TK or something like that. The parts guy can’t remember exactly either.
          I will say this is the longest I ever got out of a chain.
          PJ1 has been my chain lube since the mid-70s. The old stuff in the old days and Blue Label now. Every 300-400 miles or when it gets rained on.
          I guess keeping the front wheel on the ground most of the time might be helping. I can’t say it’s just maturity, since I was only in my mid/late twenties with the KZ650.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          Most people ruin their chains by adjusting them too much. Lubing every 600 miles is all that is necessary. Chains need a lot of slack because they tighten when the swing arm goes through its full stroke. Also they wear unevenly so some sections may be tighter than others. Too loose is always better than too tight.

        • Born to Ride

          I get 20k per chain pretty regularly, but I run them till they’d just about wasted. This guy clearly cruises at the most leisurely of paces and lives in a 0% humidity climate.

    • c w

      On a modern sealed chain, can you not get by with the occasional maintenance extension?

      I just did 1400 miles over 3 days (2 with downpours) without touching the chain. After letting the bike rest for few days, I just sprayed/scrubbed/wiped/lubed the chain.

      A fully sealed drive train would be nice, but the chain isn’t too much of a problem for me for now.

      • Gabriel Owens

        Whered you go on the 1400 miles if you dont mind me asking? Having health problems right now so im living vicariously through the adventures of others.

        • c w

          Grambling, Louisiana to Trenton GA; Up Lookout Mountain then to Harrisonburg, VA; rode the Skyline Dr. (nice views, but you have to buy a $20 7-day pass and the speed limit is 35) then through town in Baltimore for the first time before finding a side road detour to get off of 95 up to Revzilla in Philly; parked the bike for a few days in Jersey City. I’ll be heading up to Lenox MA (the Berkshires…almost nothing but bucolic beauty) for a couple days before heading back to NYC, then south toward GA where my brother and sister to try to fit in ride in with them. It would be the first time that I’ve ever gotten to ride with him. After that, back home to The Boot via The Slab.

          If I may ask, temporary problems?

          • Gabriel Owens

            I was born in Shreveport, live in Sabine national forest now, we’re almost neighbors.

            I had a hole in my large colon. Caused a lot of problems still dealing with an enlarged spleen. And ill find out Wednesday if i have MS. Im not working, pretty much useless. But life is still beautiful most days. Thank God for the internet.

          • c w

            That we are. My mother’s from Shreveport. I used to be there almost every week.

            Wow. Well, not working for somebody else doesn’t mean you can’t be doing something for yourself. The body needs rest, put the mind to work. I have had my periods of inactivity..in fact I was dealing with a spell of depression recently…just before some mysterious agent caused my lymph node to swell. I got over it and decided to no put this trip off any longer. I learned I am still subject to self-loathing and pity that has caused me problems in the past.

            BUT…one must keep progressing. One way or another.

            I pray the only MS in your future is to your east.

            Useless is a choice. Don’t make it 😉 .

          • Gabriel Owens

            Yeah im keeping busy. I pulled some cypress out of lake bistenau near Ringold, La. that im making into a table and chairs. Just got done sanding and staining all my cabinets. Mowed the yard today. Stuff like that. You know those chores you can never find time for? Yeah. Lol.

          • c w

            Cool. Sometimes I think about going and taking some wood/metalworking classes.

          • Gabriel Owens

            If you screw up with wood, just sand and start over. All i know, i learned off YouTube.

          • c w

            update – took HWY 30 to Tuscarora Summit in PA on the way back.

            and there is an “individual” in that appeared to work or patronize Focus Fitness in Brandon, MS with a Ferd F(whatever)50 with Mississippi plates and U of Alabama stickers (traitor much?) who thinks a bike moving up to change lanes at a red light constitutes “cutting through cars” and is a justification for cutting in front of said bike off mid-turn.

            so watch out for that…”individual” if you live around there.

          • Gabriel Owens

            Yea thats a good trip. I have family in NYC. Think about going a lot and see niagra falls too.

          • c w

            I toyed with going up to Canada. I also thought about making a circuit of the Lower 48 – I’m planning to go check out Portland, OR. I’m not certain I’ll take the bike out there though. Two days of this has been plenty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=521Y1POxcKA.

          • Gabriel Owens

            I did oregon on a klr650 in 2015. Nothing like a nice goat cheese platter served by a girl with more armpit hair than me.

          • Jon Jones

            Made me LOL!

          • c w

            From La? Impressive…

          • Gabriel Owens

            Nah, i left from Williston North Dakota. Did a big loop. 7k mikes in total over 12 days. Did all of 101 from san Diego to Olympia Washington. Portland was a detour. Elliot smith fan, so i looked up all his old bars and hangouts.

          • c w

            2009 GSF1250 that I rescued from some huckster for probably too much money.

            https://cwalkerjr.blogspot.com/2016/11/essalie-lubelle-mae.html
            Done

  • Born to Ride

    Ninja 1000 for me. I don’t need the 30% extra displacement or electronics. Maybe by the time my multistrada dies they’ll have fixed the insurance rates.

  • John B.

    These are great choices for the reasons described above. This is a tough category, however, because the category has a wide range, and subjective preferences likely drive purchase decisions. As second runner-up, I might add the BMW K1600 GT.

    • Gabriel Owens

      The sound that bike makes is probably its top feature.

    • c w

      I think this category should be split into ‘light” STs and “heavy” STs. It just doesn’t seem to me the person looking at a Ninja or DGT is cross-shopping a K1600. Once on that level, comfort/features/convenience is taking a different level of importance.

      • John B.

        I visited a multi-line dealer this weekend and sat on the SDGT, Ninja 1000, K1600, and the BMW 1200 sport tourer. I agree this category should be split into light and heavy divisions based on weight. I guess we could add the Ducati Supersport to the mix in the light weight category.

      • Brent

        I don’t think there is such a thing as a Heavy ST….

        I think we should have a middleweight touring class such as the 1200 RT and Norge GT

        And heavyweight would go with the k1600. And gold wing …

        So basically I’m agreeing with how this website already has things categorized

  • Matt Gustafson

    I’ve ridden the Super Duke and it forever ruined me. My trusty FZ-1 seems so underpowered in comparison. When they came out with the GT, I figured that KTM had read my mind, and built a bike just for me. Now about the price tag…….

    • Sayyed Bashir

      If you really want something, you can always find a way to pay for it.

      • SRMark

        I want my mother back.

        • Born to Ride

          Way to go dark man. Sorry for your loss.

        • Jon Jones

          Ouch. That hit me in the heart. Life hasn’t been as good since my folks passed on.

  • My vote goes to the Yammy Tracer

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Wow! KTM is killing it this year. They said they wanted to be the top motorcycle manufacturer in the world and they seem to be getting there fast. Most people don’t realize how much fun KTM bikes are. One thing keeping them away is the price, but quality costs money, and KTM uses the best parts to get the best results. Other bikes will get you from point A to point B, but on a KTM you want to go all the way to Z.

    • Born to Ride

      I would have bought a leftover SDR last year when they KTM dealer was offering 18k OTD and they give you a Duke 390 for free (you pay the registration and tax still tho). I test rode the bike and it put my hands to sleep after 5-10 minutes at freeway speeds, and downshifting to 5th didn’t help. Considering I’d spend close to 8 hours a week at exactly that speed, it certainly didn’t make me want to ride to point Z. That roll on power was unreal though, can’t argue with physics…

      • spiff

        The gt put your hands to sleep?

        • Born to Ride

          Regular SDR, not the GT.

    • Gabriel Owens

      Is that why the 2014-2016 1190 models ingest dirt and the 1290’s came from the factory with improperly laced front wheels? Not to mention the “clunk” gremlin and factory bags that would seize up rendering them useless, locked up with all your belongings inside. Yep, KTM is awesome. And the dealers were AMAZING.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        So you couldn’t wait to dig up all the dirt? I have a 2015 1190 R and it doesn’t ingest dirt. Why don’t you get your facts straight before posting? The KTM pannier locks are easy to fix. Just loosen the latch screws a few turns. Any other problems you have?

        • Gabriel Owens

          Get my facts straight?. I owned a 1190 S as well as a 1290 SA. 1190S Had the airbox issue same as many others on the forums. Even after the ktm “fix” still had dust build up inside the trumpets. 1290 had severe headshake at 50 mph from the first day i bought it. Developed the clunk gremlin at around 5k miles. Fanboys tend to get triggered when faced with alternative facts. Go to your safe space and try to decompress.

          As far as the bags, yeah it sucked being 2 days from home and having the latching mechanism go off track, locking the bags permanently. The dealer destroyed the bags getting them opened for me. But at least they replaced em. Oh and the new ones didnt work well either.

          Maybe i was just the most unlucky guy ever but 2 ktms, both were unreliable. But ive never had a SINGLE problem with any Japanese bike ive ever owned.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            You didn’t mention which year 1190 S you owned, but went ahead and listed all 2014-2016 models. The 1190 S is more street oriented anyway. Why were you riding it in the dust? The pannier latch issue is easy to fix. I have a top box with no issues. I don’t know anything about the 1290 SA. And how many Japanese bikes did you ride in the dust? If not, how did you know they didn’t have the same airbox problem? Which Japanese Adventure bike did you have?

          • Gabriel Owens

            #triggered?

          • Sayyed Bashir

            I also have a 2007 Suzuki Bandit 1250S with 50,000 miles and no airbox problems (it is never ridden in the dirt) and no pannier latch problems (it doesn’t have panniers). What does that prove?

          • Jon Jones

            ??

          • Jon Jones

            “Why were you riding it in the dust?”

            You must ride where there is nary a speck of dirt. How about going through construction zones? Short jaunts down forest roads where other vehicles kick up dust? Agricultural areas?

            OK, Sayyed. I like you and your posts. But you tend to defend the indefensible at times.

            Still friends?

          • Sayyed Bashir

            The street oriented 1190 S is meant for mostly street riding. The 1190 R is for dirt riding. Also his comment that he did not have any problems with his Japanese bikes is not applicable here because they were not being used in the dust like the KTM and did not have panniers. I also don’t have any of those problems with my Suzuki street bike.

          • Jon Jones

            EVERY motorbike needs proper air filtration. KTM failed here.

            Just admit it.

        • Jon Jones

          “So you couldn’t wait to dig up all the dirt?”

          It was easy with all the dirt in the air box!

          I’ve seen this with my own eyes while servicing KTMs. I’d be HORRIFIED to see dust-encrusted throttle-bodies on my ultra-pricey, “Ready to Race” KTM. Pretty inexcusable for a company that is built on racing in the dustiest conditions imaginable.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Evans, I see what you did there with the title picture: A KTM Super Duke GT in Kawasaki green livery! I almost didn’t read the article because I thought to myself who cares if it is not a KTM. I suppose I have drunk too much of the Orange Kool-Aid (according to Old MOron). You know why KTM chose Orange? Because all the other colors were already taken: Red for Honda, Blue for Yamaha, Green for Kawasaki and Yellow for Suzuki. KTM wanted to make their bikes stand out.

    • Matt Gustafson

      If you look at all of the other award winners, you will see that they have put a different color on all of them. For sport touring, the green was almost a hint as to what the runner up was.

    • Born to Ride

      “Who cares if it’s not KTM”
      I think you’ve graduated from Orange Kool-Aid to orange Krack-Kocaine.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        Hey, I am only interested in the brands I ride. I don’t ride Kawasaki and I don’t like green motorcycles.

        • Born to Ride

          So if Kawasaki built a bike that was objectively better than any motorcycle in its class, you wouldn’t ride it? Also they paint bikes other colors than green. I actually think this one comes in Orange. Just saying…

          • Sayyed Bashir

            Nope: Only Candy Lime Green and Metallic Carbon Gray. Right now I am not looking for another bike since I have all the bases covered: cruiser, adventure and sport bike. The only bike I will buy next is the KTM 350 EXC-F so I can hone my dirt riding skills.

  • AZgman

    I guess there is SPORTY-touring and then there is TOURING-sporty. At my age, I lean towards the latter and could never ride your choice (KTM) for more than an hour. My choice would be the BMW R1200GS.

  • Starmag

    It’s undoubtedly a great bike, but the weird pointy styling and one unpopular color are too polarizing for me. I don’t know why KTM would limit themselves in this way with an otherwise great product. “Branding” I guess.

    • Born to Ride

      I too dislike the aesthetics. I thought I might like it better in person. Nope, even uglier.

  • Speedwayrn@yahoo.com

    Compared to Motus the KTM seems weak and too far on the sporting end for long distance touring. The KTM suspension is also rough as hell no matter what setting its on. The KTM is a sport bike with bags stuck on it. Thats fine, but that doesn’t make it a SportTOURING bike.

    • spiff

      How many miles do you have on the Motus and GT?

      • Speedwayrn@yahoo.com

        19,567 miles.

        • spiff

          Really, both bikes or one?

      • Kevin Duke

        Anyone who says the KTM is weak hasn’t ridden one…

    • Born to Ride

      If the Motus was 10-15 grand cheaper it would probably own this category every year.

    • Brent

      Sounds like you just want a touring bike

    • Brent

      You’re old guy…. I always thought SportTouring was for people who still wanted a sport bike, but a bike that was easier on the limbs, but still plenty capable with touring capabilities. I’ve always hated the suspension on these bikes… Just defeats the purpose of SPORTtouring.

  • Jim

    We have a local dealer (Latus Motors) who sells both Triumph and Harley. Yesterday, I rode back to back on a Triumph Trophy and 2017 Street Glide Special. The Glide definitely has the ‘cool’ factor. It looks great, has a low center of gravity, a great engine, and reasonably good suspension. But, in nearly every measurable category (speed, handling, suspension, braking, and comfort), the Trophy is the better bike. It’s missing the soul and sound of the V-Twin, though. Will someone please build me a middle-weight sports touring bike with a kick-ass twin? The Guzzi Norge almost got my money last year, but it’s being discontinued. I don’t like the tall ‘Adventure’ bikes. They lack weather protection. The first to build a torquey twin sports tourer will have my money. Think good fairing protection, adjustable windshield, sizable saddlebags, heated grips, and loads of torque. Does anyone make a soulful bike like this?

    • Born to Ride

      The Norge is a really nice bike. I bet you could snag a leftover at a great deal. I think if they updated the Norge with the Euro 4 compliant engine in the California, that would be the perfect touring machine. Big thumpy V-Twin that is buttery smooth on the freeway with a nice broad powerband. Couple that with the excellent ergonomics and wind protection of the Norge and you’ve got a winner. Plus shaft drive! Start sending Miguel Galluzzi your email requests.

      • Jim

        People who haven’t tried the Guzzi twin don’t know what they’re missing. It’s an excellent engine. I agree with you. An updated Norge with the Cali twin would be really nice.

        • spiff

          Guzzi was supposed to show up with a water cooled unit for 2017. Bummed me out, I was waiting. Norge, Griso, and a new Lemans would have been nice. I guess they only have so many resources. Aprilia seem to be taking sport and Guzzi going cruiser.

          • halfkidding

            They have killed the 1200, Norge, Grisso and Stelvio I believe. Stay tuned for perhaps a radical, for Guzzi, replacement. Perhaps not even a transverse air cooled V twin. Or not, we will see.
            I just went from a dozen years on ZZR 1200’s to a Stelvio. I miss the endless power and speed and the GT sort of front wheel centric handling but for me the comfort and luggage capacity of the Stelvio became too desirable. Leaving for another few weeks on the road now.

    • TriumphRider87

      I love my Norge. Comfortable, fun, full of character. Faster than you expect. Surprisingly nimble in the twisties, and also super planted and stable on the superslab. Makes me smile every time I ride it. No issues with it. Easy to keep. Shaft drive. And it has Italian style. Only thing I added was an after-market shorter screen from Cal Sci, otherwise perfect out of the box. Check one out – new leftover or pick up a used one for a song.

  • CFLAP

    Category is sport “touring”, right? I get the “sport” part but the “touring”? Oh I see, It has saddlebags……

  • The KTM Super Duke GT is to a true Sport touring machine like the BMW R1200RT as a small day pack is to a full-framed 100-litre expedition backpack. The KTM is okay for a brief jaunt, maybe even a weekend trip, but when you head out from Dallas for Mystic Seaport, Connecticut you’re gonna need real comfort, true wind protection and convenient features like shaft drive.

    No, the KTM is a pretender to the throne, BMW created the category and still rules with the R1200RT, the R1200RS and the K1600GT.

    ( I bought the first R100RT in 1979, and have well over 250,000 cumulative touring miles on BMWs)

    • c w

      I am typing this from a friend’s apartment in New Jersey after having traveled from north Louisiana on the back of a 2009 Suzuki Bandit.

      Why can’t this Kwak be a real ST?

      • Your masochism does not a sport tourer make either …

        • c w

          It doesn’t. Nor does your glibness.

          But what do our respective psychological profiles have to do with faired standard motorcycles with long wheelbases large bore engines tuned for torque and cruising at low revs?

          • Akumu

            Hence the previous posts stating that there should be a ‘heavy’ and ‘light’ or shaft or chain bracket for sport touring. Both need cruise though.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        My 2007 Suzuki Bandit has a wide comfortable seat and a nice windscreen. The engine is smooth and torquey. I could see touring long distances on it without any problem.

    • Brent

      Real Comfort isn’t a sport touring machine though… That’s a TOURING machine and you aren’t looking to sport a damn thing. smdh..

  • Vrooom

    I’m not saying you can’t tour on the Ninja, you can tour on almost anything, but it doesn’t come to mind listing the sport tourers had you not included it. It seems more of a standard.

    • WPZ

      The good part is that there are excellent alternatives on luggage.
      The below-mentioned ZX1100E is possibly approaching retirement, showing just shy of 100K miles. Back in the day, it was dismissed in a manner similar to your view of the Ninja, but experience has showed that with customization- and pretty much any sport-touring rider will customize- it will come into proper focus.
      The Ninja is pretty much the only newer bike I see that could replace the ZX in terms of function. I’m looking forward to the one I eventually get, if the ZX ever does wear out.
      And, to the subject of KTM styling: No.

    • c w

      Well, are not STs more standard than focused sportbikes?

    • Geldscheisser

      Mind you, I’m no youngster, but I did 700 miles in 2 days on a Ninja with an aftermarket seat, and never again!

      • mugwump

        After 3 Corbins I have 1 word for you; Airhawk.

        • Jon Jones

          Thanks. I’ll try one.

        • Geldscheisser

          Funny you should mention that I’ve been thinking about it. I bought a gel cushions, but eventually the heat from the engine gets absorbed by the gel and cooks your butt.

    • talonz51

      You have strange ideas on what a standard and sport tourer are….n1k is awesome at going car and fast.

  • c w

    cruise, if only as an option, needs to happen. at last start offering a stock throttle lock.

    (it would be nice to see what an OEM could come up with for a throttle lock.

  • Ray Bjur

    Interesting that the 2 bikes selected don’t actually fit well in the “Sport Touring” category. There are at least 4 other current model bikes that aren’t even mentioned so it appears this article is more a sales pitch than a legitimate review.

    • Brent

      I’m sure the bikes you’re about to list are actually just touring bikes… let me guess
      K1200, k1600, FJR, and c14? Two of these bikes are getting discontinued due to euro 4…

  • madskills

    I have an 2015 r1200r with all the electronics and the navigator setup. I put on a windscreen or my choice and now looking at different bag configurations. It rocks. You can get the setup for $3,000 less then the KTM with a shaft drive. Choices…..

    • Born to Ride

      The R1200RS sells for about 20 grand OTD similarly equipped to the SDRGT. So trying to say you’ll save money by cross shopping BMW is silly. However, you do get a much smoother and effortless riding experience, albeit with a much lower performance envelope. I would have bought the RS two years ago but not for the price and lack of availability of the base model.

      • madskills

        I had a big Suzuki Madura back in 1986 with that powerful V-4. It had a windscreen which I could see over, a silky smooth engine, shaft drive, and it was as comfortable as a bacalounger. It definitely could do the touring miles, drove it from Milwaukee to Orlando in two days and felt great at the end( was 35 so may have played a part). I miss that bike…. That’s how I like to tour….

        • Jon Jones

          The GV1200 Madura was vilified, but was actually a fine bike. I remember installing smaller pilot jets on several as they ran very rich at low throttle settings. Quite a motor!

          Good times…

          • madskills

            yep… the Magna and Madura with those engines should be brought back with fuel injection. They would certainly be beasts even today.

  • Geldscheisser

    Nobody ever mentions the lack of reliability and costs of maintaining these European bikes. It’s bad enough to pay thousands more to purchase them, but then you will pay thousands more to maintain them. I’ll take my “easy peasy japanesey” any day for bang for the buck and drop dead reliability.

    • Jon Jones

      Have to agree here. I wrench on both and will always pick a sweet Japanese bike over a fussy Euro Super-Model.

      But I can’t help but love both and will score a clean Euro-Bike some fine day.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      I have had my KTM 1190 R for 2 1/2 years and 26,000 miles with no cost of maintenance other than oil changes and tires.

  • Mark Vizcarra

    Dont both bikes have vibration issues? Tingly vibes on feet and handlerbars are a deal breaker. They need to make a smooth sport tourers that doesnt have the BMW name on it.

    • WPZ

      The conventional wisdom has the Ninja getting a bigger front sprocket with no real loss in performance to settle things down. That’s second on my plan after Givis.

    • Akumu

      Counter balancer added for 2017 seems to have calmed things down vibe wise on the N1K

  • Lee S

    The KTM is an automatic no-go for many of us.

    First, who can afford that kind of scratch for a bike? Not me, fer sure. And for the increased cost of ownership, are you really going to enjoy that bike that much more than an N1K? I’m gonna guess, the answer is no. Winner- N1K

    Next, KTM’s have their particular issues; some refer to them as character, much like they do w/all Italian-made bikes. In contrast, Kawi’s are reliable as anvils. Winner- N1K

    Lastly, how many KTM dealerships are there near you, especially should you have an issue? I live in a dedicated area of 6 million+ people- from Stuart to Miami- and we have 2 KTM shops in that region, located way far apart. There’s at least 8 Kawi dealerships in the same area, plus loads of private shops trained to work on Kawi’s. I’m gonna guess we couldn’t say the same about KTM’s. Winner again- N1K

    None of these facts & KTM ownership makes for a winning combination in my opinion. Yeah, it’s an awesome bike, I’ll give it that. But overall, there’s one clear winner in my book- N1K.

    • c w

      Hm. Touring comparo between Ninja 1K and Versys 1K?

    • Mark Vizcarra

      A lot of people can afford these bikes. People shell out 18-25k for base model Harleys and Indians with half of the performance. These are the same people KTM is targeting also.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      So your entire opinion is based on what? Did you ride a KTM 1290 Super Duke GT before forming your opinion? I pass my KTM dealership twice daily on my way to work and it has been there for 40 years. I bought a Harley and a KTM 1190 R both at full price. If somebody wants something they find a way to pay for it. Are you going to tell a Ducati, Aprilia or BMW owner that a Kawasaki is better?

      • Chip Diller

        My opinion is based on my 40 years of bike ownership & riding. Gimme practical & dependable any day over exclusive & problem-filled, BMW being a prime example.

        You may be lucky to have a KTM dealership so close but many won’t have that option. I’m glad for you that you can afford such luxuries in life but I can’t/won’t spend $18g’s on a bike, which, at best is a source of entertainment or fun for most of us.

        As for the Kawi comparo to the other bikes, yes, I’ll tell you that they are, overall, better built bikes than any Italian or German bike. JD Powers will confirm that since none of the Euro bikes will allow their quality control issues to be recorded by them. Know why? Because they don’t want the world to know the issues w/their bikes. Mercedes Benz, Audi and other high end Euro car makers don’t release that data to JD Powers either for the same reason.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          Well different strokes for different folks. “Practical and dependable” is one thing but it sure isn’t “entertainment or fun”. See all the Honda reviews compared to KTMs. Look at all the winning categories in this year’s MOBO awards. I use my bikes for commuting as well as weekend camping trips. Haven’t had any problems to speak of. The key is to keep them well maintained. Even a dependable bike which is not taken care of will eventually break down. Take care of your bikes and they will take care of you.

        • Brent

          As many guys I see walk out with a brand new HD I don’t see the issue. Just like Sayyed Bashir I buy my bikes to commute on and they are a fun way to commute. Practical and Dependable isn’t entertainment or fun… Otherwise I’d be in a Honda Civic instead of my Mustang GT

  • mugwump

    I never evolved past the FJR. Just replaced the Gen 1 with a brand new ’15 for 14.2 OTD. They come with bags.

  • Mad4TheCrest

    Am I the only one wondering why the Multistrada line wasn’t an option? Ok, they are styled as ‘ADVs’ but so are KTMs and everybody knows Multis are really Sport Tourers with heavy emphasis on Sport.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      The KTM 1290 Super Duke GT is not styled as ‘ADV’.

      • Mad4TheCrest

        Seriously? KTM’s entire street bike line was born out of their dirt and dual-purpose DNA. The GT is at least ADV-styled in my opinion

        • Sayyed Bashir

          The 1290 Super Adventure S, R and T and 1090 Adventure R are ADV styled. The 1290 Super Duke GT is derived from the 1290 Super Duke R which is a naked bike. It doesn’t go off-road.

  • Rob Mitchell

    I’m not keen on chain drive bikes. It was a major consideration when I bought my VFR200F. I love KTM except for the silly unnecessary high seats and the chain drive, I just can’t understand why in 2017 we still have to walk around a supposed modern piece of machinery with an oil can like our grandfathers did when they drive steam trains, bizarre. KTM is a wonderful bike spoilt by 2 silly mistakes.

    • Jon Jones

      Indeed, the seat heights on KTMs are stratospheric.

      And chains aren’t so bad, especially if the bike has a centerstand. The ability to change gearing is welcome. I’ve lowered the gearing on my V-Strom 1000 and raised the gearing on my Versys 650.

      BTW, love those VFR1200Fs.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        Chains are necessary if you are going to ride off-road. Spraying chain lube takes only 5 minutes every 600 miles. For street riding, belt drive is best, although my Suzuki Bandit has chain drive which I don’t mind. Seat height on the 1190 R is 35″ which is OK on pavement but makes it difficult to hold up the bike on uneven terrain. Not really a problem if you are a good off-road rider.

  • Those aren’t STs, but sport bikes with bags on them.

    • Brent

      Then why does bmw name the R1200RS as a sport touring bike and the k1200 as touring? You tell me…

      • Jim L

        Marketing. They are on the sport end of sport touring. Too sporty for my back, knees and height. If was going to actually tour, I would choose a RT over both of those if I wanted something lighter than a full on touring bike.

        • Brent

          Could just be the market itself has redefined sport touring in itself. If we look at the market most people looking for comfort and reasonable speed move to the ADV style bikes to tour on. People looking to sport tour on gravitate towards bikes like the N1K or SDKGT.

          Probably why Kawasaki chose to update the ZX14(ZZR) for Euro 4 and left the Concours(GTR) to die. Ironically, the Euro version of the site lists it as Sports Touring with the Concours nowhere in sight. To further my point.. Kawasaki just released a H2SX another sport touring bike.

          • Jim L

            The market is responding to the young that still have good backs. For older folk like myself that are also very tall, those bikes don’t work at all for me, but I don’t want a 900lb whale either. What’s left that works well for me is the R1200GSA and RT. The Versys 1000LT might too, but I don’t care for chains anymore either. SO, in the meantime I’ll keep my 2009 RT until something else gets my attention or I hang it up.

  • Akumu

    Am in the market for a light sport tourer next year and, coincidentally, these are the two finalists. (Leftover 16 SDGT for probably $15k and leftover 17 N1K for $10k) Leftover because neither of these bikes sell for a shit in America. Going to their respective forums is hilarious. No real complaints on the N1K and SD-GT failures/recalls/people giving up and selling galore. I own 16 Tuono so I know forums with people bitching about broken shit. (See: 11-15 Tuonos and the ASSLOADS of problems they had. So I know about bitching but those SD-GT forums take the cake.) Heart says SD-GT head says N1K. Plenty of time still to decide.