1998 Sport Tourers
The Truth is Out There
Touring Shootouts are headaches. Getting competing manufacturer's to get you their bikes all at the same time, setting aside time to test them all together, photo shoots, video footage, pissing off the losing manufacturers... They're generally a fat pain in the ass. But they do have their good points. After babe pictorials, they're the most requested documents on our site.
But test takes the cake. As well documented in Crashing Sucks, the test started off with a bang. After not getting either of our first two choices from Triumph (Trophy 1200 or 900), we settled for their new Sprint Executive that they were trying to push at the time. Okay, we accepted that. What we shouldn't have accepted is a bike prepped with 48 psi in the tires.
An initial estimate of $6,000ish in crash damage (not bad for just cosmetic damage on a $9,000 motorcycle) was later adjusted to $1,500. We had yet to take any pictures of this bike yet, and the staffer not clutching a broken hand failed to take any shots of the upside-down Sprint on the embankment.
The cute little socks disqualified about one photo in five. It was on this trip that the slave cylinder for the hydraulic clutch on the BMW started to leak.
Two weeks later on a photo shoot, racer Mark Miller pulls up to our staff photographer after a run and says, "Hey, the clutch is gone on this bike." Looking back to the trusty Honda ST1100, he notices that the rear tire has gone flat. After confirming that there isn't cell phone service in the Malibu Canyons they limped the bikes five miles back to the main road like a couple of hurt puppies. For the first (but not the last) time we did the ill-advised and applied a car tire patch to the rear tire of the ST. Driving without a clutch can be an adventure. For the rest of the test we took to carrying a bottle of DOT 4 around with the Beemer.
After leaving the ST1100 with American Honda, we discovered that the front rim was bent, and that a replacement would take two weeks to get here from Japan. Meanwhile the K1200RS had to be returned to BMW North America, so we got no shots of the bikes together. We got the Honda back for a few long trips later and as a final insult ran over something sharp on SR99 in the middle of the night as documented in When Fix-A-Flat Isn't Enough. The bright side? Well, we got two extra stories out of it.