1998 Sport Tourers

The Truth is Out There

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3: Mark Miller, Formula Xtreme, AMA #24

I learned to appreciate the beauty of the bright red Beemer right from the get-go as the bike drew a lot of looks at the busy street lights. As it turned out, the BMW was quite the canyon-carver as well. The seating position on the K12RS was a bit more aggressive than the ST with slightly lower bars and higher pegs, but never to the point of becoming uncomfortable. I didn't care for the overall width of the BMW when the saddlebags were fastened to the rear of the bike, however. They were protruding so far out from each side, I even clipped one of them on another object while tooling around in a gas station.

I felt the Honda had more low-end punch at slower speeds, but lacked the BMW's rush of power at the higher revs. Both bikes had excellent ground clearance, only the foot-pegs touched down.

The only other comparison between the two bikes that comes to mind was the ST had more powerful brakes, especially considering the BMW's rear anti-lock braking system was simply horrible. The BMW's rear brakes wouldn't allow a brisk stomping on the pedal without failing to work much at all! They would instead just make a "clunking" noise/pulse, with hardly any deceleration. The first thing I would do to this motorcycle if I bought one is bypass this system entirely.

I thoroughly enjoyed riding both these motorcycles. They even wheelie! But forced to choose, I would have to give the nod to the Beemer over the ST for it's sportier overall package and an elevated ranking in my "cool factor."

4: Greg McClure, Contributing Writer Sport Tourer Shootout.

Those words will forever have a nostalgic ring for me: Navigating the twisties, looking out over breathtaking vistas with nothing but leather between my skin and the rushing wind as I negotiated a tight bend on a lovely new Triumph Sprint and was thrown forcibly from my mount landing face first in the gravel and ending up with more pieces in my left hand than I'd started with that morning.

"The ST1100 comes out on top because it's cheaper but still does everything (kind of) the BMW does, and with enthusiasm."

Aside from that I really liked the Sprint, although it seemed a little low on power compared to the other bikes in this shootout. Also, the steering was a bit oodgy, and the wind protection wasn't all that great. Nevertheless, with price being a factor, it stood a chance.

But the competition was very tough. BMW's K1200RS surprised everyone. It seemed like a porker at first, and wasn't too comfortable for short hauls. Power was everywhere, but the real star feature was the handling which took the worst that spring roads had to offer and tossed it off like Caine working his cool kung fu on a bevy of bad dudes. Very nice.

But not cheap. Who wants to be a Shao-lin priest when you've got to pick up a white hot Dutch oven with your forearms just to join the club? Ouch. The thing is, once you fork over the nearly $17,000 it takes to own the BMW it might feel as though you'd rather have picked up the Dutch oven. Which leaves the ST1100.

Which is no mean compromise. This bike comes out on top because it's cheaper but still does everything (kind of) the BMW does, and with enthusiasm. It looks good, handles like a dream, gets you there in comfort, and also commutes, runs errands, and is built with typical Honda quality. Not bad. If I had the marks I'd probably queue up for a little German kung fu. But for all around quality that's easy on the pocketbook, I'll take the ST1100 and hire Caine to protect my ranch.

1998 Sport Tourers

#2 BMW K1200RS
One area the ST1100 can't touch the Beemer is design. The sexy red bike stood out in any crowd.
If even more obscene lean angles are required from the big German, the pegs can be raised and brought back about one inch in either direction.
Adding luggage rack and saddlebags is an affair worth about $856.
The source of the top-end power hit: BMW's first foray into ram air.
The diminutive windshield is hand-adjustable to two positions.
The display is easy to read and fairly complete.
BMW's K1200RS sits ready to attack the backroads of a county near you.


Manufacturer: BMW
Model: 1998 K1200RS
Price: $15,990 (as tested, with saddlebags: $16,846)
Engine: liquid-cooled in-line four cylinder
Bore and Stroke: 70.5 x 75 mm
Displacement: 1171cc
Carburetion:  fuel injection
Transmission: 6 speed
Wheelbase: 61.0 in (1594.4 mm) (unladen)
Seat Height: 30.3/31.5 in (769.2/800.1 mm) (two position adjustable)
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gal (20.8 L) 
Claimed Dry Weight: 586 lbs (265.8 kg)
Measured Peak Horsepower at rear wheel: N/A 


1998 Sport Tourers

#1 Honda ST1100
The well-laid-out dash of Honda's ST1100. On the left is the headlight adjustment knob, easily used, even on the road.
On the off chance that the well-placed mirrors whack a car, they break away without any permanent scars. Doing this yourself aids in adjusting the mirrors.
If you want to do big wheelies like us, you'll have to disable the traction control with the switch shown here.
The Linked ABS on the ST1100 was far superior to the ABS on BMW's K1200RS.
The only hole in the full-coverage fairing shows a well-finished head from the unique longitudinal V-Four.
While not bad, the bags were outshone by the offerings from BMW and Triumph.
Rumor has it that Honda's venerable Sport Touring champion is getting an update to keep it ahead of the crowd, stay tuned.


Manufacturer: Honda Model: 1998 ST1100 Price (w/ABS): $14,299 USD Engine: liquid-cooled 90° V-Four Bore and Stroke: 73 x 64.8 mm Displacement: 1084cc Carburetion: 4 34.5 mm Downdraft CV carburetors Transmission: 5 speed Wheelbase: 61.2 in (1554.5 mm) Seat Height: 31.5 in (800.1 mm) Fuel Capacity: 7.4 gal (28.0 L) Claimed Dry Weight: 659.2 lbs (299.O kg) Measured Peak Horsepower (at rear wheel): 91.1

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