2013 Sport-Touring Shootout 1.0 - Video
Yamaha FJR1300 vs. Honda ST1300 vs. Kawasaki Concours 14
It was a gross underestimation of time and distance on my behalf that got us into Death Valley so late, but riding through a moonlit desert in frigid temperatures at triple-digit speeds is an appropriate mission for a sport-touring bike. This environment also lends to emphasize the advantages and deficiencies among the competing participants.
When the ambient temperature of 39° F glowed through the darkness from the ST1300’s instrument cluster when crossing the Panamint Range, I was left with only the Honda’s windscreen to deflect the frigid effect of an approximate wind-chill temperature of 21° F. Chief Editor, Kevin Duke, on the FJR, and guest tester, Kaming Ko, on the Concours also had their windscreens in the high position. They, however, enjoyed the warmth emanating from their bikes’ heated grips, while my hands depended solely on the warmth supplied by the gloves I was wearing and the deflection from the Honda’s smartly placed mirrors.
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When it comes to cold temperatures, the Honda’s saving grace is its barn door of a windscreen. The electrically adjustable component boasts the greatest range of motion of the three, elevating from a resting position with a rider’s helmet in the wind to its highest position diverting all wind above a rider’s helmet. There’s a small amount of buffeting backdraft when the screen is in its highest position, but it’s preferable to a freezing, 80-mph frontal blast. The Honda’s windscreen is also stable in all circumstances whereas both the Yamaha’s and Kawasaki’s plastic screens tend to vibrate, then vibrate more the higher you raise them.
“At one stage of our ride, I was cruising along at 110 mph on the Honda with my faceshield open,” relates Duke. “It was a surprisingly sedate and pleasant experience that can be delivered by only a few motorcycles.”
A new U.S. model in 2003 and unchanged since, the ST is comparatively ancient to the introduced-in-2007 Concours 14 and revamped-for-2013 FJR. Presuming this stalwart of the sport-touring community fails miserably against these two younger, lighter, more powerful models is a foolish assumption.
However, this is certainly no fantasy shootout where the underdog snatches victory from its better-equipped competitors. No, the Honda loses this bout, but it fought a noble battle. And with no U.S. model ST scheduled for 2013, prophesying a revamped ST for 2014 is a tasty fantasy for sport-touring enthusiasts.
|Fuel Economy and Range|
|Tank Capacity||Amerage MPG||Range|
|ST1300||7.7 gal||40.32||310 miles|
|FJR1300||6.6 gal||38.35||253 miles|
|Concours 14||5.8 gal||35.38||205 miles|
“I dubbed the ST ‘the couch’ in our 2009 Sport-Touring shootout, and that characterization holds true in this battle,” says Duke. “Its plush suspension, comfy seat and expansive wind protection give it a long-haul edge on its rivals.”
On our sport-touring ScoreCard the Honda garnered 90% of the overall score in the Comfort-Ergonomics portion with the FJR a close 84% and the Concours trailing at 77%.
Another ScoreCard category the Honda dominated was Handling. “For what is easily the heaviest bike of this trio, the ST proves to be remarkably nimble, largely due to having the narrowest rear tire. If you had to do an MSF cone course on one of these, the Honda is your best bet,” says Duke.
Even our sportbike-centric guest tester, Ko, deservedly gave props to the Honda’s handling. “The ST1300’s handling hides its weight while its longitudinal V4 certainly helps when dropping the big bike into a corner,” he says.
Notice that each praiseful quote of the Honda’s handling was delivered with a caveat: the ST’s got a weight problem. Even compensating for its extra gallon of fuel capacity the ST comes in 85 pounds heavier than the lithe FJR.
|A Weighty Matter|
|Wet Weights||Weight With Fuel||Weight of Fuel
|Weight Without Fuel|
|FJR1300||639 lbs||41 lbs||598 lbs|
|Concours 14||688 lbs||36 lbs||652 lbs|
|ST1300||730 lbs||48 lbs||682 lbs|
In addition to its excessive poundage the ST’s other Achilles’s heel is its price. At $18,230 the Honda is $2000 more expensive than the Concours ($16,199) and $2300 more than the updated FJR ($15,890), leading Duke to quip, “The ST13 may be a two-wheel Acura, but if you’re gonna charge me an extra two grand, at least throw in some heated grips!”