WRN reader Michele Karaffa Cage used to ride a cruiser, but she wanted to ride on gravel roads. Listen to her tell us why she chose the BMW F 700 GS as her do-all motorcycle.
What’s in a letter? That’s the challenge BMW set out to tackle. The BMW F 800 ST carried the company’s middleweight sport touring flag for six years, but after listening to ST owners—and wannabe ST owners who felt something was preventing them from pulling the trigger—BMW decided the bike needed more gran turismo (i.e., touring elements).
Manufacturers regularly update and improve upon motorcycles already in their lineups, but last year Honda didn’t just make an existing model better—it designed a brand-new VFR. A sleek, 167-horsepower, liquid-cooled, 76-degree V-4 VFR1200F has taken the place of the “either you love it or hate it” VTEC VFR800.
People ask me, “What is a touring bike?” and I always say it’s any bike you’re touring on. I know I know, but really, unless you’re doing some truly hardcore riding, anything with a decent-sized gas tank that’s comfortable for a couple-day’s ride that you can strap some gear on is fine. Still, it’s very nice to have a bike that’s actually built for touring and the 650cc Versys is a versatile choice.
The Buell motorcycles have come a long way since the late 1990s, from tubular frames to frames with the gas tank included in the design. Riding a Buell motorcycle is unique in that you are included in the Harley, BMW and metric sportbike crowd. Most of the models look like the metric sportbikes but are actually open standard motorcycles, with the exception of the new 1125R and the Buell Firebolt.
The press office steers me toward its Concours 14 supersport touring model instead of the smaller bike I had asked for. “Its the most comfortable bike youll ever ride,” Im told, and an hour later Im cruising Highway 5 wondering how 1352cc and 650 pounds could feel so … well, so darn light and nimble.