F1 pundit Martin Brundle talks sports tourers
We recently took five sports tourers to the famous Nurburgring – the Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally, BMW K1600GTL, KTM 1290 Super Duke GT, Kawasaki ZZR1400 and Yamaha’s new MT-10 with every official Yamaha touring accessory fitted to find out which is the best fun-loving tourer.
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Ex-Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle, who owns a BMW K1600GT came along on the test, and these are his thoughts on the bikes.
The full test is available in the current issue of MCN.
“My K1600 is an incredible piece of kit. I’ve ridden home from the Ring, 500-miles in one sitting after a weekend working at a GP in the pouring rain. You can set the cruise control to pretty quick speeds and you don’t get wet, tired and you don’t have to stop for fuel.
“It’s just relentlessly fast. I also like the fixed luggage, the dealer back-up and the dash display – I like to keep an eye on tyre pressures. But what I’ve learned today is that I want a lighter bike. My perfect bike would be a lightweight K1600 GT. I would give up all the central locking, music and a bit of the fairing for something around 270kg.
“The Yamaha is fun, but it’s not a touring bike because of the fuel range. Coming back from GPs late at night through France, fuel can be difficult to get, especially if the machines won’t take your card. It doesn’t have much wind protection, either.
“I really enjoyed the Yamaha on the B258 towards the Ring. Once I started to believe in the front end a little bit, after five years on a K1600 GT, it was great. The engine is a cracker, but the front brake left me wondering a few times. It seemed to be however hard you pulled it didn’t seem to bite. I expected it to stand on its nose on the brakes. My 1600 has a better front brake than that and it stops, despite being 320kg. It’s got a nicer bite and feel to it.
“The Yamaha has a nicer gearbox, although I didn’t get off it thinking I need to buy one, but I really liked it and it was cracking around the track.
“Like the Yamaha, I was a little bit surprised at the lack of wind protection on the KTM, so it couldn’t be my 500-mile bike. I love that engine, though and it handles well on track, but if I ever wanted to do something on the dash I couldn’t get anywhere with it. It’s not intuitive. It’s like the Aprilia’s cruise control button on the right bar – who signed that off?
“The Kawasaki’s engine is like a torque-laden turbine and you’d buy it just for the motor. It’s my favourite here and makes me wonder why I haven’t tried the GTR.
“But I gelled with the Aprilia Caponord better than the KTM and Yamaha, which surprised me, and I don’t know why. I liked the torque from the engine, the clutch, brakes and the shift. I just rode it better and more smoothly, but there’s no reason why I’d swap my BMW for it. Nothing about it stood out and excited me and it was the second one to need fuel after the Yamaha. Wind protection, even with the screen raised, was still ordinary. It could do with more upholstery on the seat, and I was surprised at the vibes coming through the pegs.”