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All-rounders to master all trades

Published: 01 April 2001

Updated: 19 November 2014

The latest generation of big-bore all-rounders offer all the comfort you could dream of and handling and power to take your breath away.

We took in huge hits of motorway, trickled through busy city streets and carried out a hit and run raid on Amsterdam, our mission to evaluate the Yamaha FJR1300, Aprilia Futura, Honda Super Blackbird and Honda VFR800.

Squarely in the big Yam’s sights are Honda’s Pan European and BMW’s range of autobahn-stormers. But it’s huge low-down grunt and sweet handling are going to attract a number of previous " hypersports " fans. Aprilia is clearly gunning for the VFR800 with its Futura.

Sit on the FJR and you know it’s a big bike. It has a longer wheelbase than the Blackbird (151cm to the Honda’s 149cm) and is somewhat heavier too, making the scales creak at a hefty 237kg (but that’s actually only five more than the Blackbird).

And the balance of the machine is so perfect that the weight just vanishes once on the move, as we discovered on that first a blustery run down to Harwich earlier this week.

But move it does. If ever there was a bike designed to cover distance in comfort at speeds superbikes can manage the FJR1300 is it. It’s more than just a new sports tourer; it’s a very special motorcycle. It may not rev very high, but you won’t need it to.

After the FJR the Aprilia feels like a sports bike on the roads of Holland. So the engine's based on the RSV Mille but its retuned to suit its new role but the rest of the bike feels like it was built to handle. The seat's high but the tank is cut away with a really narrow waist so it feels like your knees could press together like a Ducati. It gives you the impression the bike's very slim and almost part of you. The steering geometry is a nats off the RSV Mille so it turns quickly and beautifully.

The looks are an acquired taste but what isn’t in dispute though, is the way the Futura performs. The handling and braking are more sports than tourer, though the fuel injection can be a bit switchy at low speeds. This isn’t a major problem, however and with practice becomes even less of one.

Both bikes would make a fantastic buy. Find out more in our full report of the trip in MCN, published on April 11.

For the best deals on these and hundreds of other bikes click on New Bikes Direct at the top of the page.

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