Could the big Sport-Touring bikes be any smaller?

Someone’s always complaining about weight on the big sport-touring bikes. The FJR & Connie are both almost 700lbs wet.  The new K16GT is just over 700, as is the ST1300. Now, I can understand wanting a lighter, more maneuverable bike–I want one myself–but I’m not sure the big tourers can be any smaller.

I mean, physics are physics.  Once you assume the requirement for HP and torque of a certain level, you’ve assumed an engine of a certain size and weight.  Once you’ve decided you need 1000-1200lbs of Gross Weight, you’ve assumed a frame of a certain size, stiffness, and, hence weight. Once you’ve decided to stretch the wheelbase a couple of inches for highway stability, you’ve increased the size of the frame/subframe/swingarm, which is more weight.

Take a look at the new Ninja 1000, which is about as stripped down to basics as a sporting streetbike gets–no ABS, no bags, no electric windscreen, smaller engine, no shaft drive–and the wet weight is 500lbs.  The old ZZR1200, with no bags or shaft, was 600lbs.

Ultimately, the features on the Sport-Tourers make the weight inevitable. Start off with a repli-racer like the R1, which has a wet weight of 454 lbs.  Add a shaft, add 100 lbs. Add ABS, add 10lbs. Add Bags, add 20 lbs. The list goes on. Adding just those three items alone has increased the R1’s wet weight to 584lbs–and we still haven’t beefed up the frame or suspension to support a 2-up, touring capable load weight, or increased the wheelbase to make the handling more stable. Or, for that matter, given it a pillion seat that your chick is gonna want to ride for 20 minutes.

A given volume of aluminum and steel is gonna weigh a given amount. If you want a lighter bike, then you have to give up either a large engine, a shaft drive, max GVW, physical size, or any of a hundred other features that the big sport-tourers have as a standard.

Either that, or build the thing out of carbon fiber and titanium, and pay $40k+ for it.

Yeah, they’re heavy bikes. But it’s difficult to see how they could be lighter, and/or smaller, and still offer the specs that they do.

Author: Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.

2 thoughts on “Could the big Sport-Touring bikes be any smaller?”

  1. What about the BMW R1200RT? It’s 577 lbs wet (without bags).  With bags I’m guessing 600lbs. Great 2 up tourer although not as “sporty” as FJR and Connie but when you consider the difference in weight they offer near the same performance. My 2 cents.

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