Just wanted to drop by and put in my 5c (more like $1.50 after looking at how much I wrote) from the test ride I did on the weekend of this fun little bike.
As a bit of background I ride a 2014 VFR800 and have been looking for a lighter sport tourer replacement. It's a bit too porky and cumbersome in traffic but great for the weekend type of riding I mainly do with it (25kg+ of luggage in the panniers and top box some of it being camping gear) and have been looking for a bike that does it all and still be sporty (hahaha probably not in my lifetime).
Sadly it wasn't to be. A few too many compromises and one technical issue that ruined an otherwise superb hour long unguided test ride that took me through 2 mountain passes with a bit of city/highway riding. This is just my first hand impressions so take them with a heavy dose of salt.
Let's start with the positives:
+ The engine. Ample power in all the right places made going through the twisties effortless (and slightly faster than I normally would). Really flexible gearing was a nice surprise as well coming from the tall geared and very picky VFR. I could hold a taller gear longer than I normally would and just roll on the throttle to pick the bike up out of corners.
+ The looks. It's not everyone's cup of tea but it looks sexy in white, I'm not a fan of red bikes but at least there's a choice. The white is a winner. I wouldn't mind having one in the garage just to look at.
+ The sound. It's a Ducati L twin. Enough said. I don't even need to go into specifics.
+ The auto blipper. I had to mentally retrain myself after the ride not to downshift without the clutch. It was nice a smooth and one could very well get used to being extremely lazy.
+ The weight. This is pretty much a bonus point since most sport bikes weigh less than the 240kg top heavy VFR that I normally ride.
+ The seat and seating position. The seat is well padded and cushioned in the right places. Didn't feel any discomfort what so ever. Jury is still out whether I could do a 1000km in a day on it since I'd need more than an hour for that. Seating position is a little less aggressive than the VFR and the narrow tank/engine combo make the bike feel smaller than it actually is. Overall it felt comfortable enough to tour on unlike other bikes I've ridden extensively in the past (cough MT09 tracer cough).
Now for the maybes:
~ I'm probably a bit heavier than the suspension was set up for and I did not ride the S model the upgraded boingers so I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt, but during my riding in the twisties I felt a slight bit of understeer. Not enough to make me worried but enough to have to consiously correct my lines. Also it is most likely my unfamiliarity with the bike. So I'll leave it at that.
~ The luggage options. It's not marketed as a sports tourer so I knew coming in luggage options were limited to the semi hard Ducati Panniers but I still think they could have done more to corner the market. An option for the semi hard topbox that you can get for the Hyperstrada would not have gone astray. But alas it's better than nothing (GSX S1000F :| ).
- 16L fuel tank and claimed 5.9l/100km fuel economy. Why..... just why? I don't want to have to carry a jerry can. Maybe I've just been spoiled with the VFR with it's easily achievable 400km range fully loaded. 300km is my minimum and this is a bit too close for comfort.
- Uneven panel gaps. Plain not acceptable on a $20k bike. The area under the dash where the 2 side panels meet drove me up the wall. Might have been a one off but first impressions count and this is not a positive one.
- Mirrors. One word "useless".
--- It's not every day one of my bikes tries to kill me but this one did it's best. Lucky there was no traffic and space for me to pull off to the side. Somehow the gearbox decided to give me 4 false neutrals in a row when trying to downshift and overtake a car. Going up hill around 70km/h in 5th I decided to go down a gear for a bit more power. Pulled in the clutch, throttled off and kicked down to what I thought was 4th. It's wasn't, judging in my 'professional' opinion :| by the grinding and complete lack of power. So I repeat the above trying to get to 3rd. Still no dice. Repeat till in 1st where it finally clicks into place properly. At least it started working again to let me limp back to the dealer praying it wouldn't happen again. If it had happened any other time during the ride I'd probably not be a very happy camper.
Overall impressions were very positive bar that one mishap. But I think I'll stick with the VFR for now till they come out with another sport bike with panniers that I'm still hoping for. The Multistrada doesn't count. It's too tall and the seating position isn't agressive enough.