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Ottawa, ON
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Why I Love Touring on a Sport Bike

By James Bai

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Twisties: that one word brings a smile to my face and rushes a wave of happiness through my body. If you’ve ever leaned a motorcycle through a turn, you know what I’m talking about.

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There’s a right hand curve ahead. I line up the bike on the left side of my lane. My engine sounds to be at about 6,000 RPMs – far enough into the powerband for good torque but with plenty of room to accelerate.  I shift to the right side of the seat increasing my weight on the right peg and turn my right knee out just slightly. Looking to the end of the curve I lean into the corner keeping my throttle constant. My trajectory starts on the outside of the lane then passes to the inside as I move through the curve.

My weight feels perfectly centred around the motorcycle, but how?  I’m pulling the bike down with my left leg as it leans to the right. My hands aren’t pushing down on the handlebars. I should be falling but instead I am in perfect equilibrium. I twist the throttle as I pass the apex while keeping my weight on the inside. The added power straightens up the bike slightly, and my trajectory now widens towards the outside.  Immediately ahead the road curves left, this time tighter.  Instead of hitting the brakes, I pull in the clutch, push my left foot down, give a quick twist of the right wrist as I release the clutch. The bike doesn’t lurch and I know I matched the engine speed perfectly to the downshift. I repeat this dance until this twisty road stretches out and I relax. Now my head turns to soak in the scenery be it the expanse of farmland, the shimmering water of lakes, or the rocky outcrops of the Canadian Shield.

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This is why I love touring on a sportbike: the thrill of the acceleration; executing a perfect corner; and the powerful growl of the exhaust.

I prefer the more aggressive seating position plus I like to stop every 60 – 90 minutes anyways. If your legs are cramped, you can always get adjustable rearsets. Bikes designed for touring are heavier and more expensive but they do offer creature comforts like wind protection, storage, and a more neutral seating position. While convenient, these diminish the connection with the road and the environment.

Sportbikes lack storage so pack light. I use a rear seat pouch, a 10 L canoe dry bag, a small tank bag, and small tail bag that attaches to my sport rack. A couple straps keep it all together.  For a week long trip I bring clothes for 5 days then do laundry one night in the middle. I wear compression clothing designed for motorcycle racing which helps my endurance. I also pack a rain suit and tools for basic maintenance. A small netbook maps routes to transfer to my GPS.  Packing light means less weight on the bike and better handling.

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With some thought and preparation, sportbikes can do all the things touring bikes can do – better!

TOP SPORTBIKE TOURERS:

If you’re considering purchasing a sportbike for touring use, here are some of our top picks!

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