Best of the Best 2007: Touring & Adventure

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Don’t be deceived by its color-coordinated saddlebags or upright riding position: The $15,599 Yamaha FJR1300AE (www.yamaha-motor.com) is a supersport bike trapped in the sharply styled body of a sport tourer. Yamaha has combined old-fashioned muscle with lightweight chassis construction to create a bike that is exceptionally responsive and begs for spirited riding. Standard antilock brakes ensure skid-free stops, and the cutting-edge Yamaha Chip Controlled Shift feature does away with a clutch lever, allowing carefree gear changes. The FJR offers an uncommonly wide range of seat and handlebar settings, and the windshield raises and lowers automatically. The combination of road-eating power and creature comforts makes the FJR a compelling option for those who want to ride fast and far.

Few motorcycles are as well prepared for the unexpected as the $14,198 KTM 990 Adventure S (www.ktmusa.com). The Austrian manufacturer’s recent dominance of the Dakar Rally has earned it a sterling reputation among hard-core trail riders. The S version of its Adventure model has nearly 300 mm of ground clearance and an impressive 245 mm of terrain-absorbing front and rear suspension travel. It also appeases off-road purists with its lack of antilock brakes. The KTM’s new 999 cc LC8 V-twin powerplant delivers wheel-lifting thrust, and the bike’s Brembo brakes allow for effective deceleration—or, depending on your sensibilities, dirt-spraying tail slides. On challenging terrain, few motorcycles inspire confidence as well as the KTM 990 Adventure S does.

In an amusing display of brand compatriotism, the $24,049 Honda Gold Wing Airbag (www.honda.com) shares more than a few characteristics with its relative, the Honda Accord. The bike is equipped with a powerful 6-cylinder 1,832 cc engine, a computer-controlled adjustable hydraulic rear suspension, an electrically powered reverse gear, and—as the model name indicates—the world’s first motorcycle airbag. When you add the navigation system, five-position heated grips and seats, and a six-speaker, 80-watt-per-channel premium audio system with automatic volume control, you nearly have a two-wheeled living room.

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