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Sports Bike vs Sport Touring Bikes - Which Are Faster?

Sports Bike vs Sport Touring Bikes - Which Are Faster?

In the post World War II era, the demand and popularity of motorcycles grew exponentially. Many motorcycle manufacturing companies, including Yamaha and Suzuki, emerged during this era striving to provide an affordable mode of transportation to people. To generate sales, these motorcycle companies had to demonstrate their engineering prowess. Something these companies achieved by entering their motorcycles in different racing competitions. Companies whose motorcycles won these racing competitions used to attract sales. And the increase in demand resulted in the production of street-legal race-style bikes, best known as sports bikes.

Over the years, the sports bikes have evolved from two-stroke engine two-wheelers to four stroke engine motorcycles. These engine upgrades increased the power outputs, speed, and rate of acceleration of sports bikes significantly. Motorcycle manufacturing companies also worked on improving the looks and handling of the sports bikes. The continued evolution of the sports bikes made them reliable two-wheelers for long-distance travels. The aftermarket parts and luggage bags further propelled the trend of using sports bikes for touring. As more riders began using their sports bikes to travel interstate, motorcycle companies identified a market gap that could be filled by a unique motorcycle segment, sport touring. Essentially, sports touring motorcycles are sports bikes with factory installed windshield, saddlebags, a comfortable seat, and a larger fuel tank. Therefore, these bikes offer better comfort, mileage, storage capacity, and handling than sports bikes. But do they also offer greater acceleration? Are sports touring motorcycles as fast as sports bikes or faster? This article brings you a detailed comparison of sports bikes and sport touring motorcycles, so you can determine which is the fastest machine.

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1. Factors That Optimize a Motorcycle’s Speed

A motorcycle’s speed and performance depend on various factors, including engine displacement, aerodynamics, overall weight, applied drag, and weight-to-power ratio among others. The fastest motorcycles have all the key features required to enhance their rate of acceleration. To determine whether a sport bike or sport touring bike is faster, it is important to understand the effect of each factor on speed.

1.1 Engine Displacement

A motorcycle engine with a larger displacement volume can intake more air. As airflow in the cylinders increases, rate of combustion increases significantly, allowing the engine to generate more power. As a result, a more powerful engine propels the bike forward at a greater speed.

1.2 Power to Weight Ratio

Power to weight ratio quantifies a motorcycle’s engine power output and its weight. Mathematically, the weight to power ratio of a motorcycle is calculated by dividing the engine power with the weight of the motorcycle. A higher power to weight ratio indicates greater speed and acceleration.

1.3 Aerodynamics

Multiple slowing forces apply on a moving motorcycle, especially when the bike is moving at a higher speed. Better aerodynamics of a motorcycle, reduce air drag on the motorcycle, allowing bikes to achieve higher speeds. Motorcycles featuring a well-designed streamlined front or bodywork provide little surface for air, as a result reducing drag and ensuring faster speeds.

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1.4 Lightweight Chassis

Motorcycles that generate higher power outputs and speeds feature a lightweight chassis. Lightweight frames reduce the overall frame of the bike, increasing the power to weight ratio, and increasing potential speed.

1.5 Performance Tires

Motorcycles equipped with high-quality tires have better traction control, allowing riders to achieve higher speeds.

1.6 Advanced Engine Technology 

Motorcycles featuring modern engine technology, such as valve timing, electronic fuel injection, and multi-cylinder layouts provide greater power efficiency and increased speed.

1.7 Advanced Braking System

Motorcycles with an advanced braking system or standard anti-lock braking feature, indirectly help increase the potential top speed of a motorcycle. The reliable stopping power provided by these braking systems allows riders to achieve higher speeds.

1.8 Production Race Bikes

Motorcycles that are inspired by racing bikes usually feature a high displacement engine, lightweight chassis, aerodynamic front, and aggressive riding positions that usually have higher speeds.

2. Sport Bike vs Sport Touring Bike - What’s the Difference?

As mentioned earlier in this article, sports touring bikes are more similar than different. Both bikes have large displacements, multi-cylinder engines, a lightweight aerodynamic frame, and sporty looks. However, sports touring bikes have additional features that sports bikes lack. These include:

2.1 Ergonomics

Contrary to sports bikes that have an aggressive riding style, sports touring motorcycles have a more relaxed riding position. It is claimed that the ergonomic configuration of sports touring motorcycles are inspired by luxury touring bikes or cruisers. Hence, riders can comfortably cover 200 plus miles on a sports touring bike without feeling signs of fatigue.

2.2 Luggage Capacity

Though sports bikes are customizable, they are not equipped with OEM saddlebags or panniers. On the other hand, sports touring motorcycles come with factory-installed luggage bags.

2.3 Overall Weight

Though sports touring bikes feature a light-weight chassis much like sports bikes, the additional travel-friendly features, such as windshield, passenger seat, and saddlebags increase the overall weight significantly.

3. Impact of Distinct Features on Speed

Out of all the distinct features of sports bikes and sport touring bikes mentioned above, the following features impact the top speeds of these motorcycles in the following ways:

Aerodynamics

The comfortable ergonomics of the sports touring bike reduce the overall aerodynamic effect of the motorcycle. As a result, the top speed of a sport touring bike is usually less than a sport bike having the same displacement and engine configuration. This is because the aggressive riding position of the sports bike encourages the rider to lean forward and crouch a little, optimizing the aerodynamics of the motorcycle and increasing potential top speeds.

Luggage

In addition, the luggage bags mounted on a sports touring motorcycle tend to affect the weight to power ratio of the motorcycle. Moreover, the heavier load at the rear increases the amount of drag acting on the motorcycle, reducing the top speed significantly.

4. Final Words

When comparing features of a sport touring motorcycle and a sports bike, one can conclude that sports bikes are faster. However, this principle does not hold under all situations. If we compare the top speeds of the two motorcycles on a race track, sports bikes will win because of large engine displacement, more horsepower, less weight, and less aerodynamic drag. On the other hand, a sports touring motorcycle might win on motorcycle roads full of twisties, tight corners, and turns. The extra weight of sports touring motorcycles in these riding conditions may help riders to maintain their speeds, whereas sports bike riders might have to slow down to maintain control. In a direct comparison, sports bikes are faster, but sport touring motorcycles may outperform sports bikes based on the riding conditions, individual specifications, models, and other factors. 

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