Excellent comments, Thanks.
Rouge, I agree to a degree about weight, remember, I'm the Token Harley Boy here, my current ride is a Road King. But as I tend to do more shorter jaunts 300-500 mile loops in these glorious mountains, I tend to be leaning more to the sport side (read light).
The ZZR gets a stab for being a carb bike, vs. the ZX-12 which has a well sorted FI system. The local dealer shares my opinion, "What were they thinking?" No luggage, no FI, no Shaft...all the things a serious tourer generally wants...strange.
Good points on the dealership issues pertaining to the Aprilia, definately a negative. And UFO, I did read your review, and excellent one BTW, you write good evaluations, please do more! Also agreed that it takes a little getting used to astheticly.
The consistent negative about the VFR is that it's boring...it does everything well. The Maytag of Motorcycles, no soul, just a superb do-anything bike. That may actually effect my decision. I know this is directly opposite of emotionally detached logic, but I like a little "soul" in my bikes. I've had a long history with Brit-bikes, a few Harleys, some obscure European bikes (like Ossa's & Zundaps) and of course a slew of Japanese stuff. I like some "personality".
The ST1300 is a major update over the previous series, which are rarely seen for sale, excellent machines to be sure. A tad big for my tastes I think, but I'll try and get to see one come show-time in the Bay Area. Also have those linked brakes which I do NOT like. (I've played with panic stops with BMW's and VFR's...no-no-no thanks)
I did read the Motorcyclist review of the Ducati ST4s, and it sounds like something right up my alley, but I do have concerns over reliability. I have some doubts about Italian machinery liability (I've got friends with Ferraris, great soul, lousy reliability, and we all know that FIAT stands for "fix it again tony") however I've found Berreta firearms to be as good as anything else, superb really. We do have a decent dealer (now) about an hour away, plus quite a few more on the Californication side of the mountains, so that may not be as large a factor. The ST4s has an impressive array of component features and prices out fairly well. (15K)
As we have no word on the FJ1300, that's a big question mark. I would also have to travel to get ANY of the Japanese machines, as my local dealer doesn't cut many deals (however the parts department there is world class!)
I keep lingering on the Triumph too. Understand that I don't find it unattractive, however more feedback on reliability and maintenance costs would be welcome here. Agreed, the pricing on these is very attractive.
BMW: We've a good dealer an hour away, but they sure ain't cheap! I rode the RT1150 at Sears last summer and liked it (liked the K1200S more) But I haven't quite gotten passionate about either. The RT actually vibrated MORE than my Harley (a mechanical buzz through the footpegs and bars) Good power though and sure-footed handling. Also the windshield is fun to play with...good on boring interstates to amuse oneself
One very good point made earlier, there's really no "bad" bike among them. They're all excellent machines and would likely make me a happy camper. I'll keep searching reviews and try to get a little saddle time on each before thinning my wallet severely.
If you know any Ducati & Triumph riders, ask them to share their experiences: maint & reliability.
Thanks for your excellent feedback, please keep it up.