Bill, what style of ST bike do you prefer? More on the sport or more on the touring?
It's pretty subjective even if you have a response for the above. There are surely riders who consider a 'Wing sporting (and who have the chops to hustle one around, for that matter)... and pre-carpal tunnelers touring on R1s.
You probably want to look up the past ST shootouts on MO as suggested previously. (If I remember right, there's blood on the floor after the voting in a couple of them. My favorite was the one where Burns tosses out competing votes until the FJR wins!)
Here's my simple two-up ST experience -- maybe it will be helpful to others: I ride a 2nd gen Bandit 1200. My girlfriend insists it's very comfortable for a sportier bike. (She's 5'4", I'm 6'2".) The Bandit seat is one piece, so the passenger doesn't perch on a staircase step behind the driver, unlike some of the true sportbikes. This plus the moderate peg placement is happiness for my passenger on long rides.
Further, I use a detachable windshield, stock seat... and yeah... those silly camouflage Bunsaver cushions. We've sailed through multi-day trips up to about 1500mi on this bike. Not exactly a fancy setup, but cheap and fun for us.
When the trip's over, I go back to mostly city riding. So I pull off the touring extras, which leaves a naked 100+HP bike and spare cash for bail.
From the passenger's point of view, the key dimension for comfort is the distance between the seat and the footrest. Don't buy anything which puts the passenger's knees in their armpit and rotates their weight onto their tailbone. It's that simple.
I guess it depends on how much riding you expect to do with a passenger aboard. I've had a Wing (which is obviously great with a passenger), an ST1100 and a VFR. The ST1100 was a good compromise. It offered enough room for a passenger (and all her stuff!) enough luggage and enough engine to haul it all around. Plus it was still fun to ride on your own. She enjoyed it alot, which is why I then bought a Goldwing, thinking she'd be more comfortable and ride more. But she didn't, and I was left with a huge bike that wasn't much fun to ride on your own (in my opinion).
If you're taking a passenger out for a couple of hours, every now and again, almost any ST bike would do the trick. If you're planning on riding two-up all day or take a trip, I would highly recommend the ST1100. They're cheaper now they're used, good insurance rates, about 45 mpg and reliable as hell. It seemed my wife began to ride with me less and less and so I bought the VFR. She can still come along, but its not made for that type of riding. Oh shucks I'm trying to get her to learn how to ride, I think that would be a lot more fun than riding as a passenger.
You want reliability and low-profile looks. Kawasaki Concours. You want sleek and great handling. Ducati ST3. You want great looks and power. Yamaha FJR. You want more ideas e-mail me and I'll tell you what the insurance industry will look at for great rates.
Passenger accommodations are frequently a sore point with the lady on the pillion. While not a "sport" bike, we've had great success with the Triumph Speedmaster. To gain even more leg room (my wife is 5'8" tall), I relocated the passenger pegs forward, by removing the standard peg bracket and bolting the pegs into the bracket holes. I added Triumph's "peg finishers" to make it tidy.
Result is a bike we can both ride all day, can keep up with all but the most vicious apex-strafers and it a unique and fun ride. Add RKA bags and you're ready to tour.
As the gent said earlier, get an ST1100, save some money and ride forever. My wife loves the thing. She's 5'3" and I'm 6'1". My longest day has been over 800 miles solo with minimal discomfort. I use a gel seat pad for a little extra comfort. The wife doesn't like to go more than 250 miles. Not a comfort thing, just an interest issue. My ST is a '91 and I keep looking at other bikes to replace it with but there really is no reason to do so. It works that well and never breaks ever. (I'm screwed for sure now.)
I don,t ride with my wife in own vehicle,simply because I have/tend to change my driving patterns due to my concerns for her,or importantly,keeping the impending nagging down about my driving.I have never had a passenger on my bike,simply because I feelI,m not competent enough to lookout for myself and them.Whereas I may take chances with myself to get out of the way,etc. I don,t want to have to change my thought processes for amilisecond which would cause me/her some problems.
My wife has ridden with me on my ST4s, V-Strom, R1100RS, Concours, R1100GS, Tiger, VFR, etc. and like a few others here said she picks the Concours as the most comfortable. We rode the Alcan together two up with camping gear and she said she was comfortable the whole way.
Someone mentioned seat to peg ratio for comfort, which is important, but I'd add lack of buffeting (as passengers usually sit a bit higher), and a tail bag or back rest usually helps with their comfort.
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