I think the most intriguing ST might be the new Triumph Tiger, although the seat height might be a problem if you are inseam-impaired. The triple splits the difference between an I4 and a twin in terms of power delivery.
i read the sprint had brake issues that were being addressed so that might be a factor.
i sat on a 14 a couple weeks ago and i would love to ride one. It fit good. I guess i don't know how heavy the 14 is and that shouldn't play a huge factor in a sport tourer, but it matters a little. i can tell you this, its physically a big, long bike. so it should be stable. i have read that even so, it is relatively quick in the bends.
the duc is sublime, especialy with a power commander. is the s4r a four or 2 valve? i'm guessing its the superbike 4 valve motor. if so you'll get a kick out of the 2 valve's low end.
i hestitate to recommend the sport tourer i prefer but here goes. a vfr.
it has more character than people think, and its really a good fit for me at 6'1". the power is kind, and while it has a wierd engine braking, drive train thing going on where it wags a little in the rear instead of hops, its a really good bike. the barcalounger of sport bikes. and the vtec shouldn't be on a motorcycle as long as it works the way it works on a motorcycle but its easy to ride around. it works great as a sport tourer. nice all around compromise.
i'm also curiuos about the 07 tiger. that might be a candidate too. perhaps a little to much of a standard. but those triples are nice.
no matter what, its fun thinking about a new touring bike. motorcycles are so good these days.
Since I know absolutely nothing about you or your riding style and enviroment, I'll go ahead a recommend getting a Sprint. I do this because I have a Triumph and the more bikes they sell the stronger their business becomes, this of course benifits me in an improved dealer network and parts supply.
So, um...get the Sprint, I think it will be the perfect bike for you, cheap too.
I define these categories by where they are on the handling potential vs comfort/practicality continuum. Since weight is so tied up with handling, and also with comfort and features, more weight is going to tend to push a bike more toward the touring end of the scale for me. I do agree that categories like this are pretty unsatisfactory, since I'm sure an st1300 has more handling potential in the hands of many than a Gixxer does in my hands.
In roughly 4 weeks I leave Chicago on my ZX-14 to take Route 66 to Santa Monica, the Pacific Coast Highway north to Portland, and then (most likely) the Oregon Trail home.
Perhaps some fellow MOridians or even MO itself would be interested in a story...hmmm? Seeing as how I'm going from being a poor junior enlisted man to a starving student I could use a little love, and it would be great to add published author to my resume.
Not that I need it. I was Time Magazine's Man of the Year in 2006.