Not since an Honorable Mention in our 2010 Bike of the Year awards has BMW’s R1200GS made this list. Not that it wasn’t deserving of honors, but we’ve been enamored with the 800cc middleweight dual-purpose bikes such as BMW’s own F800GS and Triumph’s Tiger 800. The GS has been so good at its intended purpose, in fact, that the 2012 model handily won our 2012 Adventure-Touring Shootout. With the introduction of the all-new R1200GS, it’s no surprise the OG A-T bike not only wins our Best On-Off-Road category but also our Motorcycle Of the Year award.
With a new precision-cooled Boxer engine producing more horsepower and torque, an electronics package including switchable ABS and TC, R-b-W and optional Dynamic ESA, the off-road icon entered 2013 with a clear advantage over its competitors. Despite all its newness, the BMW managed to maintain the balance of off- and on-road qualities that’s kept the GS as the benchmark in this category for so long.
The R1200GS is the Swiss Army Knife of motorcycling – there is almost nothing it can’t do. KTM’s all new 1190 Adventure is just around the corner, and early reports have been glowing. But in 2013, no other motorcycle can match the GS’s incredible versatility and its horizon-stretching capabilities.
Best On-Off-Road/Adventure Honorable Mention: Husqvarna TR650 Terra
Like our Sport-Touring category, bigger is not always better in the adventure segment. Just because a rider can muscle a 1200GS through a tight single-track trail doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be easier and more fun on something smaller. Single-cylinder dual-sports normally fall short in one of two areas: highway capability or off-road finesse.
Husky’s TR650 isn’t really deficient in either area, striking a careful balance of capabilities that encourages highway travel on the way to challenging off-road trails. It’s served well by an extensively hot-rodded BMW G650 powerplant, dishing out plentiful low-end grunt for urban use or climbing dirt hills while also being relatively smooth and proficient on the highway.
The engine in Kawasaki’s KLR650 workhorse can do those things, but it can’t match the nimble and adroit off-road performance of the TR650. The Terra (and its street-focused twin, the Strada) also outshine all reasonably priced dual-sports in terms of style, an area Italians always seem to excel at.
Perhaps most impressive is the Terra’s $6,999 MSRP, a mere $500 more than the stalwart-but-dull KLR. Big and far-ranging adventures don’t come any cheaper than the TR650 Terra.
2013 Husqvarna TR650 Review
2012 Husqvarna TE250 Review
2012 Suzuki DR-Z400S Review
2012 BMW G650GS Sertao Review
2012 Husqvarna Lineup Review
2012 650 Adventure-Tourer Shootout – Video
2011 Kawasaki KLR650 Review