Best On-Off-Road/Adventure Motorcycle of the Year Winner: KTM 1290 Super Adventure
Last year, it was BMW’s fabulous R1200GS sharing the MOBO in this category with KTM’s brilliant 1190 Adventure, as each excelled in their own particular ways. This year the tie was broken by the stunning new 1290 Super Adventure, an amalgamation of the 1190 and the audacious Super Duke R, our 2014 Best Motorcycle of the Year. Previous KTM Adventure models such as the defunct 950/990 and the concurrently available 1190 Adventure and 1190 Adventure R have always had the upper hand in terms of lighter weight and more serious off-road performance (especially the R model). With the new 1290 Super Adventure, KTM ups the ante in terms of over-the-road performance while maintaining enough off-road chops to allow confident journeys off the beaten path.
At $20,499, the 1290 Super Adventure is expensive, but it does offer plenty of value by including a bevy of features as standard equipment. Semi-active suspension is included, as is LED cornering lights, heated grips and seat, Cornering ABS and factory saddlebags. Combine a claimed 160 horsepower and 104 lb.-ft. of torque with an 8.0-gallon fuel tank, and you’ve got an ADV bike unlike any other.
BMW’s GS – and anyone else trying to make inroads to the high-end adventure-touring market – has serious competition in the form of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure. BMW has decades worth of loyal GS riders, but when it comes to serious off-road performance, KTM certainly has the chops. And when it comes discussions of power, BMW’s wasser-Boxer can’t keep pace. With KTM’s one-two-three punch of 1190 Adventure, the 1190 R and the 1290 Super Adventure, KTM is looking to corner the heavyweight Adventure-Touring market.
Honorable Mention: Triumph Tiger 800 XR/XRx, XC/XCx
The winner of this category shows our predilection for powerful engines, but there’s something to be said for smaller and nimbler machines, especially when they can be customized to suit adventures of different levels like Triumph’s updated Tiger 800. The XR, starting at $11,399, is focused more on street performance, with 19-/17-in. cast wheels, lower seats, and Showa suspension with less travel. Riders who plan to spend more time off pavement can go with an XC and its 21-/17-inch wire-spoke wheels and adjustable WP suspenders. All deliver standard ABS and traction control, and we won’t bore you again with how useful those are in a pinch.
Add another small “x” to either the XR or XC, and Triumph upgrades the experience with cruise control, adjustable riding modes, a trip computer, comfier seats, an adjustable windscreen, centerstand, handguards, and an additional 12-volt power socket; $12,499 for the XRx and $13,499 for the XCx are considerably less fiduciarily irresponsible than last year’s winning BMW and KTM.
Whichever one you pick (we rode the XRx here), that 800cc Triple is a pip, old boy, with a broad, smooth powerband and skirling exhaust note that had the whole MO staff pining for the fjords. The XRx was so smooth-sailing and sporty on pavement, we were dazed by its ability to deliver us from evil on rocky fire roads and get us home again, amen, and averaging 46 mpg the whole way. Nicely played.