2007 Air-Cooled Twins Naked Comparo
Airin' It Out!
At the beginning of this comparo we set our sights on a broad target: finding a great motorcycle that comes without the limitations intrinsic in all bikes within specialized market segments. We found four of those here, each with the simplicity of an air-cooled motor and the ability to comfortably take off for a weekend trip. .
The reality is that a motorcycle is what you make of it. No one bike can be pinned down to a strict label of use. We all either have riding buddies, or know of someone, who scoffs at the principal of limited use. You know the guy or gal. The one who rides a dual-sport... for everything. Or how about that crazy Sjaak Lucassen who took three years to circle the globe on an R1? If that doesn't prove the point, then nothing will.
Buell’s distinctive Ulysses again proved to be an entertaining ride that allows its rider to load up for a blast across an interstate or turn off on an unpaved road in search of adventure. It’s comfortable, stylish in its own way, and can also cut up a twisty road with dexterity that might surprise an unsuspecting Ninja rider. Innovative ideas blend with American ingenuity, but its tractor of a powerplant lacks broadband appeal.
The R1200R might very well be the best motorcycle of this group. Its muscular motor output should be a lesson to the Buell and Guzzi engineering staff, and it possesses an unflappable chassis that can also dice it up when the roads get twisty. It’s also full of high-spec componentry and inventive engineering, all of which comes at a price. While the other bikes in this group are in the $12,000-13,000 range, our R12R rings up in the $15,000 stratum. If cost is no object, the techie and competent Beemer wins.
But cost is almost always an object to consider. In this comparo, we’ll consider the Multistrada 1100 as our favorite to park in our eternal garage. As good as the others may be, the Ducati delivers a higher level of performance and fun – simple as that. It’s comfy enough to tour on, yet sporty enough not to wish you were on something else when the road becomes swervy. Plus, it has one of the best street engines yet devised for cutting through the omnipresent brain-dead cagers, with accessible grunt whenever called upon. It represents the best value here.
If it were ours, we’d pop for the accessory centerstand ($245) to make oiling and adjusting that messy chain a bit easier. In the eyes of our testers, that hassle is worth the sporting thrill and all-around goodness of the Multistrada.
NOTE: Be sure to go to the photo gallery to see more detail shots, and many more great pictures of this multi-bike review. Also, be sure to visit the video gallery for more videos from this story.