2012 Adventure-Touring Shootout - Video

BMW R1200GS vs KTM 990 Adventure vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio vs Triumph Explorer vs Yamaha Super Ténéré

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Earlier in the article we mentioned consensus among our testers but not absolute agreement regarding the winner of this five-way shootout. While Troy and I both chose the BMW as the best all-around A-T motorcycle with scores of 86.43% and 89.64%, respectively, Duke was in favor of the Yamaha and Hight the KTM, the two men equally scoring their respective favorite at 86.43%. Had one of the two chosen the opposite’s bike, a tie might have ensued.

The beauty of our ScoreCard is that it provides an unbiased grade by combining results of all scores and determining an overall winner. And with an Overall score of 86.16% the BMW maintains its supremacy as world’s best Adventure-Touring motorcycle.

Adventure-Touringn Scorecard
Model Kevin Tom Dean Troy Total Score
BMW R1200GS 85.00% 89.64% 83.57% 86.43% 86.16%
KTM Adventure 990 78.93% 78.57% 86.43% 85.71% 82.41%
Yamaha Super Ténéré 86.43% 80.36% 70.71% 77.14% 79.20%
Triumph Tiger Explorer 79.64% 82.86% 68.57% 78.57% 77.41%
Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX 74.29% 75.71% 69.29% 73.93% 73.30%

“All things considered,” Duke sums up, “it just seems to be the best-engineered and well-rounded machine of this group. I’d feel confident going nearly anywhere on this icon of the adventure-touring segment. ”

2012 Adventure Touring Shootout BMW R1200GS

The GS’s win in the midst of increasing competition speaks to the years of refinement BMW’s invested in its GS model. With a new GS set to launch next year BMW will most probably widen the gap other manufacturers must make up before producing an A-T bike worthy of taking the crown away from BMW.

The KTM Adventure earned our runner-up spot overall (82.41%) and highlights another disparity among our testers. The off-road-eager Hight clearly preferred the KTM’s dirt-focused nature and light weight, giving the Austrian-made bike his individual top score of 86.43%.

“The edgy Paris-Dakar styling and ‘Ready to Race’ design philosophy appeal to me on all levels,” notes Hight. “The ergonomics of the Adventure fit my body perfectly, while the bar position and bend is the most natural and comfortable of the bunch.”

2012 Adventure Touring Shootout KTM 990 Adventure

Troy’s 85.71% score for the Adventure was just behind what he gave the GS. But Kevin and I placed the KTM fourth in our individual scorings, with nearly identical marks of 78.93% and 78.57%, respectively.

“The Adventure gives up a bit in terms of street manners, comfort and maintenance (with its chain drive),” Duke notes, “but it gains it all back and more if you’re truly interested in exploring rugged off-road adventures.”

On the third step of the podium stands Yamaha’s Super Ténéré with a score of 79.20%. But even its stellar handling couldn’t overcome its lackluster performance in the heavily weighted engine category where the Yamaha garnered only a 65% score.

“Aside from its top-notch fit and finish quality, the Super Ténéré doesn’t stand out in any category,” Duke comments, “but its all-’round competence and least-expensive price make it a viable player in this competitive category.”

2012 Adventure Touring Shootout Yamaha Super Tenere Front

Within 8% of this shootout’s winner, but still coming in fourth, Triumph’s Explorer represents an excellent attempt by the British manufacturer to produce a serious and competent big-bore A-T bike. Triumph fixed the manically abrupt throttle response in the new 2013 Trophy model (which uses the same engine), but whether they reproduced that feat on the 2013 Explorer remains to be seen.

“I came to this test expecting the Explorer to be my favorite of all the bikes,” says Hight, a Tiger 800 XC owner. “It was a big disappointment for me to rank it last of the bunch.”

2012 Adventure Touring Shootout Triumph Tiger Explorer Right Side

Which brings us to the Guzzi Stelvio NTX – the workhorse, the anomaly, the downtrodden. As always, eschewing convention for traditionalism, the gift of Guzzi is creating its own niche within a niche. On the ScoreCard, the Guzzi is the only motorcycle below the 75th percentile, scoring only a 73.30%. In our hearts, however, the Guzzi remains unsurpassed in regards to charisma and charm.

2012 Adventure Touring Shootout Moto Guzzi Stelvio Cornering

With testing and scoring complete we conclude this shootout with the knowledge of things to come. In 2013 BMW brings a new liquid-cooled R1200GS to market, while KTM stacks the deck in its favor by launching a new 1190 Adventure. Meanwhile, Triumph piles on with an XC version of its 2013 Explorer.

Traditional airheads may lament the new GS’s new water jacket and increased complexity, but with the current model maintaining its supremacy as the best all-around Adventure-Touring motorcycle available, it may behoove the hidebounds to purchase the last of the air-cooled GS models before they expire from dealership showrooms.

Related Reading
2013 KTM 1190 Adventure Introduced in Cologne
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2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer Review
2012 Yamaha Super Tenere Review
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