Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - Kawasaki Versys 1000

Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT – 83.8%

by John Burns

When we last left the big Versys at the end of last February’s much-less-epic Land of the Roosting Sun comparo, we concluded “this is the one you want if you’re a big guy with a big passenger and want to carry lots of stuff.” This time we set out to see if that’s true; turns out it sort of is, but the competition was much fiercer on this journey.

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Our biggest guy, Sean, gave the Versys a solid 9 in Ergonomics/Comfort, but it wound up overall in a tie for 6th place (with the BMW XR). Its 109-horsepower, which seemed so stout last time, winds up in a dead heat for 6th with two other bikes that spun the dyno that hard (Caponord and BMW GS), but in the torque department, the once-mighty Kawi only barely beats the V-Strom 1000.

2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT First Ride Review + Video

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - Kawasaki Versys 1000

Our big guy Sean looks almost to scale on the Versys, which he rated 2nd only to the Caponord in the Comfort category.

E-i-C Duke has this to say: Abrupt throttle response and the heaviest throttle spring makes this my least favorite grip to grab. Its suspension works well but can get overwhelmed when ridden aggressively over bumpy roads. Pillowy seat.

Roderick had nice things to say: The Versys proved itself to be a comfortable, nimble, corner-scarfing bike that held its own against much more expensive and technologically superior competitors.

T-Rod also dissed the Kawasaki’s throttle abruption, and so did Evans, but then EB does have nice things to say about the Versys too: In many ways the Versys is the BMW XR Lite, providing a less expensive inline-Four experience for those who want a sporty adventure tourer with far less buzz. The engine’s power is mid-pack on the dyno, but if you give it the extra time to spool up, it’ll provide an open class wallop and a reminder why 1000cc Fours are so popular. In addition to being slower to wind out, the EFI is the balkiest of the nine bikes, delivering abrupt throttle reapplication at just about every engine speed. Once the rider accepts this issue, it can be ridden around, but it’s still kind of a drag. The Versys’ backroad manners are fine on smoother pavement, but the suspension gets overwhelmed when pushed on bumpier stuff. The suspension is a great example of the Versys as a whole. It simply lacks refinement. Don’t look for electronically adjusted suspension or heated grips or cruise control – hell, don’t even look for a gear indicator. Once I got over my momentary outrage at that little tidbit, I realized that going old school and counting my shifts wasn’t that tough and that I’d just gotten lazy.

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - Kawasaki Versys 1000

The big Versys didn’t seem to mind being ridden on fire roads, even though it wouldn’t be the first choice for serious off-road adventuring.

The Versys appears least likely to travel off-road, but in the actual event, it wasn’t that bad at all. It overcame the same dirt hurdles on our trip as the more adventure-minded bikes, but hardcore ADV riders will be looking elsewhere for a bike with more ground clearance, more suspension travel and a 19-inch front wheel.

Overall, there’s not much not to like about the Kawasaki – it’s bulletproof, straightforward and honest. However, it stands out in this fast company only for its utter smoothness (front rubber engine mounts greatly reduce four-cylinder vibration) and its exceptional value: $12,799 including luggage. Its low price, in fact, led it to victory in the Objective portion of the scorecard, and helped it inch past the Caponord in our rankings.

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - Kawasaki Versys 1000

It really is a lot of moto for $12,799, saddlebags included.

My problem with both Japanese entrants is, now that we’ve seen the big city in the form of the Multistrada, GS, KTM, etc., how you gonna keep us down on the farm with no cruise control, electronic suspension or WiFi? If you crave the simple life and, again, have a dealer who will haggle, I could see it. For you, not me.

Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT
+ Highs

  • Definitely the value leader of the bunch
  • The smoothest, comfiest Kawi to use this engine
  • Perhaps the most reliable motorcycle here
– Sighs

  • In the modern era, any bike with “touring” in its descriptor needs cruise control
  • The bike in the gray flannel suit; it’s a little nondescript next to the others
  • Less happy on dirt roads than some others

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - BMW R1200GS

BMW R1200GS – 86.1%

By Evans Brasfield

The old saying goes that every generation hopes to be surpassed by the one that follows it. If any bike deserves to be called the granddaddy of adventure touring, it’s the BMW R1200GS. The GS was, for the longest time, the leader in a class of one. However, the bike that started it all, despite relentless improvements by BMW, can’t rise to the top of this scorecard. It’s a clear indication of how far the challengers have come in recent years. So, while the GS may not be exactly sitting back to enjoy its golden years (because it’s still busy chasing horizons – both on road and off), it has, during this six-day excursion, shown that it can still give the kids a run for the money, thus keeping them honest.

2013 BMW R1200GS Review – Second Ride

So, what does keeping the challengers to the throne honest look like? Well, how does placing first in five of the subjective categories in MO’s famed scorecard sound? Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - BMW R1200GS

The BMW R1200GS is the granddaddy of this class of motorcycle, but with its liquid-cooled engine and a plethora of other updates, the GS isn’t ready to be put out to pasture.

Scoring the win in the Ergonomics/Comfort classification should come as no surprise. Anyone who has previously ridden a GS can attest to its comfort, balance, and ease of operation in all environments. One of only two bikes to crack 90% in a category that is vital for a successful touring bike (second went to the KTM 1290), the Boxer proved to be an ideal mount for racking up the miles. In fact, it’s so capable that it makes the task look easy.

Still, designated old fart Burns found a couple things to complain about: “The seat’s not quite as plush as it once was. Even so, the GS is still the gold standard and impossible to seriously criticize. For more mature riders, okay geezers, the thing is nearly an orthopedic device that’s actually a reasonable alternative to the couch.” But a couch can’t take you across the continent on both paved and dirt roadways.

The ability to carry gear is another place that a touring bike needs to excel to be a serious contender. On its way to garnering another category win, the GS includes some really cool saddlebags. BMW’s Vario cases have the unique ability to expand when needed for travel but narrow the bike by 4.7 in. when the extra carrying capacity is not required. When in the narrow mode, the rider sacrifices just 2.6 gallons per bag. A nice nod towards urban utility. However, this coolness comes at a $1,074 premium.

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - BMW R1200GS

The cross-laced wheels, allowing tubeless tires, are a $500 option. Duke points out, “The strong front brakes work well with the Telelever front end to effortlessly scrub speed without upsetting the chassis, even when the bike is loaded.”

When it comes to fit and finish, the mighty GS topped the list again. Perhaps Sir Duke summed it up best when he pointed out that even the “cast-aluminum screen bracketry is engineering to admire, a huge contrast to the Explorer’s crude design.” However, this attention to detail doesn’t mean that nothing slipped past the designers. Roderick wasn’t the only one to complain about the small numbers on the analog speedo: “The current dial is too small with too many integers to easily read what speed you’re traveling.” Burns agreed – sort of – when he said, “The numbers are even big enough to read, except for the unimportant ones on the tach and speedo.”

Additionally, over the years, opinions have largely been split concerning the Telelever front end. “The front Telelever suspension remains vague feeling compared to the others with standard front fork suspensions,” reminded Roderick, ”but you get used to trusting the BMW, and once that trust is established, it’ll go around a corner with the best of them.”

Gabe says he loves the GS’ trademark stability: Nothing is as stable as the GS, and I mean nothing. Corners, high speeds, whatever, the GS is unflappable, even on the brakes in one of those bumpy, tight downhill corners through the gullies of the California Coast that terrified me on other bikes.

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - BMW R1200GS

The GS acquainted itself to the undulating topography of the California coast – both on pavement and in the dirt. The Beemer’s LED headlight proved to be a boon during nighttime rides. “It’s probably the best headlight I’ve ever used,” raves Mitchell. “It was pretty exceptional.”

In our dirt excursion, the GS garnered tons of praise. Duke had much to say about the Boxer: “Enduro mode disconnects the rear brake from ABS, which is a real boon when aggressively descending hills in the dirt. Enduro mode also allows wheelies and some tire-spin, but not as much as the optional Enduro Pro mode (not equipped on our tester), which really loosens up the reins. Finally, Enduro mode softens up the D-ESA suspension to better absorb repetitive bumps.”

Hutchison notes the GS has always felt big, “But now with the other massive machines offered by the competition, it doesn’t seem as gigantic.” However he still found nits to pick: “The rear brake pedal was so low and required a long reach to activate it that it took away from the otherwise fine off-road experience.”

The GS is also notable for its shaft final drive; all others but the Triumph are chain-driven. A shaft eliminates chain maintenance, a real boon when racking up big miles. However, a shaft comes at the cost of a weight penalty and some axle tramp when accelerating over serrated off-road terrain.

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - BMW R1200GS

The venerable GS is at home in the dirt.

Similarly, the engine garnered both praise and criticism. “Twisting the loud handle on grippy pavement shows the wasser-Boxer’s newfound vigor, revving out excitedly unlike the previous air-cooled Boxers,” Duke reports, noting also that ”power can be meted out off-road pony by pony, applying motion in exact dollops no matter the speed.”

Ever to the point, Roderick said, “The newish Boxer Twin certainly provides the Beemer with better pep compared to older GS modes, but in this company of more powerful engines it actually feels a little underpowered.” Although Burns liked the new mill, ”the price you pay is a bit more vibration all over the place, a thing that was mostly absent from the older, heavier, longer-legged GS of yore.”

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - BMW R1200GS

Get me my reading glasses! The instruments need to be updated to the easier-to-read-at-a-glance digital speedo.

With all this to love about the R1200GS, how did it finish off the podium? Perhaps it’s suffering from a malady usually reserved for criticizing Hondas. “The GS goes about doing everything you ask of it with mechanical precision,” says staff complainer Roderick, ”For many riders, its steadfast reliability to perform without much enthusiasm, though, may be viewed as kind of boring. It’s really hard to fault this bike, but then again it’s really hard to get enthusiastic about it either.”

Ouch! Tough words, but that’s the point of this kind of shootout. The R1200GS is a great bike with a loyal following – for good reason – but the hooves of the competition are no longer merely approaching.

+ Highs

  • Adventure-touring heritage
  • Among the best off-road
  • Expandable saddlebags
– Sighs

  • Hard to read speedo
  • Pricey when optioned up
  • So functional it’s sometimes bland

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - KTM 1190 Adventure

KTM 1190 Adventure – 86.3%

By Kevin Duke

KTM’s reputation has been built upon its specialty of engineering off-road motorcycles, so it’s no surprise the Austrian company’s adventure-touring mainstay performs so adeptly when the asphalt ends and the dirt begins.

“I’ve always liked the KTM Adventure series, and they have the recipe just about right with the 1190,” says Hutchison, an off-road veteran. “Factor in the fact that it is the most off-road capable bike in this segment, and choosing it seems like a no-brainer to me.”

Indeed, all testers lauded the 1190’s off-road performance, which gave us the confidence to go fastest in any dirt section. Its motor smoothly picks up revs at low rpm to aid crawling around obstacles, and its chassis feels the most capable over the rough stuff, with the best off-road suspension of the group that, particularly in the rear, is plusher than the BMW GS’s, which is saddled with the additional weight of its shaft final-drive.

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - KTM 1190 Adventure

KTM’s 1190 Adventure strikes a pleasing balance between over-the-road and off-road adventuring. It boasts more horsepower (124 hp) than five bikes in this test, has reasonable long-haul wind protection and comfort, and is impossible to beat in fast dirt sections.

Despite its considerable dirt prowess, the 1190 does a fine job at keeping up on almost any paved road. Steering effort is relatively light, and communication from the front end during sport riding is exemplary for a bike with a 19-inch front wheel.

“When it comes to the sporty side of the equation, the 1190 has that attribute in spades both on and off the pavement,” says Chief KTM Tank-bagger, Roderick. “The 1190 has more than enough stonk for off-roading and to keep pace with XR and Multi once you get used to the front-end dive from the long-travel fork, even with the electronically adjustable suspension set to Sport. A light clutch pull coupled with smooth transmission shifts helps the 1190 maintain a good pace, as does its wide spread of smooth, easily manageable power.”

“The engine is awesome, even if it isn’t as gnarly as the Super-A,” adds Hutchison, “and it works great on the road or the dirt. It is quite comfortable over the long haul thanks to a relaxed riding position, great seat and a footpeg-to-seat ratio that fits my 30-inch inseam just right.”

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - KTM 1190 Adventure

The 1190 ticks most of the boxes for what we look for in an adventure-tourer, including voluminous luggage capacity (73 liters, best in class), roomy ergonomics, height-adjustable windscreen, and handy tire-pressure monitor. Its only obvious omission is cruise control.

As for Gabe, he says he wishes his 30-inch inseam was a bit longer so he fit the 1190 more comfortably, but he credits the KTM for being easy and fun to ride, with great electronics and instrumentation. “Comfy, too,” he says, “A far cry from the 950 I tested years ago.”

Gabe wasn’t the only one to praise the KTM’s instrumentation. Its twin monochrome LCD screens look archaic next to the Ducati’s lush gauges, but they are remarkably effective at conveying necessary info.

“The 1190’s dash isn’t a full-color TFT display like the Multistrada’s, but it’s my second favorite of this group,” rates Roderick. “Easy to read and even easier to manipulate the variety of settings, including ride modes, suspension settings, ABS, TC, etc.”

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - KTM 1190 Adventure

KTM Super crasher Brasfield says the ease of changing modes on the 1190 made him more prone to switching through them to test them out. “I also like the user-adjustable Favorites screen,” he notes, “since we all want to track different things on our bikes.”

Also receiving kudos was the KTM’s saddlebags. The smart and convenient design allows opening and closing without needing a key, and the hinge tops provide easy access to contents. Four bungee hooks on top of each bag supply lash points for securing extra luggage items. Their only issue was sticky latches that were reluctant to relatch when closed – they needed some Arthur Fonzarelli-like taps and raps to properly latch shut until we finally just squirted in some WD40, after which they latched much smoother. The bags showed a durable mounting design after its Super Adventure brother’s crash experience.

The 1190 Adventure’s list of negatives is fairly short. It’s V-Twin engine transmits a fair amount of vibration – a throbby buzz or a buzzy throb – but it’s at a frequency that doesn’t seem to numb fingers. I also noticed an abundance of play in the front brake lever, which, oddly, didn’t afflict its 1290 Adventure brother. Otherwise, the radial-mount Brembos work very well at shedding speed whether on road or off.

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - KTM 1190 Adventure

The 1190’s windscreen is nicely protective, but its height adjustability requires two hands, therefore not easy to accomplish without stopping. Its headlight is decent at illuminating the darkness, but it’s not as good as the brilliant white LED lights of the Duc and GS.

The KTM’s other faux pas is a tendency to “weave at speeds you don’t want to tell your family about,” according to Evans Mudface, who acknowledges the weave only happens at triple-digit velocities and doesn’t feel like it’s leading to impending doom. “I just grew to accept it and then ignore it, like tires wandering over rain grooves.”

Overall, we believe the 1190 Adventure ($17,899 as tested) strikes an excellent balance for riders who relish taking their adventure bikes off the beaten path, earning the respect of several of our riders.

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - KTM 1190 Adventure

“If you plan to travel the world,” Hutch advises, “then remember that the places covered by dirt are way more exciting than asphalt, so be sure to have a bike beneath you that is capable of conquering any obstacle. This is the adventure bike for me.”

“I love this damn thing,” Burnsie cheers. “The seat’s great, the electronics are great, the motor is powerful and linear. In fact, I don’t know why I’m not ranking it higher? For six days on the road, I suppose, the lack of cruise control in this price range takes it out of the running for me.” Sean counters with “I rarely use cruise control, so its omission is no big deal to me, besides, the 1190’s comfy seat and ergonomics, and its generally “sporty” nature easily compensate for the missing feature.

KTM 1190 Adventure
+ Highs

  • Balance
  • Dirt cred
  • Feels sporty
– Sighs

  • High-speed weave
  • All those electronics and no cruise control
  • Throbby engine

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - Ducati Multistrada

Ducati Multistrada 1200 S – 87.7%

Going into this thing, the new for `15 Multi was definitely a contender and it’s definitely a winner in some eyes even if it didn’t win the Overall. The fact that its new Twin is nearly 20 horses down on the #1 BMW XR didn’t keep it from winning the Engine portion of the competition, helped immensely by the broad powerband created by its new variable valve timing. The Multi also won in the Brakes department, thanks to its powerful and tactilely superior Brembos from Ducati’s race department, and it came in second on the Handling portion of our ScoreCard (a tie with the 1190), only behind the Caponord.

What held it to third overall was a somewhat surprising dismal 8th place finish in the Ergonomics/Comfort category. The bigger and taller you are, it seems, the less you’re going to like the Ducati – and our biggest, tallest tester liked it least. At the other end of the scale, 5’8 me gave the Multi my highest comfort ranking, a 9.75.

Multistrada First Ride

Short, hairy Gabe says: I’m not sure why I liked the Multi so much. Maybe because Sean hated it and I started identifying with it as a fellow victim of his torrent of verbal and emotional abuse? More likely, I liked it because as the tied-for-smallest man on the test, it fit me very well in this field of mega-moto-monsters. The seat was comfy, it was low to the ground and very easy to ride at high or low speeds, the instrumentation and controls were easy to figure out, the luggage was quality (if lacking in capacity), and I thought the handling and suspension were very good. I also appreciated the strong and controllable brakes. Power was also great, my second-favorite motor behind the XR: another WSBK for the trail. The wind protection was really good, with minimal buffeting and good coverage — probably because the screen is so close to the rider. I also liked how easy it was to adjust the screen one-handed while moving.

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - Ducati Multistrada

The S model’s cornering lights are reasonably effective on really tight, slow roads, but only illuminate where you just were on faster ones. Overall, its headlight is excellent, and its buffet-free windshield is the easiest to move up and down.

Duke digs the Multi’s engine, and, at 5-foot, 8-inches, doesn’t complain about its ergos: The DVT upgrade makes a great motor fantastic. The fact that it almost spits out the same torque as the 100cc-larger Super Adventure is conclusive evidence to its torque-broadening advancements. The XR’s motor delivers horsepower that will set your eyeballs back in your head, but I prefer the Ducati’s booming and torquey power delivery.

Evans seconds that emotion: The first thing I thought when sitting on the Multistrada was, ‘What’s a Sportster doing in this shootout?’ The Ducati’s seat-to-peg relationship was the most cramped. I’m not saying it was uncomfortable, which it wasn’t for my 5-foot 11-inch and 32-inch inseamed frame. Sitting on the Duc just required a little adjusting to after the more spread out legroom of the other bikes. If you like torque, the Multistrada is the machine to straddle when the road gets twisty. Just grab a handful of brake, bang a downshift or two (if needed), and roll on the throttle to release the Torque Gods to the accompaniment of the engine’s dual trumpets that resonate in your body cavity. Yeah, the XR may provide that huge top-end rush, but the Multistrada grabbed me by my heartstrings and propelled me forward with a huge smile on my face. While some of the big boys complained about the handling, the Multi always felt composed and ready for more when I was riding it.

Tom Roderick didn’t dig the Duc’s handling, complaining he couldn’t get it to finish corners without running wide, but it was our size XL Editorial Director Sean who liked the Ducati’s handling least, and took his vengeance by giving it a 7.5. Sean’s aggressive riding style, combined with his 260-pound mass and two saddlebags full of stuff, were just a bit much for the Ducati even with Sport mode selected and more damping dialed up; to him, the bike just felt too soft and hinged somewhere in the middle.

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - Ducati Multistrada

The S’s TFT display is quite nice and easy-reading, and finished 2nd in the Instrumentation Dept. This is one of the rare times when its low-fuel light wasn’t on.

Alas, even our shortest-legged tester Ken didn’t like the way the Ducati bent his knees. All this is a bummer, because our test unit was in fact missing its seat base and therefore being ridden in the 32.5-inch position; the 0.8-inch removable base the bike comes with would’ve increased the seat-to-pegs relationship by that amount, and might’ve boosted the Ducati’s ergo score a considerable amount.

Another thing that came in for heaps of abuse was the bike’s pessimistic fuel gauge, which would usually turn on its low-fuel light after less than 100 miles; sometimes the light would be on after filling the tank! This appears to be an issue not confined to our tester, as Ducati forums indicate this is a fairly common problem.

That said, to some of us, the wonky gauge is more an annoyance than a deal breaker. The Multi has a 5.3-gallon tank and recorded the best mileage of the nine over our six-day flog – 40.1 mpg. That’s a 200-mile range. All you need to do is remember to set the tripmeter when you fill up and disregard the fuel gauge (along with the low-fuel light, which typically stayed lit on our bike for 10 miles or more after filling the tank).

Another somewhat worrying characteristic of the new Multi is the lethargy with which its starter spins the engine, a thing I also noticed at the bike’s launch. Even on warm days, the bike cranks like a carbureted Dodge Coronet in winter. It never failed to start, but a couple of times it seemed to really struggle to move those two 600cc pistons.

Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout - Ducati Multistrada

The Duc ties the KTM 1190 for 2nd in Handling, excelling on the road while the KTM liked the dirt. The Multi’s left bag will ingest a full-face helmet though its right will not.

One of the things we tech troglodytes like about the Duc is its easily decipherable user interface. There you are rolling along on the superslab in Touring all nice and floaty. When you get to Highway 1, even I could figure out how to swap to Sport on the fly, instantly feel things firm up, and proceed to take up the cudgels. With my 155 pounds on the thing, on the pavement, I felt like I could do no wrong, with the bike’s firm/compliant electronic Skyhook suspension and new frame providing the perfect level of movement to feed me maximum contact patch feel. I don’t recall seeing anybody in our group pulling away from me when I was on the Duc; in fact it was a simple matter to reel them in whenever I felt the need. Likewise, some of our group who would usually grow small in my mirrors became suddenly difficult to keep up with when they were on the Ducati.

Comfortwise, I would’ve liked the extra 0.8 inches of legroom also, but I gave the Ducati my highest mark in the Comfort column anyway, a 9.75, and it might be the only bike I’ve ever given a perfect 10 for Suspension. Though the Multi wound up third overall, partially for its high price in the Objective section of the Scorecard, two out of five MOrons rated it #1 Subjectively (Duke and myself), while Evans has it in a tie for first with the KTM 1290. This is one fantastic motorcycle for all but really large riders.

Ducati Multistrada 1200 S
+ Highs

  • The electronic motorcycle is coming of age
  • Supercush in Touring, supersporty in Sport
  • First Ducati with Cruise Control (backlit for easy nighttime use)
– Sighs

  • Harder to whine about service costs with valve-inspection interval now up to 18k miles
  • Would’ve finished higher if somebody hadn’t pilfered our 0.8-inch seat base
  • Our unit suffered from a few electronic teething pains, some of which seem to have carried over from previous Ducs (like the erratic fuel-level sensor)

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  • chuck beaubuck

    Wow, what a great ride and write up.

  • Tom

    Awesome, looks like you guys really enjoyed this one. Beautiful part of the world northern California. Rode down there in 2010 from Ontario, Canada this story brought back some good memories thanks.

    • They should have made it up to the Curly Redwood Lodge.

  • I would like to publicly thank MO’s Editor in Chief Kevin Duke and our excellent staff of editors and guest testers for pulling off the largest and most complex shootout in MO history. The end result could have been a discombobulated bear, but you boys pulled it off and turned it into an entertaining and informative piece of escapism. Nice job team!

    • DickRuble

      Please make it an annual occurrence. It doesn’t need to be ADV bikes, but make it a six day testing (e.g. six day touring with 600cc’…)..

      • Sean on a 300cc scooter is like a shriner on a minibike. I know from my own experience…Being at one end of the bell curve ergonomically has it’s shortcomings. Pun intended.

      • Sean on a 300cc scooter is like a shriner on a minibike. I know from my own experience…Being at one end of the bell curve ergonomically has it’s shortcomings. Pun intended.

        • But I’d still be 10x faster than the Valentino Rossi of Shriners….

        • Somewhere there’s a photo of Sean wearing nothing but a fez.

        • DickRuble

          He would have to ride the CSC Cyclone, bike of the year according to his own writing..

    • Victor

      Hi I just wanted to ask since I did not see this in the video review nor
      the article. How is the bike off road? And what about suspension
      stiffness and seat comfort? I know the suspension is stiff but does it
      make the bike unbearable in long rides? Thank you!!!

    • Gabriel Owens

      Ive read this article several times. It is very good. BUT…I still cant believe yall did not include the Super Tenere.

  • JMDonald

    Some surprises but with this many bikes on tap highly informative. The idea of riding one of these machines down hill into a curve in gravel gives me the shivers. I agree not a bad bike in the bunch. I came within a nanosecond of buying a multi this year. Now an XR might be in the cards. I can dream can I not?

    • I dream of the K1600GT. It’s ok to dream. 🙂

      • JMDonald

        Last year I rode a friends K1600. It was wonderful. As tempting as it was I thought it too big and ended up getting a RT instead. I also looked long and hard at the Multistrada. There aren’t many bikes I don’t like these days. I’m glad I went for the RT. It fits me well. I sill want an adventure bike.

    • Scott Roussel

      Make sure you ride that XR first, JMDonald. It’s a helluva engine & setup, but that buzz kills it for me, just like Tom R in in the comparo, right off the bat. Can’t see BMW not fixing it asap. But that buzz is a deal-killer to me for sure right now…

      • JMDonald

        The buzz would be a deal killer if intolerable. I like the XR concept. Sans buzz it is very tempting. The S1000R is probably more to my liking. That or a Tuono. OK the Super Duke too.

        • Scott Roussel

          I haven’t ridden the S1000R. Have you had a chance yet? If so, what’s your take on it? I can tell you that if (actually when, because I know BMW won’t let it stand as-is) BMW gets rid of that buzz, the XR will be one the top bikes in any class anywhere… with that powerplant, that comfortable seating position, the suspension, shift-assist, and the electronics package, it’s a winner… AFTER the buzz is gone. Until then, it a dream not yet realized. Interested in the S1000R though too, now that you’ve mentioned it..Thanks, I’ll do some due diligence….

          • Kevin Duke

            I wouldn’t count on BMW curing the buzz anytime soon. Smoothing it out substantially would require the addition of a counterbalancer, which likely would involve a completely new engine design. Rubber engine mounts might reduce vibes but would compromise chassis rigidity. Two things to keep in mind. First, the XR vibrates like an S1000RR and S1000R – it’s the same basic engine – and those bike have received widespread critical acclaim. Second, while the XR’s vibration is very noticeable, none of our group believes the vibes are debilitating. To JMDonald’s point, its buzz isn’t intolerable.

          • JMDonald

            I haven’t rode a S1000R but it is in my top five and I feel the need for a naked performance bike in the garage. The S1000R looks like a good choice. I have a RT and a 2004 Roadster that will probably always have a place in my garage. I was always a Honda guy until I bought the Roadster. I hate to say I’m a BMW guy but it may be the case. I miss my old VFR. I doubt I will ever ride anything more challenging than a washed out fire road going forward. The reason I like the XR is that it could fill my desire for a hot performance naked and an adventure bike without having to buy two bikes. As far as the buzzing goes wouldn’t some kind of rubberized bar mount help with handlebar vibration?

  • Stephen Miller

    Well done. Just a couple of months ago I was on the fence between the GS, the 1190/1290, and the XR. There’s really not a bad choice — I had moments where I seriously considered the V-Strom. Often the deal you get helps make the decision. Somehow I scored a loaded GS for $18K OTD. Personally I’ve never had a bike this big or fast before, so I have trouble imagining something bigger or faster or — with the 1290 — both. It’s big, but easy to ride around town, on the highway, on logging roads, etc. And I don’t miss chain maintenance at all. I am not used to the Telelever. Maybe it just takes time?

    • MdoubleP

      I think both the telelever and boxer motor take some getting used to but after spending some time on a GSA I love them both. Only thing holding me back from a GS is the price but I would buy one today if I could find a deal like that!

    • 12er

      Once your used to the numb front end and no fork dive its hard going back. I can feel everything now on my Multi and dont have the faith I used to have due to that when on my old K bike. I knew the K would stick and it did, now I can run over an M&M and go “whoa, what was that?”

    • Kevin Duke

      Congrats on your purchase! Glad to hear you agree that there isn’t a bad choice in this group. I’ve heard some say the Telelever doesn’t provide any feel/feedback to a rider. I disagree. It gives feedback, but it’s feedback that feels different to a rider. A “different” feeling at first feels wrong. I’ve seen enough Telelever-equipped bikes going really fast (from deserts to the Nurburgring) to know that different isn’t necessarily worse. The Tele carries the advantage of being much less pitch-sensitive than a typical fork. If you had to get down a tight and twisty road with 400 lbs of riders/load, I’d put money on the GS.

  • Scott Devenport

    Great test of wonderful touring bikes. I was wondering which one of you road the buzzy BMW for 6000mi. and still rated it High.

    • Scott Roussel

      Great one, Scott. That thing is just too much. There’s no way it should be #1 IMHO. Remove the Buzz, then I can see it. Until then, no way…

  • DickRuble

    One question that this (nice yet concise) review doesn’t answer is: If you were to embark on a solo trip from Seattle to Punta Arenas, which bike would you take? – when answering, please consider reliability, ease of repair if crashed, high octane fuel availability, high altitude and/or high temperature, among other aspects.

    • That’s a great idea.

      • Scott Roussel

        OK, if y’all do that, lemme know. You may have a 3rd… 🙂

    • Honestly, I’d probably pic the Tiger out of this giant group for that journey. But out of the whole world of motorcycling….. Probably a DR or KLR 650.

      • DickRuble

        I thought the CSC Cyclone was your ride of choice…

      • Scott Roussel

        Sean, have you ridden the CSC? Looks like a ton of bang for the buck. Well, maybe not bang at 250cc, but value. Where did you ride it? They’re up in LA area, right? Do they have demos up there? If you have good things to say, I might head up there from San Diego and check’em out. Thinking about a first ADV for my boy, who’s 17 now, and thought that might be a great 1st bike for him… and who knows, if I like it, maybe we get a pair to hit the PCH & replicate the MOrans trip together… thoughts?

        • Scott, Nope, the CSC was tested a couple of times by other staff members. I do like small bikes though and wouldn’t turn my nose up at an adventure to the ends of the earth.

          • Scott Roussel

            Amen, Brother… sign me up!

        • Kevin Duke

          The RX3 is very impressive for its price. CSC is located in Asuza, and I’d bet they’d give you a demo ride if you’re serious about possibly purchasing one. Their rep, Joe Berk, is a good guy. The bike seems to be of good quality, but I think it would be unreasonable to expect reliability/durability on par with typical Japanese standards. Check out our review here: http://www.motorcycle.com/manufacturer/csc-manufacturer/2015-csc-cyclone-rx-3-review.html

    • John B.

      That’s an easy one. I would take a Ducati Scrambler to Sea-Tac, American Airlines (4-stops) to Punta Arenas, and have a BMW 1200-GS waiting for me there!

  • If only I could own two bikes…As you said “Unless you’re a big person carrying a large passenger, most of these things are almost as comfortable on the straight and narrow as a full-on touring bike. ” and that’s the rub.

  • Claudio

    Where is Mv Agusta Turismo Veloce?

    • It is 800cc. This is a test of 1 litre+ class motorcycles.

      • Claudio

        For power, 110 hp and type of bike fits perfectly in the group.

        • Kevin Duke

          But its availability in the U.S.,as well as its displacement, didn’t fit perfectly…

        • Claudio, if we mismatched it for displacement, then we couldn’t include it in our sub-1000cc Sports-Adventure Touring comparo… a test that would be a much better fit for the light and nimble Turismo Veloce.

          • Claudio

            Ok, I wait for the next comparison test, but my curiosity is if they can make a nice Sport touring, weighing less than 430 lb, these bikes are becoming damn heavy!

          • Matt

            Great, a middleweight compare, exactly what I was going to ask about. I’m really liking the Triumph Tiger X800-XRx.

  • JoMeyer

    Loved the videos, loved the report. I must admit that this is one article I have been waiting for with great anticipation. I own a Tiger Explorer – not the XC version but the more road biased version and I bought her after test riding quite a number of bikes. She is my daily ride, commute vehicle and weekend fun machine. Perhaps not the flashiest, most electronic or fastest, but that triple is utterly addictive and so easy to both take it easy with or become an absolute hooligan. And on the non-XC version the smaller diameter front wheel really brings out the best in the corners. Also correct in stating that she is a beaut on long distances. That cruise control is golden. But as you rightly say, all these bikes are brilliant and it is up to each rider. Looking forward to the next big adventure!

  • John B.

    For us long distance riders who like a sporty motor, comfortable riding position, and never go off road, the question becomes whether Adventure Sport Tourers are a better choice than heavyweight Sport Tourers.

    Last year, while getting new tires in Las Vegas I sat on a KTM-1190 Adventure. The only advantages my sport tourer has over the KTM is a motorized windshield (something I use all the time), shaft drive (no chain maintenance), and possibly more sporty engine characteristics at higher speeds.

    The KTM’s riding position is much more comfortable than on my sport tourer, it weighs considerably less, and has more advanced and refined electronics. If I needed to replace my sport tourer, I would seriously consider an Adventure Sport Touring provided someone could convince me chain maintenance is no big deal on a long trip.

    • Kevin Duke

      A shaft is more convenient for long distances, but an o-ring chain with a centerstand isn’t a huge sacrifice, IMO.

      • John B.

        Have traditional Sport Tourers (“ST”) become superfluous?

        While many Sport-Adventure-Touring (“SAT”) bikes featured above have state-of-the-art features and technology, many Sport-Touring models (e.g., Kawasaki Concours) do not. It seems SAT’s have ST’s beat in every way. (Is there anything a ST’s do better than SAT’s?)

        Perhaps, the moto industry can fully service the market without the ST category. Looks that way to me.

        • Kevin Duke

          That’s exactly what Ducati has done; kill the ST and reform it into an SAT. Not many downsides to it, other than wind protection for legs.

          • John B.

            A couple days ago Troy reported Ducati plans to introduce nine (9) new models including two (2) models in segments Ducati doesn’t serve at present. Should be interesting….

    • Sayyed Bashir

      I have had my 2015 KTM 1190 Adventure R since January. Every 600 miles I put it on the center stand and spray the chain with chain lube. I have 6000 miles on the bike and have not had to adjust the chain.

      • John B.

        That sounds pretty easy Sayyed. Thank you for the information.

  • MdoubleP

    Fantastic review, been looking forward to this for a while. I was hoping it would help solidify my choice; it hasn’t, but it’s nice to know these are all good bikes.

    I’m seeing great prices on leftover V-Strom Adventures in California, $10,400 which makes it a contender for me vs the Versys. I ride a lot of crummy roads and the 19″ front wheel is appealing to me. My local Suzuki dealer is great as well.

    The BMW’s should be out of my reach but aren’t thanks to their 3asy financing. I love the boxer motor. My dad lets me ride his 2008 R1200GSA on occasion and it’s the most confidence inspiring bike I’ve ever been on. I love it. Shaft drive a plus for me, too.

    My short list is now the Versys, the V-Strom, the GS and the XR. Time for some test rides (rode the Versys already and really liked it). Thanks again for the great review.

    • Kevin Duke

      The V-Strom Adventure at $10k is a helluva deal!

      • Claudio

        As V Strom 1000 owner, I totally agree!

    • Old MOron

      “I was hoping it would help solidify my choice; it hasn’t, but it’s nice to know these are all good bikes.”

      Amen, Brudda.

  • Old MOron

    A highly anticipated comparo, and a very satisfying read. The videos are well-done, and they are good companions to the narrative. The explanations for your choices are descriptive, credible, and entertaining. I am tempted to end my comments here and simply gush over your epic MOronic endeavor. Well done and thank you, MO!

    But just as you MOrons must pick nits while discerning between the latest and greatest bikes, a discerning MOronic reader might also pick a nit. You refer to the MO score card many times. “The mighty MO ScoreCard does not lie.” Yet you also neglect to post the scorecard for this comparo. What gives? The MOronic scorecard is a staple of MOronic comparisons. Will it be posted in a follow-up article?

    • Evans Brasfield

      In the immortal words of President Rick Perry, “Oops.”

      We’ll have to rectify that.

      • JMDonald

        Here in Texas they say Rick Perry is all hat and no cattle.

        • Scott Roussel

          Had a chance to meet him during the last election cycle. Definitely full of himself. He had himself plum convinced he was gonna be the gonna the President offense, but y’all can have him…

      • Emptybee

        Still hoping to see the scorecard…

      • Old MOron
    • Kevin Duke

      Hovering a mouse over each bike’s scores now reveals a breakdown of category scores. Trying to fit scores in 16 categories among 9 bikes ain’t easy!

  • Scott Roussel

    Ridiculous to choose a winner that vibrates too much to be comfortable after 10 miles of riding. I’ve now ridden every one of these bikes, save the Caponord Rally (that demo’s tomorrow), and the XR is FANTASTIC, if it didn’t vibrate your hands into OBLIVION after 5 miles… literally. Mathematics aside, gentlemen… if you’re “Ultimate Sports Adventure Touring Shootout” is to have any credibility at all and if it’s to be worth the paper it’s (not) printed on, you MUST calculate this more into the equation because it is a MAJOR flaw. Maybe BMW fixes it for 2017 Model Year, and you can award & reward it then, but as this bike sits, Tom R. said it best, “The vibes are bad enough to stop me from purchasing this bike.
    Seriously, take one for a test ride before you purchase to see for
    yourself if you can live with perpetually numb extremities.” Your entire test and Herculean effort will be completely compromised, along with your credibility, if you maintain that the BMW is the winner of this shootout with the flat-out defect in this bike that is the its undeniable, uncomfortable, and UNACCEPTABLE buzzzy vibration at speed. I am truly surprised, and really disappointed, that you would let that slide. I was so thrilled that you were doing this comparo that, as soon as you announced the bikes, I set out to test ride every bike you were comparing to see how my take would compare to yours. It was tough because they are all good bikes, but in the middle the separation becomes more pronounced, but I was really with you as I read on. Then I realized that I hadn’t seen the BMW at or near the bottom, thinking there was NO WAY you would give that buzz a pass… not with your expertise & experience and your knowledge, and I’m only a novice compared to everyone on that ride, but I KNEW you had to KNOW aboutthat buzz, and you would OBVIOUSLY realize it was a major flaw in the BMW’s design and must be fixed before rewarding what was otherwise and INCREDIBLE Bike. But when I skipped ahead and saw you gave the XR1000 the #1 spot, I couldn’t believe it. Would ANY of you spend your own money to buy that bike with that buzz? If not, than you CERTAINLY can not name it The Winner of this shootout! Because, like Tom R., I would advise anyone who was considering it not only to go test ride it first, but I would go even further, and encourage them to WAIT until BMW fixes it before even considering buying it… Because It’s BROKEN. It truly should be a RECALL issue. It’s such a shame that you are sending this message to your readers… that not only is it ok for a manufacturer to sell such a defective motorcycle (yes, I said it, because BMW is BETTER than that buzz) to the motorcycling public, but that you are claiming that that same DEFECTIVE MOTORCYCLE is THE BEST SPORTS ADVENTURE TOURER IN THE WORLD. ?? I also believe that it’s SO BAD that I will BET that it will be the FIRST THING BMW FIXES for the 2017 Model Year, if not SOONER. And just like BMW, YOU SHOULD FIX THIS COMPARO before many people are also as disappointed with your conclusion here as I was when I was at 70 mph for 5 MINUTES on the XR1000. What a shame if you don’t… I believe that until the BMW is fixed, you were correct that the Super Adventure was the Winner, and I agree with all of your scoring and conclusions otherwise, on both sides of every bike, but the XR HAS TO BE ASTERISKED and tabled until AFTER they fix that buzz. THEN, it WILL BE the best Sport Adventure Tourer in the World, or maybe Not depending on how long they take to fix it… but it certainly NOT THE BEST right now. Thanks for doing the comparo. It got me out to ride all of these incredible bikes. and What a GREAT TIME to be a Rider. Kudos! But FIX that #1. You really must. Amen

    • Max Wellian

      It reminds me of the Versys vs FJ09 they did where the Kaw did pretty much everything better, but they gave the win to the FJ09 because they are “admittedly immature” and the FJ09 made them feel racier on it.

      If top end power is a more important attribute of a bike than smoothness, then it makes perfect sense for an individual to give that more weight. For young people without circulation issues, maybe the vibes aren’t that bad and they still get giddy by going fast. When I was 18 I rode a 350cc thumper. It would seem to me that the age and experience of the riders would weigh those the other way around, but they admitted they’re kinda childish like that.

      As it is, the info is good, weigh the categories as they pertain as to what’s important to you and decide for yourself.

      • Scott Roussel

        Agreed. I just can’t imagine anybody paying $17k+TTL for it as-is. The article & vids actually discussed the buzzy-ness straight-away… but somehow it doesn’t seem to have carried through into the resutls. ?? When one of them actually SAYS they wouldn’t buy it BECAUSE of that defect, I don’t get how they just shut it out like that?? It seems to me that it has to pay a price, and shouldn’t be named the outright Winner with such a disconcerting issue. But they’re the writers. I guess they know they’re business. Gives me an entirely different viewpoint of everything they write/say now. I just hope they reconsider. And I’m the First One to give the XR props on EVERYTHING except that one extremely uncomfortable thing. To me, having ridden the XR for about 15-20 minutes and coming back to the dealership with my hands completely bereft of feeling, which even started down to my feet as well, I would liken it to some sort of strange tempted pleasure that turned out to be torturous… like being on a beautiful deserted island (covered in hot lava), with all the scotch I could drink (scalding hot like coffee), endless USDA Prime Steak & Maine Lobster for dinner every night (slathered in soured mayonnaise), all the Monte Cristos # 5 I could smoke (soaked in gasoline), topped off with the hottest super model you can imagine ( with Edward Scissorhands)…. It’s just NOT COMFORTABLE to ride that bike with the buzz like it is. And I believe one of the necessary attributes of being the Best Sport Adventure Tourer on the Planet is that you can feel your hands after riding it for at least a half an hour at a time. But hey, maybe that’s just me… I guess some guys enjoy razor blades running up & down their manhood…. 😉

        • MdoubleP

          It’s simply due to the scoring metrics they used. You may find that frustrating but that’s how they measured the bikes.

          It would be interesting to see a follow-up with a breakdown of how each bike scored in each of their categories as well as each rider’s personal pick.

          • Kevin Duke

            We’ve tweaked the scorecard so that hovering a mouse over each bike’s scores reveals a breakdown of category scores. It’s still quite limited, though, and it doesn’t include individual scores. Personally, the Duc scored highest for me, followed closely by the GS. But that doesn’t include objective scores such as price, weight and power-to-weight.

        • Have you ridden the XR Scott? I totally get what you’re saying (aged in pine LOL), but if you read what JB worte about the XR, at regular cruising speeds it’s not objectionable. I rode it many hours at freeway speeds and easily adjusted to the buzzing.

          I’d also expect an update next year to address it.

        • Roy

          Well, Ill just add that I own an XR, I do have a vibe issue, but I just love this bike. It is without a doubt the best all round performer I have ever owned. Would I buy another, knowing about the buzz, absolutely yes. The vibes exist (if you focus on them) at 4-5k rpm, and then they are gone. 70mph? I don’t spent time much at that speed. I also didn’t buy this bike to cruise in straight lines on expressways. Where I live, this bike cost me US$38k, and all bikes are banned form using expressways and toll roads. It just goes to show, different strokes for different folks.

          • Scott Roussel

            Well said, Roy. Love the bike too. So you’re above 70 most of the time, huh? That’s great that that buzz goes away! I must have been sitting right in the middle of it the whole time. Next time I’ll give that a go… Beautiful motorcycle, and the power! Ohhh man. Thanks for the feedback and heads up from An Owner!

          • Kevin Duke

            “Would I buy another, knowing about the buzz, absolutely yes.” And there you have it! Glad to hear you love your XR!

    • John B.

      Comfort is very important on long multi-day rides, and I agree buzzing that numbs one’s extremities is a deal breaker. I think the MO crew picks a winner because in shootouts there is always a winner. Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter much to me which bike they choose as the winner.

      What matters is the MO team does a great job describing each bikes and its significant attributes and demerits. After these shootouts, I always feel I know which bike would be best for me (KTM 1190 in this case), and that’s what gives the MO crew credibility and integrity in my book. Clearly this article, along with test rides, enabled you to figure out which bike works best for you. Success!!!

      • Kevin Duke

        Well said, John! There simply must be a winner chosen. A scorecard – any scorecard – isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s a clearer way to express how bikes stack up. I’ve been part of shootouts that didn’t include scores, which then elicits feedback critical of using only subjective feelings and the absence of clear comparisons of different aspects of a motorcycle. Damned if you do…

    • SteveSweetz

      Yeah it just goes to show how broken their outdated scoring system is (because the notion that anyone can reliably rate wholly subjective attributes like looks, “cool factor”, and even comfort on a numeric scale is ridiculous) when the bike that only one of them would have chosen as the winner is the winner.

      I learned to stop caring about their scorecards and end results a while ago – instead gleaning what pertinent info I can from the write-ups and especially the video discussions. The 20 minute conclusion video was far more useful than the article in my opinion.

    • Jeez, bro … give it a rest. I suffer from carpal and happen to agree with you. I’d never buy a buzzer. Can’t even buy a bike without CC. But leave some leeway for those who disagree.

  • WalterFeldman

    Scott Rousell’s comment on the flawed choice of the S1000XR as the winner pretty much matches my view. The BMW sounds like a fantastic bike for a few hours of twisty strafing, but one that would start to wear on you fast if you took it on a multiday long distance tour. Unlike the MO testers, swapping it for another bike after a few hours wouldn’t be an option.

    Rather than be compelled to pick an all out winner, why not pick a few winners based on rider priorities:
    1) Bang for the buck: Vstrom or Versys
    2) King of the twisties/track days: S1000XR
    3) Long distance luxo tour meister: KTM 1290

    • Kevin Duke

      I like your category breakdown. Glad to know that our shootout helped you come to your conclusions. 🙂

  • Auphliam

    Proof positive that the volume of horse power proportionately removes ones ability to reason LOL

    Great write up, regardless…even given my perplexity with your choices.

  • Noah S

    Love the review! I’m again shopping for a new bike to commute on and my three primary choices are all here. I do agree with a few of the others, however, and think the XR buzzing is a serious design flaw and should be seen as unacceptable rather than simply an annoyance. The fact that it still won the shoot-out makes me think you all need to revise how you weigh your scores.

    I also think the absence of long-term ownership data hurts this review. For example, the Multi scores well and is an awesome bike (my favorite of those in the group that I’ve ridden) but has a significant history of software and electronic bugs (far beyond the glitch you note) that make it borderline non-viable as a dependable daily driver. In fact, it’s probably the last bike I would want if I was heading somewhere remote. Personally, I put those bugs in the same category as the XR’s buzzing – just unacceptable for any bike, forget one that will cost you $20k.

    To me, the 1190 is still the bike to beat. As much usable power as the 1290 for less money and otherwise pretty damn bullet-proof as long as you keep it under a ton. Unless I am blown away by the new R1200RS when I finally track one down, I think that’s the bike for me.

  • Vrooom

    Not really a surprise that it’s a race between the $20K + bikes. When you pay 50% more you ought to get at least a little more.

  • I really like the bit about the night-time ride into Oglalla (or whatever) being the highlight of the trip. All bikers know: ride long enough and you will happen upon a road, a climate, a quality of light, a riding partner and a bike that are simply magical. Notice I put the bike last.

    I’ve been lucky enough to experience a few of those rides … once with my dad, who has since passed away. You better believe those are cherished memories.

    So my advice … don’t neglect that aspect of your reportage. Evaluate the machinery but don’t forget the simple joy of a time and a place and a bike. Peter Egan built an entire career around this aspect of the job.

    Nice job, guys. Can’t have been easy. Job well done.

  • Claudio

    Aprilia builds great bikes, RSV4, Tuono, it’s the European brand that has won most world titles in history, but about Caponord…. it’s so hard to find a good designer in Italy?? and what the hell is this old LCD panel without even the air temperature?? to think maybe a color panel as that of Mv T.V.?? sorry, but I don’t understand!

  • Walter

    It seems like a generally comprehensive test.

    However there is one disturbing aspect that causes me to question how much real analysis you guys did.

    My favorite bike of all of these because of the kind of riding I do is the 1190 by far. But I haven’t bought one because of the intense heat the bike puts out on the left side affecting the riders calf and thigh. Despite how great the bike is in many areas, this heat is just about the most defining characteristic of the bike. This is not just my isolated opinion, it’s pretty well an issue with all non-artic 1190 owners.

    I’ve owned a 950S, a 990 Dakar, (put about 25,000 miles on each if them) and currently own a 950 SE (42,000 miles) and a 950SM (52,000 miles); so I’m no stranger to LC8 generated heat. But the 1190 takes it to a unbearable level, even in relatively cool weather.

    The 1290 is not as bad and is tolerable, but I find it too large. I’m hoping KTM finally fixes the 1190 problem for 2106.

    But more to the point- I’m flabbergasted that not one of your testers mentioned it. Since I haven’t head of any fix for the problem, it makes me wonder what other things they missed.

    • Our 1190 SA did not generate any undue heat during the tour. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact we spent very little time in traffic or going slow.

      • Walter

        If it was just at real low speed or stop and go or issue, nbd except when in semi-technical dirt. But the two I’ve ridden were radiating real bad heat at anything less than about 35-40 mph on different 80 degree days.

        As I mentioned- its a pretty significant issue in owner forums as well (and I appreciate that sometimes issues are exaggerated in forums).

      • Jeff Moore

        Yeah, the lack of mention of the 1190 seat heater was the thing that jumped out at me as well. I’ve ridden a lot of bikes, some of which have had warm seats (Ducati 999, I’m looking at you) . . . but absolutely nothing has compared to the inferno under my buttocks that was a few hours spent on a friend’s 1190. It’s astonishing, and I don’t know what it is specifically about the 1190 Adventure — I’ve spent a lot of time on a Super Duke 1290, and it has no heat problems whatsoever.

        I simply could not believe none of you brought it up. Maybe they’ve fixed it in the brand new models, or the bike KTM gave you was a ringer?

    • Sayyed Bashir

      The issue does seem to be exaggerated a bit. I have a 2015 1190 Adventure R. They have covered the front bottom of the seat with a reflective heat shield. There is still some heat from the sides but I zip tied two halves of a plastic file folder to the frame on each side which made a big difference. Professional seat coolers are available from Wings http://www.wings.si and Black Dog Cycle Works blackdogcw.com. I like the Wings best. It is available in glossy and carbon fiber but costs $300 with shipping. The Black Dog version covers too much of the sides and seems to block the air flow out of the engine.

  • Randy Pancetalk

    Thank you for a very nice review of these bikes. I hope testing them was as fun as reading this review. Like many others, I’m in the market for one of these.

    Do you think you could post the scorecard you mention in the article. It would be nice to see the scoring broken down.


    • Kevin Duke

      The display of 9 bikes in 16 categories proved to be highly problematic. Bur tech guru, Dennis Chung, has created a workaround! If you hover your mouse over each bike’s score at the bottom of page 3, the scoring in each category is revealed. It’s not perfect (e.g. “Instruments/Controls” required a reduction to just “Instruments”), and they can’t be seen side-by-side, but it better illustrates how they did in each category. Hope you like it!

      • Old MOron

        Nice tech solution from Dennis. I had a feeling, based on the narrative, that I would like Aprilia’s entry. The score card confirms it. Thank you. (Except that the bike is heavier than I’d like.)

        It also confirms that all of these bikes are awesome, and people who get deals on the V-strom, for example, really are coming out ahead.

        Just one thing: have a look at the transmission score for the Versys. Was it really that bad?

        • Kevin Duke

          Typo. It actually got an 85% score.

  • Russ

    I’ve put 60K on my 950ADV and have had no problems with vibration issues from the v-twin. I bought a 1984 Goldwing and rode it home 60 miles and my hands were dead, even with the foam grips. I was really excited about the XR but not so much now. But I have ridden the new S1000RR on a race track and had no issues, but that was aggressive riding, not cruising. Road test will tell the tale I guess.

  • panthalassa

    thanks for the enjoyable and informative discussions of the article and video … and thank you, too, for giving it to us in one serving, rather than teasing it in to a “countdown”, such as 3 bikes a day.

  • Dale

    I traded my air-cooled GS (’12) for the XR and could not be happier. I was concerned about the buzzing from research on the forums, and from the two XR’s I tested 1 had a slight buzz around 5.2k and the other not buzz. That’s right – no buzz. I tested it for an hour, especially in the 5-6k range and could not detect a buzz. This means there are XR’s available that will not have this problem and you must test ride the bike you’re planning on buying, in the buzz range, to be sure (I bought mine directly after the test ride).
    For me it’s the best bike I’ve owned (my 33rd bike). I was worried about matching the GS low-speed stability and it has not disappointed.
    If you’re interested in the bike, simply test ride until you find one without the buzz, buy it and enjoy it.

    • GS1100GK

      Buying a motorcycle and finding out afterwards it has annoying vibration is the pits. Numbing vibration ruins the riding experience for me. I realize that annoying vibration is a relative thing, but if your hands and feet are numb that is unacceptabl IMHO from a modern bike especially for that price.

      I am also surprised that the vibration described in the XR is not across the board or totally not there at all given tthe tight manufacturing tolerances by BMW.

      Glad you got one without those vibes.

      BTW, excessive vibration to the point of numbing hands and feet would have eliminated it from the number 1 spot on my score book. But that is just me….

      • Kevin Duke

        Our XR’s vibes were annoying but not numbing.

        • GS1100GK

          LOL. Kevin, you must have a very high tolerance for annoying things. For me, anything that is annoying over a period of time (especially expensive things) would be gotten rid of in short order or, I would try and do something to correct it. Bar end weight’s, or rubber mounts for the pegs. If that didn’t fix it the bike would go.

          For a bike as pricey as the BMW my tolerance for things like vibration would be lower than say for the Kawasaki Versys whose price point would have more latitude for niggles like vibration for me.

          Consiidering how complete the package is with all the electronic bells and whistles plus huge HP it is a shame that annoying vibration wasn’t addressed as well by BMW.

          • Evans Brasfield

            Of course, Kevin has a high tolerance for annoying things. He works with Tom.

          • GS1100GK


          • Kevin Duke

            Ha ha!

    • Victor

      Hi I just wanted to ask since I did not see this in the video review nor the article. How is the bike off road? And what about suspension stiffness and seat comfort? I know the suspension is stiff but does it make the bike unbearable in long rides? Thank you!!!

  • John B.

    When searching for the cause of a particular occurrence it makes sense to look first at the most probable (likely) causes. For example, when an airplane crashes, it makes sense to look at mechanical failure and pilot error before moving on to consider whether an intergalactic alien attack is to blame. Among other things, to examine the most probable causes first saves time since (by definition) the most probable causes occur most often. In this light, it’s interesting to observe the reasoning most often employed by those who disagree with a MO Shootout’s outcome.

    The reasoning of choice concludes the MO crew’s lack of (pick one) diligence, professionalism, sanity, judgment, and/or integrity accounts for the outcome. Few professionals lack integrity and fewer still can rig results for an extended time period without being caught. This is especially true when a professional operates in a public online environment. When professionals choose the dark path, however, it gets a great deal of coverage in the media and industry journals (think Bernie Madoff), which causes people to believe such transgressions occur much more often than they actually do. In short, professional malfeasance occurs, but only infrequently. Moreover, the truly incompetent and lazy tend to get weeded out long before grey hair and burgeoning midsections set in.

    Many factors could reasonably account for the MO crew reaching a different conclusion in the SAT Shootout than I would have reached. First, I have done 99.999% of my riding on the one motorcycle I own. In contrast, the MO journalists have spent decades riding hundreds of motorcycles. This is to say, the MO team knows more about motorcycles and motorcycling than I know, which is why I read these articles in the first place. Oh, and I was not invited to go along on the 2,000 mile test ride. It’s also likely reasonable minds differ as to which motorcycle is the “Best,” and/or, as someone said in the video, there is no “Best” unless you consider who is riding the motorcycle.

    My only point is professional malfeasance is a rare occurrence. As such, I would recommend to those looking for explanations to consider that possibility only after more probable explanations have been explored and eliminated. Enough of the “You disagree with me, therefore you must be corrupt” logic.

    • John B.

      The fraud Volkswagen perpetrated on the EPA is one of the most significant acts of corporate malfeasance in history. There’s no way to predict how much the fraud will cost VW; at least $30 billion so far. Wow!

    • Veronica Jegg

      After reading a bunch of these reviews one thing becomes clear. The bike with the most HP “wins”. All other considerations are a distant tenth place. Whomever builds the first “motorcycle” around the power train of a CPR locomotive will have the bestest bike evvverrrr!!!

      “Yeah sure brand x here is all comfortable smooth and affordable but heck the CPR makes 6000 bhp from its dual diesel electric motors and the bike only weighs 12000kg! A real bargain at its msrp of 985,999 dollars.”.

  • Mark Radtke

    Thanks for putting together a great Adventure bike collection and review! I wanted to share a little feedback for you and your readers with the bike I purchased this summer…..as it happens to be one of 9 featured on your epic ride.

    I already have a BMW RT (water boxer) in the barn (fantastic touring bike) but had the goal to add a second horse for just a little more spirited riding and possible off the beaten path adventure. I narrowed it down to the XR1000 or the The Multistrada S. I took multiple test rides on both. I selected the Multi. The deal breaker was the vibration on the XR. Ok for 5 minutes…….not for a 2 to 5 hour event.

    My first 1000 miles on the Multi has been fantastic. I have the seat in the standard factory high position. It is perfect for my 5’11” frame. The electronics and ride mode options are great. The intake growl with that 1198 L twin is simply addicting. I also have the touring package which ads the removable luggage and center stand…

    I am in motorcycle ownership nirvana right now.

    Really enjoy your work at Motorcycle.com. Keep it going!

    Safe riding to you and the team…..and all the readers out there.

    Plymouth, WI

  • RPJ

    Ok, no Yamaha, what about the Moto Guzzi Stelvio?

  • stephanie croc

    I knew I was buying with “value” in mind when I bought my VStrom in May ’14 (here in Australia it is the same price as the Versys) because Euro bikes like the GS and KTM1190 were a full 50% more expensive. 16,000 miles down the track with mods to raise rear height, skid plate and a simple throttle lock for long saddle time I’m very happy with its overall capabilities. Sure, the motor doesn’t give a great adrenalin hit but, as the article says, it always feels really strong and capable. I’d like any one of these bikes but to anyone counting their dollars then do consider the humble Vstrom

  • Michael Byrne

    I’ll admit it…I bought the last-place bike. V-Stroms (2014 models) are being heavily discounted in the Bay Area and elsewhere. A San Jose dealer is advertising them at $8999. A Sacramento dealer has the Adventure model for $10249. I bought a used 2014 for $8999 with 1100 miles, $600 of accessories and new tires! $9800 OTD. For $250 I added Givi Rapid Release sidecase mounts and mounted my 18-year-old Givi E360 cases for 80 liters of luggage capacity, more than any bike in your test. The V-Strom has real-world power, light handling, reliability and economy (I’m getting 50 mpg), and is the only bike in your test that I can get Givi luggage mounts for. CC and electronic suspension would be nice, but not for $10K dollars more. I’m loving this bike!

    • Kevin Duke

      The last-placed bike finished with a score within 5% of the bike ranked 8 places higher. Sounds like you scored a killer bargain!

    • Tim

      You can get just about any luggage mounts you care to name for the GS, fwiw. There are a few guys running givi sidecases with the new model.

      • Michael Byrne

        Yes, of course you can get Givi luggage for some of these bikes. I would assume on the GS, because of the high exhaust, you wouldn’t use equal sized luggage on both sides. I have 2 40-liter cases that I don’t think would fit well on the GS. If they were symmetrical, they would really stick out. The Suzuki’s exhaust if just low enough to allow my old cases. Besides, who would buy a new 20K+ motorcycle and then mount bags from the 90’s? I’m going the cheap route.

        • Tim

          Agreed, the high pipe on the new GS is a detriment for luggage, not sure why BMW thought it needed to be that high. The XR has a lower pipe, even. I think a lot of buyers would have taken a low pipe option if it was offered, just to get the additional carrying capacity.

          On an unrelated note: being in California on relatively smooth roads, the test does not mention how advantageous the combination of D-ESA suspension and telelever is when the roads are rough. Here in New England, it is pretty much the feature which sets the GS/GSA above all others.

          • Michael Byrne

            We have our share of bad roads here (I’m in California). The one thing I wish the Suzuki had is ESA. It rides well most of the time, but when the going gets rough, all you can do is grit your teeth.

    • DCGULL01

      Well, I couldn’t help noticing that it had everything I would want on an adventure (or, even- everything bike).It’s native light weight, along with it’s low seat height, narrow waist & room for ‘enough’ with plenty of HP & torque on a bike that weighs 62Lbs less than the largest & kudos for its overall handling left me scratching my head. At 50, 5’10″s & 170Lbs, I’m not interested in managing a really large,tall bike to grab milk,or,commute to work. I feel they should’ve treated it as the Adventure version- it would’ve increased the $$/performance perception greatly. Now, if they are being discounted,say, $1,500.00- THAT’S the bike I would buy as well.Good on Ya, as they say in Australia! Because, at the end of the day-it’s gonna be a daily rider. But, I too would’ve mentally struggled with a 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT fulled optioned as well. Because, that too is enough,and,$4000.00 or more cheaper to boot, even optioned upto the hilt.

      • Michael Byrne

        I also have a 2008 Versys 650 with years of upgrades: seat, luggage, handguards, etc. Currently has 72K miles. A great bike!

        • DCGULL01

          Exactly my point! And, in 2015, the LT Deluxe (Not available in the US),includes the top case and grip warmers for $400.00 more. Pretty close (minus a gear indicator) to optioned up, agreed? Definitely a better value at, say, $8,000.00 than a cool $9,000.00, but,still within the realm of a good value.

  • Sean

    What about showing us comparisons in the various categories? I’m interested in the comfort category.

  • TC

    Two KTMs and no Moto Guzzi Stelvio? I bought a Stelvio a year ago, and it is a fine machine.

    • Kevin Duke

      The Stelvio hasn’t really changed since it finished near the bottom of the pack in our 2012 shootout: http://www.motorcycle.com/shoot-outs/2012-adventuretouring-shootout-video-91439.html

      • Kevin Duke

        Not that Stelvios suck! We had plenty of nice things to say about it in the shootout linked above. It’s certainly good enough to be included in our test, but Guzzi didn’t have one in its press fleet for us to use.

  • halfkidding

    I guess your forced into this but saying these bikes are all in a “class” is a stretch. The BMW S has about as much in common with the V Strom as Kate Upton has with your mom. Sure they are both women but…………..

    • Kevin Duke

      Definitely a stretch, but we wanted to show all that was available in a class that keeps on stretching! I think we did a good job illuminating the character of each bike, leaving it up to the reader to determine how their taste in bikes matches up with what’s on offer.

      • Old MOron

        Yes, especially now that you’ve added the score card tally via the mouse hover.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    Damn, so many chains… Why would anyone want a chain on 250-300 kilo bike, which is supposed to do high mileage in dusty conditions.

    • Kevin Duke

      Because not every ride is high mileage and dusty. When it’s not, you’re on a lighter bike. If your needs require a shaft, your choices are limited to the GS, Explorer, Stelvio and Tenere.

    • Randy Pancetalk

      read the horror stories of the many catastrophic shaft/final drive failures on late model BMW GSes over on advrider. See all the stories where owners have had some pretty severe crashes. Imma pass on shaft drive.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      So many chains because they work. A chain is the simplest, lightest, most direct and efficient connection between the transmission and the rear wheel. All off-road and race bikes have chains. It is easy to repair in the middle of nowhere if you just carry a extra chain and two sprockets. Try that with a shaft drive. Also you can vary the final drive ratio by just changing the rear sprocket, making the bike faster for racing, or slower for dirt work. Also it doesn’t raise or lower the rear wheel as you accelerate or decelerate, and is not mechanically complicated.

  • SRMark

    So the KTM is really the best bike here. But you like the BMW.

    • Kevin Duke

      We like both BMWs! The margin of differences in our scorecard are very slim because these bike are all worthy of attention. As Sean noted in the video, the the winner of this shootout depends on who the rider is and what exactly they are looking for from such a motorcycle. Personally, I’d rather have the Multi than the XR. For rugged adventure-touring, I’d choose the 1190 or the GS.

      • SRMark

        I was just referring to the total score with the objective stuff being included in the final tally. I like em all and would go with the Multi als well.

  • James Stewart

    OK, I’m just over the mid-century mark (still younger than Burns), but now that my Supercross career is over, I should be in the crosshairs of this SAT market… but I’m not. Let me axe you guys a question: Who takes their Cadillac Escalade off-road? Nobody… Who takes their Range Rover Sport 500 V12 whatever off-road? Nobody… For $20 Large, I would buy the most bitchin KTM450 SX and an RC390. I’d add the minimal street legal stuff to the Dirt bike, then go hit any fire road in the US – and not have to worry about the Ducati Multi-Mas Grande shorting out it’s microwave oven attachment, thus frying the uber-complicated ECU, and then pinning me under it until I became wolf chow. If I want to tour, I’ll go buy a $2000 beater truck and put both bikes in the bed – and tow them to the riding location of my choice. Even including the truck, I think I still come out ahead. I don’t want a $22,000 swiss-army knife uber Gold Wing Dirt Bike – just give me a simple tool for the job at hand. I’ll go back to my FIA drug ban safe house now. Thank you.

    • Randy Pancetalk

      the most fun bikes I’ve ever had (and I have had many) were all under 600cc

      • James Stewart

        The largest 4 cylinder I’ve owned was a VF500 Interceptor V4. The largest single was an XR600. The VF was a blast – and it spoiled me. Whenever I see these single and twin cylinder “starter” sport bikes, I just want to go find a used VF500. Ninja 300 with only cylinders? Pathetic…

  • Randy Pancetalk

    So, the GS (GS stands for Geezer Steed) got a 92% on cool factor, and the S1000XR got 89%? Hmmm

    • Kevin Duke

      Geezers can be cool, too!

  • Randy Pancetalk

    Which one of these behaved best in the stop and go traffic you mentioned in SF?

    • Kevin Duke

      Good question without a clear answer. Solving the equation involves many aspects (clutch effort, low-rpm fueling, flywheel mass, shift effort, shift precision, low-speed balance, and also includes things like engine heat, seat height, brake modulation and windshield effects. As you can imagine, the equation must have a large measure of subjectivity – a tall, burly rider might not be bothered by a high seat and heavy clutch pull, etc. The GS scores high for me, with excellent low-rpm fueling, a reasonably light clutch pull and a manageable seat height, plus good isolation from engine heat and a windshield that can easily be adjusted from the cockpit.

  • JerryMander

    New 2015 Travel Pack Caponocords are 10-12k on cycle trader

  • Bob

    I enjoyed this shoot out very well. There is a lot of information that has to be gained on a long trip, and there was a lot of information. It seemed that everyone had a great time on this real world trip.
    If I am allowed to complain a little, eh, here’s my complaints. How can a bike that has so much buzz that it puts your feet asleep win the competition? It appears to me that throwing a steering damper on the KTMs would have made them the winner. The Caponord has a Rotax engine. A Rotax is a seriously bullet proof engine and a major feature of the Aprilia. Mathematics aside, it seems the Caponord got a thumped pretty hard for the display and tricky to use electronics.
    Nice job! I’m looking forward to more reviews like this one. It had a lot of the emotional content that us riders love the most about riding.

    • Kevin Duke

      Glad you enjoyed it! BTW, the Caponord’s engine was developed completely in-house; there is nothing Rotax about it. Also, the XR buzzes plainly but never put my feet or hands to sleep.

      • Bob

        That Rotax V twin on the last generation Tuono was a beautiful engine. Another magazine inferred it was a Rotax, but it didn’t state that it was the current engine. I was bamboozled and hoodwinked!!!

        • Sayyed Bashir

          Bob, you are not wrong. Just like the Aprilia, the KTM engine is also Rotax derived, and is a very solid engine. Rotax licenses its design to other companies and then they develop it further in-house. Maybe it is better to say a Rotax derived engine rather than a Rotax engine. Which magazine did you read it in and when?

          • Bob

            I would think that giving another mags article on a MO site isn’t too cool. But, if you search 2015 Caponord Rotax V Twin, the answer may appear quickly.

  • Pat Banta

    The SWEET spot of 70mph and vibrates badly it sounds, you guys are nuts “number one bike” Your all crazy. There were bikes in the 80s that didn’t vibrate. The vibe of this “story” is suspicious.

  • Carlos Ledezma

    Fantastic feedback. I have a BMW R1200C and need a bike more suited for long trips. I like the XR, love the GS, but I look forward to the reviews of the new Honda Africa Twin and a test ride before making a final decision.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Regarding the weaving at triple digit speeds that is mentioned in the KTM 1190 Adv and 1290 SA reviews, lets not forget that these are ADV bikes (admittedly with super bike engines) that are designed to go off road and have 10″ clearances and 8.9″ soft suspension travel and are very tall. The 1190 R comes with 21″/18″ knobby tires which are squirmy on tarmac and are rated for 100 mph max. These are not race bikes.

  • x32792

    No Yamaha S10?

  • Peter c

    Thankyou for a most informative coverage of these sports adventure bikes. I note that Yamaha Tenere is once again conspicuous by it’s absence. As a Yamaha owner of a TDM900 a sports adventure bike available here in Australia but I believe not in the US. It has become embarrassing. It is not the first time the Super Tenere has been a no show. I wonder why they will not allow the Tenere compete in these show down.

  • austin kaufman

    Im confused? do these “motorcycle journalists” really not understand the adv segment, How can a bike that will never be taken off road win this shootout. The xr and multistrada are great offerings but they are not adv bikes, an adv bike should be something you could do this coast trip on, then switch the tires and do the trans america trail and sorry but those two wouldn’t cut it, yet they rate them as the best? Its simple really a good adv touring bike needs to be comfortable, needs to have great road manners, and it needs a 19 inch front wheel and off road chops. The real winner should be the bmw because its the best overall package and if not the bmw then the 1190 because those are the true adv bikes that will take you anywhere either on pavement or off. by all means the multi and xr are awesome but compare them with the sport touring bikes next time this test really missed the mark of the segment.

  • BLN

    What about reliability? I do adventure touring with three BMW owners and they are great when they are running. Not for me. Too much shop time.

  • L BJGH

    Great article guys and I appreciate the “qualified” 2nd placing for the Super Adventure. Decent off roading is more than an hour’s ride away for me but once I get there I love my Super Adventure. Funny enough I modified my windshield late last year with the help of some leaves and mud. The crash bars are pretty functional. 😉

    Looking forward to a dirty 2016 riding season. 🙂

  • Kru Chris

    That was an unusually thorough review. Loved the attention to each biks, as every buyer has to make up his mind anyhow.

    Recently, I embarked on a trip in the mountains of Northern Thailand and enjoyed a tricked out (offroad) Honda CFR 250 single. Weigh is an issue. And do we need 100 hp or more? No, we don’t, JMHO. A nice 180 kg bike with 80 hp would be preferable.

  • Kru Chris

    Next time, make sure the Honda Africa Twin 1000 is included, too!

  • Wavshrdr

    I realize this is sort of an old test but most of these models are still current. I was looking for something mostly for on the road that has comfortable ergos, fun to ride and and not to beset with vibrations. I had ridden the S1000XR last year when it came out and pretty much ruled it out thanks to its vibes. The GS motor is pretty boring though better than in the past. The Versys is pretty much the 1000 Ninja ABS (both good and bad). The Vstrom needs more power. Aprilia their dealer network can be very sparse. The 1190 is too dirt oriented and lacks cruise so I had pretty much narrowed it down the KTM Super Adventure and the Multistrada.

    After every Multi I rode, having a big flatspot, and having dealt with the typical high Ducati running costs I had pretty much settled on the KTM SA. So I wanted to measure twice and cut once. I read through the forums on the SA and so people we having some issues with the semi-active suspension. Some had oil leaks. All in all, nothing super major but some issues for concern. I checked out my #2 bike, the Multi. If I had the ECU reflashed it might help but my past experience with this is if the manufacturer doesn’t do it, I can have warranty issues down the road. So I wasn’t sure I wanted to go that route.

    Just for the heck of it, I also looked at the BMW forums. It definitely confirmed that I didn’t want another GS. I am pretty sick of the boxer motor no matter how you dress it up. Reading through the posts on the S1000XR, it seemed like the vibration fix was almost as simple as retorquing the handlebar clamps and added the appropriately sized heavier bar end weights. So that put the XR back in play for me. I liked a lot of its other qualities.

    I went and test rode another XR and it was better than the last one I had ridden when they first came out. Still the SA was in the lead for me. I went back to finalize a deal and asked the sale rep to check with the F&I guy about a way to structure the deal. He seemed to not even want to ask the F&I guy my question and never gave me a call back. So scratch that dealer. Since there was only one KTM dealer in my area and it put me off on them.

    I decided to roll the dice with the BMW dealer. I went back to one where I test rode the bike and they gave me the run around on what incentives were available for the bike. They said the active duty military discount didn’t apply. I knew for a fact it did. So scratch that dealer. So I looked outside my state. As luck would have it I stumbled across a demo XR for sale. Dealer was great. I asked him to check the handlebar torque and do the proper procedure per the setup manual.

    I flew to pick up the bike. It was flawless and ready to go. On the ride home the vibrations were the least of any XR I’d ridden. This made a total of 4 different ones. So maybe the forums were actually on to something. There were vibes but not hand numbing ones like some bikes. So I rode all day and they weren’t a major issue for me. When I got home I ordered some heavier bar end weights from HVMP. I slapped them on their and took a ride. All I can say is this is how the bike should have came from the factory! It was truly transformative on my bike. It didn’t turn into a silky smooth V4 but it is pretty darn good.

    They weren’t kidding that this is a superbike with comfy ergos. Hands down it is one of the most fun bikes I’ve ever ridden. Sure I’d love more power on a track but on a street, there is not doubt this is a fun bike to ride. Once it is derestricted and can run over 9k, it pulls really hard. It isn’t like it is a dog below that. The KTM has more torque down low but the XR will easily pull from about 20 mph in 6th gear all they way to topend with no bucking or shuddering. So if you are scared off about the vibration, try one with the bars torqued properly and the heavier bar end weights. It reduces the vibes by about 80-90%.

    • Evans Brasfield

      Hey, thanks for this thorough update! Enjoy the XR!

      • Wavshrdr

        Thanks Evans. This review helped me originally sort out some of the players in the market. It was probably one of the best large group reviews I’ve read. I know it had to a lot of work to get everyone all together for these things; like herding cats. 🙂 A lot of nice photos definitely resulted. One thing that struck me was there really wasn’t a sense of bias either for against a particular bike/manufacturer like you get in some tests. Quite refreshing that the chips were let to fall where they may.

        Sometimes you have to be open about where your bike choices take you. There is always a trade-off. Since I waited a bit there was a bigger body of knowledge to draw from. Sometime being an early adopter can be fun, sometimes a PITA. If I had bought the XR right out of the gate, I likely wouldn’t have been near as happy with it as I am now. It isn’t the perfect bike, what is? It is a pretty good value for what all you get assuming spending about 20k for any bike is a good value. 🙂

        I hope this sort of test will become an annual event or at least semi-annual. It really helped me with my buying decision. I may not agree with all the findings but most of my individual road tests corroborated most of what was written. Good job guys!

  • das auto

    How can you do this review and skip the Yamaha Super Tenere? It is just weird. Not sure it beats the KTM Super Advenuture overall but it is well ahead of most of these bikes, especially for the money. It is a glaring error. No I don’t work for Yamaha nor do I own a Super Tenere, but it is on my short list for this class, and I have been gradually riding/testing these bikes.

    • Evans Brasfield

      It was not skipped:

      “our only slight disappointment is that Yamaha couldn’t come through with a Super Ténéré. It’s doubtful the Yamaha would’ve won in this company,”

      We wanted it on the trip, too.

      • das auto

        fair enough, thanks for the reply. I haven’t ridden all these bikes nor am I the expert you guys are, but at least we agree it should be in the mix if possible. I missed that comment (that they didn’t supply), so my bad. This was the best overall review I’ve seen on this topic and hope you do it again next year. I am on the verge of upgrading my KLR to one of these, so I’ve been riding them all gradually over the past year, including the 1200 GS A this week. It just so happens that the Super Tenere is on my short list, partially due to value, admittedly, and obviously final decisions are personal tastes based on how a bike feels to an individual…I just thought for the money, it is a good mid-pack contender (in my humble opinion). Thanks again for reply.

  • Ardelle Capello

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