It’s a good time to be a motorcyclist. OEMs keep ratcheting up the amount of standard or optional technologies available on modern motorcycles. In just the last handful of years we’ve come to expect ABS, traction control, ride modes and slipper clutches as standard equipment. Cruise control is almost ubiquitous, and electronically adjustable suspension is gaining ground quickly. Five of the nine bikes in our Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout are equipped with semi-active suspension, one has electronically adjustable suspension, while only three are bereft of the technology.

Ultimate Sport-Touring Adventure Shootout Prologue

Spec sheets are useful for comparing and contrasting the attributes of various motorcycles but obviously fail to tell the whole story. For example, many of the bikes here are outfitted with cruise control, the Aprilia Caponord Rally being one of them, but after having ridden hundreds of miles on each bike we know that not all cruise controls are created equally. The Aprilia’s CC is, in fact, an abject failure in terms of user-friendliness but you’d never know just how bad it is until you have other bikes with much better systems to compare it to.

2015 Ultimate Sports-Adventure-Touring Shootout

So while we’re busy sorting through all the data, rider notes, images and video clips to bring you the most comprehensive sport-adventure shootout we can muster, we invite you to chew on the fat of these nine bikes by way of their specifications and available technologies. You’ll note that even the least expensive bike here, Kawasaki’s Versys 1000LT, comes equipped with ABS, TC and ride modes while the most expensive bike, Ducati’s Multistrada S, features those plus backlit switchgear, a full-color TFT display, smartphone app and Cornering-ABS. And then there’s the BMW S1000XR, the only bike in the test with a quickshifter that goes through the gears both ways, featuring auto-blipping downshifts. Yes, it is an undoubtedly good time to be a motorcyclist.

Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally BMW R1200GS BMW S1000XR Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT
MSRP $15,695 $20,769 (as tested) $19,887 (as tested) $21,094 $12,799
Engine Type 1197cc Liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke, V-Twin, 4 valves per cylinder 1170cc Air/Liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke, flat Twin, 4 valves per cylinder 999cc Liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline-Four, four-stroke, 4 valves per clinder 1198cc Liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke, DVT V-Twin, 4 valves per cylinder 1043cc Liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke, inline-Four, 4 valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke 106.0mm x 67.8mm 101.0mm x 73.0mm 80.0mm x 49.7mm 106.0mm x 67.9mm 77.0mm x 56.0mm
Compression Ratio 12.0:1 12.5:1 12.0:1 12.5:1 10.3:1
Rear Wheel Horsepower 109.7 @ 8,500 rpm 109.4 @ 7,900 rpm 156.6 hp @ 11,200 rpm 137.1 hp @ 9,700 rpm 109.8 hp @ 8,700 rpm
Torque (claimed at crankshaft) 73.7 lb.-ft. @ 6,900 rpm 80.5 lb.-ft. @ 6,600 rpm 80.4 lb.-ft. @ 9,200 rpm 84.3 lb.-ft. @ 7,900 rpm 70.1 @ 7,200 rpm
lb/hp 5.5 5.4 3.5 4.1 5.2
lb/torque 8.2 7.4 6.8 6.7 8.1
Transmission 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch w/slipper function 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch w/slipper function 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch w/slipper function
Final Drive Chain Shaft Chain Chain Chain
Front Suspension Inverted 43mm fully adjustable Sachs fork. (Aprilia Dynamic Damping) Telelever, 37 mm, central spring strut Inverted 46mm fully adjustable fork 48mm fully adjustable usd fork. Electronic compression & rebound damping adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) KYB 43mm inverted front fork with adjustable rebound and preload
Rear Suspension Aluminum swingarm, Sachs monoshock. (Aprilia Dynamic Damping) Cast aluminum single-sided swingarm with BMW EVO Paralever Monoshock with preload adjustability Fully adjustable with electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment, electronic spring pre-load adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) Horizontal back-link shock with adjustable rebound damping and adjustable spring preload, remote preload adjuster
Front Brake Dual 320mm stainless steel floating discs, 4-piston Brembo M432 monoblock radial calipers Dual 305mm rotors. Twin 4-piston calipers. Switchable ABS Dual 320mm rotors. Twin radial-mount calipers. Dual 330mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo monobloc Evo M50 4-piston calipers, 2-pad, radial pump with cornering ABS as standard equipment Dual 310mm petal rotors with four-piston calipers and ABS
Rear Brake Single 240mm stainless steel disc, Brembo caliper 220mm rotor. Single-piston caliper 265mm rotor. Twin-piston caliper 265 mm disc, 2-piston floating calliper, with cornering ABS as standard equipment Single 250mm petal rotor with single-piston caliper and ABS
Front Tire 120/70-19 120/70-19 120/70-17 120/70-17 120/70-17
Rear Tire 170/60-17 170/60-17 190/55-17 190/55-17 180/55-17
Rake/Trail 27.4 deg/4.6 in. 25.5 deg / 3.9 in. 25.5 deg / 4.6in. 24.0 deg / 4.3 in. 25.5 deg / 4.0 in.
Wheelbase 62.0 in. 59.3 in. 61.0 in. 60.2 in. 61.2 in.
Seat Height 33.1 in. 33.1 in. 33.1 in. 32.5/33.3 in. 33.4 in.
Curb Weight 604 lbs. (with bags) 596 lbs. (with bags) 550 lbs. (with bags) 567 lbs. (with bags) 544 lbs. (with bags)
Fuel Capacity 6.3 gal. 5.3 gal. 5.2 gal. 5.3 gal. 5.3 gal.
Saddlebag Capacity 66 liters/ 17.4 gallons 68 liters/18.0 gallons 62 liters/16.4 gallons 58 liters/ 15.3 gallons 56 liters/14.8 gallons
Tested Fuel Economy (Average) 33.9 mpg 39.6 mpg 36.9 mpg 40.1 mpg 37.9 mpg
Full color instrument cluster X
Gear Position Indicator X X X X
Heated Grips X X X
Heated seat
Heated passenger seat
Hillstart control
Power accessory socket X X X X
Cornering lights X
Wheelie Control X
Backlit handlebar switches X
Cornering ABS X
Wire-spoke wheels X
Cast-aluminum wheels X X X X
Electronic suspension adjustability X X X X
Semi-active suspension X X X X
Smartphone app X X
Tire pressure monitor X
Quickshifter X
Clutchless downshift ability X
Ride modes X X X X X
Cruise control X X X X
Traction control X X X X X


KTM 1190 Adventure KTM 1290 Super Adventure Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS Triumph Explorer XC ABS
MSRP $17,899 (as tested) $20,499 $14509 (as tested) $18,494
Engine Type 1195cc Liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke, 75° V-Twin, 4 valves per cylinder 1301cc Liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke, 75° V-Twin, 4 valves per cylinder 1037cc Liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke, 90° V-Twin, 4 valves per cylinder 1251cc Liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke, Triple, 4 valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke 105.0mm x 69.0mm 108.0mm x 71.0mm 100.0mm x 66.0mm 85.0mm x 71.4mm
Compression Ratio 12.5:1 13.1:1 11.3:1 NA
Rear Wheel Horsepower 123.6 hp @ 9,500 rpm 132.5 hp @ 8,400 rpm 91.6 hp @ 8,000 rpm 113.6 hp @ 8,700 rpm
Torque 77.3 lb.-ft. @ 8,000 rpm 86.8 lb.-ft. @ 6,800 rpm 69.1 lb.-ft. @ 9,300 rpm 74.1 lb.-ft. @ 6,400 rpm
lb/hp 4.5 4.2 5.9 5.3
lb/torque 7.2 6.5 7.9 8.1
Transmission 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch w/slipper function 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch w/slipper function 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch
Final Drive Chain Chain Chain Shaft
Front Suspension 48mm, WP inverted fork, electronically adjustable WP Semi-active suspension USD 48 mm Invetered telescopic, coil spring, oil damped Kayaba 46 mm upside down forks, adjustable preload
Rear Suspension WP monoshock, electronically adjustable WP Semi-active Suspension PDS Monoshock “Link type, coil spring, oil damped “ Kayaba monoshock with remote oil reservoir, hydraulically adjustable preload, rebound damping adjustment
Front Brake 4-piston Brembo calipers, 320mm discs, ABS/C-ABS 4-piston Brembo calipers, 320mm discs, ABS/C-ABS Dual 310mm rotors, 4-piston Tokico calipers, ABS Twin 305 mm floating discs, Nissin four-piston calipers, Switchable ABS
Rear Brake 2-piston Brembo caliper, 268mm disc, ABS/C-ABS 2-piston Brembo caliper, 268mm disc, ABS/C-ABS 260mm rotor, ABS Single 282 mm disc, Nissin two-piston sliding caliper, Switchable ABS
Front Tire 120/70-19 120/70-19 110/80-19 110/80-19
Rear Tire 170/60-17 170/60-17 150/70-17 150/70-17
Rake/Trail 26.0 deg / 4.7 in. 26 deg / 4.7 in. 25.5 deg / 4.3 in. 23.9 deg / 4.2 in.
Wheelbase 61.4 in. 61.4 in. 61.2 in. 60.2 in.
Seat Height 33.8/34.4 in. 33.9/34.4 in. 33.4 in. 32.9/33.7 in.
Curb Weight 554 lbs. (with bags) 562 lbs. (with bags) 544 lbs. (with bags) 606 lbs.
Fuel Capacity 6.1 gal. 7.9 gal. 5.3 gal. 5.3 gal.
Saddlebag Capacity 73 liters/19.3 gallons 73 liters/19.3 gallons 55 liters/14.4 gallons 62 liters/16.4 gallons
Tested Fuel Economy (Average) 36.4mpg 36.8 mpg 37.5 mpg 35.2 mpg
Full color instrument cluster
Gear Position Indicator X X X
Heated Grips X
Heated seat X
Heated passenger seat X
Hillstart control X
Power accessory socket X X X
Cornering lights X
Wheelie Control
Backlit handlebar switches
Cornering ABS X X
Wire-spoke wheels X X X
Cast-aluminum wheels X
Electronic suspension adjustability X X
Semi-active suspension X X
Smartphone app
Tire pressure monitor X
Clutchless downshift ability
Ride modes X X X X
Cruise control X X
Traction control X X X X

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  • Old MOron

    I’m curious about the wheels and tires. Seven OEM went with 19-inch front wheels, and of those seven, four use 120 mm tires and three use 110 mm tires. They all use 17-inch rear wheels, but the tire sizes vary from 150 to 190 mm. It will be interesting to read your MOronic comparison of all the bikes’ handling.

  • Brien Commagere

    The KTM 1190 Adventure DOES NOT have cruise control.

    • john burns

      you are correct and it is corrected. The addition of CC on the 1290 is the best improvement to it!

      • DickRuble

        Indeed, compared to the the extra 10hp, extra 10ft*lb and semi-active suspension, the CC takes the prize… heated cup holder or bun warmer would have gotten JB really excited..

      • johnbutnotforgotten

        but where is the info on the optional stepladder

  • Stephen Miller

    The GS torque number doesn’t look right.

    • John Woods

      No, it doesn’t. Claimed is 92 and even if it’s rear wheel, 70 seems low. And doesn’t the GS have a slipper clutch too?

  • JMDonald

    I first became addicted to reading spec sheets high school. Stereo mfgs. published brochures with all the juicy tidbits. Assuming all that is published is truthful, beware. It can get you into trouble.

  • Grant

    The Versys 1000 sits on a 120/70-17 up front and a 180/55-17 in the rear, not the 110/80-19 front and a 150/70-17 rear as indicated on the spec sheet.

  • Michael Byrne

    Many of the specs for the Versys seem to belong to the Suzuki. Tire sizes, weight, maybe wheelbase, luggage capacity? Double check those. Suzuki does have gear position indicator and power socket, but no “drive modes” (other than 3-position TC).

    • Stephen Miller

      I think somehow the spreadsheet or whatever was used to build this got mixed up. I think all of the right numbers are there, but not in the right spots.

      • Old MOron

        Well, give the MOrons credit. They’re trying to provide content while also preparing for a race. I suppose there won’t be any corrections until after the race concludes tomorrow afternoon.

        • Evans Brasfield

          There very well could be mistakes in the table. I was hand coding from the spreadsheet last night and rushing to get it done so that I can go to bed to get up and come out here and race in the morning. I will take a look at it when I get back.

          • Evans Brasfield

            I have gone through and verified that all of the information that I entered in the table matches Tom’s spreadsheet. I only found one typo, and it covered the Triumph’s lb/hp figure. Since Tom is out of the country, I’ll notify him of the concerns about possible table field mixups.

          • Old MOron

            Maybe a spec triple check? Kawi’s website shows 17-inch wheels and fat tires on the Versys 1K LT:
            Compare to the MOronic indication of bigger front wheel and skinny tires.

          • Evans Brasfield

            I understand what you’re saying. I’m just trying to fit a ton of stuff into a mere 24 hours a day. 🙂

            When I need a breather from writing and editing photos, I’ll take a look at the fields you’re referring to. In other words, I checked to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes, and checking for mixups somewhere else in the writing has been slotted into my to do list.

          • Old MOron

            Yeah, add a forum to your website and suddenly every MOronic reader thinks he’s Kevin Duke. Sorry, don’t trouble yourself on my account. I’d rather read whatever else you’re working on, anyway! Uh, unless it’s a Harley story 🙂

          • Evans Brasfield

            I like it when people point out possible mistakes. I means that our readers are engaged! Unfortunately, I also have to make time triage decisions based on how egregious I think the errors are. Right now, we’re all hands on deck working on the big, no make that epic shootout.

  • aaMOron

    It would be cool to see a similar shootout with the smaller version ADV (ish)/Sport Touring. You’d have the BMW 800/1200 GS, Tiger 800/Exp, Versys 650/1000, DL 650/1000, and maybe Ducati Multi/Hyper. Is the extra power really worth the extra money. Is less sometimes more?

    As an owner of the DL650, I often lust for more thrust, but the 650 is so well behaved and downright frugal at the pump. Seeing these bigger bikes, most, if not all, of which need 91 octane and getting sub 40 mpg makes me happy to have something that happily burns 87 octane at a rate of 55 mpg. For many, these are toys and fuel expense is an insignificant cost of ownership. I make plenty of money to be in that category, but I still like me some good mpg and the flip side of that is range. When some of these bikes only hold 5 gallons, I would want at least a little more margin of error to make the next fuel stop.

    That said, money be damned, I’d probably find myself on one of the KTMs.

    • DickRuble

      You have to laugh at some of the so called “adventure” bikes that only can use 93 or higher octane fuel… Let’s see them riding in the middle east or some African countries.

      • aaMOron

        I didn’t even think about that, but excellent point on taking some of these bikes into remote areas where high quality gasoline is not available.

        The remark about riding no farther than the neighborhood coffee shop is really universal to all types of touring oriented bikes from Goldwings to Electra Glides. There are always those people who are buying an image. Most of the bikes in this comparison aren’t mean for anything rougher than a dirt road, so we probably won’t see them testing much in the dirt. Still, even the least dirt capable bike in this test is very versatile, offers a lot of performance, and comfort. That’s why this segment of the industry is so popular.

      • Jay F

        Or even in the Ozarks.
        Some nice areas to ride in middle/eastern Missouri only have 87 octane.
        Reminds me of a group trip to Eureka Springs AR this summer. We kept having to break off the route to drive 20-30 miles to a town so the HD guys could gas up. Then another 30 back to the twisties.
        My DL60 was getting close to 60mpg, putting me at 300 miles a tank.

        At first I was debating getting the 1000. Due to it’s weight, seat height, and fuel consumption I opted for the 650. I can still do 1.5x to 2x over the suggested speed through the curves, so it’s still fast enough to get me into trouble. I can still lose the cruiser guys in curves even with my wife on the back.

        • DickRuble

          Group trip with HD guys? What did you expect?

    • Jay F

      I couldn’t agree more. I have an ’08 Wee as well, it could be faster but 50-60mpg and a 250mi fuel range is more than makes up for it.
      As far as twisties it handles excellently! My wear strips are about a 1/4 inch on each side. If you are comfortable leaning it and can handle the curves, the only benefit to a faster bike is in the straights.

  • Classic Velocity

    This is a massive test so kudos, but why not wait a few months and get the Africa Twin as well as the Tenere and the Stelvio ? I am not sure how meaningful a winner will be without all the contenders. Plus, the Tenere is being blown out at my local dealer for under $10K !! I am not a fan of that bike, but it sure changes the value proposition vs the others in this test….

    • RPJ

      Yup, Yamaha & Guzzi missing. 2 great bikes.

  • 14kmtnman

    What happened the the Yamaha Super Tenere? Did Yamaha suddenly stop production & the bike fell off the face of the earth? Why was it not included too? It matches the specs of the other bikes & will go anywhere the others will, on or off road. It also requires much less maintenance (26k mile valve check, shaft drive) than several of the others.

    • Peter c

      I agree the Yamaha Super Tenere is right in the mix with these bikes, especially when you take into account it’s cheap servicing, features and bang for buck. It would be good to know why it was not included.

      • Alexander Pityuk

        They simply couldn’t get it. Yamaha didn’t have one for them. It was said before in “announcement” article i guess.

      • johnbutnotforgotten

        probably should have waited for the Transalp as well (i’m a Moto Guzzi Guy, but it would seem going this big would require getting all the players involved)

    • BryanB_Raleigh

      Yea I’ve been looking out for more comparisons with the FJ-09 (Tracer? over there I think) but would at least take a new Super Tenere thrown in there.

  • Kurt Keilhofer

    And of course what is missing is what the load capacity of these bikes are. Why is the GVWR such a secret when the empty weights seem to be available?