2017 Honda CRF250L Rally Review – First Ride

From the song “Little Honda” by the Beach Boys:

I’m gonna wake you up early cause I’m gonna take a ride with you.
We’re goin’ down to the Honda shop, I’ll tell you what we’re gonna do.
Put on a ragged sweatshirt, I’ll take you anywhere you want me to.
First gear, it’s all right (Honda, Honda, go faster, faster)
Second gear, I’ll lean right (Honda, Honda, go faster, faster)
Third gear, hang on tight (Honda, Honda, go faster, faster)
Faster, it’s all right.

There’s no denying that Honda’s CRF250L dual-sport machine is a hit.

The CRF250L’s high-winding engine doesn’t pack a lot of punch, but that hasn’t stopped it from putting a whoopin’ on the competition in the dual-sport market. The entry-level CRF250L has been a true overachiever, leading the category, says Honda, with 20% of the market share. Around 4000 customers ponied up for a CRF250L in 2016, and we haven’t heard of too many complaints from ’em. The CRF250L isn’t the quickest or fastest machine in the quarter-liter class, but it was never designed to be a massive off-roader as much as an off-roader for the masses.

It’s not a big motorcycle,
Just a groovy little motorbike.
It’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys,
That two-wheeled bike.
We’ll ride on out of the town
To anyplace I know you like.

Going anyplace has been the strong suit of the CRF250L since its inception, and for 2017 Honda has not only updated the standard CRF250L to give it a little more zest, it has also added a second, eye-catching model: Joining the standard CRF250L this year is the CRF250L Rally, which boasts Dakar Rally styling lifted from Honda’s CRF450 Rally machine, slightly taller suspension and more fuel capacity than the CRF250L so you can have even more fun between filling stations. For 2017, the CRF250L costs $5,149 while the CRF250L Rally retails for $5,899.

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MO Tested: Spidi Ventamax H2Out Jacket & Thunder H2Out Pants

During the wet but not-too-cold Spring and Fall months a rider needs a lightweight suit that’ll keep him dry without overheating. Spidi’s Ventamax H2Out jacket fits the bill nicely, as does the company’s Thunder H2Out pants. Both have removable rain liners and removable body armor (some of which is optional), and both can be worn in a variety of riding situations and weather conditions. Pricing is marginally steeper than we’d like for this ensemble – better if the armor was included and not optional – but the apparel performs to its job parameters well, and both the jacket and pants are plucked from the MO closet often, proving their popularity.

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2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S Preview

BMW added yet another model to its R nineT lineup with the Urban G/S joining the previously revealed Scrambler, Pure and Racer models. The slash in the name is significant as the Urban G/S is designed as a throwback to the BMW R80 G/S which helped kickstart the adventure segment. Although it sports adventure-style longer-travel suspension and larger wheels, the Urban part of the name reminds us it is still designed primarily for use on city streets.

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2017 Honda CRF250L Rally Preview

Hot on the heels of its popular new Africa Twin model introduced last year comes a lighter-weight adventure-focused motorcycle from Honda, the CRF250L Rally. The Rally is based on the updated-for-2017 CRF250L and inspired by the factory CRF450 Rally machine raced in the Dakar by Team HRC.

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2017 Ducati Multistrada 950 Preview

If you missed Ducati’s live-streaming event from Milan this morning, you missed a lot. According to CEO Claudio Domenicali, 402,000 Ducati fans saw the new model presentation on Facebook this morning. We expected most of the new models that were introduced; one we didn’t really is the new Multistrada 950.

This one Domenicali described as the Swiss Army Knife Ducati. It uses a 937cc Testastretta 11-degree motor instead of the 1200cc unit in the current Multi. The 937 claims 113 horsepower at 9000 rpm, with a very flat torque curve said to produce 80% of its 71 lb-ft peak all the way from 3500 to 9500 rpm. Valve-check intervals are now scheduled every 18,000 miles.

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2017 Honda X-ADV Confirmed for EICMA

After teasing us with a couple of videos, Honda announced its adventure-styled scooter will enter production bearing the name “X-ADV” ( which we were the first to report). The X-ADV was first previewed by the City Adventure concep t at last year’s EICMA show so it’s no surprise that the production model will make its debut at this year’s show in Milan.

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Skidmarks - Build the Bike You Want

“If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.”

—Napoléon Bonaparte

KTM’s mind-bending 1290 Super Duke R ended up winning MO’s Motorcycle of the Year in 2014 for its raw power and versatility. If you are not familiar with this model, imagine being strapped to a bar stool and then being pulled behind a speeding commuter train. Where some manufacturers talk about putting a superbike on the street, KTM really does it, except with high bars and no wind protection, because… well, because I’m not sure why. A personal theory is that Austria is what happens when Germans drink too much. But thank God they did it because the world is always short of expensive, loud and beautiful things.

Two men who I’m pretty sure agree with me are Messrs. Conan Dooley and Denis Ivanov. It all started when AMA/AFM racer Erik “GoGo” Gulbranson campaigned a Super Duke 1290 R in 2015 and then had his friend Dooley convert it to street trim so he could sell it. Dooley’s other pal, Denis, offered to buy it – if Conan would build the Super Duke into the all-around supermoto superbike KTM should have built in the first place.

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2017 Yamaha SCR950 Revealed

Back in April we noticed the Star Motorcycles website was being redirected to Yamaha’s website, and we broke news with an official response from Yamaha that its Star Motorcycles brand was being reabsorbed into Yamaha’s street lineup now split into four segments: Sport, Super Sport, Sport Heritage, and Cruiser.

Yamaha notes there is some crossover traffic in the latter two categories, with both camps appreciating customization, timelessness, authentic materials, engine character and social lifestyles. While aging Boomers and Gen Xers are moving to more comfortable and practical baggers, Gen Y is digging on lighter and simpler cafe racers and scramblers.

Yamaha’s most successful cruisers of late have been the Bolts, and Yamaha is bringing about further distinctions between the Bolt and Bolt R-spec. The R ($8,399) will maintain its current “sport” positioning, while the regular version ($7,999) will get reinforcements to its “timeless character,” which for 2017 means new wire-spoke wheels. Both Bolts get a nice upgrade with a new flangeless fuel tank (no ugly seams!) that holds an extra 1.2 liters. Also new for the 2017 Bolts, available in August, are “improved appearance wire guides.”

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2016 Honda VFR1200X Review

What the hell is this thing anyway? We were all so caffeinated about the new Africa Twin that when Honda offered up the new VFR1200X for us to ride around upon, I had almost forgotten about it. Known as the Crosstourer since 2012 across the pond, here it is now in the U.S., available in six-speed manual form like our tester, or with Honda’s excellent DCT automatic transmission for only $400 more ($15,999).

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Coming Soon (Hopefully): KTM 390 Adventure

The rumor has been circulating for a while; an Adventure model based on KTM’s 390 Duke engine. We’ve yet to see any spy photos of the bike, but it’ll surely have longer-travel suspension and modestly sized fairing like its bigger Adventure brothers. This one, like the small Dukes and RCs, will be built in India by its partner Bajaj to take advantage of low production costs, which enables access to markets where prices must be fairly low. Expect ABS but not active suspension.

2015 KTM 390 Duke First-Ride Review

A 390 Adventure will provide competition to Royal Enfield’s 411cc Himalayan model. There’s no confirmation that either bike is coming stateside yet, but KTM has brought both its 390 Duke and RC390 models to the United States, and Royal Enfield has been making a push for more U. S. sales since introducing its revised Continental GT model in 2014 – so there’s a strong precedent. For Bajaj’s home market of India, there’s also talk of a 200cc Adventure, making the most of KTM’s globally popular 125/200/390 platform. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

2015 CSC Cyclone RX-3 Review

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2016 Honda CRF250L Review

Probably every time I “road-test” a scooter, I go on about how convenient and economical it is to keep a medium-sized scoot around the house for all those short trips and small-item errands. And if my kid is also around the house, he rolls his eyeballs and tells me how gender-preference-indeterminant I look every time I ride around on one. A couple other pals who are less secure in their manhood can also be counted on to come up with some sort of snide comment. Come to think of it, I haven’t had a date in quite some time…

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2016 Royal Enfield Himalayan Revealed

Indian manufacturer Royal Enfield revealed its much-awaited adventure bike, the Himalayan. Powered by a new 411cc Single, the Himalayan was designed to be a lightweight, uncomplicated motorcycle that can go anywhere, including the rugged terrain of its namesake.

Royal Enfield Himalayan Trademarked

In fact, the company’s chief executive Siddhartha Lal proved it for himself, taking some friends and colleagues on some prototypes for a week of riding in the Himalayas last summer. Last month, Lal took a production-ready model on another long trip, riding 500 miles from Goa to Bangalore, mostly on back roads and off-road trails. How’s that for a hands-on CEO?

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2016 Husqvarna 701 Enduro Review

Just two years into its new lease on life under the wing of KTM, Husqvarna has come a long way in a short time, shattering the brand’s global sales volume record two years in a row. Husky bid ‘Hej då’ to the record set during its Swedish heyday, with 16,000 units sold globally in 2014. That figure jumped another 20% in 2015, with 20,500 units sold; the U.S. market garnered 27% of those sales.

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2016 Zero DSR First Ride Review

I still remember how wide my eyes were the first time I twisted the e-throttle on Zero’s new-for-2014 SR. Any word associations I had prior to “electrics” and “slow” were well and truly shattered. With a claimed 106 lb-ft of torque – more than a Suzuki Hayabusa – available at an instant from its high-output motor and 660-amp motor controller, and no clutch or gears to finesse, there are few things that can beat it in a stoplight-to-stoplight dash.

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2016 Adventure Bikes Spec For Spec

Last year’s Ultimate Sports-Adventure-Touring Shootout – a six-day, nine-bike extravagasm – pitted some of the lesser dirtable models (Versys 1000 LT, Multistrada S, S1000XR) against some of the industry’s more formidable off-roaders (1290 Super Adventure, 1190 Adventure, R1200GS) as well as a few inbetweeners (Caponord, V-Strom, Tiger Explorer). With this year’s introduction of Honda’s Africa Twin, Ducati’s Multistrada 1200 Enduro, and Triumph’s Tiger Explorer XCx, three more off-roady models have emerged.

2016 Africa Twin Review

2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro + Video

2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer Lineup

Two contributing factors to a bike’s dirt-appropriateness are its wheel sizes and the presence of rugged wire-spoke wheels. Of the 11 bikes in this spec sheet, seven run a 19-inch front, 17-inch rear wheel combo, two a 21-inch front, 18-inch rear combo and two a 21/17 combo. The 17-inch front/rear combo and cast aluminum wheels the Multistrada 1200S, Versys 1000 LT and S1000XR wear have disqualified them from this shootout. Almost all the bikes here have spoke wheels, but for some reason – or rather a mistake on Suzuki’s part – the Adventure version of the V-Strom 1000 is outfitted with cast aluminum wheels instead of spokes. However, it’s wheel sizes are 19/17, and because the Strom so closely matches the Africa Twin in price, weight, and horsepower, we’re gonna look the other way and include it here. It should be noted that getting the class icon, BMW’s R1200GS, outfitted with spokes is a $500 upgrade in addition to the bike’s $1,500 “Standard” package (accounted for in the spec sheet’s pricing).

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2015 EICMA: Benelli Leoncino

Benelli may now be Chinese-owned but that hasn’t stopped the Italian brand from having a presence in Milan, presenting three new motorcycles at EICMA. Shown here is a new scrambler model called the Leoncino, or “lion cub”, a name that traces back to a line of lightweight Benelli models from the 1950s.

The Leoncino is powered by a new liquid-cooled 500cc parallel-Twin which also powers the adventure-style TRK 502 also shown at EICMA. Benelli claims the engine produces 46.9 hp at 8500 rpm and 33.2 lb-ft. of torque at 4500 rpm.

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2015 EICMA: Honda CB Six50 Concept

Honda is dipping its toe in the suddenly trendy scrambler waters, introducing a concept model based off of its CB650F and CBR650F platform. The CB Six50 Concept, like the CB4 roadster concept, is a design exercise from Honda R&D Europe presented at EICMA.

While the engine and frame appear identical to those on the production 650s, the CB Six50 adopts the prototypical scrambler garb of wire-spoke wheels, knobby tires and rising exhaust. A bash plate protects the four header pipes, which is a shame given their elegant design, but it’s a practical choice for a machine claiming off-road capability.

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2015 EICMA: Moto Guzzi V7 II Stornello

Moto Guzzi reached into its past, reviving the name Stornello for its new scrambler. The original Stornello was produced from 1960 to 1974 and was one of the first Italian motorcycles to be modified into a scrambler model capable of light off-road duties.

The new V7 II Stornello reinterprets this heritage in a modern package. Moto Guzzi uses this tradition to poke fun at some of its competitors (*cough* Ducati) who have recently revealed new scrambler models.

“There are those who have found it easier to take advantage of this market because they had a ‘scrambler’ heritage within their brand and then there were those who reinvented themselves,” says Marco Lambri, director of the Piaggio Group Style Center. “For Moto Guzzi this is nothing new: our heritage is full of this type of interpretation.”

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2015 EICMA: Triumph Tiger Explorer

Triumph has diversified its 1215cc Tiger Explorer lineup, following the pattern established by its smaller Tiger 800 siblings announced at EICMA last year. Like the 800s, the Tiger Explorer will be available in six trim levels, each offering a different balance between adventure and touring.

The adventure ready Tiger Explorer XC will return and the more street-biased Tiger Explorer gets the XR designation as the line’s two base models. The XC will be joined by the XCx and the top-tier XCa while the XR will be joined by the XRx and the even more premium XRt. All six models are powered by the same 1215cc Triple delivering power through a shaft drive. Also standard across the line are a torque-assisted clutch and a new exhaust design.

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2016 Honda VFR1200X Announced for US

Already popular in Europe, the Honda VFR1200X receives important updates for 2016 and will now be available to American customers, joining the previously announced 2016 CRF1000L Africa Twin. Honda also announced that the NC700X and CB500X receive aggressive new styling for 2016, and that the U.S. debut for all four 2016 Honda adventure models will be at the November 20–22 International Motorcycle Shows stop in Long Beach, California.

“We’re very excited to offer such a well-rounded offering of adventure-touring models in the U.S. for 2016,” said Lee Edmunds, Manager of Motorcycle Marketing Communications at American Honda. “The introduction of the VFR1200X to North America follows on the incredible reception of the Africa Twin. With the NC700X and CB500X also set to get important updates for 2016, Honda has a model to suit the needs of any adventure-touring enthusiast.”

The VFR1200X is powered by a 1,237cc V4 engine and is available with a standard gearbox or Honda’s six-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT); both versions feature Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC), combined ABS brakes and shaft drive. The bike rolls on 19- and 17-inch wheels front/rear, respectively, suspended by an inverted 43mm fork and single-sided swingarm. Other features include a one-hand-adjustable windscreen, handguards and an accessory socket to charge smart phones or power heated vests. Price has yet to be determined, but the VFR1200X is available only in Pearl Black and will be available May, 2016.

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New Yamaha and Star Motorcycles for 2016

Yamaha unveiled a few new models yesterday afternoon in Irvine, California, and told us to stand by, there may be another new street model yet to come later this year. We were kind of expecting the XSR700 that Yamaha teased back in July, so maybe that will be the missing model?

2016 Yamaha YZF-R1S Certified by CARB

The YZF-R1S, in the lead photo, is one of the new models it did reveal. The R1 and R1M were so well-received, says Yamaha, that it wanted to extend the reach of those highly track-focussed machines to riders who are a bit less track focussed. Substituting less expensive metals in a bunch of places means the weight of the S model goes up a bit, but the price goes down: Instead of titanium con rods it get steel ones, instead of Ti headers it gets stainless steel ones, instead of magnesium wheels it gets aluminum ones, etc. – and winds up nine pounds heavier than the standard R1, says Yamaha. It does get the six-way IMU and all the electronic aids of the R1 except the quickshifter (QSS in Yamalingo), which is available as an option. (We’d have definitely gone for some higher clip-ons on our S version, but that would’ve required a whole new fairing, so the riding position remains the same.)

The steel rods don’t let the S engine rev quite as far as the Ti-rodded engine, but peak power is supposed to be very similar anyway. Those extra nine pounds save you $2k; the S model will sell for $14,990, and only the discriminating Yamaha spotter will know you cheaped out, since there’s no S on the bike to identify it – especially if you go for the Matt Gray version, a paint scheme it shares with the regular R1.

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Top 10 Reasons To Go On An Epic Adventure

Every time I get on the phone with my brother in Ohio we talk until the time difference forces him to go to bed, one of our cellphones dies, or one of us runs out of beer. Running out of beer usually isn’t the culprit, and after enough of them my brother will oftentimes start bemoaning his responsibilities of  fatherhood, being a husband and business owner. “I just want to go back to when I was 22 and all I had to worry about was how much money I’d have left over after paying rent and bills to buy beer with,” he’ll slur, and I swear I can almost hear the tear rolling down his cheek. Needless to say, he doesn’t get to go on many adventures without an age-appropriate destination (his kid turns three in October).

So, if you’re already in a similar situation, you know how important it is to take advantage of time when you have it to get out and enjoy life – especially on motorcycles with some good riding buddies. For those with time on their hands, take it from my brother, don’t sit around wasting it.

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Ultimate Sport-Touring Adventure Shootout Prologue

Nine bikes and riders, six days and 2,000 miles are the key ingredients going into our 2015 Ultimate Sport-Touring Adventure Shootout. Sprinkle in some off-road trekking and garnish with a few nights of camping, and our shootout souffle will be complete. Special sauce will be provided by the unforeseen occurrences that accompany any ride of this nature.

The adventure begins Monday, August 31 with a sunrise gathering at the famous Rock Store. From there we travel North to Big Sur, Gualala, Redwood National Park and back. We’re sure you’re aware that California is hot, bone dry and burning down, so our route will be a coastal one in both directions.

We invite you to follow our progress with daily updates on the MO website and our social networks, as well as GPS mapping provided by the SPOT Gen 3 tracking device.

MO’s Ultimate Sport-Touring Adventure – Day 1
MO’s Ultimate Sport-Touring Adventure – Day 2
MO’s Ultimate Sport-Touring Adventure – Day 3
MO’s Ultimate Sport-Touring Adventure – Day 4
MO’s Ultimate Sport-Touring Adventure – Day 5
MO’s Ultimate Sport-Touring Adventure – Day 6

We’ve tested many versions of the bikes involved here in solo reviews or in shootout fashion, pitting two or three against one another, but never before have we gathered nine bikes at one time to determine the king of Sporty Adventure-Tourers.

Look for the story and accompanying video to be published on Thursday, September 17.

Don’t forget to enter our Pick a Winner contest. Just click on this link and tell us who you think will win the shootout. If you’re right, you will be entered into a draw to win a new Arai XD-4 helmet.

Here are our competitors:

Aprilia Caponord Rally
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2016 Honda Africa Twin Specs Leaked + Video

Someone over at Honda has an itchy trigger finger; a new video and specs for the CRF1000L Africa Twin have leaked onto the Internet.

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2015 BMW S1000XR First Ride Review

Has anybody built a proper “adventure bike” with an inline-Four cylinder before this one? We liked the new Kawasaki Versys 1000 when we compared it with its competition earlier this year, but it’s more sport-tourer than a real sporty adventure bike – mainly because it weighs 565 pounds.

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2015 Aprilia Caponord Rally First Ride Review

The Aprilia Caponord Rally is the most high-tech road motorcycle in Aprilia’s range, a touring flagship fit with everything from active suspension to traction control. What separates the Rally from the standard Caponord is the extra versatility of having standard large and sturdy panniers (33 litres each), spoked wheels enabling off road tires, a taller windscreen, front fairing crash protection and extra LED lights. Still, dynamic damping is the highlight.

Riding for more than 200 miles in the past could make your bum and back shiver in fear of any speed bump or pothole in the road. Active suspension has all but solved this problem, or at least extended the range before such fatigue becomes a problem. The Aprilia Dynamic Damping system is one of the most advanced systems in existence and is, for now, only available on the Caponord.

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2015 Aprilia Caponord Rally First Impressions

The 2015 Aprilia Caponord Rally sails through as the Noale firm’s flagship touring and adventure bike. The Rally is high-tech where the absolute highlight is the ADD (Aprilia Dynamic Damping), which makes any ride, fast or slow, comfortable and safe. Traction control, sophisticated ABS brakes and smoother ride-by-wire throttle response are other highlights which make the Caponord Rally a treat to ride.

This new Rally version gets a pair of 33-liter hard panniers, a taller windscreen, engine and upper fairing protection and additional LED lights at the front as standard. Back in 2001, the ETV 1000 Caponord was launched with Aprilia’s in-house patented spoked wheels. This patent has, in 2015, received a new life with the Rally model. The main feature which makes the wheels special are their lightness – Aprilia claims they are the lightest in its class. The rims can take narrower proper off-road tires, but the standard rubber are Metzeler Tourance road tires. Tire sizes are 120/70-19 front and 170/60-17 rear, but a 110 front and 150 rear can also be fitted.

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2015 CSC Cyclone RX-3 Review

In 1959 we laughed at the small-displacement step-throughs Honda brought to America. It didn’t take Soichiro long, though, to establish Honda as the world leader in motorcycle production. Again we laughed when, in 1992, the Korea-based Kia introduced the Sephia to U.S. consumers, then in 1998 merged with Hyundai. Last year the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group was the 5th-largest auto manufacturer in the world. The moto world has been scoffing at motorcycles from China, Taiwan and other Pacific Rim Asian countries for years now. Maybe it’s time we stopped.

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2015 Husqvarna FE 350 S and FE 501 S Review
Action photos by Steve Cox
2015 Husqvarna FE 350 S

Editor Score:87.5%

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2014 EICMA: 2015 KTM 1050 Adventure Preview

KTM follows up introducing the 1290 Super Adventure R at Intermot last month with the launch of the 1050 Adventure at EICMA this month. Including the 1190 Adventure and 1190 Adventure R, the 2015 1050 Adventure brings KTM’s big-bore, street legal Adventure model count to four.

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2014 EICMA: 2015 Honda True Adventure Prototype Preview

The rumors leading up to EICMA were that Honda would introduce an all-new Africa Twin adventure bike at the Milan Show. Unfortunately, those rumors were only partially true, as Honda revealed prototype it calls the True Adventure.

Discuss this at our Honda Africa Twin Forum.

But make no mistake, the True Adventure is indeed the modern Africa Twin in spirit, if not in name. The prototype on display is caked in mud, barely covering its camo-pattern paint job, suggesting the True Adventure is actually off-road capable unlike the mainly road-going adventure-inspired models currently in vogue.

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2015 Alta Motors RedShift MX and SM Preview + Video

Astute e-bike fans might remember the name BRD, the group setting out to make an electric motocross (and supermoto) competitor from the ground up, called the Redshift, with an emphasis on performance. As we found out at the AIMExpo recently, 2015 brings the bike and the company a few surprises.

For starters, BRD is no more. Presenting those in attendance with a Photoshopped Chef Boyardee logo as some sort of cryptic reason for the name change, the company now goes by Alta Motors, in reference to “Alta California,” the geographic location of its San Francisco, CA headquarters back when the land was under Mexico’s rule.

Name changes aside, the Alta Motors Redshift is making waves as a potentially groundbreaking electric motorcycle. It’s designers and engineers never set out for the title of best electric motorcycle, instead setting the bar higher and working towards a machine that could go toe-to-toe with gas bikes in the competition arena. While we have yet to ride the Redshift MX or its street-legal supermoto variant, the bike is nonetheless interesting.

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Intermot 2014: KTM Freeride E Supermoto

Today at Intermot 2014, KTM took the wraps off the latest in its electric Freeride lineup, the Freeride E Supermoto. The supermoto version of KTM’s Freeride E-SX and E-XC, the E-SM is designed to be an electric city slicker, able to dash through congested cities with ease, all on battery power.

All Freeride E models are powered by permanent magnet synchronous electric motors claiming a peak output of 21.5 hp and 31.0 ft-lb. of torque, which KTM says is on par with similar-sized gas-driven motorcycles. The engine and engine control unit are water-cooled to maintain optimal performance. KTM’s PowerPack houses 360 lithium-ion battery cells and the battery management system. According to KTM, about an hour of ride time is available, depending on conditions and riding habits. That kind of ride time is rather short for most enthusiasts, but PowerPacks are easily interchangeable by loosening four bolts under the seat and swapping out batteries. KTM says the powerpack can get a full charge in 80 minutes while a 50-minute charge will  suffice for an 80% charge.

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Intermot 2014: 2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally

Today at Intermot, Aprilia unveiled a new variant on the Caponord 1200 we first rode last year. Called the Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally, it takes the touring-oriented Capo and beefs it up for light off-roading/adventure riding.

The big change comes in the form of spoked wheels, with the front hoop measuring 19 inches, suitable for more off-road-worthy rubber. From there, the touring-oriented panniers seen on the standard Capo are replaced with hard, aluminum-covered saddlebags, better able to cope with the rigors of adventure riding. Crash bars minimizes damage in the inevitable tip-over, while a more robust bash plate helps protect the underside of the engine, too. The Rally model also sees a larger windscreen and supplementary LED lighting mounted on the crash bars, underneath the standard headlights.

The bones of the Caponord Rally remains unchanged from the standard Capo, which is to say it retains the 1197cc V-Twin with ride-by-wire throttle. Electronic throttle application allows for such niceties as cruise control and three power modes to help the rider select the right power application for the conditions. ABS and traction control remain as well (both of which can be turned off).

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Intermot 2014: 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

KTM’s 1290 Super Duke R blew us away this year, beating all rivals in an exhaustive bout of Streetfighter competition because of its blend of incredible power and accommodating ergonomics. Its exceptional performance and versatility earned it our Motorcycle of the Year award.

2014 Motorcycle of the Year

Now KTM has transplanted the SDR’s supernaturally strong 1301cc V-Twin into its Adventure series to create the 1290 Super Adventure R. The engine’s transition from SDR to SAR includes new cylinder heads, revised camshafts and a crankshaft that adds some flywheel mass to create a more tractable motor. But don’t get the wrong impression the 75° V-Twin has been neutered. KTM claims a maximum of 160 hp and 110.6 lb-ft of torque.

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Intermot 2014: Suzuki V-Strom 650XT

UPDATE: Suzuki Motor of America has confirmed the V-Strom 650XT is coming to the U.S.A. American MSRP: $10,399.

Suzuki puts a little more adventure into its very popular mid-sizeadventure bike, with the V-Strom 650XT, adding wire-spoke wheels sourced from DID (in the same 19- and 17-inch sizes as before), mounting tubeless Bridgestone Trail Wing radial tires. The V-Strom 650XT‘s Spoke wheels are less likely to get bent when rolling over BFRs and other off-road obstacles, and tubeless tires are of course much easier to patch and less prone to sudden blow-outs. Win win.

New cam profiles, single valve springs and iridium spark plugs are all supposed to boost low- and mid-range power, while Suzuki’s Dual Throttle Valve system keeps delivery smooth. Ten-hole injectors and an O2 sensor make it Euro 3 compliant.

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Intermot 2014: Yamaha 01GEN Multi-Wheel Crossover Concept

Yamaha revealed a new three-wheeled dual-sport motorcycle concept model called the 01GEN at the 2014 Intermot show in Germany.

Sporting two wheels at the front and a single wheel at the rear, the 01GEN is described as an “on & off crossover”, referring both to its on- and off-road capability but also the juxtoposition of aggressive and demanding riding with liberated, relax riding.

The 01GEN uses a similar front suspension setup to the Tricity scooter, with either front wheel supported by its own fork, allowing the bike to lean into corners. Seen from the side, you’d think the 01GEN sports the stereotypical ADV-style beak. Take a closer look from the front and you’ll see there are actually two separate fenders, one for each wheel, resembling an insect’s pincers.

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Intermot 2014: Zero Reveals 2015 Lineup

Zero made a splash last year with the introduction of the Zero SR, the hot-rodded version of its flagship S model. This year’s news is a little more subdued, but is still highly relevant all the same. Three big improvements will be seen across the entire Zero line for 2015: Showa suspension will now become standard, as will Bosch switchable ABS and Pirelli tires.

The 41mm Showa fork comes in 2mm smaller diameter than the unit it replaces, but otherwise it and the rear shock will feature the same full adjustability and suspension travel as before (6.25in. front/6.35in. rear for the S and SR, 7.0in. front/7.3in. rear on the DS). Front brake rotors on the S, SR and DS increase to 320mm (from 313mm), but interestingly Zero chose to ditch the Nissin twin-piston calipers in favor of J-Juan units. Other than the addition of ABS, the rear 240mm disc and J-Juan single piston caliper remain the same.

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2014 BMW F800GS Adventure Vs. Triumph Tiger 800XC

When dreaming of exploring the globe on two wheels, adventure riders usually dream big, aspiring to high-end machines like BMW’s iconic R1200GS and KTM’s wonderfully fast and capable 1190 Adventure. However, those lust-worthy globetrotters are priced in a strata that is a stretch for the reality of most riders. Both have entry fees starting around $16,000, but adding optional accessories can bring the MSRPs dangerously close to $20k.

Best On-Off Road / Adventure Motorcycle Of 2014

Single-cylinder adventure bikes are more affordable and often have greater off-road abilities, but they’re less happy droning along boring interstate routes that are often the best or only way to the epic trails.

Enter Goldilocks. BMW’s F800GS and Triumph’s Tiger 800 are relatively affordable adventure conveyances, with highway manners vastly preferable to one-lunged ADVs, but lighter and more manageable – on the trail and the wallet – than the choices in the 1200cc range. The F800GS made its debut in 2008, and Triumph followed BMW’s lead in 2011 with the Tiger 800.

2011 Adventure-Touring Shootout: Triumph Tiger 800XC Vs. BMW F800GS + Video

It’s been three years since we last compared these Euro ADVs. They are, in most ways, very well matched – even in terms of the way they look. Triumph clearly had the BMW as its target when designing the Tiger 800.

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2015 BMW S1000XR Spied!

BMW’s new entry into the sport-adventure-touring sub-class has been caught while undergoing final testing in Europe. The S1000XR is loosely based on the thrilling and versatile S1000R, one of our favorite motorcycles of 2014, but with many changes to compete with sporty ADVs like Ducati’s Multistrada and Aprilia’s Caponord.

BMW Trademarks S1000XR

It’s not without some irony that BMW, the company that basically invented the large-displacement dual-sport/adventure category, is chasing its Euro rivals in this niche which favors performance over off-roadability. Visible in the photo is its longer-travel suspension, taller one-piece handlebar, and a larger-volume muffler to reduce the size of the under-engine collector for additional ground clearance. The windscreen is adjustable, sliding upward and rearward from its low position, seen here raised to one of its high positions.

It’s interesting to note the XR’s identically sized twin headlights, which eschew BMW’s controversial asymmetric designs of recent years. This may portend a change in design philosophy for the German company.

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Value-For-Money Hondas: 2014 Honda CRF250L

For 2013,  Honda replaced the dated CRF230L with the CRF250L. The CRF250L uses a 249cc Single borrowed from the CBR250R streetbike, tuned to provide improved low- and mid-range performance, making it more suitable to the lower-rpm demands of off-road riding. The 250 not only serves as a replacement for the outgoing CRF230L, the 250 will make you forget the 230 ever existed.

The CRF’s off-road footpegs are wide, providing adequate area to rest bulky motocross boots. Its seat is also wide with supple seat-foam density. Unfortunately, the passenger grab strap on the seat is positioned directly beneath the rider’s bum, which makes it an annoyance sooner than later.

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Electric Vs. Gas Supermoto Shootout

Monumental! That’s what this is. MO’s first electric vs. gas, head-to-head supermoto comparison. A bare-knuckle brawl between the embedded establishment and the harbinger of an electrified future. Yep, this shootout is unique, but it’s also the proverbial tip of the iceberg. With the exponential rate at which electric motorcycle technology is improving, there’s a heap load more of this kind of comparison to come.

While we’ve ridden just about every consumer available electric motorcycle currently on the market ( Brammo, Energica, Lightning, Zero) these have either been single bike reviews or a shootout pitting one electric against another ( 2013 Brammo Empulse R Vs Zero S). Only once have we compared an e-bike to an internal-combustion engine (ICE) motorcycle.

Gas vs. Electric Dual-Sport Shootout: Yamaha WR250R vs. Zero DS

This is, therefore, an historical report, to be regarded by future generations, living in a world of depleted fossil fuels, as laughable. But for us in the here and now, residing through this slow-grinding transitional period – from cheap dinosaur power and deficient battery proficiency to the demise of OPEC and the world domination of Duracell – these types of shootouts are about to become commonplace.

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2014 Suzuki DR-Z400SM Track Review

As the only true Super Motard remaining from any of the major manufacturers, Suzuki’s DR-Z400SM is the default choice for anyone looking for a street-legal dirtbike with 17-inch wheels, street tires (Dunlop D208s, specifically), electric start, and a 12-month warranty straight from the showroom. So when Content Editor, Tom Roderick, and I decided we wanted to reacquaint ourselves with supermoto after a long dry spell, our option was pretty obvious.

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2014 Yamaha Super Tenere ES Review + Video

Yamaha‘s Super Ténéré barged into the big-bore adventure-touring market in 2012, gunning for the A-T juggernaut that is BMW‘s R1200GS. Its 1199cc parallel-Twin motor was a good match for BMW’s air/oil-cooled GS, using a unique 270-degree crank-pin offset to deliver traction-enhancing output in the dirt. The Super Ten’s off-road capability was on par with the GS, and its on-road comfort was far superior to KTM’s dirt-focused 990 Adventure.

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2014 Open-Class Dual-Sport Smackdown: Beta 520 RS Vs. KTM 500 EXC

Dual-sport riders in America have never had it so good.

It wasn’t even 10 years ago that even the best dual-sport offerings were mere shadows of their off-road sisters, with more show than go when it came time to head into the outback. Anemic engines, underwhelming suspension, lots of weight and resultant handling like a runaway bull were the norm rather than the exception. That all changed when some manufacturers got more serious about building machines that were closer to 80% dirt, 20% street-oriented rather than 50/50.

Now, in a day when even large-displacement heavyweight adventure bikes exhibit better handling than some of the bulky single-cylinder dual-sport motorcycles of a decade ago, off-road riders seeking a hybrid machine have a decent selection of machinery from which to choose.

KTM’s 500 EXC is widely regarded as the current king of the mountain in the Open dual-sport class. However, Beta, a tiny Italian company with a reputation for building World Championship-winning trials bikes, has made it a priority to try to cut into the dominance enjoyed by the Austrian powerhouse in every off-road riding segment, including hard-core dual-sporting. Hence, it has produced the 520 RS.

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2014 Yamaha Super Tenere ES First Look

In January, Yamaha Canada revealed an updated Super Tenere would be coming to its shores, now equipped with optional electronic suspension like its FJR1300 ES stablemate. At the time, Yamaha’s U.S. arm was tight lipped about whether the Tenere ES would appear stateside, but we can now confirm what many have strongly suspected: Yes, the Super Tenere ES  will indeed be coming here, along with an updated Super Tenere without the ES feature. Pricing for the standard Tenere is set at $15,090. The ES option adds another $1100.

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2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS Review - First Ride

The big V-Strom returns for 2014 in a much anticipated reincarnation of its original form. Obvious outward appearances aside, the new Strom boasts increased displacement and midrange power from its redesigned V-Twin, better handling and improved stability from its new chassis, and an electronics package including non-switchable ABS and a three-position Traction Control system; TC a first for any Suzuki motorcycle.

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2013 KTM 1190 Adventure R Review

After riding BMW’s all-new R1200GS early this year, I figured it would sit gracefully at the top of its adventure-touring class for awhile. But KTM’s new 1190 Adventure R is set to shove the king off his throne. It’s more powerful, marginally lighter, has a larger fuel capacity and is equipped with a sophisticated electronics suite. And if the GS is equipped with its many desirable options, the KTM’s $16,799 MSRP is less expensive.

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2014 KTM 1190 Adventure Review

When it came to big-bore Adventure-Touring shootouts, the KTM 990 Adventure was predisposed to win the off-road segment of the test. That motorcycle, with 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels, 8.25 inches of suspension travel (front and rear), and a lesser wet weight than its peers was simply better suited to the task.

“The KTM 990 Adventure is the only real choice if your idea of adventure takes you far away from the pavement,” said Dean Hight in our 2012 Adventure-Touring Shootout.

The old Adventure, however, was outpaced, technologically bereft and suffered from displacement envy. With the introduction of the 2014 1190 Adventure, KTM addressed the bike’s shortcomings but in the process has streetified its once dominant dirtbike.

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Best Off-Road/Adventure Motorcycle of 2013

Not since an Honorable Mention in our 2010 Bike of the Year awards has BMW’s R1200GS made this list. Not that it wasn’t deserving of honors, but we’ve been enamored with the 800cc middleweight dual-purpose bikes such as BMW’s own F800GS and Triumph’s Tiger 800. The GS has been so good at its intended purpose, in fact, that the 2012 model handily won our 2012  Adventure-Touring Shootout. With the introduction of the all-new R1200GS, it’s no surprise the OG A-T bike not only wins our Best On-Off-Road category but also our Motorcycle Of the Year award.

With a new precision-cooled Boxer engine producing more horsepower and torque, an electronics package including switchable ABS and TC, R-b-W and optional Dynamic ESA, the off-road icon entered 2013 with a clear advantage over its competitors. Despite all its newness, the BMW managed to maintain the balance of off- and on-road qualities that’s kept the GS as the benchmark in this category for so long.

The R1200GS is the Swiss Army Knife of motorcycling – there is almost nothing it can’t do. KTM’s all new 1190 Adventure is just around the corner, and early reports have been glowing. But in 2013, no other motorcycle can match the GS’s incredible versatility and its horizon-stretching capabilities.

Read More:
2013 BMW R1200GS Review – Video
2013 BMW R1200GS Review – Second Ride
Intermot 2012: 2013 BMW R1200GS Breaks Cover

Best On-Off-Road/Adventure Honorable Mention: Husqvarna TR650 Terra

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2014 BMW F800GS Adventure Review

BMW’s F800GS has been a tidier-sized adventure-touring rig since its introduction in 2008, offering most of what its iconic big brother, the R1200GS, has in a smaller, lighter and cheaper package.

But for hardcore adventure riders, the 800GS fell a mite short in terms of its battle-readiness and, perhaps most important, its fuel range. Using an underseat fuel tank limited its volume to just 4.2 gallons, which, if you’re taking the long way around, might be a gallon or two short of adequate when exploring, say, the Baja peninsula.

Enter the new F800GS Adventure, which has been endowed with more off-road worthiness, additional touring features, and a considerable 6.3 gallons of fuel capacity. This expands its range by a significant 100 miles.

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