2018 Adventure Bike Shootout Primer

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan
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7 Adventure bikes, 1 winner

This week you might notice Motorcycle.com being a little quieter than usual. The reason is because most of the MO staff are out riding in our Sorta Annual Big Adventure Bike Shootout. For 2018, we’ve gathered seven of the biggest and baddest adventure machines out there. The plan? To put them through their paces on both the pavement and the dirt. To prove we’re serious about the dirt part, each of the contenders here comes to us with wire wheels, except for one, which we’ll get to in a moment.

2016 Wire-Wheel Adventure Shootout

2018 adventure bike shootout primer

So who are the contenders? In (mostly) alphabetical order, we’ve got the BMW R1200GS Adventure, Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports, KTM 1290 Super Adventure R, Suzuki V-Strom 1000 XT, Triumph Tiger 1200 XCa, and Yamaha Super Tenere ES. All of them are designed to explore both the beaten and unbeaten paths no matter where you are in the world. They’ve got big engines, bigger gas tanks, tall seats, loads of technology, and in this case, a lot of MOrons piloting them.

2018 adventure bike shootout primer

The outlier in the group (except for the MOron part) is the Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Tour. Its cast wheels won’t do it any favors in the dirt portion of our test, but it was the only Multistrada Ducati had available – we had requested the smaller-engined but properly-wheeled Multistrada Enduro. It was either Multi 1260 S or nothing, so we bent our self-imposed rule. Rest assured, once we get our hands on the Enduro, it’ll get its proper shake against whoever wins this shootout.

2018 adventure bike shootout primer

For your bench racing pleasure, we’ve included a spec chart below so you can see how our contenders stack up on paper. Keep in mind we asked the manufacturers to equip their machines with whatever off-road accessories they wanted from their own catalogs and this is reflected in the “as-tested” prices listed for each machine. You’ll see there’s a wide price variation between the bunch, with the $15,145.83 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 XT the least expensive, and the $24,090.00 BMW R1200GS Adventure almost 10 grand more.

All seven motorcycles are packed with technology, with tech like Hill Start Assist, Cornering-ABS, and electronic suspension sprinkled across the lot. In this regard, the tech we’re most intrigued by, especially in this adventure setting, is the Dual Clutch Transmission fitted to the Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports. Can it really perform just as well – or better – than a traditional transmission off-road? Honda seems to think so, since we gave them the option to submit either traditional or DCT model for this test. Honda clearly stands behind the technology, and it appears riders feel the same way – Honda reps tell us that DCT sales are nearly 50% between models available in either DCT or regular variants.

2018 adventure bike shootout primer

Of course there’s a lot more one can glean by studying these specs, but we want to leave the rest of our words for the main story. In the meantime, Dennis and Burns will be manning the MO ship while the rest of the crew are out this week. If you have questions about any of the bikes, leave them in the comments and we’ll address them once we return to civilization.

  • 2018 adventure bike shootout primer

    BMW R1200GS Adventure

    Ducati Multistrada 1260 S

    Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports

    KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

    Suzuki V-Strom 1000 XT

    Triumph Tiger 1200 XCa

    Yamaha Super Tenere ES

    Engine Type1170cc air/liquid-cooled flat Twin1262cc liquid-cooled, 90º V-Twin998cc liquid-cooled 22.5º parallel-Twin1301cc liquid-cooled, 75º V-Twin1037cc liquid-cooled V-Twin1215cc, liquid-cooled inline Triple1199cc liquid-cooled parallel-Twin
    Rear wheel horsepower103.5 @ 8300 rpm140.5 @ 9300 rpm85.7 @ 8300 rpm (from 2016 test)121.6 @ 9500 rpm91.8 @ 8300 rpm114.6 @ 8600 rpm97.6 @ 7400 rpm
    Rear wheel torque76.1 @ 6600 rpm86.2 @ 7600 rpm67.0 @ 5900 rpm (from 2016 test)74.9 @ 7000 rpm67.0 @ 4000 rpm73.4 @ 8000 rpm76.1 @ 6200 rpm
    Bore and Stroke101 mm x 73 mm106mm x 71.5mm92mm x 75mm108mm x 71mm100.0mm x 66.0mm85mm x 71.4mm98.0mm x 79.5mm
    Fuel SystemElectronic fuel injection with ride-by-wire throttle systemBosch electronic fuel injection system, elliptical throttle bodies (equivalent diameter 56mm), ride-by-wire, dual sparkPGM-FI electronic fuel injection (Throttle By Wire)Keihin EFI, 52mm throttle bodiesFuel injectionRide by wire, fuel injectionFuel injection with YCC-T
    Compression Ratio12.5:113.0:110.0:113.1:111.3:111.0:111.0:1
    Valve TrainDOHC, 8 valvesDOHC, 8 valves, with Desmodromic variable valve timingSOHC, 8 valvesDOHC, 8 valvesDOHC, 8 valvesDOHC, 12 valvesDOHC, 8 valves
    Transmission6-speed6-speed, DQS (Ducati Quick Shift) up and down6-speed Automatic DCT6-speed, PASC slipper clutch6-speed6-speed w/torque assist6-speed
    Final DriveShaftChainChainChainChainShaftShaft
    Front Suspension37mm Telelever fork with central spring strut; 8.3 in travelSachs 48-mm inverted semi-active fork, adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound; 6.7 in travel45mm inverted telescopic fork; 9.9 in. travelWP 48mm inverted fork, fully adjustable; 8.7 in travel43mm inverted fork, adjustable for rebound and compression; 6.3 in travelWP 48mm inverted fork, electronically adjustable damping; 7.48 in travel43mm inverted fork; electronically adjustable compression and rebound damping; 7.5-in travel
    Rear SuspensionMonoshock, adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping; 8.7 in travelSachs monoshock, semi-active, adjustable for preload, rebound, and compression; 6.7 in travelPro-Link system w/ single shock; 9.4 in. travelWP monoshock, fully adjustable; 8.7 in travelMonoshock, adjustable for rebound and preload; 6.3 in travelWP monoshock, electronically adjustable semi-active damping with automatic preload adjustment; 7.6 in travelMonoshock; electronically adjustable preload and rebound damping; 7.5-in travel
    Front BrakeDual 305mm floating discs, 4-piston calipers w/switchable ABSDual 330mm semi-floating discs, radial-mount Brembo M50 4-piston calipers w/cornering ABSDual 310mm discs, four-piston calipers, ABSDual 320mm discs, radial-mount, Brembo 4 piston cailpers, cornering ABS w/off-road mode, disengageableDual disc, radial-mount Tokico 4-piston calipers, with IMU for lean angle ABSDual 305mm floating discs, radial-mount Brembo 4-piston calipers, switchable ABSDual 310mm discs, Unified Brake System, ABS
    Rear BrakeSingle 276mm disc, 2-piston caliper w/switchable ABSSingle 265mm disc, 2-piston caliper w/cornering ABSSingle 256mm disc, one-piston caliper, ABSSingle 267mm disc, Brembo two-piston caliper, cornering ABS w/off-road mode, disengageableSingle disc, Nissin 2-piston caliper, with IMU for lean angle ABSSingle 282mm disc, Nissin 2-piston sliding caliper, switchable ABSSingle 282mm disc, Unified Brake System, ABS
    Front Tire120/70-19Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 120/70-1790/90-2190/90-21110/80-19120/70-19110/80-19
    Rear Tire170/60-17Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 190/55-17150/70R-18150/70-18150/70-17170/60-17150/70-17
    Rake/Trail24.5º / 95mm (3.7 in.)25º / 111mm (4.37 in.)27.3º / 111mm (4.37 in.)26º / 123mm (4.84 in)25º / 109mm (4.29 in)23.2º / 99.9mm (3.93 in)28.0º / n/a
    Wheelbase58.9 in.62.4 in.62.2 in62.2 in61.2 in59.84 in60.6 in.
    Seat Height34.3 in – 35 in32.5 in – 33.3 in35.4 in – 36.2 in35.0 in33.5 in32.9 in – 33.7 in33.3 or 34.3 in.
    Curb Weight642 lbs573 lbs585 lbs587 lbs554 lbs632 lbs579 lbs
    Fuel Capacity7.9 gal5.3 gal.6.4 gal6.1 gal5.3 gal5.2 gal6.1 gal
    Ground Clearance12.9 in.12.7 in.10.7 inn/a6.5 inn/an/a
    Available ColorsWhite/Blue/RedGlass Sparkle Black & Champion YellowTeam Yamaha Blue
    Troy Siahaan
    Troy Siahaan

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    2 of 148 comments
    • 19pacman59 19pacman59 on Sep 07, 2018

      I have a 2014 Super Tenere (bought new in 2015) and I love it. Mostly riden on pavement (95%) and some gravel roads, I forgot to say, it's very reliable and probably the most reliable bike in its class. I use this bike mostly on long rides as I also have a sport bike.

    • Dave Dave on Mar 09, 2020

      After a relatively short tide on a Harley dresser many years ago I decided i was comfortable with a bike weighing 400-450 lbs so I rode Triumphs. After smashing a leg (not on a motorcycle) I was afraid to kick start the Triumph & got a 650 Suzuki with an electric starter. I have now been riding for 65 years.