2018 Adventure Bike Shootout Preview

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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