It’s the moment of reckoning for the motorcyclist-in-training. The time when clutch plates come together, and balance and forward motion begins. The fear of rocketing out of control and crashing horrendously is palpable. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Cedergrens has removed all the monster-under-the-bed scariness of learning to operate a motorcycle and replaced it with a Skidbike security blanket.
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.
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.
I should know better than to say yes when Brad says let’s go on an off-road adventure, but that weekend it was either Death Valley or start deconstructing 18 years worth of worldly possessions for an impending housing relocation. I still had the KTM 1190 Adventure in my garage, and how many times would those two things align? Also, Brad’s rides are less death-defying now that he’s paraplegic. How he rides his DR350, I know not. Nor how he walks, but he does both amazingly well, looking only a little like Mr. Natural sometimes if he’s had a cocktail.
Instead of two specially-prepped BMW R1150GS Adventures, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman should have split Long Way Round riding duties between stock versions of the GSA and KTM’s (at the time) 950 Adventure. An epic shootout of 20,000 around-the-world miles! Alas, they did not. Leaving moto hacks such as myself and John Burns to venture less than twenty-hundred miles within the confines of the state of California. Kind of the opposite of epic.
KTM has been on a roll of late, with its 1290 Super Duke R and 1190 Adventure R collecting our MOBO awards for Motorcycle of the Year and Best on On- Off-Road/Adventure bikes. However let’s not forget the motorcycle that introduced the engine that begat these two award winners: the RC8 R.
Yeah, we know, calling a tie seems a cop out and a way to avoid pissing off one of these two manufacturers. The truth is, we haven’t yet been able to compare these adventure models directly. But one thing is clear: There are no better bikes for exploring far-flung roads regardless of their surfaces, paved or not.
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.