On Day 2 of our little press junket to Ontario, the sun came out, the birds sang, and we rode the new 160-horsepower BMW S1000XR ’til hell wouldn’t have it anymore. Okay, fine, we rode only ’til cocktail hour. On Day 1, though, it rained all day, the mosquitoes made the air hum at every stop, the roads were treacherous and I was very glad to be on the new R1200RS instead.
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.
Our 2014 Motorcycle of the Year, KTM’s 1290 Super Duke R, is getting a new stablemate to join the recently added 1290 Super Adventure. The prototype in these photos is a hybrid of the other two KTM Supers, sharing the bones of its brothers like the 1301cc V-Twin engine, steel trellis frame, single-sided swingarm and Brembo M50 monoblock brakes.
In January, we deduced that the BMW R1200GS Adventure is the best big expensive adventure bike on the market. It seems like only yesterday that we concluded that the new Kawasaki Versys 650 is the best small, (less) expensive one, in our Urbane Adventurers comparison. And just before that, the new-for-2015 Yamaha FJ-09 came out on top of an adventurous pile that included a pair of bigger, more expensive motorcycles. The truth, as they say, is always somewhere in the middle, and if the FJ-09 and its 847cc Triple aren’t right on the epicenter of adventure-bike truth, they’re very close – even if the FJ does roll slightly closer to the streety side of adventuresomeness.
Full Disclosure: I already loved this bike before I ever even laid eyes on it. MV’s stunning Rivale got my heart racing and when I first heard they were considering a long-legged sport-tourer with an 800cc-Triple, I didn’t even need to hear its sublime “Turismo Veloce” naming before I knew I wanted one. Then came the aggressively voluptuous visuals followed by a long wait between the time we shot a video of the bike’s unveiling in late 2013 and this actual first ride in spring of 2015. Many of us began to wonder if the bike had been stillborn, the victim of some budget cut or other ignoble fate. Alas, our fears were simply due to our own high expectations and MV deciding to really take their time nailing their first ever touring motorcycle. Now it’s time to see if that wait has paid off.
Sport-tourers include a variety of designs from large technology-laden models such as BMW’s K1600GT, to Kawasaki’s more traditional Ninja 1000 to Ducati’s long-travel Multistrada and Yamaha’s FJ-09. With some luggage and a willing disposition you can, of course, set out for a far away destination aboard your new Yamaha R1 and call it sport-touring. And if you do, the tires in this Buyer’s Guide will certainly be a better choice than the sticky hoops you’d normally install on a sportbike.
On this we can agree, BMW’s R1200RT is the best sport-touring motorcycle available today. The newly designed Beemer won our 2014 Sport-Touring Final SmackDown + Video, and was chosen by both MO editors and MO readers as the class winner, making it a unanimous decision. As one of the lighter sport-touring bikes available, (604 pounds with its 6.6-gallon tank full), the RT navigates long sweepers and tight switchbacks with equal aplomb. It was, however, a narrow victory over Ducati’s Multistrada, with 25.0% choosing the BMW and 22.8% choosing the Duc. As our choice for Best Sport-Touring Bike of 2013, we understand the allure of the Multistrada. The Multistrada, with a curb weight of 516 pounds, is significantly lighter than the BMW or our second place sport-touring shootout finisher, Yamaha’s FJR1300.
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.
One year and a handful of months ago I was returning from Spain with the knowledge that KTM had constructed something special; the 1290 Super Duke R. The SDR went on to claim MO’s 2014 Bike of the Year award, as well as similar accolades from competing publications. If you read my First Ride Review of the SDR, this story will sound familiar. In what seems like déjà vu, I’m returning from Spain with the knowledge that KTM has constructed something special; the 2015 1290 Super Adventure.
Motorcycle.com recently got the chance to ride the new 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT at its world launch in Sicily, it’s a motorcycle that’s being offered in the U.S. for the first time. With aggressive styling that mimics Kawasaki’s Ninja model line, coupled with roomy, upright ergonomics and an extremely comfortable and effective handlebar bend, this is a machine which is well-positioned for entry into the rapidly growing Sport/Adventure Touring category, priced nicely at $12,799. This video gives a glimpse into our time with the new machine and sheds a little insight into how it lives up to the outstanding reputation of its smaller Versys sibling.
The category-straddling Kawasaki Versys 650 enters its third iteration and first major update of Kawasaki’s VERsatile SYStem. In 2015, the sporty yet friendly Versys 650 arrives in two forms, both of which feature a new, chiseled appearance that is much more handsome than previous versions. Its new nose also includes a larger windshield that is tool-lessly adjustable, and revised footpeg locations supply additional legroom. The LT version adds hardshell saddlebags and hand guards that expand its sport-touring capabilities.
The Versys 1000 has actually been produced since 2012, but until now its unconventional styling coupled with a relatively soft U.S. motorcycle market have kept it away from our shores. Motorcycle sales are beginning to show serious signs of growth, with several European manufacturers claiming all-time records for the 2014 model year sales, and long-legged upright sportbikes like Ducati’s updated Multistrada, BMW’s new S1000XR, KTM’s 1290 Super Adventure R, Suzuki’s recently revamped V-Strom 1000 and other liter-plus adventure-themed machines comprise the hottest contemporary segment in motorcycling.
First introduced to the U.S. in 2008 as a non-California compliant 49-state model, Kawasaki’s Versys 650 immediately earned praise from journalists, experienced riders, and commuters who could appreciate its practical blending of a nimble sporting motorcycle – and – a truly comfortable chassis. Motorcycle.com’s loudest complaint about the original Versys was merely that it wasn’t legal in California, and even that fact couldn’t stop it from earning 2008 Motorcycle of the Year honors from one of the largest U.S. print mags.
There’s an even more pragmatic MV Agusta coming in the Turismo Veloce, and I’ve a feeling we’ll be seeing more versatile models from MV in the future. But for now, the Stradale 800 is the most comfortable, user-friendly motorcycle in the MV range. Who would have thought the bespoke maker of sporting motorcycles would launch a quasi sport-touring bike with bags and a small windscreen?