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2010 Adventure Bike Shootout Conclusion

Monday, September 27, 2010


Triumph Tiger 1050
Triumph Tiger 1050
Triumph is supposedly redesigning the Tiger. Frankly, we're looking forward to it.
The Triumph feels like a naked or standard sportbike, so in a group of adventurers, it’s simply outgunned. Admittedly, Triumph doesn’t puff its chest among the dirt crowd, and the only jungle it wants to attack is the urban setting. That said, it’s a little out of its element, but not entirely. Unfortunately for the British bike, even held in a sporting/commuting/touring light, the Ducati still trounces it. The on/off throttle and front-end bias make it difficult to ride at times, even on the pavement. ABS is a wonderful feature on the street and Triumph riders will have to pay $800 extra for it. Then again, it can’t be disabled without removing a fuse, so if you plan on attempting small amounts off-road, it’s actually an expensive hindrance. Multifaceted street riders who live and die by the Tiger name or those who crave the wail of inline cylinders, this is the bike for you.

Ducati Multistrada 1200
Ducati MTS 1200
Ducati nailed enough of the categories to squeak a narrow one-point victory on the scorecard, but that doesn't convince us that it truly stands atop the heap.
Ducati has astounded us with its progress in the ADV market. The new Multistrada is more than we anticipated, and it’s domination on paper is unmistakable. With a superbike-spec engine and brakes and closely related transmission, chassis and suspension, of course it cleans house in the objective scoring. We’re not talking about a big difference in price and otherwise its biggest knocks were the fuel economy and range. If it wasn’t so stinkin’ fun to ride at high rpm (our riders often rode it at nearly twice the rpm as the BMW) it may just have dominated across the board. But, getting all that performance to work on a long adventure ride takes some sting out of that high-powered bang. Any number of analogies can be applied, like the high-strung racehorse. The Italian stallion can gallop away from its competition, but there’s times when a rider needs their motorcycle to get down and dirty, shoulder the load. The MTS 1200 lacks some of the comfort and off-road performance, and, surprisingly, attention to detail.

Be honest with yourself. If you ride 95% street, love racing through tight two-lanes and only want to visit the occasional fire lookout, go visit a Ducati dealership. But in order to take over the crown, you have to beat the champion. Depending on the individual rider, a compartmentalized scorecard can have little, or a lot, in common with your favorite riding pants. For what it’s worth, Ducati scored a single point more than the BMW.

BMW R1200GS
BMW R1200GS
How can a bike this large be so competent everywhere it goes? That's the beauty of the GS - it does everything well.
Off-Road Ability and Touring Ability – these two divisions are what really separate the BMW from the Ducati. The Beemer only gathered four points advantage in these areas, but considering the major implications, they have far more real-world value. Remember, first and foremost, these are street touring bikes. They have engines and suspension capable of hauling passengers and luggage, with rider controls and comfort features that target long-range destinations. In that light, the BMW simply works the best. It offers the most comfort, best protection, superior storage and a smooth, usable engine – all the requirements of an excellent tourer. It also has unmatched build quality, 19/17” spoked wheels, a skid plate and durable handguards, wide handlebars and complementing torque and gearing to get riders through deep ravines and over mountain passes. Its composure off-road is nearly that of its behavior on the highway. Though it loses a bit in the numbers game, the BMW’s overall competence simply cannot be matched by the others. Just look at the For My Money selections.

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Adventure Touring Mount Shasta Video
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Check out the 2010 Adventure Touring Shootout Video to see these motorcycles in action riding around Northern California.
For riders who factor in a measure of dust and mud to their definition of “adventure,” the R1200GS is still clearly the best in this group. There are other bikes like the KTM 990 Adventure that also favor off-road conditions, plus new entries like the Yamaha Super Tenere (and rumored Tiger 1200), but that’s a test we’ll have to sort out at a later date. The BMW doesn’t care about scorecards or wow-factor. It’s an efficient, hard-working sum of its parts. Here and now, the BMW is king.

The goal of breaking down bikes into scorecard categories is to provide as much relevant information as possible. It allows readers to dissect the bikes, scrutinize our testing and pinpoint their personal needs. In some cases, like this one, it alone doesn’t tell the whole story. If a couple pounds and a few horsepower is what you care about, take that Ducati to the bank. Better yet, take it to your favorite hangout so others can enjoy simply staring at its beauty. But if you want something to haul your ass through the thick and thin no matter where, better to have the German beneath you. 


2010 Superbike Smackdown VII Street Score Card

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2014 BMW R1200GS Adventure First Ride
BMW adds the water-Boxer updates to its R1200GS Adventure for 2014, and MotoUSA takes a spin on the dirt and street in Arizona’s high desert terrain for a first ride review.
2014 BMW R1200RT First Ride
BMW updates its Reise-Tourer with the liquid-cooled Boxer Twin, cush electronic aids and ergonomic revisions. MotoUSA takes a spin on the redesigned R1200RT.
2014 Yamaha Super Tenere ES First Ride
Has Yamaha addressed any of the squawks on its Super Tenere adventure-touring motorcycle? We hit the road and then detoured off it to find out.
2014 BMW F800GS Adventure First Ride
BMW has bestowed the F800GS with the Adventure treatment, and it may just be the best GS model out there for hardcore dirt exploration. Check out what we thought of the 2014 BMW F800GS Adventure.
2013 BMW F800GT First Ride
BMW ups the ante in the middleweight sport-touring segment with its F800GT. Did it succeed? Road Test Editor Adam Waheed has the answers in this review.
2013 BMW R1200GS First Ride
Redesigned from top to bottom, the 2013 BMW R1200GS takes a great bike and makes it even better. We flew to South Africa to get our hands on the Beemer for some GS adventuring.
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Comments
Mark Bondfield -The on goings will get cha!  November 15, 2010 06:18 PM
All 3 bikes would be welcome between my thighs, however, owning a Ducati sports bike and a Triumph Tiger 1050, I know too well how much it cost after you buy these things. I bought the Tiger after doing my reserch of what I actually needed against what I wanted. The Ducati was a wanted purchase. Two up riding on country Australian roads (not all ways sealed) is what I do for kicks and after test riding the BM trouble you powered by a tractor motor found the smoothness required for long distant riding more important. I love Ducatis, but they dont love you back especialy around servicing and tyre replacement time. It is like living with a super model, hight maintenance. Just so you do get an unbiase real world riders opinion. BMWs have the biggest warranty returns out of the tree brands you mention here. BM Trouble You. Here in Aus the second hand market is full of them for a reason.
This says it all. -The review, deciphered.  October 1, 2010 10:28 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e8NW_bizBA
hipsabad -Agree with Rob  September 28, 2010 03:13 PM
My guess is that the mags don't test apples to apples so that they can have different winners at different times: good for the manufacturers, good for advertising. The whole bike test thing is a soft racket. The only real test is to buy one and live with it. And then to ride it in all kinds of weather on all kinds of roads with different loads, passengers, etc. And then, if you're an experienced, unbought, attentive rider, you should have something worthwhile to say. Why don't we have tests like that? So many times we've heard about 'problematic shifting that will probably(?) improve over time'; or suspension performance that 'should improve with adjustments'; or bikes let down by specific tires, etc. Huh? Isn't it the tester's job to find that out? Do the work, equalize the tires, whatever it takes. Why do a half-ass job? Unless perhaps you're looking for room to weasel with your judgements so as not to offend any OEM. This whole 'adventure' nonsense has added another layer of pretention to the deal. No one tests real 'adventure' bikes, which can be anything at all - from a tricked-out DR650 to an old 400 twin, to the 50cc scooter that a young Brit rode from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego!! Not really much adventure to be had on the highway with the ready-made Hummers from Germany carrying everything you could possibly need. Those are for insecure, mid-life-crisis men to pose with. rant, rant, rant.
hipsabad -agree with Rob  September 28, 2010 03:12 PM
My guess is that the mags don't test apples to apples so that they can have different winners at different times: good for the manufacturers, good for advertising. The whole bike test thing is a soft racket. The only real test is to buy one and live with it. And then to ride it in all kinds of weather on all kinds of roads with different loads, passengers, etc. And then, if you're an experienced, unbought, attentive rider, you should have something worthwhile to say. Why don't we have tests like that? So many times we've heard about 'problematic shifting that will probably(?) improve over time'; or suspension performance that 'should improve with adjustments'; or bikes let down by specific tires, etc. Huh? Isn't it the tester's job to find that out? Do the work, equalize the tires, whatever it takes. Why do a half-ass job? Unless perhaps you're looking for room to weasel with your judgements so as not to offend any OEM. This whole 'adventure' nonsense has added another layer of pretention to the deal. No one tests real 'adventure' bikes, which can be anything at all - from a tricked-out DR650 to an old 400 twin, to the 50cc scooter that a young Brit rode from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego!! Not really much adventure to be had on the highway with the ready-made Hummers from Germany carrying everything you could possibly need. Those are for insecure, mid-life-crisis men to pose with. rant, rant, rant.
Rob Alexander -One of these kids is doin' his own thing.....  September 28, 2010 10:45 AM
Good article but the GS is a whole different kind of bike than the other two; despite some similarities, they have entirely different target audiences and are bought for different purposes. The new KTM 990SMT would have been a more appropriate bike to compare against the Triumph and Ducati. The GS competes more against BMW's own 800cc GS and the 990 Adventure. No one buys a Multi or Tiger to go off road.