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2010 Adventure Bike Shootout For My Money

Monday, September 27, 2010


For My Money

BMW R1200GS
Joe is a dyed-in-the-wool Ducati lover, and he still chose the Beemer.
Joe Wallace, 195 lbs, 5’10”
Being a huge Ducati fan along with owning a highly modified 1098 track bike, I have to say the Multistrada is a very fun bike to ride; it’s fast and great looking. I think the Multistrada would make a great commuter bike and it even did surprisingly well off-road. But if I have to pick a true Adventure Touring bike it would have to be the BMW. Comfortable to ride on- and off-road, good wind protection and you can load it up like a pack mule. Plus the fact that there’s a plethora of aftermarket accessories from engine guards to lights and tons of luggage options from several different companies. It’s a bike you can load up for a month-long adventure ride and know that it will hold up to plenty of abuse. It’s truly what I would call an Adventure Touring bike.

BMW R1200GS
Maddox wants to load the BMW to the max and escape.
Tyler Maddox, 150 lbs, 5’11”
To me these bikes are all about adventure - loading up the bags with camp gear, throwing my lady on the back and getting into places that a car could never go. Multi day/week rides across deserts, through the mountains and way off the beaten path, that’s what I think these bikes are for. Sure, they can be great commuters and make for fun day rides, but the main purpose of these bikes is adventure. When you’re in the far reaches of the planet, or even the local National Forest, the thing that matters most is dependability. That is why I would spend my money on the BMW. Yes, the Ducati brought a bigger smile to my face, but the BMW is so refined and solid. It might not pull as hard as the other two bikes but it never fell behind either when we poured it on in the twisties of Northern California. There's still plenty of power, but it's not the take-your-breath-away power that the Ducati has. For adventure, you don't necessarily need limitless power. You need a bike that’s comfortable, corners effortlessly and is easy to stand up on. To me that bike is the BMW.

JC Hilderbrand, 177 lbs, 5’11”
BMW R1200GS
Make that 3-for-3. The BMW is our rider's top overall pick when it comes to their own paychecks.
Adventure to me means dirt, so the BMW has what I need. None of the other bikes can compare when it comes to off-road capability. As much as I love the new Ducati, those 17-inch wheels just don’t cut it, the ergonomics don’t work as well and I just don’t trust that motor to keep it together. A couple hundred miles of mixed riding and I thought everything was going to start falling apart. To its credit, it didn’t, but the Beemer is unshakable, and it’s proven. I’ve personally witnessed them spinning down the road on one cylinder and dropped into dusty ravines. Nobody wants to do that to their $15K-bike, but I know in my heart that’s the type of abuse I’m going to dish out. Add in the sheer comfort and the wonderful on-road performance of the Paralever/Telelever, and the Duc’s ability to rip wheelies really doesn’t mean jack to me.

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Comments
Zooba -Adventure riding 64 bikes later...  October 2, 2010 09:54 AM
OK, crazy old guys who have owned many bikes (64 so far..) such as myself have learned that a single track dirt bike really doesn't need to be larger than a 250 -- or a 450 if you're over 200lbs. Even a 650 isn't really a trail/dirt bike when the going gets tough. So anything larger than a 650 is just too ponderous to take off road on anything more than a smooth 2-track dirt road. The best all around bike 50% road--50% trail bike I've ever owned is the new KLR 650. (The KTM & Husky are just too uncomfortable on the road.) Having owned several BMW GS models, while they're exceptional good 80-20 motorcycles, don't let anyone convince you to actually take one down a trail. Let's see a real adventure test that actually involves trails and the 650s will rule the day-- if you define "adventure" as truly 50-50.
stefaan -best bike?  October 1, 2010 04:23 AM
in these type of comparisons i feel that pure performance (bhp) should play less then when reviewing sportbikes. in this class, and especially off-road, handling rules, not so much performance. as a pure all-rounder, the beemer wins hands-down. ps this is not meant to diss you guys, i love this type of comparison, but even you say it: the beemer is the best bike, and still the duc wins. btw that duc is amazing to see in real life.
keener -ADV  September 28, 2010 09:58 AM
Sorry your comparison is bogus ..The BMW should be compared to its sister GS800 and the KTM 990 Adventurer and later to come bikes like the new Triumph 800 etc.
the TIGER and the Multi 1200 are Street bikes or Sport Touring and you guys know it.. even if Ducati and Triumph do not.


- GK
Morvegil -Laughable  September 28, 2010 09:00 AM
So did Ducati pay you guys to make them win?
mark -ADV? Not quite...  September 28, 2010 08:02 AM
It's nice that you guys are trying to address the ADV market, but the only one of these bikes that can really be considered an adventure-touring bike is the BMW. The Triumph and the Ducati are both upright sport-touring bikes. Anything built to take 120-/180-section sport tires has no business in an ADV shootout, because contrary to what you may think, a great many of us actually do take our adventure bikes off pavement and would like to have a decent choice of dual-sport tires when we do so. Next time you might want to consider including a V-Strom 650 as a budget ADV bike; an F800GS; a KTM 990 Adventure; and of course the Yamaha Super Ténéré and Triumph Tiger 800XC once they're available next spring. Maybe even throw in a KTM 950 Super Enduro for good measure. Even a mildy-farkled Triumph Scrambler is more of an ADV bike than the Tiger 1050 or Multistrada. Personally, I couldn't care less about top speed or massive horsepower. I want to know how good the suspension is, how well the power delivery works when the conditions get loose, how the bike handles on dirt and loose gravel and washboard with reasonable dirt-oriented tires fitted (in addition to how it handles paved twisties), how comfortable it is riding 1000+ miles of pavement to get to the remote unpaved areas I might want to ride. I'm interested in a bike that will rip long dirt/gravel roads like the Trans-Labrador Highway, Trans-Taiga, Dempster, Dalton, Continental Divide Trail, etc, and be able to handle the wildly variable conditions one finds there, and yet also have enough power and on-pavement handling to get me there in relative comfort and carrying a reasonable amount of gear. It doesn't need superbike power, but it also shouldn't feel like the engine's about to grenade if I have to get on the slab for a while. The Tiger 1050 and Multistrada 1200 are nice bikes -- I've ridden both -- but as I said, they're upright sport-touring bikes. Please give us a true ADV shootout next summer once the various new bikes have hit the market -- and don't just leave them stock. Let us know how big a difference it makes to mount up a set of tires appropriate to the conditions or install better fork springs or whatever other common mods owners would be likely to do. It would be really interesting to read your perspectives on this as compared to what all the folks on ADVrider are saying.
Ernie -I appreciate what you're trying to do, but...  September 27, 2010 09:14 PM
you really need to reconsider your scoring system. This is the second shootout in a row where a Ducati earns the highest point score and the testers say they'd pick the second place bike. Something is wrong here.
wildpig -mr wildpig to you  September 27, 2010 04:24 PM
keep your bmw - i know ive had em-- only way to own a bmw-- why under warranty of course..............
Ryan -Disappointing selection of Adventure bikes.  September 27, 2010 02:56 PM
The KTM 990 should be included, it's Cycle World's 2010 Best Dual Sport. So should the Suzuki Vstrom, though much cheaper than the Euro adventure bikes, it's still in the same class. The Tiger and Multistrada are more road machines than off road given there wheel sizes. I'm looking forward to what 2011 will bring with the new Triumph adventure bikes and Yamaha Tenere.
AndrewF -Gearbox  September 27, 2010 02:01 PM
It amazes me that you can still give an 8 for a transmission that by your own account repeatedly missed gear changes. I mean, this is a fail in its basic function - what else is a gearbox supposed to do? I would suggest to you that in this day and age any missed shifts, or inability to find a neutral should result in an instant fail in the scoring process. 0 points, period! It is simply not acceptable as far as I am concerned, especially on bikes that cost considerably more than your average family car. When was the last time a gearbox on even the cheapest car missed a shift? It simply doesn't happen - we shouldn't accept it on our bikes, either. Sorry for the rant, it's just a particular bugbear of mine.
Kevin -Jump!  September 27, 2010 12:30 PM
Haha, you guys kill me jumping these beasts.

They all lose in my opinion for "adventure" bike. None come close to making the list for my definition of adventure (but I guess that is what it boils down to, right?). Give me a KTM 690R or a moded to the hilt KTM 530EXC for anything from the Trans American Trail and up on the gnarly scale. If I wanted a longish distance street touring bike all three of these would get a look. But in the end I'd buy the KTM Adv.
Brian C -KTM 990 Adventure (or Adventure R)  September 27, 2010 11:29 AM
Any reason to not include the KTM? Its in the same price range, power, and purpose as these three.
SG -More Categories???  September 27, 2010 11:28 AM
Seems like you need a few more categories for these bikes...Durability, World-wide Availability of Parts, and perhaps even a DIY Servicability.
Jeff W -Ummm?  September 27, 2010 10:09 AM
I think it's time to re-do your scoring chart when all three test riders pick the BMW in the For My Money section and yet the Ducati wins the shootout? Tell me that isn't just plain stupid?

-Jeff