For his money, Ken would pick the KTM 950 Adventure due to its unquestioned prowess out in the dirt.
Ken “Kenny” Hutchison
As long as the majority of your adventure-touring rides are spent on the road, then the Beemer is clearly the best all-around, multi-purpose machine of the bunch. It’s a very comfortable and competent street bike as well as a capable off-road machine. But if your idea of adventure-touring consists of more off-road than on-road riding, then the choice is simple: the KTM 950 Adventure. If I was choosing any of these bikes for my own purposes, the KTM would be the one.
Tom “T-Rod” Roderick
My emphasis is on which bike I can put the most miles on, dirt or street, have fun and remain comfortable while doing so. With a different seat the KTM would be my first choice as the best all-around adventure-tourer. But it’s expensive. For the price, the Suzuki is the bike that can best handle my criteria. Invest some of the money saved into suspension and a few other areas and it would be as good as the KTM with change to spare.
Our guest testers Tom Roderick and Dean Hight both chose the V-Strom as their For My Money picks because it gets the job done at a much, much lower price.
Dean “Deano” Hight
If money was no object I would buy the BMW. If our bike had not been a mechanical mess, I would buy the 950 and an aftermarket seat. But in reality, I would choose the V-Strom out of this bunch because it is just a great value. The ‘Strom is by no means attractive from a styling perspective, but I am willing to break that rule for the gains in the other categories. It is the most comfortable, for me, out of the bunch. It has great performance and reliability. For general touring of the country on paved and unpaved roads the ‘Strom is completely adequate. It is not the most off-road-worthy of the bunch but who cares. The price is a steal compared to the others and the KTM is the only bike that excels off-road. There is a growing aftermarket of accessories for the ‘Strom to set it up like the GS at half the cost. (Keep in mind that the V-Strom is my choice out of this group but not the bike that I personally own. The Triumph Tiger is my choice of adventure-tourers.)
Brian “BC” Chamberlain
After compiling who knows how many miles on this trip, I quickly learned what is most important in a touring bike. Comfort and amenities are what make those long stints not only tolerable, but also enjoyable. In my opinion, the BMW offered up the most features and components, a comfortable riding position and was also very impressive in the dirt sections.
It may be the priciest of the lot, but Duke, BC and Lavine believe the Beemer’s extra cost would be worth it, making the GS their For My Money picks.
Kevin Duke “Danger”
The R1200GS is one of my favorites among all bikes. It works better in the dirt than everything in our test except for the KTM, and its street manners are also excellent. The Beemer is engineered to a very high level, and its componentry is second to none. It’s a highly desirable all-terrain machine and worth the price premium over the “lesser” bikes in this group.
When I first heard about the brands we were going to be riding I thought there is no way I can select the BMW because you guys would say I was biased (TL owns a GS â€“Ed). We rode those bikes for five days, and toward the end of the ride I became convinced that I had indeed purchased the best bike, bar none! I’m 6’3 and 210. The GS simply fits me and is comfortable, not to mention the heated handgrips. We had no mechanical problems with the GS either. (Aside from Dean tearing off the left bag.) The GS was second in the dirt with me, but hands and fist number-one on the road. I’d take my GS any day.
Return to the 2006 Adventure Touring Comparo.