Our 2007 Adventure Touring Comparo takes a few old faces and introduces a new breed of AT machine. The contenders, left to right, BMW 1200GS, Triumph Tiger, Suzuki V-Strom and Ducati Multistrada 1100s
Last year’s Adventure Touring comparo was the ultimate tale of dust and mud as our motley crew set about on a monstrous journey to the edge of the Grand Canyon. That voyage was characterized by long days in the saddle, mile after mile of sun-baked terrain, cold nights, intermittent thunderstorms and minor crashes. It was so popular that we couldn’t resist doing it again with ’07 models, but we decided to change things up this time around and opted for sun-drenched coastal beaches, evergreen forests, scenic river gorges, rolling wheat fields, high deserts, world-class rock climbing, volcanoes and ancient lava flows. Basically we just rode around our home state of Oregon, so follow along with Motorcycle USA’s 2007 Adventure Tour.
Since BMW is essentially recognized world-wide as a leader in adventure touring and the winner of our 2006 comparo, we puff our chests a bit when anyone mentions that a US Scenic Rides map developed by National Geographic and BMW in 1999 lists the Rogue Umpqua Scenic Byway as one of the top-20 rides in the country. Believe me, you don’t have to tell us, we live within 90 minutes of that road, but the fact that Oregon offers exceptional scenery and attractions connected through a wide network of paved and unpaved roads is often overlooked by those seeking an epic ride. We had to look no further than our own backyard when searching for a suitable location for this year’s comparo.
If there was anything that became apparent in the 2006 shootout, it was the fact that these adventurous steeds are nothing if not street bikes. As delivered from the factory, most are barely capable of off-roading with any seriousness. The exceptions to the rule are the KTM 950 Adventure, which absolutely ruled the dirt last year, and BMW’s R1200GS, though it requires a fairly adept rider to conquer more challenging terrain. To be completely diplomatic, yes, the potential is there for offroading all the AT bikes, and each will motor down a stretch of Forest Service road a sight prettier than a comparably sized sportbike, but the street is their true domain.
It seems to us that the vast majority of people who will buy these machines don’t intend to really use them for off-highway purposes anyway. For that reason we opted to utilize only paved surfaces for evaluation in this test. The saga that was our inaugural AT shootout shook down a mother lode of available equipment in the market segment, which allowed us to pare down the field in this second attempt. The six machines of 2006 were half again as many as we lined up this year. Gone from the stable are the dirt-specialist KTM 950 Adventure and the Aprilia Caponord which we felt was an overpriced clone of the returning 2007 Suzuki V-Strom DL1000. The other change was to swap the erratically scored Buell Ulysses for the all-new 2007 Triumph Tiger 1050. Returning for another go-round is the 2007 Ducati Multistrada 1100s and the defending champ, the 2007 BMW R1200GS.
We thougth it would be easiest, and most fun, to simply take a round-about trip through our own backyard. Oregon has some unbelievable riding to go with all that top-notch scenery.
With the AMA Toyota Motocross National happening in Washougal, Washington, we decided to kill two birds with one adventurous stone and pencil in a layover in the woods of Southern Washington State. Besides, I’ve always wanted to take a bike to the race so that I can zip through the traffic and park right up front while all the cagers mumble and curse our presence.
Our testing squad randomly picked a machine the night before and took it home to pack for the trip. The draw wasn’t completely random since two of the machines, the Beemer and Tiger, came with hard-case luggage more suitable to the needs of our photographer and adventure touring ringer, Tom Lavine, and videographer, MotoUSA’s Robin Haldane. That left the Duc (which has hard luggage available, but unfortunately did not show up in time for the test) and the Suzuki. Since I pack like a girl, I took the Multistrada with an ample set of Tour Master Coretech saddlebags and tailbag, while our most frugal guest rider/backup photog, Joe Ramos, needed only a tankbag and his CamelBak in comparison to get by on the V-Strom.
Don’t have time to read these pages for details about our route? Check out the video link for a narrated guide through some of our trip’s major highlights. Each bike has its own accompanying video so make sure to take a look for a fresh vid on every page.