There’s no shortage of adventuresome motorcyclists, but just how far each is willing to go varies widely. With that in mind, we rounded up three of the more free-spirited street bikes and took them on a three-day tour that covered hundreds of paved miles, and an almost equal amount of dirt. Three riders carried everything we needed in the saddlebags and switched between bikes as we tracked fuel economy, performance, comfort and character along the way.
These are not dirt bikes, nor dual-sports. With real-world customers in the saddle, they spend the majority of their time on pavement. However, they differ from the ultra-touring bikes like a Goldwing, cruiser touring like the Victory Vision and sport touring like the Yamaha FJR. Unlike those genres, which leave no question as to their intended purpose, Adventure Touring bikes fill all of the street roles – and they’re expected to comfortably navigate the Bolivian Death Road. Despite all the marketing hype, they’re designed to spend the vast majority of their life on pavement. That pavement might be buttery twisties, hacked-out superslab or gritty, pothole-infested single-lane, but that’s the truth of the matter. We took them on a street ride, and then ventured off-road, not because they must, but because they can.
2010 BMW R1200GS
GS is the quintessential ADV bike. It’s celebrating its 30th anniversary and historically has defined a category that defies definition. It has topped countless shootouts and comparison tests, proven itself to a loyal customer base and has been BMW’s most successful model in the
The three competitors come from different
backgrounds. BMW is the established king,
Ducati is a hungry challenger and Triumph
is a grizzled vet.
entire German motorcycle lineup. For 2010, the Beemer gets mild updates. Our 2010 BMW R1200GS Adventure First Ride
was hardly suitable as a complete test, so we were anxious to get the accomplished adventurer back to our regular stomping grounds for a full review.
2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200
This bike is really what prompted the shootout. With a complete redesign for 2010 the new MTS 1200 has been getting rave reviews, including our own introduction during the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 First Ride
. The Ducati comes in flexing its considerable muscle with an 1198cc, Desmodromic L-Twin engine sourced from the race-winning Superbike. Ducati shipped us the S model (Ohlins suspension and standard ABS) with the touring kit (side panniers, heated grips and center stand). Our top-of-the-line machine comes with an elevated price tag, but we didn’t show it any special treatment, in fact it got dinged in the Price category.
2010 Triumph Tiger 1050
is due for a redesign on the Tiger 1050, and that’s probably what we’re going to see this year or next. We plucked the 1050 for this shootout so that we could have one last shot with the British adventurer before it slips away. Where the BMW offers a known standard of off-roading, the Tiger is another good baseline for on-road competition. The standard street bike has long-travel suspension but doesn’t pretend to love the dirt, much like the dated Aprilia Caponord and Suzuki V-Strom 1000, which is why they weren't selected.
You will see that our scorecard singles out individual traits that separate each machine’s capabilities into quantifiable categories. Objective, measurable categories include: Horsepower, Torque, Curb Weight, Range, MPG and Price. Our trio of testers, through their own personal lenses, then inspected the following: Engine Performance, Transmission/Clutch, Suspension/Handling, Brakes, Ergonomics, Fit & Finish/Instrumentation, Appearance and Grin Factor. We also included Touring Abilities and Off-Road Abilities which encompass all of the subjective categories, plus some of the finer details which are otherwise unaccounted for, such as wheel size, protection and thoughtfulness of design, for example.
Let’s dig in.