BATTLE OF THE ADVENTURE BIKES: COMPARISON TEST


Does Suzuki’s affordable new V-Strom 1000 have a chance against the BMW R1200GS

and KTM 1190 Adventure?

Adventure Bike Comparison group action shot

When the R80 G/S was introduced in 1981, no one at BMW realized the full impact of what they had just done. We now think of that first G/S as the original adventure bike, but that term was not coined for quite a few years. Instead, most people back then had no idea why BMWwould produce a large, heavy, shaft-drive, on- and off-road opposed twin in an era of lightweight, single-cylinder dual-purpose bikes. But enthusiasts eventually “got it,” and other manufacturers soon cashed in on the allure of exploring the world on big, powerful two-wheelers.

Since their one-bike origin, adventure motorcycles have evolved to levels of sophistication no one 33 years ago could have imagined. These three bikes—BMW’s R1200GS, KTM’s 1190 Adventure, and Suzuki’s V-Strom 1000 ABS—epitomize that progress with modern style, outstanding comfort, brilliant performance, and unmatched versatility.

And what terrific motorcycles they are! The 2014 R1200GS, the direct descendant of that ’81 R80 G/S, glides down the road to the soothing thrum of its 1,170cc twin, the first liquid-cooled Boxer motor ever. Bags of torque lurk in reserve, making the bike sneaky fast and always ready to push the 525-pound GS forward at an impressive rate at any rpm and in any gear.

2014 BMW R1200GS static side view

UPS DOWNS
BMW R1200GS
  • Highly refined all around
  • Shaft drive = no chain maintenance
  • Better tourer than some tourers
  • Footpegs a bit far to the rear
  • Electronics controls could be more intuitive
  • $$$ with all the optional electronics

Its ride and handling qualities are pretty much what you want them to be. That’s the result of the optional Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment), ASC traction control, adjustable riding modes, and ABS, all of which influence each other depending upon the setting the rider chooses. Match all that with a beautifully contoured and padded seat, and you have the industry’s most comfortable adventurer, reflecting BMW’s decades of experience building top-flight touring bikes.

While the BMW impresses with its finesse, the 1,195cc KTM is a 129-hp V-twin wildcat that wheelies in the first three or four gears, burns the quarter-mile in 10.62 seconds at 130 mph, hits a top speed of 151 mph, and fires from corner to corner on back roads like it has a rocket stuck up its tail. If the GS serves up its power with a magnum of champagne on a silver platter, the Adventure does it with a bottle of Bud slid down the bar. For certain, it is very refined, but in its own uncompromising, “let’s get it on” way.

Like the GS, the 1190 has a full suite of electronic suspension, traction control, power delivery, and ABS rider aids; but while the BMW’s are optional, the Katoom’s are standard. They also engage in a lot of cross-talk, allowing you to tune those performance factors over a sufficiently wide range to cope with anything you might encounter. Plus, the ABS is lean-sensitive, adjusting the antilock dependent upon how fast and far the 1190 is banked over in a corner.

2014 KTM 1190 Adventure static side view

UPS DOWNS
KTM 1190 Adventure
  • Electronic rider aids are standard
  • Does everything exceptionally well
  • Baaaad fast!
  • Engine mechanically noisy
  • Awkward, two-hand windscreen adjustment
  • Nosebleed seat height

Meanwhile, the V-Strom splits the difference between the other two—not as polished as the BMW, not as raucous as the KTM, and sans as many electronic aids as either. It’s a solid, legitimate adventure bike that never gets embarrassed by the other two, despite being priced several thou lower and having the smallest (1,037cc) engine. The 90-degree V-twin is smooth, torquey, and responsive, and its quarter-mile performance is only half a second and about 7 mph behind the BMW’s; even its top-gear roll-ons are just fractions of a second slower.

Because the ’Strom has an excellent chassis and is lighter and lower than the others, it handles beautifully. The 468-pound (dry) 1000 devours back-road corners like that was its dedicated purpose, yet it’s rock-steady on straightaways.

Okay, but how did these bikes play the adventure game in the dirt?

Pretty damned well, considering that they all are quarter-ton motorcycles riding on knobless street tires. We never tackled gnarly, rutted, rocky climbs, since that’s not what these bikes are intended to conquer in their existing configurations; we instead stayed on dirt roads, narrow trails, and gravel-strewn two-tracks. Only deep sand gave them any trouble, again, mostly due to their tires.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the Suzuki. With its traction control either turned off or on the least sensitive of its three settings, the V-Strom churned through the aforementioned with no trouble whatsoever. The fork digested everything we bounced over without a hiccup, and the shock only bottomed on some of the whoops. You can’t turn off the ABS, so we had to be mindful of that when braking on slick terrain.

2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS static side view

UPS DOWNS
Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS
  • Most-affordable big adventure bike
  • Bright, dark-piercing headlight
  • Comfortable ergonomics
  • No ABS Off switch
  • No centerstand
  • Desperately seeking skid plate

So, too, was the BMW impressive off-road, considering its greater weight, shaft drive, and two big cylinders poking out like fat outriggers. Its smooth, linear torque was easy to modulate in riding mode’s Enduro setting, and the low center of gravity provided by the opposed-twin layout helped disguise the GS’s mass. We were a little disappointed with the previous R1200GS’s suspension, but the new bike’s Telelever fork and Paralever rear combination—together with a new stering damper for 2014—is vastly improved.

Which brings us to the KTM. Once you quit the tarmac and hit the dirt, the 1190 morphs from a take-no-prisoners streetbike to an ass-kicking dirt bike. In agility, stability, balance, steering, suspension, and adjustable power delivery, the KTM was this test’s off-road class act. It was less bothered by rocks, ruts, and other trail obstacles, and even coped with the sand a little better. With the traction control in the Offroad position, the ABS even allows rear-wheel skidding while still applying antilock to the front brake.

Actually, the 1190’s stellar dirt manners should have come as no surprise. KTM has been building championship-caliber off-road machinery for decades, and that know-how has translated directly to the 1190. Whether off-road or on, it was the most capable, most confidence-inspiring, and most fun of the trio. The R1200GS is the best overall streetbike, the Suzuki the best bang-for-buck. But when you consider the KTM’s advantages in almost every area of performance—plus, its standard MSRP gets you all the electronic rider aids at about the same price as the BMW without such equipment—the outcome here is a slam dunk.

In the March issue of Cycle World, we stated that the KTM 1190 might be the best all-around bike in the world. We still believe that but with a small word change: Replace “might be” with “is.”

SPECIFICATIONS
BMW R1200GS KTM 1190 Adventure Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS
PRICE $19,520 $17,834 $12,699
DRY WEIGHT 520 lb. 490 lb. 474 lb.
WHEELBASE 59.2 in. 61.2 in. 61.4 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 33.9/34.6 in. 34.3/35.0 in. 33.4 in.
FUEL MILEAGE 37 mpg 35 mpg 36 mpg
0-60 MPH 2.9 sec. 2.8 sec. 3.1 sec.
1/4 MILE 11.07 sec. @ 119.44 mph 10.62 sec. @ 129.70 mph 11.60 sec. @ 112.82 mph
HORSEPOWER 116.5 hp @ 7900 rpm 128.8 hp @ 9360 rpm 91.1 hp @ 8240 rpm
TORQUE 84.0 lb.-ft. @ 6260 rpm 81.3 lb.-ft. @ 7670 rpm 67.4 lb.-ft. @ 3980 rpm
TOP SPEED 137 mph 151 mph 126 mph

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HEIDENAU K60 SCOUT TIRES | MC TESTED


Funny we have been using these tires since 2010 and surprised this reviewer just heard of them.  We get tons of mileage out of them and I would disagree on one thing.  Not a 50/50 tire, more like 60/40. ;-) We have them on our bike 24/7, 365 days a year.

Have them on our F800′s right now…and would only use these for where and how we ride.

Heidenau K60 Scout Tires

Motorcyclist, January 13, 2014

RoadRUNNER’s Top Five Big Adventure Bikes for 2014


Nov 02, 2013  by

RoadRUNNER's Top Five Big Adventure Bikes for 2014

The large displacement adventure bike category has been a bright spot for the motorcycle industry over the past few years. The segment has seen sales growth that bucks the trend across the rest of the motorcycle landscape. This has resulted in a plethora of choices for the buyer. But which bike is best? We’ve ranked what we think are the top five 1,000cc plus adventure bikes on the market for 2014. Continue reading

First Ride: KTM 1190 Adventure Superbike at Heart


So many bikes so little time and money!  THIS IS ONE HOT HOT LOOKING BIKE!  GREAT PICS at the end of the article! 

KTM’s Adventure goes mainstream and joins the luxury travel brigade, with more displacement, power and features.

February 6, 2013 By

KTM 1190 Adventure in-action shot #7

Tenerife, Canary Islands—KTM has a problem: It’s called the 1190 Adventure. As the Austrian company forges ahead to become a complete player with a comprehensive model range, it continues diving into the streetbike pool with Adventures, Dukes, SM-Ts and RC8s. And now, with its brand-new 2014 (in the U.S.) 1190 Adventure, KTM is making a huge, cannonball-style splash in the pool of high-performance streetbikes. Never before has the company had a bike so mainstream, so capable of going head-to-head with all of the players in the adventure-touring market. But since it’s not competing strictly for the hardcore off-road buyer, the 1190 Adventure represents a bit of a problem in that, as KTM continues to grow, some of its motocross- and off-road oriented dealers will have to step it up and come to grips with the company’s increasingly complex (albeit more balanced) model range. Continue reading

Beautiful BC and the Dual Sport BC Spring Newbie Ride


March 25th 2012

The morning started off heading out to Chilliwack at 0700.  About 1 degree Celsius but look at what I see all the way out to the staging area for the Annual Dual Sport BC Newbie Ride.  SUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It has been so wet and miserable here when I saw the sunrise it was meant to be a good day.  Cheryl did not come with me because she has not been sleeping well and I am glad she did not come.  This ride was not for sleepy riders.  There are a few short videos in this post…hope you watch them to get a flavor of the day and all pics are click-able!

Heading East through Mission, BC to get to Highway 1 for the fast way out to Chilliwack.  About an hour from where we live.

Mar 25 12 Newbie 001

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2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer First Ride (Another Review)


Make sure you watch the video…nice review…I am sure many more to come…I like this one! They mention 10,000 service intervals and 20,000 in between the major ones…same as BMW basically so not so new to the ADV bikes nowadays.  Most new engines are requiring less time being “serviced”.  Change your oil and all is good.  Just kidding there is more to it.  I like the shaft idea…no lubing chains…while in Alaska it was almost impossible to keep lube on our chains…this is a sweet bike no doubt.  How do you turn the ABS on and off on this bike?  Can’t seem to find my answer anywhere unless I am totally over looking it.

JC Hilderbrand

Off-Road Editor

Hilde is holding down the fort at MotoUSA’s Southern Oregon HQ. With world-class dirt bike and ATV trails just minutes away, the hardest part is getting him to focus on the keyboard. Two wheels or four, it doesn’t matter to our Off-Road Editor so long as it goes like hell in the dirt.

Monday, February 27, 2012

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Adventure Bike Crash Course


Words of Wisdom can go a long way…listen and learn..you can never know too much! :-) I love hearing from the experts. I always pick something up that I either forgot or did not know.

A few pointers from an expert for piloting that big adventure bike off-road.

January 12, 2012 By
SOURCE:  CYCLE WORLD

Adventure Bike Crash Course - Feature Continue reading

KTM DROPS PRICES FOR 2012


KTM has cut the prices on three of its 2012 models. The Austrian firm has reduced the price of the new 690 Duke and 2012 versions of its 990 Super Duke R and 990 Supermoto R.

The Supermoto R is down by a hefty £950 compared to this year’s OTR price and the naked 990 Super Duke R is reduced by £700 leaving them both on £9295. 

The new 690 Duke, which MCN will be testing imminently and goes on sale in February, has undergone a price revision and is £650 cheaper than originally stated. 

Full savings are as follows:

 

Model
2012 price
2011 price
Saving
990 Supermoto R
£9295
£10245
£950

990 Super Duke R
£9295
£9995
£700

690 Duke
£6595
£7245
£650


Great Review of the BIG ADV BIKES


Motorcycle USA Tests the BIG bikes

Epic. It’s the way every ride is supposed to be, so MotoUSA decided to make our big-bore ADV test as epic as possible. We gathered five of the newest premier AT bikes and rode them across the western states. The loop started in Southern California and wound its way up to Big Sky, Montana where we took a rest day to watch the Big Sky XC hare scramble. From there we went back across the smoky interior of Idaho and plowed down to company headquarters in Medford, OR. For more details on the trip, check out the daily updates (sidebar), but let’s meet the contenders in the 2011 Adventure Touring Shootout.

Very thorough article with videos and more!