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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2014 BMW F800GS ADVenture


F800GS-Adventure

I was at my dealer the other day and speaking with Sheldon, the informative and more than a sales guy we buy our ADV bikes from…and he was telling more about his father who bought the F800 ADV model.  Sheldon tells me and I have heard this from other owners, that the ADV F8 is certainly worth the extra coin.  If Cheryl and I were going to buy again, and if this version was out we would have bought it over the standard GS.  Why?  The extra’s BMW have added to this bike as well as the larger tank seem to actually work…such as the almost upright touring shield.  I hear that it actually works for many riders of all sizes and has a great mounting location for your GPS.   Continue reading

First UK ride: Suzuki V-Strom 1000 review


Thanks George as always for sending me this link…interesting review, seems pretty honest to me.

Suzuki’s new adventure-tourer is good but feels more the product of sales strategy than any desire to outclass the competition

Posted: 14 January 2014
by Steve Farrell
Panniers were removed around town for filtering Continue reading

2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS – First Ride


I think this bike will be a hit and find its way into the ADV market place.  Just seems like a whole lot of bike for the price and will make to non hard-core off-road rider very happy.   Perhaps just a great overall everyday ADV bike ;-)

SOURCE:  Cycle World

2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 on-road action shot

The adventure doesn’t really begin, they say, until something goes wrong. When we combine adventure bikes with guys that have seen too many BMW commercials, this inevitably entails picking adventure bikes back up from the dusty trail (or in my case, having them extracted by helicopter). Suddenly, it’s very clear why weight matters. Continue reading

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

Soon Our 1 YEAR Review of our 2013 BMW F800GS Bikes


We have owned our new now old bikes for 1 year.  I will soon post a review of our bikes now that we both have over 8000 KM’s on them, been off-road, taken decent length trips to assess its road competency and also here I will post an issue we have run into regarding the OEM canbus/socket plug.

In our review I will try to compare as much as I can the F800 to the Triumph Tiger 800XC that we rode for only 44 days to Alaska and they gave them back to Triumph Canada in 2011 and our 2010 BMW F650GS bikes too.

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2014 Yamaha FJR1300ES – First Look


Source:  CYCLEWORLD

Something about this touring bike we have always liked.  In Canada the base price is

/// $18,499.00…as always we seem to pay thousands more than the USA for the same bike.  Our Dollar just FYI has been in and around par with the USA for years but we are always told it’s about supply and demand…importing etc…I say that is crap. ;-)  But we shall always “accept” our prices will never be at par and move on…

2014 Yamaha FJR1300ES studio 3/4 view

Irvine, CA — After a long slumber, Yamaha and Star are finally waking up and delivering some very cool new motorcycles for 2014. And now–joining the much-anticipated FZ-09 Triple, hot-selling Star Bolt and updated four-stroke YZ MXers (YZ250F and YZ450F)–comes the FJR1300ES. Those letters at the end stand for Electronic Suspension, and this feature helps update the bike further (after an overhaul in 2013) in the face of some pretty stiff competition in the sport-touring class. Continue reading

Macna Dry Cooling Vest | Review


So far I am hearing this works well with a mesh jacket…any real world experience with jackets like the KLIM Traverse out there?  In hot weather ATGATT is how we ride and this is one way to keep the core cool.  No different from wearing heated gear in the winter.

Great Review-New 2013 BMW 1200GS


BMW R1200 GS World’s Most Successful Perfected -Woman Riders’ Agree

SOURCE: MOTORESS

MOTORESS women and motorcycles, motorcycling for women

The “BMW GS” concept has embodied riding pleasure and the desire for adventure for over 30 years. This applies especially to the GS motorcycles with the opposed-twin “boxer” engine. The “big GS” allows a motorcyclist to explore the most remote corners of the world – an idea that has already inspired numerous globetrotters to set off on their travels.  But the GS was and still is much more than this. Whether sports-style cornering on winding country roads, excellent travel times due to high motorway speeds, and relaxed tours with a passenger or daring rides over rough terrain – every GS has offered supreme mastery of these skills in its respective era and this won’t change with the new version. Continue reading

Canon SX50 HS Review


While I never claim to be a photographer I am always looking for something to make my life easier.  Cheryl bought me this camera for Christmas 2012 and I have to say so far so good for a “Superzoom”.  Read an experts view because that I am not. ;-)  If you look at my most recent post from January 15, 2012 you will see some of the pics this can take.  The zoom is amazing to be honest and any wild life you see I take means the bird etc are usually FAR FAR away.

Oh No, Not Another Superzoom!

OK, I admit it. I have a soft spot for so-called Superzoom cameras and have reviewed quite a few of them on these pages over the years. I have looked at even more than I have reviewed, and found most (read – all) wanting, usually in the area of image quality.

The new Canon SX50 HS was announced at Photokina in September, 2012, started shipping in October at a SMLP of $480, and by early November had dropped to $369 at some US  retailers. This means a drop of at least -20% during its first month on sale. Who knows how many of these ended up as stocking-stuffers by Christmas. Continue reading

KLIM LATITUDE SUIT 1ST IMPRESSIONS


Sorry that the video is a bit dark and no zooms.  Cheryl is away and I promise our second impressions video will be better done.  Hope this video will provide you all with some useful info and isn’t too painful to watch.

UPDATE:  We sold both suits.  Just turned out they were not fir us, too stiff.

840D Cordura Shell = thick

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