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Adventure Tourer reader feedback

10747 Views 42 Replies 26 Participants Last post by  chas
It's good to see some attention in this direction. I enjoyed this article, and have thought for some time that what people often call dual-sporting has really evolved more into what the Europeans call adventure touring. There are a lot of forest and fire roads in between all the blacktop and Interstates, that offer a lot of fun riding and great scenery.

These bikes all look nice and fun, but with the BMW at $16k and the Tiger (and now the Capo) with a sparse dealer base and unproven reliability, a fair number of us are doing what these bikes were designed for on KLR650's.
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I can tell you have never been to Alaska.
You're right, I've never been to Alaska (My Mum just came back from there though)

I'm not clear on what you mean... Are you agreeing with me or disagreeing? From what I understand of Alaska a suitable bike is one that you can load on a boat with ease... If you're not using the boats to get around, then the conditions look pretty harsh, and you'd want something a good deal tougher than any of these bikes.

Or are you saying that the CBR1000 wouldn't be up to the challange? OK, maybe it woudn't, but if it isn't then none of these bikes would be either.

We have some dirt roads too... Australia is a similar size to the continental US and has less than 10th of the population. Not much money for roads. They only sealed the road from here to Perth (the transcontinental road across the Nullabour) about 20 years ago, so that was the first time you could travel between all the state capitals without leaving the blacktop. Even now, you reach the first dirt roads about 25 minutes from the centre of our largest city (how far is the first dirt out of New York?). The biggest selling bike in Australia (apart from bikes for the postmen) was the XR600 for years and years. Now the YZ426F has taken over. Yeah, we've got some dirt (which is why I added my country of origin...)

You've got frost damage on your blacktop as well... But we've got heat damage. Sometimes it gets so hot the tar melts, and the cars and trucks plough it up into lumps and hollows. These can be a foot high in places...

What I'm saying is that a properly ridden road bike can go anywhere these "adventure tourers" can go. If they were serious about building bikes for this role then they'd have high guards, more suspension travel, much much longer range, tough plastics (like a proper dirt bike) and they'd be close to 100 kg lighter. As they are they're pure road bikes with dumb suspension and poor riding positions. They're covered in LAQUERED!!! plastic!!!!! One drop and you'd be looking at hundreds of dollars damage. I read an Australian road test of the BMW 1000GS a few years back. The test only lasted about 60 km. They dropped it in sand at about 100 kays (60 miles an hour) and it tore the whole shaft drive and rear wheel off the bike!!!!!!! That's not something you can fix on the side of the road with beer cans and fencing wire.

These bikes are just a joke and a con. They look like they're "bad ass" (as you Americans say) Go-Anywhere Do-Anything mean machines, but they're just two wheel RAV4s. Fine for riding slowly between cafes but useless for anything else. For goodness sake, the Honda even has linked brakes!!!! How can you ride a bike even on a gravel road with linked brakes??? You could make a good case that the CBR1000 would be *better* off road than this thing. How would you get it around a sharp corner?? Do a three point turn?

Cheers Jason =:)
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Brain fade, just read a similar comparo that included the Honda Verodero (spelling??) and that is what I was refering to in the "Honda even has linked brakes" bit.

Sorry Jason =:)
Thanks MO, its good to see some action in this market segment. The US is great for adventure touring, and I don’t mean down Route 66 on a Harley…

From my experience, your article is spot on. I have ridden the BMW GS and I currently own a Tiger, as you said the Tiger grows on you, it just does everything well. However, it has a long way to go before its perfect. I can’t say much for the Aprilia yet, hopefully someone I know will buy one soon… :)

For the benefit of prospective buyers, here are some Pro’s and Con’s, from my experience on the Tiger 955i:


- Powerful & Quick, even with a heavy load!!!

- Great suspension, that works well everywhere.

- Fits well between cars in traffic…. (Great commuter, while saving for the next adventure.)

- No overheating problems in high temperature at low speeds. (I whish I could say the same for the rider!!)

- 12v Power outlet for GPS or Heated Vest.

- Price.


- Bad wind protection!! There is a lot of Helmet noise due to wind turbulence at high speed.

- No packing space under the seat. (Where must I put my tools & tire repair kit??)

- Must take off both seats and use tools to adjust the rear Pre-Load.

- Fuel Gage very pessimistic. (This could be a pro if you’re a Procrastinator)

- Center stand should never be optional on an adventure tourer!!


That triple just purrs along like a happy feline. I am very pleased with the Tiger so far, it has given me no problems whatsoever and it did not bite of an “arm and a leg” to acquire it.

For MO:

1.) Why is it that your power specs (85Hp) differs so much from the Factory specs (105Hp). Perhaps yours were tested at the wheel, and factory’s at the motor, but 20 horses is a lot to lose or to lie about??

2.) I agree with other readers, to see a simple table with a summary of the specs would be nice. (eg. Weight, Power, Fuel Consumption, Tank Range, MSRP ext.)

Otherwise very well done, keep it up and we’ll keep on subscribing!!



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I just hope the V-motor in the LC8 can take care of the vibrations!!! I owned a KTM 640 Adventure-R when I lived in South Africa, it was great off-road (by adventure touring standards), but on any long distance trips the vibration and small/thin seat was a killer!! However, the KTM would still be the bike I would choose to cross Africa (not much highways :)

Buying an bike for Adventure Touring must be molded around your interpretation of “Adventure Touring”.
Consumption on Tiger955i

The consumption on my Tiger is about 45-50 mpg. With a Tank of 6.4 Gal, this gives me about 300miles. (The gage is very pessimistic, so the paranoia makes me fill up at about 220miles)

Hopes this helps!!
I agree, getting off the beaten track and exploring is great fun. I owned a KTM 640 Adventure that fell in the Dual Sport class, and i now own a Tiger 955i that falls in the "Adventure Touring" Class.

The Tiger is definitely much more comfortable to cover distance and can carry more load, but when i hit the muddy backroads or deep sand I would much rather find myself on a KTM Adventure, KLR650, DR650 or the old faithful "Africa Twin" from Honda (never seen in the US). None of them are total offroad machines, but they fill the gap between today’s Ultra Comfortable Adventure Tourers and the hard core offroad bikes.

Use the right tool for the job and you will have the most fun and the least discomfort :)

If you read my message again, you'll find that I HAVE taken my GS places my old CBR1000 could definitely not have gone (desert sand, snow, mud, mountain trails) and have dropped the bike several times without damage.

I wouldn't say that the bike is good on loose surfaces, but it can do it. And that's the point. The bike can take me where I want to go on road, and then with a bit of effort, can take me a lot further. Sure, it's not a pure dirt bike, but who wants to ride a dirt bike 500+ miles a day on tarmac.

For me, the Tiger WAS too much a touring bike and the Aprilia is a road bike only. Still nice bikes though. However, the BMW has been an amazing bike.

PS. Below 100mph, the BMW handles MUCH better on normal roads than the CBR ever did.
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Mmmm, That's interesting...

I wouldn't have thought that the GS could be ridden in mud. Perhaps our mud is different, but with that low mounted guard the kind of sticky clay we get would gloop it up and the front wheel would stop going round.

You've ridden your GS in sand and had no problems, and no, I wouldn't take my CBR on sand dunes (I've ridden it on a sandy track, but that's not "sand"). I don't know if I'd take a GS onto sand either..... I rode an R80GS Dakar on a sandy trail, and it was good, by leaning back and powering it up you could get the front to float nicely at about 80-100 km/h (50-60 mph) however when I complemeted the owner on its nice manners on sand he went white as a sheet, and having seen photos of a later model paralever bike broken in two when crashing on sand at about that speed, I can see why. (by broken in two, I mean the suspension unit, swing arm and back wheel 20 metres from the rest of the bike)

I've ridden road bikes on snow and what I'd call "mountain trails" (the roads around Leh in the Indian Himalaya) and while I'd have prefered to have my XR600, I couldn't have carried my 60 year old Mum with me on the XR.

Perhaps I'm just coming from a very different angle. I'd like a bike that was better able to cope with long hauls on blacktop, but nearly as good off road. I think of my XR as being much too heavy to really have a good time off road. I have all sorts of trouble keeping up with the guys on KTMs that are just 10 kg lighter, but the BMW is more than 100 kg heavier than the XR!!!!

It's surprising as the first G/S from BMW was their lightest bike, and pretty strong with it at 167 kg oil but no fuel, only about 40-50 kg heavier than a "dirt bike" and by far the lightest of the BMs at the time. Same mass as a CB250N. It had a long range with the 36 litre (9.5 gal) tank. Their current offering is 62 kg (140 lb) heavier and only has a 22 litre tank... While everyone else has been making their bikes lighter and stronger, (Honda Australia's current replacement for the CB250N is 45 kg lighter and 60 km/h faster!) BM has made theirs over 1/3 heavier and more fragile. Sure it now has power outlets for your 12v fluffy slippers, but has it made it better for its intended role? You can only answer "Yes" if its intended role is poncing about in towns or cruising up the autobahn to Aunt Helgas (is that how you have your Adventures?). If its intended role is ultra high speed dirt over terrible conditions of deep sand, rocks, rivers and mud, where it's 500 km to the next fuel, (ie *Adventure* touring) then no it's not better...

I guess I'm just disapointed. I really would like a 2002 version of the R80G/S. 1/3 lighter than the 1980 version (rather than 1/3 heavier), stronger, faster, more reliable, with a foot of suspension travel at both ends and 700 km range. Insead we're offered an expensive off road hippo.

Cheers Jason =:)

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Funnily enough, even though I'm disagreeing with you, I am also agreeing with you. These bikes are not good offroad compared with an offroad bike. And you'll notice I said that I hadn't enjoyed the mud AT ALL, especially on 'looks like offroad' standard tires.

However, neither are they a waste of time. I find my GS a bit slow and heavy, but a lot of fun apart from that. And for what I use it for it's ideal. Living on the west coast of the US in LA, it's a long way to the Sierra's up north and a long drag through Arizona or Nevada to the east. I could do this on a KTM Adventuror or another 600 single. It would even be fun. And when I got to were-ever I was going offroad, these bikes would be much better at it.

However, with my GS I can roll long at a fair enough speed (that I don't want any more tickets, thank you officer), with great handling in the corners (when there are any) in great comfort for me (and another if she comes) and zap out 5, 6, 700 miles. And my knobbly tires are not completely destroyed by the combination of speed and desert heat on tarmac. And the bike is able to do what I ask of it, and some. (except mud)

Yes, it's too heavy. Yes, it's not a great compromise as an offroader. Yes it could be better. But it really is more than the sum of it's parts and if you ignore how much you paid of it, then you can really force it to do some fun things. (I take the attitude, the thing cost $14,500, so it bloody well should be able to go up that hill / through that mud / desert. And almost always, it does)

So I guess the only thing I am disagreeing with you on is your contention that Paris Dakar lookalikes are a useless class of bike. For those of us that fit them and want that usage... they're a great, great, tourer+.

BTW. I suspect the two cylinder KTM coming out next year is going to be much nearer to what you want. I'm certainly going to be taking a long hard look at it.

Hey, I'm not complaining. I'm 38 now and I haven't had a bike yet that I haven't had loads and loads of fun on.. including a 50cc trail bike I hired and toured Greece on in 1982. (me 6'4".. it, about 2ft tall. Max speed 35mph, down a hill, with a following wind. Much uphill and you were paddling.)

Happy trails, mate. #:eek:)
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Being from Austrailia you probably do more dirt road riding than most others with a CBR or similar bike. But what you do not realize is that the geometry of these bikes, which is similar to an off-road bike is much more stable at low speeds in comparison to any sportbike. This trait allows these bikes to be used on rough dirt roads. While you may be able to take these roads as well I gaurantee you that the adventure tourers will cover this ground twice as fast because of the stability and added suspension. And No these bikes are not the best for mud, deep sand, or rocky terrain but this is the scope of the dual sport rather than the adventure tourers.

The stability of these bikes along with their storage capacities make them ideal for urban commuting. The tall stature of these bikes makes you visible to others as well. There are no other class of motorcycle that is more suited to the urban jungle than the adventure tourer.

As for the twisties You obviously have not seen these bikes in action. A talented rider will keep up with any sportbike in the twisties.

As for high speed runs, you can leave me in the dust when accelerating and at speeds over 90 mph.

The point is do not underestimate what you have no experience with. These are truly competent and usefull machines that provide comfort, storage, and fun anywhere that has a road not requiring knobbies.


99 Tiger
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I agree that all these bikes will get the job done; but as desertbilly says, at a price. And that makes the KLR650 a much more attractive mount. I have owned a 89 Honda TransAlp since 92, have over 30K on the clock and it has been seamless and done everything I could want it to do. I usually walk around the other two street bikes in my garage to pull it out for almost everything. It really burns me that Honda can't see the light and import this machine anymore; or it's newer and bigger brother, the Varadero. About the KLR's road worthiness; there is an older gentleman that makes all the BMW rallies and regularly goes down to S. America on one and has over 70K dependable and enjoyable miles on it. His recommendation is good enough for me. By the way -- he can easily afford to buy anything he wants. 'nough said.
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On Mulholand Road in LA, when it gets really twisty, I dropped a couple of mates. One on a GSXR 750, the other on a Speed Triple. I didn;t realise I'd done it and wasn;t trying to, one of them was mightily pissed of to be dropped by a "******* tourer".

Hi Grappelli,

I think you're right, we're saying the same thing but from different angles. All bikes are fun, all bikes have a place and all bikes can be made to do things they weren't really designed to do (and often, that's when you have the most fun).

I was saying, "hey, don't underestimate an ordinary tourer, it can be made to take you places you think you need an Adventure Tourer to tackle" While you're saying "Hey, don't underestimate Adventure Tourers, they can be made to take you places you think you need a dirt bike to tackle"

Personally I love making bikes to weird ***** (and it sounds like you do too)

I've never bested a sport bike in the twisties, but I fondly remember a "transport" on twisty road between trails. Me and a mate on XR600s with knobbies (real knobbies, the "Not for Highway Use" kind) and both running 12 psi front and rear. We came upon a guy giving his cruiser a hard scraping session on the "old road". God knows what he thought when one dirt bike went underneath him and one around him, both of them full on sideways, both with riders sitting on the tank with their inside foot up with their front axles...

Laugh! I thought we were both going to ***** ourselves at the next stop!

Still, on road the big singles are generally a pain. They vibrate so hard that your hands go strange after half an hour and you lose all feeling after an hour (which is a bit scary). The "seats" are so uncomfortable it's just unreal. You spend a lot of time standing up. So much infact that all the controls are set to be most comfortable standing. And tyres!!!Sheesh! I've never adjusted the chain on the XR because the tyre is worn out ***Long*** before any adjustment would be required. I get about 3-6 tanks of fuel out of a back tyre.

I guess I expected Adventure Tourers to address these issues while keeping most of the offroad abiltiy and that's just not realistic. Most of these bikes are sold in countries where there are almost no opportunities to ride off road and even if there are, they'd spend almost all their time onroad anyway.

Another interesting thing you said, that the bike had cost you $14 500. Here they're AUD$17 165 for the r1150GS which is about USD$9000. That includes 10% tax.

I also think you're right about the KTM. It really does look the ducks guts.

KTM Australia runs a great thing here where if you're interested in a bike they take you on a two day test ride in the bush. The guy I used to ride with on XRs has gone on one and bought a 400exc after riding most of the KTM range. Perhaps they'll put one of the new bikes on the test fleet when they come out.

Cheers Jason =:)

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Interesting you should mention the GSX-r 750...

Many years ago, I was sent on a riding course by the post office (I was a telegram boy and I had a small motorcycle to take telegrams out with)

Part of the course was about how to ride on unsuitable surfaces on road bikes. This was in 1987 and the then hot thing was the GSX-R 750 and the instructor was riding one. He took us out on a *Motorcross* track and showed us how to ride in sand, and then we did several laps with him showing us the fast line...

He then followed this up by explaining low speed manouvering, and showed us how to use the back brake (which up to that point I had completly ignored on all bikes).

He put the bike on full lock and whizzed around in circles, scraping the pegs!!!

What amazed me even more was that I was doing the same thing within the hour.

Cheers Jason =:)
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Adventure Tourers & Global Differences

First, congrats to MO for having what appears to be a genuine interest in regular comparos of adventure tourers.

A good yarn (like Merino wool) and interesting comments at the back. In this part of the world (New Zealand) we get different spec bikes to you guys. So the Beemer has a larger fuel injection system (2.4 instead of 2.2), stronger sub frame and no cat converter. What this means is that the GS is up on power and (very slightly) down on weight.

Put all this together and it seems to result in the big GS getting the nod more often than not. Its also got character, and beautiful ugliness in spades. The Trumpy is lots of fun and has a willing engine but take it off road and Jesus, it focuses the mind. Ditto the Apprillia which has a gorgeous power plant.

A bunch of us just came back from doing the North Island of NZ by coastal roads and beaches and I wouldn't have swapped my GS for anything (and I've previously owned Elefants, Tigers and Tenere's). We did 90 mile beach at low tide and my speedo showed 180 kph (thats 112mph for you statesiders) on the wet sand and it was faultless stable.

Up in the Bay of Islands a pick up backed over my GS in a wee village. Net result, one scratched crash bar and a scuff mark on a pannier. Repeat that on any of the other two and you'd be up for a truckload of repairs and fairing damage.

Yep, even though I always thought they were for wankers, I love the big GS. Maybe that means I've become a wanker?

Stay upright MO colleagues

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Re:Tiger Pro's and Con's


I'll agree w/ your pro's and con's on most accounts, but you failed to mention the one huge reason I find the Tiger almost unacceptable from a touring perspective:

over 75mph it buzzes like a cheap motel alarm clock on crack cocaine. It makes my old Concours (sold it two years ago) feel like grandpa's Lincoln by comparison. The Tiger 955i was OK for the 1 hour spent test riding, but to hold those vibrating grips for full days on end would be true torture.

Oh, and one other's got a damn chain! Go ahead and flame on, but chains_just_plain_suck for big miles touring. Get with it Triumph and put a shaft in your Trophy and Tiger "touring/adventure" models!

Presently am "adventure" touring on an 1150GS, and yes, there are complaints there, too (like the mass for instance).

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we forget that the Tiger you can purchase heated grips for. Road I tiger on cold northern california nights and love it.
I read your Adventurer Tourer article a couple of months ago when I was shopping for such a bike. I was puzzled by your evaluation of the Capo Nord's suspension; to summarize: "this fork sucks." After reading other tests and consulting with people close to Aprilia, I took a chance and bought the Capo Nord despite your evalutaion. I'm glad I did. The fork is awesome! I haven't experienced both the suppleness and resiliance that this suspension has in any other bike. Smooth ride, reassuring behavior under stress, and wonderful response when stopping hard. I wonder what you were riding?

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