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  1. [embedded content] After months of speculation and leaked photos, BMW has officially announced details on the upcoming R1250GS Adventure Bike. The new GS model features an improved boxer engine for an additional increase in power across the entire speed range, improved emissions and fuel consumption, as well as a smoother ride. At the heart of the new GS is a gruntier 1,254cc engine (previously 1,170cc) putting out 136 hp and 105 ft-lb of torque. The engine also uses Shiftcam Technology which enables variation of the valve timings and valve stroke on the intake side. The intake camshafts are further designed for asynchronous opening of the two intake valves, resulting in a swirl of the incoming mixture that provides more effective combustion. The engine also features an optimized oil supply, twin-jet injection valves and a new exhaust system. The R1250GS HP style variant includes a white rallye color scheme, golden spoked wheels, flat seat and short windscreen. ADVERTISEMENT Additional Riding Modes “Riding Modes Pro” is now available as an optional equipment item, featuring additional riding modes such as Dynamic Traction Control DTC, “Dynamic Pro” and “Enduro Pro”. DTC enables even more efficient and safe acceleration, especially in banking position. In addition, the new Dynamic Brake Control DBC provides additional safety when braking by avoiding unintentional accelerator activation. By means of intervention in the engine control, drive torque is reduced during braking so as to make full use of the braking power at the rear wheel. This keeps the motorcycle stable and shortens the braking distance. Connectivity The new BMW R1250GS now has the “Connectivity” feature as standard equipment, including a 6.5-inch full-color TFT screen. In conjunction with the standard BMW Motorrad Multi-Controller, this means the rider can access vehicle and connectivity functions swiftly and conveniently. Ensuring the fastest possible response in the event of an accident or emergency, the optional equipment item “Intelligent Emergency Call” summons assistance to the scene as quickly as possible. Style Variants A smoother, more-powerful engine is the primary update for the BMW R1250GS, while the chassis remains mostly unchanged besides a few goodies on the technology side. Other than that, there are two new style variants being offered for 2019. One is an HP white ‘Rallye’ version with golden spoked wheels, short windscreen, flat seat, and an optional longer-travel suspension. Another is a more touring-oriented ‘Exclusive’ version with cast wheels. The “Exclusive” style variant includes cast wheels for riders that prefer a more touring-oriented option. The new BMW R1250GS will be making an appearance at Intermot in Cologne and is expected to hit showrooms as a 2019 model. Pricing has not yet been announced by BMW. [embedded content] BMW R1250GS Specs Released • ENGINE: 1,254cc boxer twin (previously 1,170 cc) • HORSEPOWER: 136 hp @7750rpm (previously 125 hp) • TORQUE: 105 ft-lb (previously 92 ft-lb) • SEAT HEIGHT: 850mm/870mm • TANK: 5.3 gallons (20 liters) • WET WEIGHT: 549 lbs (249 kg) (previously 538 lbs)
  2. [embedded content] After months of speculation and leaked photos, BMW has officially announced details on the upcoming R1250GS Adventure Bike. The new GS model features an improved boxer engine for an additional increase in power across the entire speed range, improved emissions and fuel consumption, as well as a smoother ride. At the heart of the new GS is a gruntier 1,254cc engine (previously 1,170cc) putting out 136 hp and 105 ft-lb of torque. The engine also uses Shiftcam Technology which enables variation of the valve timings and valve stroke on the intake side. The intake camshafts are further designed for asynchronous opening of the two intake valves, resulting in a swirl of the incoming mixture that provides more effective combustion. The engine also features an optimized oil supply, twin-jet injection valves and a new exhaust system. The R1250GS HP style variant includes a white rallye color scheme, golden spoked wheels, flat seat and short windscreen. ADVERTISEMENT Additional Riding Modes “Riding Modes Pro” is now available as an optional equipment item, featuring additional riding modes such as Dynamic Traction Control DTC, “Dynamic Pro” and “Enduro Pro”. DTC enables even more efficient and safe acceleration, especially in banking position. In addition, the new Dynamic Brake Control DBC provides additional safety when braking by avoiding unintentional accelerator activation. By means of intervention in the engine control, drive torque is reduced during braking so as to make full use of the braking power at the rear wheel. This keeps the motorcycle stable and shortens the braking distance. Connectivity The new BMW R1250GS now has the “Connectivity” feature as standard equipment, including a 6.5-inch full-color TFT screen. In conjunction with the standard BMW Motorrad Multi-Controller, this means the rider can access vehicle and connectivity functions swiftly and conveniently. Ensuring the fastest possible response in the event of an accident or emergency, the optional equipment item “Intelligent Emergency Call” summons assistance to the scene as quickly as possible. Style Variants A smoother, more-powerful engine is the primary update for the BMW R1250GS, while the chassis remains mostly unchanged besides a few goodies on the technology side. Other than that, there are two new style variants being offered for 2019. One is an HP white ‘Rallye’ version with golden spoked wheels, short windscreen, flat seat, and an optional longer-travel suspension. Another is a more touring-oriented ‘Exclusive’ version with cast wheels. The “Exclusive” style variant includes cast wheels for riders that prefer a more touring-oriented option. The new BMW R1250GS will be making an appearance at Intermot in Cologne and is expected to hit showrooms as a 2019 model. Pricing has not yet been announced by BMW. [embedded content] BMW R1250GS Specs Released • ENGINE: 1,254cc boxer twin (previously 1,170 cc) • HORSEPOWER: 136 hp @7750rpm (previously 125 hp) • TORQUE: 105 ft-lb (previously 92 ft-lb) • SEAT HEIGHT: 850mm/870mm • TANK: 5.3 gallons (20 liters) • WET WEIGHT: 549 lbs (249 kg) (previously 538 lbs)
  3. The announcement of the all-new 2019 Honda CRF450L has been one of the biggest surprise news stories of the year for dirt fans, but it’s not completely out of the blue. Honda has been building these motorcycles for years in the form of the off-road-only CRF450X – a bike good enough to capture several Baja wins. Those lucky few who’ve performed a street-legal conversion on their ‘X’ also know they make great dual sports too. With off-road riding areas steadily shrinking, the need for a license plate to link up trails increases every year. Many Dual Sport fans have wondered “Why doesn’t Honda put a license plate and blinkers on the X, get it to pass smog, and sell a ton of bikes?” The European manufacturers have been making performance dual sports (street-legal motocross-based machines) for about a decade now, so what took Honda so long to release the CRF450L? In reality, there’s a great deal of risk in building a bike that “just” meets regulations. Remember, Honda has a car line to protect. Motorcycles are just a drop in the bucket in sales and any regulatory infraction could impact the car side of things. Honda is not a company that rushes to market either. They like to let the segment mature, do their homework, and come in with a fully-developed bike that is ready to capture significant market share (e.g. Africa Twin). ADVERTISEMENT With Honda taking their time getting to market, expectations are higher than ever. Will it be a high-performance do-it-all dual sport? Or overweight, softly sprung and underpowered like so many other Japanese dual sport bikes that have come before it? We were eager to find out and got our chance at the Honda CRF450L Press Intro in Packwood, Washington. There we would put down 115 miles of mixed terrain riding in the rugged Cascade Mountains to get a sense of the bike’s capabilities. Read on below for our impressions of the bike, but first let’s clear up a few misconceptions. Understanding What It Isn’t We’ve gotten a range of questions about the CRF450L (see rumors debunked here), many from Adventure Riders who may be unfamiliar with performance dual sport bikes. First of all, no, you won’t find ABS, a fuel gauge or even an RPM gauge. There are no passenger pegs, no top rack for luggage, and it has zero wind protection. The primary goal of this bike is to go fast in varied off-road terrain. Gearing is lower, favoring trail riding over highway cruising. The seat is thin, flat and tall (37.1 in seat h) to optimize ground clearance and range of movement on the bike. A minimal amount of equipment has been added to the off-road-only CRF450X to get it to pass street regulations and the motor is highly-tuned with aggressive maintenance intervals. Be prepared to change the oil every 600 miles or so and check the valves every 1,800 miles. No doubt some riders will find the CRF450L to be a reliable, lightweight, off-road travel option with a few mods and regular maintenance. Just keep in mind this isn’t a practical choice if your style of riding includes a significant amount of highway. What You’re Getting We won’t get into all the nitty gritty details here about what’s new in the CRF Performance Line. But in a nutshell, you are getting an enduro bike that shares much of its DNA with the revamped for 2019 CRF450R motocrosser. It has high-quality Showa suspension with 12 inches of travel front and rear, and a high-performance fuel-injected 450cc single engine that produces somewhere north of 45 horsepower. You also get standard dirt bike ergos with large grippy pegs and a wide ⅞” handlebar for maximum control. Designed as a trail bike rather than a track racer, the CRF450L has been tuned for usable power with a heavy flywheel, wide-ratio 6 speed and broad powerband to handle loose rocks and rough, hilly terrain. It also comes with a stout rear subframe for carrying tools or lightweight luggage, and a more forgiving suspension to handle varied trail conditions. Weighing in at 289 pounds with a full 2.01 gallon fuel tank, you can travel about 90 miles on average before needing to refuel. The CRF450L comes with protective side covers, exhaust guard and a skidplate. On the spec sheet, the CRF450L hits all the marks you’d expect from a performance dual sport bike, aside from being a little on the heavy side. What you might not see in the specs is that Honda spent a lot of time refining the bike’s street manners. Typically, engines need to be detuned and throttle response suffers in order to pass the EPA’s sniff and sound tests. Honda avoided going down this route by first using sound-deadening case covers, a foam-filled swingarm and front sprocket cover to reduce noise, then they worked on getting the smoothest throttle response possible. The result is a motor that makes just 4 horsepower less than the off-road-only CRF450X. The instrument cluster is basic but does offer a few frills like “fuel consumption” and “number of gallons used” readings. Some of that extra weight the CRF450L carries is in the form of protective equipment like a skid plate and front disc cover. All-around LED lighting and an aluminum-framed license plate holder are also built to take abuse over the long run. Considering the extra equipment and the solid build quality, a 14-pound weight increase over the CRF450X is reasonable. There is a lot of attention to detail on the bike as well, starting with a brushed-aluminum twin-spar frame and a titanium tank peeking through openings in the plastics. An LED headlight has a unique tinted look when turned off but offers a bright white light for night riding. LED turn signals can flex 90 degrees out of the way in a fall and everything from the headlight assembly to the digital instrument console are solidly mounted. The only thing stopping it from being 100% trail ready are a lack of hand guards and the mirrors look like they may be vulnerable to trail damage. On the Road The CRF450L might get you some discriminating looks from the local cops but there’s nothing they can do to stop you from riding this dirt bike on the street. And while the look is pure enduro, the feel is surprisingly refined and smooth on the street. No chain slap, no floating front end, no buzziness, just a quiet, smooth ride around town. On the highway, it feels quite comfortable riding around 60-65 mph. Beyond that, you start to feel the vibes in the bars and the wind hitting you in the chest begins to wear you down. Despite the thin, firm saddle, the seating was relatively comfortable during the 8-hours of riding. The one thing that would have been appreciated though, is a set of hand guards for the cold, rainy Pacific Northwest weather we rode in. The bike has enough power to loft the front wheel in 4th gear with a little clutch work. We got a chance to ride several twisty roads as we linked up trails, and the CRF450L was a lot of fun in the turns. Its nimble handling and generous ground clearance make it a fun bike for SuperMoto-style riding, and it can lift the front wheel off the ground with a little clutch work in 4th gear. In the Dirt Honda did an impressive job of making the CRF450L feel like a street bike on the street, but what we care most about is how it performed in the dirt. To get a sense of the off-road performance, Honda lead us on a ride through Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The woodsy terrain included everything from whoops to single track, rocks and ruts. To ensure we could evaluate the full capability of the bike, Honda swapped the stock IRC GP21/22 tires for grippier Dunlop D606s. Right off the bat, we got into some steep technical single track that required finesse to make it through. The recent rains made the dirt tacky and mud was minimal, but there were some slick roots and rocks to contend with. The clutch feel is excellent and it’s easy to modulate power for good traction in the choppy stuff, but some mild throttle surge is noticeable in first gear. The throttle response smooths out though if you click into second and lug it up loose steep hills. Whereas, first gear works best for gaining momentum on the ‘brute force’ technical sections. Power is more than adequate for trail riding even though it has a subdued exhaust note. You can definitely pick up the front wheel when you need to get over a ledge but it’s not a wheelie machine. Revs build quickly when you get on the gas, yet its heavy flywheel allows it to maintain momentum and clear obstacles in the trail. As far as gearing, Honda mentioned the CRF450L has the same transmission gear ratios and sprockets as the CRF450X. Some aggressive riders might want to go down a tooth on the front sprocket to give it more pop, but most will find it has broad usable power, even with the stock gearing. Honda clearly put a lot of R&D into suspension tuning and it worked even better than expected. Typically, the stock suspension on dual sport bikes is too soft for guys who weigh over 200 pounds. The CRF450L’s suspension is stiff enough to handle a larger rider over high speed bumps with ease, and didn’t bottom out the entire day of testing. In fact, it’s on the stiff side for performance dual sport bikes in this category. Damping is also well set up and I never felt the need to mess with the clickers. Coming into this test, our biggest skepticism was with the weight of the bike. The CRF450L weighs about 30 pounds more than its competition in the 450-500cc range on the spec sheet. But after riding the bike all day, the extra weight wasn’t easily detectable. The engineers have done an impressive job of making the weight disappear. We talked to Baja 1000 legend Johnny Campbell to get more insights into the engineering and development of the bike. “f you go nose-to-tail on the CRF450L and look under the bodywork, there are so many details of how it was packaged for performance and handling. Like pushing the weight inboard toward the crankshaft, keeping a low CG, just the way the titanium tank is nestled in the chassis, where it’s carrying the most fuel, all the way to the rear subframe spars and LED headlight assembly. Because the more weight you have outboard, the worse the handling is going to be and the heavier it’s going to feel. Bringing that weight inboard in a tight package is the key to making this bike feel nimble and light.” – Johnny Campbell You’d be hard pressed to notice a difference in weight between the CRF450L and its competition, unless you rode them back to back. The one area where I could feel the weight a bit was in tight, flat turns. Sometimes it required an extra effort to get the bike turned around. One detail that caught my attention was the position of the right brake pedal. The CRF450L already has a wider bottom end than the CRF450R to accommodate a 6-speed transmission. Then Honda adds a case cover to the ‘L’ that pushes it out another inch or so. Having the extra case protection in the rocks is definitely appreciated, but it does push the right foot brake position outward from its natural position. Not every test rider noticed this and it’s probably something you could get used to after riding the bike for awhile, but for me it felt a little awkward. The right brake pedal position does get pushed outward a bit due to the wider bottom end and extra case cover. Another thing worth mentioning that may be a factor for some buyers is a lack of a kickstarter. Honda removed kickstarters from all of their CRF Performance Line models for 2019. If you are riding in remote technical terrain and end up with a flat battery, bump starting might not always be an option. It might be worth bringing a portable battery jumper in your backpack on those types of rides. After a full day of riding in mixed terrain that included some aggressive throttle work, the fuel consumption averaged about 43 mpg. No doubt the CRF450L is capable of high 40s mpg on more casual rides. With a small 2.1 gallon tank though, the range will be a concern for those who ride in remote areas. One way Honda helps reduce range anxiety is with ‘average fuel consumption’ and ‘number of gallons used’ readings on the instrument console. This allows you to accurately measure how much fuel is left in the tank and you can keep an eye on fuel usage if you need to nurse it to a gas station. Final Thoughts We had a blast blazing through the woods on the 2019 Honda CRF450L. Without question, this is a true performance dual sport that is ready to give any competitors a run for their money in this category. The stiffer suspension is greatly appreciated for aggressive riding and the tractable power makes the bike easy to ride fast. Even better, Honda took the time to smooth out and quiet the motor, which not only makes it a better street bike, but also reduces the fatigue factor over a long day of riding. What really sets it apart though is Honda’s reputation for being bulletproof. The CRF450X this model is based on, is known to be a workhorse and its reputation is built on a long line of beloved high-performance off-road models like the XR400R and XR650R. The CRF450L’s performance will make the hardcore dirt riders happy, while it’s also friendly enough for CRF250L riders to make the step up. It remains to be seen if the bike is adopted by the ADV travel crowd. But if the Motonomad crew can ride halfway around the world on KTM 500 EXC’s, the CRF450L would arguably be a better choice for that type of trip. Especially, when you consider Honda’s reputation for durability and global dealer network. Cost of ownership and maintenance are also going to be a plus for the Red Brand. And we give Honda kudos for being the first Japanese brand to build a street-legal motocross-based machine for the world market. Hopefully, the others will follow suit and we’ll see this category grow with choice. At $10,399, some may find it a bit pricey for a 450cc motorcycle. But this is a high-performance model, fine-tuned with high-quality componentry. The price isn’t outside of the norm for this category and the Honda can actually save you a few bucks – about $800 compared to the Orange Brand. That’s a nice budget for customizing your CRF450L with a beefier skid plate, handguards, break-away mirrors and maybe some soft luggage. We look forward to seeing how the new Honda matches up with other performance dual sports out on the trail, and whether it proves to be as durable as we all hope. And maybe if we are lucky, Honda will surprise us with a CRF450L Rally model next! 2019 Honda CRF450L Specs Engine: Liquid-cooled 10º single-cylinder four-stroke, Valve Train: Unicam OHC, four-valve Displacement: 449.7cc Bore & Stroke: 96.0mm x 62.1mm Transmission: Constant-mesh 6-speed return; manual Clutch: Multiplate wet (6 springs) Compression Ratio: 12.0:1 Induction: Programmed fuel-injection system (PGM-FI); 46mm throttle bore Ignition: Full transistorized Start: Push-button electric starter Final Drive: #520 sealed chain Front Suspension: 49mm fully-adjustable leading-axle inverted telescopic Showa coil-spring fork Rear Suspension: Pro-Link system; fully-adjustable Showa single shock Suspension Travel (Fr/Rr): 12.01 in. / 12.36 in. Front Brakes: 2-piston caliper hydraulic; single 260mm disc Rear Brakes: 1-piston caliper hydraulic; single 240mm disc Front Tire: IRC GP21 80/100-21 w/tube Rear Tire: IRC GP22 120/80-18 w/tube Rake (Caster Angle): 28°20’ Trail: 116mm (4.6 in.) Length: 85.9 in. Width: 32.6 in. Height: 50.0 in. Ground Clearance: 12.4 in. Seat Height: 37.1 in. Wheelbase: 58.9 in. Fuel Capacity: 2.01 US Gal. Wet Weight: 289 lbs. Color: Red US Availability: September 2018 Pricing: $10,399 USD
  4. The announcement of the all-new 2019 Honda CRF450L has been one of the biggest surprise news stories of the year for dirt fans, but it’s not completely out of the blue. Honda has been building these motorcycles for years in the form of the off-road-only CRF450X – a bike good enough to capture several Baja wins. Those lucky few who’ve performed a street-legal conversion on their ‘X’ also know they make great dual sports too. With off-road riding areas steadily shrinking, the need for a license plate to link up trails increases every year. Many Dual Sport fans have wondered “Why doesn’t Honda put a license plate and blinkers on the X, get it to pass smog, and sell a ton of bikes?” The European manufacturers have been making performance dual sports (street-legal motocross-based machines) for about a decade now, so what took Honda so long to release the CRF450L? In reality, there’s a great deal of risk in building a bike that “just” meets regulations. Remember, Honda has a car line to protect. Motorcycles are just a drop in the bucket in sales and any regulatory infraction could impact the car side of things. Honda is not a company that rushes to market either. They like to let the segment mature, do their homework, and come in with a fully-developed bike that is ready to capture significant market share (e.g. Africa Twin). ADVERTISEMENT With Honda taking their time getting to market, expectations are higher than ever. Will it be a high-performance do-it-all dual sport? Or overweight, softly sprung and underpowered like so many other Japanese dual sport bikes that have come before it? We were eager to find out and got our chance at the Honda CRF450L Press Intro in Packwood, Washington. There we would put down 115 miles of mixed terrain riding in the rugged Cascade Mountains to get a sense of the bike’s capabilities. Read on below for our impressions of the bike, but first let’s clear up a few misconceptions. Understanding What It Isn’t We’ve gotten a range of questions about the CRF450L (see rumors debunked here), many from Adventure Riders who may be unfamiliar with performance dual sport bikes. First of all, no, you won’t find ABS, a fuel gauge or even an RPM gauge. There are no passenger pegs, no top rack for luggage, and it has zero wind protection. The primary goal of this bike is to go fast in varied off-road terrain. Gearing is lower, favoring trail riding over highway cruising. The seat is thin, flat and tall (37.1 in seat h) to optimize ground clearance and range of movement on the bike. A minimal amount of equipment has been added to the off-road-only CRF450X to get it to pass street regulations and the motor is highly-tuned with aggressive maintenance intervals. Be prepared to change the oil every 600 miles or so and check the valves every 1,800 miles. No doubt some riders will find the CRF450L to be a reliable, lightweight, off-road travel option with a few mods and regular maintenance. Just keep in mind this isn’t a practical choice if your style of riding includes a significant amount of highway. What You’re Getting We won’t get into all the nitty gritty details here about what’s new in the CRF Performance Line. But in a nutshell, you are getting an enduro bike that shares much of its DNA with the revamped for 2019 CRF450R motocrosser. It has high-quality Showa suspension with 12 inches of travel front and rear, and a high-performance fuel-injected 450cc single engine that produces somewhere north of 45 horsepower. You also get standard dirt bike ergos with large grippy pegs and a wide ⅞” handlebar for maximum control. Designed as a trail bike rather than a track racer, the CRF450L has been tuned for usable power with a heavy flywheel, wide-ratio 6 speed and broad powerband to handle loose rocks and rough, hilly terrain. It also comes with a stout rear subframe for carrying tools or lightweight luggage, and a more forgiving suspension to handle varied trail conditions. Weighing in at 289 pounds with a full 2.01 gallon fuel tank, you can travel about 90 miles on average before needing to refuel. The CRF450L comes with protective side covers, exhaust guard and a skidplate. On the spec sheet, the CRF450L hits all the marks you’d expect from a performance dual sport bike, aside from being a little on the heavy side. What you might not see in the specs is that Honda spent a lot of time refining the bike’s street manners. Typically, engines need to be detuned and throttle response suffers in order to pass the EPA’s sniff and sound tests. Honda avoided going down this route by first using sound-deadening case covers, a foam-filled swingarm and front sprocket cover to reduce noise, then they worked on getting the smoothest throttle response possible. The result is a motor that makes just 4 horsepower less than the off-road-only CRF450X. The instrument cluster is basic but does offer a few frills like “fuel consumption” and “number of gallons used” readings. Some of that extra weight the CRF450L carries is in the form of protective equipment like a skid plate and front disc cover. All-around LED lighting and an aluminum-framed license plate holder are also built to take abuse over the long run. Considering the extra equipment and the solid build quality, a 14-pound weight increase over the CRF450X is reasonable. There is a lot of attention to detail on the bike as well, starting with a brushed-aluminum twin-spar frame and a titanium tank peeking through openings in the plastics. An LED headlight has a unique tinted look when turned off but offers a bright white light for night riding. LED turn signals can flex 90 degrees out of the way in a fall and everything from the headlight assembly to the digital instrument console are solidly mounted. The only thing stopping it from being 100% trail ready are a lack of hand guards and the mirrors look like they may be vulnerable to trail damage. On the Road The CRF450L might get you some discriminating looks from the local cops but there’s nothing they can do to stop you from riding this dirt bike on the street. And while the look is pure enduro, the feel is surprisingly refined and smooth on the street. No chain slap, no floating front end, no buzziness, just a quiet, smooth ride around town. On the highway, it feels quite comfortable riding around 60-65 mph. Beyond that, you start to feel the vibes in the bars and the wind hitting you in the chest begins to wear you down. Despite the thin, firm saddle, the seating was relatively comfortable during the 8-hours of riding. The one thing that would have been appreciated though, is a set of hand guards for the cold, rainy Pacific Northwest weather we rode in. The bike has enough power to loft the front wheel in 4th gear with a little clutch work. We got a chance to ride several twisty roads as we linked up trails, and the CRF450L was a lot of fun in the turns. Its nimble handling and generous ground clearance make it a fun bike for SuperMoto-style riding, and it can lift the front wheel off the ground with a little clutch work in 4th gear. In the Dirt Honda did an impressive job of making the CRF450L feel like a street bike on the street, but what we care most about is how it performed in the dirt. To get a sense of the off-road performance, Honda lead us on a ride through Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The woodsy terrain included everything from whoops to single track, rocks and ruts. To ensure we could evaluate the full capability of the bike, Honda swapped the stock IRC GP21/22 tires for grippier Dunlop D606s. Right off the bat, we got into some steep technical single track that required finesse to make it through. The recent rains made the dirt tacky and mud was minimal, but there were some slick roots and rocks to contend with. The clutch feel is excellent and it’s easy to modulate power for good traction in the choppy stuff, but some mild throttle surge is noticeable in first gear. The throttle response smooths out though if you click into second and lug it up loose steep hills. Whereas, first gear works best for gaining momentum on the ‘brute force’ technical sections. Power is more than adequate for trail riding even though it has a subdued exhaust note. You can definitely pick up the front wheel when you need to get over a ledge but it’s not a wheelie machine. Revs build quickly when you get on the gas, yet its heavy flywheel allows it to maintain momentum and clear obstacles in the trail. As far as gearing, Honda mentioned the CRF450L has the same transmission gear ratios and sprockets as the CRF450X. Some aggressive riders might want to go down a tooth on the front sprocket to give it more pop, but most will find it has broad usable power, even with the stock gearing. Honda clearly put a lot of R&D into suspension tuning and it worked even better than expected. Typically, the stock suspension on dual sport bikes is too soft for guys who weigh over 200 pounds. The CRF450L’s suspension is stiff enough to handle a larger rider over high speed bumps with ease, and didn’t bottom out the entire day of testing. In fact, it’s on the stiff side for performance dual sport bikes in this category. Damping is also well set up and I never felt the need to mess with the clickers. Coming into this test, our biggest skepticism was with the weight of the bike. The CRF450L weighs about 30 pounds more than its competition in the 450-500cc range on the spec sheet. But after riding the bike all day, the extra weight wasn’t easily detectable. The engineers have done an impressive job of making the weight disappear. We talked to Baja 1000 legend Johnny Campbell to get more insights into the engineering and development of the bike. “If you go nose-to-tail on the CRF450L and look under the bodywork, there are so many details of how it was packaged for performance and handling. Like pushing the weight inboard toward the crankshaft, keeping a low CG, just the way the titanium tank is nestled in the chassis, where it’s carrying the most fuel, all the way to the rear subframe spars and LED headlight assembly. Because the more weight you have outboard, the worse the handling is going to be and the heavier it’s going to feel. Bringing that weight inboard in a tight package is the key to making this bike feel nimble and light.” – Johnny Campbell You’d be hard pressed to notice a difference in weight between the CRF450L and its competition, unless you rode them back to back. The one area where I could feel the weight a bit was in tight, flat turns. Sometimes it required an extra effort to get the bike turned around. One detail that caught my attention was the position of the right brake pedal. The CRF450L already has a wider bottom end than the CRF450R to accommodate a 6-speed transmission. Then Honda adds a case cover to the ‘L’ that pushes it out another inch or so. Having the extra case protection in the rocks is definitely appreciated, but it does push the right foot brake position outward from its natural position. Not every test rider noticed this and it’s probably something you could get used to after riding the bike for awhile, but for me it felt a little awkward. The right brake pedal position does get pushed outward a bit due to the wider bottom end and extra case cover. Another thing worth mentioning that may be a factor for some buyers is a lack of a kickstarter. Honda removed kickstarters from all of their CRF Performance Line models for 2019. If you are riding in remote technical terrain and end up with a flat battery, bump starting might not always be an option. It might be worth bringing a portable battery jumper in your backpack on those types of rides. After a full day of riding in mixed terrain that included some aggressive throttle work, the fuel consumption averaged about 43 mpg. No doubt the CRF450L is capable of high 40s mpg on more casual rides. With a small 2.1 gallon tank though, the range will be a concern for those who ride in remote areas. One way Honda helps reduce range anxiety is with ‘average fuel consumption’ and ‘number of gallons used’ readings on the instrument console. This allows you to accurately measure how much fuel is left in the tank and you can keep an eye on fuel usage if you need to nurse it to a gas station. Final Thoughts We had a blast blazing through the woods on the 2019 Honda CRF450L. Without question, this is a true performance dual sport that is ready to give any competitors a run for their money in this category. The stiffer suspension is greatly appreciated for aggressive riding and the tractable power makes the bike easy to ride fast. Even better, Honda took the time to smooth out and quiet the motor, which not only makes it a better street bike, but also reduces the fatigue factor over a long day of riding. What really sets it apart though is Honda’s reputation for being bulletproof. The CRF450X this model is based on, is known to be a workhorse and its reputation is built on a long line of beloved high-performance off-road models like the XR400R and XR650R. The CRF450L’s performance will make the hardcore dirt riders happy, while it’s also friendly enough for CRF250L riders to make the step up. It remains to be seen if the bike is adopted by the ADV travel crowd. But if the Motonomad crew can ride halfway around the world on KTM 500 EXC’s, the CRF450L would arguably be a better choice for that type of trip. Especially, when you consider Honda’s reputation for durability and global dealer network. Cost of ownership and maintenance are also going to be a plus for the Red Brand. And we give Honda kudos for being the first Japanese brand to build a street-legal motocross-based machine for the world market. Hopefully, the others will follow suit and we’ll see this category grow with choice. At $10,399, some may find it a bit pricey for a 450cc motorcycle. But this is a high-performance model, fine-tuned with high-quality componentry. The price isn’t outside of the norm for this category and the Honda can actually save you a few bucks – about $800 compared to the Orange Brand. That’s a nice budget for customizing your CRF450L with a beefier skid plate, handguards, break-away mirrors and maybe some soft luggage. We look forward to seeing how the new Honda matches up with other performance dual sports out on the trail, and whether it proves to be as durable as we all hope. And maybe if we are lucky, Honda will surprise us with a CRF450L Rally model next! 2019 Honda CRF450L Specs Engine: Liquid-cooled 10º single-cylinder four-stroke, Valve Train: Unicam OHC, four-valve Displacement: 449.7cc Bore & Stroke: 96.0mm x 62.1mm Transmission: Constant-mesh 6-speed return; manual Clutch: Multiplate wet (6 springs) Compression Ratio: 12.0:1 Induction: Programmed fuel-injection system (PGM-FI); 46mm throttle bore Ignition: Full transistorized Start: Push-button electric starter Final Drive: #520 sealed chain Front Suspension: 49mm fully-adjustable leading-axle inverted telescopic Showa coil-spring fork Rear Suspension: Pro-Link system; fully-adjustable Showa single shock Suspension Travel (Fr/Rr): 12.01 in. / 12.36 in. Front Brakes: 2-piston caliper hydraulic; single 260mm disc Rear Brakes: 1-piston caliper hydraulic; single 240mm disc Front Tire: IRC GP21 80/100-21 w/tube Rear Tire: IRC GP22 120/80-18 w/tube Rake (Caster Angle): 28°20’ Trail: 116mm (4.6 in.) Length: 85.9 in. Width: 32.6 in. Height: 50.0 in. Ground Clearance: 12.4 in. Seat Height: 37.1 in. Wheelbase: 58.9 in. Fuel Capacity: 2.01 US Gal. Wet Weight: 289 lbs. Color: Red US Availability: September 2018 Pricing: $10,399 USD
  5. For adventure riders, standard rectangular sleeping bags are just not ideal. They are typically way too big, and often too heavy making them less practical. That’s why looking to the backpacking and hiking industry for lightweight, small-packing gear is recommended for adventure bike enthusiasts who plan to camp off their bike. Sea To Summit is a staple in the outdoor gear scene and has many sleeping bags to suit many camping situations. What I’ve been using over the past few months is their Trek TkI Sleeping Bag, which is rated a 32-degree bag. What It Is If you want to get crazy, there are hyper-small, hyper-light sleeping bags out there that are hyper expensive and mostly uncomfortable. The TkI is somewhere in the middle with a tapered rectangular shape that isn’t full-on claustrophobic mummy-bag-style, but isn’t as roomy as a rectangular bag. The 32-degree rating is the bag’s claimed “lower limit” zone with 41 degrees being the “comfortable” zone and 5 degrees being the “extreme” zone. ADVERTISEMENT The fill is 650 Loft Ultra-Dry Down and is what makes a warm but lightweight sleeping bag possible. Thirty grams of the duck down will expand to 650 cubic inches and it is coated with a special material making it water repellent. The shell material is 30D Nylon that is breathable yet water resistant and features a cinchable hood to keep your noggin warm when it gets really cold. How It Works Zippers are important on sleeping bags and the TkI has a pretty good system. The main zipper didn’t snag when zipping it up from the inside, and the toe box has a separate zipper if you want to pop your feet out in warmer weather. Being on the wider side at 215 pounds and 5’ 8”, I still had a good amount of room to move around in the bag and didn’t feel too restricted. But if you like to spread your legs apart in your sleep, a non-mummy style bag would be a better bet. Although, wide rectangular bags typically don’t pack down as small. The shell material looks and sounds plasticy, but it is very soft and comfortable on the skin. It also breathed really well. At no point did I feel clammy or that there was condensation in the bag. There were some very chilly nights (one at a recorded 31 degrees) and a few times I did have to grab my riding jacket and throw it over my leg/feet area to keep from being too cold. Also, the spots where the bag was pressed against my body (shoulder and hips when on my side) those body parts were noticeably cooler than the rest of me. I would say that the 41 degree comfortable zone is probably pretty accurate and if you know that you’ll be sleeping consistantantly in colder temps, I would get a warmer rated bag or bring a sleeping bag liner to boost warmth. The Trek series is also offered in 18 degree and 12 degree rated options. Although, the penalty for the added warmth is more bulk and weight. Speaking of, this bag gets very, very small with the included compression sack. With the sack cinched down all the way it is about the size of a cantaloup. Just like bikes with better and better technologies each year making them lighter and smaller, the same can be said of camping gear. The huge, heavy sleeping bags of our youth have given way to much smaller, lighter, but still warm bags of today. If you’ve had your sleeping bag for a decade or so, it might be worth seeing what’s new. Who It Is For The TkI is for the fair weather ADV rider that values pack size and weight. Late spring, summer, and early fall is when this bag is most effective. It is also for a camper that wants more sleeping room than a traditional mummy bag, but still a hood and the option to fully unzip it to use as a blanket. I would say it is small enough for the dual-sport guy or soft-luggage guy as well, and with a liner and good, insulated sleeping pad, can stretch further into cooler climates. Our Verdict This bag isn’t the cheapest that I’ve used, but it is definitely the most technical and comfortable to sleep in. The fact that a full-size sleeping bag that is nice and fluffy can compress down to the size it does is mind blowing. Every time that I would go to pack it up, I think, “How’s it going to fit?” But then once you get it in the compression bag and start working on the straps, it just gets smaller and smaller. It’s also a nice feature that it comes with a separate, much larger storage bag, since it isn’t good for the down material to be compressed for long term storage. What We Liked • Packs small/easy to pack down • Soft, comfortable, breathable material • Warm enough for moderately chilly nights What Could Be Improved • Perhaps thicker shell so that pressure points don’t get too cold • The lower limit of 32 degrees might be optimistic [embedded content] Sea to Summit Trek TKI Specs (Size Regular*) SIZE: 60in x 57in x 40in SIZE (packed): 7in x 7in WEIGHT: 1 lb 12 oz (790 g) FILL WEIGHT: 12.4 OZ (350 g) SEASON RATING: 2.5 Season TEMP RATING: 32ºF (Lower Limit) FITS UP TO: 6 ft/183 cm MSRP: $269 * Also available in “Regular Wide” and “Long” sizes. Shopping Options: Author: Sean Klinger With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs.
  6. Published on 09.11.2018 [embedded content] While the debate over electric motorcycles as the future of two-wheeled mobility still simmers, BMW is already thinking ahead unveiling their most recent project dubbed “Ghost Rider.” A fully self-driving BMW R1200GS controlled only by the algorithms inside its computer. The German manufacturer surprised journalists last weekend with a live demonstration of the experimental self-driving BMW R1200GS at a track. As if guided by magic, the autonomous motorcycle doesn’t require a rider to navigate and can move itself freely with no aids, going around corners and even stopping without falling to its side. ADVERTISEMENT According to BMW, the aim of the technology is not fully-automated motorcycling but the extension and refinement of driver assistance systems. “For example, less experienced drivers could be assisted by the electronics to avoid dangerous spots or to avoid them in a timely and targeted manner,” explains BMW. The potential of the technology is vast as a safety system, decreasing the probability of a collision or intervening in a slide among other scenarios. It’s worth noting that BMW isn’t the only brand working on autonomous two-wheeled vehicles. Yamaha has already shown what they can do with their “MotoBot” — a motorcycle-riding humanoid robot that raced Valentino Rossi on a track. Honda has unveiled a motorcycle that is able to follow its owner as well. Nevertheless, the self-driving BMW R1200GS is an impressive show of technology by the German marque and an exciting sneak peek into what is possible in the future.
  7. Published on 09.11.2018 [embedded content] While the debate over electric motorcycles as the future of two-wheeled mobility still simmers, BMW is already thinking ahead unveiling their most recent project dubbed “Ghost Rider.” A fully self-driving BMW R1200GS controlled only by the algorithms inside its computer. The German manufacturer surprised journalists last weekend with a live demonstration of the experimental self-driving BMW R1200GS at a track. As if guided by magic, the autonomous motorcycle doesn’t require a rider to navigate and can move itself freely with no aids, going around corners and even stopping without falling to its side. ADVERTISEMENT According to BMW, the aim of the technology is not fully-automated motorcycling but the extension and refinement of driver assistance systems. “For example, less experienced drivers could be assisted by the electronics to avoid dangerous spots or to avoid them in a timely and targeted manner,” explains BMW. The potential of the technology is vast as a safety system, decreasing the probability of a collision or intervening in a slide among other scenarios. It’s worth noting that BMW isn’t the only brand working on autonomous two-wheeled vehicles. Yamaha has already shown what they can do with their “MotoBot” — a motorcycle-riding humanoid robot that raced Valentino Rossi on a track. Honda has unveiled a motorcycle that is able to follow its owner as well. Nevertheless, the self-driving BMW R1200GS is an impressive show of technology by the German marque and an exciting sneak peek into what is possible in the future.
  8. Here’s a bit of advice you rarely hear from someone who just completed a first-of-its kind adventure: Don’t. As in, don’t try this yourself. That’s the advice of Wayne Mitchell, part of a 4-rider team of army paratroopers on a motorcycle expedition from the Arctic Circle to the tip of Argentina. Many others have made the trek, but virtually everyone that has undertaken the journey has one thing in common: they skipped the roadless expanse of dense jungle linking Panama and Colombia. It’s that 80-mile section of dangerous jungle known as the Darien Gap that prompts Mitchell’s warning. “Unless you have a strong desire to take a bike through the jungle, don’t do it,” he said. “It’s costly in money, time and personal pain. There were not many fun moments in the jungle. If you are walking with a lightweight backpack, the jungle can be a magical place. If you are dragging a 500-pound bike through, it’s not much fun.” The team of US Army Vets rode their motorcycles from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego, crossing thru the infamous Darien Gap. The entire expedition was filmed and will be turned into a feature length documentary. ADVERTISEMENT He got the same advice in the two years spent planning this 19,000-mile odyssey dubbed ‘Where the Road Ends.’ It’s not impossible to cross the Darien Gap with a vehicle; a few others have done it in four-wheel-drive trucks and on motorcycles. But the team of army vets pressed on despite the area’s reputation for drug smugglers, political violence, dangerous fauna and punishing terrain. Arguably setting a record, they rode the whole tip-to-tip transcontinental expedition continuously, including the Darien Gap, in just five months. Four started the expedition, three of them made it to where the road actually ends, in Ushuaia, Argentina. A Cold Start To reach the Darien Gap during the January dry season, the team had to set out from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, in November 2017. That meant bitter temps and fighting the elements, including white-out conditions on Alaska’s Atigun Pass, about 170 miles south of their starting point. They began the trip with sidecars attached to their 2017 Kawasaki KLR650s for stability on the icy roads, but the going was treacherous. One of the team’s first Facebook videos shows them repairing lights and adding studs to one of the bike’s tires while the wind howls. It’s shiver-inducing footage. The Team’s weapon of choice, the KLR650, was outfitted with a custom sidecar for stability on the ice and extra storage on the Arctic portion of the journey. Once in Oregon, the sidecars were dropped. “The extreme cold was pretty hard to deal with on a motorcycle, and camping at night was brutal,” Mitchell said. The frosty conditions on the first leg of the journey led to a near tragedy when team member Rich Doering’s KLR was hit by a car that spun out control on the ice in Canada. Fortunately, both bike and rider were able to continue south. WATCH: Clip from the upcoming “Where the Road Ends” feature length documentary. They dropped the sidecars in Portland and aimed for their next big obstacle: the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia. Closing the Darien Gap The Darien Gap may be roadless, but it is crisscrossed with trails used by indigenous peoples, smugglers, immigrants headed north and paramilitary groups. That’s one reason it’s so dangerous. “I think the biggest challenge is the political,” Mitchell said. “We knew going into it, we had been working for two years to gain the trust of all parties involved.” The road physically ends in Yaviza. It then takes 1-2 days in dug out canoes to get to Paya where many miles of tortuous jungle riding and trekking await. Officials from the Darien National Park gave their OK early on, but Senafront, the Panamanian border patrol agency, was much harder to pin down. Until the day the team showed up at the border, Mitchell said, they were still not sure they would be allowed to proceed. “Unfortunately, Senafront had just had a huge firefight in the jungle with drug smugglers on the Colombian side about a month prior so there was a little bit of tension.” With the help of a fixer in Panama City, the team eventually got Senafront’s permission on the condition that an armed patrol accompany them to the Colombian border. They finally had the green light, so the team rode to Yaviza, the last town in Panama, and put the bikes on boats manned by hired Kuna locals for the two-day river trip to Paya, where the jungle “riding” began. It was short lived. Crossing the Uncrossable Though they timed their arrival to the Darien Gap during the dry season, it rained every day, turning tracks into a muddy quagmire. “Once we entered the Darien, we quickly realized how much wear the mud was putting on the clutches and engines,” said Mitchell. The Kuna villagers hacked a path through the jungle, and the KLRs followed, stopping every 300 meters or so to clear mud packed into the rear wheels tight enough to stop their progress. “We had vines wrapped around the axles, around the sprockets… It was just a constant battle digging mud out of the bikes. We ended up pushing and pulling a lot. And then we would hit really steep sections,” explained Mitchell. It was so slow and tortuous that Richard, who had the least off-road riding experience of the group, burned out the clutch on his KLR in the first mile. He flattened one of his tires and tore off the back sprocket also. “Richard decided he wanted to turn back around and we ended up abandoning the bike in the jungle,” he said. The rest of them continued the journey on their bikes. The team had pulleys, winches, climbing gear and set a cable up a couple of times to zip-line bikes across big ravines and rivers. The other three KLRs suffered fried clutches within two days. But the riders pressed on, pushing, pulling and winching the bikes up steep, greasy hills and down jungle-choked ravines. “There was no “riding” after that point. It was all using ropes and pulleys and man power to get the bikes forward. Flat sections of the route were rare, it was mostly up and down. Up jungle chocked hills and down into muddy steep river banks,” explained Mitchell. When they reached the border, the Kuna handed the team off to Colombian helpers who provided the muscle to reach Cristales, the first town on the Colombian side. Once again, they found themselves at the mercy of a political situation they could not anticipate, or control. The region is controlled by armed drug smugglers, they learned, and they would need the group’s permission to pass. “So that kind of freaked us out a little bit,” Mitchell said. “One of our guides went out and told them, ‘Hey we got this group of guys filming, they’re taking motorcycles through the Darien Gap and in the morning they are gonna get on the boat and go.’ So they came back and said, ‘you can sleep in the village but you have to leave first thing in the morning, and don’t fly your drones.’ So basically we slept a pretty nervous night in Cristales on the Colombian side.” WATCH: “Where the Road Ends” Team pushes through the unforgiving Darien jungle. Early the next day, they loaded their bikes on boats again and crossed the Atrato swamp, pushing and pulling the boats and bikes when the water wasn’t deep enough. They reached the seaport of Turbo, Colombia, eight days after beginning their trek across Darien Gap. “It was as bad as we thought,” he said. “Snakes, scorpions, huge spiders…you end up covered in mud, mosquitoes are biting you, and it is hot and humid. It is one of the toughest places I’ve ever been.” They still had thousand of miles to ride to reach Ushuaia, but nothing that compared to the difficulty of crossing the Darien Gap. They easily found replacement clutch parts for the KLR650s in Turbo – access to spare parts are one reason they chose KLRs – then continued south, cutting mileage out of the trip because team members had to get back to work. All told, the expedition took five months. There is no perfect bike for a trip like this, Mitchell said, but the KLRs took the punishment, fried clutches notwithstanding. “We put those bikes through hell in the jungle. We dropped them constantly, fell over, fell down, when we were transporting the bikes by dugout canoe they got bashed into the banks of the river, driven into trees. We really beat the hell out of them. We had them back on the road in Colombia and finished the trip all the way south with no real issues,” he said. For those who still aren’t dissuaded and want to try riding the Darien Gap, Mitchell has a few more pieces of advice: make sure you bring spare clutch plates. “The first lesson learned is big bikes plus deep mud equals fried clutches.” Also, make sure you know as much as possible about the political situation, talk to a guide, and scout ahead of time so you know what you are getting into. Mitchell and a video crew filmed the expedition with the goal of releasing a full-length documentary. The film is now in production and he hopes to have it ready for distribution by January, 2019. To follow the “Where the Road Ends” team visit their Facebook page. The “Where the Road Ends” Team will be presenting at AIMEXPO this October in Las Vegas. Meet the crew and catch a sneak peek of the film! Author: Bob Whitby Bob has been riding motorcycles since age 19 and working as a journalist since he was 24, which was a long time ago, let’s put it that way. He quit for the better part of a decade to raise a family, then rediscovered adventure, dual sport and enduro riding in the early 2000s. He lives in Arkansas, America’s best-kept secret when it comes to riding destinations, and travels far and wide in search of dirt roads and trails.
  9. Published on 09.06.2018 SWM has announced their much anticipated SuperDual X and T models are coming to the USA sometime late this fall or by early next year. The Italian middleweight Adventure Motorcycle is currently going through the homologation process and awaiting approval for sale in the US. It is exciting news for those looking for a compact, versatile and off-road capable adventure bike. The SuperDual X comes equipped with a 21″/18″ wheel combo for more aggressive Dual Sport riding, while the T model will ride on touring friendly 19″/17″ wheels. Both bikes are powered by a fuel-injected 600cc liquid-cooled DOHC single cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed transmission. The SuperDual X comes equipped with a 21″/18″ wheel combo. ADVERTISEMENT Suspension travel is a generous 8.3 inches in front and 8.7 inches in the rear with a claimed dry weight of 372.6 pounds, and with a 5-gallon fuel tank, the bike should have a considerable touring range. With a scooped seat, touring windscreen, protective equipment and luggage racks, it looks to have all the makings of a nimble adventure tourer that can take you to the far corners of the earth. Better yet, the bike’s quality components, lighter-weight design and Italian styling give it a unique flavor in the adventure bike market. And pricing will also be attractive at $8,995 for both the SuperDual X and SuperDual T models. So far, reviews from the Australian motorcycle press, where the bike has already been released, have been positive overall. We look forward to getting our hands on a test unit when they become available in the states. The SuperDual T features a 19″/17″ wheel combo and comes standard with more touring oriented tires. We’ll be watching this space closely and will keep you posted on when the bikes finally hit US shores. For more details about the SMW SuperDual, go here. SWM Superdual Specs Engine: Liquid-cooled DOHC 4-valve single cylinder four-stroke Displacement: 600cc Bore & Stroke: 100 x 76.4mm Transmission: 6 speed Clutch: Wet, multiplate type; hydraulic control Ignition: GET Fuel System: Mikuni D45 EFI Start: Electric Front Suspension: 45mm USD Fastace fork Rear Suspension: Sachs adjustable shock with external preload adjuster Wheels: X 1″8/21″ with Metzeler Sahara 3; T 19″/21″ with Metzeler Tourance Brakes: Switchable ABS. Front: 300mm front disc, Rear: 240mm rear Suspension Travel: 8.27 in. (210mm) Front / 8.66 in. (220mm) Rear Ground Clearance: X 9.0 in. (230mm); T 7.0 in. (180mm) Seat Height: X 36.61 in.; T 35.35 in. Wheelbase: 1495mm Fuel Capacity: 5.02 gallons (19 liters) Claimed Dry Weight: 372.6 lbs (169kg) Warranty: 24 months or 15,000 miles parts and labor
  10. Published on 09.06.2018 SWM has announced their much anticipated SuperDual X and T models are coming to the USA sometime late this fall or by early next year. The Italian middleweight Adventure Motorcycle is currently going through the homologation process and awaiting approval for sale in the US. It is exciting news for those looking for a compact, versatile and off-road capable adventure bike. The SuperDual X comes equipped with a 21″/18″ wheel combo for more aggressive Dual Sport riding, while the T model will ride on touring friendly 19″/17″ wheels. Both bikes are powered by a fuel-injected 600cc liquid-cooled DOHC single cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed transmission. The SuperDual X comes equipped with a 21″/18″ wheel combo. ADVERTISEMENT Suspension travel is a generous 8.3 inches in front and 8.7 inches in the rear with a claimed dry weight of 372.6 pounds, and with a 5-gallon fuel tank, the bike should have a considerable touring range. With a scooped seat, touring windscreen, protective equipment and luggage racks, it looks to have all the makings of a nimble adventure tourer that can take you to the far corners of the earth. Better yet, the bike’s quality components, lighter-weight design and Italian styling give it a unique flavor in the adventure bike market. Pricing will also be attractive at $8,995 for both the SuperDual X and SuperDual T models. So far, reviews from the Australian motorcycle press, where the bike has already been released, have been positive overall. We look forward to getting our hands on a test unit when they become available in the states. The SuperDual T features a 19″/17″ wheel combo and comes standard with more touring oriented tires. We’ll be watching this space closely and will keep you posted on when the bikes finally hit US shores. For more details about the SMW SuperDual, go here. SWM Superdual Specs Engine: Liquid-cooled DOHC 4-valve single cylinder four-stroke Displacement: 600cc Bore & Stroke: 100 x 76.4mm Transmission: 6 speed Clutch: Wet, multiplate type; hydraulic control Ignition: GET Fuel System: Mikuni D45 EFI Start: Electric Front Suspension: 45mm USD Fastace fork Rear Suspension: Sachs adjustable shock with external preload adjuster Wheels: X 1″8/21″ with Metzeler Sahara 3; T 19″/21″ with Metzeler Tourance Brakes: Switchable ABS. Front: 300mm front disc, Rear: 240mm rear Suspension Travel: 8.27 in. (210mm) Front / 8.66 in. (220mm) Rear Ground Clearance: X 9.0 in. (230mm); T 7.0 in. (180mm) Seat Height: X 36.61 in.; T 35.35 in. Wheelbase: 1495mm Fuel Capacity: 5.02 gallons (19 liters) Claimed Dry Weight: 372.6 lbs (169kg) Warranty: 24 months or 15,000 miles parts and labor
  11. The motorcycle riding public can put manufacturers in a tough spot. We want performance without discomfort, ground clearance and lots of suspension travel without a tall seat h, adjustability without complication, and protection and a massive tank without massive weight. OEMs have to make compromises at some point and while the 2018 BMW G310GS is a whole heck of a lot of bike for $5,695, the corners BMW cut to reach that price-point are quite apparent. This is where Rally Raid Products pick up the slack. For those that aren’t familiar, Rally Raid is a UK based aftermarket company that specializes in adventure bike products, as well as trials, enduro, motocross, and rally racing. To see an example of their previous work, check out this Rally Raid CB500X we tested. Jenny Morgan, ex Dakar racer and Adventure Rider, helped develop the original CB500X Rally Raid Kit and had a hand in the kit for the Rally Raid G310GS as well. We recently got a chance to catch up with Jenny at the Overland Expo in Arizona and got our first ride on the new Rally Raid G310GS. The GS that we tested was her personal bike on which she has been riding across the US. Since we’ve already ridden the G310GS extensively on the road and most of the Rally Raid upgrades are designed to improve the off-road capability of the bike, we headed straight for the trails. But before we get into how it performed, let’s first take a closer look at the Rally Raid mods on this bike. ADVERTISEMENT Rally Raid G310GS Kit Upgrades Wheels It is clear that the G310GS’s stock cast wheelset was a cost saving measure that makes it more of a city dweller than adventure bike, but a major part of the Rally Raid Kit is the wire spoke wheelset. They retain the stock 19”/17” wheel sizes and they also accept all of the stock braking and drive equipment including the cush drive and ABS rings. Spoked wheels are the only way to go for true off-road riding, as is evident by all moto and off-road bikes coming with spokes, as well as dual-sports and most serious adventure bikes. They are more resilient for off-road riding since they can flex and aren’t brittle like cast wheels. They also offer a smoother, less-harsh ride. Suspension Other than shock pre-load, the stock fork and shock on the G310GS are non-adjustable and come from the factory with very, very soft damping. For anything more than flat, smooth dirt roads, the suspension was out of its league. To fix this RR offers two levels of suspension upgrades. Level 1 adds performance and adjustability keeping the standard suspension travel to keep the seat h the same. A new spring (optional rates) as well as preload caps with air bleed screws and plastic preload washers are included. It is “spring,” singular, since the G310GS’s fork is a separate function fork with damping in the right leg only and, therefore, only one spring. This is a bonus for those working on the bike themselves. The Level 1 shock is a complete unit from Tractive Suspension with adjustable preload and combined rebound/compression adjuster. Level 2 is also available for both the shock and fork. The Level 2 fork has increased travel of 25mm (1 inch) and the shock is 20mm longer (.8 inch). The Level 2 shock is a completely different unit than the level one and includes a remote reservoir (dirt bike style) and independent high speed compression, low speed compression, and rebound adjustments. Protection and Extras On this G310GS the protection has been increased with a tubular engine guard with skid plate, Barkbuster handguards, and a radiator guard. To lighten up the bike, the rear rack has been removed and a Tail Tidy kit cleaned up the license plate area. The cockpit was opened up a bit with bar risers and a wider Renthal Fatbar. Doubletake Mirrors and a kickstand shoe up the convenience factor, and lastly, a Scorpion muffler replaced the stock unit and saves the bike about 6 lbs. How It Performed In the name of full disclosure, we only had a short time with the G310GS so we can’t really get into gnarly detail, but the time we did have was in the dirt so we can give you a pretty good idea of how things worked. The BMW G310GS already had a pretty off-road-like feel in stock form, but the Renthal bars and risers helped make it even more dual-sporty. This change alone made the mini GS easier to ride in the dirt and gave the bike better leverage and body position for trail use. The next thing that was quite noticeable was the suspension. The G310GS that we tested had the Level 1 suspension and was sprung for Jenny. We didn’t ask her weight but she’s at least 45 pounds lighter than either of the ADV Pulse testers. Even so, the performance upgrade was immediately noticed. Overall, the bike felt more balanced and it didn’t react as much as the stock bike did to big hits or uneven terrain. When we rode the stocker, the fork and shock would bottom out very hard, very often. The shock was particularly violent. With the Rally Raid Level 1 kit, we didn’t bottom out the shock at all, or even come close. The fork we could get pretty close to bottoming, but it was way more controlled and didn’t have any of the stock bike’s harshness. The bike was actually able to charge, not slow down for, moderate rollers, waterbars, and medium size hits. In chunky, rocky sections of the trail, we could ride the RR GS much faster and with greater confidence than the stock bike. As we said before, the balance of the machine is head and shoulders above the stock machine. Rather than having the bike pitch forward and back, losing forward drive, with every rock and hole, we could just pick a line and drive through the rough trail without hesitation. One thing that was annoying about the stock fork was that when the front wheel came off the ground, there was a harsh clank when the fork topped out. This was greatly improved with the Rally Raid fork, but it was still there. Who It’s For For the new ADV rider, the stock G310GS makes a ton of sense, especially with its low ticket to ride. Yet for the more experienced rider who really wants a lightweight, single cylinder, Bavarian-engineered adventure motorcycle with a low seat h and decent highway manners, adding some of these Rally Raid products bumps up the performance factor considerably. No, this isn’t a budget build, but even taking the overall cost into consideration, there is no other bike quite like the Rally Raid G310GS Adventure on the market. There are cheaper dual-sports that offer this level of off-road performance but they tend to be much taller, and some are heavier, and overall have a whole different feel than this mini ADV machine. Also keep in mind that products in the Rally Raid Kit can also be purchased separately, so you can pick and choose just the parts you need if you want to save money. Bottom Line The BMW G310GS in stock form is a fun bike. It doesn’t have a monster of a motor, long-range capabilities, or much performance in its suspension, but for what it is, we enjoyed the bike. But with the upgrades offered by Rally Raid, the mini GS goes from just fun, to actually capable of more serious riding. One of the biggest worries on the stock bike was damaging the cast wheels since they are not designed for the rigors of off-road riding. With wire-spoked wheels and heavy duty rims, that worry is gone. Adding to that peace of mind is the added engine protection and a more comfortable cockpit. Overall, the Rally Raid G310GS Adventure is the bike that we all hoped the stock G310GS would be. [embedded content] Parts List As Tested • Tubeless Spoked Wheel Kit: $1,685.50 • Fork Kit Level 1: $319.44 • Tractive Shock Level 1: $640.49 • Scorpion Exhaust – Titanium: $565.85 • Tractive Hydraulic Preload Adjuster: $280.92 • Kickstand Shoe: $50.57 • Radiator Guard: $98.62 • Tail Tidy Kit: $151.70 • Renthal Fatbar: $111.66 • Double-Take Mirrors x2: $175.30 • Barkbuster Hardware Kit Fatbars: $113.78 • Storm Plastic Guards Black: $47.76 • Full Kit Total: $4,241.59 More details on the Rally Raid G310GS Kit can be found on the Rally Raid website. * All prices converted from the British Pound Author: Sean Klinger With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs.
  12. The motorcycle riding public can put manufacturers in a tough spot. We want performance without discomfort, ground clearance and lots of suspension travel without a tall seat h, adjustability without complication, and protection and a massive tank without massive weight. OEMs have to make compromises at some point and while the 2018 BMW G310GS is a whole heck of a lot of bike for $5,695, the corners BMW cut to reach that price-point are quite apparent. This is where Rally Raid Products pick up the slack. For those that aren’t familiar, Rally Raid is a UK based aftermarket company that specializes in adventure bike products, as well as trials, enduro, motocross, and rally racing. To see an example of their previous work, check out this Rally Raid CB500X we tested. Jenny Morgan, ex Dakar racer and Adventure Rider, helped develop the original CB500X Rally Raid Kit and had a hand in the kit for the Rally Raid G310GS as well. We recently got a chance to catch up with Jenny at the Overland Expo in Arizona and got our first ride on the new Rally Raid G310GS. The GS that we tested was her personal bike on which she has been riding across the US. Since we’ve already ridden the G310GS extensively on the road and most of the Rally Raid upgrades are designed to improve the off-road capability of the bike, we headed straight for the trails. But before we get into how it performed, let’s first take a closer look at the Rally Raid mods on this bike. ADVERTISEMENT Rally Raid G310GS Kit Upgrades Wheels It is clear that the G310GS’s stock cast wheelset was a cost saving measure that makes it more of a city dweller than adventure bike, but a major part of the Rally Raid Kit is the wire spoke wheelset. They retain the stock 19”/17” wheel sizes and they also accept all of the stock braking and drive equipment including the cush drive and ABS rings. Spoked wheels are the only way to go for true off-road riding, as is evident by all moto and off-road bikes coming with spokes, as well as dual-sports and most serious adventure bikes. They are more resilient for off-road riding since they can flex and aren’t brittle like cast wheels. They also offer a smoother, less-harsh ride. Suspension Other than shock pre-load, the stock fork and shock on the G310GS are non-adjustable and come from the factory with very, very soft damping. For anything more than flat, smooth dirt roads, the suspension was out of its league. To fix this RR offers two levels of suspension upgrades. Level 1 adds performance and adjustability keeping the standard suspension travel to keep the seat h the same. A new spring (optional rates) as well as preload caps with air bleed screws and plastic preload washers are included. It is “spring,” singular, since the G310GS’s fork is a separate function fork with damping in the right leg only and, therefore, only one spring. This is a bonus for those working on the bike themselves. The Level 1 shock is a complete unit from Tractive Suspension with adjustable preload and combined rebound/compression adjuster. Level 2 is also available for both the shock and fork. The Level 2 fork has increased travel of 25mm (1 inch) and the shock is 20mm longer (.8 inch). The Level 2 shock is a completely different unit than the level one and includes a remote reservoir (dirt bike style) and independent high speed compression, low speed compression, and rebound adjustments. Protection and Extras On this G310GS the protection has been increased with a tubular engine guard with skid plate, Barkbuster handguards, and a radiator guard. To lighten up the bike, the rear rack has been removed and a Tail Tidy kit cleaned up the license plate area. The cockpit was opened up a bit with bar risers and a wider Renthal Fatbar. Doubletake Mirrors and a kickstand shoe up the convenience factor, and lastly, a Scorpion muffler replaced the stock unit and saves the bike about 6 lbs. How It Performed In the name of full disclosure, we only had a short time with the G310GS so we can’t really get into gnarly detail, but the time we did have was in the dirt so we can give you a pretty good idea of how things worked. The BMW G310GS already had a pretty off-road-like feel in stock form, but the Renthal bars and risers helped make it even more dual-sporty. This change alone made the mini GS easier to ride in the dirt and gave the bike better leverage and body position for trail use. The next thing that was quite noticeable was the suspension. The G310GS that we tested had the Level 1 suspension and was sprung for Jenny. We didn’t ask her weight but she’s at least 45 pounds lighter than either of the ADV Pulse testers. Even so, the performance upgrade was immediately noticed. Overall, the bike felt more balanced and it didn’t react as much as the stock bike did to big hits or uneven terrain. When we rode the stocker, the fork and shock would bottom out very hard, very often. The shock was particularly violent. With the Rally Raid Level 1 kit, we didn’t bottom out the shock at all, or even come close. The fork we could get pretty close to bottoming, but it was way more controlled and didn’t have any of the stock bike’s harshness. The bike was actually able to charge, not slow down for, moderate rollers, waterbars, and medium size hits. In chunky, rocky sections of the trail, we could ride the RR GS much faster and with greater confidence than the stock bike. As we said before, the balance of the machine is head and shoulders above the stock machine. Rather than having the bike pitch forward and back, losing forward drive, with every rock and hole, we could just pick a line and drive through the rough trail without hesitation. One thing that was annoying about the stock fork was that when the front wheel came off the ground, there was a harsh clank when the fork topped out. This was greatly improved with the Rally Raid fork, but it was still there. Who It’s For For the new ADV rider, the stock G310GS makes a ton of sense, especially with its low ticket to ride. Yet for the more experienced rider who really wants a lightweight, single cylinder, Bavarian-engineered adventure motorcycle with a low seat h and decent highway manners, adding some of these Rally Raid products bumps up the performance factor considerably. No, this isn’t a budget build, but even taking the overall cost into consideration, there is no other bike quite like the Rally Raid G310GS Adventure on the market. There are cheaper dual-sports that offer this level of off-road performance but they tend to be much taller, and some are heavier, and overall have a whole different feel than this mini ADV machine. Also keep in mind that products in the Rally Raid Kit can also be purchased separately, so you can pick and choose just the parts you need if you want to save money. Bottom Line The BMW G310GS in stock form is a fun bike. It doesn’t have a monster of a motor, long-range capabilities, or much performance in its suspension, but for what it is, we enjoyed the bike. But with the upgrades offered by Rally Raid, the mini GS goes from just fun, to actually capable of more serious riding. One of the biggest worries on the stock bike was damaging the cast wheels since they are not designed for the rigors of off-road riding. With wire-spoked wheels and heavy duty rims, that worry is gone. Adding to that peace of mind is the added engine protection and a more comfortable cockpit. Overall, the Rally Raid G310GS Adventure is the bike that we all hoped the stock G310GS would be. [embedded content] Parts List As Tested • Tubeless Spoked Wheel Kit: $1,685.50 • Fork Kit Level 1: $319.44 • Tractive Shock Level 1: $640.49 • Scorpion Exhaust – Titanium: $565.85 • Tractive Hydraulic Preload Adjuster: $280.92 • Kickstand Shoe: $50.57 • Radiator Guard: $98.62 • Tail Tidy Kit: $151.70 • Renthal Fatbar: $111.66 • Double-Take Mirrors x2: $175.30 • Barkbuster Hardware Kit Fatbars: $113.78 • Storm Plastic Guards Black: $47.76 • Full Kit Total: $4,241.59 More details on the Rally Raid G310GS Kit can be found on the Rally Raid website. * All prices converted from the British Pound Author: Sean Klinger With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs.
  13. Published on 08.29.2018 [embedded content] “Is that a Dakar Rally Bike?” One of the locals at the track asked Johnny Campbell as he rolled his machine out of the JCR Honda race van. “It’s an Africa Twin” said Johnny. Entering the track for his first sighting lap, several riders looked on slack jawed with phones out, not sure what they were witnessing. For many it was their first time ever seeing a bike with a plate at the motocross track, let alone an Africa Twin. And this was Southern California’s toughest motocross track for that matter — Glen Helen — with some of the gnarliest jumps of the year just weeks after a national race. He’s the King of Baja with a record 11 overall wins in the Baja 1000 and a top 10 finisher in the Dakar Rally, but even Johnny Campbell looked a little apprehensive on that first lap. Who would blame him, the Africa Twin weighs twice as much as a motocross bike and has about three inches less suspension travel. With huge whoops, deeply-rutted turns and triple jumps, it would be a challenge just to get this big 1000cc adventure bike around the course. But Johnny didn’t rack up all those wins in his career by being reckless. After getting a feel for the bike and the track on a few practice runs, he gradually began to show some of his championship form. ADVERTISEMENT It was just a few weeks earlier when we had this crazy idea and contacted Johnny to see if he’d be up for racing us on motocross bikes… with him on an Africa Twin. Johnny has been semi-retired for years, and now manages the American Honda Factory race teams for about 40 to 50 events across the country. We were pretty sure he’d laugh at the idea and say “no way!” but to our surprise he said, “I’d be up for it!”. Next thing you know we’re lined up side-by-side with Johnny Campbell at Glen Helen! So what’s it like racing a legend? Just to be clear, we’re just a couple of average guys on a motocross track. With a huge advantage in machinery, we figured we could give Johnny a run for his money. Check out the video and see what went down. Johnny also gives his take on what it’s like to ride the big twin around Glen Helen. And if you’ve got your own crazy ideas for what Johnny should do next on his Africa Twin, leave them in the comments below!
  14. The Italians are taking inspiration from the islands with naming their latest adventure bike helmet, the Vemar Kona. While Italy is known for its motorcycle brands, Vemar might not be the first name in helmets here in the US, yet they switched owners in 2016 and have been working on a whole new lineup of lids for the future. What It Is The Vemar Kona is based on another Vemar helmet, the off-road-only Taku. They share the same R-3P terpolymer shell, yet the Kona has a sprinkling of adventure riding features. There are three shell sizes available with six helmet sizes from XS to XXL. Mandatory for an ADV helmet is a face shield, and on the Kona it has an “ultra wide” field of view, anti-scratch treatment, and is Pinlock ready. There is also a drop-down, inner sun shield that is actuated by a slider on the upper left section of the helmet. ADVERTISEMENT The lower perimeter of the helmet is flared, a feature designed to properly align with neck braces. The helmet also has a VKS (Vemar Klima System) ventilation layout with a chin inlet, two front inlets, two side vents, and two rear vents. The cheek pads and crown liner are removable and washable and the cheek pads also have an emergency release system. Lastly, closure system is a ratcheting micrometric system. How It Works The most readily apparent thing when slipping on the Kona is how soft and smooth the cheeckpads are. I’m probably more attuned to this because I always have some sort of stubble/beard/unshaven situation going on. Plus, motojournalists take their helmet off way more than your average adventure bike rider since we are constantly stopping to shoot some combo of videos, photos, and/or social posts. After a long day of cheek pad friction, my face was pleasantly unfazed. I’m a size large and the Kona fit my average oval shaped head pretty well, though there was the tiniest bit of extra room at the very back top of my head. This helmet might be just perfect for a long oval shaped head. There weren’t any pressure points and the crown padding was nice and cushy on my forehead. Overall, the lining and padding felt like it was from a much more expensive helmet. The eyeport is plenty big, though I’m not sure it is any bigger than other ADV lids to live up to Vemar’s claim of it being “ultra wide.” Goggles fit without issue (I ran Oakley Airbrakes which are some of the biggest on the market – if they fit, any goggle should fit) and I liked the goggle strap channel all the way around the back shell of the helmet. It’s not like modern goggles are going to slip off, but it is a nice reference point to keeping the goggle strap in the middle of the helmet. When all the way up, the visor isn’t distracting and is mostly past your upper limit of vision, and it does close over goggle straps without tightening them or bunching up the straps. Ventilation was hit and miss. The two front intake ports worked great and I could feel cool air hitting the crown of my head. But that was it. I didn’t notice any other ventilation from the top rear or side vents at all. Plus only the chin vent is closeable, yet since their effectiveness was questionable, this wasn’t an issue on cold mornings. It is also a little redundant to have an inner and outer chin vent slider. I’m not sure why you would have one open and not the other. The drop-down sun shield was a little close to my face and the tip of my nose would just barely touch it, and I don’t really have a big nose so that is saying something. I just adjusted the helmet up a little bit and didn’t have issues from there on out. The sliding lever to actuate the sun shield is a little hard to use because the tab isn’t very big and it just took a lot of force to get it to work, but the shield never got stuck or diminished in its function. There was a clean, quick snap down or up each time. Wind noise is in the medium range. It wasn’t silent or moto-helmet loud either. The visor did a good job of letting air pass without becoming a sail. I did have a minor issue of the very top visor screw backing out from vibration. It didn’t come all the way out, but I could hear it jiggling and had to screw it back in with a coin. Once I cranked on it pretty good, I didn’t have it backing out any more. There aren’t dedicated speaker slots but Cardo speakers fit in the ear area without complication. What was complicated with the communication system was the way the cheek pads mount to the helmet. On the Kona, there are the typical three snaps, but there is also a bottom section of plastic that slides between the foam and the shell. To have wires go under the cheek pad, you have to cut a notch out of these piece of plastic, which I did. Another issue with the Kona is that the neck-brace flare at the bottom of the shell makes it difficult to impossible to clamp a communicator on. I used a sticky mount for the Cardo. The retention system is a ratcheting closure. On the LS2 helmet I wore previous to this one, I fell in love with that ratchet closure, and on the Kona, it works similarly but the male part has to be at just the right angle to fit into the female part which takes a little finessing. Releasing the ratchet is awesomely simple an you can take the helmet off, with gloves on, in like half a second. Weight-wise it is on par with budget-friendly dual sport lids. Not uncomfortably heavy, but not feathery-light either. I put in some really, really long days in this helmet and I have to say that my neck wasn’t sore. I’ve had that happen with heavier helmets, but that was also after more off-road riding where your head is banging around more. Who It Is For The fit is more oval than some other helmets so that is the first prerequisite. Second, the Kona is for any adventure rider who wants a ratcheting closure system, sunshield that is quick and smooth, and a bearded and/or hairy rider who puts a premium on luxurious liner feel. I would say this helmet is not for the rider looking for the lightest helmet available or one that lives and only rides in the South West where good venting is needed so your brain doesn’t boil. Our Verdict The Vemar Kona punches above its weight. At just under $150, this helmet just feels like a higher quality product than what is expected at that price point. The liner and padding is very comfortable and the fit and finish is pretty high quality. There isn’t any loose stitching or awkward transitions of materials; it seems that there was true forethought and design to the helmet as a whole, not just putting some foam in a shell and call it good. What We Liked Liner and padding has a high-quality feel. Sun shield operation is quick and clean. Fit and finish is better than price would dictate. What Could Be Improved More ventilation needed for warmer regions. It’s a little on the heavy side. Liner removal/installation is laborious. LS2 Pioneer MX436 Specs COLORS: matte black and various graphics SIZES: XS-XXL SHAPE: Mid Oval SAFETY: DOT and ECE 22.05 certified MSRP: $139 (Solids); $149 (Graphics) Shopping Options: Author: Sean Klinger With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs.
  15. Examining the sliding scale that is adventure bikes, depending on who you ask and how you ride, the start, middle, and end point of that scale is hard to define. But what isn’t hard to tell is that both the Ducati Multistrada 1260 S and KTM 1290 Super Adventure S fall closer to the street/sport side of the scale. These bikes are more focused on road performance, highway comfort, and long distance ride-ability than being able to blast through single track. That being said, both bikes surprised us in the dirt, albeit for different reasons. On paper, the Austrian and Italian “S” machines stack up nearly as apples-to-apples as they come. The biggest difference between the bikes on the spec sheet is the ground clearance. The Orange bike has 8.6 inches to the 6.6 of the Ducati. The suspension travel is the second biggest difference but still only about an inch apart, with the KTM at 7.9/7.9 inches and the Ducati with 6.7/6.7 inches. The KTM also has 41 more ccs but once you are past 1200, that isn’t much of a difference. Both have semi-active suspension, have two cylinders (one a V the other an L), and are within 2 claimed HP of each other (158 for the Multi and 160 for the KTM). ADVERTISEMENT On the scales, there is only a 6 lbs difference with the Ducati coming in at 518 and the KTM at 524. They both have TFT digital dashes with bar-mounted thumb controls, both are ride-by-wire and have four ride modes, both have quickshifters (up and down) and both have cast wheels and street oriented tires. But the KTM does have a 19-inch front / 17-inch rear wheel combo while the Duck is 17-inch front / 17-inch rear. Ergos Specs aside, once you sit on both bikes it is quite evident that there are some major differences. First off, the seat h is about an inch and a half different between the Ducati (32.5 inches with the low seat position, which was how our test unit was delivered) and the Super Adventure S (33.9 inches). Seat shape was also vastly different – the KTM has a flatter (front to back) more rounded seat (side to side) while the Ducati’s saddle is much more scooped out and tapered to a skinnier front section. The foot controls are pushed a little farther back on the Italian machine while the KTM’s pegs and pedals are in a more neutral position. This made standing up on the Super Adventure feel more natural and maintainable than standing on the Multistrada. Both bike’s bar positions were a little low for prolonged standing, but the Multi’s handlebar has more of a street-bike-like sweep while the KTM has a flatter, more off-road bar bend. Footpegs on both machines have rubber inserts that make street riding smoother and don’t impede short jaunts down dirt roads. However, the KTM’s pegs are larger overall giving a more solid foothold. Power We are not sure how it feels to be shot out of a cannon, but riding these bikes can’t be that far off. Both the LC8 and Testastretta DVT motors are iconic in their own right, each with long histories of successful motorcycles. It was an absolute pleasure to ride them back to back because doing so really displayed the differences between the motors that would otherwise be difficult to notice just riding the bikes alone. The KTM 1290 Super Adventure S has a slightly more lively, free-revving motor that makes its power in a pretty traditional bell curve. Right off the bottom it is strong and torquey, but really comes to life in the mid-range, and finishes strong on top, but not so much that you’d need to bounce off the rev limiter to get the most out of it. On the other hand, the Ducati Multistrada 1260 S starts with an even torquier, chuggier power immediately off idle that builds a touch slower than the KTM, but has enough excitement down low to short shift all day. Into the mid range the power is a bit ho hum, but when you let the revs climb into the top-end, you get that g-force feeling in your stomach and you think, “Why would they make a bike this fast?!” The sportbike lineage of the Ducati really rewards riders who aren’t afraid of letting the Italian machine sing. The power curves of the two bikes feel somewhat opposite with the KTM’s excitement right in the middle and the Multi’s exciting power both down low, and up high. A more practical explanation of the the power differences is looking at wheelie-ability. Obviously, both bikes can loft the wheel with minimal effort. But the KTM, in first, second, third, or fourth gear, is itching to wheelie with the rpm at about 6,000 and just a crack of the throttle, no clutch. The Ducati, on the other hand, will do power wheelies in first and second gear. This is more about where the bikes make their power, not which bike makes more, as evident by the aforementioned HP numbers. Handling Dirt There was no real surprise riding the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S in the dirt. And by dirt we are talking about mostly hard pack, relatively smooth roads, with a few softer, rockier roads sprinkled in. Being both “S” models, we respected the OEMs and didn’t torment these more touring-focused machines with any rock gardens, single track, or aggressive off-roading. Getting back to the 1290, since it is easier to stand and has longer travel suspension, the few rocks, rain ruts, and soft spots didn’t really faze the bike at all. Also, having a 19-inch front wheel helped keep the tire from digging into the few sand sections we came across. What was surprising, however, was how the Ducati Multistrada 1260 S held its own off the highway. A combo of the lower seat position, immediate torque, and agile handling made picking our way around (not over) rocks in the road a pleasant experience. With the Ducati, it’s more about slowing down, choosing a clean line and making it through tough riding rather than standing up and charging. On smooth, fast dirt roads, the Multi could be ridden much faster yet the 17-inch front wheel felt a little unsettled, while also making softer dirt and sand a chore since it wanted to dig in rather than stay on top. Switching to more of a 50/50 dual sport tire would be extremely helpful for the Multistrada 1260 S off-road. Handling Street Again, riding these bikes back to back was a blast and very illuminating on the mostly tight, twisty, cambered roads we could find. Both will satisfy your MotoGP fix and have you quickly outpacing any of your buddies on bikes with knobbies. Yet they both raise your adrenaline levels in different ways. First off, with the Ducati’s cockpit decidedly more sportbike-like and they way it handles twisty roads is very much in the same vein. The whole bike is lower and the rider is lower in the bike — both characteristics encourage sporty aggression. Even though the wheelbase is actually longer than the KTM’s, the Ducati feels shorter, smaller, and more nimble. The Mulit is so responsive to rider input, it took us by surprise how quickly and effortlessly the bike leaned into corners. But, that same precise steering characteristic can become an issue if you are not a precise rider. A novice rider might call the Ducati twitchy and too quick-turning, yet with a seasoned asphalt rider aboard, being nimble and agile allows for mid-corner line changes and the ability to put the bike exactly where you want on the road. Conversely, the KTM has a much more supermoto feel to its handling. Still very sporty with plenty of grip from the stock tires but the rider position and taller stance makes it harder to get into that “low and forward” sportbike position. That being said, neither tester felt like they were any slower on the KTM. You just feel farther off the ground and the front wheel is a little farther out in front of the bike. This also makes the 1290 Super Adventure S more stable and easier to ride fast for the non-sportbike rider. Leaning into turns, it isn’t as precise and takes more rider input, but this leads to a smooth, consistent cornering feel that has no hint of twitchy-ness. Once you settle into a turn, the KTM feels locked in throughout the corner. Click the “Next Page” link below to continue.
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