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  1. KTM has confirmed their 2019 Adventure model lineup for the US, along with availability and pricing for most models. The big news for 2019 is the addition of the 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R models to KTM’s lineup. The 790 is no doubt one of the most anticipated new models in the adventure segment and new owners are already eagerly putting down their deposits. KTM hasn’t officially confirmed the pricing on the 790 yet, but we’ve seen some leaked dealer price sheets that reveal the MSRP. All other ADV models have had their pricing and availability officially confirmed by KTM. Here is the complete list of KTM 2019 models in KTM’s Travel range, including MSRP pricing, availability and any noteworthy changes that have occurred. 2019 KTM 690 Enduro R – $11,699 MSRP ADVERTISEMENT The 690 Enduro R is a popular choice for those looking for a light-weight off-road-focused dual sport motorcycle with the capability to travel longer distances than the EXC models. Just add a windscreen, large capacity fuel tank and luggage, and you are ready for a round the world tour with the ability to take on nearly any terrain. For 2019, the 690 Enduro gets a smoother engine, increased fuel capacity, new electronics, suspension upgrades, and more. See full details on the 690 Enduro R changes here. Availability: Late February 2019 KTM 790 Adventure – $12,499 MSRP KTM’s all-new, compact, twin-cylinder, middleweight Adventure Bike is the perfect model for riders that want to tackle a variety off-road terrain while still having long-range touring capability right off the showroom floor. Pumping out 95 HP with a full range of electronic aids, 8″ of suspension travel, 21”/18” wheel combo, a 417-pound dry weight, tall windscreen and a seat h that isn’t sky high, versatility is the 790’s greatest strength. See full details and specs on the 790 Adventure here. Availability: April 2019 KTM 790 Adventure R – $13,499 MSRP For those looking to explore even more challenging off-road terrain, the ‘R’ model takes the 790’s capability in the dirt up another notch. Its fully-adjustable WP XPLOR suspension – which features a 48mm fork and PDS rear shock – gives the 790 R the highest ground clearance (10.4 inches) and longest suspension travel (9.5 inches) in the middleweight adventure bike category. Seat h is also raised a few inches higher than the standard 790 Adventure R. See full details and specs on the 790 Adventure R here. Availability: April 2019 KTM 1090 Adventure R – $14,999 MSRP Ever since its introduction in 2017, the KTM 1090 Adventure R has been considered one of the most off-road capable machines in the Adventure Bike liter class. The suspension is premium WP with a PDS rear shock for excellent handling and maneuverability in the dirt. And with 125 HP on tap and a 6.1 gallon fuel tank, you get impressive street performance and fuel range on longer journeys as well. No changes have been announced 2019 but it’s still one of the most balanced adventure bikes on the market. See our full review of the KTM 1090 Adventure R here. Availability: Currently being shipped to US dealers 2019 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S – $18,499 MSRP KTM has smartly split its 1290 Super Adventure line into two distinct flavors — street and dirt. The S model offers street-friendly cast wheels in a 19”/17 combo, electronic suspension with 8” of travel to give it more grip and flickability on a twisty road. It features the latest technology gizmos and rider aids to improve safety and rider comfort for longer journeys. Those electronics also help keep the fire-breathing 160 HP motor contained. If you are brave enough to turn traction control off, you’ll enjoy power wheelies in 4th gear! While the 1290 Super Adventure S offers blazing speed on a twisty backroad, it’s also no slouch in the dirt, giving you options if you get curious about any dirt roads you come across. Check out our full review of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S here. Availability: Currently being shipped to US dealers 2019 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R – $18,499 MSRP The 1290 Super Adventure R is KTM’s flagship adventure bike with a dirt focus. It carries all the technology of the S model but gets the same fully-adjustable WP suspension as the 1090 Adventure R with 8.7” of travel. The 1290 Super Adventure S also gets dirt-friendly wire-spoke wheels in an 21”/18” combo, crash bars, factory knobbies, and a shorter windscreen to make it more rugged and capable on tougher trails. While it may be tuned for the dirt, it still has good long-range touring bike with a generous full capacity (6.1 gallons), a smooth 160 HP motor, and cruise control. No changes have been announced for 2019. Availability: Currently being shipped to US dealers
  2. KTM has confirmed their 2019 Adventure model lineup for the US, along with availability and pricing for most models. The big news for 2019 is the addition of the 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R models to KTM’s lineup. The 790 is no doubt one of the most anticipated new models in the adventure segment and new owners are already eagerly putting down their deposits. KTM hasn’t officially confirmed the pricing on the 790 yet, but we’ve seen some leaked dealer price sheets that reveal the MSRP. All other ADV models have had their pricing and availability officially confirmed by KTM. Here is the complete list of KTM 2019 models in KTM’s Travel range, including MSRP pricing, availability and any noteworthy changes that have occurred. 2019 KTM 690 Enduro R – $11,699 MSRP ADVERTISEMENT The 690 Enduro R is a popular choice for those looking for a light-weight off-road-focused dual sport motorcycle with the capability to travel longer distances than the EXC models. Just add a windscreen, large capacity fuel tank and luggage, and you are ready for a round the world tour with the ability to take on nearly any terrain. For 2019, the 690 Enduro gets a smoother engine, increased fuel capacity, new electronics, suspension upgrades, and more. See full details on the 690 Enduro R changes here. Availability: Late February 2019 KTM 790 Adventure – $12,499 MSRP KTM’s all-new, compact, twin-cylinder, middleweight Adventure Bike is the perfect model for riders that want to tackle a variety off-road terrain while still having long-range touring capability right off the showroom floor. Pumping out 95 HP with a full range of electronic aids, 8″ of suspension travel, 21”/18” wheel combo, a 417-pound dry weight, tall windscreen and a seat h that isn’t sky high, versatility is the 790’s greatest strength. See full details and specs on the 790 Adventure here. Availability: April 2019 KTM 790 Adventure R – $13,499 MSRP For those looking to explore even more challenging off-road terrain, the ‘R’ model takes the 790’s capability in the dirt up another notch. Its fully-adjustable WP XPLOR suspension – which features a 48mm fork and PDS rear shock – gives the 790 R the highest ground clearance (10.4 inches) and longest suspension travel (9.5 inches) in the middleweight adventure bike category. Seat h is also raised a few inches higher than the standard 790 Adventure R. See full details and specs on the 790 Adventure R here. Availability: April 2019 KTM 1090 Adventure R – $14,999 MSRP Ever since its introduction in 2017, the KTM 1090 Adventure R has been considered one of the most off-road capable machines in the Adventure Bike liter class. The suspension is premium WP with a PDS rear shock for excellent handling and maneuverability in the dirt. And with 125 HP on tap and a 6.1 gallon fuel tank, you get impressive street performance and fuel range on longer journeys as well. No changes have been announced 2019 but it’s still one of the most balanced adventure bikes on the market. See our full review of the KTM 1090 Adventure R here. Availability: Currently being shipped to US dealers 2019 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S – $18,499 MSRP KTM has smartly split its 1290 Super Adventure line into two distinct flavors — street and dirt. The S model offers street-friendly cast wheels in a 19”/17 combo, electronic suspension with 8” of travel to give it more grip and flickability on a twisty road. It features the latest technology gizmos and rider aids to improve safety and rider comfort for longer journeys. Those electronics also help keep the fire-breathing 160 HP motor contained. If you are brave enough to turn traction control off, you’ll enjoy power wheelies in 4th gear! While the 1290 Super Adventure S offers blazing speed on a twisty backroad, it’s also no slouch in the dirt, giving you options if you get curious about any dirt roads you come across. Check out our full review of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S here. Availability: Currently being shipped to US dealers 2019 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R – $18,499 MSRP The 1290 Super Adventure R is KTM’s flagship adventure bike with a dirt focus. It carries all the technology of the S model but gets the same fully-adjustable WP suspension as the 1090 Adventure R with 8.7” of travel. The 1290 Super Adventure S also gets dirt-friendly wire-spoke wheels in an 21”/18” combo, crash bars, factory knobbies, and a shorter windscreen to make it more rugged and capable on tougher trails. While it may be tuned for the dirt, it still has good long-range touring bike with a generous full capacity (6.1 gallons), a smooth 160 HP motor, and cruise control. No changes have been announced for 2019. Availability: Currently being shipped to US dealers
  3. [embedded content] Want to be one of the first to own the 2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT? After unveiling the new machine at the IMS Show in Long Beach, California, and continued interest throughout winter tradeshows, the Italian marquee has launched a website, allowing those who pre-order to be first among recipients when it arrives later this year. The all-new Moto Guzzi adventure bike will be available in two versions, V85 TT, and V85 TT Adventure, with a selection of evocative colors and accessory options. To pre-order, a deposit of $2,000 is required which also gives you a $250 accessory credit. ADVERTISEMENT The V85 TT introduces a new Moto Guzzi engine. Its configuration mirrors that of all Moto Guzzi bikes in production today: an air-cooled transverse 90° V twin with an OHV configuration and two valves per cylinder. Engine capacity is 853cc and boasts an output ratio of almost 100 HP/liter while delivering 80 HP and 59 ft-lbs of torque at 5,000 rpm, with 90% of the torque already available at 3,750 rpm. This is the first Moto Guzzi small block engine that can easily reach 8,000 rpm. This retro-styled Adventure bike may be a rolling piece of artwork but it comes equipped with an array of technology features such as Riding Modes (Road, Rain, Offroad), TFT display, cruise control and the Moto Guzzi Multimedia platform (up-close look at the all-new Moto Guzzi V85 TT here) There’s plenty of distinctive styling features to look at as well, from the cutouts in the back of the front fender to keep air flowing to the motor, to the chrome-rimmed round headlights, the unique side-mounted mono shock, “flying Wing” daytime running light mounted between the headlights, and more. It’s a balanced blend of old-school styling in a modern, functional package. To put down your deposit and pre-order info click here. 2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Adventure Colors: Rosso Kalahari, Giallo Sahara Pricing: USA – $12,990 USD / Canada – $14,990 CAD Availability: USA, May 2019 / Canada, June 2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Adventure in Rosso Kalahari. 2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Colors: Grigio Atacama Pricing: USA – $11,990 USD / Canada – $13,990 CAD Availability: USA, May 2019 / Canada, June 2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT in Grigio Atacama.
  4. [embedded content] Want to be one of the first to own the 2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT? After unveiling the new machine at the IMS Show in Long Beach, California, and continued interest throughout winter tradeshows, the Italian marquee has launched a website, allowing those who pre-order to be first among recipients when it arrives later this year. The all-new Moto Guzzi adventure bike will be available in two versions, V85 TT, and V85 TT Adventure, with a selection of evocative colors and accessory options. To pre-order, a deposit of $2,000 is required which also gives you a $250 accessory credit. ADVERTISEMENT The V85 TT introduces a new Moto Guzzi engine. Its configuration mirrors that of all Moto Guzzi bikes in production today: an air-cooled transverse 90° V twin with an OHV configuration and two valves per cylinder. Engine capacity is 853cc and boasts an output ratio of almost 100 HP/liter while delivering 80 HP and 59 ft-lbs of torque at 5,000 rpm, with 90% of the torque already available at 3,750 rpm. This is the first Moto Guzzi small block engine that can easily reach 8,000 rpm. This retro-styled Adventure bike may be a rolling piece of artwork but it comes equipped with an array of technology features such as Riding Modes (Road, Rain, Offroad), TFT display, cruise control and the Moto Guzzi Multimedia platform (up-close look at the all-new Moto Guzzi V85 TT here) There’s plenty of distinctive styling features to look at as well, from the cutouts in the back of the front fender to keep air flowing to the motor, to the chrome-rimmed round headlights, the unique side-mounted mono shock, “flying Wing” daytime running light mounted between the headlights, and more. It’s a balanced blend of old-school styling in a modern, functional package. To put down your deposit and pre-order info click here. 2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Adventure Colors: Rosso Kalahari, Giallo Sahara Pricing: USA – $12,990 USD / Canada – $14,990 CAD Availability: USA, May 2019 / Canada, June 2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Adventure in Rosso Kalahari. 2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Colors: Grigio Atacama Pricing: USA – $11,990 USD / Canada – $13,990 CAD Availability: USA, May 2019 / Canada, June 2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT in Grigio Atacama.
  5. When it comes to motorcycle camping, it is all too easy to overpack and bring more gear than you really need. It tends to be a constant learning experience to figure what is essential and what can be left behind. One item that may not be essential, but can make the camping experience much more enjoyable, is a camp chair. After a long day on the bike, a comfortable camp chair is nice for relaxing by a campfire and helps you recover for the next day of riding. Lightweight backpacking chairs have been around forever, and you can find them in various sizes from a variety of different manufacturers. Typically, the lighter and smaller they are, the more expensive. As motorcyclists, we don’t necessarily need the lightest backpacking gear. What we do need is something that will pack down small, won’t be too heavy, and durability is a nice bonus as well. Tusk, a Rocky Mountain ATV/MC house brand, has recently released two new motorcycle camping chairs with similar features to other backpacking style chairs but at a more affordable price. [embedded content] ADVERTISEMENT Tusk compact camp chairs come in two sizes – Medium and Large. We got a chance to take the Medium on a couple camping trips to see how it compares with similar designs. I’m one of those people that doesn’t mind the extra weight and bulk of carrying a comfortable, compact backpacking chair on motorcycle trips. The last thing I want to do after a long day is sit on a uncomfortable rock or even worse, having to stand until it’s time to retire for the night. So how does this one match up? Tusk Camp Chair Setup The Tusk camp chair offers sturdy construction with 7065 aluminum tubing and 600 Denier reinforced fabric. The Tusk Camp Chair comes with a storage bag that has webbing loops on the ends for carrying and a strip of webbing along the length of the bag that allows you to strap it onto your luggage. At 14 inches long when packed, it fits in most panniers or tail bags. Once you take the chair out of the storage bag, you unroll the fabric and expose the frame tubing. The frame is made out of 7065 Aluminum tubing and snaps together easily with the help of shock cord through plastic junctions. Once the frame is assembled, the seat fabric can be mounted on it. The seat is made of a 600D reinforced Oxford cloth with mesh sections and pockets at each corner that slip over the frame. The entire chair takes less than a minute to assemble and disassembly and packing takes about the same amount of time. Tusk’s camp chair has a reasonable seat h and the drink holder is a nice convenience. How It Performed Once set up, the Tusk Camp Chair offers a comfortable and stable place to sit. One thing that you will notice right away is that this chair sits low to the ground. You sit around eleven inches off the ground, which is a good h for relaxing but it can be a little difficult to get back out of. If you are taller than average or maybe not as limber as you used to be, you may want to consider the Large version with a taller seat h. Having a camp chair in your kit can make a big difference in comfort, especially when camping in winter-like conditions. The top of the seat goes up to roughly around your shoulder blades and the bottom to about the mid-thigh area. A drink pocket on the right side holds a beverage, snacks or other small items. An additional bonus of the pocket is that it helps you orient the chair when you are assembling it. The mesh sections keep your back from getting sweaty in warm weather as well. One of the unique features of this chair that I really like are the wide plastic feet on the bottom of the legs. These feet help keep you from sinking into softer ground and make the chair more stable and easier to get out of. The ‘Large’ Tusk camp chair offers a taller and roomier perch with a pack size that is 3.5″ longer and 1.5″ wider. Previous to this, I’ve used the REI Co-op Flexlite backpacking chair on my rides – which has a similar design. While the REI chair is a bit lighter (6 ounces less), it is made out of materials that may not hold up as well as those used on the Tusk chair. The REI chair’s pack size is also a bit larger and it costs more than twice the price. Even worse, it doesn’t come with a beer holder! What it really comes down to is how much you value weight savings versus price. Most adventure riders will probably appreciate the extra durability of the heavier Tusk chair and the cost savings. This similarly designed REI backpacking chair (right) may save a few ounces but costs more than twice as much. Who is it for? For those who like to relax and enjoy their camping experience, but still want to pack light and avoid extra bulk. If you aren’t scared away by a few extra ounces and you like to save a few bucks, this might be a nice addition to your moto camping kit. Our Verdict At just 30 bucks, you are getting a compact and comfortable motorcycle camping chair that won’t take up a lot of space or add a lot of weight to your kit. Comfort level is pretty high – it really doesn’t have any pressure points that cause discomfort. The materials and construction are good quality and it should last for a long time. This camp chair is going to weigh a bit more than the typical name brand backpacking models, but unless you are counting ounces there really isn’t a valid reason to spend the extra money. What We Liked ● Compact package that makes it easy to pack. ● Good all-around comfort. ● Costs a lot less than most lightweight backpacking chairs. What Could Be Improved ● Could be a bit lighter. ● A few inches taller seat h might make exiting easier. Tusk Camp Chair Specs (Medium) WEIGHT: 2 lbs MAX LOAD: 260 lbs DIMENSIONS ASSEMBLED 25”x13.25”x 22” DIMENSIONS PACKED: 14”x3.25”x 3.25” PRICE: $29.99 Tusk Camp Chair Specs (Large) WEIGHT: 2.75 lbs MAX LOAD: 330 lbs DIMENSIONS ASSEMBLED 33” x 17.75” x 19” DIMENSIONS PACKED: 17.5” x 4.75” x 4.75” PRICE: $39.99 Shopping Options Photos by Chad Berger and Stephen Gregory Author: Chad Berger He’s a freelance journalist, photographer and tour guide from Wisconsin. Since 2004, Chad has been riding dual sport and adventure bikes all over the Midwest, the Black Hills of South Dakota, Moab, Baja, Alaska and many other places in between. He shares his experiences through the photography, videos and stories he produces from his trips. In 2008, Chad created a 600-mile dual sport route called the Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail (TWAT), which eventually led to his becoming a tour guide for RIDE Adventures.
  6. With its 21” front wheel, capable suspension and sturdy off-road protection, the Royal Enfield Himalayan is ready to get off the beaten path right off the showroom floor. We’ve been riding our Himalayan long-term test bike for nearly a year now and have taken it places we never imagined we would go. As we’ve gotten it through tougher and tougher terrain, our confidence has grown to push its limits even further. From the sand dunes of Nevada to the rock-crawling jeep trails of Big Bear Lake and everything in between — the little Himalayan has proven it’s more than capable of hanging with the big boys. But after putting thousands of hard miles on a $4,500 motorcycle, we were bound to see some chinks in the armor. Pretty much any new adventure bike needs a little help from the aftermarket to prep it for real adventures and the Himalayan is no different. ADVERTISEMENT Here are five items we feel are essential upgrades for anyone that wants to spend significant time riding their Himalayan off-road. All of these upgrades will help improve the bike’s durability, but we were also careful to choose items that would blend well with the classic styling of the Himalayan. 1. Turn Signals EDS Tuff Lites – $140 Whether it be hitting a rock in a tip over or getting kicked when throwing a leg over the bike, stock turn signals typically don’t last very long. The original blinkers on the Himalayan held up well for the first few rides, but then they began to break one by one. A little Duct Tape held them together for awhile but we were in need of a more permanent solution. Looking for a set of turn signals with higher durability, we came across the Tuff Lites from Extreme Dual Sport. It’s a small manufacturer but their off-road blinker design has been around for several years. They feature a flexible base that allows them to bend 90° in any direction and snap back to their original position. Tuff Lites use LEDs so they also draw less wattage from the electrical system. We chose the universal kit and just cut and spliced into original wiring. They worked right out of the box without requiring an additional relay and offer high visibility to fellow motorists. The rounded art-deco design is also a good style fit with the Himalayan. 2. Mirrors Double Take Enduro – $101.00 The original mirrors on the Himalayan are actually not bad for OEM equipment. We took them on a few rides and never broke them. But experience has taught us that OEM mirrors are going to break sooner rather than later, so it’s better to be proactive. DoubleTakes are some of the most popular dual sport mirrors on the market. If anything pushes on them stronger than the wind, two different hinge points allow them to bend out of the way. They can also be adjusted down out of the way in gnarly terrain. We went with a set of the original round Enduro Mirrors for a more stock appearance. The kit includes two mirrors, two long RAM arms, two RAM ball studs, and a single right-side reverse thread adapter (Yamaha Adapter). We had a set of these mirrors laying around that we’ve used on several different bikes through the years. They’ve been through tons of tree branch wacks and countless falls. We don’t want to find out what it would take to break these! 3. Handguards Acerbis Rally Profile – $46.88 Any bike that goes off-road needs a good set of wrap-around handguards. They protect your hands from branches and your levers in a fall. It’s also nice to have a little extra wind protection on the highway for your hands. Unfortunately, the Himalayan doesn’t come with any hand guards. Looking for a set of handguards, we were concerned about retaining the bike’s styling. We didn’t want to just bolt on a set of massive steel-braced moto guards. The Acerbis Rally Profile handguards offer a more subtle, streamlined appearance while still providing function protection. They are a full wrap-around design and are constructed of sturdy polypropylene. They aren’t metal braced but are strong enough to protect the levers in most falls. Their smaller design doesn’t look out of place on the Himalayan either. They are also affordable and come with a mounting kit for ⅞” or 1-⅛” handlebars. 4. Handlebars Mika Metals Hybrid – $109.99 Most parts on the Himalayan are pretty durable and can take a good amount of off-road abuse but the stock ⅞” handlebars are made of soft steel and bend fairly easily. Adding wrap-around handguards can put even more stress on them, and once they bend, it’s almost impossible to get them back to their original position. After bending the bars on a few different occasions, it was time for an upgrade. We wanted strong 1-⅛” bars but didn’t want the additional expense (or modified appearance) of an adaptor kit for the larger bar diameter. So we checked around to see what stronger ⅞” handlebars were available. The Hybrid Bar from Mika Metals is an aluminum fat bar that is ⅞” at the clamp area but flares out to 1-⅛” diameter. They look just like any other tapered handlebars, they are incredibly strong, and no bar clamp adaptor is required. The Hybrid comes with a motocross-style cross bar but it can be removed if you want to retain a stock appearance. If you are not launching off doubles at the MX track, they are plenty strong without it. We also opted for the ‘CR High’ bar bend for roughly the same h as stock but with less sweep for more aggressive enduro ergos. 5. Exhaust GPR Furore Nero – $323.00 The Himalayan has been pretty reliable other than a few loose bolts and rattles, with the exception of the exhaust. Under the consistent stress of rough trail riding we’ve put the bike through, we noticed the stock muffler loosening from time to time. The exhaust system has only one attachment point at the silencer and another at motor’s exhaust port, so there isn’t a lot of support. Periodically, we would need to re-adjust and re-tighten the silencer to stop it from wiggling around. But eventually, that constant movement weakened the silencer hanger bracket. After thousands of miles of hard riding, we had our first failure on the Himalayan when the welds on the bracket gave way. We haven’t seen a pattern of complaints about this from other Himalayan riders online, but it is something we’d like to see Royal Enfield address. Instead of going back to the stock exhaust, we looked for something lighter that would reduce stress on the system. GPR makes a nice slip-on muffler for the Himalayan that is quiet and weighs roughly half as much as the OEM unit. It’s handmade and Tig welded in Italy and features a removable dB killer. We opted for the satin black finish for an understated appearance, but they offer several different styles and colors to choose from. It sounds about as quiet as stock, and with the dB killer removed it has a nice growl. We can’t confirm if there’s any horsepower gain but it feels a little peppier. Any power boost is welcomed on the Himalayan and so far it’s holding on tight! Other Himalayan Upgrades to Consider Tires: Most riders will think of tires when considering off-road upgrades, but we’ve been riding the Himalayan with the stock Pirelli MT60 tires and have found them to be grippy in most scenarios. They are a 70/30 (street/dirt) dual sport tread, which we typically wouldn’t expect to grip in difficult terrain. But the Himalayan’s lighter weight and tractable power combines for good traction. Only in deep sand were we wanting a little more aggressive tire. A more aggressive tread would be a welcome improvement but we wouldn’t say it’s absolutely necessary unless you are getting into a lot of mud or sand riding. Skid Plate: The stock bash plate has good coverage in the front and underneath, but not much on the sides or for the exhaust. Even so, we put this bike through some serious rocky terrain and only put a few light dings in the header. The skid plate definitely took a beating and got uglied up, but it’s still hanging on tight and continues to protect. A skid plate with more coverage is worth considering for long-term durability in aggressive terrain but you could probably put this upgrade off for awhile. Foot Pegs/Levers: The Himalayan’s foot pegs are decent sized but do sit lower than many adventure bikes, so they tend to clip a lot of rocks. We had several encounters with big rocks that would have snapped off lesser pegs. The Himalayan’s pegs took all those dingers in stride. They show wear and tear but are made of steel so you can bend them back into position with a little cajoling. Same goes for the gear shift and foot brake levers — they’ll bend but won’t snap easily and you can bend them back when they get out of whack. It’s likely to be more cost effective to wear out the OEM units and replace them with factory parts rather than immediately upgrading to expensive billet aluminum aftermarket parts.
  7. With its 21” front wheel, capable suspension and sturdy off-road protection, the Royal Enfield Himalayan is ready to get off the beaten path right off the showroom floor. We’ve been riding our Himalayan long-term test bike for nearly a year now and have taken it places we never imagined we would go. As we’ve gotten it through tougher and tougher terrain, our confidence has grown to push its limits even further. From the sand dunes of Nevada to the rock-crawling jeep trails of Big Bear Lake and everything in between — the little Himalayan has proven it’s more than capable of hanging with the big boys. But after putting thousands of hard miles on a $4,500 motorcycle, we were bound to see some chinks in the armor. Pretty much any new adventure bike needs a little help from the aftermarket to prep it for real adventures and the Himalayan is no different. ADVERTISEMENT Here are five items we feel are essential upgrades for anyone that wants to spend significant time riding their Himalayan off-road. All of these upgrades will help improve the bike’s durability, but we were also careful to choose items that would blend well with the classic styling of the Himalayan. Whether it be hitting a rock in a tip over or getting kicked when throwing a leg over the bike, stock turn signals typically don’t last very long. The original blinkers on the Himalayan held up well for the first few rides, but then they began to break one by one. A little Duct Tape held them together for awhile but we were in need of a more permanent solution. Looking for a set of turn signals with higher durability, we came across the Tuff Lites from Extreme Dual Sport. It’s a small manufacturer but their off-road blinker design has been around for several years. They feature a flexible base that allows them to bend 90° in any direction and snap back to their original position. Tuff Lites use LEDs so they also draw less wattage from the electrical system. We chose the universal kit and just cut and spliced into original wiring. They worked right out of the box without requiring an additional relay and offer high visibility to fellow motorists. The rounded art-deco design is also a good style fit with the Himalayan. The original mirrors on the Himalayan are actually not bad for OEM equipment. We took them on a few rides and never broke them. But experience has taught us that OEM mirrors are going to break sooner rather than later, so it’s better to be proactive. DoubleTakes are some of the most popular dual sport mirrors on the market. If anything pushes on them stronger than the wind, two different hinge points allow them to bend out of the way. They can also be adjusted down out of the way in gnarly terrain. We went with a set of the original round Enduro Mirrors for a more stock appearance. The kit includes two mirrors, two long RAM arms, two RAM ball studs, and a single right-side reverse thread adapter (Yamaha Adapter). We had a set of these mirrors laying around that we’ve used on several different bikes through the years. They’ve been through tons of tree branch wacks and countless falls. We don’t want to find out what it would take to break these! Any bike that goes off-road needs a good set of wrap-around handguards. They protect your hands from branches and your levers in a fall. It’s also nice to have a little extra wind protection on the highway for your hands. Unfortunately, the Himalayan doesn’t come with any hand guards. Looking for a set of handguards, we were concerned about retaining the bike’s styling. We didn’t want to just bolt on a set of massive steel-braced moto guards. The Acerbis Rally Profile handguards offer a more subtle, streamlined appearance while still providing function protection. They are a full wrap-around design and are constructed of sturdy polypropylene. They aren’t metal braced but are strong enough to protect the levers in most falls. Their smaller design doesn’t look out of place on the Himalayan either. They are also affordable and come with a mounting kit for ⅞” or 1-⅛” handlebars. Most parts on the Himalayan are pretty durable and can take a good amount of off-road abuse but the stock ⅞” handlebars are made of soft steel and bend fairly easily. Adding wrap-around handguards can put even more stress on them, and once they bend, it’s almost impossible to get them back to their original position. After bending the bars on a few different occasions, it was time for an upgrade. We wanted strong 1-⅛” bars but didn’t want the additional expense (or modified appearance) of an adaptor kit for the larger bar diameter. So we checked around to see what stronger ⅞” handlebars were available. The Hybrid Bar from Mika Metals is an aluminum fat bar that is ⅞” at the clamp area but flares out to 1-⅛” diameter. They look just like any other tapered handlebars, they are incredibly strong, and no bar clamp adaptor is required. The Hybrid comes with a motocross-style cross bar but it can be removed if you want to retain a stock appearance. If you are not launching off doubles at the MX track, they are plenty strong without it. We also opted for the ‘CR High’ bar bend for roughly the same h as stock but with less sweep for more aggressive enduro ergos. The Himalayan has been pretty reliable other than a few loose bolts and rattles, with the exception of the exhaust. Under the consistent stress of rough trail riding we’ve put the bike through, we noticed the stock muffler loosening from time to time. The exhaust system has only one attachment point at the silencer and another at motor’s exhaust port, so there isn’t a lot of support. Periodically, we would need to re-adjust and re-tighten the silencer to stop it from wiggling around. But eventually, that constant movement weakened the silencer hanger bracket. After thousands of miles of hard riding, we had our first failure on the Himalayan when the welds on the bracket gave way. We haven’t seen a pattern of complaints about this from other Himalayan riders online, but it is something we’d like to see Royal Enfield address. Instead of going back to the stock exhaust, we looked for something lighter that would reduce stress on the system. GPR makes a nice slip-on muffler for the Himalayan that is quiet and weighs roughly half as much as the OEM unit. It’s handmade and Tig welded in Italy and features a removable dB killer. We opted for the satin black finish for an understated appearance, but they offer several different styles and colors to choose from. It sounds about as quiet as stock, and with the dB killer removed it has a nice growl. We can’t confirm if there’s any horsepower gain but it feels a little peppier. Any power boost is welcomed on the Himalayan and so far it’s holding on tight! Other Himalayan Upgrades to Consider Tires: Most riders will think of tires when considering off-road upgrades, but we’ve been riding the Himalayan with the stock Pirelli MT60 tires and have found them to be grippy in most scenarios. They are a 70/30 (street/dirt) dual sport tread, which we typically wouldn’t expect to grip in difficult terrain. But the Himalayan’s lighter weight and tractable power combines for good traction. Only in deep sand were we wanting a little more aggressive tire. A more aggressive tread would be a welcome improvement but we wouldn’t say it’s absolutely necessary unless you are getting into a lot of mud or sand riding. Skid Plate: The stock bash plate has good coverage in the front and underneath, but not much on the sides or for the exhaust. Even so, we put this bike through some serious rocky terrain and only put a few light dings in the header. The skid plate definitely took a beating and got uglied up, but it’s still hanging on tight and continues to protect. A skid plate with more coverage is worth considering for long-term durability in aggressive terrain but you could probably put this upgrade off for awhile. Foot Pegs/Levers: The Himalayan’s foot pegs are decent sized but do sit lower than many adventure bikes, so they tend to clip a lot of rocks. We had several encounters with big rocks that would have snapped off lesser pegs. The Himalayan’s pegs took all those dingers in stride. They show wear and tear but are made of steel so you can bend them back into position with a little cajoling. Same goes for the gear shift and foot brake levers — they’ll bend but won’t snap easily and you can bend them back when they get out of whack. It’s likely to be more cost effective to wear out the OEM units and replace them with factory parts rather than immediately upgrading to expensive billet aluminum aftermarket parts.
  8. With its 21” front wheel, capable suspension and sturdy off-road protection, the Royal Enfield Himalayan is ready to get off the beaten path right off the showroom floor. We’ve been riding our Himalayan long-term test bike for nearly a year now and have taken it places we never imagined we would go. As we’ve gotten it through tougher and tougher terrain, our confidence has grown to push its limits even further. From the sand dunes of Nevada to the rock-crawling jeep trails of Big Bear Lake and everything in between — the little Himalayan has proven it’s more than capable of hanging with the big boys. But after putting thousands of hard miles on a $4,500 motorcycle, we were bound to see some chinks in the armor. Pretty much any new adventure bike needs a little help from the aftermarket to prep it for real adventures and the Himalayan is no different. ADVERTISEMENT Here are five items we feel are essential upgrades for anyone that wants to spend significant time riding their Himalayan off-road. All of these upgrades will help improve the bike’s durability, but we were also careful to choose items that would blend well with the classic styling of the Himalayan. Whether it be hitting a rock in a tip over or getting kicked when throwing a leg over the bike, stock turn signals typically don’t last very long. The original blinkers on the Himalayan held up well for the first few rides, but then they began to break one by one. A little Duct Tape held them together for awhile but we were in need of a more permanent solution. Looking for a set of turn signals with higher durability, we came across the Tuff Lites from Extreme Dual Sport. It’s a small manufacturer but their off-road blinker design has been around for several years. They feature a flexible base that allows them to bend 90° in any direction and snap back to their original position. Tuff Lites use LEDs so they also draw less wattage from the electrical system. We chose the universal kit and just cut and spliced into original wiring. They worked right out of the box without requiring an additional relay and offer high visibility to fellow motorists. The rounded art-deco design is also a good style fit with the Himalayan. The original mirrors on the Himalayan are actually not bad for OEM equipment. We took them on a few rides and never broke them. But experience has taught us that OEM mirrors are going to break sooner rather than later, so it’s better to be proactive. DoubleTakes are some of the most popular dual sport mirrors on the market. If anything pushes on them stronger than the wind, two different hinge points allow them to bend out of the way. They can also be adjusted down out of the way in gnarly terrain. We went with a set of the original round Enduro Mirrors for a more stock appearance. The kit includes two mirrors, two long RAM arms, two RAM ball studs, and a single right-side reverse thread adapter (Yamaha Adapter). We had a set of these mirrors laying around that we’ve used on several different bikes through the years. They’ve been through tons of tree branch wacks and countless falls. We don’t want to find out what it would take to break these! Any bike that goes off-road needs a good set of wrap-around handguards. They protect your hands from branches and your levers in a fall. It’s also nice to have a little extra wind protection on the highway for your hands. Unfortunately, the Himalayan doesn’t come with any hand guards. Looking for a set of handguards, we were concerned about retaining the bike’s styling. We didn’t want to just bolt on a set of massive steel-braced moto guards. The Acerbis Rally Profile handguards offer a more subtle, streamlined appearance while still providing function protection. They are a full wrap-around design and are constructed of sturdy polypropylene. They aren’t metal braced but are strong enough to protect the levers in most falls. Their smaller design doesn’t look out of place on the Himalayan either. They are also affordable and come with a mounting kit for ⅞” or 1-⅛” handlebars. Most parts on the Himalayan are pretty durable and can take a good amount of off-road abuse but the stock ⅞” handlebars are made of soft steel and bend fairly easily. Adding wrap-around handguards can put even more stress on them, and once they bend, it’s almost impossible to get them back to their original position. After bending the bars on a few different occasions, it was time for an upgrade. We wanted strong 1-⅛” bars but didn’t want the additional expense (or modified appearance) of an adaptor kit for the larger bar diameter. So we checked around to see what stronger ⅞” handlebars were available. The Hybrid Bar from Mika Metals is an aluminum fat bar that is ⅞” at the clamp area but flares out to 1-⅛” diameter. They look just like any other tapered handlebars, they are incredibly strong, and no bar clamp adaptor is required. The Hybrid comes with a motocross-style cross bar but it can be removed if you want to retain a stock appearance. If you are not launching off doubles at the MX track, they are plenty strong without it. We also opted for the ‘CR High’ bar bend for roughly the same h as stock but with less sweep for more aggressive enduro ergos. The Himalayan has been pretty reliable other than a few loose bolts and rattles, with the exception of the exhaust. Under the consistent stress of rough trail riding we’ve put the bike through, we noticed the stock muffler loosening from time to time. The exhaust system has only one attachment point at the silencer and another at motor’s exhaust port, so there isn’t a lot of support. Periodically, we would need to re-adjust and re-tighten the silencer to stop it from wiggling around. But eventually, that constant movement weakened the silencer hanger bracket. After thousands of miles of hard riding, we had our first failure on the Himalayan when the welds on the bracket gave way. We haven’t seen a pattern of complaints about this from other Himalayan riders online, but it is something we’d like to see Royal Enfield address. Instead of going back to the stock exhaust, we looked for something lighter that would reduce stress on the system. GPR makes a nice slip-on muffler for the Himalayan that is quiet and weighs roughly half as much as the OEM unit. It’s handmade and Tig welded in Italy and features a removable dB killer. We opted for the satin black finish for an understated appearance, but they offer several different styles and colors to choose from. It sounds about as quiet as stock, and with the dB killer removed it has a nice growl. We can’t confirm if there’s any horsepower gain but it feels a little peppier. Any power boost is welcomed on the Himalayan and so far it’s holding on tight! Other Himalayan Upgrades to Consider Tires: Most riders will think of tires when considering off-road upgrades, but we’ve been riding the Himalayan with the stock Pirelli MT60 tires and have found them to be grippy in most scenarios. They are a 70/30 (street/dirt) dual sport tread, which we typically wouldn’t expect to grip in difficult terrain. But the Himalayan’s lighter weight and tractable power combines for good traction. Only in deep sand were we wanting a little more aggressive tire. A more aggressive tread would be a welcome improvement but we wouldn’t say it’s absolutely necessary unless you are getting into a lot of mud or sand riding. Skid Plate: The stock bash plate has good coverage in the front and underneath, but not much on the sides or for the exhaust. Even so, we put this bike through some serious rocky terrain and only put a few light dings in the header. The skid plate definitely took a beating and got uglied up, but it’s still hanging on tight and continues to protect. A skid plate with more coverage is worth considering for long-term durability in aggressive terrain but you could probably put this upgrade off for awhile. Foot Pegs/Levers: The Himalayan’s foot pegs are decent sized but do sit lower than many adventure bikes, so they tend to clip a lot of rocks. We had several encounters with big rocks that would have snapped off lesser pegs. The Himalayan’s pegs took all those dingers in stride. They show wear and tear but are made of steel so you can bend them back into position with a little cajoling. Same goes for the gear shift and foot brake levers — they’ll bend but won’t snap easily and you can bend them back when they get out of whack. It’s likely to be more cost effective to wear out the OEM units and replace them with factory parts rather than immediately upgrading to expensive billet aluminum aftermarket parts.
  9. When the first modern Triumph Scrambler was launched in 2006, the new model was one of the most visually striking in the Bonneville lineup. But at 452-pounds dry with just 55 horsepower, performance was a bit sluggish. Some might say disappointing, when you consider the 70s-era Scramblers were pushing 50 horsepower and weighed about 100 pounds less. Off-road capability also wasn’t great with spindly 41mm forks, a 19”/17” wheel combo, and suspension travel in the 4 inch range. Nevertheless, it was a hit and a new modern Scrambler category was jump started. ADVERTISEMENT Fast forward a dozen years and fans of Scramblers have been longing for a more capable machine that still retains a classic look. After more than three years of development, Triumph has delivered on a completely new Scrambler 1200 with more power, cutting-edge technology and real off-road suspension. As one of the biggest surprise announcements of 2018, we were eager to get our first test and finally got it last week at the press intro in Portugal. So let’s take a look. A True Modern Classic The all-new Triumph Scrambler 1200 has all the markings of a traditional Scrambler — the long bench seat, round headlight, high pipes, twin shocks, and engine cooling fins. Yet it’s packed with modern tech such as ride modes, ride-by-wire, LED lighting, cruise control, full-color TFT display, beefy front forks, and large twin 320mm floating front discs. The powerplant is also completely modern, sporting a 1200cc parallel twin with 8 valves and a 270° crank that produces a formidable sound from its twin pipes. The Scrambler 1200 motor is water cooled, despite its faux cooling fins, and it’s mated to a 6-speed transmission. The SOHC engine is tuned for low-end grunt, producing 89 horsepower and 81 ft-lbs of torque, with a torque curve that is as flat as Florida. Two Scrambler 1200 Versions: XC and XE The XC (right) is the standard ‘all-road’ version, whereas the XE is the ‘extreme’ version with more off-road capability and higher-spec components. Triumph Scrambler 1200s come in two flavors, the XC and XE. The XC is the standard ‘all-road” model, whereas the XE is the ‘extreme’ version with more off-road capability and higher-spec components. While the XC may be the base model, that doesn’t mean it isn’t fully loaded as well. To start, the XC has an Ohlins rear suspension and Showa front fork sporting 7.9 inches of travel, and it’s fully adjustable at both ends. It also gets a full-color TFT display, Brembo brakes, 21”/17” cross-spoke tubeless wheels, 1-⅛” fat bars, USB charging ports, keyless ignition, cruise control, 45mm forks, along with ABS, Traction Control, 5 ride modes, and LED lighting all around. Twin 320mm discs with Brembo M50 monoblock calipers bring superbike braking to this modern classic. The Scrambler 1200 XE takes it to the next level with 2 inches more suspension travel (9.8 inches), an Off-Road Pro rider mode, lean-angle sensitive ABS and Traction control, 1-inch bar risers, wider bars, gold 47mm forks, Brembo MCS brake levers, an adjustable foot brake pedal, heated grips, full wraparound aluminum-braced hand guards, a longer swing arm, and a slightly increased steering head rake. First Look The Scrambler 1200 gets Daytime Running Light, Low Beam and High Beam settings on its LED headlight. Whichever flavor you pick, both models tastefully blend modern tech with classic styling in a way that you might not even notice at first glance. Triumph has done an impressive job of being minimalistic and hiding technology so that the Scrambler 1200 retains a vintage look. The fit and finish are also top notch with alluring paint schemes, a variety of brushed aluminum parts, a rib-stitched bench seat, and beautifully-curved exhaust pipes. Seat hs are on the high side at 33.1 inches for the XC and 34.2 inches for the XE. Although at around 450 pounds dry, it weighs less than most 1200cc ADV Bikes. Riding at slower speeds, the weight and bulk of the bike is noticeable but it does carry the mass low. As far as the ergos, the long, flat, cushy seat makes it easy to slide forward or back to adjust your position on the seat. The XC handlebars feel about right for an off-road bike, with the XE putting the bars higher and wider for a more commanding off-road position. Footpegs are wide and grippy with the rubbers removed, although the airbox on the left side and the exhaust pipes on the right bow your legs out more than usual and gives the bike a wide feel. Firing up the motor, the Scrambler 1200 makes an ear-pleasing sound at idle. The 1200cc parallel twin with 270° crank sounds almost harley-esque at certain RPMs. Fueling is very refined but the initial burst of torque does take some getting used to. Luckily, the motor is very tractable so you don’t have to worry too much about spinning the tire unintentionally on most surfaces. And with the traction control on, you’ve got an extra safety net. VIDEO: Quick close-up look at the Triumph Scrambler 1200 with the optional high fender and sound sample of the 8 valve parallel-twin engine with 270° crank. Acceleration isn’t that dramatic compared to most modern 1200cc Adventure Bikes but it’s deceptively fast. Crack the throttle at 3,000 RPM and you’ve got full power instantly. It’s great for passing a line of cars and there’s no need to wait for the engine to spool up. The sound it makes with its 270° crank is also half the fun! But with only a 7,000 RPM redline, you do feel left wanting a little more on top. While it may not be as racy as an R1200GS or KTM 1290 Adventure, the power delivery works well for both off-road and cruising on the street. Controls and Ride Modes This minimalistic TFT display handles everything from rider modes to cruise control, even turn-by-turn navigation and remote control of your GoPro. The TFT and thumb controls are easy to get acquainted with if you are already familiar with Triumph’s Tiger line. It has all the same gizmos as the Tiger 1200 but they’ve managed to fit it all into a much smaller display that doesn’t detract from its classic appearance. The TFT also works great in direct sunlight. And with a few intuitive clicks of the thumb controls, you can switch ride modes, turn off traction control universally, cycle through High/Low/DRL lighting, adjust heated grips (XE only), or activate cruise control. Triumph is also working on adding in a few months Google Maps Turn-by-Turn navigation and GoPro integration to the display. Six Ride Modes are available: Sport, Rain, Road, Rider, Off-Road, and Off-Road Pro (XE only). Road mode is your average rider mode for the daily commute and cruising with a smooth fuel map and standard TC. Rain takes the power delivery down a notch and increases TC/ABS intervention. Sport gives you snappy throttle response and a little less TC, while Off-Road mode is optimized for smooth throttle inputs, allowing a little rear wheel spin, and rear ABS is disabled. With the XE’s Off-Road Pro, you get traction control and ABS completely off for high-performance riding in the dirt. On the XE, you also get an IMU that constantly measures acceleration, yaw, roll and pitch to determine more precise levels of TC and ABS – a great confidence boost on the slick, wet roads of Portugal. One thing that’s not so great for 2019 is that you can no longer disable ABS universally (due to liability concerns) across all rider modes. Rear ABS is disabled in “Off-Road” mode, and both front and rear are disabled in “Off-Road Pro” mode, but you can’t disable ABS in any of the other modes. Even the custom configurable “Rider” mode won’t allow you to turn ABS off, which was a disappointment. In The Dirt Our first day in Portugal, we started our ride at a local off-road park. We spent the day sessioning everything from dirt track, to motocross, with a few loops on dirt roads exploring the surrounding countryside. Recent rains made for slightly muddy conditions but traction was good and no dust. Starting out on the XE model, it has a very stable feel and it’s able to cut through the chop without getting unsettled. The suspension utilizes progressive springs for a plush feel over the small stuff, yet it’s got plenty of spring to hold up the suspension through bigger bumps. Dive and squat were hardly noticed under acceleration and braking, which was a surprise for a bike with 9.8 inches of suspension travel. Only the Honda Africa Twin L2 bests the XE’s suspension travel numbers in the ADV category with 9.9 inches in the front. But the Scrambler XE has .7 inches more suspension travel than the L2 in the rear. The Triumph’s suspension has a more composed feel than the L2 as well. The only time the XE bottomed out was on the Motocross track when jumping and landing on flat ground from a h of several feet. Just the fork bottomed, but it was unexpected considering the big suspension travel numbers. Potentially, this could be alleviated with some adjustment in the fork settings. Out on the dirt roads, I pointed the Scrambler toward every hole and rut I could find to see how well the suspension worked. On these moderate trails, the XE’s suspension never seemed fazed and the bike felt very stable at speed with its longer wheelbase and rake. On slower speed technical terrain, it feels a little less confidence inspiring. You notice the weight most in tighter turns and the front wheel input feels a little vague. Turning radius is also not great when you need to do a u-turn on the trail. Where Scrambler 1200 XE feels most fun to ride is when you sit down and get your leg out riding dirt track style through fast flowing s-turns. It still works great riding in the stand up position, but with a flat seat and low tank, it feels better as a sit-down bike than your average adventure touring bike with a long tank and scooped out seat. While the twin Brembo Monoblocks may seem like overkill for the dirt, they offer excellent feel off-road and one-finger stopping power. The MCS brake lever also has adjustability to customize the braking force. Just be careful not to grab a handful of brake with front ABS disabled in Off-Road Pro mode or you’ll be eating a dirt sandwich. The Scrambler’s ergos are friendly for sit-down, dirt track-style riding. Switching over to the XC, what stood out was how close it felt in performance compared to the XE. However, we didn’t ride any gnarly terrain, so it was hard to get the XE into situations where you could fully explore its capability. I’d suspect you would have more separation between the two models on rougher trails, where the XE’s increased bump absorption and higher ground clearance are an advantage. When the trail did get fairly bumpy, you could feel the XC running through its suspension travel sooner than the XE and it was bounced around a little more. Even so, the XC’s shorter wheelbase and lower suspension gave it a slight advantage in maneuverability in tighter turns than the XE. It’s clearly a competent off-road bike and more than capable of going places an experienced adventure rider might want to go. On the Street Day two greeted us with rain in the morning. Riding through town on slick cobblestone streets was our first challenge of the day. We were soon riding through twisty mountain roads and it wasn’t long before one rider went down on a slick spot — not the only incident of the day either. Before the press launch, I wondered how the bulbous metal tank would hold up in a fall. After assessing the damage, the tank looked unscathed and the hand guards also held up well. A loose exhaust heat shield was the only visually noticeable damage. After riding with it locked in rain mode for some time on wet Portuguese roads, I gained enough confidence to try switching TC and ABS off, just to see how well the bike would grip without intervention. The traction still felt good under acceleration and braking. The smooth fueling and tractable low-RPM motor clearly helped keep the bike stuck to the ground. Even so, I was happy to end my experiment at the next stop. A tractable motor, excellent braking feel and ‘Rain Mode’ all helped the Scrambler hook up well on the slick wet asphalt roads of Portugal. After lunch, the skies began to clear and we upped our pace significantly behind our lead rider Joe – a current Isle of Man TT racer. I was surprised how easily the Scrambler 1200 could turn sporty. The Metzeler Tourance tires offered excellent grip and it wasn’t easy to break loose the rear tire with TC disabled on dry pavement. On the other hand, we tested the factory optional Pirelli Scorpion Rallys (50/50 dual sport knobbies) on pavement for a short stint, and the tires were a little scary when on edge. With its tall suspension, the XE doesn’t scrape pegs until you are really pushing it. The lower XC touches down pegs sooner and requires a bit more hanging off the bike for aggressive riding in the twisties. Neither bike felt sport bike flickable in the turns but both were a lot of fun and surprisingly competent on asphalt considering the 21” front wheel and enduro bike ergos. Traveling The biggest weakness for the Triumph Scrambler 1200 is its long-distance travel capability. With no windscreen, you get blasted by wind from chest to head at 65 mph. A fly screen is available as a factory option but it is so tiny that it doesn’t look like it will do much. Having cruise control on a bike like this seems a little unnecessary, but if a decent screen can be attached, it will be a nice touch. Speaking of nice touches, the heated grips were definitely appreciated on our cold wet ride. Also, the big bench seat was comfy during our two days in the saddle. What’s missing in this picture? We hope the aftermarket comes up with a functional windscreen that doesn’t detract from the look of the Scrambler. Luggage is another big question mark. With the high right-side exhaust, fitting any type of saddle bags over it is probably unlikely. Triumph offers an optional left-side saddle bag but it’s only 30 liters. An optional top rack is available that would make it possible to add a top bag, but you’ll probably still be limited on storage capacity for camping. Finding a luggage system that offers enough room for real overland travel, that doesn’t detract from the look of the bike, will be a challenge. Fuel range is another consideration for true Adventure riding. With only 4.2 gallons of capacity and a 48 mpg average consumption, range for heavy handed riders will be well under 200 miles. For those using the Scrambler for commuting, heat coming off the pipe’s catalytic converter right next to your leg could be a nuisance. Although, if you live in a cold climate, it could be a bonus. Look to the aftermarket to fill these gaps. The optional left-side pannier offers 30 liters of capacity for traveling. The Bottom Line Triumph has built a Scrambler that finally offers as much go as it does show. It’s an athletic, versatile, muscular machine that is more capable than any Scrambler that’s come before it. Styling hasn’t suffered in the process either, with the Scrambler 1200 offering a perfect blend of classic lines with modern touches. Yet it’s the brutish torque, throaty exhaust note, and refined fit and finish that really make this bike art on wheels. It has crossover potential as an Adventure Bike too, offering more off-road prowess than adventure bikes in the 1200cc category. It didn’t feel quite on par with the Africa Twin or KTM 1090 Adventure R off-road, but it’s definitely in the conversation. However, it does need a little help from the aftermarket to make it a true long-range adventure tourer. The Triumph Scrambler 1200 is the perfect bike for those with an eye on both form and function, and a nostalgia for the ’60s and ’70s — a single motorcycle you can put in the garage that can legitimately do a little bit of everything, and do it in style. Pricing starts at $14,000 for the XC and $15,400 for the XE, with several option packages that make customizing your ride more cost effective. That’s pricey in the Scrambler category, but not so much for the adventure segment. It slots right into that $14k-16k range where bikes like the F850GS, 1090 ADV R and Africa Twin live. When you look at the componentry and level of detail the Scrambler offers, the price tag is no surprise. Stripping off some of the high-end bits (e.g. Brembo, Ohlins, cruise control, TFT, etc.) on the XC to make it a lower-priced version may have been a smarter move, but we’ll see how the market reacts in the coming year. Look for the Scrambler 1200 XE and XC to arrive on US and Canadian showroom floors starting this February. Triumph Scrambler 1200 Specs Engine Type: Liquid-cooled 8-valve, SOHC, parallel twin Displacement: 1200cc Bore & Stroke: 97.6 x 80mm Max. Power Output: 89 HP @ 7400rpm Max. Torque: 81 ft-lbs (110 Nm) @ 3950rpm Compression: 11.0:1 Fuel System: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection Exhaust: Brushed 2-into-2 with brushed aluminum silencers Final Drive: X-ring chain Clutch: Wet, multi-plate assist clutch Gearbox: 6 speed Frame: Tubular steel with aluminum cradles Swingarm: Twin-sided aluminum – XC: 547mm; XE: 579mm Front Wheel: Tubeless 36-spoke 21″ x 2.15″ Rear Wheel: Tubeless 32-spoke 17″ x 4.25″ Front Tire: 90/90-21 Rear Tire: 150/70-17 Front Suspension: Showa fully adjustable USD forks – XC: 45mm, XE: 47mm Rear Suspension: Twin Ohlins fully adjustable piggy-back RSUs Suspension Travel: XC: 7.9″ (200mm); XE: 9.8″ (250mm) Front Brake: Twin 320mm discs, Brembo 4-piston M50 monoblock calipers, radial master cylinder Rear Brake: Single 255mm disc, Brembo 2-piston floating caliper ABS: XC: Switchable Rear; XE: Switchable Front/Rear with cornering ABS Fuel consumption: 48 US mpg (4.9 l/100 km) Length: XC: 89.96″ (2,285mm); XE 91.54″ (2,325mm) Width (Handlebars): XC: 33.07″ (840mm); XE 35.63″ (905mm) Height Without Mirrors XC: 47.24″ (1,200mm); XE 49.27″ (1,250mm) Seat Height Options: XC: 33.07″ (840mm); XE: 34.25″ (870mm) Wheelbase: XC: 60.24″ (1,530mm); XE: 61.81″ (1,570mm) Dry Weight: XC: 452 lbs (205Kg); XE: 456 lbs (207 Kg) Fuel Tank Capacity: 4.2 US Gallons (16L) First Major Service: 10,000 miles Color Options: XC: Jet Black & Matt Black, Khaki Green & Brooklands Green; XE: Fusion White & Brooklands Green, Cobal Blue & Jet Black Pricing USD: XC: $14,000; XE: $15,400 Gear We Used • Helmet: 509 Delta R3 Black Ops • Jacket: REV’IT! Trench GTX • Pants: REV’IT! Globe GTX • Boots: Forma Terra EVO • Gloves: REV’IT! Livengood GTX Photos by Kingdom Creative
  10. When the first modern Triumph Scrambler was launched in 2006, the new model was one of the most visually striking in the Bonneville lineup. But at 452-pounds dry with just 55 horsepower, performance was a bit sluggish. Some might say disappointing, when you consider the 70s-era Scramblers were pushing 50 horsepower and weighed about 100 pounds less. Off-road capability also wasn’t great with spindly 41mm forks, a 19”/17” wheel combo, and suspension travel in the 4 inch range. Nevertheless, it was a hit and a new modern Scrambler category was jump started. ADVERTISEMENT Fast forward a dozen years and fans of Scramblers have been longing for a more capable machine that still retains a classic look. After more than three years of development, Triumph has delivered on a completely new Scrambler 1200 with more power, cutting-edge technology and real off-road suspension. As one of the biggest surprise announcements of 2018, we were eager to get our first test and finally got it last week at the press intro in Portugal. So let’s take a look. A True Modern Classic The all-new Triumph Scrambler 1200 has all the markings of a traditional Scrambler — the long bench seat, round headlight, high pipes, twin shocks, and engine cooling fins. Yet it’s packed with modern tech such as ride modes, ride-by-wire, LED lighting, cruise control, full-color TFT display, beefy front forks, and large twin 320mm floating front discs. The powerplant is also completely modern, sporting a 1200cc parallel twin with 8 valves and a 270° crank that produces a formidable sound from its twin pipes. The Scrambler 1200 motor is water cooled, despite its faux cooling fins, and it’s mated to a 6-speed transmission. The SOHC engine is tuned for low-end grunt, producing 89 horsepower and 81 ft-lbs of torque, with a torque curve that is as flat as Florida. Two Scrambler 1200 Versions: XC and XE The XC (right) is the standard ‘all-road’ version, whereas the XE is the ‘extreme’ version with more off-road capability and higher-spec components. Triumph Scrambler 1200s come in two flavors, the XC and XE. The XC is the standard ‘all-road” model, whereas the XE is the ‘extreme’ version with more off-road capability and higher-spec components. While the XC may be the base model, that doesn’t mean it isn’t fully loaded as well. To start, the XC has an Ohlins rear suspension and Showa front fork sporting 7.9 inches of travel, and it’s fully adjustable at both ends. It also gets a full-color TFT display, Brembo brakes, 21”/17” cross-spoke tubeless wheels, 1-⅛” fat bars, USB charging ports, keyless ignition, cruise control, 45mm forks, along with ABS, Traction Control, 5 ride modes, and LED lighting all around. Twin 320mm discs with Brembo M50 monoblock calipers bring superbike braking to this modern classic. The Scrambler 1200 XE takes it to the next level with 2 inches more suspension travel (9.8 inches), an Off-Road Pro rider mode, lean-angle sensitive ABS and Traction control, 1-inch bar risers, wider bars, gold 47mm forks, Brembo MCS brake levers, an adjustable foot brake pedal, heated grips, full wraparound aluminum-braced hand guards, a longer swing arm, and a slightly increased steering head rake. First Look The Scrambler 1200 gets Daytime Running Light, Low Beam and High Beam settings on its LED headlight. Whichever flavor you pick, both models tastefully blend modern tech with classic styling in a way that you might not even notice at first glance. Triumph has done an impressive job of being minimalistic and hiding technology so that the Scrambler 1200 retains a vintage look. The fit and finish are also top notch with alluring paint schemes, a variety of brushed aluminum parts, a rib-stitched bench seat, and beautifully-curved exhaust pipes. Seat hs are on the high side at 33.1 inches for the XC and 34.2 inches for the XE. Although at around 450 pounds dry, it weighs less than most 1200cc ADV Bikes. Riding at slower speeds, the weight and bulk of the bike is noticeable but it does carry the mass low. As far as the ergos, the long, flat, cushy seat makes it easy to slide forward or back to adjust your position on the seat. The XC handlebars feel about right for an off-road bike, with the XE putting the bars higher and wider for a more commanding off-road position. Footpegs are wide and grippy with the rubbers removed, although the airbox on the left side and the exhaust pipes on the right bow your legs out more than usual and gives the bike a wide feel. Firing up the motor, the Scrambler 1200 makes an ear-pleasing sound at idle. The 1200cc parallel twin with 270° crank sounds almost harley-esque at certain RPMs. Fueling is very refined but the initial burst of torque does take some getting used to. Luckily, the motor is very tractable so you don’t have to worry too much about spinning the tire unintentionally on most surfaces. And with the traction control on, you’ve got an extra safety net. VIDEO: Quick close-up look at the Triumph Scrambler 1200 with the optional high fender and sound sample of the 8 valve parallel-twin engine with 270° crank. Acceleration isn’t that dramatic compared to most modern 1200cc Adventure Bikes but it’s deceptively fast. Crack the throttle at 3,000 RPM and you’ve got full power instantly. It’s great for passing a line of cars and there’s no need to wait for the engine to spool up. The sound it makes with its 270° crank is also half the fun! But with only a 7,000 RPM redline, you do feel left wanting a little more on top. While it may not be as racy as an R1200GS or KTM 1290 Adventure, the power delivery works well for both off-road and cruising on the street. Controls and Ride Modes This minimalistic TFT display handles everything from rider modes to cruise control, even turn-by-turn navigation and remote control of your GoPro. The TFT and thumb controls are easy to get acquainted with if you are already familiar with Triumph’s Tiger line. It has all the same gizmos as the Tiger 1200 but they’ve managed to fit it all into a much smaller display that doesn’t detract from its classic appearance. The TFT also works great in direct sunlight. And with a few intuitive clicks of the thumb controls, you can switch ride modes, turn off traction control universally, cycle through High/Low/DRL lighting, adjust heated grips (XE only), or activate cruise control. Triumph is also working on adding in a few months Google Maps Turn-by-Turn navigation and GoPro integration to the display. Six Ride Modes are available: Sport, Rain, Road, Rider, Off-Road, and Off-Road Pro (XE only). Road mode is your average rider mode for the daily commute and cruising with a smooth fuel map and standard TC. Rain takes the power delivery down a notch and increases TC/ABS intervention. Sport gives you snappy throttle response and a little less TC, while Off-Road mode is optimized for smooth throttle inputs, allowing a little rear wheel spin, and rear ABS is disabled. With the XE’s Off-Road Pro, you get traction control and ABS completely off for high-performance riding in the dirt. On the XE, you also get an IMU that constantly measures acceleration, yaw, roll and pitch to determine more precise levels of TC and ABS – a great confidence boost on the slick, wet roads of Portugal. One thing that’s not so great for 2019 is that you can no longer disable ABS universally (due to liability concerns) across all rider modes. Rear ABS is disabled in “Off-Road” mode, and both front and rear are disabled in “Off-Road Pro” mode, but you can’t disable ABS in any of the other modes. Even the custom configurable “Rider” mode won’t allow you to turn ABS off, which was a disappointment. In The Dirt Our first day in Portugal, we started our ride at a local off-road park. We spent the day sessioning everything from dirt track, to motocross, with a few loops on dirt roads exploring the surrounding countryside. Recent rains made for slightly muddy conditions but traction was good and no dust. Starting out on the XE model, it has a very stable feel and it’s able to cut through the chop without getting unsettled. The suspension utilizes progressive springs for a plush feel over the small stuff, yet it’s got plenty of spring to hold up the suspension through bigger bumps. Dive and squat were hardly noticed under acceleration and braking, which was a surprise for a bike with 9.8 inches of suspension travel. Only the Honda Africa Twin L2 bests the XE’s suspension travel numbers in the ADV category with 9.9 inches in the front. But the Scrambler XE has .7 inches more suspension travel than the L2 in the rear. The Triumph’s suspension has a more composed feel than the L2 as well. The only time the XE bottomed out was on the Motocross track when jumping and landing on flat ground from a h of several feet. Just the fork bottomed, but it was unexpected considering the big suspension travel numbers. Potentially, this could be alleviated with some adjustment in the fork settings. Out on the dirt roads, I pointed the Scrambler toward every hole and rut I could find to see how well the suspension worked. On these moderate trails, the XE’s suspension never seemed fazed and the bike felt very stable at speed with its longer wheelbase and rake. On slower speed technical terrain, it feels a little less confidence inspiring. You notice the weight most in tighter turns and the front wheel input feels a little vague. Turning radius is also not great when you need to do a u-turn on the trail. Where Scrambler 1200 XE feels most fun to ride is when you sit down and get your leg out riding dirt track style through fast flowing s-turns. It still works great riding in the stand up position, but with a flat seat and low tank, it feels better as a sit-down bike than your average adventure touring bike with a long tank and scooped out seat. While the twin Brembo Monoblocks may seem like overkill for the dirt, they offer excellent feel off-road and one-finger stopping power. The MCS brake lever also has adjustability to customize the braking force. Just be careful not to grab a handful of brake with front ABS disabled in Off-Road Pro mode or you’ll be eating a dirt sandwich. The Scrambler’s ergos are friendly for sit-down, dirt track-style riding. Switching over to the XC, what stood out was how close it felt in performance compared to the XE. However, we didn’t ride any gnarly terrain, so it was hard to get the XE into situations where you could fully explore its capability. I’d suspect you would have more separation between the two models on rougher trails, where the XE’s increased bump absorption and higher ground clearance are an advantage. When the trail did get fairly bumpy, you could feel the XC running through its suspension travel sooner than the XE and it was bounced around a little more. Even so, the XC’s shorter wheelbase and lower suspension gave it a slight advantage in maneuverability in tighter turns than the XE. It’s clearly a competent off-road bike and more than capable of going places an experienced adventure rider might want to go. On the Street Day two greeted us with rain in the morning. Riding through town on slick cobblestone streets was our first challenge of the day. We were soon riding through twisty mountain roads and it wasn’t long before one rider went down on a slick spot — not the only incident of the day either. Before the press launch, I wondered how the bulbous metal tank would hold up in a fall. After assessing the damage, the tank looked unscathed and the hand guards also held up well. A loose exhaust heat shield was the only visually noticeable damage. After riding with it locked in rain mode for some time on wet Portuguese roads, I gained enough confidence to try switching TC and ABS off, just to see how well the bike would grip without intervention. The traction still felt good under acceleration and braking. The smooth fueling and tractable low-RPM motor clearly helped keep the bike stuck to the ground. Even so, I was happy to end my experiment at the next stop. A tractable motor, excellent braking feel and ‘Rain Mode’ all helped the Scrambler hook up well on the slick wet asphalt roads of Portugal. After lunch, the skies began to clear and we upped our pace significantly behind our lead rider Joe – a current Isle of Man TT racer. I was surprised how easily the Scrambler 1200 could turn sporty. The Metzeler Tourance tires offered excellent grip and it wasn’t easy to break loose the rear tire with TC disabled on dry pavement. On the other hand, we tested the factory optional Pirelli Scorpion Rallys (50/50 dual sport knobbies) on pavement for a short stint, and the tires were a little scary when on edge. With its tall suspension, the XE doesn’t scrape pegs until you are really pushing it. The lower XC touches down pegs sooner and requires a bit more hanging off the bike for aggressive riding in the twisties. Neither bike felt sport bike flickable in the turns but both were a lot of fun and surprisingly competent on asphalt considering the 21” front wheel and enduro bike ergos. Traveling The biggest weakness for the Triumph Scrambler 1200 is its long-distance travel capability. With no windscreen, you get blasted by wind from chest to head at 65 mph. A fly screen is available as a factory option but it is so tiny that it doesn’t look like it will do much. Having cruise control on a bike like this seems a little unnecessary, but if a decent screen can be attached, it will be a nice touch. Speaking of nice touches, the heated grips were definitely appreciated on our cold wet ride. Also, the big bench seat was comfy during our two days in the saddle. What’s missing in this picture? We hope the aftermarket comes up with a functional windscreen that doesn’t detract from the look of the Scrambler. Luggage is another big question mark. With the high right-side exhaust, fitting any type of saddle bags over it is probably unlikely. Triumph offers an optional left-side saddle bag but it’s only 30 liters. An optional top rack is available that would make it possible to add a top bag, but you’ll probably still be limited on storage capacity for camping. Finding a luggage system that offers enough room for real overland travel, that doesn’t detract from the look of the bike, will be a challenge. Fuel range is another consideration for true Adventure riding. With only 4.2 gallons of capacity and a 48 mpg average consumption, range for heavy handed riders will be well under 200 miles. For those using the Scrambler for commuting, heat coming off the pipe’s catalytic converter right next to your leg could be a nuisance. Although, if you live in a cold climate, it could be a bonus. Look to the aftermarket to fill these gaps. The optional left-side pannier offers 30 liters of capacity for traveling. The Bottom Line Triumph has built a Scrambler that finally offers as much go as it does show. It’s an athletic, versatile, muscular machine that is more capable than any Scrambler that’s come before it. Styling hasn’t suffered in the process either, with the Scrambler 1200 offering a perfect blend of classic lines with modern touches. Yet it’s the brutish torque, throaty exhaust note, and refined fit and finish that really make this bike art on wheels. It has crossover potential as an Adventure Bike too, offering more off-road prowess than adventure bikes in the 1200cc category. It didn’t feel quite on par with the Africa Twin or KTM 1090 Adventure R off-road, but it’s definitely in the conversation. However, it does need a little help from the aftermarket to make it a true long-range adventure tourer. The Triumph Scrambler 1200 is the perfect bike for those with an eye on both form and function, and a nostalgia for the ’60s and ’70s — a single motorcycle you can put in the garage that can legitimately do a little bit of everything, and do it in style. Pricing starts at $14,000 for the XC and $15,400 for the XE, with several option packages that make customizing your ride more cost effective. That’s pricey in the Scrambler category, but not so much for the adventure segment. It slots right into that $14k-16k range where bikes like the F850GS, 1090 ADV R and Africa Twin live. When you look at the componentry and level of detail the Scrambler offers, the price tag is no surprise. Stripping off some of the high-end bits (e.g. Brembo, Ohlins, cruise control, TFT, etc.) on the XC to make it a lower-priced version may have been a smarter move, but we’ll see how the market reacts in the coming year. Look for the Scrambler 1200 XE and XC to arrive on US and Canadian showroom floors starting this February. Triumph Scrambler 1200 Specs Engine Type: Liquid-cooled 8-valve, SOHC, parallel twin Displacement: 1200cc Bore & Stroke: 97.6 x 80mm Max. Power Output: 89 HP @ 7400rpm Max. Torque: 81 ft-lbs (110 Nm) @ 3950rpm Compression: 11.0:1 Fuel System: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection Exhaust: Brushed 2-into-2 with brushed aluminum silencers Final Drive: X-ring chain Clutch: Wet, multi-plate assist clutch Gearbox: 6 speed Frame: Tubular steel with aluminum cradles Swingarm: Twin-sided aluminum – XC: 547mm; XE: 579mm Front Wheel: Tubeless 36-spoke 21″ x 2.15″ Rear Wheel: Tubeless 32-spoke 17″ x 4.25″ Front Tire: 90/90-21 Rear Tire: 150/70-17 Front Suspension: Showa fully adjustable USD forks – XC: 45mm, XE: 47mm Rear Suspension: Twin Ohlins fully adjustable piggy-back RSUs Suspension Travel: XC: 7.9″ (200mm); XE: 9.8″ (250mm) Front Brake: Twin 320mm discs, Brembo 4-piston M50 monoblock calipers, radial master cylinder Rear Brake: Single 255mm disc, Brembo 2-piston floating caliper ABS: XC: Switchable Rear; XE: Switchable Front/Rear with cornering ABS Fuel consumption: 48 US mpg (4.9 l/100 km) Length: XC: 89.96″ (2,285mm); XE 91.54″ (2,325mm) Width (Handlebars): XC: 33.07″ (840mm); XE 35.63″ (905mm) Height Without Mirrors XC: 47.24″ (1,200mm); XE 49.27″ (1,250mm) Seat Height Options: XC: 33.07″ (840mm); XE: 34.25″ (870mm) Wheelbase: XC: 60.24″ (1,530mm); XE: 61.81″ (1,570mm) Dry Weight: XC: 452 lbs (205Kg); XE: 456 lbs (207 Kg) Fuel Tank Capacity: 4.2 US Gallons (16L) First Major Service: 10,000 miles Color Options: XC: Jet Black & Matt Black, Khaki Green & Brooklands Green; XE: Fusion White & Brooklands Green, Cobal Blue & Jet Black Pricing USD: XC: $14,000; XE: $15,400 Gear We Used • Helmet: 509 Delta R3 Black Ops • Jacket: REV’IT! Trench GTX • Pants: REV’IT! Globe GTX • Boots: Forma Terra EVO • Gloves: REV’IT! Livengood GTX Photos by Kingdom Creative
  11. [embedded content] Backcountry Discovery Routes has announced the release of its ninth route, the Southern California Backcountry Discovery Route South (CABDR-South), a bit earlier than scheduled. The reason? BDR is so stoked about the route they wanted everyone to have access to the GPS tracks immediately so they could put together an epic wintertime ride during the holidays. The CABDR-South is a scenic dual sport route across California, beginning in Yuma, AZ, and finishing in Benton, CA. Created for dual-sport and adventure motorcyclists, this 820-mile south-to-north route uses rugged two-track and remote dirt roads primarily to lead riders through majestic canyons, rocky riverbeds, and sandy washes of California’s famous deserts and national preserves. ADVERTISEMENT On the CABDR-South, you’ll experience quirky desert enclaves and ghost towns, visit historic mines, see ancient petroglyphs and intaglios, dip in healing mineral hot springs, and ride among the unique Joshua trees in the Mojave National preserve. The long-awaited CABDR-South is the first Wintertime BDR, which travels through the arid desert on the Southeastern side of the state, making it ideal for riding during the colder months of the year when the mountains are covered with snow. Most importantly, these tracks showcase the natural beauty of California’s remote wild lands, colorful geography, and unique western history. Butler maps and the expedition documentary DVD for the CABDR-South are still under development and will be made available in the coming weeks. Free GPS tracks and route travel information can be accessed on the BDR website now! The CABDR-South features a 820-mile ride beginning in Yuma, AZ, and finishing in Benton, CA. The route takes riders through majestic canyons, rocky riverbeds, and sandy washes of California’s famous deserts and national preserves. This is the first Wintertime BDR. CABDR-South Movie Tour Meet fellow adventure riders at an inspirational evening of film and adventure! The CABDR-South documentary film first premiered November 16th, 2018 at the Art Theater in Long Beach, California, but you can still catch it at one of several different showings around the country. New dates and locations are being added regularly, so check back to see when a showing is coming to theater or dealership near you! Other Completed Backcountry Discovery Routes • Utah Backcountry Discovery Route • Washington Backcountry Discovery Route • Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route • Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route • Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route • New Mexico Backcountry Discovery Route • Nevada Backcountry Discovery Route • Mid Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route Photos by Ely Wood
  12. Death Valley, California can be one of the most uninhabitable places on earth but also one of the most rewarding. It surprises with its beauty and gives a unique tour through history with no modern context. Geological wonders, ideal winter weather and plenty of oddities make Death Valley a dual sport paradise ripe for exploration. The discovery of gold in California during 1848, brought a title wave of would-be prospectors and hangers-on. However, it wasn’t just a matter of packing up the station wagon and slabbing it to the golden state. This was a treacherous overland journey with no guarantees of survival. Death Valley was stumbled upon and named during one of the countless mishaps in the course of westward migration. ADVERTISEMENT In the fall of 1849, a young man claiming to know a shortcut around the treacherous Sierra Mountains had a hand-sketched map that showed an imaginary route across the desert. The Bennett-Arcan party was one of many that took the bait of this too-good-to-be-true bypass which led to them being stranded in the salt flats just east of the Panamint Range. After nearly a year stuck battling to survive in the inhospitable valley, they managed to escape with only one man succumbing to death. As they finally made their way west over the mountains with the remainder of the party, someone is said to have proclaimed “Goodbye Death Valley,” giving the valley it’s morbid albeit somewhat dramatic name. Over the next hundred years, Death Valley saw many booms and busts associated with mining. Populations as diverse and harsh as the surrounding landscape swelled and dozens of ghost towns now remain to offer a fascinating glimpse into the past. Today the vast majority of Death Valley remains undeveloped, making it entirely possible to have a multi-day adventure with little to no contact with the modern world. Terrain that is spectacularly diverse and challenging, along with unmatched beauty, are all reasons to explore this historically rich area on two wheels. For this Ride Guide, we tirelessly scouted a route that visits many of the best locations in and around Death Valley National Park. We also provide all the information you need to plan your own Adventure Ride, including an interactive map, GPS tracks with top destinations, scenic camp spots and more. You’ll find these points of interest are hard earned but well worth the struggle. 1. The Racetrack Playa When conditions are right, these sailing stones can move up to 5 meters per minute. This 2.8 mile long dry lakebed located in the northwest corner of Death Valley is known for its “sailing stones.” The streaks that these stones leave in the cracked hexagon lakebed give the appearance of a slow motion race, hence the name. The stones (dolomite and syenite) can move up to five meters per minute in fact. But this only occurs under unique conditions when sheets of ice form and then melt in conjunction with light wind. Up until recent years, this was an unproven thesis and phenomenon that had been stumping visitors since the discovery of the lake. This geological wonder is the perfect place to take a break and explore these peculiar rocks just before descending Lippincott pass or right after conquering it. Just north of the Racetrack, you’ll also find Teakettle Junction, which is a quintessential Death Valley photo stop. There is also primitive camping to the south at Homestake Dry Camp. 2. Ubehebe Crater Ubehebe Crater is a half mile across, 770 feet deep and was formed in a hydrovolcanic explosion that is thought to have occurred as recently as 800 years ago. (Photo Courtesy deveynin) Ubehebe Crater, at the northern tip of the Cottonwood Mountains, contrasts with the nearby landscape so much so that it is almost startling. As you approach within a mile of the crater, the soil turns a fine charcoal color giving it a moonscape appearance. This volcanic crater rises abruptly from the desert floor, spanning one-half mile from rim to rim and recessing to 770 feet at its deepest point. Formed between 2,000 and 800 years ago when rising magma turned ground water into steam, pressure built up until it eventually erupted in a massive explosion. The colorful yellow, orange and red walls of the crater we see today consist of limestone, mudstone, and quartzite. Bring a pair of shoes for the 2-mile hike around the rim or to visit the adjacent Little Hebe Crater. Bring a pair of hiking shoes or be prepared to do some trekking in your moto boots if you want to take in the full experience by hiking around the rim or visiting the adjacent Little Hebe Crater. No facilities or camping but certainly worth a visit. 3. Eureka Dunes Riding Eureka Dunes is not allowed, but you are free to hike up to the 680-foot peak. We preferred to leave the dunes undisturbed and enjoy the view from afar. Also part of the Parks 1994 expansion, the Eureka Dunes are a wonder to behold. They qualify as some of the tallest dunes in the country despite only occupying three square miles. Some 680 feet above the surrounding Eureka Valley floor, they appear out of nowhere as you approach and command attention. Before you get too excited, it’s worth noting that no motorized vehicles are permitted on the dunes themselves. Although, excellent primitive and dispersed camping options are available on the north end of the dunes with some facilities (No water). Steele Pass and Dedeckera Canyon lie to the south and promise spirited riding nearly the whole way to or from Saline Springs. If you are disappointed by not being able to ride these particular dunes, the track leading up to/from Steele Pass should quell your desire with plenty of deep, soft sand. 4. Saline Valley Warm Springs Saline Valley is home to natural hot springs and a rich history of ingenuity. Mining activity occurred here from 1874 until the 1930’s. To expedite the transportation of salt over the Inyo mountains, a 14-mile aerial tramway was constructed in 1911. This tram was the steepest ever built in the United States but it proved too costly to operate and its use was discontinued in 1936. Remnants of the tram can still be found in the area. Park your bike and within minutes you can be easing your weary bones in a soothing warm mineral bath. The valley’s natural springs became popular in the 1960s when enthusiasts constructed concrete pools, showers, and outhouses without any approval from the Bureau of Land Management that controlled the land at the time. In 1994, the site officially became part of the National Park and immediately was a thorn in the Park Service’s side. These springs are the only place in any National Park where nudity is permitted even though it is not encouraged. The controversy surrounding the springs also includes a land dispute with the Timbisha Shoshone Native American tribe that was removed from the area in 1933. The tribe takes particular offense to the nudity associated with the springs and has pledged to close them to the public if they ever regain possession of the land. Saline Valley Warm Springs is a true oasis in the middle of a barren desert. Getting there is half the fun! All of this turmoil is the precise reason you should visit this spectacular place right now! There’s no telling how long this little desert oasis will be accessible, especially to off-road vehicles. You can roll in on your bike, drop your kickstand mere feet from a pool, and in minutes be easing your bones in warm, soothing mineral water (nudity not required). Dispersed camping is also plentiful, and the pools are incredible after a long haul or even as a pit stop midway through your day. 5. Minietta Mine You can explore deep inside Minnieta Mine on foot. Best keep your helmet on though! The Minietta Mine and cabin are unique in how well they have been preserved throughout the years. Located in the Argus mountain range, the mine was opened in 1876 and worked in one capacity or another all the way through the 1950’s. Rust acts slowly in the arid desert leaving much of the machinery strewn about in fair condition. Equipment of all kinds can be found from engines to mining tools; there’s even a functional outhouse that probably outdates any visitor that might dare to use it today. A short distance up the canyon from the cabin, you will find open mine shafts, other foundations and slag piles ready to explore. The cabin, initially designated for the mine’s foreman is decorated with a hundred plus years of knick-knacks, historical tidbits, hantavirus, and of course signs of wear. From the front porch, it is possible to see all the way across Panamint Valley and beyond. The inside of Minietta cabin is like a time capsule from the old mining days. Plenty of rough camping spots have been established in the vicinity of the cabin, and one could occupy themselves for days exploring and sifting through relics. Minietta Mine Road leading up to the site is rocky two-track that’s good fun if you and your bike are dialed but, it might not be wise to attempt the approach at the end of a long day or if you doubt your abilities. 6. The Barker Ranch (Charles Manson’s Hideout) Barker Ranch started life as a quiet, secluded mining property only accessible by primitive roads. Initially constructed in the 1940’s by the Thomason family, it was sold to the Barker’s in 1956 who used it for mining and annual vacations. The Barkers expanded the existing house and added outlying structures of which foundations are still visible today. This previously inauspicious ranch gained notoriety when Charles Manson and his “family” members were apprehended here in October 1969. One of his followers was the granddaughter of the only nearby resident and told Manson of the Barker Ranch. It was used as a hideout while Charlie and his lackeys waited for their helter-skelter plot to unfold. Interestingly enough, they were initially taken into custody for vandalizing a National Park’s vehicle, not the mass murder they had just committed. The main house burned in 2009 but it wasn’t completely destroyed. You can still see right where Charles Manson was found hiding under the bathroom sink. The Manson Family home burned down in 2009 but you can still walk in the footsteps of a mad man. Getting to this eerie location via Goler Wash (West) or Mengel Pass (North) is just as enthralling as the ranch itself; Visualize Manson and Co. somehow getting a school bus up there! Manson claimed that the bus was flown in, but other accounts verify that it somehow made it to the ranch under its own power. Baker Ranch is only a short detour off the main track and undoubtedly worth a visit.
  13. WATCH: Maral Yazarloo rode 110,000 km through 64 countries, 40 of those while pregnant, and became the first Iranian woman to openly enter the country on a motorbike without being arrested. The BBC recently published its “100 Women” list, an annual celebration of what the global news outlet feels are the world’s most influential and inspirational women. For the first time a female RTW rider has made the cut: Maral Yazarloo-Pattrick, an Iranian Ph.D. who’s completed a 17-month ride traversing 64 countries and all 7 continents riding solo aboard her densely-packed BMW F650GS. And yeah sure, there is a stack of super-cool women soloing around the globe these days, but what sets Yazarloo-Pattrick apart is her unique position to represent Iranian women in the quest for riding freedoms. While foreign-born women can ride in Iran with little hassle (think Lois Price and Kinga Tanajewska’s outstanding coverage), it turns out Iranian women are not allowed to ride motorcycles in public. But Iranian women very much want to ride, especially because many are allowed to race on closed off-road and road courses, yet risk arrest and/or persecution if they ride on public roads. While this inspiration had been ever-present during her RTW ride it really hit home on the final leg as she became the first Iranian woman to openly enter her own country’s border on a motorcycle without being arrested. She started thinking about all the messages she’d received from Iranian women telling her how lucky she was and decided she would try to make a difference. ADVERTISEMENT Maral started her RTW journey in 2017, riding over 110,000 km by the time she completed her adventure in August 2018. So much happened along the way. For example, when she first set off from India she was just Maral Yazarloo. As she traveled, her long-time boyfriend proposed while visiting her, then flew to Macchu Pichu to get married, never once asking for her to give up her RTW ambition. It turns out one of those visits started a family for the couple and Yazarloo-Pattrick rode pregnant for the last six months of her journey, raising eyebrows and awareness of women’s rights. A baby girl was born shortly after Yazarloo-Pattrick returned home, already a RTW traveler in her own right (40 countries!) with a bright future ahead in a world where – fingers crossed – all women can know the unique freedom of exploring on two-wheels. Yazarloo-Pattrick is currently home in India, where she moved 14 years ago to get her Doctorate. She is elated by her travels and proud that she was able to complete her ambitious RTW journey. “My goal is to support Iranian girls who love riding motorbikes,” says Yazarloo-Pattrick. “I want them to be able to experience the joy of riding.” Author: Jamie Elvidge Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.
  14. For several months, we’ve been testing an all-new luggage solution from Wolfman called the “Unrack System” and it’s finally available to the public. This versatile system is a completely rackless soft luggage setup that lets you customize carrying capacity and styles of bags to suit your needs. It starts with a base harness that is securely mounted onto the bike with three straps (no drilling required), then you can attach different bags to the base in a variety of configurations. Try it with the Wolfman Rollie bags, which come in an array of colors and sizes. No pannier racks are needed and the system provides rock-solid stability on the trail. The Unrack system lets you customize your luggage capacity and configuration to suit your needs. ADVERTISEMENT The Unrack System comes in two sizes to fit nearly any motorcycle. The B-Base is for big adventure bikes and larger dual sports, while the E-Base is for smaller dual sports and dirt bikes with a skinnier profile. Both bases are built tough for off-road travel, utilizing heavy-duty buckles, straps and D-Rings to keep your gear locked down tight in technical terrain. Two different bases are available. The B-Base is for big adventure bikes and larger dual sports, while the E-Base is for smaller dual sports and dirt bikes. With the Unrack base mounted on your bike, you can strap on two Rolie bags as saddle bags and another Rolie or Duffel as a top bag. Rolies are also stackable, so you can add capacity with additional bags, or for shorter trips, you can just run the Unrack System in either saddle bag or tail bag only configurations. Accessorize as needed with a Bottle Holster for fuel or water, a Pitkin Pole Bag for long tent poles, or a Tincup Pocket to keep small items handy. Whether it’s a day ride, traveling hotel to hotel, a multi-day camping trip, or an RTW overland journey, the Unrack System gives you maximum versatility to customize your luggage to your adventures. Limited-Edition ADV Pulse Unrack Luggage Set We have teamed up with Wolfman to offer a sweet deal to ADV Pulse readers. This Limited-Edition ADV Pulse Rolie Luggage Set combines three co-branded Large Rolie Bags in the exclusive sand color along with the new Unrack B-Base. Each bag offers up to 17 liters of capacity (51 liters total), a convenient roll-top closure that seals out dust, water and muck, along with the versatility to adjust to smaller or larger loads. Two-layer protection comes from a durable 1000 Denier Cordura outer shell and a 100% waterproof inner liner. We recently used this same luggage setup during a rugged 5-day expedition scouting out tracks for our Death Valley Ride Guide. The bikes used on the trip were the Royal Enfield Himalayan and a Triumph Tiger 800 XCa, showcasing the versatility of this new luggage system. The Unrack System hauled all our gear and proved its toughness over some of the roughest trails Death Valley has to offer. Right now you can get a special deal on the complete set of three sand-colored Large Rolie Bags plus the Unrack B-Base. Get $40 off when you buy them together as a set or you can buy the limited-edition sand-colored bags individually at the standard price. This is a limited time offer with a limited quantity, so get them while they last! Shopping Options Photos by Spencer Hill and Wolfman Luggage
  15. When it comes to adventure motorcycle luggage, top cases don’t get much attention. Yet they are one of the most convenient and useful luggage accessories you can buy. For starters everything is opened up wide, near eye level, making it easy to find items you need quickly. They are also lockable, so you can safely store a helmet, electronics or other valuables when you leave your bike unattended. And if you combine soft panniers with a top case, you get lockable luggage without the safety concerns many riders have about riding off-road with hard panniers. Hepco & Becker is one of the top brands in hard luggage, known for their strong German engineering and construction. A few years ago, the company overhauled their Xplorer top case to make them even more durable and secure. The latest generation are made of 1.5mm anodized aluminium with impact-absorbing moulded plastic along the edges. They feature a lid with a large opening and eight lash points on top for strapping down extra gear. The lid can also be completely detached for use as a tray. A quick-release mount system and integrated handles make it easy to carry the top box to a hotel room or campsite as well. ADVERTISEMENT The Xplorer top case comes in either black or silver with a 45-liter capacity. We chose this case for the extra carrying capacity and because it can swallow a full-face helmet. With our Kawasaki Versys-X 300 doing double duty as a round town errand getter, it was the perfect accessory for urban jaunts, not to mention its usefulness for our longer adventures. Getting It Installed The Xplorer top case has a sturdy build and looks like a mini safe, but it’s fairly light at 10.35 pounds. Locks are all high-quality and it has a tight rubber seal to keep the elements out. Angular sides and plastic guards ensure that it maintains good structural rigidity in a fall while also giving it a rugged look that doesn’t look out of place on the trail. We mounted the top case using Hepco & Becker’s Easyrack system. The Easyrack has a support bow that holds the top box in place but also folds down flat, out of the way, when not in use. The Easyrack went on in about 10 minutes using just 8 bolts. There is also room for adjustment in the mounting position, allowing you to position the box forward or backward a few inches as desired. Once the rack was installed, the Xplorer top case slides on easily and snaps in place with precision. The Easyrack’s support bow folds down out of the way and six different lash points allow you to strap down a duffel bag or other items. How It Performed We’ve been using the Xplorer top case for several months now and it’s proven to be convenient for running around town picking up parts or food for the office. The top loading box opens from the right side of the bike so that when the bike is on its kickstand, the lid won’t fall closed. While the box doesn’t look huge, it does fit a lot of gear inside with a 45-liter capacity. With a w of 18.5 inches, it will hold longer items like a tent, tripod or camp chair. You can also place longer items diagonally (about 22 inches) if you need additional room. When riding off-road, it’s important to pack heavier items lower on the bike for the best handling characteristics. An overloaded top box can make your bike feel heavier to turn and more tippy in slower technical terrain. We rode with the Alu-case Xplorer top case filled with lighter items (e.g. clothing, sleeping bag, camp food, etc.) and put heavier items in the side bags. This ensured that the additional weight of a top box (compared to duffel bag) was less noticeable. The wide design of the Xplorer top case had us wondering if it might potentially expose the sides of the box to trail damage. But after our first tip over on the trail, we learned the side bags take the brunt of the punishment and there is still plenty of clearance between the top case and the ground. The grab handles also proved useful for picking up the bike after a fall. The grab handles on the top case proved useful for picking up the bike after a fall. Stops during the ride to shed a layer of clothing or switch gloves were made much easier with the convenient top-loading top case. The top opens up wide for easy access to your gear, and you can quickly find what you are looking for without the hassle of loosening and re-tightening straps. We did notice if you try to push the lid open past 90°, it puts pressure on the plastic hinge and could potentially cause damage. If you want the lid out of the way, you can remove it easy enough. Just open it up to its maximum 90°, then give the lid a good yank to detach it completely from the hinge. The latch on the lid allows you to close it without locking it and it snaps down securely so you don’t have to worry about it opening up while you are riding. On one occasion though, we had been riding for about an hour on a rough fire road before we noticed we forgot to close the latch. Even though it was unlatched, the lid never popped open and thankfully no items were lost. Back on pavement, you never notice the box is back there. And at those sketchy gas stations or diners where you can’t watch your bike, a lockable hard box is a much better deterrent for the common thief. Weather was never a concern either with a water-tight rubber seal around the perimeter of the lid. For those times when you are riding without a top case, the Easyrack support bow folds down flat out of the way. With the support bow left up, it offers additional stability for a strapped-on duffel bag. There are also six different strapping points which allow you to use the Easyrack like a traditional top rack. Although, the slots to route straps are rather tight and some heavy-duty straps may not fit through the holes. The Easyrack support bow in the ‘up’ position offers additional stability for a duffel. Who Is It For Adventure riders looking for a sturdy top case for longer journeys and those who want convenient lockable storage for around town. In addition, Two-up riders may find the extra storage capacity useful, and it makes a nice backrest for a passenger with the optional back pad attachment. Our Verdict It’s nice to travel with a safe place to store valuables on your bike. A top case offers more security than a helmet lock, keeping your expensive helmet out of sight, out of mind and out of the rain. If you are simply looking for a secure storage solution, at just under $600 for the box and rack you can potentially save money over a set of hard panniers. The 45-liter box has a good amount of space to carry your gear and its wide shape allows you to fit longer items inside. We really liked having fast access to our gear when pressed for time as well. The 45-liter box may be a little big for tougher trails but it works well for most off-road adventures, as long as you pack right. You can always leave the box at home for those rougher rides. The Xplorer top case held up well during our off-road testing. The latches, locks and mounting hardware all maintained smooth operation even after getting covered in dirt and grime. What We Liked Lockable, waterproof storage for your valuables. Swallows a full-face helmet with room to spare. Quick, convenient access to your gear. What Could Be Improved Larger lash points on lid and rack to fit thicker straps or hooks. Design the lid to open up 180° for greater access. Hepco & Becker Xplorer Top Case Specs COLORS: Black and Silver MATERIALS: Anodised aluminum with plastic siding SIZES: 30 liters, 40 liters and 45 liters DIMENSIONS: 12.2″ (31cm) h x 18.5″ (47cm) w x 14.8″ (37.5cm) depth WEIGHT: 10.35 pounds (4.7kg) PRICE: $380 (Silver 45L); $400 (Black 45L); $191 (Easyrack) Shopping Options:
  16. Who says you can’t race a Harley-Davidson in the Baja 1000? Well, definitely not Carducci, a company well versed in the brand that have decided to take on the rocks, sand, silt and speed of this legendary off-road race on a highly modified 2003 Sportster. As an added thumb in the eye to all the naysayers, they plan to ride their competition bike to and from the race. The bike features a BTR Moto 2-into-1 Custom SST Header with Leo Vince Spark Arrestor Muffler Corbin MX Control Tech Hand Formed Seat. The bike is a Carducci SC3 Gera Baja, and as the pictures show it is a thing of beauty. From the upswept exhaust, to the Ohlins suspension front and rear, to the billet aluminum “truss” style swingarm, to the custom translucent IMS gas tank, to the Trail Tech eight-inch headlight and Baja Designs spotlights, it’s pretty clear this isn’t your dentist’s Harley. In the middle of it all is an air-cooled, 1200cc Harley V-twin pumping out an estimated 100 horsepower and ground-shaking torque. All that said, it weighs in at a rather portly 442 pounds (201 kg) without fuel. That’s 180 or so pounds heavier than a Honda CRF450X, the bike that won this year’s race. And you might have to be a dentist to afford the $100,000 price tag, that is if Carducci were to build any more of them (Carducci is open to building more if demand exists). The SC3 Gera Baja is fitted with a 100 W Trail Tech halogen headlight and Baja Designs aux lights on the crashbars. The Carducci Gera Baja won the People’s Choice award during the UBCBS competition at the Long Beach International Motorcycle Show. Carducci’s bike sports Ohlins suspension with 10 inches of travel front and rear and features a custom built high strength billet aluminum ‘truss’ swingarm. This particular bike is a one-off race version of Carducci Dual Sport’s SC3 Adventure, which itself is an award-winning custom Harley V-twin-based adventure bike first introduced in 2013. The SC3 sells for about $70,000, plus the cost of a donor Sportster, and has received solid reviews from people who’ve had the chance to ride it off road. ADVERTISEMENT The SC3 Gera Baja will be piloted by 2016 Baja Pro Ironman champion Tony Gera, hence the model name. He’ll start his ride in Santa Cruz, California, travel 550 miles south to Ensenada, MX, pre-run the course, run the race, then ride home. And in case you think this is all crazy, keep in mind that it’s been done before. In 1986, a Hollywood stuntman, a television commercial director and a desert-racing veteran teamed up to build a Sportster-based desert sled they dubbed “Harley’s Comet.” They finished fourth in their class. For the ride down to Baja, the SC3 has lights and a plate to make it street legal. The aluminum rear fender will be swapped out with a plastic one for the Baja 1000 race next November. Carducci SC3 Gera Baja Specs Engine: 1,275cc 2003 H-D Sportster Transmission: H-D sportster 5-speed Horsepower: 100 horsepower Frame: 2003 H-D sporster w/mods for 10″ Wheel Travel Front Suspension: Ohlins 10″ vertical travel Rear Suspension: Ohlins Twin Shocks; 10″ vertical Travel Front Wheel: Woodys Excel 1.85″x 21″ rim Rear Wheel: Woodys Excel 3.50″ x 18″ rim Skid Plate: Custom 5052 aluminum Hand Guards: Cycra Ultra Pro-Bend Mirrors: DRC 161 Off-Road Adjustable Mirrors, 10mm Rear Fender: Custom 5052 Aluminum Front Fender: Cycra Cycralite vented Final Drive: RK Racing Gold 530 Chain, 25/56 gearing Exhaust: BTR Moto 2-into-1 Custom SST Header w/ Leo Vince muffler Swingarm: Custom High Strength Billet Aluminum ‘Truss’ Battery: Antigravity Lithium Ion Tires: Motoz Tractionator Desert H/T Front/Rear Brake: Beringer 4-piston axial caliper Wheelbase: 62.5 inches Seat Height: 33 inches Dry Weight: 442 lbs (201 kg) Gas Tank: Custom IMS 5 gallons 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.
  17. Who says you can’t race a Harley-Davidson in the Baja 1000? Well, definitely not Carducci, a company well versed in the brand that have decided to take on the rocks, sand, silt and speed of this legendary off-road race on a highly modified 2003 Sportster. As an added thumb in the eye to all the naysayers, they plan to ride their competition bike to and from the race. The bike features a BTR Moto 2-into-1 Custom SST Header with Leo Vince Spark Arrestor Muffler Corbin MX Control Tech Hand Formed Seat. The bike is a Carducci SC3 Gera Baja, and as the pictures show it is a thing of beauty. From the upswept exhaust, to the Ohlins suspension front and rear, to the billet aluminum “truss” style swingarm, to the custom translucent IMS gas tank, to the Trail Tech eight-inch headlight and Baja Designs spotlights, it’s pretty clear this isn’t your dentist’s Harley. In the middle of it all is an air-cooled, 1200cc Harley V-twin pumping out an estimated 100 horsepower and ground-shaking torque. All that said, it weighs in at a rather portly 442 pounds (201 kg) without fuel. That’s 180 or so pounds heavier than a Honda CRF450X, the bike that won this year’s race. And you might have to be a dentist to afford the $100,000 price tag, that is if Carducci were to build any more of them. The SC3 Gera Baja is fitted with a 100 W Trail Tech halogen headlight and Baja Designs aux lights on the crashbars. The Carducci Gera Baja won the People’s Choice award during the UBCBS competition at the Long Beach International Motorcycle Show. Carducci’s bike sports Ohlins suspension with 10 inches of travel front and rear and features a custom built high strength billet aluminum ‘truss’ swingarm. This particular bike is a one-off race version of Carducci Dual Sport’s SC3 Adventure, which itself is an award-winning custom Harley V-twin-based adventure bike first introduced in 2013. The SC3 sells for about $70,000, plus the cost of a donor Sportster, and has received solid reviews from people who’ve had the chance to ride it off road. ADVERTISEMENT The SC3 Gera Baja will be piloted by 2016 Baja Pro Ironman champion Tony Gera, hence the model name. He’ll start his ride in Santa Cruz, California, travel 550 miles south to Ensenada, MX, pre-run the course, run the race, then ride home. And it case you think this is all crazy, keep in mind that it’s been done before. In 1986, a Hollywood stuntman, a television commercial director and a desert-racing veteran teamed up to build a Sportster-based desert sled they dubbed “Harley’s Comet.” They finished fourth in their class. For the ride down to Baja, the SC3 has lights and a plate to make it street legal. The aluminum rear fender will be swapped out with a plastic one for the Baja 1000 race next November. Carducci SC3 Gera Baja Specs Engine: 1,275cc 2003 H-D Sportster Transmission: H-D sportster 5-speed Horsepower: 100 horsepower Frame: 2003 H-D sporster w/mods for 10″ Wheel Travel Front Suspension: Ohlins 10″ vertical travel Rear Suspension: Ohlins Twin Shocks; 10″ vertical Travel Front Wheel: Woodys Excel 1.85″x 21″ rim Rear Wheel: Woodys Excel 3.50″ x 18″ rim Skid Plate: Custom 5052 aluminum Hand Guards: Cycra Ultra Pro-Bend Mirrors: DRC 161 Off-Road Adjustable Mirrors, 10mm Rear Fender: Custom 5052 Aluminum Front Fender: Cycra Cycralite vented Final Drive: RK Racing Gold 530 Chain, 25/56 gearing Exhaust: BTR Moto 2-into-1 Custom SST Header w/ Leo Vince muffler Swingarm: Custom High Strength Billet Aluminum ‘Truss’ Battery: Antigravity Lithium Ion Tires: Motoz Tractionator Desert H/T Front/Rear Brake: Beringer 4-piston axial caliper Wheelbase: 62.5 inches Seat Height: 33 inches Dry Weight: 442 lbs (201 kg) Gas Tank: Custom IMS 5 gallons 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.
  18. Riders that log significant miles on their adventure bikes know the importance of good adventure riding gear. Waterproof, breathable gear with both abrasion and impact protection are the basic foundation of any good adventure suit. There is no shortage of mid-range suits out there that have the basics covered, so what do you get in a high-end adventure riding suit like the REV’IT! Dominator GTX that warrants the jump in price? Often it’s the small conveniences and creature comforts that separate the high-end suits from the mid-range ones. And when it comes to premium features, few adventure suits come packed with as many as the REV’IT! Dominator GTX. As their flagship ADV suit, REV’IT! designed the Dominator GTX to handle some of the most demanding weather conditions and toughest terrain, without compromising comfort and protection. So we were eager to get our hands on one to see what it’s all about. REV’IT! Dominator GTX Tech ADVERTISEMENT Both the Dominator GTX jacket and pants start with a 3-Layer Gore-Tex Pro shell for the highest level of breathable waterproofing, then CE Level-2 Seeflex molecular armor is added for impact protection. Next REV’IT! Applies heavy-duty Armacor material lined with miniature ceramic beads in high-wear areas of the shell for maximum abrasion protection. The shell also utilizes ‘safety seams’ in its construction to help ensure everything stays together in a fall – basics covered and then some. For cooling, a total of 10 vents on the jacket and four on the pant keep air flowing directly to the body on hot days. Large VCS Aquadefence vent panels located on the chest and thighs flow massive air, while oversized zipper pulls and a magnetic clasp system ensure vents can be opened and closed easily with a gloved hand. What’s more, the shell’s inner lining utilizes Aero Cool 3D mesh material that helps wick moisture away from the body for an added cooling effect. Big VCS Acquadefence panels flow a ton of air and are held open with glove-friendly FidLock magnetic clasps. When closed, a rubber rain gutter ensures a water-tight seal. The Aero Cool 3D Mesh inner lining is soft on the skin and wicks moisture away from the body for an added cooling effect. Seeflex CE Level-2 molecular armor has an asymmetrical design and honeycomb construction for a light and comfortable fit that also breathes well. In addition, the Dominator GTX incorporates features like an expandable rabbit pouch on the back of the jacket where base layers or other items can be stowed away, a detachable kidney belt with a secret stash pocket, an ID Pocket on the forearm, a set of CE Level-1 hip pads, and a convenient ‘Flexisnap’ slide-adjustable collar. While the Dominator is packed with features, it’s also designed to be as form fitting as possible. It has a ‘roomy’ European fit that utilizes stretch Kevlar fabric in the knees, elbows and underarms to help minimize bulk. There are also a large range of pant length sizes (short, regular, long) and strap adjustments on knees and elbows to ensure armor is perfectly placed, and stays in place, during a fall. Even better, pant leg openings have large Velcro panels with a range of adjustment, allowing you to get a snug fit with many different styles of boots (e.g. Touring, ADV, Moto). A removable kidney belt includes a hidden stash pocket for concealing valuables. Ultra-tough Armacor material lined with miniature ceramic beads offer abrasion protection for the elbows, shoulders and knees. An ID pocket is a convenient place to store cash for tolls. Protection, features and fitment are all top notch as you would expect from a high-end suit, but it’s the little things that stand out. First off, the jacket and pant do not have zip-in liners, so there’s no need to stop and rifle through your luggage when the rain starts. Waterproofing is baked into the shell and you can add your own base layers to match the weather conditions. Seeflex armor is also asymmetrical on the knees, elbows and shoulders, giving each joint a precision fit for maximum comfort and minimal bulk. And REV’IT! lined the interior in key areas (collar, elbows and knees) with a soft fleece-like material for plush contact with your skin. First Contact Slipping on the Dominator suit for the first time, it was lighter, sleeker and softer than I expected from a suit with high-end abrasion protection and proper CE Level-2 armor. It already felt pre-broken-in and the Seeflex armor with its honeycomb construction was light and comfortable on the shoulders and knees. Even the back protector (also CE Level-2) felt well balanced and its weight was hardly noticed. Fleece-lined hand warmer pockets give your hands a comfortable resting place when you are off the bike. Armor can often cause chaffing when you are moving around constantly on a long ride, yet the Seeflex pads with their contoured design, along with a fleece-like inner lining, offer a smooth, soft feeling around the joints. Another nice touch are the jacket’s fleece-lined hand warmer pockets, which provide added comfort and warmth when hanging out by the campfire. The collar features a Flexisnap slide-adjustable closure and is lined with soft fleece material. Four Velcro strips give a range of adjustability for different style boots, while leather on the inside of the knees ensures paint work on your motorcycle isn’t scratched. The collar is often one of the trickiest features to get right on an adventure riding suit. The Dominator’s collar has a velvety smooth lining with a soft neoprene edge to keep it water tight, along with a unique slider mechanism that provides precise collar tension for a variety of neck sizes. A hook-and-loop system holds the collar open on warm days. It’s a similar system to the REV’IT! Sand 3’s but with an improved design that makes it a bit easier to operate while riding. On the pants, there is a unique front button attachment with a slide-in design that won’t pop open. Belt adjustments on either side allow you to customize the tightness of the waist and the pants also come prepared for attaching suspenders. You can zip the Dominator jacket and pants together to make a mono-suit as well. Overall, the suit has a streamlined, lightweight, comfortable fit that doesn’t constrain movement or feel tight in any particular area. Getting In Some Miles The first few rides with the Dominator took place in early spring with morning temperatures starting in the low 40s Fahrenheit. Typically with suits that run molecular armor like D3O, it can feel like you have rock-hard ice packs on your knees, elbows and shoulders until the armor warms up. The Seeflex armor has a much softer feel in colder temps which makes putting on a frigid suit in the morning a lot more bearable. Riding in the low 50’s F, the suit was excellent at blocking the wind. And when we hit a stretch of rain, the Gore-Tex Pro offered complete protection from any water seeping in. A plush inner lining provides some mild thermal properties, and I never felt cold enough to need to pull over for a mid layer on the highway. As temperatures warmed, it was easy to flip open the big chest and thigh vents while continuing to ride. However, when wearing a hydration pack, the straps do cover up some of the venting making them less effective. And for those who might want some roost protection, those chest vents are right where a set of chest pads would go. “Monkey-Paw” stretch cuffs help seal out the cold and can be removed for warmer weather. Make it rain! To give the Dominator an additional test, we hit it with a power washer for several minutes but the 3-Layer Gore-Tex did its job. There’s also two big vents on the abdomen area that deliver additional cooling to the torso. Two more vents on the biceps and two on the forearms keep arms ventilated, and the pants have back exhaust vents which are very effective at pulling cool air through. Getting out in the dirt, the contoured fit of the Dominator GTX suit did not cause any restriction in movement. The shell was also fast and effective at making sweat moisture vanish during aerobic off-road rides. The CE Level-2 armor was definitely a confidence boost on the trail as well. The only issue encountered was a waist belt adjustment that would loosen up a bit over time. Handling Heat Handling colder weather was to be expected with the Dominator, but I was less optimistic it could perform as well in the heat of summer. On hot days, I have always preferred a mesh suit or something with more breathable material. High-end suits with thick abrasion-resistant shells usually don’t fair so well. Suiting up on a hot morning, as the temperature began to climb into the 80s F, the Dominator definitely felt warm. As soon as I was on the bike getting some air flowing through the suit though, it cooled off quickly. In fact, the hotter it got the more cooling effect I began to notice. Looking at the temperature gauge, I was surprised I was feeling a little chilly at 92°F. It’s a strange sensation caused by Gore-Tex’s unique ability to dissipate moisture. It works like this: the Aero Cool lining sucks moisture from your skin and hands it off to the Gore-Tex Pro shell, which transfers it out of the jacket like a conveyor belt. The evaporated moisture combined with airflow from open vents cools your body like a swamp cooler. However, you need to maintain some airflow for it to work. Just keep hydrating, keep moving and you’re all good. Large front VCS Aquadefence panels pull cold air in while hot air exits through back thigh vents. Tension straps hold elbow armor in place and can also be used to open up the waterproof zipper vents wider. After putting in over 5,000 miles riding with the Dominator there haven’t been any failures yet, even after several light tumbles. The suit continues to perform at peak levels and shows few signs of wear. It cleans up nicely after a wash, although the light-colored version is hard to keep clean (also comes in black) when you play in the dirt. Even so, the lighter color option does absorb less heat on a sunny day than black. Final Thoughts When you are exerting yourself, sweating it out, dealing with nasty weather on big adventures, it’s nice to have a few indulgences. What might seem like a minor annoyance for a quick trip or commute to work (e.g. scruffy collar), can develop into a major pain point on longer journeys. We all have limited time to ride, so you want to get the most out of it when we do. The Dominator GTX has a smooth interior with lightweight armor and pliable shell. It’s a comfortable companion to live with day in and day out, like a second skin. All of its premium features and conveniences add up to higher level of comfort, helping to ensure you enjoy your rides to the fullest. Knowing you’ve got state of the art protection gives piece of mind too. Because when (not if) that big accident happens, it can be the difference between whether you get up and dust yourself off or end your journey with a trip to the hospital. At $1,249 for the jacket and $799 for the pant, a ‘no compromise’ 4-season suit like the REV’IT! Dominator GTX may not be accessible to everyone. It’s probably not a practical choice for those who only do a few rides a year. Yet for those who are heading out on an RTW journey, long overland trips, or regular extended weekend expeditions, it starts paying dividends. Shopping Options . Dominator GTX Jacket: Dominator 2 GTX Pants: Photos by Stephen Gregory
  19. Choosing a helmet can sometimes be difficult. What jives with one rider may not for another. Moreover, if you ride both on and off-road, in true dual-sport fashion, you know that you need a helmet that makes you feel safe and comfortable in both riding situations. Many adventure riders prefer the convenience and comfort of a flip-up style modular helmet like the Scorpion EXO-AT950. If you need to walk into a store or ask a pedestrian for directions, you can communicate without the need to take your helmet off. It also makes it a lot easier to get cool air on your face when you are making a quick stop and saves time not having to remove and put back on your helmet. ADVERTISEMENT After long-term testing this popular modular flip-up helmet for a few thousand dual sport miles, here are our thoughts: What It Is The Scorpion EXO-AT950 is a modular, flip-up style ADV helmet introduced in 2016 for less than $300, a significant bargain then as it is today. This feature-packed ADV touring helmet can be configured into one of three modes depending on on the type of riding that you do: Off-Road mode (face-shield removed to accommodate goggles), Adventure mode (peak visor and face shield installed), and Touring mode (peak visor removed, side plates installed). How It Works We mainly ran ours in Adventure Mode for this test. Conversion between modes is quick and easy by removing only two robust aluminum mounting screws with either a screwdriver or a coin. Opening up the helmet is accomplished by pulling on a chin tab and pushing the chin bar up until it locks in place. With the chin bar up, it makes it a lot easier to put your helmet on but you can still slide the helmet on with the chin bar closed. Sliding the lever forward retracts the drop-down tinted visor like a switchblade. A pull on a thumb tab easily opens up the chin bar when you want to get a little fresh air on your face. The head shell shape of the EXO-AT950 is described as Intermediate Oval Head – your individual head shape is something that you should be aware of before making a helmet purchase. Donning the Scorpion EXO-AT950 feels snug and secure, which gets a little more snug around the cheeks once you close the chin bar. One of our testers typically wears a small sized helmet, but the shell shape of the AT-950 forced him to go up a size so as not to be too tight when the chin bar was closed. The internal drop-down sun visor is neat if you like to ride without your sunglasses and makes you look like a fighter pilot, but the release slide mechanism operates opposite of what you’d expect – slide back to lower the tinted visor, forward to raise it. We didn’t use it as much off-road because the dust reduced visibility through the drop-down lens. On one occasion the slide mechanism got sticky with dust, but this was easily remedied with a quick washing of the helmet and a few strategic sprays of dry lithium lubricant. Another thing we noticed when riding off-road is that only smaller goggles will fit in the eyeport. We were able to use a set of Oakley O-Frame goggles but when trying to use the Klim Viper goggles, we couldn’t get a tight seal around the face. [embedded content] On the highway, the Scorpion’s diminutive peak visor does a great job of reducing the effects and fatigue of wind buffeting but we found it too small to sufficiently block out a low-hanging sun, requiring the rider to tilt their head downward more than usual to reduce the glare. This well-ventilated helmet has two large, easily-operated vents; one on the forehead and one on the chin. The forehead vent channels air up and over the rider’s head within the helmet shell to exhaust ports, providing a pleasant and noticeable, but quiet current of air. Scorpion designs their helmet ventilation quite well to provide air flow without being too loud. Speaker cut out also make installing a headset easier, while reducing pressure on your ears. The antimicrobial, moisture-wicking inner liner material stays fresh and comfortable on your skin during long rides. The KwikWick II antimicrobial, moisture-wicking inner liner material does a good job of keeping sweat and odor at bay, and the quick-release cheek pads make removal and washing easy when it does. Be mindful where you set the helmet down though, the lining material along the bottom of the helmet seems to attract poking thistle and sticks quite easily. Only later discovered when you riding down the road trying to figure out what’s scratching you Who It Is For The extra functionality of the modular flip-up design makes these helmets a little heavier than your standard adventure helmet. There are lighter helmet options than the the EXO-AT950 out there for someone who primarily rides dirt. This helmet is perfect for the rider who spends a fair amount of time on the pavement, but also ventures off-road from time to time. Most people that prefer a modular, flip-up style helmet won’t mind paying a small weight penalty (roughly 4-6oz more than a traditional mono shell helmet) to get the improved versatility. Our Verdict The Scorpion AT-950 is a lot of helmet for the money. The ability to quickly flip up the chin to take a drink, or wipe your face, or speak (smile) to someone can actually make your riding experience much more enjoyable. Like most things in life, nothing’s perfect but the Scorpion EXO-AT950 is a feature-packed, attractive, and versatile Adventure Touring helmet that is worthy of daily use and doesn’t sacrifice build quality for the price. What We Liked Flip-up chin bar makes taking the helmet on and off much easier if not, unnecessary. Well ventilated while still being fairly quiet. Great build quality for the price. What Could Be Improved Pinlock compatibility standard. Peak sun visor doesn’t stick out enough to sufficiently block the sun. Design drop-down sun visor to work better in dusty conditions. Larger eye port to accommodate a wider range of goggles. Scorpion EXO-AT950 Specs COLORS: Core, Sky, Sport, Companero SIZES: XS-XXL (3 Shell Sizes) SAFETY: DOT certified WEIGHT: 3.8 lbs or 1780g (Medium) MSRP: $269.95 (Solids); $289.95 (Graphics) WARRANTY: 5 Years Shopping Options Photos by Stephen Gregory, Enrico Pavia and Rob Dabney Author: Sharif Massoud Sharif has been a 911 paramedic since 2001 and has worked for both Ventura and Los Angeles counties. As a paramedic, his duties have allowed him to work in an ambulance, SAR Helicopter and motorcycle detail. He is currently a sweep-rider and head paramedic for RawHyde Adventures, and is also a Clinical Instructor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
  20. Engine armor is doomed from birth. It will be scraped, bashed and bludgeoned so the precious power plant can live on. The question is, how long can it stand up against the barrage of rocks, ledges and downed trees attacking our engine before its life blood starts to flow? Two top contenders in the marketplace are Black Dog and Touratech. Both companies offer proven designs with thousands of loyal followers. Both Touratech (left) and Black Dog (right) are significantly larger than the stock skid plate. Touratech RallyeForm Touratech’s newest RallyeForm skid plate is touted as possessing some of the best in modern construction technology. A hydroforming process is used to cold stamp 4mm sheet aluminum with a half million pounds of liquid pressure, pressing it into a complex, three-dimensional, Art Deco-like shape that drapes a host of delicate parts like a gossamer dress. Previously, only certain plastic molding processes have produced anything so elegant in the belly armor department. ADVERTISEMENT The forming process “changes the crystalline structure of the material resulting in a tougher shell for better resistance to denting,” according to Touratech. No welds are required, which they say reduces the chance of cracking. They also point out that the smooth curves allow the skid plate to more easily drag through sand and over rough terrain. Touratech covers more of the exhaust but leaves the clutch cover “chin” area vulnerable. Also note the narrow gap between front of the plate and bottom of clutch cover. The RallyeForm uses three mounts to attach to the engine and frame. The forward mount retains two of the original holes (and bolts) to fasten a well-refined, crushable aluminum bracket. Three more original bolts mount the factory center bracket to the sump beneath the engine. Finally, a complex two-piece bracket mounts to the cross frame tube above the catalytic convertor and receives a single screw through the skid plate. All three brackets must be indexed perfectly for the plate to mount. An interim plate resides between the center and front two mounts, helping distribute impact forces across the entire assembly. Six Torx screws attach the skid plate, five from beneath and one on the upper rear tail section. Individual replacement parts are available from Touratech. Touratech’s RallyeForm withstood repeated hammering over Ophir, Tincup and Hancock Passes in Colorado. Black Dog Ultimate Skid Plate Black Dog skid plates are constructed of 5052 aluminum and measure 4.8mm, nearly 25% thicker than the RallyeForm and at 10.7 lbs, about as much heavier. The latest iteration, the Ultimate Skid Plate 2.0, is slimmer and sleeker than the previous versions used on the pre-2013 R1200GS. Its one-piece design extends past the catalytic converter, offering a perfectly flat bottom with no obstructions. Two robust, 8mm, flush head bolts secure the front, and two identical bolts enter horizontally above the line of fire from rocks to support the rear. A tidy recess in front provides maximum clearance from the front wheel, even allowing room for a 21” Woody’s Wheels conversion if desired. Both skid plates offer room for the 21” conversion although the Touratech plate offers a bit more clearance. Black Dog’s skid plate offers a flat bottom design that extends past the catalytic converter. Two brackets attach the Black Dog Ultimate skid plate. The front, made from 11-gauge, malleable steel, attaches to the sump with four original bolts. Where the Touratech skid plate stops below the clutch cover, allowing the extra front wheel clearance previously mentioned, Black Dog overlaps the chin area of the engine, providing extra protection. Two rubber bumpers prevent rearward forces from ramming the plate into the engine case. A tough, rubber “Shok-Blok” braces the front mount against the bottom of the engine, reducing the chance of sump damage. A simple rear mount bridges the frame cross tube and attaches with two stainless steel hose clamps. The clamps are only used to locate the mount, as all force is cupped in the two 1” cradles contacting the frame tube from below. As with the Touratech, the mounting system is designed to be a sacrificial element against repeated impacts. Black Dog also offers replacement parts for their skid plate…a nice touch by both manufacturers when a mount is bent but the skid plate is still serviceable. Black Dog skid plate at work at Crossbar Ranch in Southern Oklahoma. Longevity After tens of thousands of miles off pavement with all iterations of the Black Dog skid plate, I have yet to experience any engine damage, although I’m aware that damage is still possible with the right strike or multiple strikes in a concentrated area. In my experience, the mounts have yielded gradually with repeated impacts but have never failed. The new design, which incorporates a more robust forward mount coupled with the Shok-Blok, should even further stave off a catastrophic event. I tested the Touratech skid plate over some 6,000 miles of the American West, tackling mountain passes, desert washes and fast jeep roads. There were countless bangs, clangs and crashes as rocks were crushed beneath nearly 1000 lb. of man, gear and machine. Nothing failed and only a starboard header pipe was dinged above the tall reach of the forward wrap section of the RallyeForm plate. The Touratech plate remains solid but shows numerous dents after 6,000 miles of mostly off road work. After two years of hammering the early generation Black Dog skid plate (right) still holds its shape. Upon removal I discovered a surprising degree of dents and deformation in the plate itself. Perhaps the forming process strengthens the material; however, several sharp, deep dents suggested that the metal still yields considerably to hard hits. This may be considered a fair sacrifice as long as deformation doesn’t prevent reinstallation in the field. It is conceivable however that with continued hard use, one would replace the RallyeForm sooner than the more robust Black Dog. Serviceability Black Dog mounting hardware (left) vs. Touratech (right). The Black Dog is easier to operate. I found it roughly 2/3 the effort to install by comparison for two reasons: There are only two mounts to the three on Touratech’s offering and only the rear mount must be indexed fore or aft to align with the holes in the Black Dog skid plate. All three mounts and the inner plate sandwiched between the skid plate and mounts must align for the RallyeForm to be installed. Four hefty bolts come out quickly to remove the Black Dog where six, smaller screws must be removed to perform service beneath the Touratech. And, Black Dog’s skid plate is completely flat on bottom. This feature makes using a scissor jack or similar device a cinch and it slips over terra firma like a greased eel too. Coverage and Vulnerability Touratech wraps farther up around the headers. Even so, I would recommend Touratech’s header guards on either skid plate to reduce the chance of an errant rock denting a header pipe as happened with mine. Touratech’s skid plate exposes five of its six Torx screw heads to potential dragging over rocks, a risk exacerbated by their position low in the indented portion of the plate where a rock might be forced while grinding across. Touratech’s thinner plating is not as resistant to bending as the thicker Black Dog material. Appearance It’s really a matter of taste. The RallyeForm skid plate looks good, almost aerodynamic although a bit more bulbous than the sleek, industrial design of the Black Dog. The shape is partly due to a more complete wrap around the header pipes and, of course, the hydroforming process facilitates limitless curves. It might even be described as muscular in appearance. It is typical of German engineering and manufacture. Efficient and brutishly stylish. Touratech’s skid plate has a streamlined, Art Deco sort of styling. Black Dog’s design is sleek, flat and angular. The Black Dog also looks great in a “nothing fancy” kind of way…like a pretty, country girl at the city ball. Tough and capable but with a great smile. Its angular features look “shop-made,” which in fact it is. Black Dog products are made in America and they look the part. Welds are masterfully perfect and forming is understated. Protection Touratech’s RallyeForm skid plate does offer additional coverage around the header pipes, which are often impacted, but less around the clutch cover area where serious engine damage can potentially occur. It does not protect the chin area below the clutch cover as does the Black Dog, and its thinner material can bend more easily. My greatest concern regarding the Touratech is for the narrow clearance between the front of the skid plate and the bottom of the clutch cover. A sharp impact could drive the cover into the engine with potentially catastrophic results as there is sufficient flexibility in the mount to close that gap and more. Despite superior wrapping, the exhaust header still took dings. Auxillary guards are a good idea with either skid plate. Final Thoughts Which skid plate is best for you depends upon several factors. Both are priced almost equally. Appearance is important for many buyers but that is subjective. The Black Dog skid plate sports a design that’s been proven over time, while Touratech’s new RallyeForm skid plate has yet to show any real issues. Neither offers complete coverage but I do believe the Black Dog, with its thicker material and Shok-Blok supported mounting system, will yield less while still protecting the engine from localized impact transfer; hence it should last longer under the same abuse. That and the concern for the RallyeForm’s clearance at the engine chin area cause me to lean toward Black Dog for the most extreme conditions. However, both are head and shoulders above the truckload of lesser products out there and offer exponentially more protection than the stock skid plate. I’ve not tested them all but I have shared my JB Weld with riders all over the American West and in South America who have wished they’d had either one tested here. In the end, as with boots, helmets, even the decision to ride a motorcycle, the risk is yours. Arm yourself and armor up. Pricing for the Touratech RallyeForm R1200GS skid plate is $439.95 in Bare Aluminum and $449.95 in Black. Black Dog’s Ultimate Skid Plate for the R1200GS is available for $445.00 in a powder coat finish. Both skid plates are available for other popular Adventure Bike models as well. Shopping Options Author: Bill Dragoo The adventure lifestyle permeates all he does, providing grist for the writing mill. Bill owns and operates DART (Dragoo Adventure Rider Training), an Oklahoma based school for folks seeking to improve their off road skills, primarily on big motorcycles. He is a certified BMW Motorrad Off Road Instructor and actively writes for several adventure related magazines. His work expands to the four-wheel overlanding community as well, as he and his wife Susan explore Mexico and the American West in their fast and light travel vehicle dubbed the Tacoma GS after the Gelande Strasse (Land and Street) line of BMW motorcycles.
  21. Ahh, Zee Germans; a nationality that is known for their precision engineering and ingenuity. One that also gets stuck in their ways and tries to reinvent the wheel from time to time. If that reinvented wheel works, but not well, the Germans will perfect it until it becomes so good that many may consider it a new standard. Example A: The BMW R80G/S; a motorcycle with a shaft drive and massive horizontally opposed twin cylinder engine that would later grow in size and an A-arm Telelever front suspension. A motorcycle that performs twice as well as it should off-road. Example B: the Porsche 911 with its rear (over the rear tires) mounted engine, like putting the carriage ahead of the horse. Two designs that went against the grain and the laws of physics, but that were later perfected to a level that the brand purists stand behind as much as the Germans who’ve engineered them. So what happens when the Germans take a page out of the playbook everyone else is using? BMW did this in 2009 when they built the S1000RR; a sport bike in a conventional four-cylinder, aluminum chassis, chain-driven configuration. In 2010 it went on to win all but one of the FIM Superbike Series races and won the 2010 championship. In 2004 Porsche sold its first Carrera GT, a traditional mid-engined layout supercar that was capable of 1.35 G’s of lateral grip and still sits firmly in the top 50 fastest production car lap times of the Nurburgring 15 years later! ADVERTISEMENT At this point, you may be asking yourself where the hell am I going with this. Well, BMW built the outgoing F800GS in a weird time (the market crash of 2008) with a few quirky design features of its own. Its gas tank was located under the seat instead of between your legs where it normally sits. The exhaust system was on the “wrong side,” and in defiance of using a chain drive, they mounted it on the right-hand side of the bike while every chain drive on the planet runs along the left-hand side of the swing arm. These design choices gave the original F800GSs their “German” flair. All-new 2019 BMW F850GS in GS Rallye Light White with gold rims. In walks the 2019 BMW F850GS, and guess what? It has a conventional motorcycle layout. The gas tank is between your legs, it doesn’t have a single-sided swing arm, the exhaust and chain drive have been swapped to the “normal sides,” yet it still feels German… in that “we did it better” kind of way. What’s Different? The BMW F850GS receives a boost of 5 hp and an additional 2 ft-lbs of torque compared to the outgoing F800GS. The parts that carry over from the F800GS to the F850GS are nill. It’s an all-new motorcycle. The frame, suspension, engine, software and hardware are all new. Looks-wise, there is a strong resemblance to the R1200GS due to its “fly line,” essentially, the line that runs from the beak to the tail when you look at it from the side. If the F850GS looks small, it’s because it is, and it’s small in all the right places. The seat h, for instance, may sound a little high at 33.9″ but when you realize that it’s .7″ lower than the outgoing F800GS you may warm up to it a bit. It feels like the shortest and least intimidating middleweight adventure bike on the market. Since the gas tank has moved from under the seat, the rear subframe and seat are much narrower. The seat is not adjustable but with options to get a low seat (32.9″), a comfort seat (34.4″) or the flatter, taller profiled rally seat (35″), there are plenty of options to get that seat h or seat-to-peg ratio into the goldilocks zone. Lastly, if you opt for the low suspension kit, you can get the seat as low as 32.1” on the F850GS, but note that the low suspension kit is only available in the premium package and loses the electronically-adjustable shock from the premium package. The F850GS loses 1.1″ of suspension travel up front and gains 0.1″ travel at the rear compared to the F800GS. BMW flat-out did an excellent job making the F850GS feel smaller and more compact while not cramping up the rider or making my 6’2″ frame feel oversized. The gas tank is down to 4.0 gallons (previously 4.2 gallons), but when coupled with a theoretical 57 mpg fuel consumption rating, your range anxieties should subside. The BMW crowd typically loves a large capacity fuel tank, but consider your actual intentions of long-range travel before criticizing this one. In practice, carrying a 1-gallon fuel canister for longer rides is easier than always dealing with the added size and weight of a large fuel tank between your legs. The new F850GS has more durable wheels, a better wheel load distribution, improved ground clearance and a lower seat h. The handlebars have just the right amount of bend, rise, and w for my taste. I never felt cramped while sitting or like I had to reach or bend over while standing. If you’re the type to insist on bar raisers and wide bars for “body positioning” and “turning leverage,” be my guest, but I would recommend 10-20mm risers at the most. What I did enjoy is the cockpit feel or lack thereof. While sitting, the profile of the gas tank is low, and you don’t feel locked into the F850GS. The same goes for the dashboard and low windshield when standing. The F850GS has the least amount of hardware interference I’ve ever experienced on a mid-sized adventure bike. The gas tank has well-thought-out knee indentations for standing that should work with almost all rider hs, unlike some bikes that have a hard ridge right where taller riders knees want to be. Just over the bars is the new optional 6.5 inch TFT display that is absolutely gorgeous. While some people will scoff at these and say “I just want an analog tach and speedo,” at no point did I have a hard time reading this display, even covered in dust with the afternoon sun directly shining in its iPad-like face. Accessing menu options with a single menu button and the bar-mounted multi-controller wheel is straightforward and took just minutes to get the hang of. The full-color TFT display was easy to read in a variety of light conditions. The TFT display will integrate with your smartphone while using the BMW Motorrad Connected app via Bluetooth. You’ll then be able to access your contacts and media while displaying call status and navigation. While I didn’t have enough time to dive deep into all of these features, the ones I did access worked without issue. Another technology item people love to hate is the keyless ignitions (Premium Package only). While my personal experiences with keyless bikes have ranged from quirky to downright miserable, the transponder key fob worked flawlessly for over 30 journalists at the press launch for both the F750GS and F850GS with dozens of starts and stops each. The Keyless Ride system also allows you to open the fuel filler cap and operate the steering lock without mechanically using the key. Ride Modes Before we get into what it’s like to ride, we should address the ride modes. All F850GSs sent to the US will be in a Select or Premium Package (the base model will not be available unless you are ordering it and waiting for delivery.) Therefore, all F850GSs will come to the US with the coded plug for unlocking Pro modes. Below we have a break down of the modes to save you from having to read through all of them but let’s talk about the Enduro Pro mode for a bit. F850GS Ride Modes Breakdown (click to expand). Enduro Pro is an unlocked customizable ride mode that saves the settings once they are changed, even after the key is turned off. It should also be noted that whatever ride mode you are in, when you shut off the bike, will also be the mode that the bike is in when you turn it back on (thank you BMW). For throttle response, you have two options: a soft mode which isn’t too soft, and a dynamic mode with snappy response and improved exhaust note. ABS pro has two options: The first is an ABS Pro profile for loose surfaces with knobby off-road tires that switches off the rear ABS and allows for much less interference (skidding but not full lock) of the front tire and loading the front suspension to increase braking performance; the second option is profiled for street tires in an off-road setting and gives you the opportunity to disengage the ABS to the rear wheel or not. The Dynamic Traction Control is a bit of a mystery for me at this point. In Enduro Pro mode the traction control is on by default, but in a “Dynamic Traction Control” mode, you can toggle the traction control off with a single button on the handlebars (or turn it off in the menu and it will stay off even after the bike is shut down.) The menu will then show on the TFT display that the traction control has been turned off and will illuminate a warning light on the right-hand side of the dash confirming this. However, from a standstill on a rocky uphill with 2000 RPMs dialed in and the throttle going all the way to stop once the clutch was engaged, the F850GSs “Dynamic” traction control still interfered somehow. This may be due to the lean angle sensors for the ABS and DTC. It’s not necessarily a bad thing as a full throttle uphill climb from a standstill would have typically ended in the loss of traction with either a tip over or the digging of a massive hole in the side of a hill causing the rider to get stuck. I wasn’t the only journalist to experience this but we were not able to dive into this further without more testing time. How It Performed The new chassis is a steel bridge monocoque design. Honestly, I don’t care what it is; I care how it feels off-road. During the press launch, we rode a lot of two track that was heavily water damaged. Choosing the worst line through it gave us a feel for what it would be like to ride the F850GS on some of the most rocky jeep trails. In my opinion, The single most important number for how a motorcycle feels off-road is the rake angle of the front suspension. There’s a reason that all true off-road motorcycles and “good” adventure bikes hover around the 27-degree mark. The larger the number, the more stable a motorcycle will feel. It also affects front end traction in mud and sand tremendously. The tradeoff is slower steering on-road, but I’ve yet to say that I think an adventure bike’s steering feels too slow on the street, it’s an adventure bike after all. BMW’s F850GS has a rake angle of 28 degrees and it feels fantastic Because of this, The new F850 is flat out one of the most confidence inspiring middleweight adventure bikes I’ve ever ridden off-road. What gets me most excited about this bike is not only how good it feels off-road, but also how easy it is to ride. Some of the first techniques you need to master as an off-road adventure rider are slow, tight-radius turns, and braking and stopping without putting a foot down. In this case, the F850GS has an advantage over the old F800GS in slow speed stability, making it easier for newer riders to learn these essentials. Being approachable is a good thing for adventure riding and riders. The easier it is and the more fun it is to ride your ADV bike the more you’ll do it. By following the recipe to build a motorcycle without trying to engineer the crap out of it, BMW has been able to focus on engineering the crap out of a proven design. Weighing in at 504 pounds wet, the new F850GS is 25 pounds heavier than its predecessor. Yet it feels lighter and less intimidating than the outgoing F800GS by a significant amount. In fact, the F850GS feels lighter and smaller than any of the other 750-1000cc adventure bikes currently on the market. The riding style of an adventure motorcyclist is easy to spot. We stand up everywhere, and while that is the proper technique for low traction environments, it’s not the only way to skin the cat. The F850GS is one of only maybe 2.5 adventure bikes I’d consider riding sitting down on and sliding the rear like a flat track racer on smooth ground. Being able to ride the F850GS off-road while sitting demonstrates the stability, proper weight distribution, and optimal rider ergonomics of the redesigned bike. In short, the F850GS is really good at gravel and dirt roads at regular, high and very high speeds sitting or standing. What about when the road gets not so normal? In rougher terrain, the new front and rear suspension are surprisingly well sprung and valved. In the case of a few more modern motorcycles that I’ve tested it seems manufacturers are getting better at building a suspension that will perform right out of the box for someone who weighs more than your average horse jockey, and BMW is on the right track as well. The Premium package trim level bikes have the next-gen Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) shocks mounted to the rear of the F850GSs. This ZF manufactured rear unit adapts to every type of riding scenario with the push of the mode button. It doesn’t just set itself to a “mode” and stay at that setting. It takes inputs from itself with a spring travel sensor and adjusts damping according to road conditions. It also works in conjunction with data from the lean angle sensor, ABS, ASC, and DTC to offer the best possible settings for performance, traction, and comfort. The one major, drawback to the F850GSs suspension is that it lost 1.1″ of travel compared to the F800GS on the front end, even though the rear suspension is continuously in a state of infinite electronic adjustment. The front forks are NON-adjustable. That makes the F850GS the only adventure bike at this price point and class with non-adjustable front suspension. By the numbers, the F850GS has 8″ of travel up front compared to the F800GS which had 9.1″ of travel. The F850GS has .1″ more travel at the rear than the F800GS at 8.6″ of travel, and has 9.8″ of ground clearance while the F800GS had only 8.5″. So what does all that mean for the F850GSs off-road handling? Well, if you were to try to calculate the negatives, there are very few… First, let me explain that I have adjusted the front suspension on every motorcycle I’ve ever tested, owned, or even borrowed. Not just because I can but because I’m picky, and weigh 210 pounds without gear. On the F850GS, I couldn’t even find a place to bottom out the front end while pushing the bike well past its marketing aspirations. The F850GSs front suspension will be more than adequate for 95% of the people who buy one and their intended uses. What the fork does do is run out of travel as it packs down riding fast through choppy terrain. Adjusting out some of the rebound damping would probably solve some of this problem from the front end if it were available. And when we asked what was new in the front suspension at the pre-ride briefing, BMW was not able to expand on this other than the difference in travel. That being said, by my seat-of-the-pant-suspension-dyno-meter, it’s all new inside the 43mm tubes when it comes to the springs and valving. Despite the reduced travel, the F850GS front end is an improvement over the F800GSs when it comes to out of the box performance, stability, compliance and bottoming resistance. We could get upset about the lost travel but the ease of use and confidence boost the 850 gives vs. the F800GS is much more important to the people who are going to buy these motorcycles. Fun fact: the average age of an F850GS purchaser is four years younger than the average age of all other BMW buyers…. at 51 years old according to BMW. At the heart of the F850GS is a 270-degree 853cc in line twin engine pumping out 90 hp and 63 ft-lbs of torque. The new motor is only rated at 90 horsepower. I say “only” because the new engine feels miles ahead of the F800GS’s 85-HP 180-degree parallel-twin lump. The significant changes to the motor are the 270-degree firing order and a more-compact design; think race bike V-Twin sound that is quelled by twin counter-balancers. The new motor is so smooth that I found myself in 4th gear going 100 mph and I wasn’t looking to shift into 5th, let alone the imaginary 7th gear I’d be trying to shift into on the F800GS. The new throttle-by-wire system has a natural feel. While I still wish someone would figure out a 1:1, no-interference setting for an engine’s throttle response, the F850GSs throttle by wire seems to adapt to a rider’s throttle inputs and speeds. For instance, should you find yourself cruising at an average pace and want to ask the throttle for full power, it feels as if the first twist of the throttle is not as sharp as the second no matter what mode or engine profile the F850GS is set to. That’s why I would call the throttle by wire “adaptive.” The transmission on the F850GS feels wider than the F800GSs did. First gear is down to almost the equivalent of going one tooth down on the front sprocket. The lower first gear will help with low-speed maneuvering and starting on uphill grades from a standstill. I found the F850GS harder to stall at slow speeds than most adv bikes and never had a stall due to a rear wheel lockup. The credit to this is the slipper/assist clutch in the new bike. Not only does it have reduced lever pull but it also slightly disengages to allow clutch slip during heavy engine braking to keep the rear wheel from chattering in on-road situations, and prevents stalls due to rear wheel lockups in off-road scenarios. It won’t stop you from stalling all the time, but having a little forgiveness in the clutch is a benefit worth mentioning. The F850GS has a quick shifter, but it doesn’t work by cutting the ignition for upshifts. It works by modulating the throttle-by-wire system which “auto blips” the throttle for clutchless downshifts. A side effect is that it also does a bit of a “rev match” on downshift, meaning the chassis never really gets upset during aggressive braking and late downshifting – a feature I didn’t know I wanted until I had it. On Road Test Blasting down the road drafting your buddies just below the F850GSs top speed of 125 miles per hour brings us the F850GSs next win: on-road handling. On the road, the sacrifice of an inch of travel up front may have been the most substantial pay off for the F850GSs handling. The front end feels planted and sporty. We pushed these bikes hard during testing, and the F850GS felt better-than-good in all aspects of road riding. It’s stable at any speed, no hop or bounce from the front or rear end. Even late braking into a turn it didn’t bounce, wobble or push at any point. It handles better than many sport touring bikes do out of the box, and the only small complaint would be a bit of fork dive due to the initial brake bite being better than expected. Yes, the brakes. While they may look a little puny compared to other OEM’s that use the massive four-piston Brembo Monoblocks, the two-piston floating caliper dual Brembos up-front grabbing twin 305mm floating disks, manage to scrub speed better than they should. While BMW could have slapped on high-spec, street-bike style, radially-mounted calipers, I feel the choice to run the floaters makes for a better option off-road, and never left me wanting on-road. Brembo two-piston calipers grabbing twin 305mm floating discs offered ample stopping power both on- and off-road. Having smashed and broken a few sets of mag rims on adventure rides with other bikes, I can not only tell you about the added durability the F850GS will have with its cross spoked tubeless rims. Tubeless rims are a feature that is currently not available on any other mid-sized adventure bike. I can also tell you that not having a tube in your wheels increases front-end feel and performance. But once you smash or crack a cast aluminum wheel on the trail, you have to put a tube in it to get back home (ask me how I know). Serious off-roaders will want to carry a tube in the off chance they bend a rim, something one of the test riders did with us on the launch. He also smashed his face on his handlebars at the same time, so we’re talking about a tremendous impact. The obvious benefits to a tubeless system are puncture repairs can be done without removing the wheel. The Competition Who does the BMW F850GS have to compete with? For that, we have to look at the price tag first. It’s the biggest flaw of all when looking at the F850GS. The F850GSs base price is $13,195, but remember that BMW will not be shipping these to the United States and nor would I recommend special ordering one. So we immediately have to jump to the Select Package for an additional $2400. In the base red color sans handguards, the F850GS rings in at $15,595. Should you go for either premium paint option, the price jumps to $15,870, but you get handguards. Should you want the Premium Package that includes the Keyless ride, LED style headlight, tire pressure monitors, and next gen Dynamic ESA or low suspension options you’re going to need to add $3,450 to the base price. That’s $16,645 for an F850GS in red and $16,920 for the optional colors in the Premium Package. This makes the F850GS the most expensive middleweight bike out there especially when it doesn’t come with crash protection, a center stand, or even a metal skid plate. If you’re looking for definitive answers of how I feel the F850GS stacks up against the competition, here it goes: VS the Triumph Tiger 800 the F850GS will feel more intuitive to ride off-road. It feels like it will be smaller and more confidence inspiring and will be the right choice for anyone looking for a small off-road focused bike for a beginner to intermediate rider. On-road it’s hard to beat the Triumph’s extra HP and Triple engine. At least the passenger foot pegs are removable on the F850GS, unlike the Tiger. VS the KTM 1090R the F850GS will be much easier to handle off-road for less experienced riders. Think of the KTM as a 1290 frame with a 1090 motor in it, so it really doesn’t fall in the middleweight category and is also the reason I don’t own a 1090R as they are much larger the F850GS. Just don’t try to drag race a 1090R on your BMW as you will lose. VS the Honda Africa Twin L1 the F850GS will feel like a better road bike and has the premium parts and electronics to back it up. Off-road, the Africa Twin carries its weight well and is another excellent choice for the beginner rider, but also has the suspension travel to keep the experienced dirt-focused riders happy. How does it stack up against the old F800GS you have in your garage? If you are a road-focused rider who occasionally does gravel and light dirt, the F850GS is a no-brainer when it comes to an upgrade. Those who are new to medium-skilled off-road riders will find the F850GS a more-friendly machine to ride in the dirt. If you’re an experienced adventure rider, looking to replace your F800GS, I’m afraid that the new 850 is not going to offer a clear advantage for higher-speed and aggressive off-road terrain. Should you find yourself somewhere in the middle of this range, the F850GS is going to be a more versatile bike both on- and off-road. To sum up the F850GS, it’s not a “big dirt bike” that’s going to change the face of adventure riding by racing on MX tracks and turning into a hoverbike at every rock slide. It won’t be the end-all be-all upgrade to whatever you currently have in your stable. What I’m most excited about when it comes to the F850GS is how well it performs on-road, how easy it is to ride off-road, and how I hope that this motorcycle will get more people out adventure riding because it does so many things well and even a few things better than those who wrote the playbook. BMW F850GS Specs Engine Type: Liquid-cooled 8 valve, DOHC, in-line twin Displacement: 853cc Bore & Stroke: 84 x 77mm Max. Power Output: 90 HP @ 8000rpm Max. Torque: 63 ft-lbs @ 6250rpm Compression: 12.7:1 Clutch: Multiplate wet clutch (anti-hopping), mechanically controlled Gearbox: Constant-Mesh 6 speed Final Drive: O-ring chain Frame Type: Steel bridge frame in monocoque design, load-bearing engine Suspension (front): 43mm USD Forks Suspension Travel (front): 8.0 in.(204mm) Suspension (rear): Aluminum double-sided swing arm, directly mounted, preload and rebound damping adjustable (Dynamic ESA option) Suspension Travel (rear): 8.6 in.(219mm) Brakes Front: Hydraulically activated 305 mm twin disc brake, 2-piston floating caliper Brakes Rear: Hydraulically activated 265 mm single disc brake, 1-piston floating caliper Tires Front: 90/90-21 Tires Rear: 150/70-17 Wheels Front: Cross-spoke 21 x 2.15 in. Wheels Rear: Cross-spoke 17 x 4.25 in. Seat Height Options: 32.1-35.0 in.(815-890 mm) Width (incl. mirrors): 36.3 in.(922 mm) Length: 88.8 in. (2,255 mm) Wheelbase: 62.7 in.(1,593 mm) Wet Weight: 504 lbs.(229 kg) Fuel Capacity: 4.0 US Gallons (15 liters) Fuel consumption: 57.4 mpg Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 3.8 seconds Top Speed: 125 mph (200 kp/h) Color Options: Racing Red, Pollux Metallic Matte, GS Rallye Light White Gear We Used • Helmet: Shoei Hornet X2 • Jacket: REV’IT! Trench GTX • Pants: REV’IT! Globe GTX • Boots: REV’IT! OutDry Discovery Photos by Kevin Wing Author: Steve Kamrad Steve has been labeled as a “Hired Gun” by one of the largest special interest publishing groups in America. His main focus now is video content creation as a “Shreditor” (thats shooter, producer, editor all in one nice, neat, run and gun package). If he’s not out competing in a NASA Rally Race you can find him on the East Coast leading around a rowdy group of ADV riders. Some say Steve_Kamrad has the best job in the world but he’s not in it for the money. He’s a gun for hire that can’t be bought and that’s the way we like him.
  22. Ahh, Zee Germans; a nationality that is known for their precision engineering and ingenuity. One that also gets stuck in their ways and tries to reinvent the wheel from time to time. If that reinvented wheel works, but not well, the Germans will perfect it until it becomes so good that many may consider it a new standard. Example A: The BMW R80G/S; a motorcycle with a shaft drive and massive horizontally opposed twin cylinder engine that would later grow in size and an A-arm Telelever front suspension. A motorcycle that performs twice as well as it should off-road. Example B: the Porsche 911 with its rear (over the rear tires) mounted engine, like putting the carriage ahead of the horse. Two designs that went against the grain and the laws of physics, but that were later perfected to a level that the brand purists stand behind as much as the Germans who’ve engineered them. So what happens when the Germans take a page out of the playbook everyone else is using? BMW did this in 2009 when they built the S1000RR; a sport bike in a conventional four-cylinder, aluminum chassis, chain-driven configuration. In 2010 it went on to win all but one of the FIM Superbike Series races and won the 2010 championship. In 2004 Porsche sold its first Carrera GT, a traditional mid-engined layout supercar that was capable of 1.35 G’s of lateral grip and still sits firmly in the top 50 fastest production car lap times of the Nurburgring 15 years later! ADVERTISEMENT At this point, you may be asking yourself where the hell am I going with this. Well, BMW built the outgoing F800GS in a weird time (the market crash of 2008) with a few quirky design features of its own. Its gas tank was located under the seat instead of between your legs where it normally sits. The exhaust system was on the “wrong side,” and in defiance of using a chain drive, they mounted it on the right-hand side of the bike while every chain drive on the planet runs along the left-hand side of the swing arm. These design choices gave the original F800GSs their “German” flair. All-new 2019 BMW F850GS in GS Rallye Light White with gold rims. In walks the 2019 BMW F850GS, and guess what? It has a conventional motorcycle layout. The gas tank is between your legs, it doesn’t have a single-sided swing arm, the exhaust and chain drive have been swapped to the “normal sides,” yet it still feels German… in that “we did it better” kind of way. What’s Different? The BMW F850GS receives a boost of 5 hp and an additional 2 ft-lbs of torque compared to the outgoing F800GS. The parts that carry over from the F800GS to the F850GS are nill. It’s an all-new motorcycle. The frame, suspension, engine, software and hardware are all new. Looks-wise, there is a strong resemblance to the R1200GS due to its “fly line,” essentially, the line that runs from the beak to the tail when you look at it from the side. If the F850GS looks small, it’s because it is, and it’s small in all the right places. The seat h, for instance, may sound a little high at 33.9″ but when you realize that it’s .7″ lower than the outgoing F800GS you may warm up to it a bit. It feels like the shortest and least intimidating middleweight adventure bike on the market. Since the gas tank has moved from under the seat, the rear subframe and seat are much narrower. The seat is not adjustable but with options to get a low seat (32.9″), a comfort seat (34.4″) or the flatter, taller profiled rally seat (35″), there are plenty of options to get that seat h or seat-to-peg ratio into the goldilocks zone. Lastly, if you opt for the low suspension kit, you can get the seat as low as 32.1” on the F850GS, but note that the low suspension kit is only available in the premium package and loses the electronically-adjustable shock from the premium package. The F850GS loses 1.1″ of suspension travel up front and gains 0.1″ travel at the rear compared to the F800GS. BMW flat-out did an excellent job making the F850GS feel smaller and more compact while not cramping up the rider or making my 6’2″ frame feel oversized. The gas tank is down to 4.0 gallons (previously 4.2 gallons), but when coupled with a theoretical 57 mpg fuel consumption rating, your range anxieties should subside. The BMW crowd typically loves a large capacity fuel tank, but consider your actual intentions of long-range travel before criticizing this one. In practice, carrying a 1-gallon fuel canister for longer rides is easier than always dealing with the added size and weight of a large fuel tank between your legs. The new F850GS has more durable wheels, a better wheel load distribution, improved ground clearance and a lower seat h. The handlebars have just the right amount of bend, rise, and w for my taste. I never felt cramped while sitting or like I had to reach or bend over while standing. If you’re the type to insist on bar raisers and wide bars for “body positioning” and “turning leverage,” be my guest, but I would recommend 10-20mm risers at the most. What I did enjoy is the cockpit feel or lack thereof. While sitting, the profile of the gas tank is low, and you don’t feel locked into the F850GS. The same goes for the dashboard and low windshield when standing. The F850GS has the least amount of hardware interference I’ve ever experienced on a mid-sized adventure bike. The gas tank has well-thought-out knee indentations for standing that should work with almost all rider hs, unlike some bikes that have a hard ridge right where taller riders knees want to be. Just over the bars is the new optional 6.5 inch TFT display that is absolutely gorgeous. While some people will scoff at these and say “I just want an analog tach and speedo,” at no point did I have a hard time reading this display, even covered in dust with the afternoon sun directly shining in its iPad-like face. Accessing menu options with a single menu button and the bar-mounted multi-controller wheel is straightforward and took just minutes to get the hang of. The full-color TFT display was easy to read in a variety of light conditions. The TFT display will integrate with your smartphone while using the BMW Motorrad Connected app via Bluetooth. You’ll then be able to access your contacts and media while displaying call status and navigation. While I didn’t have enough time to dive deep into all of these features, the ones I did access worked without issue. Another technology item people love to hate is the keyless ignitions (Premium Package only). While my personal experiences with keyless bikes have ranged from quirky to downright miserable, the transponder key fob worked flawlessly for over 30 journalists at the press launch for both the F750GS and F850GS with dozens of starts and stops each. The Keyless Ride system also allows you to open the fuel filler cap and operate the steering lock without mechanically using the key. Ride Modes Before we get into what it’s like to ride, we should address the ride modes. All F850GSs sent to the US will be in a Select or Premium Package (the base model will not be available unless you are ordering it and waiting for delivery.) Therefore, all F850GSs will come to the US with the coded plug for unlocking Pro modes. Below we have a break down of the modes to save you from having to read through all of them but let’s talk about the Enduro Pro mode for a bit. F850GS Ride Modes Breakdown (click to expand). Enduro Pro is an unlocked customizable ride mode that saves the settings once they are changed, even after the key is turned off. It should also be noted that whatever ride mode you are in, when you shut off the bike, will also be the mode that the bike is in when you turn it back on (thank you BMW). For throttle response, you have two options: a soft mode which isn’t too soft, and a dynamic mode with snappy response and improved exhaust note. ABS pro has two options: The first is an ABS Pro profile for loose surfaces with knobby off-road tires that switches off the rear ABS and allows for much less interference (skidding but not full lock) of the front tire and loading the front suspension to increase braking performance; the second option is profiled for street tires in an off-road setting and gives you the opportunity to disengage the ABS to the rear wheel or not. The Dynamic Traction Control is a bit of a mystery for me at this point. In Enduro Pro mode the traction control is on by default, but in a “Dynamic Traction Control” mode, you can toggle the traction control off with a single button on the handlebars (or turn it off in the menu and it will stay off even after the bike is shut down.) The menu will then show on the TFT display that the traction control has been turned off and will illuminate a warning light on the right-hand side of the dash confirming this. However, from a standstill on a rocky uphill with 2000 RPMs dialed in and the throttle going all the way to stop once the clutch was engaged, the F850GSs “Dynamic” traction control still interfered somehow. This may be due to the lean angle sensors for the ABS and DTC. It’s not necessarily a bad thing as a full throttle uphill climb from a standstill would have typically ended in the loss of traction with either a tip over or the digging of a massive hole in the side of a hill causing the rider to get stuck. I wasn’t the only journalist to experience this but we were not able to dive into this further without more testing time. How It Performed The new chassis is a steel bridge monocoque design. Honestly, I don’t care what it is; I care how it feels off-road. During the press launch, we rode a lot of two track that was heavily water damaged. Choosing the worst line through it gave us a feel for what it would be like to ride the F850GS on some of the most rocky jeep trails. In my opinion, The single most important number for how a motorcycle feels off-road is the rake angle of the front suspension. There’s a reason that all true off-road motorcycles and “good” adventure bikes hover around the 27-degree mark. The larger the number, the more stable a motorcycle will feel. It also affects front end traction in mud and sand tremendously. The tradeoff is slower steering on-road, but I’ve yet to say that I think an adventure bike’s steering feels too slow on the street, it’s an adventure bike after all. BMW’s F850GS has a rake angle of 28 degrees and it feels fantastic Because of this, The new F850 is flat out one of the most confidence inspiring middleweight adventure bikes I’ve ever ridden off-road. What gets me most excited about this bike is not only how good it feels off-road, but also how easy it is to ride. Some of the first techniques you need to master as an off-road adventure rider are slow, tight-radius turns, and braking and stopping without putting a foot down. In this case, the F850GS has an advantage over the old F800GS in slow speed stability, making it easier for newer riders to learn these essentials. Being approachable is a good thing for adventure riding and riders. The easier it is and the more fun it is to ride your ADV bike the more you’ll do it. By following the recipe to build a motorcycle without trying to engineer the crap out of it, BMW has been able to focus on engineering the crap out of a proven design. Weighing in at 504 pounds wet, the new F850GS is 25 pounds heavier than its predecessor. Yet it feels lighter and less intimidating than the outgoing F800GS by a significant amount. In fact, the F850GS feels lighter and smaller than any of the other 750-1000cc adventure bikes currently on the market. The riding style of an adventure motorcyclist is easy to spot. We stand up everywhere, and while that is the proper technique for low traction environments, it’s not the only way to skin the cat. The F850GS is one of only maybe 2.5 adventure bikes I’d consider riding sitting down on and sliding the rear like a flat track racer on smooth ground. Being able to ride the F850GS off-road while sitting demonstrates the stability, proper weight distribution, and optimal rider ergonomics of the redesigned bike. In short, the F850GS is really good at gravel and dirt roads at regular, high and very high speeds sitting or standing. What about when the road gets not so normal? In rougher terrain, the new front and rear suspension are surprisingly well sprung and valved. In the case of a few more modern motorcycles that I’ve tested it seems manufacturers are getting better at building a suspension that will perform right out of the box for someone who weighs more than your average horse jockey, and BMW is on the right track as well. The Premium package trim level bikes have the next-gen Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) shocks mounted to the rear of the F850GSs. This ZF manufactured rear unit adapts to every type of riding scenario with the push of the mode button. It doesn’t just set itself to a “mode” and stay at that setting. It takes inputs from itself with a spring travel sensor and adjusts damping according to road conditions. It also works in conjunction with data from the lean angle sensor, ABS, ASC, and DTC to offer the best possible settings for performance, traction, and comfort. The one major, drawback to the F850GSs suspension is that it lost 1.1″ of travel compared to the F800GS on the front end, even though the rear suspension is continuously in a state of infinite electronic adjustment. The front forks are NON-adjustable. That makes the F850GS the only adventure bike at this price point and class with non-adjustable front suspension. By the numbers, the F850GS has 8″ of travel up front compared to the F800GS which had 9.1″ of travel. The F850GS has .1″ more travel at the rear than the F800GS at 8.6″ of travel, and has 9.8″ of ground clearance while the F800GS had only 8.5″. So what does all that mean for the F850GSs off-road handling? Well, if you were to try to calculate the negatives, there are very few… First, let me explain that I have adjusted the front suspension on every motorcycle I’ve ever tested, owned, or even borrowed. Not just because I can but because I’m picky, and weigh 210 pounds without gear. On the F850GS, I couldn’t even find a place to bottom out the front end while pushing the bike well past its marketing aspirations. The F850GSs front suspension will be more than adequate for 95% of the people who buy one and their intended uses. What the fork does do is run out of travel as it packs down riding fast through choppy terrain. Adjusting out some of the rebound damping would probably solve some of this problem from the front end if it were available. And when we asked what was new in the front suspension at the pre-ride briefing, BMW was not able to expand on this other than the difference in travel. That being said, by my seat-of-the-pant-suspension-dyno-meter, it’s all new inside the 43mm tubes when it comes to the springs and valving. Despite the reduced travel, the F850GS front end is an improvement over the F800GSs when it comes to out of the box performance, stability, compliance and bottoming resistance. We could get upset about the lost travel but the ease of use and confidence boost the 850 gives vs. the F800GS is much more important to the people who are going to buy these motorcycles. Fun fact: the average age of an F850GS purchaser is four years younger than the average age of all other BMW buyers…. at 51 years old according to BMW. At the heart of the F850GS is a 270-degree 853cc in line twin engine pumping out 90 hp and 63 ft-lbs of torque. The new motor is only rated at 90 horsepower. I say “only” because the new engine feels miles ahead of the F800GS’s 85-HP 180-degree parallel-twin lump. The significant changes to the motor are the 270-degree firing order and a more-compact design; think race bike V-Twin sound that is quelled by twin counter-balancers. The new motor is so smooth that I found myself in 4th gear going 100 mph and I wasn’t looking to shift into 5th, let alone the imaginary 7th gear I’d be trying to shift into on the F800GS. The new throttle-by-wire system has a natural feel. While I still wish someone would figure out a 1:1, no-interference setting for an engine’s throttle response, the F850GSs throttle by wire seems to adapt to a rider’s throttle inputs and speeds. For instance, should you find yourself cruising at an average pace and want to ask the throttle for full power, it feels as if the first twist of the throttle is not as sharp as the second no matter what mode or engine profile the F850GS is set to. That’s why I would call the throttle by wire “adaptive.” The transmission on the F850GS feels wider than the F800GSs did. First gear is down to almost the equivalent of going one tooth down on the front sprocket. The lower first gear will help with low-speed maneuvering and starting on uphill grades from a standstill. I found the F850GS harder to stall at slow speeds than most adv bikes and never had a stall due to a rear wheel lockup. The credit to this is the slipper/assist clutch in the new bike. Not only does it have reduced lever pull but it also slightly disengages to allow clutch slip during heavy engine braking to keep the rear wheel from chattering in on-road situations, and prevents stalls due to rear wheel lockups in off-road scenarios. It won’t stop you from stalling all the time, but having a little forgiveness in the clutch is a benefit worth mentioning. The F850GS has a quick shifter, but it doesn’t work by cutting the ignition for upshifts. It works by modulating the throttle-by-wire system which “auto blips” the throttle for clutchless downshifts. A side effect is that it also does a bit of a “rev match” on downshift, meaning the chassis never really gets upset during aggressive braking and late downshifting – a feature I didn’t know I wanted until I had it. On Road Test Blasting down the road drafting your buddies just below the F850GSs top speed of 125 miles per hour brings us the F850GSs next win: on-road handling. On the road, the sacrifice of an inch of travel up front may have been the most substantial pay off for the F850GSs handling. The front end feels planted and sporty. We pushed these bikes hard during testing, and the F850GS felt better-than-good in all aspects of road riding. It’s stable at any speed, no hop or bounce from the front or rear end. Even late braking into a turn it didn’t bounce, wobble or push at any point. It handles better than many sport touring bikes do out of the box, and the only small complaint would be a bit of fork dive due to the initial brake bite being better than expected. Yes, the brakes. While they may look a little puny compared to other OEM’s that use the massive four-piston Brembo Monoblocks, the two-piston floating caliper dual Brembos up-front grabbing twin 305mm floating disks, manage to scrub speed better than they should. While BMW could have slapped on high-spec, street-bike style, radially-mounted calipers, I feel the choice to run the floaters makes for a better option off-road, and never left me wanting on-road. Brembo two-piston calipers grabbing twin 305mm floating discs offered ample stopping power both on- and off-road. Having smashed and broken a few sets of mag rims on adventure rides with other bikes, I can not only tell you about the added durability the F850GS will have with its cross spoked tubeless rims. Tubeless rims are a feature that is currently not available on any other mid-sized adventure bike. I can also tell you that not having a tube in your wheels increases front-end feel and performance. But once you smash or crack a cast aluminum wheel on the trail, you have to put a tube in it to get back home (ask me how I know). Serious off-roaders will want to carry a tube in the off chance they bend a rim, something one of the test riders did with us on the launch. He also smashed his face on his handlebars at the same time, so we’re talking about a tremendous impact. The obvious benefits to a tubeless system are puncture repairs can be done without removing the wheel. The Competition Who does the BMW F850GS have to compete with? For that, we have to look at the price tag first. It’s the biggest flaw of all when looking at the F850GS. The F850GSs base price is $13,195, but remember that BMW will not be shipping these to the United States and nor would I recommend special ordering one. So we immediately have to jump to the Select Package for an additional $2400. In the base red color sans handguards, the F850GS rings in at $15,595. Should you go for either premium paint option, the price jumps to $15,870, but you get handguards. Should you want the Premium Package that includes the Keyless ride, LED style headlight, tire pressure monitors, and next gen Dynamic ESA or low suspension options you’re going to need to add $3,450 to the base price. That’s $16,645 for an F850GS in red and $16,920 for the optional colors in the Premium Package. This makes the F850GS the most expensive middleweight bike out there especially when it doesn’t come with crash protection, a center stand, or even a metal skid plate. If you’re looking for definitive answers of how I feel the F850GS stacks up against the competition, here it goes: VS the Triumph Tiger 800 the F850GS will feel more intuitive to ride off-road. It feels like it will be smaller and more confidence inspiring and will be the right choice for anyone looking for a small off-road focused bike for a beginner to intermediate rider. On-road it’s hard to beat the Triumph’s extra HP and Triple engine. At least the passenger foot pegs are removable on the F850GS, unlike the Tiger. VS the KTM 1090R the F850GS will be much easier to handle off-road for less experienced riders. Think of the KTM as a 1290 frame with a 1090 motor in it, so it really doesn’t fall in the middleweight category and is also the reason I don’t own a 1090R as they are much larger the F850GS. Just don’t try to drag race a 1090R on your BMW as you will lose. VS the Honda Africa Twin L1 the F850GS will feel like a better road bike and has the premium parts and electronics to back it up. Off-road, the Africa Twin carries its weight well and is another excellent choice for the beginner rider, but also has the suspension travel to keep the experienced dirt-focused riders happy. How does it stack up against the old F800GS you have in your garage? If you are a road-focused rider who occasionally does gravel and light dirt, the F850GS is a no-brainer when it comes to an upgrade. Those who are new to medium-skilled off-road riders will find the F850GS a more-friendly machine to ride in the dirt. If you’re an experienced adventure rider, looking to replace your F800GS, I’m afraid that the new 850 is not going to offer a clear advantage for higher-speed and aggressive off-road terrain. Should you find yourself somewhere in the middle of this range, the F850GS is going to be a more versatile bike both on- and off-road. To sum up the F850GS, it’s not a “big dirt bike” that’s going to change the face of adventure riding by racing on MX tracks and turning into a hoverbike at every rock slide. It won’t be the end-all be-all upgrade to whatever you currently have in your stable. What I’m most excited about when it comes to the F850GS is how well it performs on-road, how easy it is to ride off-road, and how I hope that this motorcycle will get more people out adventure riding because it does so many things well and even a few things better than those who wrote the playbook. BMW F850GS Specs Engine Type: Liquid-cooled 8 valve, DOHC, in-line twin Displacement: 853cc Bore & Stroke: 84 x 77mm Max. Power Output: 90 HP @ 8000rpm Max. Torque: 63 ft-lbs @ 6250rpm Compression: 12.7:1 Clutch: Multiplate wet clutch (anti-hopping), mechanically controlled Gearbox: Constant-Mesh 6 speed Final Drive: O-ring chain Frame Type: Steel bridge frame in monocoque design, load-bearing engine Suspension (front): 43mm USD Forks Suspension Travel (front): 8.0 in.(204mm) Suspension (rear): Aluminum double-sided swing arm, directly mounted, preload and rebound damping adjustable (Dynamic ESA option) Suspension Travel (rear): 8.6 in.(219mm) Brakes Front: Hydraulically activated 305 mm twin disc brake, 2-piston floating caliper Brakes Rear: Hydraulically activated 265 mm single disc brake, 1-piston floating caliper Tires Front: 90/90-21 Tires Rear: 150/70-17 Wheels Front: Cross-spoke 21 x 2.15 in. Wheels Rear: Cross-spoke 17 x 4.25 in. Seat Height Options: 32.1-35.0 in.(815-890 mm) Width (incl. mirrors): 36.3 in.(922 mm) Length: 88.8 in. (2,255 mm) Wheelbase: 62.7 in.(1,593 mm) Wet Weight: 504 lbs.(229 kg) Fuel Capacity: 4.0 US Gallons (15 liters) Fuel consumption: 57.4 mpg Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 3.8 seconds Top Speed: 125 mph (200 kp/h) Color Options: Racing Red, Pollux Metallic Matte, GS Rallye Light White Gear We Used • Helmet: Shoei Hornet X2 • Jacket: REV’IT! Trench GTX • Pants: REV’IT! Globe GTX • Boots: REV’IT! OutDry Discovery Photos by Kevin Wing Author: Steve Kamrad Steve has been labeled as a “Hired Gun” by one of the largest special interest publishing groups in America. His main focus now is video content creation as a “Shreditor” (thats shooter, producer, editor all in one nice, neat, run and gun package). If he’s not out competing in a NASA Rally Race you can find him on the East Coast leading around a rowdy group of ADV riders. Some say Steve_Kamrad has the best job in the world but he’s not in it for the money. He’s a gun for hire that can’t be bought and that’s the way we like him.
  23. For many who are on the fence about whether to buy hard panniers or soft saddlebags, there’s something in between you should consider – rack-mounted soft panniers. They strap onto pannier racks and offer some of the convenience of hard panniers, while retaining many of the durability, safety and weight advantages of soft bags. Last year Giant Loop introduced an all-new set of rack-mount soft saddlebags – the MotoTrekk Panniers. They’re designed to be simple, convenient, waterproof and durable, while having just enough capacity for lightweight overland travel. Made of 500D PVC tarpaulin material, the MotoTrekk panniers can take a pounding from either mother nature or the trail. Waterproofing (IPX6+) is provided by a seam-sealed body, without the need for inner bags, and a roll-top enclosure maintains a water-tight seal. MotoTrekk Panniers include shoulder straps that clip into D-rings, so they can be used like a backpack or you can use the top handles to carry the bags. ADVERTISEMENT The MotoTrekk Panniers have a combined capacity of 42 liters with three rolls of the top, or you can over stuff them and use fewer rolls. Weight for the set of bags is 6 pounds total and they are compatible with Giant Loop’s pannier mounting plates that utilize a quick-connect/release system. Getting Them Installed Typically with rackless soft luggage systems, there is a significant amount of adjusting and tensioning of straps the first time you setup the bags. You have to find the ideal position for straps so they don’t interfere with passenger grab rails or tail racks, then make sure the bags clear the exhaust. With the MotoTrekk panniers it’s a lot simpler, as long as you already have your pannier racks on the bike. Four aluminum Durflex hooks secure the bag to pannier racks at each corner. To start, there is a vertical back strap with a convenient magnetic clasp you can use to loosely attach the bag to the rack. Next four small anchor hooks fasten the bag to the pannier rack at each corner, while tension straps both secure the bag and simultaneously compress down any empty space inside. Giant Loop also includes elastic slack fasteners on all the tension straps to keep everything tidy. How They Performed Getting the MotoTrekk panniers loaded for the first trip, we noticed they have a contoured shape that is wider at the top than the bottom. There is limited space for placing longer items horizontally at the bottom of the bag. Instead, longer items need to be placed vertically. The bags are taller than they look and are able to swallow a tent with no problem, as long as your poles aren’t too long (17 inches or less). The contoured shape reduces usable space you’d get in a square bag but it does make it easier to pack/unpack items without getting things stuck. With 42 liters of capacity, it’s possible to get all your gear in the MotoTrekks for a hotel-to-hotel trip but if you are camping and cooking, you’ll probably need to add a top bag as well. When more space is needed, lash points are available to strap on auxiliary or fuel bags. The roll-top closure is easy to use and it allows you to over- or under-stuff the bags depending on the number of rolls you use. A Velcro lining makes it simple to align the opening before you start rolling it closed, and four snaps ensure everything stays securely closed. Opening the bags isn’t as fast as popping open a lid on a hard pannier but they do open wide, giving you a good view of the contents inside. The 500D Tarpaulin material is strong, so you can stuff them with heavy tools without worrying about busting a seam. Being a rack-mount system also gives them additional rigidity so they don’t flop around or get caught in a wheel. The heavy-duty body also offers good protection for the contents of your bags in a fall. We had a minor off-road crash and nothing more than a few light brush marks were visible, so we expect them to hold up well over time. The panniers are compact and stay out of the way for off-road riding. The mounting system has a little movement built into it, as a result you need to pull the tension straps tightly to get the four mounting hooks securely attached. The same horizontal straps are used to tension the contents of the bag and mounting hooks on the rack, which means there is a bit of fiddling required to make sure you are getting all four corners tight. Each time you open up the bag you need to loosen and retighten everything again. Even when tightly secured, the bags still have a tendency to slide up and down on the rack rails a bit. Yet it was never enough movement to notice any shifting of weight. We found that making sure the vertical back strap was tight helped remove most of the slack out of the system. On occasion though, when riding in rough terrain, we noticed a mounting hook would come unlatched. The bags were never in danger of coming off though, and further tightening the tension straps seemed to alleviate the problem. Arriving at camp or a hotel for the night, it’s pretty convenient to remove the bags from the bike by releasing the magnetic back strap and four anchor hooks. Then a top handle makes it easy to carry the bags to where you are sleeping for the night. Putting them back on in the morning is a lot less of a hassle than you typically have reinstalling a set of rackless soft bags in terms of fine tuning straps. As far as waterproofing, we didn’t get a chance to ride with the MotoTrekks in the rain (rain is a rare commodity here in California), but we did give them a thorough dowsing with a hose and they proved to meet all claims. We also haven’t seen any hint of the seams coming apart after stuffing them to the max on several adventures. RF Welded seams and a roll-top closure keep everything completely dry inside the MotoTrekk bags. We got a chance to test the MotoTrekk Panniers with a set of Giant Loop mounting plates as well, to see how that would improve convenience. Instead of mounting the bags to the pannier racks, you mount them to a set of flat backing plates. Then those backing plates can be clipped onto or unclipped from the rack system with the ease of a set of hard panniers. Better yet, they have a keyed lock mechanism that secures the plate to the pannier racks to ensure that thieves don’t remove your bags just as quickly. The Mounting Plates made a big difference making the MotoTrekks operate more like a set of hard boxes and they weigh almost nothing – a big improvement in convenience over mounting them directly to pannier racks. And with less room to slide around, the MotoTrekks also attach even more securely to the mounting plates than they do a set of luggage racks. With the optional Mounting Plates, the MotoTrekk panniers can be removed or installed on pannier racks in seconds. Who Are They For? The MotoTrekk Panniers keep it simple with no waterproof inner liners and an easy to manage mounting system. They are a nice set of bags for anyone wanting the benefits of compact soft luggage for off-road rides but don’t want to scratch up their bodywork or worry about clearance issues. Also, those who pack light, but want some of the convenience of hard boxes in terms of loading, mounting and unmounting ease. Our Verdict At $339 the Giant Loop MotoTrekk Panniers are reasonably priced for a set of quality, waterproof and bombproof soft bags. We liked how simple they are to mount and it gets even easier when used with the GL Pannier Mounting plates. We did find it a little challenging to get the mounting system tightened up for rough terrain, but it got easier as our familiarity grew with the bags. Overall, the MotoTrekks are rugged enough to handle adventure rides well beyond the beaten path. What We Liked Waterproof without inner bags. Bombproof construction. Nicely sized for lightweight packers. More convenient than rackless soft pannier systems. What Could Be Improved Develop mounting anchors that lock on more securely. Remove some of the extra slack out of the mounting system. MotoTrekk Panniers Specs: CONSTRUCTION: 500D PVC tarpaulin body with RF welded seams CAPACITY: 42 Liters (total for both bags) DIMENSIONS: 12″ (5cm) top x 9″ (23cm) bottom x 15″ (38cm) all x 7″ (18cm) deep WEIGHT: 6 pounds (2.7 kg) MSRP: $339.00 Shopping Options
  24. [embedded content] BMW Motorrad has announced an all-new F850GS Adventure for 2019 at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Italy. For the last decade, GS models in the BMW Motorrad F series have offered great long-range touring capability and strong off-road characteristics. Now following the newly-developed BMW F850GS, the F850GS Adventure expands the BMW Motorrad range in this segment with a new and improved design. The new F850GS Adventure is based on the F850GS, but extends its versatility for long-range adventure touring and offers additional front suspension travel (1″ additional over the standard F850GS) for rugged off-road trails. Like the legendary boxer-engined BMW R1200GS Adventure model, the new F850GS Adventure is designed for those exploring the remote corners of the planet on a motorcycle, but in a more-agile and affordable package. ADVERTISEMENT New, more-powerful parallel-twin engine The developers achieved a powerful and appealing sound by employing a crankshaft with a 90 degree crankpin offset and 270/450 degree ignition spacing. Vibrations are absorbed by the new engine’s two counterbalance shafts. A self-amplifying, anti-hopping clutch not only provides a discernible reduction in the hand clutch operating force but also enhances safety on the road through the drop in engine drag torque. Power transmission to the rear wheel comes from the six-speed gearbox with secondary drive that is now positioned on the left-hand side. Full Range of Riding Modes The new F850GS Adventure helps riders customize their ride by offering “Rain” and “Road” riding modes as standard, while the combination of ABS and the ASC stability control ensure a high level of safety. Thanks to the standard dynamic brake light, traffic behind the rider is made even more aware of the braking motorcycle. The F850GS Adventure can be fitted with optional equipment, such as “Pro” riding modes and in turn the additional “Dynamic”, “Enduro” and “Enduro Pro” riding modes as well as the DTC dynamic traction control and banking capable ABS Pro. All-New Chassis With Front Fuel Tank The bridge frame of the new F850GS Adventure is made of deep-drawn, welded components. It integrates the 2-cylinder in-line engine as a stressed member and offers benefits in terms of torsional rigidity and robustness. The fuel tank has been placed in the classic position between the seat and the steering head, for optimized packaging and an improved center of gravity. In the F850GS Adventure it holds 6.1 gallons (2.1 gallons bigger than the standard F850GS) and permits a range of up to 342 miles (550 km). Optimized Long-Range Ergonomics New, more-aggressive bodywork emphasizes the F850GS Adventure’s globetrotting nature. A larger windshield, which can be adjusted in two stages, as well as hand protectors provide increased wind and weather protection. Wide enduro footrests, adjustable shift and foot brake levers as well as crash bars and a stainless steel luggage rack round off the F850GS Adventure’s standard equipment. In addition to the basic version, the new F850GS Adventure is available in ‘Exclusive’ and ‘Rallye’ style variations. Now With Tubeless Rims The wheels and tires are tailored to the needs of travelling, adventure and offroad use. The F850GS Adventure is fitted with cross-spoke tubeless wheels with aluminium rim rings sized 2.15″ x 21″ at the front and 4.25″ x 17″ at the rear. The front wheel is an off-road friendly 21 inches; this provides better stability thanks to the increased gyroscopic forces, which offers distinct advantages on loose ground. The F850GS Adventure is equipped with enduro street tires as standard sized 90/90-21 at the front and 150/70-17 at the rear. In addition, there are knobby-style tires which can be ordered as free optional equipment at the dealer. Range of Optional Equipment The new F850GS Adventure is being launched with a range of equipment options that is unique for the mid-range adventure bike class. Whether different seat hs, such as the seat bench for two (corresponds to standard F850GS seat bench), the case holder for a the aluminum cases and trim panels, the new full LED headlight as well as the LED auxiliary lights, connectivity equipment with 6.5 inch full color TFT display, or the intelligent emergency eCall, the list of premium features allow owners to customize their F850GS Adventure to their own specific tastes and riding style. The Rallye style variant includes a flatter rally seat, short windscreen and applications in Racing Red/Lupin Blue. Three Color Schemes Three dynamic color schemes and two style (Rallye and Exclusive) variations are offered on the F850GS Adventure for 2019. The painted parts of both models have been deliberately kept to a minimum. They are located in the upper area of the motorcycle, where they form the interface between the rider and the motorcycle. The lower area of the motorcycle and the GS “beak,” on the other hand, are in black, to emphasize its off-road character. BMW F850GS Adventure Highlights & Specs Parallel-twin engine with a displacement of 853cc 95 hp (70 kW) at 8,250 rpm and 67.9 ft-lbs (92 Nm) at 6,250 rpm. Powerful, emotional sound due to crankshaft with 90-degree crankpin offset and 270/450-degree ignition spacing. New steel bridge frame for increased robustness and riding precision. New upside-down telescopic fork plus aluminum two-sided swinging arm with central spring strut for an even more sensitive response. ABS, ASC and the riding modes “Rain” and “Road” as standard. Riding modes Pro with ABS Pro and dynamic brake light, DTC and the new riding modes “Dynamic”, “Enduro” and “Enduro Pro” as optional equipment. Electronic suspension Dynamic ESA as an optional equipment. New onboard electrical system with more powerful 415-Watt alternator and starter. LED headlamp as standard. LED daytime riding light and LED additional light as optional equipment. Connectivity with multifunctional instrument cluster including 6.5-inch full-color TFT screen and numerous optional equipment features. “Intelligent emergency call” eCall for help as optional equipment. Optimized off-road and travel suitability along with improved wind and weather protection. Optimized ergonomics, especially for dedicated off-road riding. 6.1 gallon (23 liter) fuel tank for ranges up to 342 miles (550 km). New color along with the two style variants Rallye and Exclusive. A wide range of optional equipment and accessories. Capable of 123 mph (197 kp/h) top speed and 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds Wet Weight is 537.9 lbs (244 kg). Suspension Travel is 9.0″ (230mm) in front and 8.5″ (215mm) in the rear. Fuel consumption of 57.4 mpg (4.1 l/100km) Durable cross-spoke tubeless rims Seat h ranges from 32.1″-35.0″ (815mm-890mm) depending on options
  25. [embedded content] BMW Motorrad has announced an all-new F850GS Adventure for 2019 at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Italy. For the last decade, GS models in the BMW Motorrad F series have offered great long-range touring capability and strong off-road characteristics. Now following the newly-developed BMW F850GS, the F850GS Adventure expands the BMW Motorrad range in this segment with a new and improved design. The new F850GS Adventure is based on the F850GS, but extends its versatility for long-range adventure touring and offers additional front suspension travel (1″ additional over the standard F850GS) for rugged off-road trails. Like the legendary boxer-engined BMW R1200GS Adventure model, the new F850GS Adventure is designed for those exploring the remote corners of the planet on a motorcycle, but in a more-agile and affordable package. ADVERTISEMENT New, more-powerful parallel-twin engine The developers achieved a powerful and appealing sound by employing a crankshaft with a 90 degree crankpin offset and 270/450 degree ignition spacing. Vibrations are absorbed by the new engine’s two counterbalance shafts. A self-amplifying, anti-hopping clutch not only provides a discernible reduction in the hand clutch operating force but also enhances safety on the road through the drop in engine drag torque. Power transmission to the rear wheel comes from the six-speed gearbox with secondary drive that is now positioned on the left-hand side. Full Range of Riding Modes The new F850GS Adventure helps riders customize their ride by offering “Rain” and “Road” riding modes as standard, while the combination of ABS and the ASC stability control ensure a high level of safety. Thanks to the standard dynamic brake light, traffic behind the rider is made even more aware of the braking motorcycle. The F850GS Adventure can be fitted with optional equipment, such as “Pro” riding modes and in turn the additional “Dynamic”, “Enduro” and “Enduro Pro” riding modes as well as the DTC dynamic traction control and banking capable ABS Pro. All-New Chassis With Front Fuel Tank The bridge frame of the new F850GS Adventure is made of deep-drawn, welded components. It integrates the 2-cylinder in-line engine as a stressed member and offers benefits in terms of torsional rigidity and robustness. The fuel tank has been placed in the classic position between the seat and the steering head, for optimized packaging and an improved center of gravity. In the F850GS Adventure it holds 6.1 gallons (2.1 gallons bigger than the standard F850GS) and permits a range of up to 342 miles (550 km). Optimized Long-Range Ergonomics New, more-aggressive bodywork emphasizes the F850GS Adventure’s globetrotting nature. A larger windshield, which can be adjusted in two stages, as well as hand protectors provide increased wind and weather protection. Wide enduro footrests, adjustable shift and foot brake levers as well as crash bars and a stainless steel luggage rack round off the F850GS Adventure’s standard equipment. In addition to the basic version, the new F850GS Adventure is available in ‘Exclusive’ and ‘Rallye’ style variations. Now With Tubeless Rims The wheels and tires are tailored to the needs of travelling, adventure and offroad use. The F850GS Adventure is fitted with cross-spoke tubeless wheels with aluminium rim rings sized 2.15″ x 21″ at the front and 4.25″ x 17″ at the rear. The front wheel is an off-road friendly 21 inches; this provides better stability thanks to the increased gyroscopic forces, which offers distinct advantages on loose ground. The F850GS Adventure is equipped with enduro street tires as standard sized 90/90-21 at the front and 150/70-17 at the rear. In addition, there are knobby-style tires which can be ordered as free optional equipment at the dealer. Range of Optional Equipment The new F850GS Adventure is being launched with a range of equipment options that is unique for the mid-range adventure bike class. Whether different seat hs, such as the seat bench for two (corresponds to standard F850GS seat bench), the case holder for a the aluminum cases and trim panels, the new full LED headlight as well as the LED auxiliary lights, connectivity equipment with 6.5 inch full color TFT display, or the intelligent emergency eCall, the list of premium features allow owners to customize their F850GS Adventure to their own specific tastes and riding style. The Rallye style variant includes a flatter rally seat, short windscreen and applications in Racing Red/Lupin Blue. Three Color Schemes Three dynamic color schemes and two style (Rallye and Exclusive) variations are offered on the F850GS Adventure for 2019. The painted parts of both models have been deliberately kept to a minimum. They are located in the upper area of the motorcycle, where they form the interface between the rider and the motorcycle. The lower area of the motorcycle and the GS “beak,” on the other hand, are in black, to emphasize its off-road character. BMW F850GS Adventure Highlights & Specs Parallel-twin engine with a displacement of 853cc 95 hp (70 kW) at 8,250 rpm and 67.9 ft-lbs (92 Nm) at 6,250 rpm. Powerful, emotional sound due to crankshaft with 90-degree crankpin offset and 270/450-degree ignition spacing. New steel bridge frame for increased robustness and riding precision. New upside-down telescopic fork plus aluminum two-sided swinging arm with central spring strut for an even more sensitive response. ABS, ASC and the riding modes “Rain” and “Road” as standard. Riding modes Pro with ABS Pro and dynamic brake light, DTC and the new riding modes “Dynamic”, “Enduro” and “Enduro Pro” as optional equipment. Electronic suspension Dynamic ESA as an optional equipment. New onboard electrical system with more powerful 415-Watt alternator and starter. LED headlamp as standard. LED daytime riding light and LED additional light as optional equipment. Connectivity with multifunctional instrument cluster including 6.5-inch full-color TFT screen and numerous optional equipment features. “Intelligent emergency call” eCall for help as optional equipment. Optimized off-road and travel suitability along with improved wind and weather protection. Optimized ergonomics, especially for dedicated off-road riding. 6.1 gallon (23 liter) fuel tank for ranges up to 342 miles (550 km). New color along with the two style variants Rallye and Exclusive. A wide range of optional equipment and accessories. Capable of 123 mph (197 kp/h) top speed and 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds Wet Weight is 537.9 lbs (244 kg). Suspension Travel is 9.0″ (230mm) in front and 8.5″ (215mm) in the rear. Fuel consumption of 57.4 mpg (4.1 l/100km) Durable cross-spoke tubeless rims Seat h ranges from 32.1″-35.0″ (815mm-890mm) depending on options
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