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  1. Published on 02.12.2019 Bridgestone has announced the launch of new street-legal enduro rubber for competitions, the Battlecross E50. Leveraging the experience and technologies gained through the development of tires for off-road riding, the Battlecross E50 tires have been designed to deliver high traction and cornering performance on a variety of road surfaces as is required in enduro competitions. The new tires are both DOT approved and compliant with FIM regulations. The Battlecross E50 employs the company’s proprietary Castle Block technology to ensure effective grip, even on slippery surfaces. A specialized edge, called a bunker, located at the base of the tread blocks enables the tires to exert strong traction on soft surfaces. Bridgestone also used 3D simulations to optimize the shapes and positions of the tread blocks to deliver higher levels of cornering performance in the front tire and enhanced traction performance in the rear tire. ADVERTISEMENT Surfaces such as stones or logs buried in soil and rain-drenched can be extremely slippery. The Castle Block profile incorporates secondary tread blocks that protrude from the conventional tread block profiles to increase total edge components and improve contact pressure on slippery surfaces for enhanced grip. In turn, the bunker enables the edge portion at the base of the tread block to exert traction even when the block is submerged in a surface. Engineers set to also change from a harder tread rubber integrated with the sidewall rubber to an optimized dual compound division. Other changes targeted the shape and profile at the bottom part of the sidewall by redesigning the rim guard part. According to Bridgestone, both these modifications increase the mounting ease on the side of the track and improve the rim fitting. The Battlecross E50 tires are available now in the U.S. and Canada, and will launch in other regions in February 2019. • Front: Size 90/90-21 M/C 54P W • Rear Size: 120/90-18 M/C 65P W • Rear Size: 140/80-18 M/C 70P W For more information visit Bridgestone.com Shopping Options
  2. The multitasking Poseidon 2 GTX leans toward the road touring side of REV’IT!’s top of the line adventure riding suits, giving way to the Dominator, which has a more off-road focus. As the namesake of the Greek God of the Sea, one would expect excellent performance in the wet. It replaces the Poseidon, retaining many proven attributes but adopting some modifications. It’s billed as a four-season suit and I can say from my experience that it certainly lives up to the hype in winter weather. REV’IT! Poseidon 2 GTX Tech Large vent panels on the chest and thighs are held in place by glove-friendly magnetic fasteners. The Poseidon 2 jacket’s outer layer is 400-denier high-tenacity nylon, which makes it softer and lighter than the 600-denier shell of its predecessor. REV’IT! starts the process of moisture control by lining the shell with laminated two- and three-layer Gore-Tex membranes, which allows perspiration to wick through. Their Aquadefence Ventilation Control System (VCS) offers six vents in the jacket. Lower arm vents from the original Poseidon have been moved to the upper arms where they can get more airflow riding in the seated position with a windscreen. Those open via 4” waterproof, rubberized zippers and two vertical 6” back vents provide an escape path. Two folding panels (now larger than before) open as chest vents and are held in place by REV’IT!’s easy-to-operate FidLock magnetic fasteners. They are a cinch to open or close in flight, making sudden showers easier to accommodate without stopping. ADVERTISEMENT A sturdy plastic hook and single loop hold the collar open for more ventilation when needed. Closure is handled by an adjustable flexisnap, allowing proper fit for varying neck sizes. The removable storm collar shuts down wind and rain. When closed, a flexible, Neoprene throat piece contacts the Adam’s apple, reducing chafing, and a microfiber lining does the same for the permanent collar. A full-length rain gutter seals over the zipper in front, reinforcing the garment against the elements. Both jacket and pant also come with zip-in thermal liners for cold weather riding. The thermal liner is fairly basic in the jacket, not a destination liner that can be worn as a standalone garment. Front pockets are protected by a storm flap and utilize waterproof zippers. The jacket includes a zip-in thermal liner for cold weather riding. The Poseidon 2 GTX pants use the same VCS technology and two- and three-layer Gore-Tex laminating process as the jacket. The two large thigh vent panels open in front and latch back with the magnetic FidLock fasteners, just like the chest pockets in the jacket. A YKK slide lock securely latches the fly and REV’IT!’s short and long connection zipper system allows the jacket or pant to attach to each other, or any other jacket or pant in the REV’IT! Line. The Poseidon 2 GTX comes with Seeflex CE Level 2 armor in the knees, elbows and shoulders. A Seesoft CE Level 2 back protector is optional As far as crash protection, the suit features Seeflex CE Level 2 shoulder, elbow and knee armor, along with Seesmart CE Level 1 hip protector inserts as standard equipment. Back and chest armor are optional. For abrasion protection, the jacket uses ceramic bead SuperFabric to cover the elbow and forearm area. Storage The jacket has two waterproof outside pockets in front, a single Napoleon pocket in the right-side vest area and a waterproof lumbar pocket. Two mesh pockets are located inside the jacket lining and a large stash pocket resides in the thermal liner. The pants have two slit-style front pockets with 5” hooded, waterproof zipper closures just below the beltline. Zippered, Velcro flares open at the lower legs to facilitate putting on and taking off various-sized boots, including off-road boots. Extra Features Laminated, reflective accents including the REV’IT! logo grace the garment front and back and the jacket has attachment loops to accept their reflective vest. Pull-tabs are used for strap adjustments at rib cage, upper and lower arms and lower pant legs. Gussets can be zipped open at the jacket’s waist to allow more hip room. The jacket lining accepts the Challenger cooling vest. The pants have a grip panel in the seat to help prevent slippage. YKK slide lock front closure ensures the fly won’t open spontaneously. How it performed A sage rider will tell you that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. It’s 40 degrees and raining hard as I head out for my final test of the new REV’IT! Poseidon 2. An hour into the ride my worn-out boots are soaking through. My hands are also going numb, as they so often do, but my body is warm and dry. Two hours in, I turn toward home, slog into the house and peel my boots from my cold and sodden feet. A lot of riding suits give up the ghost in a rain like this but the Poseidon 2 withstood the test with flying colors. In the dirt, hard activity like negotiating rocks and sand in temps above 80 degrees I found the suit wanting a bit. With vents on the shoulders and not the lower arms, ventilation is more suited to sitting than standing, and there are no outflow vents in the pants. That said, REV’IT!’s large VCS vent panels on the thighs and chest are a nice touch for all but the warmest conditions. Ergonomically, the pre formed shape of the jacket felt good. The 400D outer shell is also lightweight and pliable. The fit is classic European, snug in the arms and chest, and the pants are also slim but comfortable. I am 5’10” and 170 lb. The size chart called for size medium in both jacket and pants but I found the medium jacket much too tight. A large was a better fit, although still snug in the arms with the liner installed. Without liners the suit was roomy and comfortable. Arms are curved just enough to allow a relaxed riding position and the open grid design of strike point armor was malleable, even when cold. Flexibility of movement was good off-road in both pants and jacket. A grip panel in the seat also helped prevent unwanted movement when sitting. Who is it for? The REV’IT! Poseidon 2 GTX straddles the fence between a full-on adventure and a street touring suit. If you often find yourself in both environments, the Poseidon might just fit the bill. It works particularly well for those who ride frequently in cold wet climates. If you take your off-pavement riding seriously and ride a lot in the summer months, however, it might be a little warm for comfort. Our Verdict The Poseidon 2 GTX suit is versatile and comfortable. Although lacking hot weather ventilation to the extent I would prefer, it’s a breath of fresh air to be warm and dry at the end of a long, wet, winter ride. And with CE Level 2 armor in the shoulders, elbows and knees, you are well protected in all conditions. What We Liked 100% waterproof. Durable cinch straps, not Velcro. 400D nylon shell is tough but pliable. FidLock flaps, YKK Slide Lock closure, and hook and loop collar are trick. What Could Be Improved A tad more room in the arms for layering. Ventilation is marginal for a suit billed as four-season. Pants and jacket pockets are hard to access while seated. A jacket destination liner would be nice. REV’IT! Poseidon 2 GTX Specs COLORS: Black and Silver Anthracite SIZES: Jacket (SM-4XL), Pant (SM-4XL, MD-2XL Short, MD-2XL Tall) PRICE: Jacket ($899), Pant ($649) Shopping Options Poseidon 2 GTX Jacket: Poseidon 2 GTX Pant: Photos by Susan Dragoo 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.
  3. Kawasaki has always marketed their Versys-X 300 conservatively as a street bike designed to handle light off-road terrain. That may be what the engineers had in mind, but after getting some seat time on the stock machine, we began to realize there was a lot more potential. For years, ADV enthusiasts have been calling for a lighter, simpler, economical adventure bike that is capable off-road and smooth on the highway. The Versys-X didn’t quite get there from the factory, but it does have a good foundation with its smooth 296cc inline-twin pumping out 39.3 horsepower, a 386-pound wet weight, 200+ mile fuel range, wire-spoke wheels, low seat h, and an affordable $5,499 price tag. ADVERTISEMENT Despite its potential, there are several limitations that hold it back from being the versatile do-it-all ADV Bike it could be. The goal of this build was to outfit the Versys-X 300 for long-range off-road travel, with improvements in off-road performance, carrying capacity, and protection. Nothing too extreme that would take it out of its design envelope – just address a few of its weaknesses, enhance its strengths, and make a nice step forward in off-road capability. We’ve been wrenching away on our little Versys-X Project Bike for months now, experimenting with different aftermarket parts and even helping develop some new ones. It’s fair to say there aren’t a lot of aftermarket options out there for the Versys-X 300, but we scoured around until we found top-level componentry that offers real improvements. We are pretty excited with how it turned out. Check out what went into the build below. We also provide a full build sheet for the bike, including pricing for each part: PROTECTION Our first order of business was to give the Versys-X some proper protection for the trail. The stock plastic lower cowling really doesn’t protect from much more than pebbles. With an exhaust header that routes underneath the engine and low ground clearance, it’s a disaster waiting to happen on a rocky trail. There are also no stock hand guards to protect levers and the stock mirrors are not up for the hard knocks of off-road riding. Ricochet’s skid plate for the Versys-X 300 is constructed with 3/16″ 5052 H-32 aluminum and features wrap-around wings to help protect the cases. Coverage is good for both the exhaust, oil filter and sump. And with its durable anodized black finish, it stays looking good after riding through rock gardens. The plate includes cutouts for access to the oil drain plug, so you don’t have to remove it for routine maintenance. It also works with or without a centerstand. GIVI’s crash bars for the Versys-X 300 are made of 1” diameter steel with a connecting crossbar to help distribute the energy in a fall. It helps protect against those common tip overs and low-side falls on the trail – a good investment to avoid damaging the fragile plastic fairing or the radiator. GIVI crash bars feature a durable black powder coat finish and come with plastic sliders to help keep your bars looking scratch free. Whether it’s the tree branches constantly knocking your mirrors, or your helmet when you are banging through whoops, mirrors are one of those things that just get in the way off-road. The stock mirrors on the Versys-X 300 look more at home on a Ninja than a real adventure bike, so we put on a set of the tried and tested DoubleTake breakaway mirrors. Hit them with a bat and they just ask “May I have another please?”. They also handle falls on roots, logs or rocks just as well, and you can loosen them up and adjust them down flat on the handlebars so they won’t slap you in the face on those whooped out trails. Any handguards are better than no handguards, and that’s what the Versys-X 300 comes with from the factory – nilch. But we wanted something real sturdy to keep from being stranded on the trail with broken levers. These look like your typical metal-braced off-road handguards, but they also offer a little extra room for larger “street bike” master cylinders. There was ample room to fit all of our handlebar controls and enough coverage to provide some good wind protection for our hands on the highway. Off-Road Performance While we’ve been pleasantly surprised with how well the 300cc powerplant performs on the street – on both twisty back roads and long highway stretches – its off-road performance is what could use the most help. With just 5.1 inches of travel up front and 5.8 inches in the rear, it’s below average for adventure bike specs. A little more low-end power and some better grip from the tires were other performance improvements we wanted to make for the trail. With front end bottoming being the biggest problem holding the Versys-X 300 back on the trail, increasing suspension travel was a big priority. More travel would allow us to ride at increased speeds without blowing through the suspension and give us more ground clearance as well. We didn’t find any companies offering an upgrade for the Versys-X, so we reached out to Cogent Dynamics. They were already making lowering kits and suspension upgrades for the Versys-X 300, but had never tried extending the suspension travel. With our custom requirements, they increased fork travel by roughly one inch (~ 6.1 inches) and installed DDC Valves (Drop-In Damper Cartridge) for improved damping function over stock. Next we worked with Cogent to develop an all-new Monotube shock for the Versys-X 300 to replace the harsh ride of the stock shock. The replacement shock Cogent engineered offers approximately one inch of extra suspension travel, improved damping, along with preload and damping adjustability. Cogent was able to achieve this without using a piggyback or remote reservoir, so the cost is more reasonable and there are no fitment issues to deal with. Now with roughly 6.8 inches of suspension travel and premium damping control, the Versys-X 300 has better bump absorption and ground clearance in the dirt. Seat h is also raised roughly an inch, but at about 33.1 inches, it’s still relatively low. Swapping the stock 80/20 (Street/Dirt) dual sport tires for a set of DOT knobbies is one of the easiest ways to improve performance in the dirt. MotoZ are known for their competition off-road and enduro tires, but their Tractionator Adventure tires are street legal. They have an aggressive tread pattern, somewhere around the 25/75 range, to give our Versys a real edge in more technical terrain like steep inclines, wet mud, and loose gravel. Tread blocks are deep, but a specialized compound helps extend durability. So far, the grip in the dirt is much improved and they are predictable when they slide on asphalt. The Versys-X uses a 110/80-19 front and 130/80-17 rear, but they also come in a range of sizes for various adventure bikes. It’s fair to say the Versys-X impresses for a 300cc on the street with the capability to take you over 100 mph. It gains speed slowly though and it feels a little choked up in the lower RPMs. We wanted to see if we could open it up a bit and give it a more responsive low end for off-road riding. The Akrapovic Slip-On offers an increase in horsepower of 2.8% and 2.6% in torque. While the gains are modest, we noticed a snappier throttle response and it feels punchier down low. The noise level is similar to stock but it offers a richer sound that is music to the ears. What’s more, we shaved almost 5 pounds off the bike in the process. The carbon-fiber tip, Titanium sleeve, and carbon-fiber heat shield also offer a little flair to our Kawi.
  4. Kawasaki has always marketed their Versys-X 300 conservatively as a street bike designed to handle light off-road terrain. That may be what the engineers had in mind, but after getting some seat time on the stock machine, we began to realize there was a lot more potential. For years, ADV enthusiasts have been calling for a lighter, simpler, economical adventure bike that is capable off-road and smooth on the highway. The Versys-X didn’t quite get there from the factory, but it does have a good foundation with its smooth 296cc inline-twin pumping out 39.3 horsepower, a 386-pound wet weight, 200+ mile fuel range, wire-spoke wheels, low seat h, and an affordable $5,499 price tag. ADVERTISEMENT Despite its potential, there are several limitations that hold it back from being the versatile do-it-all ADV Bike it could be. The goal of this build was to outfit the Versys-X 300 for long-range off-road travel, with improvements in off-road performance, carrying capacity, and protection. Nothing too extreme that would take it out of its design envelope – just address a few of its weaknesses, enhance its strengths, and make a nice step forward in off-road capability. We’ve been wrenching away on our little Versys-X Project Bike for months now, experimenting with different aftermarket parts and even helping develop some new ones. It’s fair to say there aren’t a lot of aftermarket options out there for the Versys-X 300, but we scoured around until we found top-level componentry that offers real improvements. We are pretty excited with how it turned out. Check out what went into the build below. We also provide a full build sheet for the bike, including pricing for each part: PROTECTION Our first order of business was to give the Versys-X some proper protection for the trail. The stock plastic lower cowling really doesn’t protect from much more than pebbles. With an exhaust header that routes underneath the engine and low ground clearance, it’s a disaster waiting to happen on a rocky trail. There are also no stock hand guards to protect levers and the stock mirrors are not up for the hard knocks of off-road riding. Ricochet’s skid plate for the Versys-X 300 is constructed with 3/16″ 5052 H-32 aluminum and features wrap-around wings to help protect the cases. Coverage is good for both the exhaust, oil filter and sump. And with its durable anodized black finish, it stays looking good after riding through rock gardens. The plate includes cutouts for access to the oil drain plug, so you don’t have to remove it for routine maintenance. It also works with or without a centerstand. GIVI’s crash bars for the Versys-X 300 are made of 1” diameter steel with a connecting crossbar to help distribute the energy in a fall. It helps protect against those common tip overs and low-side falls on the trail – a good investment to avoid damaging the fragile plastic fairing or the radiator. GIVI crash bars feature a durable black powder coat finish and come with plastic sliders to help keep your bars looking scratch free. Whether it’s the tree branches constantly knocking your mirrors, or your helmet when you are banging through whoops, mirrors are one of those things that just get in the way off-road. The stock mirrors on the Versys-X 300 look more at home on a Ninja than a real adventure bike, so we put on a set of the tried and tested DoubleTake breakaway mirrors. Hit them with a bat and they just ask “May I have another please?”. They also handle falls on roots, logs or rocks just as well, and you can loosen them up and adjust them down flat on the handlebars so they won’t slap you in the face on those whooped out trails. Any handguards are better than no handguards, and that’s what the Versys-X 300 comes with from the factory – nilch. But we wanted something real sturdy to keep from being stranded on the trail with broken levers. These look like your typical metal-braced off-road handguards, but they also offer a little extra room for larger “street bike” master cylinders. There was ample room to fit all of our handlebar controls and enough coverage to provide some good wind protection for our hands on the highway. Off-Road Performance While we’ve been pleasantly surprised with how well the 300cc powerplant performs on the street – on both twisty back roads and long highway stretches – its off-road performance is what could use the most help. With just 5.1 inches of travel up front and 5.8 inches in the rear, it’s below average for adventure bike specs. A little more low-end power and some better grip from the tires were other performance improvements we wanted to make for the trail. With front end bottoming being the biggest problem holding the Versys-X 300 back on the trail, increasing suspension travel was a big priority. More travel would allow us to ride at increased speeds without blowing through the suspension and give us more ground clearance as well. We didn’t find any companies offering an upgrade for the Versys-X, so we reached out to Cogent Dynamics. They were already making lowering kits and suspension upgrades for the Versys-X 300, but had never tried extending the suspension travel. With our custom requirements, they increased fork travel by roughly one inch (~ 6.1 inches) and installed DDC Valves (Drop-In Damper Cartridge) for improved damping function over stock. Next we worked with Cogent to develop an all-new Monotube shock for the Versys-X 300 to replace the harsh ride of the stock shock. The replacement shock Cogent engineered offers approximately one inch of extra suspension travel, improved damping, along with preload and damping adjustability. Cogent was able to achieve this without using a piggyback or remote reservoir, so the cost is more reasonable and there are no fitment issues to deal with. Now with roughly 6.8 inches of suspension travel and premium damping control, the Versys-X 300 has better bump absorption and ground clearance in the dirt. Seat h is also raised roughly an inch, but at about 33.1 inches, it’s still relatively low. Swapping the stock 80/20 (Street/Dirt) dual sport tires for a set of DOT knobbies is one of the easiest ways to improve performance in the dirt. MotoZ are known for their competition off-road and enduro tires, but their Tractionator Adventure tires are street legal. They have an aggressive tread pattern, somewhere around the 25/75 range, to give our Versys a real edge in more technical terrain like steep inclines, wet mud, and loose gravel. Tread blocks are deep, but a specialized compound helps extend durability. So far, the grip in the dirt is much improved and they are predictable when they slide on asphalt. The Versys-X uses a 110/80-19 front and 130/80-17 rear, but they also come in a range of sizes for various adventure bikes. It’s fair to say the Versys-X impresses for a 300cc on the street with the capability to take you over 100 mph. It gains speed slowly though and it feels a little choked up in the lower RPMs. We wanted to see if we could open it up a bit and give it a more responsive low end for off-road riding. The Akrapovic Slip-On offers an increase in horsepower of 2.8% and 2.6% in torque. While the gains are modest, we noticed a snappier throttle response and it feels punchier down low. The noise level is similar to stock but it offers a richer sound that is music to the ears. What’s more, we shaved almost 5 pounds off the bike in the process. The carbon-fiber tip, Titanium sleeve, and carbon-fiber heat shield also offer a little flair to our Kawi.
  5. Kawasaki has always marketed their Versys-X 300 conservatively as a street bike designed to handle light off-road terrain. That may be what the engineers had in mind, but after getting some seat time on the stock machine, we began to realize there was a lot more potential. For years, ADV enthusiasts have been calling for a lighter, simpler, economical adventure bike that is capable off-road and smooth on the highway. The Versys-X didn’t quite get there from the factory, but it does have a good foundation with its smooth 296cc inline-twin pumping out 39.3 horsepower, a 386-pound wet weight, 200+ mile fuel range, wire-spoke wheels, low seat h, and an affordable $5,499 price tag. ADVERTISEMENT Despite its potential, there are several limitations that hold it back from being the versatile do-it-all ADV Bike it could be. The goal of this build was to outfit the Versys-X 300 for long-range off-road travel, with improvements in off-road performance, carrying capacity, and protection. Nothing too extreme that would take it out of its design envelope – just address a few of its weaknesses, enhance its strengths, and make a nice step forward in off-road capability. We’ve been wrenching away on our little Versys-X Project Bike for months now, experimenting with different aftermarket parts and even helping develop some new ones. It’s fair to say there aren’t a lot of aftermarket options out there for the Versys-X 300, but we scoured around until we found top-level componentry that offers real improvements. We are pretty excited with how it turned out. Check out what went into the build below. We also provide a full build sheet for the bike, including pricing for each part: PROTECTION Our first order of business was to give the Versys-X some proper protection for the trail. The stock plastic lower cowling really doesn’t protect from much more than pebbles. With an exhaust header that routes underneath the engine and low ground clearance, it’s a disaster waiting to happen on a rocky trail. There are also no stock hand guards to protect levers and the stock mirrors are not up for the hard knocks of off-road riding. Ricochet’s skid plate for the Versys-X 300 is constructed with 3/16″ 5052 H-32 aluminum and features wrap-around wings to help protect the cases. Coverage is good for both the exhaust, oil filter and sump. And with its durable anodized black finish, it stays looking good after riding through rock gardens. The plate includes cutouts for access to the oil drain plug, so you don’t have to remove it for routine maintenance. It also works with or without a centerstand. GIVI’s crash bars for the Versys-X 300 are made of 1” diameter steel with a connecting crossbar to help distribute the energy in a fall. It helps protect against those common tip overs and low-side falls on the trail – a good investment to avoid damaging the fragile plastic fairing or the radiator. GIVI crash bars feature a durable black powder coat finish and come with plastic sliders to help keep your bars looking scratch free. Whether it’s the tree branches constantly knocking your mirrors, or your helmet when you are banging through whoops, mirrors are one of those things that just get in the way off-road. The stock mirrors on the Versys-X 300 look more at home on a Ninja than a real adventure bike, so we put on a set of the tried and tested DoubleTake breakaway mirrors. Hit them with a bat and they just ask “May I have another please?”. They also handle falls on roots, logs or rocks just as well, and you can loosen them up and adjust them down flat on the handlebars so they won’t slap you in the face on those whooped out trails. Any handguards are better than no handguards, and that’s what the Versys-X 300 comes with from the factory – nilch. But we wanted something real sturdy to keep from being stranded on the trail with broken levers. These look like your typical metal-braced off-road handguards, but they also offer a little extra room for larger “street bike” master cylinders. There was ample room to fit all of our handlebar controls and enough coverage to provide some good wind protection for our hands on the highway. Off-Road Performance While we’ve been pleasantly surprised with how well the 300cc powerplant performs on the street – on both twisty back roads and long highway stretches – its off-road performance is what could use the most help. With just 5.1 inches of travel up front and 5.8 inches in the rear, it’s below average for adventure bike specs. A little more low-end power and some better grip from the tires were other performance improvements we wanted to make for the trail. With front end bottoming being the biggest problem holding the Versys-X 300 back on the trail, increasing suspension travel was a big priority. More travel would allow us to ride at increased speeds without blowing through the suspension and give us more ground clearance as well. We didn’t find any companies offering an upgrade for the Versys-X, so we reached out to Cogent Dynamics. They were already making lowering kits and suspension upgrades for the Versys-X 300, but had never tried extending the suspension travel. With our custom requirements, they increased fork travel by roughly one inch (~ 6.1 inches) and installed DDC Valves (Drop-In Damper Cartridge) for improved damping function over stock. Next we worked with Cogent to develop an all-new Monotube shock for the Versys-X 300 to replace the harsh ride of the stock shock. The replacement shock Cogent engineered offers approximately one inch of extra suspension travel, improved damping, along with preload and damping adjustability. Cogent was able to achieve this without using a piggyback or remote reservoir, so the cost is more reasonable and there are no fitment issues to deal with. Now with roughly 6.8 inches of suspension travel and premium damping control, the Versys-X 300 has better bump absorption and ground clearance in the dirt. Seat h is also raised roughly an inch, but at about 33.1 inches, it’s still relatively low. Swapping the stock 80/20 (Street/Dirt) dual sport tires for a set of DOT knobbies is one of the easiest ways to improve performance in the dirt. MotoZ are known for their competition off-road and enduro tires, but their Tractionator Adventure tires are street legal. They have an aggressive tread pattern, somewhere around the 25/75 range, to give our Versys a real edge in more technical terrain like steep inclines, wet mud, and loose gravel. Tread blocks are deep, but a specialized compound helps extend durability. So far, the grip in the dirt is much improved and they are predictable when they slide on asphalt. The Versys-X uses a 110/80-19 front and 130/80-17 rear, but they also come in a range of sizes for various adventure bikes. It’s fair to say the Versys-X impresses for a 300cc on the street with the capability to take you over 100 mph. It gains speed slowly though and it feels a little choked up in the lower RPMs. We wanted to see if we could open it up a bit and give it a more responsive low end for off-road riding. The Akrapovic Slip-On offers an increase in horsepower of 2.8% and 2.6% in torque. While the gains are modest, we noticed a snappier throttle response and it feels punchier down low. The noise level is similar to stock but it offers a richer sound that is music to the ears. What’s more, we shaved almost 5 pounds off the bike in the process. The carbon-fiber tip, Titanium sleeve, and carbon-fiber heat shield also offer a little flair to our Kawi.
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. [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.
  9. [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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. [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
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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
  20. 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:
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
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