Adventure Motorcycles reviews

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2016 - 2017 Honda VFR1200X

2016 - 2017 Honda VFR1200X

A Big Ol’ Street-Oriented Fun Machine

Honda brought its VFR1200X — a.k.a. the ’CrossTourer’ in other markets — to the U.S. back in 2016, and it rolled as a direct carryover into the ’17 model year. Built as an adventure bike with a bias toward the blacktop, the “X” sports a powerful, 129-horsepower engine and a choice between a manual, six-speed gearbox and Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission that provides seamless automatic gear changes sans clutch or toe shifter. The factory also sought to boost its tour-ability with its proprietary Selectable Torque Control, adjustable suspension components and a robust accessories lineup that boasts all manner of gadgets meant to expand capabilities and comfort alike. Around the world, the adventure-bike market is expanding like mad, and Honda is even taking some wind out of the X’s sails with its own Africa Twin model, so today I want to see if it has what it takes to compete in this rapidly evolving and expanding market.

Continue reading for my review of the Honda VFR1200X.

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2015 - 2018 Honda CB500X

2015 - 2018 Honda CB500X

Not A Lot Of Bike, But A Lot Of Bike For The Money

Honda’s CB500X pushes the adventure-bike envelope well into entry-level territory with a mid-displacement engine and low-impact price tag meant to bring more riders into the genre. Let’s face it; the one-liter Africa Twin and larger VFR1200X are a lot of bike for new riders who are not — I repeat: NOT — liable to ever see a trek down the Ivory Coast. Could it be used as a trainer for the larger bikes? Certainly, but its main lot in life will be as an urban commuter with the capacity to handle some poorly-maintained roads and the occasional pothole. If it sounds like I’m downplaying the bike a bit, I would submit that the urban adventure ride is about all most of us manage in a lifetime, thus making it good enough for its designed purpose.

Continue reading for my review of the Honda CB500X.

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2018 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports

2018 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Not A ’Soccer Mom’s SUV’ Equivalent Of An Adventure Bike

Honda’s Africa Twin Adventure Sports makes the jump from concept to production to further expand the CRF1000L lineup. This newest model — dubbed the CRF1000L2 — brings a decidedly more rugged visage to the table along with the same 998 cc powerplant that drives its more street-centric adventure siblings. I submit to you that the importance of this model goes beyond a handful of special features and a clever name; in a way, it fulfills the promise of the capabilities implicit with the “Africa Twin” moniker. The updated engine churns out 94 ponies with street-knobbies to put the power to the pavement and an updated suspension system to keep the rough roads and trails from rattling the fillings out of your head. What else has Honda done to capitalize on the popularity of its original AT models? Plenty, not only on this specific model, but across the whole range.

Continue reading for my look at the Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports.

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2018 BMW F 750 GS / F 850 GS

2018 BMW F 750 GS / F 850 GS

The New Kids On The Block For Adventure Touring

BMW presses on into adventure-bike territory with a new generation of F-GS models, the F 750 GS and F 850 GS. This adventuresome pair follows the same design as it predecessors with the 750 serving as a road tourer and the 850 set up for work in what you might call less-civilized areas be it fire trails, dirt roads or deserts. An all-new powerplant delivers 77 horsepower and 95 horsepower to the 750 and 850 respectively, and each enjoys other features specifically geared to its host’s purpose in life. The newly-redesigned frame and bodywork, in the words of the factory, give the range “a more dynamic and masculine design.” I’m not sure what to do with that since I tend to think of bikes like I think of boats, in the feminine, but I reckon someone at the factory decided to made the range ’identify’ as male this year. Wherever you land on the looks, form follows function on bikes like these (or at least it should) and so it’s the rest of the machine that should matter the most. Let’s dig in and check out the specialized gear and capabilities of these two all-new rides.

Continue reading for my look at the BMW F 750 GS and F 850 GS.

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2017 - 2018 BMW G 310 R / G 310 GS

2017 - 2018 BMW G 310 R / G 310 GS

BMW Heats Up The Small-Displacement Market

BMW’s G 310 R roadster got a brother as it moved into the 2017 model year with the addition of the adventuresome G 310 GS. The “GS” builds on the success of the “R” with a few subtle changes that shift the design toward the adventure bike end of the spectrum. Sharing the same 313 cc engine, the G 310 pair head into the low-displacement market alongside some hot competition.

Continue reading for my review of the BMW G 310 R and G 310 GS.

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2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Versys-X 300

2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Versys-X 300

A Street-Oriented Version Of The KLR

Kawasaki entered the 2017 model year with an eye toward the small-displacement adventure-bike market, and the all-new Versys-X 300 was its weapon of choice for this new front. The “X” joined the rest of the Versys adventure-bike lineup with the characteristic family flylines atop unique features all its own. Most apparent was the 296 cc engine attractive to riders looking to enter the adventure world as well as the young adults emerging as the new generation of pragmatic buyers.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Versys X-300.

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2015 - 2018 Kawasaki Versys 650 / Versys 650 LT / Versys 1000 LT

2015 - 2018 Kawasaki Versys 650 / Versys 650 LT / Versys 1000 LT

Equally At Home On The Interstate Or On Twisty Roads

Introduced to the U.S. market in 2008, the Versys stable doesn’t really fit into any one slot. Sharing design elements with adventure tourers, sportbikes, and standard bikes, the Versys makes its own class of versatile commuter/weekender/tourer/grocery-getter bikes. Unless you want an all-out go-fast bike, the Versys lineup has a little something for everyone. A water-cooled 649 cc parallel twin drives the 650 and 650 LT and the 1000 LT gets a 1043 cc engine, also water-cooled, though engine size isn’t the only difference. The ’LT’ models are meant to take you on the long haul, but even between these two, one is more ’tourer’ than the other.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Versys 650, Versys 650 LT and Versys 1000 LT.

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2016 - 2017 Triumph Tiger Explorer XR

2016 - 2017 Triumph Tiger Explorer XR

Triumph’s 1200 cc On-Road-Centric Adventure Bike

It’s really tough to make an adventure bike that will truly do it all and the folks down at Triumph Motorcycles don’t even waste any time trying. While Triumph has the dirt-tastic XC sibling to cover the off-road work, the streetwise Tiger Explorer XR comes set up for more urban/civilized adventures with adjustable WP suspension components and Brembo brakes with ABS protection. A 1,215 cc three-banger mill drives it all with 139 horsepower on tap, enough to push it well into power-tourer territory. There are a number of variants built on the base XR, all of which come with more top-shelf bits, but don’t be fooled into thinking the base model is all that lacking in any department ’cause it seems to have everything one needs to go traipsing hither and yon.

Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Tiger Explorer XR.

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2017 Triumph Tiger Explorer XCx / XCa

2017 Triumph Tiger Explorer XCx / XCa

Triumph’s 1200 cc Off-Road-Centric Adventure Bike

If the phrase “British Explorers” brings to mind fond memories of Safari hats and 24-7 solar coverage of the Empire, then I’ve another visual for you to plug into the equation; Triumph’s Tiger Explorer XC family. Based on the entry-level XR range, the XC siblings build up to the XCx that adds cornering traction control and ABS to the 139 ponies that reside in the engine cases, and the XCa that expands the yummy-goodness even more with a tire-pressure monitor and two additional rider modes. Is there more? You betcha. Trumpet really went to great lengths to bring top-notch touring capabilities and an adventure-some spirit together.

Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Tiger Explorer XCx and XCa.

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Ducati Multistrada 950

Ducati Multistrada 950

Coming Soon, A Multistrada 950 Touring Model

Since it came out back in ’03, Ducati’s Multistrada family has gotten a lot of love from the riding community. It’s seen a number of upgrades and engine changes over the years, and the new-for-2017 “950” serves as the smallest Multistrada model this year. I wouldn’t call this an entry-level bike by any means, but it is the most accessible of Ducati’s multi-bikes, and thus is likely to help bridge the gap for folks looking to test the adventure-bike waters as it were. A 937 cc Testastretta powerplant drives the ride with 100-plus horsepower on tap and a host of safety-related features bundled in with the Ducati Safety Pack. Today I want to check out this newest bit of Ducatisti bait, and see how the genre has continued to evolve.

Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Multistrada 950.

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2017 - 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro / Enduro Pro

2017 - 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro / Enduro Pro

One Of The Nicer Adventure Bikes Out There

The Multistrada Enduro serves as a sort of Jack-of-all-trades as far as bikes go, and Ducati expands the family footprint even further for MY18 with the addition of the Enduro Pro. While it’s safe to say the base Enduro is capable of traversing the black as well as the brown, the Pro version brings a decidedly off-road bias to the table, not unlike some of the other serious business dual-surface rides out there. We’ll see for sure here shortly. The new variant has the same 152-horsepower plant as the base Enduro with a handful of useful bits and bobs such as tank protectors, a low-profile windscreen and Rally-style tires that really give it the off-road slant. Today I’m going to check out the Enduros in depth to see what all Duc has done for its dirtiest Jack to date.

Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro and Enduro Pro.

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2016 - 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

2016 - 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

When you add a Gran Turismo suffix to the name of a bike, it had better be more than just a streetbike with a set of bags, and it seems that KTM agrees. The new-in-2016 Super Duke GT sports the same 1,290 cc, 173-horsepower plant and much the same chassis as the rest of the family, but the factory boosted the tourability with a set of hard-side panniers and cruise control to go along with a host of comfort- and safety-related features, to include ABS, traction control and more. Best of all, the engineers managed to retain much of the sporty attitude and ability associated with the range to produce a true sport-tourer, so without further ado, let’s check out the details.

Continue reading for my review of the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.

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2017 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro Pro

2017 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro Pro

The wild one gets bigger teeth and claw to take up anything coming its way.

We all know that Ducati is one such motorcycle maker which makes machines straight from the heart. Every motorcycle in the stable of Ducati speaks of some purpose which is beautifully blended with the pinch of hardcore passion. Ducati made a surprising move some half a decade ago when it unveiled the Multistrada for the first time in front of the world. Out of all the motorcycles from Ducati, the Multistrada proved out to be the most practical motorcycle which still doesn’t miss out on the specific Ducati principles.

The Multistrada gradually went on creating a new niche of motorcycles, thus changing the image of Ducati as a manufacturer of only hard-core supersports. Then in 2015, they gave us the Enduro edition. Unlike the urban design of the standard Multistrada 1200, the new Multistrada 1200 Enduro claims to expose the wild side of Ducati, with its pure adventure appeal.

Now in 2017, the brand has taken it to the next level. They have given the adventure junkie more tools to let the 1200 Enduro go “even more globetrotter with the Pro version”. To allow treading on even less-beaten track, the Pro features rally tyres, new tank bars, new colour schemes, type-approved titanium exhaust sets and more. Let me go ranting about them:

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2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S

2017 BMW R NineT Urban G/S

A sophisticated nostalgia kicking some dust.

Success was not a problem with BMW, especially for their R NineT. It has absolutely been a hit story for the German ever since it launched the R Nine T in 2013. It was so good that BMW struggled initially to keep up with the demand and they released one version after the other in succession to the world stage that includes the Pure (roadster) and Racer (café/endurance-style), as well as the Scrambler. It is a no brainer that BMW Motorrad will see it fitting to extend their range even further.

The GS motorcycles refer to either Gelände/Straße (German: off-road/road) and are distinguished by their long travel suspension, upright riding position and larger front wheels. Taking up the same moniker is the Urban G/S which is a purpose built street-oriented motorcycle that has a charm bound to resonate with onlookers. Based on the ‘Lac Rose’ concept seen at Wheels and Waves earlier last year, the German finally took the wraps off their new 2017 BMW R nineT Urban G/S at the previous EICMA in Milan.

Paying homage to the original 1980 BMW R80G/S, this urban combines the classic motorcycle with modern technology and sophisticated craftsmanship that can transport anyone back to the days when the GS abbreviation meant a sense of freedom and the passion for adventure on two wheels, both on-road and off-road. But this time they’re for looks and not for bashing your way across unpaved expanses of Africa.

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2017 CSC Motorcycles RX3

2017 CSC Motorcycles RX3

For Affordable Adventure

The CSC Motorcycles, importer of Chinese-made scooters and motorcycles, expands its footprint in the U.S. market with the addition of the RX3 Adventure. This mini-adventure brings genre-typical features to the table with a 250 cc engine that has almost 25-horsepower on tap to push its touring and light-terrain equipment up to 84 mph. While the stock ride comes with everything you need for the above activities, the factory makes sure you have upgrades available in its accessories catalog to further increase its capacity for adventure.

Continue reading for my look at the CSC Motorcycles RX3.

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2017 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900

2017 Aprilia Dorsoduro 900

The supermoto crossover from Noale has everyone raise an eyebrow.

Aprilia has been firing on all pistons to give the world class leading performance motorcycles that make the riding aphrodisiac’s hearts racing. And as with them trying to stay with changing times, they add new updated models every year to their existing lineup to keep things fresh. Although they never made many headways before, it seems like they have now learnt things the hard way and have been busy making bikes that speak for themselves and beam technical prowess.

First seen on the EICMA 2016 stage, Aprilia launched the updated model of its adventure crossover, Dorsoduro 900. Dubbed as a “True Thrill Generator”, Aprilia have been making the Dorsoduro crossover for some time now, and it used to run on a 750cc before. Now, Noale has updated the part-supermortard-part-sportbike motorcycle with an all-new 900cc machine that also makes a scene in the Shiver 900.

With more modern technologies and features embedded into a fine tune chassis built with the experience of the Aprilia Racing Department, there isn’t much that could go wrong with this adventure crossover here. New electronics, refined mechanics and an excellent chassis structure sees this motorcycle take new levels of riding pleasure and we are here to find out how.

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