Racing Off-Road Motorcycle reviews

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2021 - 2022 KTM 450 SMR

2021 - 2022 KTM 450 SMR

Back by popular demand, the 450 SMR is a contender right off the showroom floor

MY2021 brought with it the return of the KTM 450 SuperMoto to the paddock after a seven-year hiatus, and it looks like just what the doctor ordered if power-drifting, racing, and stunt riding – or any combination thereof – is your thing. It sports the proven 450 engine that comes with a smattering of rider-aid electronics so you can dial in the bike’s personality as you like. Additionally, the frame is adjustable, and the suspension comes off the top shelf to finish off the package.

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2016 - 2020 Suzuki DR-Z400S / DR-Z400SM

2016 - 2020 Suzuki DR-Z400S / DR-Z400SM

Suzuki Still Has Carbureted Dual Sports

Pitting the fuel-injection fans against the carburetor fans, we score a point for the latter with the DR-Z400S and DR-Z400SM from Suzuki. Fuel injection hasn’t yet made an appearance in Suzuki’s dual-sport lineup, which was a good thing or a bad thing, depending on which side of the fence you’re on. For 2020, the DR-Z siblings haven’t yet been touched by the FI update. Sharing the same engine as the 500EXC from KTM, the DR-Zs come on a different chassis with progressive-link rear suspension. The “SM” — the SuperMoto of the family — and the “S” feature a six-liter air box with quick-release fasteners trouble-free access to the air filter and special low profile mirrors that rotate hoping to avoid damage, both are pluses when you’re playing in the dirt.

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2019 - 2020 KTM 690 Enduro R

2019 - 2020 KTM 690 Enduro R

It’s equipped with electronics you’d expect to find on an adventure bike

The KTM 690 Enduro R joins its streetwise sibling, the 690 SMC R, to finish covering all the bases for street and dirt. As its diabolically clever name suggests, the “Enduro” is set up to be street legal so you can drive it down to your favorite off-road locale and skip the trailer and tow vehicle. Far from being just another dual-sport, the Enduro rocks the same top-shelf electronic rider aids as the SMC R to give it a safety and stability far beyond the norm for an off-road machine. The factory also chucked a new frame and top-shelf, WP XPLOR suspension at it to sweeten the deal.

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2019 KTM 450 Rally Replica

2019 KTM 450 Rally Replica

This Is For Serious Dakar, Rally Raid, And Cross-Country Rally Riders

For almost two decades, KTM has been a fixture at the top of the field in the Paris-to-Dakar Rally, and the 450 Rally Factory Replica is meant to pay homage to the bike that carried Sam Sunderland to victory in the 2019 Silk Way Rally. That’s right sports fans, the actual factory rally bike just dominated a race that traverses the Gobi Desert and crosses the borders of Russia, Mongolia, and China, and this is the public model made in its image. It’s not a machine for the casual off-road rider, but rather, it’s built with would-be rally racers in mind, and toward that end, the “Rally FR” doesn’t waste any weight on superfluous equipment.

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2019 - 2020 Honda CRF450L

2019 - 2020 Honda CRF450L

It’s More Than Just an Off-Roader With A Tag Holder

If you’re all about that trail-life, but aren’t necessarily feeling the trailer-life aspect of it, then Honda’s new CRF450L was built with you in mind. The “L” is based on the CRF450R, and was designed as a sister-bike to the 450X of the same family. It’s a street-legal machine with mirrors and lights that’ll let you connect the dots between your favorite trails via blacktop. As for the brown top, a 449 cc plant generates the power with a light-pull clutch and knobbies to keep it under control.

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2018 First Look: Indian Motorcycle Scout FTR1200 Custom

2018 First Look: Indian Motorcycle Scout FTR1200 Custom

Concept Flat-Tracker For The Street

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or are in denial about your team getting completely owned by Indian Motorcycle’s flat-track racing team, the Wrecking Crew, chances are you’re aware of the recent leap from obscurity to the pinnacle of FT racing prowess under the Polaris umbrella. In honor of this recent success, and in an effort to ride the current wave of popularity and interest in this storied American brand, Indian has put together a street-legal ride fit for the masses; the Scout FTR1200 Custom. As the cleverly-ingenious name suggests, it’s based on the Scout platform, but any resemblance to the actual Scout seems to be solely in name and the general engine layout. In fact, let’s just shine on the whole Scout thing for the moment, and focus on what this bike actually is, shall we?

Continue reading for my look at the Indian Motorcycle Scout FTR1200 Custom.

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2015 - 2018 Kawasaki KLR 650

2015 - 2018 Kawasaki KLR 650

A Dual-Purpose Ride With Real Off-Road Roots

Equipped with a 651 cc thumper and what looks like a beefy front end, the KLR 650 from Kawasaki is a capable middleweight dual-purpose ride. Big enough to be an adventure bike, but not really intended as such, the KLR 650 has an ample-size fuel tank, frame, rims and suspension that show true off-road roots, yet has enough straight-line stability to handle the pavement. If not-quite-adventure, but more than dirtbike is what you need, the KLR 650 might be your Huckleberry.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki KLR 650.

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2016 - 2017 Yamaha YZ450F

2016 - 2017 Yamaha YZ450F

On The Verge Of The Next Generation

When Yamaha redesigned the YZ450F engine back in 2010, it really struck a balance between power and control. The 2015 version carried top-shelf racers such as Weston Peick and Justin Barcia to podium finishes, so there is no denying that the largest of the YZ family is already an accomplished model. Not content to rest on its laurels, the factory introduced a number of improvements for the 2016 model year that carried over into 2017. How does one improve upon success? Let’s take a look and find out.

Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha YZ450F.

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2018 AJP Motorcycles PR7

2018 AJP Motorcycles PR7

First Look At The Spankin’ Dual Sport From Portugal

Portugese off-road heavyweight AJP is looking to expand its influence in the U.S. market with a street-legal version of its popular PR7 adventure bike for 2018. The factory is keeping power figures close to the vest for the time being, but it’s fairly forthcoming with all the other metrics, and I know the 600 cc SWM engine that powers it puts out something in the neighborhood of 50 horsepower. That said, I’d like to take a look at this latest and final version of the PR7, but first I’d like to take a look at the builder.

Continue reading for my first look at the AJP Motorcycles PR7.

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2017 CSC Motorcycles TT250

2017 CSC Motorcycles TT250

A Gutsy Dual-Sport That Challenges Your Opinion Of Chinese Motorcycles

CSC Motorcycles — a west-coast importer for Chongqing Zongshen — brings us a dandy dual-sport bike in the TT250. With a 230 cc engine that offers manageable torque and horsepower, the TT250 gives us Enduro styling in a street-legal dual sport for off-road fun or economical commutes at an amazingly affordable price. It’s a gutsy little Chinese bike that is easy to start and runs quite well, so if your preconceived notion of Chinese bikes is that they’re crap, you might want to take another look.

Continue reading for my review of the CSC Motorcycles TT250.

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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 Honda CRF250L / CRF250L Rally

2017 Honda CRF250L / CRF250L Rally

Honda’s CRF series has been around since MY13, and 2017 sees the first major update for the family. Among the changes, the factory added another 1.6 horsepower over the previous generation, and it added the “Rally” to the lineup for even more capacity for fun when the blacktop turns to brown. These rides are built for people who take their fun seriously, according to the factory, but just how serious you can get with one depends on your definition of the word. Is it a machine that will suit your purposes? Let’s take a look and find out.

Continue reading for my look at the Honda CRF250L and CRF250L Rally.

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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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2016 - 2017 Rokon Scout / Rokon Ranger

2016 - 2017 Rokon Scout / Rokon Ranger

I can’t say enough good things about these Rokons, and quite frankly, neither can their owners. They have a frame that can withstand the punishment of wilderness riding and an enormous ground clearance. They’re lightweight, have hydraulic brakes; and they have an engine you can’t kill. They pull, they tow and they climb like a mountain goat. If you have business out in the woods, these babies are your huckleberry.

New in 2016, Rokon introduced the Ranger to add to the stable alongside the Scout and its siblings, the Trail-Breaker and the Rokon for Hunters.

Continue reading for my review of the Rokon Scout and Ranger.

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2016 - 2017 Christini AWD Military

2016 - 2017 Christini AWD Military

I enjoy writing military hardware pieces, but usually the information is academic because the machines aren’t available to the public. Not so with the Christini AWD 450 Military Edition. Even thought it was designed for military use, Christini decided to make it available to the general public, thus moving it from the realm of wishful thinking into that of possibility. Possible daydreams are my favorite.

Christini partnered up with James King, founder of the Tactical Mobility Training program in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to produce a training regimen for U.S. troops who use the Christini AWD bike. The program was designed to train riders to operate deep within enemy territory, far away from roads or other infrastructure. This ride isn’t just for military applications either – police, park rangers and first responders will find it a useful addition to their motor pools and it can also serve as a viable option to traditional ATV/UTV-type vehicles used in hunting pursuits.

Continue reading for my review of the Christini AWD 450 Military Edition.

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2015 - 2017 Ural Patrol

2015 - 2017 Ural Patrol

Back in the day, a horse and sleigh took you over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house. Today, it’s a two-wheel-drive, all-terrain Patrol from Ural. This street-legal adventure motorcycle is comfortable as a touring bike, but is as off-road capable as its brother, the Gear Up.

Who would have thought you could have so much fun with a sidecar? Of course, the folks at Ural do. Anyone who owns one of these awesome sidecar bikes knows what "UDF" is: Ural Delay Factor. It’s that extra 15 minutes you have to add to your trip’s time estimation anytime you leave the house on one of these because inevitably, people are going to want to talk to you about what you’re riding.

Continue reading for my review of the Ural Patrol.

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2015 - 2016 Honda CRF250L

2015 - 2016 Honda CRF250L

Released in 2012 as a 2013 model, the 2016 CRF250L is basically a carry-over from that first launch. Wearing its motocross heritage proudly, the CRF250L brings a street-legal choice to Honda’s CRF stable, joining the XR650L in the dual-sport category.

It’s spunky and fun to ride, but how does it stack up when put through its paces? Overall, fairy well and when you look at the price, it’s not a bad bike for what you get.

Continue reading for my review of the Honda CRF250L.

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2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro / Pike's Peak

2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro / Pike’s Peak

Two new members arrive in the Ducati Multistrada 1200 stable for 2016: the Enduro and the Pike’s Peak. Breaking with tradition, Ducati jumps with both feet into the adventure market with a tried-and-true Multistrada base and gives us a truly off-road-capable performance machine in the Enduro and a nod to hill-climb racing success with the Pike’s Peak.

They might have the same DVT engine and the same basic chassis, but with so many updates and upgrades, these two 1200s are really in their own class. In short, these aren’t your dad’s Multistrada.

Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Endure and Multistrada 1200 Pike’s Peak.

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