Tag Archives: Adventure & Dual-Sport Motorcycle Reviews

2020 Yamaha WR250F vs WR250R | Comparison Test

2020 Yamaha WR250F vs WR250R Comparison Test
Dirt bikes like Yamaha’s 2020 WR250F (left) are light, fast and incredibly nimble off-road, but with no license plate to appease the authorities, first you have to get it there somehow. A good alternative is a lightweight dual-sport like the Yamaha WR250R (right), which harnesses much of the F’s ability in a less-expensive package…and it’s street legal.

Life is so simple when you’re young. As teens and 20-somethings we thought nothing of loading up our dirt bikes, gas cans, firewood, chili, beer, chips and more beer in the ol’ pickup truck and heading out to ride in the desert and OHV parks, sometimes for days. Sleep usually came in a camp chair by the dwindling fire, or in the back of the truck. It was all about the riding, and après riding, so all of the effort and time involved just getting there went unnoticed.

Dirt bike riding and ownership is definitely more complicated than living with a street-legal bike, however, and that complication creates inertia that can be hard to overcome when you get older and busier and are dealing with, say, kids, a job and a mortgage. Off-road riding is fun, exciting, challenging and helps build skills you can use on the street, but since the bike can only be ridden off-road in designated areas, first you have to get it there. That requires a truck or tow vehicle and trailer of some sort, ramps to load the bike in the truck, tie-downs to secure it and the skill and ability to do all of that in the first place. Add to that loading up all of your riding gear, water, food, sunblock and first aid kit and you’re good to go…after about an hour’s worth of effort.

2020 Yamaha WR250F vs WR250R Comparison Test
The extra weight on the typical dual-sport versus a dirt bike comes from the addition of DOT-approved lighting, wheels, tires, emissions equipment and more, but the weight difference has been narrowing in recent years.

Once you arrive at the riding area—from my house the closest is about an hour’s drive—then it’s time to unload everything, gear up and go riding. Which is heaven! Once you acquire some basic off-road riding skills, either on your own, by riding with friends or at a training school, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of exploring single-track trails, conquering hill climbs, sand washes and desert moguls or dark forest paths between trees. Dirt bikes are light and have big power-to-weight ratios, so just twisting the throttle on one and shooting down a dirt road is a major rush. And once you learn how, many of the hooligan antics—wheelies, sliding, burnouts, etc.—that would land you in jail on the street are par for the course off-road.

Tired and had enough riding for the day? OK, load it all up once again, and unload one more time when you get home. Wash the bike, drain its carburetor if it has one (and the bike will sit for a while until the next ride), get cleaned up and collapse on the couch. Sound fun? It really is, particularly if the type of off-road riding you do and your skill level really warrant a non-street-legal dirt bike. The 2020 Yamaha WR250F we sampled for this story, for example, weighs just 255 pounds gassed up and has fully adjustable suspension with more than 12 inches of travel at each end. Its liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC 4-valve, 4-stroke single revs briskly and makes whopping torque and top end power, fed through a wide-ratio (hence the WR) transmission that’s good for slow technical trails, flat-out flying and everything in between. Lights and an electric starter round out a mission-critical package that can tackle just about anything off-road.

2020 Yamaha WR250F vs WR250R Comparison Test
Dirt bikes can still eat a dual-sport for lunch off-road, except when it comes to the amount of time, effort and expense getting there.

But what if you just want to do some off-road exploring, perhaps at a mellower pace, and have no interest in all of the additional expense and logistical hassle of getting you and a dirt bike out to a riding area? Adventure bikes are all the rage these days and can handle some off-road riding, but they’re expensive and most of us don’t have the skills to pilot a 500-plus-pound behemoth down much more than a dirt fire road. Even the smaller KTM 390 Adventure tested in this issue weighs 387 pounds wet—that’s like adding a passenger to the weight of the typical dirt bike.

If your off-road forays are not too far away—or even if they are and you’re OK taking frequent breaks along the way—a good alternative to truck ownership or big ADV machines is a light single-cylinder dual-sport bike. For the least weight and most performance, the European makers like KTM and Husqvarna offer some very serious (and expensive) lightweight dual-sports. But all of the Japanese manufacturers also sell less expensive models in displacements from 200 to 650cc. The 250s run from just 296 to about 321 pounds and still make enough power for riders (who aren’t exceptionally large) to not only tackle a lot of the same terrain dirt bikes can—at a slower pace—but they can also be ridden to the trailhead from home, skipping the whole load/unload/repeat process. More dirt is open to a dual-sport as well, since unlike a dirt bike it has a license plate and is legal on the thousands of miles of unpaved public roads that connect, for example, ghost towns in Nevada and the national forests in Tennessee.

2020 Yamaha WR250F vs WR250R Comparison Test
The uniform for dirt riding is generally a little lighter-weight and cooler on the outside due to the extra exertion involved, but I’m protected underneath with an armored shirt, shorts and Fly Racing Pivot knee guards. Goggles keep out dust better than a face shield.

The 2020 Yamaha WR250R we sampled for this story shares much of its WR250F sibling’s DNA, but has far fewer unobtanium bits for racing so it costs $1,900 less. Yet at 296 pounds gassed up, it’s still the lightest of the affordable Japanese 200/250 dual-sports. The WR250R’s liquid-cooled single is based on the F’s 250cc race-ready enduro motor and shares the same bore and stroke, but among other changes has lower compression and mellower cam profiles for more street tractability. Seat height is still quite tall at 36.6 inches, but that’s an inch lower than the F’s, and the R still soaks up the bumps with 10.6 inches of fully adjustable suspension travel at each end. And it averages 61 mpg!

The WR-R’s design can’t take the pounding that its tougher enduro-inspired sibling can, but unlike many dual-sports it was built more for off-road than road, so you can tackle some pretty gnarly single-track terrain, ruts, rocks and jumps if it’s not too heavily loaded. The trade-off, of course, is its lower level of on-road comfort. Though it’s surprisingly smooth at highway speed and cruises right along at 65-70 mph without the engine feeling like it’s going to blow up, the seat is tall, narrow and hard, and the bike can get blown around in high winds. I have no problem riding it on the highway for a couple hours at a stretch before I need a break, though, and the aftermarket offers more comfortable seats, soft luggage (see the review on page 62) and suspension lowering kits as well as lots of bolt-ons to upgrade its off-road chops. Gearing can be easily raised or lowered depending upon how much off-road riding you actually end up doing, and the suspension beefed up as needed.

2020 Yamaha WR250F vs WR250R
The uniform for dirt riding is generally a little lighter-weight and cooler on the outside due to the extra exertion involved, but I’m protected underneath with an armored shirt, shorts and Fly Racing Pivot knee guards. Goggles keep out dust better than a face shield.

Thirty years ago, I would have chosen a dirt bike every time for any kind of off-road riding. Today convenience and cost are more important than speed and ultimate capability, which makes a bike like the WR250R dual-sport the obvious choice. 

2020 Yamaha WR250F vs WR250R Comparison Test
From their appearances alone it’s easy to see why the WR250F (right) is the superior machine for off-road riding. But the WR250R can follow it nearly anywhere at a slower pace, and keep going when the road requires a license plate.

Mark’s Gear (WR250F):
Helmet: Fly Racing Formula Vector
Goggles: Fly Racing Zone Pro
Jersey: Fly Racing Kinetic K120
Pants: Fly Racing Evolution
Boots: Fly Racing FR5

Greg’s Gear (WR250R):
Helmet: Shoei Hornet x2
Jacket: Scorpion Yosemite
Pants: Scorpion Yosemite
Boots: Alpinestars Corozal

2020 Yamaha WR250R/WR250F Specs:

Website: Yamaha
Base Price: $6,699/$8,599
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled single, DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 77.0 x 53.6mm
Displacement: 250cc
Fuel Delivery: EFI
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 55.9/58.3 in.
Rake/Trail: 26.7/27.2 degrees; 4.4/4.6 in.
Seat Height: 36.6/37.6 in.
Wet Weight: 296/255 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 2.0/2.2 gals
MPG: 91 AKI min (avg): 61.0/NA

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700 | First Ride Review

Yamaha Tenere 700
The last MT-07 we tested delivered 57.6 average mpg, which would make the T7’s 4.2-gallon tank good for more than 240 miles. If you can tame your right wrist, that is. Photos by Brian J. Nelson.

As the ADV market has been trending toward middleweight machines, perhaps the most anticipated new bike after KTM’s 790 Adventure is Yamaha’s 2021 Ténéré 700, based on the compact and torque-rich Crossplane parallel twin from the MT-07. After being teased since late 2016 with action-packed videos featuring aggressive Dakar-style riding sequences, the Ténéré 700, or T7, is finally here and it’s not nearly as hardcore as the prototype. But that’s OK, because most of us can’t ride like 6-time Yamaha Dakar Champion Stephane Peterhansel through the dunes of Africa.

A quick glance at Yamaha’s lineup reveals a gap in its street-legal but dirt-worthy lineup between the WR250R and the Super Ténéré T12, and there is plenty of room for another player in the middleweight ADV segment currently occupied by BMW, KTM and Triumph. Most manufacturers have fully embraced the electronic aids arms race, with riding modes, IMU’s, ride-by-wire throttle, traction control, wheelie control, lean angle specific ABS, electronic suspension, color TFT dashes and more, which begs the question: how many rider aids do you need or are you willing to pay for? The T7 is a dramatic departure — its sole rider aid is ABS that is switchable when stopped, which works well. As someone who spends most of his time on lightweight dirt bikes without any electronic interventions, I felt immediately comfortable on the Ténéré 700 with its light clutch, smooth shifting and excellent fueling.

Yamaha Tenere 700
Flat YZ-style seat is part of the T7’s rally-bred design and allows lots of movement. The bike’s slim tail also has a built-in handhold.

Swinging my MX boot over the 34.6-inch-high narrow YZ-style seat (there is also a lower seat, and rear linkage available that lowers the seat by 1.5 inches) reveals a relatively narrow tank and comfortably wide tapered handlebar with half waffle grips protected with plastic hand guards. The foldable serrated footpegs have removable rubber inserts for road riding, and both brake and shift lever have foldable tips like a dirt bike. An aluminum skid plate protects from rock hits (and doubles as a gong at times) and the front fender adjusts 8mm to allow for taller full knobby tires and room for mudpack.

The high vertically shaped LCD display is easy to read with tach, gear display, speed and clock. Using the right grip switchgear, you can toggle through other modes including air temp, two tripmeters, current and average fuel consumption, and disengage the ABS directly on the display. Unfortunately, bombing down a dusty road in a group renders the display almost useless. Bring a soft cloth. And rough roads vibrated the display fairly hard, making us wonder about its longevity. The sturdy crossbar above the LCD should be great for mounting a GPS, GoPro, phone, etc. One 12V outlet is standard and there’s room for another.

Yamaha Tenere 700
Multi-function vertical mount LCD instrument offers good visibility whether sitting down or standing up. Switchable ABS on/off button is in lower right corner.

The T7 shares Yamaha’s CP2 689cc parallel-twin with its naked sport-standard street bike, the MT-07, which made 68.6 horsepower at 8,800 rpm and 47.6 lb-ft of torque at 6,400 rpm at the rear wheel on the Jett Tuning dyno the last time we tested a 2016 model. This overachieving motor is impressive and has a wide sweet spot throughout the well-spaced gearing. In addition to updates to the ECU, the T7 twin gets a new airbox with a higher snorkel, revised cooling system and upswept exhaust and a final gear ratio of 46/15 vs. 43/16. The rest of bike is all-new, including the narrow double-cradle tubular-steel frame, triangulated (welded-on) subframe, double braced steering head and aluminum swingarm. 

I’m a big fan of the T7’s narrow and tall Dakar styling that begs you to go stand-up dirt riding. Its flat YZ-style seat and upswept muffler, slim tail section with side panels that look like number plates complete the look and complement the riding experience. Sitting down at higher speeds the tall windscreen produced more coverage than expected and kept the majority of the wind blast off my chest at highway speeds. I experienced no buffeting wearing an MX helmet and there weren’t any noticeable engine vibes to complain about.

Yamaha Tenere 700
With no electronic rider aids other than ABS that can be turned off, there’s no traction control to intervene against the usual off-road antics.

Kevin’s Gear
Helmet: Fly Racing Formula Vector
Goggles: Fly Racing Zone
Jersey and Pants: Fly Racing Kinetic Mesh
Boots: Fly Racing FR5
Gloves: Fly Racing Pro Lite

The T7’s sturdy 36-spoke 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels shod with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tube-type tires that worked reasonably well in the dirt didn’t turn out to be a major compromise on the street. The bike steers quickly and accurately, without the usual vagueness from a 21-inch front, perhaps due to the 48% front and 52% rear weight bias, and felt like a supermoto bike on the twisty paved back roads. In the dirt the lighter front bias helps unweight the front under power.

Our dirt-heavy 140-mile loop at the T7’s introduction in Tennessee was a dirt tracker’s dream, winding through gorgeous sun-filtered forest canopies on forest roads with varying amounts of gravel on top to keep you on your toes. The Crossplane 270-degree crankshaft motor is super torquey and won me over in no time. It’s the hands-down star of the show and provided heaps of confidence in hard pack conditions with a loose top layer whether seated or comfortably standing. Keep the Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires in line or let the rear slide, the choice is yours.

Yamaha Tenere 700
The CP2 Crossplane twin from the MT-07 has always made plenty of low-end and midrange torque, and it comes on even sooner in the T7.

The best dirt section was a Jeep trail that was embedded with rocks and other obstacles like ruts, numerous water bars, sand, broken tree branches, loose rocks and even a rogue black bear. Knowing what we were about to encounter, the sneaky Yamaha staff changed the bikes’ suspension settings before you could say, “Where’s the mosquito repellent?”

The stiffer setup showcased the available adjustment within the stock KYB suspension. The 43mm fork has 8.3 inches of travel and is adjustable for compression and rebound damping, while the rear piggyback shock with progressive linkage has 7.9 inches of travel with adjustable compression and rebound damping and a remote knob for adjusting the spring preload.

Although there’s a decent 9.4 inches of ground clearance to work with and the T7 is lighter than most of the competition at a claimed 452 pounds wet, add another 200 pounds of fully geared rider and you’ll want to reserve the biggest launches for your dirt bike. Even when bottoming out, however, there wasn’t any nervous feedback. We even limboed under a downed tree only to find a larger tree around the corner forcing us to turn around.

Yamaha Tenere 700
Riding conditions in Tennessee included a little bit of everything, including lots of deep water crossings. Dive! Dive! Dive!

No doubt the T7 is a solid package off road at spirited speeds, with one exception, the brakes. As a seasoned dirt rider, I found the both front and rear required higher effort than expected, had vague feedback and required too much attention, particularly in loose dirt combined with the 50/50 tires versus full knobs, and I began using the transmission for help slowing down. The softness might be built-in by design for entry-level riders. Brembo brakes have front twin-piston 28mm floating calipers with 282mm dual discs and the rear relies on a single-piston 34mm floating caliper with a 245mm disc.

Fuel capacity is 4.2 gallons, and at the end of our aggressive ride the last bar on the fuel gauge was blinking after just 130 miles. Past experience with this engine has shown that you can expect more than 200 miles from a tankful with a tamer right wrist. While dual sports connect trails, the T7 will allow you to connect states.

Yamaha Tenere 700
We liked nearly everything about the T7 except its braking feel up front, which Yamaha seems to have given a soft initial bite for off-road riding.

At just $9,999 for the Ténéré 700, the Yamaha is now the low-cost, low-weight leader of the middleweight ADV class if its claimed wet weight holds true on the Rider scale in a week or two. Yamaha also offers a lot of accessories for the T7, including two bundle packs that are a good value. The $1,549.43 Rally Pack includes an engine guard, radiator protector, oversize aluminum skid plate, tank pad, mono-seat rack, chain guide and centerstand, and the $2,264.94 Tour Pack includes an engine guard, centerstand, aluminum side cases and side case mounts and lock set.

After a day on the T7 I was still eager to keep riding. It’s not a hair-on-fire ADV race bike, purpose-built to explode sand dunes. It’s simply a fun on- and off-road motorcycle that also happens to be affordable and could pull light commuter duty as well. With all the craziness in the world today, disappearing into the woods or any other isolated location sounds like a good plan, and that’s not the moonshine talking.

2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700
Website: yamahamotorsports.com
Base Price: $9,999
Engine Type: Liguid-cooled, transverse parallel twin, DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 80.0mm x 68.6mm
Displacement: 689cc
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 62.8 in.
Rake/Trail: 27.0 degrees/4.1 in.
Seat Height: 34.6 in.
Claimed Wet Weight: 452 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 4.2 gals., last 1.1-gal. warning light on
MPG: 86 octane min (high/avg/low) NA

Keep scrolling for more photos…

Yamaha Tenere 700
An all-new perimeter steel frame on the T7 has removable lower frame rails for engine
maintenance, a triangulated sub frame and double-braced steering head.
Yamaha Tenere 700
Hand guards, a crossbar for mounting electronics such as a GPS and four LED headlights–two high beam, two low–are standard.
Yamaha Tenere 700
A robust aluminum skid plate is standard but Yamaha offers a burlier option if you’re so inclined.
Yamaha Tenere 700
Fully adjustable fork offers 8.3 inches of travel, and there’s 7.9 in the back. Scorpion Rally STR tube-type tires are solid 50/50 tires that make little noise on-road.
Yamaha Tenere 700
At a claimed 452 pounds gassed and ready to ride, the T7 has an easier-to-manage weight and neutral, comfortable riding position, though seat height is up there at 34.6 inches.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2020 KTM 390 Adventure | Road Test Review

2020 KTM 390 Adventure
The new-for-2020 KTM 390 Adventure is a lot of bike for the money, with off-road ready WP suspension, traction control, cornering ABS and a spunky single-cylinder engine. Photos by Mark Tuttle.

“Who woulda thunk it,” as my dad would say. A KTM adventure bike that costs less and makes more power than a Kawasaki KLR650, has fuel injection, electronic rider aids and weighs nearly 50 fewer pounds to boot? What mythical beast is this? It’s the 2020 KTM 390 Adventure, and it’s no myth. In fact I’ve spent the last few days on one, cruising the urban streets, farm roads and mountain highways near my home (taking a rain check on the hard core off-road stuff in these unusual times — see our “To Ride, or Not to Ride…?” editorial here).

With a base price of just $6,199, the new 390 Adventure is a lot of bike for the money, with an impressive list of standard features that make it a serious threat to value-oriented Japanese competitors like the Honda CB500X and Kawasaki Versys-X 300, as well as BMW’s G 310 GS. Adjustable front and rear WP suspension, a full-color TFT display, lean-angle sensitive traction control and Bosch 2-channel cornering ABS are all standard, with a quickshifter offered as an option.

Read our Tour Test Review of the KTM 790 Adventure here.

2020 KTM 390 Adventure
Five-inch TFT display can be hard to read at a glance, but contains lots of useful info including fuel consumption data and range to empty.

Powering the 390 Adventure is the same 373cc, 4-valve, DOHC, liquid-cooled single used in the popular RC 390 and 390 Duke sport bikes, which generated 44 horsepower at 8,800 rpm and 27 lb-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm when we last put it on the Jett Tuning dyno — that’s nearly as much as the Honda CB500X’s larger parallel twin. It’s fitted with a gear-driven counterbalancer to tame the worst of the vibes, although we noticed a fair amount in the grips and the cleated footpegs (rubber inserts are included but were removed from our test bike). Passing at freeway speeds, especially on hills, requires either a little patience or a downshift, but the 390 cruises at the SoCal traffic standard of 75 mph without complaint. The feisty single is mated to a 6-speed gearbox fitted with a slipper clutch and, in the case of our test bike, KTM’s excellent up/down Quickshifter+.

Up front is a 43mm WP Apex USD fork with 6.7 inches of travel and adjustable compression and rebound damping; in the back is a WP Apex shock with 7 inches of travel and adjustable spring preload and rebound damping. Brakes are BYBRE, Brembo’s Indian subsidiary, with a 4-piston radial caliper gripping a single 320mm disc up front and a single-piston floating caliper/230mm disc combo in the rear.

2020 KTM 390 Adventure
The 390 Adventure comes standard with Bosch 9.1MP cornering ABS, which includes an off-road mode that disables ABS to the rear wheel. MTC (traction control) has only two modes, on and off.

Jenny’s Gear
Helmet: Arai XD4
Jacket: Klim Artemis
Pants: Klim Altitude
Boots: Sidi Adventure Gore-Tex

Bosch 9.1MP cornering ABS has two settings: on and off-road, which disables it in back (it cannot be completely disabled). Lean-angle sensitive MTC (traction control), on the other hand, is either on or off (there are no special modes) and can be changed on the fly, although you’ll have to hold a button on the left switchgear and release the throttle for several seconds to do so. Off-road enthusiasts take note: the MTC will revert to the on position when you shut the bike off using the ignition key, but as far as we can tell it stays off if you only use the kill switch. Like its larger siblings, the 390 Adventure includes a 12V power socket as standard, located front and center underneath the TFT display, so mounting a phone for use as a GPS or just keeping it charged in a strap-on tank bag atop the plastic fuel tank is easy.

2020 KTM 390 Adventure
Cast wheels are designed to fit tubeless tires, simplifying road- or trailside repairs. Brakes are quite good for a bike in this price range.

With its 19-inch front/17-inch rear cast wheels, 70/30 Continental TKC 70 tires, plastic skid plate (augmented with metal in front of and below the exhaust pipe), and modest suspension travel and ground clearance (we measured seven inches), straight off the showroom floor the 390 Adventure is best suited to gravel and fire roads. While the WP suspension is stiff enough to perform well on smooth, sporty rides and soaks up gnarly pavement and rough dirt roads, I would want to keep extended rocky encounters to a minimum. On the plus side, bikes for the U.S. market come standard with tipover bars that protect the sides of the engine and radiator. Spoon on some knobbier tires, bolt on KTM’s accessory aluminum skid plate and you’re ready for some hard-core adventure.

2020 KTM 390 Adventure
Plastic shrouds extend past either side of the radiator, which has the added protection of tip-over bars (standard on bikes sold in the U.S. market). Skid plate is plastic, with a metal reinforcement around the exhaust pipe.

For a bike of such modest size, power and entry-level pretensions, we were somewhat surprised by the height of the 390 Adventure’s seat. On paper it’s not so bad, listed at 33.6 inches, but the seat is hard and fairly flat, with sharp edges that make it difficult to get your feet on the ground. It narrows a bit toward the front, but at that point it also slopes up and gets even taller. Even with my 34-inch inseam, if I’m wearing stiff ADV-style boots I’m on my tiptoes at a stop, and forget about backing up even the slightest of inclines while seated on the bike. Fortunately the 390 is a featherweight, tipping the scales at just 387 pounds fully fueled, adding confidence to one-footed stops and making it easy to push around. And there’s another upshot: the long reach from seat to footpegs leads to a relaxed bend in the knees and makes standing up for off-road riding a cinch.

Elemental protection from the short, non-adjustable windscreen isn’t bad, although I definitely experienced some windblast, especially at freeway speeds, on my upper chest, shoulders and helmet. Ergonomics are smaller-frame-friendly (well, apart from that tall seat), with a short reach across the 3.8-gallon tank to the handlebar and its backlit switchgear. At 5 feet, 9 inches, I found the handlebar to be too low for stand-up riding, requiring a pronounced forward lean; a bar riser would be on my must-have list. 

2020 KTM 390 Adventure
A tall seat and low handlebar make for a slightly sporty riding position when seated, and requires a forward lean when standing.

Romping through a set of corners is a joy, with the 390 exhibiting a taut, stable character that might surprise those who expect less from a small, “entry level” motorcycle. Brakes are above average for a bike in this price range, with solid bite and good feedback in front, though the back feels a bit wooden initially. Combined with a stiff chassis and firm but compliant suspension, this is a truly fun to ride machine, and those riders who pick up a 390 Adventure with no aspirations of ever touching dirt, perhaps drawn primarily to the upright, commanding “ADV” riding position, can look forward to miles of curvy smiles. The bike responds best to a firm hand, especially off idle; too gentle with the throttle and the fueling cuts out, threatening a stall — possibly the price paid for Euro 5 certification on such a high-strung motor. Once underway it still prefers to be wrung out a bit, and doesn’t respond with much below about 4,000 rpm; keep it north of that and you’ll have a ball. It’s also worth noting that even with a heavy throttle hand, fuel economy averaged 53 mpg, for an estimated range of 202 miles. 

2020 KTM 390 Adventure
Mud puddles are hard to resist! The 390 Adventure is small and lightweight enough to be accessible and non-threatening even to novice dirt riders.

KTM already has a laundry list of accessories for its 390 Adventure, including a slip-on Akrapovič silencer that shaves off another 2.2 pounds, Ergo rider and passenger seats, hard and soft side bags and more. A centerstand, unfortunately, is not on the list. Other than that, though, it wouldn’t take much to turn the 390 Adventure into a capable on- or off-road adventurer, and even in stock form it’s a fantastic commuter that’s ready for just about anything.

2020 KTM 390 Adventure
2020 KTM 390 Adventure.

2020 KTM 390 Adventure Specs

Base Price: $6,199
Price as Tested: $6,559 (Quickshifter+)
Warranty: 2 yrs., 24,000 Miles
Website: ktm.com


Type: Liquid-cooled single
Displacement: 373cc
Bore x Stroke: 89.0 x 60.0mm
Compression Ratio: 12.6:1
Valve Train: DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Insp. Interval: 9,300 miles
Fuel Delivery: Bosch EFI w/ 46mm throttle body
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 1.8-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet slipper clutch
Final Drive: X-ring chain


Ignition: Bosch EMS
Charging Output: 230 watts max.
Battery: 12V 11.2Ah


Frame: Steel trellis, cast aluminum swingarm
Wheelbase: 56.3 in.
Rake/Trail: 26.5 degrees/3.9 in.
Seat Height: 33.6 in.
Suspension, Front: 43mm USD fork, adj. for compression & rebound damping, 6.7-in. travel
Rear: Single shock, adj. for spring preload & rebound damping, 7.0-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Single 320mm disc w/ 4-piston radial-mount caliper & ABS
Rear: Single 230mm disc w/ 1-piston floating caliper & ABS
Wheels, Front: Cast, 2.50 x 19 in.
Rear: Cast, 3.50 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 100/90-19
Rear: 130/80-17
Wet Weight: 387 lbs. (as tested)
Load Capacity: 440 lbs. (as tested)
GVWR: 827 lbs.


Fuel Capacity: 3.8 gals., last 0.4-gal. warning light on
MPG: 91 AKI min. 53 mpg avg.
Estimated Range: 202 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 5,200

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2019 KTM 790 Adventure | Tour Test Review

KTM 790 Adventure
The desert can be an unforgiving place, with miles of lonely highways and even more unpaved roads and trails. The KTM 790 Adventure is an ideal choice for venturing into the great wide open, with a 280-plus-mile range, off-road bona fides and creature comforts for the long haul. Photos by the author.

KTM has garnered a reputation (deservedly) for building high-performance, hard-edged machines that cater to what we might call the “one percent” of adventure riders. Let’s just say, you don’t hear jokes about KTMs and Starbucks parking lots. Its highly anticipated, new-for-2019 790 Adventure exemplifies that philosophy (read our comprehensive on- and off-road review here): an eminently capable lightweight ADV tourer that was designed for excursions into some pretty gnarly territory, especially in the off-road oriented R variation.

But what if you aren’t necessarily a “one percenter?” You like the idea of an adventure bike that isn’t gargantuan (a seat height of less than 35 inches would be great, thanks), but is comfortable, with adequate power for touring and high-speed passing and ample luggage capacity. Yet it can still tackle whatever “shortcut” your GPS throws at you — or worse — without breaking a sweat.

KTM 790 Adventure
The 790 cuts a unique front profile in the Arizona desert.

That pretty much describes me, so when our KTM 790 Adventure test bike showed up I snagged the keys and have clung to them stubbornly ever since, logging more than 3,000 miles commuting, canyon carving and road tripping, including a weekend ride up the coast for Babes Ride Out and this weeklong road trip to New Mexico to visit my mom and stepdad. They live on 80 acres of desert about 10 miles southeast of Deming, and getting there involves considerable highway slabbing along with a home stretch of a few miles of sandy dirt road, plus a quarter-mile of washed-out dirt driveway. In between are numerous opportunities to scrub the edges of the tires on pavement as well as non-paved detours to mines and other points of interest. Adventure bike territory.

Escaping Southern California took the better part of a day, heavy Orange County traffic giving way to sweeping low mountain vistas and finally, in Borrego Springs, at the bottom of a long, winding descent, the low, sprawling Colorado Desert, part of the 100,000-square-mile Sonoran Desert that covers much of southwestern Arizona and spreads southward into Baja California Sur and Sonora, Mexico. It is home to several unique species, including the iconic symbol of the American Southwest, the saguaro (“sah-WAH-roh”) cactus.

Ajo Arizona street art
The tiny town of Ajo, Arizona, sports some seriously cool street art.

I’d timed my trip well; a week later, heavy rain poured for days, part of the massive winter storm that would wreak havoc on Thanksgiving holiday travel for much of the U.S. But on this ride, the skies were sunny and dry, and with lightly insulated gloves I only needed my heated liners in the early morning (our test bike was not equipped with the optional heated grips). The 790 has a comprehensive electronics package that includes three ride modes, Street, Rain and Offroad, that alter throttle response and IMU-based MTC (traction control), plus separately switchable Bosch 9.1 MP cornering ABS.

With its firm, flat, adjustable two-piece seat in the lower (32.7-inch) position, the 790 Adventure put me, at 5 feet, 9 inches, into a comfortably compact riding position while nearly allowing me to get both feet flat on the ground. Footpegs, which have rubber inserts to muffle any vibration, are high enough to allow ample off-road ground clearance and the handlebar, which is adjustable in six positions over a 1.2-inch range, is not as wide as some other larger ADV bikes. I put the windscreen into the higher of its two positions and found it deflected air around my helmet with very little buffeting.

La Misión San José de Tumacácori
La Misión San José de Tumacácori was built by Spanish missionaries in the late 1700s to early 1800s south of what is now Tucson.

Therefore I was comfortable and smiling the next day as I rolled into the town of Ajo (“AH-ho”), Arizona, some 38 miles from the U.S./Mexico border. This old mining town is experiencing a revival of sorts, with its gleaming whitewashed Spanish-style buildings lining the central plaza, a beautiful old school that’s been renovated into apartments for artists-in-residence and a hotel and conference center, as well as new coffee shops, cafés and artisans’ markets. It’s the kind of place that gives you hope for the future, with residents representing what they call the Three Nations: Caucasian American, Mexican-American and native Tohono O’odham.

Ajo Farmers Market & Café
Friendly locals at the Ajo Farmers Market & Café served me a stellar cup of coffee and a delicious breakfast bowl made from locally sourced ingredients.

Part of the appeal of an adventure tourer is the ability to explore at will, so when a local told me about a gravel road that looped around the old pit mine I was keen to check it out. The 790 Adventure’s 21-inch spoked front wheel, shod with tubeless Avon Trailrider 90/10 tires, rolled easily over the low rocky shelves and washouts, its 7.9 inches of suspension travel front and rear (non-adjustable except for rear preload) taking everything in stride, if a bit stiffly at the lower speeds at which I was traveling. It’s not just on dirt and gravel that a bike like the 790 Adventure shines, however. Keen to avoid the traffic in Tucson, later that day I found myself on narrow, bumpy, twisty Arivaca Sasabe Road, connecting State Route 286 with Interstate 19 through a lonely landscape where the only other vehicles I saw were U.S. Customs & Border Patrol units.

Another highlight was Apache Trail, a.k.a. Arizona State Route 88, a perfect ribbon of sinuous asphalt rippling into the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix. I’d intended to go all the way to Roosevelt, with the asphalt giving way to dirt less than halfway up, but the road was inexplicably closed at Tortilla Flat. Too bad. I just had to turn around and retrace my corner-carving steps — carefully, as this was clearly a popular road for local riders as well as sports car-driving racer wannabes and pickups trundling along with boats in tow, headed to and from Canyon Lake.

KTM 790 Adventure Apache Trail (Arizona State Route 88)
The paved section of Apache Trail (Arizona State Route 88) heading northeast out of Phoenix is a street motorcyclist’s playground, a perfect ribbon of tarmac snaking through the Sonoran Desert.

Not all roads on this trip were so fun, however, with several hours-long 75-to-80-mph slogs on Interstates 8 and 10. The 790 Adventure’s 799cc liquid-cooled LC8c parallel twin has dual counterbalancers for smoothness, with a 75-degree crankpin offset and 435-degree firing order for V-twin-like character, and with 88.4 peak horsepower and 59.4 lb-ft of torque on tap (per the Jett Tuning dyno), it’s got enough spunk to hang at those speeds with room to spare, though sometimes at the expense of fuel economy. In a stiff headwind and at freeway speeds my mileage dipped as low as 34 mpg, but favorable conditions brought a high of 63 on this trip, averaging somewhere in the 50s, which meant my 5.3-gallon tank was good for close to 300 miles between fill-ups. The one caveat is that the 790 requires premium, which can be tough to find in the loneliest desert areas.

Hi Jolly Monument
After following signs for the “Hi Jolly Monument” in Quartzsite, Arizona, I found this memorial to a Syrian-Greek man brought to the U.S. to tend a herd of experimental government camels, a project of Jefferson Davis (future President of the Confederate States). A story worth looking up.

Apart from that minor detail, though, the KTM 790 Adventure is the rare lightweight adventure tourer that, depending on whether you choose the R version and how you equip it, works for the “100 percent”: it’s supremely capable off-road yet a pleasure to ride on long highways, and it’s downright fun in the twisties. Perfecting it for me would mean adding the optional centerstand, heated grips and cruise control, and maybe even some hard luggage, but even without all that I enjoyed all 1,787 (give or take) miles of my trip—and will continue to enjoy more until it’s time to give it back. With the 790 Adventure, the only question becomes: where do you want to go? 

KTM 790 Adventure Deming New Mexico mural Jesse Kriegel
I discovered a lot of amazing street art on this trip, including this incredible 40-by-12-foot mural in Deming, New Mexico, depicting traditional native Mimbres pottery and motifs, by local high school art teacher Jesse Kriegel.

2019 KTM 790 Adventure Specs

Base Price: $12,699
Price as Tested: $13,059 (Quickshifter+)
Warranty: 2 yrs., 24,000 miles
Website: ktm.com


Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel twin
Displacement: 799cc
Bore x Stroke: 88.0 x 65.7mm
Compression Ratio: 12.7:1
Valve Train: DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Insp. Interval: 18,600 miles
Fuel Delivery: EFI w/ 42mm throttle bodies x 2
Lubrication System: Semi-dry sump, 3.1-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated assist-and-slipper clutch
Final Drive: X-ring chain


Ignition: Electronic w/ digital adjustment
Charging Output: 400 watts max.
Battery: 12V 10AH


Frame: Chromium-molybdenum tubular steel w/ engine as stressed member, cast aluminum subframe & swingarm
Wheelbase: 59.4 in.
Rake/Trail: 25.9 degrees/4.2 in.
Seat Height: 32.7/33.5 in.
Suspension, Front: 43mm USD fork, non-adj., 7.9-in. travel
Rear: Single PDS shock, adj. for spring preload, 7.9-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 320mm floating discs w/ radial opposed 4-piston calipers & ABS
Rear: Single 260mm disc w/ 2-piston floating pin-slide caliper & ABS
Wheels, Front: Spoked tubeless, 2.50 x 21 in.
Rear: Spoked tubeless, 4.50 x 18 in.
Tires, Front: 90/90-21
Rear: 150/70-18
Wet Weight: 469 lbs. (as tested)
Load Capacity: 523 lbs. (as tested)
GVWR: 992 lbs.


Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gals., last 0.75 gal. warning light on
MPG: 91 AKI min. (low/avg/high) 34.0/54.2/62.6
Estimated Range: 286 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 4,100

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro and Rally Pro | First Ride Review

2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro
The 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 is not just an updated model, it’s an entirely new machine. The engine, suspension, chassis, brakes and electronics are all new, with a re-style to boot. Photos by Kingdom Creative.

There was a lot to like about Triumph’s Tiger 800 when it was first released in 2011 in two variations, a standard street-oriented model and an off-road XC variant. As a road-going middleweight ADV tourer the Tiger 800 was formidable and competent, but its rev-happy 799cc triple and tall gearing, especially in first, hobbled its off-road capability, despite numerous changes and adjustments made over the next eight model years. The nomenclature of the ever-expanding lineup got confusing as well — what’s the difference between the XRx and XRT again?

Read our Road Test Review of the 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 here.

Read our Road Test Review of the 2018 Triumph Tiger 800 XCA here.

Thankfully, in addition to a complete overhaul (including a bump in displacement to 888cc — hence the new 900 designation), Triumph has simplified the model names of its five-member 2020 Tiger 900 family. There’s the street-oriented, cast-wheeled base model, plus GT and GT Pro variations of it, and the dirt-oriented, tubeless spoke-wheeled Rally and Rally Pro. After spending two and a half days riding the GT Pro and Rally Pro at the press launch in Morocco, it’s clear that these littermates are actually two very different animals, indicative of each one’s improvement in specializing in its unique mission.

2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro
The 2020 Tiger 900 lineup, but especially the off-road-oriented Rally and Rally Pro, are set to make quite a splash (get it?) in the middleweight ADV touring market.

All five models share the core changes for 2020, encompassing the engine, chassis, suspension, brakes and electronics. First up is the DOHC, 4-valve-per-cylinder, Euro 5-spec in-line triple, bored out from 74 to 78.0 x 61.9mm and featuring a new “T-plane” triple crankshaft (a first in the motorcycling world, near as we can tell) and a new firing order that bestows the triple with V-twin-like character down low while maintaining its top-end power.

Starting and revving the two engines (in a 2019 Tiger 800 and 2020 Tiger 900 GT Pro) back-to-back, the difference in sound is undeniable, and from the saddle the new 900 has low-end grunt it previously lacked; Triumph claims a 10% increase in peak torque and up to 12% more midrange horsepower.

Tiger 800 vs 900 engine
The new triple has a larger displacement than before, but is physically smaller thanks in large part to a redesigned oil sump that increases ground clearance. Previous-gen Tiger 800 engine shown at left, new Tiger 900 engine at right.
Triumph T-plane crank
The new T-plane crank has a unique firing order (1,3,2 at 180/270/270 degrees) that creates a V-twin-like rumble. While it primarily bestows the Tiger 900 with an awesome soundtrack, it’s also said to provide a small bump in low-end power and thanks to a new balance shaft it’s just as smooth as the previous 800.

Other engine changes include new Nikasil-plated Siamese aluminum cylinder liners, new camshafts, a new balancer shaft for the new firing order, new pistons and con rods, reduced oil volume and lightweight magnesium engine covers. Overall Triumph says the powertrain is 5.5 pounds lighter than before, and thanks to a new split radiator that reduces heat blown onto the rider’s leg (a common complaint with previous-gen Tiger 800s) and improvements to the sump design, the engine sits 1.7 inches lower in the frame and is tilted 6.8 degrees farther forward than before, for a lower center of gravity and increased ground clearance.

Contributing to the new Tiger’s overall weight loss is a new, lighter tubular steel chassis that includes a bolt-on aluminum subframe and pillion footpeg brackets. Triumph’s claimed dry weight figure for the 2020 Tiger Rally Pro is 443 pounds…add about 32 pounds for a full 5.3-gallon gas tank plus other fluids and the new model is considerably lighter than the 505-pound Tiger 800 XCA we tested in 2018.

2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro
The Tiger 900 GT Pro is the sports car of the lineup, carving corners and chewing up gnarly pavement with equal aplomb.

Apart from the engine, the other major updates are to the suspension and brakes across all five Tiger 900 models. The street-oriented variants (base model, GT and GT Pro) get a 45mm USD Marzocchi cartridge fork with 7.1 inches of travel, non-adjustable on the base model and adjustable for compression and rebound damping on the GT and GT Pro, and a rear 7-inch-travel Marzocchi shock with manual preload adjustment on the base model, full manual adjustment on the GT and electronic preload and rebound damping adjustment on the GT Pro. Four preload settings are available for the GT Pro’s electronic rear shock — rider, rider + luggage, rider + pillion and rider + pillion + luggage — and damping adjusts based on the selected riding mode. More on those below.

The Rally and Rally Pro models get a fully adjustable 45mm USD Showa fork with 9.4 inches of travel and a Showa rear shock adjustable for preload and rebound damping, with 9.1 inches of travel. Swapping back and forth between the GT Pro and Rally Pro during our on-road photo stop, where we rode the same set of corners multiple times, was like riding two completely different motorcycles. The GT Pro, with its 19-inch front wheel and shorter suspension, is lower and sportier, while the Rally Pro, rolling on a 21-inch front wheel, feels like the taller adventure bike that it is — not difficult to handle, but softer and more plush when pushed hard in the turns.

2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro
The Tiger 900 Rally Pro is no slouch in the corners, but it’s off-road where its updates truly shine. Apart from a clutch lever that engages at the far end of its throw, requiring some acclimation in technical terrain, this new Tiger is a newly potent ADV machine straight off the showroom floor.

Notably, all five models, including the base model, get top-of-the-line Brembo Stylema front calipers, normally only found on flagship-level superbikes, with larger 320mm front discs and a new radial front master cylinder. The base model includes ABS, while the other four have cornering ABS with three settings: Road, Off-Road and Off.

The cornering ABS, as well as the rest of the Tiger 900’s electronics, is based around a Continental 5-axis IMU that offers up to six riding modes, each with full power and various throttle response maps and ABS and traction control settings. The base model Tiger 900 gets Rain and Road modes only; the GT and Rally add on Sport and Off-Road. The GT Pro also adds a rider-configurable mode, and the Rally Pro adds Off-Road Pro, which shuts off ABS and traction control entirely and uses a dedicated off-road throttle map. By contrast, the regular Off-Road mode available on the GT, GT Pro and Rally maintains light ABS intervention on the front wheel and controls rear wheel spin, fine for basic dirt or gravel roads but a liability in sand or when climbing steep, loose hills.

Brembo Stylema brakes
“Unobtanium” Brembo Stylema brakes are standard on all Tiger 900 models, including the base model–definitely a category-leading specification.

We rode the Rally Pro on our full day of off-road testing in Morocco, and after briefly experimenting with Off-Road mode, I spent the rest of the day in Off-Road Pro, enjoying the more direct connection I felt with the bike. The new Showa suspension was a revelation: plush and responsive, and it seemed to get better the faster we pushed. Even for this novice-to-low-intermediate ADV rider, the new Tiger 900 Rally Pro was confidence inspiring and remarkably easy to handle on the rough, loose, often-sandy Moroccan trails.

Throttle response was linear and not at all snatchy, and I even felt comfortable enough to purposely break the rear end loose at times in a power slide — something I’ve never wanted to attempt on a big adventure bike in the past. Triumph had spooned a set of chunky Pirelli Scorpion Rally tires onto the tubeless spoked rims, which certainly contributed to my confidence; street-oriented Pirelli Scorpion Trail IIs are equipped as standard.

2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro
This loose dirt road was among the smoothest we encountered on our Moroccoan adventure ride. I put my Rally Pro into Off-Road Pro mode, disabling ABS and traction control, for optimum feel and hill-climbing ability.

I also found the Rally Pro to be surprisingly comfy for stand-up riding. I’m 5 feet, 9 inches, and its low, forward footpegs (they’re a tad farther back on the base model, GT and GT Pro), new narrower waist and handlebar that’s now nearly half an inch closer to the rider balanced me in a natural standing position that kept my arms relaxed and torso upright. Dropping the seat into the lower of its two positions (33.5/34.2 inches) and dialing some sag into the suspension also let me get the toes of both feet on the ground, or one whole foot with a minor weight shift.

Getting to the off-road riding required 200 miles of on-road adventure though, and in Morocco the emphasis is on “adventure.” Triumph figures most buyers will aim to take these bikes onto the less-beaten path, and the street-oriented GT Pro we rode was up to the challenge. With its seat in the higher of two positions (31.9/32.7 inches — a low ride height variant of the GT is available with a 29.9/30.7-inch seat) and the windscreen, easily adjustable with one hand, in the highest of its five settings, I sat in a buffet-less pocket of air, feeling just a bit of flow on my shoulders and arms.

2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro
With its seat in the higher of two positions and the windscreen at the top of its five-position range, I found the Tiger 900 GT Pro to be comfortable enough for an all-day ride, and the tall handlebar meant standing to stretch my legs on occasion was easy.

Jenny’s Gear
Helmet: Arai XD4
Jacket: Klim Artemis
Pants: Klim Altitude
Boots: Sidi Adventure Gore-Tex

The Marzocchi suspension soaked up the many pavement irregularities, including one stretch of packed gravel topped with a light coating of mud, yet was confidently sporty when we hit the twisty foothills of the lower Atlas Mountains. Thanks to its new balance shaft, the T-plane crank 900 proved to be just as smooth as I remember the old 800 to be, with no buzziness in the pegs, grips or seat, and only a pleasant growl at idle.

Apart from the minimally-equipped base model, all Tiger 900 models include a wealth of touring creature comforts: a 7-inch full-color TFT display (with Bluetooth connectivity on the GT Pro/Rally Pro), heated grips, cruise control, hand guards and a 12V charging plug. The GT Pro and Rally Pro add a quickshifter, LED fog lights, a centerstand, a tire pressure monitoring system and heated rider and pillion seats. The Rally Pro also includes engine protection bars and an aluminum skid plate. Pricing starts at $12,500 for the base model Tiger 900, with the GT Pro coming in at $15,000 and the top-line Rally Pro at $16,700. 

Tiger 900 TFT screen
The Tiger 900 GT, GT Pro, Rally and Rally Pro get a new 7-inch TFT with four different display styles and Bluetooth connectivity to your phone, GPS and GoPro. It also uses the My Triumph app on your phone to offer turn-by-turn navigation using the innovative new What3Words app.

So just like back in 2011, there’s a lot to like about the new litter of Tiger 900s — more than ever, if you ask us. They’re more capable and mission-specific, and ready to throw down the gauntlet in the popular middleweight ADV ring. As soon as we get our hands on a tester here in the U.S. you can look forward to a more in-depth exploration of these new Tigers’ capabilities.

2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro (left) and Rally Pro (right).
2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro (left) and Rally Pro (right).

2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Specs

Base Price: $12,500
Price as Tested: $15,000 (GT Pro)/$16,700 (Rally Pro)
Website: triumphmotorcycles.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse in-line triple, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 888cc
Bore x Stroke: 78.0 x 61.9mm
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically-actuated wet assist-and-slipper clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 61.3 in. (GT Pro)/61.1 in. (Rally Pro)
Rake/Trail: 24.6 degrees/5.25 in. (GT Pro)/24.4 degrees/5.74 in. (Rally Pro)
Seat Height: 31.9/32.7 in. (GT Pro)/33.5/34.2 in. (Rally Pro)
Claimed Dry Weight: 437 lbs. (GT Pro)/443 lbs. (Rally Pro)
Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gals.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+ | Road Test Review

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
New cornering lights flare out the fairing lowers a bit and light the way through bends at night. Photo by Kevin Wing.

Considering how popular the Versys 650 has become, almost from the moment it was introduced in the U.S. for 2008, we found it decidedly strange that Kawasaki only blessed Europe and Asia with the larger Versys 1000 when it appeared for 2012. OK, the styling was funky, but it had great bones, and when Team Green finally redesigned and brought it stateside for 2015 as the Versys 1000 LT, we liked it so much we gave it our Motorcycle of the Year award…and wore the tires off our long-term test bike. Here was a motorcycle that combined all of the good traits of adventure bikes — comfortable, upright seating; compliant, longer-travel suspension; good wind protection and moderate weight — with performance and handling near that of a liter-class sport-touring machine. In short, a sport-adventure “VERsatile SYStem” for riders with little or no off-road aspirations.

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
The Versys 1000 SE LT+ ate up the curves of California’s bumpy Carmel Valley Road in Monterey County so effortlessly it was easy to take in a lot of the idyllic scenery at the same time. Photo by Kevin Wing.

By retuning the liquid-cooled, 1,043cc DOHC in-line four from the Ninja 1000 to create a table-flat torque curve for better touring manners — without sacrificing much of the Ninja’s screaming top-end hit that is catnip to sport-oriented riders — the Versys 1000 LT package could handle rough back roads or smooth highways, long two-up tours or commuting, a sedate group ride or a tire-shredding rip up a canyon road. As a more comfortable alternative to the Ninja 1000, including plusher passenger accommodations, Kawasaki further sweetened the Versys 1000 LT deal with standard saddlebags, an adjustable windscreen, a centerstand, hand guards and a luggage rack. The only complaint we had is a common one among adventure-styled bikes — a tall 33-inch seat height — but a ¾-inch lower accessory seat is available, and the stocker is so thickly padded it’s easily reworked.

The clincher was the Versys 1000 LT’s price of just $12,799 in 2015, well below the competition despite its similar features and standard saddlebags.

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
Multi-functional TFT display is bright and has Touring and Sport modes with different information displays. Photo by Kevin Wing.

Fast forward to 2018, and the (love it or hate it, it’s here to stay) era of electronic rider aids was bypassing the basic-but-just-$12,999 big Versys, which only offered ABS, traction control and two power modes (Full and Low) for the button addicts. So for 2019 Kawasaki took the bold step of raising the new Versys 1000 SE LT+ price to $17,999, and filled the $5,000 gap with semi-active electronically controlled suspension, throttle-by-wire, cruise control, a quickshifter, heated grips, inertial measurement unit (IMU)-based 6-axis input for the now multi-level traction control and cornering ABS, four integrated ride modes that link to the suspension, TC and power levels, and LED head, tail and cornering lights. The command/control window into all of it is a bright, new multi-function TFT display with Sport, Touring and night modes as well as Bluetooth smartphone connectivity via Kawasaki’s Rideology app. The TFT display shares dash space with a big analog speedometer and a 12V, 45-watt accessory socket.

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
Kawasaki Electronic Control Suspension (KECS) tames the Versys 1000 SE LT+ long-travel fork and shock quite well in bumpy and smooth corners. Photo by Kevin Wing.

Drilling down into the technical minutiae of each electronic feature is best left to the thick owner’s manual, but a few are worth detailing here, such as the Cornering Management function that uses both ABS and TC — with input from the IMU — to “assist” a rider experiencing sudden acute pucker factor to hold an intended line through a corner. I did not try this, and don’t ask me to. And the ride modes are a well thought-out platter of Sport, Road, Rain and customizable Rider choices that select either Full or Low power delivery (both of which are smooth and linear, with no annoying throttle abruptness), three levels of TC or TC off, and Hard, Normal or Soft suspension damping (rear spring preload is set separately). For example, Sport selects Full power, minimal TC and Hard suspension. In the Rider mode (our favorite, of course), you can set your own combinations, and fine-tune each of the suspension’s three damping settings. Finally, a comprehensive menu display gives you adjustment and on/off control over things like the quickshifter, cornering lights, shift light, etc.

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
Liquid-cooled, 1,043cc DOHC in-line four from the Ninja 1000 offers ample power and long service intervals. Photo by Kevin Wing.

Since all of this stuff is hung on essentially the same basic powertrain, chassis and running gear from 2015-2018, you can fire up the Versys 1000 SE LT+ and without even looking at the instrument panel enjoy its broad, smooth powerband, roomy comfortable ergonomics, good wind protection and exceptional braking. The fairing is a bit broader and more protective now due to the cornering lights, its 17-inch wheels front and rear with sport-touring rubber give the bike good grip and sweet, stable handling, and it has plenty of cornering clearance. Our 2019 test bike made similar power output numbers to our 2015 model (see the dyno chart), which makes sense, since the counterbalanced engine is unchanged. And Kawasaki Electronically Controlled Suspension (KECS) is a sweet addition, mainly because it adjusts damping in the new high-end cartridge fork and BFRC (Balance Free Rear Cushion) lite rear shock in real time depending upon conditions, and lets you quickly change the overall stiffness of the suspension for a softer or firmer ride.

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
Making the engine a stressed member in the Versys’ twin-spar aluminum frame enhances stiffness and saves weight, and a gear-driven counterbalancer in its in-line four-cylinder engine tames vibration down to just a slight buzz in the seat at times. Photo by Kevin Wing.

Mark’s Gear
Helmet: Arai Signet-X
Jacket: Olympia Richmond
Pants: Olympia X Moto 2
Boots: Dainese Long Range

I was less impressed with the new cruise control, which didn’t hold the bike’s speed well, and wasn’t immediately responsive to attempts to raise or lower the set speed. The quickshifter is also a disappointment — though it works adequately it lacks the crispness of other up/down quickshifters and had a vague, mushy feeling at the shift lever. New owners may also be frustrated by the learning curve required to display information and make vehicle menu selections, which is not at all intuitive. Changing ride modes on the fly in particular needs a rethink, since you must close the throttle for far too long to do so.

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
Windscreen adjusts easily over a 2-inch range and provides good protection without buffeting. Photo by Kevin Wing.

OK, though some of its new features are still a work in progress, there’s a lot to like about the Versys 1000 SE LT+. The seats are plush, the new heated grips work great and the mirrors, windscreen, adjustable brake and clutch levers and LED cornering lights are all very functional. Can’t say enough about the locking saddlebags either, each of which holds 29 liters or a full-face helmet and can be removed and installed in a snap (and you can add a 47-liter accessory top case). Load capacity and alternator output are quite good, and the bike pops right onto its centerstand with little effort, a remarkable achievement for any nearly 600-pound motorcycle. Ride it on Low power with a tame wrist and you should easily top 45 mpg and 250 miles from the 5.5-gallon tank, though it does require premium fuel.

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
Dual floating petal rotors with radial-mount opposed 4-piston calipers are super strong and linear, and cornering ABS is standard. Photo by Kevin Wing.

As an adventure-styled motorcycle with a 17-inch front wheel and no real off-road ambitions, the Versys 1000 SE LT+ is unique among liter-class Japanese ADV bikes, which generally have a 19- or 21-inch front, more ground clearance, undercarriage protection, etc. That Kawasaki chose to fit the new Versys with a raft of contemporary electronic features before the latest Concours 14 sport tourer demonstrates how hot adventure bikes have become — if not actual ADV riding — and makes it even more road ready. For 2020 the Versys will be offered in eye-popping Emerald Blazed Green/Pearl Storm Gray rather than the Metallic Flat Spark Black/Pearl Flat Stardust White of our 2019 test bike, and we can’t wait to see it…especially if it’s from the saddle. 

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
2019’s black-and-white color scheme has been replaced with a beautiful emerald-green and black combo for the 2020 Versys 1000 SE LT+. Both use a special Highly Durable formulation that Kawasaki says allows minor scratches to self-repair. We didn’t have the heart to try it…. Photo by Kevin Wing.

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+ Specs
Base Price: $17,999 (2020 model)
Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles
Website: kawasaki.com

Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse in-line four
Displacement: 1,043cc
Bore x Stroke: 77.0 x 56.0mm
Compression Ratio: 10.3:1
Valve Train: DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Insp. Interval: 15,200 miles
Fuel Delivery: DFI w/ Keihin 38mm ETV throttle bodies x 4
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 4.2-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated wet assist-and-slipper clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain

Ignition: TCBI w/ digital advance
Charging Output: 407 watts max.
Battery: 12V 8.2AH

Frame: Twin-spar aluminum w/ engine as stressed member, tubular-steel subframe & cast aluminum swingarm
Wheelbase: 59.8 in.
Rake/Trail: 27 degrees/4.2 in.
Seat Height: 33.1 in.
Suspension, Front: 43mm USD fork, KECS fully adj., 5.9-in. travel
Rear: Single back-link shock, KECS fully adj., 5.9-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 310mm petal discs w/ opposed 4-piston calipers & ABS
Rear: Single 250mm petal disc w/ 1-piston caliper & ABS
Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 17 in.
Rear: Cast, 5.50 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 120/70-ZR17
Rear: 180/55-ZR17
Wet Weight: 584 lbs.
Load Capacity: 470 lbs.
GVWR: 1,054 lbs.

Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gals., last 1.0 gal. warning light on
MPG: 90 AKI min. (low/avg/high) 33.8/39.1/41.7
Estimated Range: 215 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 3,600

2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
2019 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+ dyno run courtesy of Jett Tuning

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT | First Ride Review

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
The 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT offers more power, more sophisticated electronics, more touring features and cool retro styling. (Photography courtesy Suzuki)

The Suzuki V-Strom 1000 is an old lion of the adventure-touring
world. When it debuted for 2002, there weren’t many liter-class adventure bikes
to choose from, and the few you could buy were European. There was the standard-bearer
BMW R 1150 GS plus a handful of others like the Aprilia ETV1000 CapoNord, Cagiva
Gran Canyon, Moto Guzzi Quota and Triumph Tiger 955i. Back then adventure
touring was still a niche segment, and most of these models faded away after a
few years.

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
The 2020 V-Strom 1050XT is equipped with the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System, which includes cruise control, cornering/combined ABS, traction control, hill hold control, slope dependent control and load dependent control and uses a six-axis Interial Measurement Unit (IMU).

When it launched the DL1000 V-Strom, Suzuki became the first
Japanese manufacturer to offer a big adventure bike in the U.S., and its domestic
competitors stayed on the sidelines until Yamaha introduced the Super Ténéré
for 2012. The V-Strom had a 996cc liquid-cooled, 90-degree V-twin derived from
the TL1000S/R sportbikes and a twin-spar aluminum frame, and it delivered
impressive horsepower, torque and handling. Although it had a 19-inch front
wheel and tallish suspension, the DL1000 was best suited to the paved roads where
most adventure bike owners spend most of their time.

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
The 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050, V-Strom 1050XT and V-Strom 1050XT Adventure have a new LCD display that provides a wealth of info and makes it easy to navigate between throttle response (SDMS), ABS and TC modes.

The DL1000 underwent few changes until 2014, when it got a
larger, more powerful engine, Suzuki’s first-ever traction control system and
updates to its chassis, styling and ergonomics. Four years later, Suzuki gave
the V-Strom 1000 another refresh, bringing its appearance in line with the
V-Strom 650 and adding IMU-based cornering ABS, which Suzuki calls the Motion
Track Anti-lock and Combined Brake System. Here we are just two years later
with yet another update, and the big V-Strom looks and performs better than

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
Based on the 90-degree V-twin from the ’90s-era TL1000S/R sportbikes, the V-Strom 1050’s 1,037cc V-twin has been improved and refined over time. It is now Euro 5 compliant and makes more power and torque at higher revs.

Although engine displacement remains the same at 1,037cc, for
2020 Suzuki decided to change the name to V-Strom 1050 and offer three versions—a
standard model, the V-Strom 1050XT and the V-Strom 1050XT Adventure. All have a
revised engine that’s Euro 5 compliant and produces more horsepower and torque
at higher revs thanks to larger throttle bodies, new fuel mapping and cam
timing, higher-compression pistons and a revised exhaust. Claimed output has
increased from 99 horsepower at 8,000 rpm to 106 at 8,500 rpm, whereas peak
torque is down a bit, from 75 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm to 74 lb-ft at 6,000 rpm, though
there’s more grunt at high rpm. New throttle-by-wire has enabled the Suzuki
Drive Mode Selector, which offers three throttle response modes (A, B and C). Other
changes include an updated traction control system with three levels of
intervention, new instrumentation and LED lighting, a lighter, reshaped tapered
aluminum handlebar, wider footpegs and new Bridgestone Battlax Adventure A41

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
The 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT in Pearl Brilliant White/Glass Blaze Orange. New styling is courtesy of Ichiro Miyata, who designed the ’80s-era DR-Big dual-sport below.
Suzuki DR-Big
The Suzuki DR-Big was a 797cc single-cylinder dual-sport that was introduced in 1988 but never came to the U.S. Its styling and color scheme provided inspiration for the new V-Strom 1050XT.

Ichiro Miyata, who designed Suzuki’s DR-Z Paris-Dakar racer
and DR-Big dual-sport in the 1980s, also designed the V-Strom 1050, and its
sharp beak and geometric lines are very similar to those found on the old DRs.
The cool retro styling, unfortunately, gets lost on the standard V-Strom 1050 ($13,399)
because it’s only available in Glass Sparkle Black/Solid Iron Gray. The V-Strom
1050XT ($14,799), on the other hand, looks fantastic in either throwback color
combos—Champion Yellow No. 2 with a blue seat and blue accents or Pearl
Brilliant White/Glass Blaze Orange. Spending the extra $1,400 for the XT replaces
the base model’s cast wheels with tubeless spoked wheels and adds the Suzuki
Intelligent Ride System, a different windscreen with toolless height adjustment,
more stylish hand guards and mirrors, a height-adjustable seat, a centerstand,
engine guards and a lower engine cowl. The V-Strom 1050XT Adventure ($16,999)
adds quick-release aluminum panniers and heated grips, but it’s only available
in Glass Sparkle Black; for my money, I’d buy a colorful XT and buy the
panniers and heated grips separately (there are nearly 60 items on the
accessory list).

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050 Glass Sparkle Black/Solid Iron Gray
The 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050 is only available in Glass Sparkle Black/Solid Iron Gray, a color scheme that does little to show off the cool retro styling.
2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT Adventure Glass Sparkle Black
Likewise, the 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT Adventure, which adds aluminum panniers and heated grips, only comes in Glass Sparkle Black.

The big upgrade for 2020 is the Suzuki Intelligent Ride
System, a comprehensive electronics package that uses a new six-axis (up from
five) IMU and includes cruise control, cornering/combined ABS, hill hold
control, slope dependent control (which mitigates rear wheel lift when braking
downhill) and load dependent control (which adjusts brake pressure based on rider/passenger/luggage
weight). Connecting all of the control units and sensors is a new Controller
Area Network (CAN), which simplifies the wiring harness and offers faster data

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
Although it has a 19-inch front wheel, 90/10 adventure tires and 6.3 inches of suspension travel, like all V-Stroms the new 1050XT is best suited to pavement. It has plenty of low to midrange grunt and handles well.

Greg’s Gear
Helmet: Arai XD4
Jacket & Pants: Aether Divide
Boots: Sidi Gavia Gore-Tex

What has made the V-Strom 1000 a perennial favorite over the
years is its user-friendliness. It has always been an approachable, versatile,
dependable motorcycle that’s blessedly free of quirks. With its new
electronics, the V-Strom 1050XT is the most technologically advanced V-Strom to
date but it retains its welcoming disposition. During the press launch we rode
the XT on some of southern Spain’s best paved roads, with a few miles of dirt
thrown in for good measure. From seating comfort and wind protection to
throttle response, engine performance and handling, the V-Strom 1050XT felt well
rounded and satisfying to ride. About the only thing missing on that cool
January day were the accessory heated grips.

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT Champion Yellow No. 2
The 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT in Champion Yellow No. 2 with a blue seat and blue accents, a color scheme inspired by Suzuki’s DR-Z rally racer below.
Suzuki DR-Z Type 2 Paris-Dakar
The 1991 Suzuki DR-Z Type 2 was raced in the Paris-Tripoli Dakar Rally. Like the new V-Strom 1050, it was designed by Ichiro Miyata.

As we left the coastal town of Marbella on our test ride and
ascended into the Sierra Nevada range on the fast, winding and damp A-366, I
started out in mode A, which offers direct throttle response and was just on
the cusp of being too abrupt for my taste. The mode button and large rocker
switch next to the left grip make it easy to navigate through the various modes
for throttle response, traction control and ABS, as well as operate cruise
control (which only works in gears 4-6 from 31-99 mph). Mode B felt just right,
and the fueling was consistent and never stumbled in on/off transitions. The
V-Strom still pulls strongly in the low- to midrange, while the revised engine’s
newfound liveliness at high revs rewards exuberant grip twisting. And thanks to
the assist-and-slipper hydraulic clutch, even aggressive shifting of the
6-speed transmission was drama-free.

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
Standard equipment on the 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT includes an accessory/engine protection bar and lower engine cowl. The cylinder head, clutch covers, magneto cover and water pump case have a bronze finish to provide contrast with the black engine.

The new V-Strom uses the same fully adjustable 43mm upside-down
fork and rebound- and (remote) preload-adjustable link-type rear shock, both with
6.3 inches of travel, as before, though damping is softer in the front and
stiffer in the rear. Those changes weren’t readily apparent from the saddle,
and the 1050XT was pleasantly compliant on fast, smooth pavement and bumpy,
rocky dirt. Also unchanged are the Tokico monoblock 4-piston front calipers and
Nissin 2-piston rear caliper, which exhibited good initial bite but felt rather
vague otherwise even though there was plenty of stopping power. The
cornering/combined ABS now has two modes, offering more or less intervention,
but it cannot be turned off.

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
The V-Strom 1050XT’s new windscreen can be adjusted through 11 positions over a 2-inch range, but the quick-release lever is not accessible on the fly. It’s the silver part just above the new LED headlight, which looks a lot like the squarish one on the new Suzuki Katana.

The XT’s new windscreen deflects air well and is height
adjustable over a two-inch range, but because the quick-release lever is on the
lower front of the windscreen, just above the headlight, adjustments must be
made while the bike is parked. Behind the windscreen is an accessory bar that’s
ideal for mounting a smartphone or GPS, and there’s a new USB outlet on the
left side of the dash (there’s also an SAE 12V socket under the seat). The new
seat is comfortable and height adjustable (33.5/34.3 inches), but the
adjustment process requires swapping out bolts under the seat using the wrench
in the toolkit. The brake lever, clutch lever, shifter and rear brake pedal are
all adjustable, so riders should have little difficulty dialing in the V-Strom
to suit their preferences.

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
Like its predecessors, the 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT is suitable for light off-roading. The oil filter and undercarriage are vulnerable, so installing the accessory skid plate is recommended before you go boony bashing.

With three major updates in the past six years, the V-Strom
1000/1050 has evolved quickly. What was once a fun and competent but rather
basic adventure touring motorcycle has become sophisticated and refined. The
V-Strom 1050XT offers a higher margin of safety, more versatility and more
touring features while retaining the fun, go-anywhere spirit of the original.

Check out Rider‘s 2020 Guide to New/Updated Street Motorcycles

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT Specs

Base Price: $14,799
Website: suzukicycles.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 90-degree V-twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 1,037cc
Bore x Stroke: 100.0 x 66.0mm
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically-actuated wet assist-and-slipper clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 61.2 in.
Rake/Trail: 25.3 degrees/4.3 in.
Seat Height: 33.5/34.3 in.
Claimed Wet Weight: 545 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gals.

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
This is what the 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT looks like disassembled. We don’t recommend doing this with yours.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2020 Indian FTR Rally | First Look Review

2020 Indian FTR Rally
Built on the FTR 1200 platform, the 2020 Indian FTR Rally is a scrambler-inspired street tracker.

Unveiled at the EICMA show in Milan last November, Indian
has announced that the FTR Rally, a scrambler-inspired version of the FTR 1200
street tracker that was introduced last year, is now available.

Read our 2019 Indian FTR 1200 S First Ride Review

2020 Indian FTR Rally
The Indian FTR Rally’s 1,203cc, liquid-cooled, 60-degree V-twin has DOHC with 4 valves per cylinder. Claimed output is 123 horsepower and 87 lb-ft of torque.

Like the rest of the FTR lineup, the Rally is powered by a 1,203cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC V-twin that makes 123 horsepower and 87 lb-ft of torque (claimed) and is held within a lightweight tubular-steel trellis frame. The chassis is equipped with Brembo brakes (including M4.32 monoblock front calipers), a fully adjustable upside down fork, a preload- and rebound-adjustable rear shock and spoked wheels shod with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires (19-inch front, 18-inch rear, tubes required).

2020 Indian FTR Rally
Brembo M4.32 4-piston radial calipers squeeze 320mm discs. ABS is not available. Spoked wheels require tubes and are fitted with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR knobbies.

“We’re excited to offer North American riders a new take on
the FTR 1200 that combines the unmistakable look and stance of the FTR with the
more classic, rugged elements that have made scramblers so beloved to city
riders,” said Reid Wilson, Vice President of Indian Motorcycle. “The FTR 1200
is as much about style and self-expression as it is about street-oriented
performance, and the FTR Rally delivers that combination in a totally unique

2020 Indian FTR Rally
The FTR Rally has a ProTaper handlebar that’s 2 inches taller than the one on the standard FTR 1200. It also gets a stylish flyscreen.

The FTR Rally features Titanium Smoke paint with the Indian Motorcycle headdress graphic, a brown aviator seat and a rally flyscreen. It’s also equipped with cruise control, a USB fast charge port and a new ProTaper handlebar that is 2 inches higher than that of the standard FTR 1200. The FTR Rally has a 3.4-gallon fuel tank, a 33.6-inch seat height and a 511-pound dry weight (claimed).

2020 Indian FTR Rally
Brown aviator seat adds to the FTR Rally’s old-school scrambler look.

Pricing for the 2020 Indian FTR Rally starts at $13,499, and it’s compatible with the entire range of 40+ accessories specifically developed for the FTR platform.

Check out Rider’s Guide to New 2020 Street Motorcycles

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT | Road Test Review

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
In a parking lot full of beaked ADV-style touring bikes, the Moto Guzzi V85 TT Adventure stands out in many of the right ways: an eye-catching paint scheme, a high front fender, classic twin headlights bisected by the Moto Guzzi eagle motif and, of course, that distinctive and all-new “flying” V-twin engine. Photos by Kevin Wing.

We’ve been looking forward to getting our hands on the Moto Guzzi V85 TT, the latest bike to roll out of Italy’s oldest motorcycle manufacturer, since our first ride on one at the press launch last spring (read the review here). The V85 TT (tutto terrano, or all-terrain) appeared to be a Goldilocks ride for those looking for a friendly, accessible middleweight adventure tourer, with a 32.7-inch seat (a 31.9-inch low option is also available), narrow waist and claimed 505-pound wet weight. Its styling turns heads, too, especially in either of the two “Adventure” color combos. But the big news is its new air-cooled, 853cc, OHV two-valve-per-cylinder 90-degree “flying” V-twin engine, launched initially in the V85 TT with more models to follow. Technical details on the new engine can be found in our First Ride Review, but in summary the new powerplant is quicker-revving with a higher redline, and lighter, quieter and smoother than previous Guzzi small-blocks. Ground clearance is an ADV-friendly 8.3 inches, thanks to a redesigned gearbox and clutch housing and a tubular steel frame that uses the engine as a stressed member, eliminating the need for a lower frame cradle. Power is sent to the rear wheel via driveshaft housed on the right side of the long, asymmetric aluminum swingarm.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
New 853cc engine vibrates significantly at idle, but smooths out immediately once underway.

The standard V85 TT ($11,990) is well equipped with hand guards, electronic cruise control, an aluminum sump guard, switchable MGCT traction control, ABS and three riding modes (Road, Rain and Off-Road). But for just $1,000 more the Adventure is a no-brainer, with striking red/white or red/yellow/white livery and standard aluminum top and side cases. (For reference, the luggage alone runs just shy of $2,000 in Moto Guzzi’s accessory catalog.) The Adventure also gets dirt-ready Michelin Anakee Adventure tires rather than the standard Metzeler Tourance Nexts; both models have 19-inch front, 17-inch rear tube-type spoked rims.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Our Adventure model was equipped with a full set of aluminum luggage and Michelin Anakee Adventure tires, which proved to be a bit on the noisy side.

This is a lovely time of year to ride California’s Central Coast, so we planned an overnighter to Monterey, on roads varying from the wide-open divided highway of U.S. Route 101, to meandering wine country two-lane, the sinuous curves of Big Sur and the bumpy, narrow tarmac of Carmel Valley Road. By the time we made our first pit stop in Los Olivos, northwest of Santa Barbara, the V85 TT’s new engine was already making a favorable impression. Response from the throttle-by-wire system was smooth and precise, without the abruptness that has plagued other bikes we’ve tested. We picked up on some vibration in the pegs and grips at higher cruising speeds, but it was never enough to cause discomfort, and once we ducked off U.S. 101 in favor of two-lane Foxen Canyon Road, which dances through hills and vineyards, the new engine’s character really started to shine.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
The V85 TT hums along at freeway speeds willingly, but it’s on the smaller back roads that its character shines, like this narrow, winding descent on California’s Central Coast.

The most noticeable difference from the previous-gen V9 engine is an increase in horsepower; our V85 TT Adventure produced 66.3 peak rear-wheel horsepower at 7,900 rpm and 48.6 lb-ft of torque at 5,300 on the Jett Tuning dyno, compared with 51.3 horsepower and 47.3 lb-ft of torque from the 853cc V9 Bobber we tested in 2017. The new V85 spins up quickly and easily, which is good since you’ll want to keep it above 3,000 rpm to stay in the meat of its powerband. The six-speed gearbox is relatively smooth and less clunky than past Guzzis, though the cable-actuated dry clutch engages and disengages within a narrow portion at the end of the lever throw. Overall, we’re impressed with the new engine, and the increased horsepower as shown in the dyno figures is only part of that. Rather than holding it back, the V85 contributes to the TT’s nimble, easy to handle feel; this is a cohesive machine that works well and is really fun to ride.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT dyno chart

Back on the road, after rotating the wide handlebar back down to its stock position (the previous tester had moved it up to facilitate standing off-road), the TT also proved to be fairly comfortable, with a long, flat, plush seat that narrows at the tank for easy reach to the ground. Footpegs are set at a happy medium between ground-clearance high and comfortable low. With a 34-inch inseam, my knees hovered just a couple of inches from the rear of each cylinder head, but heat was never a problem and I only banged them a couple of times when moving around on the bike during aggressive cornering. Our biggest complaint regarding touring comfort was the short, non-adjustable windscreen, which flowed air directly onto my shoulders and helmet; an accessory or aftermarket touring screen would be an easy fix. As an early twilight descended, we made another wish: auxiliary lights. While the twin LED headlights, bisected with a DRL in the shape of the Moto Guzzi eagle, do a nice job of lighting up the road directly in front of the TT’s front tire, their beams end abruptly in a horizontal line about two car lengths ahead. Flicking on the high beam only makes those two car lengths brighter rather than illuminating farther down the road.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Add a taller touring windscreen to its wide handlebar, plush seat and fairly low footpegs, and the V85 TT would make a comfortable long-distance mid-weight ADV tourer.

The V85 TT is equipped with three ride modes, Road, Rain and Off-Road, all of which offer full power but vary in terms of ABS, traction control, throttle response and engine braking settings. Road is the standard touring mode, while Rain softens throttle response, increases traction control and ABS intervention and limits top speed, and Off-Road reduces traction control and disables ABS to the rear wheel (ABS can be completely disabled in this mode as well). Traction control can be shut off independently, but always reengages after the bike is turned off/back on again. 

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
TFT display includes speedo, tach, ride mode, a clock, range to empty, ambient temperature, fuel level and selectable tripmeters/fuel consumption data.

Radial-mount four-piston Brembo front brakes are adequate, but require a hefty lever squeeze to produce much action; more aggressive initial bite would be welcome and might add to rider confidence, especially when riding fully loaded on a downhill. Suspension is fairly soft, well-suited to off-road excursions and gnarly, bumpy pavement, and both the 41mm Kayaba USD fork and single rear shock with dual-rate spring are only adjustable for preload and rebound damping. We cranked the rear shock’s preload nearly all the way to the max, but even with a lightweight rider (never ask a lady how much she weighs!) and luggage that was far from full the TT sagged considerably, eating through most of the “soft” part of the spring. That said, at a moderate pace, even over rough pavement, the TT handles nimbly and easily, and in fact is almost too willing to turn in. Once tipped into a bend, I actually found myself countersteering against the turn to prevent the TT from leaning farther, then just increasing that pressure to straighten back out. Nothing dangerous, just one of those quirks that becomes “normal” after a couple of weeks.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
A wide handlebar makes the TT easy to flick; even wider mirrors give the rider great visibility.

Anyway, as any Guzzi owner will tell you, a bit of character is part of the charm. Somewhat fiddly switchgear that requires a small learning curve? An indicator light that blinks irritatingly whenever cruise control is on but not in use? A starter button that doubles as a ride mode selector, requiring wrist contortions, multiple thumb taps and constant attention to (hopefully) select the desired mode? Nessun problema! (No problem!) None of these are a deal-breaker, and as a mid-weight ADV tourer or commuter the V85 TT Adventure is a real bargain, and eye-catchingly stylish to boot. With the easy additions of a touring windscreen, the optional heated grips and a set of auxiliary lights, this is a machine that’s ready to go the distance.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
With a complete set of aluminum luggage and electronics like ride modes and cruise control as standard, the V85 TT Adventure is a middleweight ADV touring bargain.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Specs

Base Price: $11,990
Price As Tested: $12,990 (Adventure w/ paint, luggage & Michelin Anakee Adventure tires)
Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles
Website: motoguzzi-us.com


Type: Air-cooled, longitudinal 90-degree V-twin
Displacement: 853cc
Bore x Stroke: 84.0 x 77.0mm
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Valve Train: OHV, 2 valves per cyl.
Valve Insp. Interval: 6,200 miles
Fuel Delivery: EFI w/ 52mm throttle body
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 2.1-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated dry clutch
Final Drive: Shaft


Ignition: Electronic
Charging Output: 430 watts max.
Battery: 12V 12AH


Frame: Tubular steel w/ engine as stressed member, cast aluminum swingarm
Wheelbase: 60.2 in.
Rake/Trail: 26 degrees/5.1 in.
Seat Height: 32.7 in.
Suspension, Front: 41mm USD fork, adj. for spring preload & rebound damping, 6.6-in. travel
Rear: Single shock, adj. for spring preload & rebound damping, 4.0-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 320mm floating discs w/ radial 4-piston calipers & ABS
Rear: Single 260mm disc w/ 2-piston floating caliper & ABS
Wheels, Front: Spoked tube-type, 2.50 x 19 in.
Rear: Spoked tube-type, 4.25 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 110/80-VR19
Rear: 150/70-VR17
Wet Weight: 571 lbs. (as tested)
Load Capacity: 417 lbs. (as tested)
GVWR: 988 lbs.


Fuel Capacity: 6.1 gals., last 1.3 gals. warning light on
MPG: 90 AKI min. (low/avg/high) 43.4/48.9/55.1
Estimated Range: 298 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 3,600

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Offset rear shock and an asymmetrical swingarm that’s curved on the left side make room for a high, tucked-in exhaust.
2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Short windscreen directs a lot of air to the rider’s head and chest. Cool Moto Guzzi Eagle DRL bisects the twin headlights.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2020 Triumph Tiger 900 / GT / Rally | First Look Review

2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro and Tiger 900 Rally Pro
For 2020 Triumph has thoroughly updated its middleweight adventure platform, now called the Tiger 900, with a larger engine, a new chassis, new technology, new styling and more. The lineup includes five models; shown on the left is the Tiger 900 GT Pro and on the right is the Tiger 900 Rally Pro.

For the 2011 model year, Triumph launched two all-new models – the Tiger 800 and more off-road-oriented Tiger 800 XC, both powered by a 799cc in-line triple – in what was then a much smaller and less competitive middleweight adventure bike segment, with competition coming primarily from BMW’s F 650 GS and F 800 GS.

2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro engine
The 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 platform is powered by a larger 888cc in-line triple that makes more power and torque than its 799cc predecessor.

Adventure bikes have been a rare bright spot of growth in
what has been a stagnant decade in terms of motorcycle sales since the Great
Recession. And where there’s growth, competition flows in like the tide in the
hopes of raising more boats. We’ve seen a proliferation of new models and new
technology in the segment, with adventure bikes all but displacing traditional
sport- touring motorcycles and some offering nearly superbike levels of power
and specification.

2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro
2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro in Korosi Red

Triumph added a 1,215cc triple-powered Tiger Explorer for 2012, it updated and expanded its Tiger 800 lineup to four models (XR, XRx, XC and XCx) for 2015 and it rolled out no fewer than six Explorer models for 2016. By the time the 2018 model year rolled around, both the Tiger 800 and Tiger 1200 (formerly Explorer) families were comprised of six models each – XR, XRx, XRx Low Ride Height (LHR), XRT, XCx and XCA – offering varying levels of specification and on-/off-road worthiness.

2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro wheel
All 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 models feature top-of-the-line Brembo Stylema monoblock front calipers. Wheels, ABS/TC, suspension, ride modes, etc. differ by model.

Triumph decided to simplify things somewhat for 2020, with five middleweight Tiger models: Tiger 900, Tiger 900 GT, Tiger 900 GT Pro, Tiger 900 Rally and Tiger 900 Rally Pro. If you’re keeping tabs on the progression of model designations, the Tiger 900 and Tiger 900 GT/Pro models replace the more street-oriented XR models, and the Tiger Rally/Pro models replace the more off-road-oriented XC models.

2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro
2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro in Matte Khaki

The Tiger 900 lineup is powered by a larger 888cc, DOHC, 4-valves-per-cylinder in-line triple that makes a claimed 94 horsepower and 64 lb-ft of torque, with more midrange power and 10% higher peak torque than its 799cc predecessor. Widening the triple’s bore from 74 to 78mm (stroke is unchanged at 61.9mm) yielded an 89cc increase in displacement. The updated engine gets a new 1-3-2 firing order for more character, and Triumph says the Tiger 900 offers class-leading acceleration and a distinctive soundtrack.

2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro cockpit
The 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 has a 5-inch TFT display, whereas all other models (such as the Tiger 900 GT Pro shown) have a 7-inch TFT display.

Triumph revised the Tiger 900 platform from the ground up,
with a new modular, tubular-steel main frame and a bolt-on subframe, top-of-the-line
Brembo Stylema monoblock front calipers, new bodywork and new LED lighting.

Other new features vary by model:

2020 Triumph Tiger 900
2020 Triumph Tiger 900 in Pure White

Tiger 900

  • Cast wheels, 19-in. front, 17-in. rear
  • Marzocchi 45mm USD fork, non-adj., 7.1-in. travel
  • Marzocchi shock, adj. for spring preload, 6.7-in. travel
  • Seat height: 31.9/32.7 in.
  • Standard ABS
  • Ride modes: Road, Rain
  • 5-inch TFT display
  • Fuel capacity: 5.3 gals.
  • Dry weight (claimed): 423 lbs.
  • Color options: Pure White

Tiger 900 GT

  • Cast wheels, 19-in. front, 17-in. rear
  • Marzocchi 45mm USD fork, adj. for compression & rebound, 7.1-in. travel
  • Marzocchi shock, adj. for spring preload & rebound, 6.7-in. travel
  • (GT Low Ride Height: 5.51/5.95 in. travel)
  • Seat height: 31.9/32.7 in. (GT LRH: 29.9/30.7 in.)
  • Radial front master cylinder
  • Cornering ABS and traction control with IMU
  • Ride modes: Road, Rain, Sport, Off-Road
  • 7-inch TFT display
  • Illuminated switches with a 5-way joystick
  • Electronic cruise control
  • Heated grips
  • Secure mobile phone storage with USB charging port
  • Fuel capacity: 5.3 gals.
  • Dry weight (claimed): 428 lbs. (GT LRH: 426 lbs.)
  • Color options: Korosi Red, Sapphire Black and Pure White, all featuring premium tank badges and contemporary new decals
2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro
2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro in Korosi Red

Tiger 900 GT Pro

  • Cast wheels, 19-in. front, 17-in. rear
  • Marzocchi 45mm USD fork, adj. for compression & rebound, 7.1-in. travel
  • Marzocchi shock, electronically adj. for spring preload & rebound, 6.7-in. travel
  • Seat height: 31.9/32.7 in.
  • Radial front master cylinder
  • Cornering ABS and traction control with IMU
  • Ride modes: Road, Rain, Sport, Off-Road, Rider-configurable
  • Triumph Shift Assist (up/down quickshifter)
  • 7-inch TFT display
  • Illuminated switches with a 5-way joystick
  • Electronic cruise control
  • Heated grips
  • Heated seats
  • Tire-pressure monitoring system
  • LED auxiliary lights
  • Secure mobile phone storage with USB charging port
  • My Triumph Bluetooth connectivity
  • Fuel capacity: 5.3 gals.
  • Dry weight (claimed): 437 lbs.
  • Color options: Korosi Red, Sapphire Black and Pure White, all featuring premium tank badges and contemporary new decals

Tiger 900 Rally

  • Spoked tubeless wheels, 21-in. front, 17-in. rear
  • Showa 45mm USD fork, fully adj., 9.5-in. travel
  • Showa shock, adj. for spring preload & rebound, 9.1-in. travel
  • Seat height: 33.5/34.3 in.
  • Radial front master cylinder
  • Cornering ABS and traction control with IMU
  • Ride modes: Road, Rain, Sport, Off-Road
  • 7-inch TFT display
  • Illuminated switches with a 5-way joystick
  • Electronic cruise control
  • Heated grips
  • Secure mobile phone storage with USB charging port
  • Fuel capacity: 5.3 gals.
  • Dry weight (claimed): 432 lbs.
  • Color options: Matte Khaki, Sapphire Black and Pure White, all featuring contemporary new decals and a distinctive white frame inspired by the Tiger Tramontana rally bike
2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro
2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro in Matte Khaki

Tiger 900 Rally Pro

  • Spoked tubeless wheels, 21-in. front, 17-in. rear
  • Showa 45mm USD fork, fully adj., 9.5-in. travel
  • Showa shock, adj. for spring preload & rebound, 9.1-in. travel
  • Seat height: 33.5/34.3 in.
  • Radial front master cylinder
  • Cornering ABS and traction control with IMU
  • Ride modes: Road, Rain, Sport, Off-Road, Rider-configurable, Off-Road Pro
  • Triumph Shift Assist (up/down quickshifter)
  • 7-inch TFT display
  • Illuminated switches with a 5-way joystick
  • Electronic cruise control
  • Heated grips
  • Heated seats
  • Tire-pressure monitoring system
  • LED auxiliary lights
  • Secure mobile phone storage with USB charging port
  • My Triumph Bluetooth connectivity
  • Fuel capacity: 5.3 gals.
  • Dry weight (claimed): 443 lbs.
  • Color options: Matte Khaki, Sapphire Black and Pure White, all featuring contemporary new decals and a distinctive white frame inspired by the Tiger Tramontana rally bike

The 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally and Tiger 900 Rally Pro
will be available in March. The Tiger 900, Tiger 900 GT and Tiger GT Pro will
be available in April. Pricing for the Tiger 900 starts at $12,500; pricing for
the other models is TBD.

Check out more new bikes in Rider’s 2020 Guide to New Street Motorcycles

Source: RiderMagazine.com