Tag Archives: Adventure & Dual-Sport Motorcycles

Rider Magazine’s 2019 Motorcycle of the Year

Rider Magazine 2019 Motorcycle of the Year

It’s seldom (if ever) easy to pick a Motorcycle of the Year…not that anyone ever feels sorry for us and our “but we had to ride so many motorcycles” tale of woe. For example, we took our initial ride on the first of this model year’s crop of Contenders, the Yamaha Niken, way back in May of 2018. We can’t even remember what we had for dinner last Tuesday, but fortunately Yamaha jogged our memories of the bike by unveiling the tour-ready GT version of its three-wheeled LMW (Leaning Multi-Wheel) in April 2019.

In the interim, Royal Enfield released a pair of highly anticipated 650 twins, designed, tested and engineered at its brand-spanking-new R&D facility in England and built at one of its sprawling factories in India. Triumph showed off its truly off-road capable yet still pleasantly retro Scrambler 1200 XC and XE. Harley-Davidson, meanwhile, was creating a lot of very different noise with its LiveWire electric motorcycle, but as a 2020 model it’s not eligible for this year’s award. The rightful successor to the dearly departed V-Rod, the dragbike-inspired FXDR 114, is a 2019 contender though. At the decidedly non-dragbike-inspired end of the motorcycle spectrum, Honda, which celebrates its 60th anniversary in the U.S. this year, brought us two absolutely adorable throwback models designed to both tug at Boomer heartstrings and appeal to vintage-loving Millennials, the Monkey and the Super Cub. Indian tapped into another vein of nostalgia and good ol’ Americana with its FTR 1200 S flat-track replica, one of the best-performing American bikes we’ve ridden in a while. Meanwhile BMW managed to improve once again on its bestseller by introducing the R 1250 GS, and Suzuki did the same with its venerable V-Strom 650 XT Touring.

So no, it’s never easy. That said, one machine stood out above the rest as our pick for the 2019 Motorcycle of the Year, and not just because it’s capable of scrabbling to the top of a mountain—then carrying you and your stuff comfortably home again. Our choice, as always, goes to a machine that succeeds best at its intent and could be considered a game-changer in its category. We celebrate all new motorcycles, as they each represent the opportunity to get more people on two wheels, experiencing this great adventure we know and love. Congratulations to all the manufacturers, and thank you for keeping our passion alive!

Check out Rider‘s 2018 Motorcycle of the Year

The Contenders…

BMW R 1250 GS

2019 BMW R 1250 GS
2019 BMW R 1250 GS (Photo by Kevin Wing)

Read our 2019 BMW R 1250 GS First Ride Review

BMW’s big GS
gets ShiftCam variable valve timing that broadens the powerband, increases fuel
efficiency and decreases emissions, a full-color TFT display, updated
electronics and a bump in displacement (and power) from 1,170 to 1,254cc, making what was already arguably one of the
best all-around motorcycles even better.

Harley-Davidson FXDR 114

2019 Harley-Davidson FXDR 114
2019 Harley-Davidson FXDR 114 (Photo by Kevin Wing)

Read our 2019 Harley-Davidson FXDR 114 First Ride Review

The V-Rod is dead, long live
the V-Rod! Well, sort of. The newest member of the Softail family is a long,
lean power cruiser that channels the spirit of the VRSC V-Rod, with a 114ci
Milwaukee-Eight V-twin, raked-out cartridge-style USD fork, 33 degrees of lean
angle and a 240-section rear tire wrapped around a solid-disc rear wheel.

Honda Super Cub

2019 Honda Super Cub C125 ABS
2019 Honda Super Cub C125 ABS (Photo by Drew Ruiz)

Read our 2019 Honda Super Cub C125 ABS First Ride Review

Sixty
years ago, the original Super Cub proved that motorcycles needn’t be feared by
the masses, and this new version continues to make good on that promise, with a
4-speed semi-automatic gearbox, 244-pound wet weight, timeless styling and
modern conveniences like keyless ignition and ABS on the front brake.

Indian FTR 1200 S

2019 Indian FTR 1200 S
2019 Indian FTR 1200 S (Photo by Barry Hathaway)

Read our 2019 Indian FTR 1200 S First Ride Review

The FTR 1200 S is a light, fast, agile street tracker
inspired by Indian’s championship-winning race bike. It’s also a breath of
fresh, young air in the cruiser orthodoxy that’s dominated American-made
motorcycles for decades, and features include a liquid-cooled, DOHC V-twin and
a six-axis IMU-based electronics package.

Royal Enfield 650 Twins

2019 Royal Enfield Continental GT and Interceptor 650
2019 Royal Enfield Continental GT (left) and Interceptor 650 (right)

Read our 2019 Royal Enfield Continental GT and Interceptor 650 Road Test Review

The Interceptor 650 and Continental GT are completely new,
the first global models for India-based Royal Enfield and the first to be
designed, tested and engineered at its new facility in England. Powered by an
air/oil-cooled 648cc parallel twin, both bikes manage to evoke the simple
pleasure of riding for riding’s sake.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT Touring

2019 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT Touring
2019 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT Touring

Read our 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT vs V-Strom 1000XT Comparison Review

While we haven’t yet ridden
the 2019 version, we’ve spent many thousands of miles aboard Wee Stroms, and
this is the best-equipped one yet. With tubeless spoked wheels, locking side
cases, hand guards, a centerstand, cruise control, ABS, Easy Start and Low RPM
Assist, it’s ready to take on almost any adventure for just $9,999.

Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC/XE

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE
2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE (Photo by Kingdom Creative)

Read our 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE First Ride Review

Most modern scramblers talk the talk, but don’t walk the
walk of off-road capability. Enter the Scrambler 1200, a full-on adventure bike
with minimalist, retro styling—and a 21-inch front, nearly 10 inches of Öhlins
suspension travel on the up-spec XE model, multiple riding modes, switchable
ABS and traction control.

Yamaha Niken/Niken GT

2019 Yamaha Niken GT
2019 Yamaha Niken GT (Photo by Joe Agustin)

Read our 2019 Yamaha Niken First Ride Review

Read our 2019 Yamaha Niken GT First Ride Review

They’re a bold, groundbreaking move from Yamaha, and they nearly snagged our top honor. The Niken and Niken GT, based around the Tracer 900—a fantastic bike in its own right—work surprisingly well, with ridiculous front-end grip that must be experienced to be believed and that lovely 847cc in-line triple at their hearts.

And the winner is….

KTM 790 Adventure

2019 KTM 790 Adventure
2019 KTM 790 Adventure (Photo by Sebas Romero & Marco Campelli)

Read our 2019 KTM 790 Adventure/R First Ride Review

It’s no secret that adventure
bikes are exploding in popularity, as riders discover the utility and versatility
of their combination of upright seating position, decent ground clearance and
suspension travel, wind protection, the ability to carry luggage and, to
varying degrees, venture off-pavement. ADV bikes have been getting increasingly
bloated, however, bigger, more powerful—and heavier—each model year. Hard-core
ADV-ers have been clamoring for years, begging for a bike that returns
adventure riding to its truly adventurous roots. Something lightweight and
trail-capable, yet with enough elemental protection, power and luggage capacity
to comfortably travel cross-country, and modern fuel injection and electronic
rider aids wouldn’t hurt.

2019 KTM 790 Adventure

At long last, KTM answered
the call, and what an answer it is. The 790 Adventure and its even more
off-road-oriented R sibling manage to check all the boxes: light weight at a
claimed 417 pounds dry, a state-of-the-art 799cc liquid-cooled, DOHC LC8
parallel twin that produces a claimed 95 horsepower and 65.6 lb-ft of torque
delivered low in the rev range for optimum grunt, and spoked tubeless wheels in
21-inch front/18-inch rear sizes. The standard, more touring-oriented model has
a still-respectable 7.9 inches of travel from its WP Apex suspension and a
fairly accessible, adjustable seat height of 32.7/33.5 inches. Multiple riding
modes (Street, Offroad and Rain) adjust throttle response and lean-angle
sensitive Motorcycle Traction Control (MTC) settings, and power reaches the
rear wheel by way of an assist-and-slipper clutch, a 6-speed transmission and
chain final drive. The more off-road-oriented R model gets a Rally ride mode,
fully adjustable WP Xplor suspension with 9.4 inches of travel and a 34.6-inch
rally-style seat.

2019 KTM 790 Adventure (left and right) and 790 Adventure R (center) (Photo by Sebas Romero & Marco Campelli)

A defining characteristic of
the 790 Adventure is its rally racer-inspired, 5.3-gallon horseshoe-shaped gas
tank, which keeps the bike’s center of gravity low, creates less bulk between
the knees for stand-up riding and makes air filter, battery and fuse access
easy, plus it does double-duty as engine protection in case of a tip-over.

2019 KTM 790 Adventure

On paper the 790 Adventure is
impressive, and riding it is confirmation; the seat is flat, spacious and
comfortable, the wide handlebar is six-position adjustable and the long-travel
suspension soaks up road irregularities at high and low speeds. Bosch 9.1 MP
cornering ABS backs up powerful brakes and many useful features are standard,
such as an aluminum skid plate, a 12V dash socket and an underseat USB port.
Cruise control, a centerstand, a quickshifter, heated grips and TPMS are
optional.

2019 KTM 790 Adventure

At long last, the empty slot
between a street-legal enduro and an open-class ADV tourer has been filled, and
that sound you hear is the cheering of all those riders looking for a bike to
rule both mountain and highway.

Congratulations KTM, for the 2019 790 Adventure, Rider’s Motorcycle of the Year!

2019 KTM 790 Adventure

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2019 Honda CB500X | First Ride Review

2019 Honda CB500X
The Honda CB500X is back with more off-road chops for 2019, including a 19-inch front wheel in place of the old 17. (Photos by Drew Ruiz)

For reasons that remain a mystery, Honda waited until the 2016 model year and the introduction of its very capable CRF1000L Africa Twin to get serious about joining the adventure bike party. Sure, there were short-lived tryouts late in the last century (e.g., the original Africa Twin, Transalps and NX650 models), but these were well ahead of the explosion in ADV-bike understanding and popularity, and the 1998-2013 semi-ADV Varadero was never brought to the U.S.

Read our Tour Test Review of the 2016 Honda Africa Twin DCT

But just prior to the new Africa Twin, Honda dipped a toe in the ADV pond by calling its ruggedly styled new-for-2013 CB500X an “adventure sport” motorcycle, and despite its 17-inch wheels at both ends and 4.7/5.5-inch suspension travel, quite a few riders took that description at Honda’s word.

2019 Honda CB500X
Slightly increased suspension travel and a beefier shock in back help allow the CB500X to tackle rougher sections reasonably well.

Subsequently our March 2014 issue tour test to Tombstone, Arizona, included some dirt roads, where the CB500X’s light weight and decent ground clearance helped it do OK (absent deep sand or ruts). The bike’s lower price and seat height has since endeared it to beginning and smaller riders, some of whom want to sample the ADV experience without spending a lot of money—call them the “Adventure Curious.”

The CB500X’s ADV role got a boost when a UK-based outfit called Rally Raid Products created an “adventure kit” for it that includes spoked tubeless wheels with a 19-inch front, longer travel suspension, an ABS cutout switch, taller handlebars and more, and sold lots of them.

2019 Honda CB500X
For this 5-foot-10-inch rider, standing up requires bent knees to reach the handlebar, which is higher for 2019 but not by much.

Honda has been paying attention to all of this, of course, the result of which is a new 2019 CB500X that incorporates several updates to make it more adventure capable as well as some solid upgrades to its performance and user friendliness. Chief among them is a new 19-inch front wheel that improves bump absorption, front-end feel off-road and high-speed handling, and longer suspension travel (up 0.4-inch front and rear, with an upgraded shock from its larger sportbikes) that reduces bottoming and increases ground clearance.

Unfortunately, seat height is up 0.8-inch as a result, so Honda has narrowed the seat front to make the ground an easier reach–with my 29-inch inseam I can still plant the balls of my feet on the ground. Steering rake and wheelbase are slightly longer for more stability, yet the bike’s turning radius is 8 inches smaller, and new 7-spoke cast wheels are shod with Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour tires that have an aggressive tread pattern and deep grooves.

2019 Honda CB500X
Stock tires are new Dunlop Trailmax Mixtours, a 90/10 on/off-road radial with aggressive tread for dirt roads and good grip on-road. Jonathan Livingston approves of the bike’s refreshed styling, too.

At 471cc the CB500X twin is in that size and price sweet spot that makes it both a great ride for beginners and a nice first or second bike for commuting and short trips. There’s power aplenty for most riding, with a screaming 8,200-rpm redline and a flat torque curve that makes it very responsive throughout most of the powerband. Grabbing a handful of throttle in top gear on the interstate doesn’t inspire much urge without a downshift, but the bike cruises along nicely at 75 mph with little vibration and (based on our 2013 model test) should get great fuel economy.

Changes to the parallel-twin engine for 2019 (which also apply to the CB500R and CB500F) like a new intake tract design, fuel injectors, valve timing and muffler give it a claimed 3-4 percent more midrange power and a racier exhaust note, and help it meet looming Euro 5 emissions regs. More dogs on the transmission gears improve shifting, and a new assist-and-slipper clutch reduces lever effort by 45 percent, adapts to the load for better hookup under heavy acceleration and reduces engine braking when downshifting.

2019 Honda CB500X
Updates to the liquid-cooled, 471cc DOHC parallel twin boost midrange power and improve power delivery, and it gets an improved transmission with assist-and-slipper clutch.

Although the Grand Prix Red CB500X can be had with ABS, that’s it for electronic rider aids, and the optional ABS is not switchable (but the fuse box and ABS fuses are readily accessible under the locking seat). For 2019 the bike gets an adjustable brake lever, a revised hydraulic ratio for the rear brake and upgraded ABS modulators that improve braking in low-traction situations (on the ABS version).

In the cockpit there’s a new tapered handlebar for ADV looks that is slightly (0.3 inch) higher and rubber-mounted to minimize vibes; a 0.8-inch taller, two-position windscreen and a new full-featured LCD display with a larger screen and thinner bezel that includes gear and adjustable upshift indicators. The CB500X also looks more adventure-y thanks to a restyled fuel tank, all-LED lighting and a new shroud design that directs radiator heat away from the rider’s legs.

2019 Honda CB500X
Handlebar and windscreen are both taller for 2019, and the CB500X gets a larger new LCD display.

Besides weight, displacement and cost, the chief difference between the CB500X and its 300- and 650-class ADV bike competitors is probably ergonomic. Those bikes have genuinely sit-up riding positions with tall handlebars and lowish footpegs, and though it’s closer to them now the X still retains some street bike feel, particularly for larger riders.

The bar is taller for 2019 but it’s still low by ADV standards, and the footpegs are a bit high, so it takes more effort to stand up, and standing up off-road creates a long reach to the grips. On the other hand, that wide handlebar and more tucked-in seating position works even better on the pavement now, and the upgrades to steering, suspension and brakes as well as the additional power make the bike serious fun on a twisty road. Wind protection from the taller screen is quite good, and vibration can only be felt in the grips and footpegs at higher rpm.

2019 Honda CB500X
For the press ride Honda equipped the bikes with Bridgestone Battlax Adventurecross AX41 knobbies, just one of many good ADV tire choices enabled by the larger front wheel.

Honda set up a brilliant ride for the press in the mountains around Julian, California, with a mix of dirt and pavement that showed off the bike’s capabilities very well. Rather than the stock Dunlops, Honda hedged its bets by equipping the bikes with Bridgestone Battlax Adventurecross AX41 tires, an aggressive ADV knobby that works surprisingly well on the street and provided reassuring traction on the dirt bits.

Clutch pull and shifting are indeed butter now, and with the slipper clutch, more linear power delivery and new ABS and brake settings the bike is quite easy to control on loose surfaces and stops hard when needed. Although damping settings are fixed, spring preload is adjustable at both ends, and other than some rear tire chatter when accelerating over washboard the suspension performs quite well for a bike in this price range. It was a warm day yet I didn’t notice any engine heat, and though the new display suffers from glare when the sun is directly behind it is otherwise highly functional.

2019 Honda CB500X
Revised ergonomics are fine for smaller statured riders off-road, and work especially well on the street.

The accessories list for the CB500X includes heated grips, a centerstand, locking panniers, hand guards, a rear carrier and more, and outfits like Rally Raid will continue to carry ADV upgrades for the new bike as well as for previous model years. At 433 pounds gassed and ready to ride, weight-wise the ABS version is right in between the 300- and 650-class ADV bikes, and the CB500X’s seat is still lower than the 650-and-larger machines, so it’s a good choice for someone who wants interstate touring capability in a smaller, more affordable machine that is also ready for the adventure curious.

Check out Rider’s 2019 Guide to New/Updated Motorcycles

Keep scrolling for a complete spec chart and more photos!

2019 Honda CB500X

2019 Honda CB500X Specs
Base Price: $6,699
Price as Tested: $6,999 (ABS)
Warranty: 12 mos., unltd. miles
Website: powersports.honda.com

Engine
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel twin
Displacement: 471cc
Bore x Stroke: 67.0mm x 66.8mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Valve Train: DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Insp. Interval: 16,000 miles
Fuel Delivery: PGM-FI w/ 34mm throttle bodies x 2
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 2.7 qt. cap.
Transmission: 6 speeds, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain

Electrical
Ignition: Full transistorized ignition
Charging Output: 500 watts
Battery: 12V 7.4AH

Chassis
Frame: Diamond-shaped tubular-steel w/ engine as stressed member, box-section steel swingarm
Wheelbase: 56.9 in.
Rake/Trail: 27.5 degrees/4.3 in.
Seat Height: 32.7 in.
Suspension, Front: 41mm stanchions, adj. for spring preload, 5.3-in. travel
Rear: Pro-Link single shock, adj. for spring preload, 5.9-in. travel
Brakes, Front: 320mm disc w/ 2-piston floating caliper & ABS (as tested)
Rear: 240mm disc w/ 1-piston floating caliper & ABS (as tested)
Wheels, Front: Cast, 2.50 x 19 in.
Rear: Cast, 4.50 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 110/80-HR19
Rear: 160/60-HR17
Wet Weight: 433 lbs. (as tested)
Load Capacity: 383 lbs. (as tested)
GVWR: 816 lbs.

Performance
Fuel Capacity: 4.6 gals., last 0.7 gal. warning light on
MPG: 87 AKI min. (low/avg/high) NA
Estimated Range: NA
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 4,750

2019 Honda CB500X
Honda CB500X accessories include a centerstand, locking panniers, hand guards, tank pads, a light bar, tank bag and heated grips.
2019 Honda CB500X
The single 310mm floating front wave rotor and 2-piston caliper provide good stopping power up front.
2019 Honda CB500X
Larger front wheel and additional suspension travel raised seat height, so Honda narrowed it in front to make it easier for those of us shorter of leg to reach the ground.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2020 Guide to New Street Motorcycles

This handy guide includes all new or significantly updated street-legal motorcycles for the 2020 model year. Organized in alphabetical order by manufacturer, it includes photos and links to details or, when available, first rides and road test reviews about each bike. This guide is updated regularly as more new/updated models are announced, and when we’ve had a chance to ride them and report our impressions.

Want to see all of the new/updated motorcycles for 2019?
Check out Rider’s 2019 Guide to New Street Motorcycles

2020 BMW R 1250 R

2019 BMW R 1250 R. Image courtesy BMW Motorrad.
2020 BMW R 1250 R

Receiving updates similar to those that other models in the
R family received for 2019, the BMW R 1250 R roadster gets a larger 1,254cc
boxer twin with ShiftCam variable valve timing and valve stroke and updates to
its electronics package. It also gets a mild style refresh with a TFT display,
a DRL option for the halogen headlight and new color options. Although originally
announced as a 2019 model, the R 1250 R didn’t make it to the U.S. in time. BMW
says it will be available as a 2020 model with an MSRP starting at $14,995.

Read our 2020 BMW R 1250 R First Look Review

2020 BMW R 1250 RS

2019 BMW R 1250 RS. Image courtesy BMW Motorrad.
2020 BMW R 1250 RS

Receiving updates similar to those that other models in the
R family received for 2019, the BMW R 1250 R roadster gets a larger 1,254cc
boxer twin with ShiftCam variable valve timing and valve stroke and updates to
its electronics package. The RS also gets a style refresh that drops the
asymmetrical, winking look of the S 1000 RR in favor of a sporty twin-LED
headlight assembly, and an LED DRL (daytime running light) is an option.
Although announced as a 2019 model, the R 1250 RS didn’t make it to the U.S. in
time. BMW says it will be available as a 2020 model with an MSRP starting at
$15,695.

Read our 2020 BMW R 1250 RS First Look Review

2020 BMW S 1000 RR

2019 BMW S 1000 RR in Motorsport livery. Images courtesy BMW Motorrad.
2020 BMW S 1000 RR

More power (205 hp), less weight (434 lbs), updated
technology and a new up-spec Motorsport version. The 2020 BMW S 1000 RR is at
the pointy end of the sportbike spear. Pricing starts at $16,995 and bikes will
be in dealerships in summer 2019.

Read our 2020 BMW S 1000 RR First Look Review

2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire

2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire action
2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire (Photo courtesy Harley-Davidson)

Harley-Davidson’s new LiveWire electric motorcycle is seriously sporty, shockingly fast and whisper-quiet–everything a typical Harley isn’t. And that’s just the way Milwaukee wants it. It’s propelled by a liquid-cooled electric motor that makes a claimed 105 horsepower and 86 lb-ft of torque, drawing power from a 15.5 kWh battery that offers, according to H-D, a range of 146 miles in the city and 95 miles of combined stop-and-go and highway riding. Single-speed transmission offers twist-and-go convenience, and styling, ergonomics and components are the sportiest offered on any Harley-Davidson. MSRP starts at $29,799.

Read our 2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire First Ride Review

2020 Suzuki Katana

2020 Suzuki Katana
2020 Suzuki Katana (Photo courtesy Suzuki)

The 2020 Suzuki Katana features styling cues that pay direct homage to the 1981 original, and it’s built around the potent GSX-S1000 999cc inline-four. It features ABS, traction control, Easy Start and Low RPM Assist, as well as a twin-spar aluminum frame, braced superbike-style swingarm, KYB suspension, dual front Brembo monoblock four-piston calipers, 310mm floating rotors and a model-specific LCD panel. We got a chance to ride the new Katana in Japan last March, but pricing and availability are TBD.

Read our 2020 Suzuki Katana First Ride Review

2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700

The Ténéré 700 will be coming to the U.S. in the second half of 2020. Images courtesy Yamaha Europe.
2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700

Announced in the fall of 2018, we’re still waiting to see the
new Ténéré 700 (T7, for short) in the flesh–Yamaha says it will be coming to
the U.S. in the second half of 2020 as a 2021 model. We know it will be
powered by the 689cc CP2 parallel twin used in the MT-07, housed in a new
tubular steel double-cradle frame. Other details include a 62.6-inch wheelbase,
9.5 inches of ground clearance, a fully adjustable USD 43mm fork with 8.3
inches of travel and a remote preload-adjustable rear shock with 7.9 inches of
travel.

Read our 2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700 First Look Review

2020 Yamaha YZF-R1 and YZF-R1M

2020 Yamaha YZF-R1M and YZF-R1
2020 Yamaha YZF-R1M (left) and YZF-R1 (right)

Yamaha has updated its flagship sportbikes, the YZF-R1 and the track-ready YZF-R1M, for 2020, with both featuring refinements to their CP4 crossplane crankshaft engines, an augmented electronic rider aids package, enhanced suspension and redesigned bodywork. MSRP is $17,300 for the YZF-R1 and $26,099 for the YZF-R1M (the latter is available in limited quantities through Yamaha’s online reservation system).

Read our 2020 Yamaha YZF-R1 and YZF-R1M First Ride Review

2020 Zero SR/F

2020 Zero SR/F
2020 Zero SR/F

The first new model from Zero Motorcycles since 2016, the 2020 SR/F’s streetfighter look and steel trellis frame blur the styling lines between gas and electric motorcycles. Powered by a new ZF75-10 IPM (Interior Permanent Magnet) motor and ZF14.4 lithium-ion battery, it delivers a claimed 140 lb-ft of torque and 110 horsepower. It also features Bosch’s Motorcycle Stability Control System and Zero’s new Cypher III operating system. Pricing starts at $18,995.

Read our 2020 Zero SR/F First Look Review

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Long-Term Ride Report: 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT

2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT. Photo by Kevin Wing.
2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT. Photo by Kevin Wing.

MSRP: $15,712 (as tested)
Odometer: 4,253 mi.

Last August we took delivery of a 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT ($13,299), with the XT identifying it as slightly tarted up with tubeless spoked wheels and a Renthal Fat Bar handlebar, for just $300 over the base model. We put it into a comparison test with its ’lil brother, the V-Strom 650XT, and the decision was very close, but the 1000’s extra power and superior suspension and brakes (including cornering ABS) beat out the 650’s lower weight and seat height and more agile handling (see Rider, November 2018 or ridermagazine.com).

Our 1000XT was outfitted with some useful Suzuki accessories, including side cases (29-liter left, 26-liter right), a 55-liter top case, a 15-liter ring lock tank bag, an accessory bar and a centerstand, for an as-tested price of $15,712. For 2019, the XT has been replaced by the XT Adventure ($15,299), which includes the accessory bar, centerstand, heated grips and 37-liter aluminum panniers, and it comes in a sweet Pearl Vigor Blue/Pearl Glacier White paint scheme with matching blue rims.

After our comparison test, contributor Ken Lee loaded up the Strom and did a 1,400-mile, two-up tour with his wife around California’s Sierra Nevada (see Rider, May 2019 or ridermagazine.com). Then he did a solo 800-mile freeway blast up to Oregon and back. Since then we’ve used the Strom primarily for commuting and day rides. We’ve logged  4,253 miles and averaged 38.4 mpg (low 32.3, high 47.6), for an estimated range of 204 miles.

The V-Strom has been a solid workhorse and our complaints are few. The accessory tank bag doesn’t snap into its ring lock like it should, so we have to open the bag, put our hand on top of the ring and push hard to make it lock—a hassle when the bag is full of gear. And on long trips we’ve wished for cruise control, which ought to be standard on touring motorcycles in this price range. Otherwise, though, the V-Strom gets high marks for competence, dependability, value and versatility, whether it’s used as a commuter, sport-touring bike or 80/20 adventure tourer. 

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Where the Road Ends: Alaska to Argentina Via the Darien Gap

How four military veterans made history with the motorcycle trip of a lifetime.

Alaska to Argentina via Darien Gap

There’s no wind in your hair or sun on your face when riding your motorcycle through a whiteout snowstorm, especially in November when it’s -16 F on Alaska’s Dalton Highway. No, the only warmth you feel is the electric heat of your Arctic riding suit running off your bike’s battery, especially if it catches fire and melts the inside of its weatherproof fabric, which happened to Wayne Mitchell on the sixth day of his 6-month journey last year. Too bad it wasn’t the worst of his team’s problems that week.

Five days later, near Burns Lake, British Columbia, Rich Doering was steering clear of deep roadside snow banks, leery of catching one with the wheel of his sidecar, when a white Chevy Impala tried to pass him, spun out of control and crashed into Doering’s left side, pinning his leg against the bike. The 59-year-old Alaskan was shaken and in pain. Not even two weeks into a journey two years in the making, Doering’s trip was in jeopardy of ending before barely getting off the ground. Fortunately, his X-rays were negative and the crew of veterans rode on, not wont to leaving a fallen man behind.

Alaska’s Dalton Highway is the first major obstacle in a north-to-south Pan-American motorcycle journey.
Alaska’s Dalton Highway is the first major obstacle in a north-to-south Pan-American motorcycle journey. Photo by Alex Manne.
Deadhorse Alaska
The industrial oil production town of Deadhorse is the jumping-off point. Photo by Alex Manne.
Ocular frostbite is a real threat. Photo by Alex Manne.
Ocular frostbite is a real threat. Photo by Alex Manne.
Emergency roadside shelters were deployed in a hellacious snowstorm.
Emergency roadside shelters were deployed in a hellacious snowstorm. Photo by Alex Manne.

With a few other roadside spinouts and mechanical failures, it was a dicey start to the Where The Road Ends team’s 19,000-mile continuous motorcycle journey from the origin of the northernmost road in America to the southernmost tip of Argentina. The four riders, plus one photographer and one videographer, had all served in the U.S. military and jumped on this opportunity to offset the boredom and void that so often come with reintegration to civilian life.

Retired army combat engineer Wayne Mitchell, the leader of the band, was a National Park Service employee in Colorado and the only rider with a wife and kids back home. Administrative office life was making the 43-year-old stir crazy, “like a Border Collie in an apartment,” and the prospect of another high-risk, seemingly impossible mission was all too tempting.

Simon Edwards, 54, had spent 20 years in the Special Forces as a medic before working as a physician’s assistant, though his own heart was on the mend from a bad breakup before the trip. Having raced in the Mexican 1000 Rally and set speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats, he was the strongest rider in the group.

Gruff and bearded was Mike Eastham, 50, who served with Mitchell in Mongolia and now worked construction jobs in rugged Alaskan environments. He’d often talk about rekindling his youthful “cowboy and Indian days” of wild military exploits.

And then there was Rich Doering, the former satellite systems engineer who longed for the military’s camaraderie. At 59, Doering may have been the most intellectual of the group, but was definitely the slowest rider.

The team attached sidecars to their Kawasaki KLR650s for the beginning of the trip.
The team attached sidecars to their Kawasaki KLR650s for the beginning of the trip. Photo by Alex Manne.
KLR650s with sidecars
Once past the frigid weather and icy roads of Alaska and Northern Canada, the stabilizing sidecar rigs were removed. Photo by Alex Manne.

After the accident, the team cruised south along the west coast of the United States without any major hiccups. Once they hit the Baja peninsula in Mexico, the sense of freedom and adventure ramped back up as they sped down the empty coastline, making good time and taking in the warm glow of western sunsets. Mitchell’s father used to regale his son with tales of riding motorcycles through Baja and now here was Wayne Jr., feeling the hum of his own engine, with waves of salty air crashing down onto hot asphalt. Ironically, the end of the Mexican leg coincided with the end of Mitchell’s father’s life. Mitchell got the call from his family and ultimately decided that his dad, who suffered years of dementia, would have wanted him to complete the mission in lieu of the funeral.

Navigating sporadic roadblocks and long lines at border crossings are par for the course in long-distance adventure riding. But the team was preparing for a rather atypical speed bump. Instead of taking the usual ferry from Panama to Colombia around the roadless, lawless, 80-mile break in the Pan-American Highway system–known as the notorious Darien Gap–they planned to ride their 450-pound Kawasaki KLR650s right through the heart of the beast, though “riding” would soon take on a new meaning.

No one had ever done a continuous north-south motorcycle journey from Deadhorse, Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina, through the Darien Gap in one uninterrupted trip. The absence of any road going through the thick, overgrown jungle is enough of a deterrent, as are the deadly snakes and insects, paramilitaries and guerillas, drug and human traffickers, and desperate migrants.

Yet the crux of the whole operation hinged on getting permission to even attempt the crossing of the gap from Senafront, Panama’s border police force. At a fortified compound in Panama City, with armed cadets lining the perimeter in camouflage and toucans squawking from the treetops, a giant, menacing eagle statue glared down on the team as they shuffled inside to plead their case. One ornery official in an off mood could stymie the entire venture, derailing the premise of their film and letting down their sponsors and the fan base they’d amassed along the journey.

Senafront, Panama’s border security forces, kept a watchful eye on the riders until they crossed into Colombia.
Senafront, Panama’s border security forces, kept a watchful eye on the riders until they crossed into Colombia. Photo by Alex Manne.
The crew hoped this soldier was the only one around with a 5.56mm M-16. P
The crew hoped this soldier was the only one around with a 5.56mm M-16. Photo by Alex Manne.

Fortunately, they and their gifted bottle of a fine liqueur were greeted with a smile by Subdirector General Oriel Oscar Ortega, a decorated, stocky man who had surprisingly little reservation about giving the team permission to cross into the Darien Gap, despite the potential for political fallout if anyone were to get killed.

“There is peace with the Colombian FARC,” he said, referring to the armed revolutionary guerilla movement in conflict with the Colombian government since 1964. “All is quiet, so you can go. But [once you get to] Colombia, it’s your problem….Welcome to Panama.”

As soon as the Pan-American Highway literally ended in the seedy town of Yaviza, Panama, the gap began smacking the team with setbacks left and right. Isaac Pizarro, their Guna Indian guide, wanted more money for his services than originally agreed. The Senafront soldiers stationed in the river town of Paya did not get the memo to let the men pass and would have turned them back were it not for a satellite phone call from their superiors. “Muy peligroso,” one said. “Bien viaje. Muchos mosquitos.” The dry season that the riders had aimed to hit by leaving Alaska in November never came and the jungle was one giant mud pit under a lush canopy of treetops.

Doering was the first rider to burn out his clutch trying to ride up a hill while sinking his tires straight into the mud. His spokes, sprockets, chain and brakes repeatedly caked with thick sludge, dirt and vegetation, completely locking up the rear wheel. He made the tough decision to abandon his bike in the jungle and retreat back to Panama City before rejoining the others later with the support van.

The troubles continued. Food and tools went missing as the young local porters–hired to cut a path with machetes and carry camping supplies–slowly disappeared into the bush. By the afternoon of day two, the other riders had burned out their clutches and drained their batteries trying to navigate the steep ravines with slick roots and unstable ground. They ended up having to push, drag and cable-hoist their bikes the rest of the way through the jungle with the help of enthusiastic-yet-disorganized porters while torrential downpours made regular appearances. “Getting one bike up this hill could take 16 people, let alone four,” Mitchell said at one point.

“Just a few more hours,” Pizarro kept assuring them. “Then Colombia is all downhill.” Neither statement was true. The men spent three more days trudging alongside their lifeless bikes, the most physically intense thing any of them have done in at least 10 years. Bugs devoured them through the undersides of their hammocks at night. Mitchell’s blistered trench foot was so bad that he could barely walk. After countless Africanized bees’ (a.k.a. “killer bees”) nests, paralyzing bug bites and pricks from long black thorns, they managed to find even more bees, bugs and black thorns. Each day was stickier, sweatier and itchier than the last. 

KLR650 mud
Edwards guns it up a mucky slope with the help of some porters and a jury-rigged pulley system. Photo by Alex Manne.
muddy trench KLR650
Some steep, muddy trenches were impossible to ride out of. Photo by Alex Manne.
Guna Indian porters making camp for the night.
Guna Indian porters making camp for the night. Photo by Alex Manne.
A dugout canoe called a “piragua” was used to ferry the four motorcycles deep into the jungle.
A dugout canoe called a “piragua” was used to ferry the four motorcycles deep into the jungle. Photo by Alex Manne.

Once they made it to the other side of the gap in Colombia, where a network of rivers would carry them out via dugout canoes called piraguas, there was trouble looming with a local paramilitary group not keen on surprise gringo visitors. Fortunately nothing escalated.

The Cacarica River and Atrato Swamp were so low that they had to spend a day pushing bikes through shallow water while shoveling mud out from under the heavy piraguas. After eight days and 80 miles of grueling jungle slog, they found themselves recovering in the port town of Turbo with three mangled bikes awaiting new parts from Kawasaki.

Having conquered the greatest objective of the ride, they still had an entire continent to cross on rowdy South American roads. While triumph reigned, frustration and broken down communication among the team chipped away at the stability of their mission’s leadership. Spending six to eight hours on a motorcycle staring at the horizon brings a lot of time to ruminate on personal quips. A few group separations and mechanical issues occurred, causing delays.

They cruised through the scenic roads to Machu Picchu, and ripped across sand dunes under the wide-open skies of the Atacama Desert before climbing up in elevation to mountainous landscapes where they once again encountered snow. In Chile, they took the famously scenic Carretera Austral coastal road with three large ferry crossings. They lucked out with pleasant weather for a few weeks until it switched to incessant rain in March.

Riding across Peru, where open plains gave way to high altitude mountains with sudden snowstorms.
Riding across Peru, where open plains gave way to high altitude mountains with sudden snowstorms. Photo by Alex Manne.
Riding a motorcycle through a whole spectrum of landscapes and ecosystems is what it’s all about.
Riding a motorcycle through a whole spectrum of landscapes and ecosystems is what it’s all about. Photo by Alex Manne.
Closing the last of the gaps to Ushuaia, Argentina.
Closing the last of the gaps to Ushuaia, Argentina. Photo by Alex Manne.

Then time became a factor. Mitchell’s request to extend his leave of absence at Rocky Mountain National Park was denied. If not back in time he’d lose his job, which he needed to support his family, including his mother, whom he’d just found out was diagnosed with cancer. He’d be cutting it very close to get to Ushuaia in time to make it back to Buenos Aires to catch a flight home hours before work started. The others were running out of money and needed to get back to work themselves. As real life came knocking, they were all reminded of just how much we sacrifice for the feeling of freedom that riding motorcycles around the world gives us.

Along with the relief and accomplishment of finishing the ride came a mounting fear of the inevitable comedown–the empty purposelessness of not having a complex expedition to coordinate every hour of every day. Edwards considered turning around and driving back just to have something to do.

While no one left the trip claiming to have uncovered the meaning of life on two wheels, the ride instilled in them a realization that it all might just be about making it over the next hill, taking things one turn at a time, no matter what the destination.

When they finally reached the anticlimactic parking lot at the southern tip of South America in Tierra del Fuego on March 27, they gazed farther south across the Drake Passage, wondering what was next to come. After some silence, Mitchell pointed out, “Nobody has ever ridden motorcycles across Antarctica before.”

Edwards, Eastham and Mitchell finally found where the road ends.
Edwards, Eastham and Mitchell finally found where the road ends. Photo by Alex Manne.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2019 KTM 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R | Video Review

2019 KTM 790 Adventure R
Rider magazine traveled to Morocco to test the new KTM 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R. (Photo by Sebas Romero)

KTM’s all-new 2019 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R are middleweight ADV bikes that are powered by a 95-hp, 799cc parallel twin, weigh just 417 lbs dry and are highly capable off-road. The 790 Adventure is aimed at general adventure-touring enthusiasts while the up-spec 790 Adventure R is aimed at more demanding off-road riders. Rider magazine tested them both in Morocco. Click on the player below to watch our video review, or the link below to read our full evaluation.

Read our 2019 KTM 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R First Ride Review

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2018 Honda NC750X | Road Test Review

Honda NC750X
Is this the perfect commuter? The Honda NC750X has a lot going for it: upright, comfortable seating, decent elemental protection, a user-friendly personality and, of course, a locking “frunk!” Photos by Kevin Wing.

I’m just going to come right out and say it: Honda’s NC750X is the best commuter bike out there right now. Don’t worry, I’m wearing my flame-retardant suit and a fire extinguisher is standing by. But I can also back up my bold claim, if you’ll bear with me.

When the original NC700X debuted in 2012, we proclaimed it “the bike many of you have been asking for…and more” (Rider, November 2012 and here). Base price was just $6,999, with the (then) newfangled DCT automatic ABS version coming in at $8,999, and it checked all the boxes: excellent fuel economy, accessible size, appealing ADV styling, comfortable seating, surprisingly decent handling and a locking storage compartment large enough to hold a full-face helmet.

Read our Tour Test Review of the Honda NC700X DCT here.

Honda NC750X
Smooth, liquid-cooled parallel twin is canted forward 55 degrees for a low center of gravity.

In 2014 the European market got a revised model, its 670cc parallel twin bored out to 745cc and dubbed the NC750X…but here in the States we were stuck with the 700 until last year, when Honda finally dropped it in favor of the 750.

So now we have the NC750X, which has matured into its role as a class-bending, do-it-all machine that hits the sweet spot in terms of price, functionality, style and fun. Base price is now $7,999 for the six-speed manual with LED head- and taillights and colorful LCD instrument, with the DCT ABS model, now featuring Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC, a.k.a. traction control), priced at $8,699.

Honda NC750X
Footpegs are positioned directly under the rider, making standing up easy. Reach to the bars is comfortable and natural. Rider shown is 5 feet 9 inches tall.

Honda has nearly perfected its three-mode (Drive, Sport and manual) DCT dual-clutch automatic transmission, and honestly for just $700 and roughly 30 extra pounds the DCT model is the way to go, especially since it’s the only way to get the HSTC and combined ABS, which applies front brake when the rear is applied as well as preventing lock-up. But EIC Tuttle must think I’m tough, so a base model, bone stock 2018 NC750X is what I tested, logging more than 1,400 commuting, canyon carving and errand-running miles.

Honda NC750X
It’s today’s everybike: an attractive, fuel-efficient, do-it-all commuter, canyon carver and even light tourer, at a great price.

Jenny’s Gear
Helmet: Nolan N100-5
Suit: Aerostich R-3
Boots: Tourmaster Trinity

On paper the NC750X is nearly identical to its predecessor, with the primary difference being the squarer bore and stroke (77 x 80mm vs. 73 x 80), which adds a few ponies and ups the rev ceiling to 7,500. The liquid-cooled, dual-counterbalanced, 270-degree, SOHC parallel twin cranks out power well into the midrange. Not to say it’ll ripple the blacktop on a holeshot, but it’s enough for a one-up rider to stay interested on a weekend fling through the twisties, and despite a surprisingly aggressive snarl it pulses pleasantly with no buzzy vibes. It’s also impressively fuel-efficient. On a mixture of high-speed (read: 75-80 mph) freeways and surface streets, I averaged nearly 69 mpg over 1,400 miles, meaning I was filling up the 3.7-gallon tank with regular every 250 miles or so. 

Honda NC750X
Backlit LCD instrument includes bar tachometer, speedometer, fuel gauge, clock and switchable tripmeters/odometer and fuel consumption.

The other major upgrade is the two-level HSTC, available only on the DCT ABS model, that allows the rider to choose between low intervention that allows some rear wheel spin (on gravel or dirt, for example) or high intervention for slippery roads. On our test bike my hands and right foot substituted for traction control and ABS, and fortunately the NC750X is easy and forgiving to ride.

That “just enough” power (51 peak horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 48 lb-ft of torque at 4,700 per the Jett Tuning dyno) never feels out of control and throttle response is smooth. A single 320mm wave-style front brake disc necessitates “combined” braking during anything resembling sporty riding, but I’m in the habit of using both front and rear anyway and found brake performance to be more than adequate for my one-up riding habits. As an added bonus, the front brake lever is now adjustable!

Honda NC750X
Dyno results on the 2018 Honda NC750X, as tested on the Jett Tuning dyno.

Now take a few steps back; at 478 pounds ready to ride the NC750X is essentially a three-quarter-size ADV bike, and this is a major component of its class-bending capabilities. The rider is perched on a 32.7-inch seat, which is comfortable enough for long commutes or day rides, narrow enough for 29-inch-inseam legs to reach the ground and high enough to allow an excellent view of traffic. Reach to the handlebar is also comfortable, and it’s not so wide as to require a yoga pose for full-lock turns. The windscreen does a good job of deflecting air and the LCD instrument is easy to read even in direct sunlight.

Handling potholes, railroad tracks and other pavement irregularities are a 41mm non-adjustable fork with 5.4 inches of travel, and a Pro-Link rear shock with spanner-adjustable preload and 5.9 inches of travel. For just about any type of “normal” riding, including gravel roads and tackling the twisties, I found the suspension to be surprisingly good; it only felt out of sorts when hitting hard bumps while leaned over in a turn.

Honda NC750X
The trade-off for the convenient frunk is the not-so-convenient fuel filler under the rear seat. Hard saddlebags and a rear trunk are Honda accessories.

Lastly, while it’s easy for us grizzled gearheads to become jaded about styling, I must mention that my NC750X tester received numerous compliments from strangers, including one sportbike rider at my gym and a car full of young people who cruised slowly past and called out, “Rad bike!” I’ll admit, it felt good!

Speaking of styling, other testers have complained about having to remove luggage like a tail bag to use the NC’s unorthodox fuel filler under the passenger seat, but there’s an upside: a waterproof 22-liter locking front trunk (endearingly known as the “frunk”), so as a commuter/errand-runner I never found it to be an issue.

Not only does the frunk hold a full-face helmet, I managed to stuff all manner of–well, stuff–in there. Groceries, a gym bag, my 13-inch laptop in a protective sleeve, extra gloves and layers, a combination of the above…you’d be surprised at what you can shove inside. And if you really need more space or want to go touring, Honda sells accessory hard saddlebags and a rear trunk. I only wish my tester’s frunk was fitted with the optional 12V accessory outlet.

Honda NC750X
All hail the frunk! Locking, waterproof “frunk” easily held my full-face modular helmet when parked, and all manner of items in between.

Going back to our original 2012 review, I think we can amend our statement to say the updated NC750X is the motorcycle many riders–and soon-to-be riders—have been waiting for. It’s a bike built for today’s motorcyclist: affordable, fuel efficient, with integrated storage and available DCT, and ready to do it all, from commuting to canyon carving to touring. And it looks good doing it.

2018 Honda NC750X.
2018 Honda NC750X.

2018 Honda NC750X Specs

Base Price: $7,999
Warranty: 1 yr., unltd. miles
Website: powersports.honda.com

Engine

Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel twin
Displacement: 745cc
Bore x Stroke: 77.0 x 80.0mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Valve Train: SOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Insp. Interval: 16,000 miles
Fuel Delivery: PGM-FI w/ 36mm throttle body
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 3.6-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain

Electrical

Ignition: Digital transistorized w/ electronic advance
Charging Output: 420 watts @ 5,000 rpm
Battery: 12V 11.2AH

Chassis

Frame: Tubular-steel diamond w/ engine as stressed member, box-section steel swingarm
Wheelbase: 60.4 in.
Rake/Trail: 27 degrees/4.3 in.
Seat Height: 32.7 in.
Suspension, Front: 41mm telescopic fork, no adj., 5.4-in. travel
Rear: Single link-type shock, adj. for spring preload, 5.9-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Single 320mm disc w/ 3-piston floating caliper
Rear: Single 240mm disc w/ 1-piston floating caliper
Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 17 in.
Rear: Cast, 4.50 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 120/70-ZR17
Rear: 160/60-ZR17
Wet Weight: 478 lbs.
Load Capacity: 432 lbs.
GVWR: 910 lbs.

Performance

Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gals., last 1.3 gals. warning light on
MPG: 86 PON min. (low/avg/high) 55.9/68.9/78.1
Estimated Range: 255 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 3,000

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2019 F 850 GS vs. 2009 F 800 GS: Time to Upgrade?

2019 BMW F 850 GS
The 2019 BMW F 850 GS may have more power, greater ground clearance and tons of electronic whiz-bangs, but is it really worth the upgrade from the original F 800 GS? Photo by the author.

Dang! Just when I thought my first-year F 800 GS was perfectly set up I spent a week on a 2019 F 850 GS in the Premium (“soup to nuts”) configuration. Having upgraded my suspension with Traxxion Dynamics fork internals, and a HyperPro rear shock, then adding a Scott’s steering damper (read: lifesaver), AltRider body protection, a Sargent seat and other goodies, I figured my GS was tricked out nicely. Over the past 60,000 miles, we’ve worked quite well together. Then here comes BMW with a brand new bike for their middleweight adventure slot. Do I need one?

Read our on- and off-road review of the 2019 BMW F 750 and 850 GS here.

It’s the 850’s new engine that I find most appealing. The whizzy doo-dads like dynamic traction control, electronic suspension adjustment, various riding modes, ABS Pro, keyless ignition and tire pressure monitoring have their place, but I’ve survived several decades of dual-sport and adventure riding without them. And though I was able to strafe my rocky test road with more speed and confidence using the 850’s electronic suspension helpers, most of my adventuring isn’t at a blitzkrieg pace. For newer riders, I see the technology advances as beneficial for making the sport more accessible and the learning curve less painful. 

The one electronic goodie I do covet is cruise control, made possible by throttle-by-wire technology. The Kaoko throttle lock on my GS does its job well, but set-and-forget cruise control is a serious step up in long haul comfort. Having endured a couple of 600-mile days on a recent trip, I know precisely how much better my right shoulder and wrist would have felt with a set/resume button at my fingertips. 

2019 BMW F 850 GS
The F 850 GS’s electronic suspension soaked up the bumps on this rocky dirt road. Photo by the author.

Another plus for the 850 is its tubeless-capable rims, claimed to be stronger than the much-maligned hoops on my 800. It’s not their strength I want–I’ve bashed into plenty of rocks and ruts without bending a rim–it’s the convenience of fixing flats with a plug.  

About that motor: per BMW specs, the 850 has five more horsepower and two lb-ft more torque, both coming in around 500 rpm higher that the 800’s maximums. The 850 revs more quickly though, creating a sensation of greater gains (and wider grins). A 270/540-degree firing order gives the mill a more substantial feeling than the legacy 360-degree design, while the counterbalancer eliminates the 800’s slight buzz. Instead, the motor emits a subdued lower frequency vibe that rumbles through the pegs, bars, seat and tank, an almost appealing lumpiness that seems to say “Wick it up, bro. I’m ready.”

2019 BMW F 850 GS
On-road the F 850 GS is planted and comfortable, and the author especially appreciated the electronic cruise control. Photo by Steve Yates.

BMW has also played with the gear ratios, lowering 1st through 4th gears and raising 5th and 6th. Sixth feels like a real overdrive now, whereas on the 800 it was too low for comfortable interstate cruising. An extra tooth on the countershaft sprocket fixed that on my GS, and if my math is correct it gives me nearly the same ratio as the 850 in top gear. Paired with a bullet-proof clutch, the slightly relaxed gearing has worked for me in the most delicate situations.

The 850’s full-color TFT instrument panel is a splashy upgrade over my bike’s analog/digital unit, featuring numerous screens of data about the machine. Unfortunately, the simple task of resetting the tripmeter requires futzing with two thumb controls and drilling down multiple levels to the correct screen–not what I want to do at every gas stop. 

I welcome BMW’s change to an industry standard push-to-cancel turn signal unit from their old and clumsy three-switches-are-better-than-one standard. But all the new wizardry requires more and smaller handlebar switches, with mixed results. The riding mode button is convenient, where the heated grips one is a reach. Changing display screens is easy, but hitting the high beams requires reaching around the left cluster and flicking a small switch outward with a gloved finger. Perhaps BMW’s development riders all have long, thin fingers.

2019 BMW F 850 GS
Bright LED headlight, hand guards, plastic belly pan and small, serrated footpegs are all standard on the 2019 BMW F 850 GS. Photo by Steve Yates.

There’s also a short list of where I feel BMW failed in the upgrade. The gas tank, now between the rider’s legs instead of under his or her bum, is handier for filling, but holds less fuel. In spite of a claimed 57 mpg, I can’t believe anyone who’s keeping up with Interstate traffic will see 200 miles from a tank of gas on the 850. And it appears that wizardry adds weight–the 850 has porked out, besting the 800 by 50 pounds. You won’t feel the difference while riding, but it materializes immediately when the bike topples over.

Some components will need replacing upon delivery. The footpegs, which have an adventure-ready serrated surface, are much too narrow for extended periods of standing–my arches complained after half an hour. Down below, the plastic bash plate invites expensive repairs, in spite of the 850 gaining over an inch of ground clearance over the legacy model. This is a $17,000 motorcycle that’s jam-packed with electronic goodies and you still have to cough up a couple bills for decent underbelly protection. In that way, it’s exactly like my 800.

From where I sit on my trusty steed, the 850 offers some big improvements and stacks up better to its middleweight competition, while also failing in some key areas–mainly weight and range. And although the new motor, wheels and suspension make a tempting combo, my 800 has proven itself a faithful, reliable partner in my adventures, and not one I will cast aside anytime soon. 

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2019 KTM 790 Adventure/R | First Ride Review

KTM 790 Adventure R
According to KTM, the new-for-2019 790 Adventure was designed to be the most off-road capable touring bike and the 790 Adventure R (shown above) was designed to be the most touring capable off-road bike. (Photos by Sebas Romero & Marco Campelli)

We’re streaking across the northern edge of the Sahara Desert, following a meandering two-track road that’s a mix of sand, gravel and hardpack. The riders ahead are within sight, but I hang back to let the dust clear and keep an eye out for sudden drop-offs or sharp turns. The herd of camels we pass couldn’t care less about our noisy caravan of bright-orange KTMs. Again and again, as the road dips to cross sand washes, nearly 10 inches of well-calibrated suspension take the gravity drops in stride and a light tug on the handlebar lofts the front wheel over rises on the far side. By the end of the day, our route will have taken us more than a hundred miles across wide-open flats, over and around ancient limestone formations and into the golden sands of the Erg Chebbi dunes.

KTM 790 Adventure R
Erg Chebbi is one of several dune fields in Morocco formed by wind-blown sand. The KTM 790 Adventure R’s combination of (relatively) light weight and responsive power help it charge through the deep, soft sand.

With 18 consecutive Dakar victories, KTM has been stoking desert rally fantasies for years. So where better to showcase its new 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R, which were developed alongside its 450cc rally racer, than Erfoud, Morocco, home of the Merzouga Rally and training grounds for KTM’s race team. For those who don’t want or need the size, weight and triple-digit horsepower of an open-class ADV bike, KTM’s 790 Adventures provide a smaller, lighter alternative, with both models designed to be highly capable off-road yet comfortable and versatile enough for long-distance touring. Built on a common platform, the 790 Adventure is aimed at general adventure-touring enthusiasts while the taller, higher-spec 790 Adventure R is geared towards more demanding off-road riders.

KTM 790 Adventure
Compared to the R, the standard KTM 790 Adventure has less suspension travel and adjustability, a lower dual-height seat, a taller windscreen, more street-biased tires and no Rally mode.

Weighing just 417 pounds dry (claimed, probably 450 pounds wet), the 790s are much lighter than their 800cc counterparts from BMW and Triumph. Contributing to their low weight is the 799cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC LC8c parallel twin that also powers the 790 Duke sportbike. Its compact dimensions and vertically stacked gearbox allow for a short wheelbase, a traction-enhancing long swingarm and a moderate seat height. Dual counterbalancers keep vibration at bay while a 75-degree crankpin offset and 435-degree firing order produce the sound and feel of a V-twin. As a stressed member of the tubular chrome-moly steel frame, the LC8c saves weight and contributes to chassis stiffness. Further weight savings come from the engine’s high-pressure cast aluminum cases, lightweight camshaft, Nikasil-coated aluminum cylinders, forged pistons with DLC-coated pins and low-mass crankshaft.

KTM 790 Adventure LC8c parallel twin engine
KTM’s first parallel twin, the LC8c is light, compact and tuned for strong low to midrange torque.

A distinctive feature of the 790s is their horseshoe-shaped fuel tank, which runs from the central filler down both sides of the bike and expands into two large pods that protrude from either side of the engine. Adapted from the tank on KTM’s 450 Rally Replica, the design’s advantages include a lower center of gravity, protection for the engine, less bulk between the knees for stand-up riding, the largest in-class fuel capacity at 5.3 gallons and easier maintenance since the air filter, battery and fuses are accessible under the seat. An exhaust pre-chamber beneath the bike also keeps mass low and centralized, while a short, high-mount silencer allows plenty of ground clearance.

KTM 790 Adventure gas fuel tank
Inspired by KTM’s rally bike, the 790 Adventure’s horseshoe-shaped fuel tank offers many advantages. Not shown in the photo is a hose that connects the two lower parts of the tank to keep fuel levels balanced in both sides.

Given the off-road and touring missions of the 790 Adventures, the LC8c has been tuned accordingly. Compared to the 790 Duke, the Adventures make less peak horsepower (95 vs. 105) but slightly more torque (65.6 vs. 64.2 lb-ft) that’s delivered at 6,500 rpm instead of the Duke’s 8,000, with the entire torque curve shifted down in the rev range for stronger low to midrange grunt. Multiple riding modes (Street, Offroad and Rain) adjust throttle response and lean-angle sensitive Motorcycle Traction Control (MTC) settings, and power reaches the rear wheel by way of an assist-and-slipper clutch, a 6-speed transmission and chain final drive.

Read our 2019 KTM 790 Duke review

KTM 790 Adventure R
Gas on, brain off! Riding the KTM 790 Adventure R off-road, the limiting factor was not the bike, it was me. The 790-R did yeoman’s work to keep me out of trouble.

With spoked tubeless wheels in 21-inch front/18-inch rear sizes, both models are ready for any type of terrain, but the standard model gets more street-biased Avon Trailrider 90/10 tires while the R model gets Metzeler Karoo 3 70/30 tires. As the more touring-oriented of the two, the 790 Adventure has less suspension travel (7.9 inches front/rear), separate rider/passenger seats with a lower, adjustable rider seat height (32.7/33.5 inches), a tall windscreen (height adjustable over a 1.6-inch range using a hex key in the toolkit) and a low front fender. The only adjustability on the 790 Adventure’s WP Apex suspension, which includes a 43mm upside-down fork and a PDS (Progressive Damping System) shock, is rear preload.

KTM 790 Adventure wheel brakes
Both KTM 790 Adventure models roll on tubeless spoked wheels in 21-/18-inch sizes. Radial-mount 4-piston front calipers and multi-mode ABS are standard, as is the aluminum engine guard.

Since the 790 Adventure R is likely to spend more time in a wider variety of off-road conditions, it’s equipped with a Rally mode that allows on-the-fly changes to traction control over nine levels as well as a separate, more aggressive Rally throttle map. The 790-R’s WP Xplor suspension, with a 48mm upside-down fork and a PDS remote-reservoir shock, is fully adjustable (including high and low speed compression on the shock) and provides 9.4 inches of travel. It also has more ground clearance, a 34.6-inch rally-style seat, a short adjustable windscreen and a high front fender.

KTM 790 Adventure
The KTM 790 Adventure has a moderate seat height, a wide handlebar and a comfortable, upright seating position. The R is very similar but with a taller seat and a shorter windscreen.

Greg’s Gear
Helmet: Scorpion EXO-AT950 Tucson
Jacket: Scorpion Yosemite XDR
Pants: Scorpion Yosemite XDR
Boots: Sidi Crossfire 3 TA

A half-day of street and light off-road riding on the 790 Adventure gave me an appreciation for how much more accessible it is than other models in KTM’s lineup, such as the 690 Enduro R (35.8-inch seat) and the 1090 Adventure R (35-inch seat). Not only is the 790 Adventure’s seat much lower, it’s flat, spacious and comfortable. On both 790 models, arms reach out to a wide handlebar that’s six-position adjustable over a 1.2-inch range and fitted with wind- and brush-blocking hand guards, and feet rest on large cleated pegs with removable, vibration-absorbing rubber inserts.

Read our KTM 690 Enduro R review

Read our KTM 1090 Adventure R review

KTM 790 Adventure
With fuel carried low, curb weight around 450 pounds and a high-performance chassis, the 790 Adventures have very confidence-inspiring handling on- and off-road.

Our street route was on flat, mostly straight roads sandblasted by crosswinds, so conditions were not ideal for testing cornering performance. Nonetheless, the LC8c engine felt lively and responsive and the 790 Adventure’s long-travel suspension has the stroke and tuning to absorb bumps and dips gracefully at high and low speeds. Even riding across tire ruts and down a rough dirt road, the 790 Adventure maintained its composure, aided by a steering damper that’s standard on both models. Hard braking–such as when a stray dog ran across the road in front of me–was made easy with dual 4-piston radial-mount front calipers squeezing 320mm discs and a 2-piston rear caliper squeezing a 260mm disc, backed up by Bosch 9.1 MP cornering ABS. A full-color, 5-inch TFT display and intuitive buttons on the left bar make it easy to select among the various modes and settings, though a larger font would make the information easier to read at a glance.

KTM 790 Adventure R
The KTM 790 Adventure R is well-suited for stand-up riding, with an upright handlebar, a slender feel between the knees and weight that responds well to footpeg pressure.

The 790 Adventure R was clearly the main focus of the launch, with KTM devoting a full day of testing to the bike, spooning on Continental TKC80 50/50 on/off-road tires for better traction and installing the optional Akrapovič titanium slip-on exhaust for more bark and bite. KTM even enlisted some of its former Dakar racers as ride leaders; fortunately, I was assigned to the group led by Jordi Viladoms, a 10-time Dakar competitor and KTM’s Rally Sport Manager, who set a spirited but reasonable pace. Going from the 790 to the 790-R isn’t a transition from soft to hard. The R is taller, but it’s seat is still comfortable and the rest of the ergonomics are just as agreeable. The big step up with the 790-R is it’s Xplor suspension, which offers an incredible degree of damping control and consistency over everything we encountered—rough pavement, soft sand, loose gravel, hardpack dirt and embedded rock. With ABS in Offroad mode (which disables the cornering function and ABS at the rear wheel) and MTC in Rally mode, I was able to back the rear wheel into and out of corners with control. Standing up or sitting down, the 790-R delivered the engine response, maneuverability, well-balanced weight and electronic assistance to help an intermediate rider like me push my limits with confidence.

KTM 790 Adventure R
With its standard Rally mode, the KTM 790 Adventure R offers a more aggressive throttle map and on-the-fly changes to traction control.

At $12,499 for the 790 Adventure and $13,499 for the 790 Adventure R, these bikes deliver serious performance and wide-ranging capability for the money. Many useful features are standard (such as an aluminum engine guard, LED lighting, a luggage rack, a 12V dash socket, an underseat USB port and water-resistant smartphone pocket, storage compartments behind side panels and Bluetooth connectivity using the KTM My Ride app), while others cost extra (such as a centerstand, a quickshifter, cruise control, heated grips and TPMS). Accessories for both models include a low seat (35.2 inches), various types of luggage, additional crash protection and more.

KTM 790 Adventure R
The KTM 790 Adventure R stands taller than the standard model thanks to its 9.4 inches of suspension travel. This bike has several accessories mounted as well as non-OEM Continental TKC80 tires.

If most of your time will be spent on the road or if seat height is a concern, then the standard 790 Adventure is the obvious choice. But if you enjoy exploring backcountry roads and trails, the extra $1,000 for the fully adjustable Xplor suspension and standard Rally mode is money well spent. Since seats, windscreens and accessories are interchangeable between the two and Rally mode is available as an option on the standard model, there’s plenty of room to tailor either 790 to your liking. Either way, you’ll be a lot closer to turning your adventure fantasies into reality.

KTM 790 Adventure colors
The standard KTM 790 Adventure is available in orange (left) or white (right) with black hand guards, and the 790 Adventure R is available in a racier orange/black/white color scheme with orange hand guards.

Check out Rider’s Guide to New/Updated Street Motorcycles for 2019

(Scroll down for more photos)

2019 KTM 790 Adventure / 790 Adventure R Specs
Base Price:
$12,499 / $13,499
Website: ktm.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 799cc
Bore x Stroke: 88.0 x 65.7mm
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated assist-slipper clutch
Final Drive: X-ring chain
Wheelbase: 59.4 in. / 60.2 in.
Rake/Trail: 25.9 degrees/4.2 in. / 26.3 degrees/4.3 in.
Seat Height: 32.7/33.5 in. / 34.6 in.
Claimed Dry Weight: 417 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gals.
MPG: NA

KTM 790 Adventure TFT display
Both KTM 790 Adventures have a full-color, 5-inch TFT display. Below it is a standard 12V socket, and above it is a mounting point for a GPS.
KTM 790 Adventure seat
The standard KTM 790 Adventure has a two-piece seat with a height-adjustable 32.7/33.5 inch seat.
KTM 790 Adventure engine tank
The KTM 790 Adventure’s LC8c parallel twin is hidden behind the low-slung fuel tank, which provides some engine protection.
KTM 790 Adventure air filter
Thanks to the fuel tank design, the air filter, battery and fuses are easily accessible under the 790 Adventure’s seat.

 

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT | First Ride Review

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Adventure
The 2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT (shown here in “Adventure” red/yellow livery) is as fresh to look at as it is fun to ride. Powered by a new 853cc that’s smooth and delivers plenty of punch above 3,500 rpm, the new V85 TT should make a great commuter or light adventure tourer. Photo by Marco Zamponi.

Moto Guzzi’s new retro-themed V85 TT–as in Tutto Terreno, or all-terrain–is part adventure tourer, part streetfighter and part street scrambler. It’s the opening shot in a barrage of forthcoming new midsize models using its all-new air-cooled, 853cc, 90-degree longitudinal V-twin pushrod engine. There’s nothing else quite like the V85 TT in the marketplace, and designer Mirko Zocco deserves praise for producing a bike with unique styling that’s as fresh to look at as it’s fun to ride. The chance to spend a 120-mile day in sunny Sardinia riding it on the hilly, switchback roads of Italy’s second largest island, underlined what a significant model this is for Italy’s oldest motorcycle manufacturer.

Take a look at the limited-edition Moto Guzzi V7III Racer here.

Available in three different color schemes for the U.S., with the gray tint/black frame, the bike costs $11,990 fitted with tarmac-friendly Metzeler Tourance Next tires. You’ll need $1,000 more for the red/yellow or red/white versions, each with red-painted frame, carrying more off-road-focused Michelin Anakee Adventure rubber. Both variants come with a 19-inch front wire wheel with aluminum rim and 17-inch rear.

Read our review of the Michelin Anakee Adventure tires here.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
New engine is smoother and quieter than before, thanks to titanium intake and aluminum exhaust valves, operated by aluminum pushrods with roller tappets. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.

With a bore and stroke of 84 x 77mm, the V85 TT’s motor produces a claimed 80 horsepower at 7,750 rpm, alongside 59 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm, claims Guzzi, with 90-percent of that torque available at just 3,750 rpm. At the other end of the rev scale is a 7,800-rpm limiter, making this the most high-revving Guzzi OHV motor, despite being a two-valve design (rather than a four-valver) in keeping with the model’s traditional focus and retro-inspired styling.

Guzzi engineers have delivered an ultra-flexible power unit that’s more responsive than previous such engines, with reduced inertia. It has achieved this via a semi-dry sump design with the oil tank positioned in the lower crankcase half with twin oil pumps. This reduces oil drag on the crankshaft assembly which, with lighter conrods and pistons, weighs 30-percent less than previous Guzzi small-block motors, resulting in more zestful pickup from lower revs.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Generous 6.7-inch suspension travel front and rear help to make the V85 TT a comfortable ride even over rough tarmac. Photo by Marco Zamponi.

That’s aided by using titanium for the large 42.5mm intake valve while retaining a 35.5mm steel exhaust valve in each cylinder head, operated by aluminum pushrods with roller tappets, resulting in a lighter and also quieter operation of the valve gear–there’s none of the top-end rattles of previous Guzzi OHV motors. Partially aimed at decreasing fuel consumption–Guzzi claims a frugal 48 mpg, which with a six-gallon fuel tank delivers a 250-plus mile range–there’s just a single 52mm throttle body controlled by a Magneti Marelli ECU, with RBW digital throttle offering three different riding modes–Road, Rain and Off Road. Each delivers full engine power but with a different throttle response via altered engine mapping, plus variable engine braking settings, and diverse calibration for the Continental ABS and switchable MGCT traction control. Power is transmitted via an all-new six-speed gearbox coupled to a revised single-plate clutch in a redesigned housing, giving increased ground clearance.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Single rear Kayaba shock is adjustable for preload and rebound damping. Right side of the aluminum swingarm houses the driveshaft. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.

Guzzi’s new small-block motor is wrapped in a tubular steel chassis using the engine as a fully stressed component. This removes the need for a lower frame cradle, thus reducing weight while also increasing engine ground clearance to a useful 8.3 inches for off-road riding, with the engine protected by an aluminum sump guard. The more compact new engine’s shorter length permits a long asymmetric cast aluminum swingarm delivering a rangy 60.2-inch wheelbase, the curved left arm of which permits the 2-1 exhaust’s oval-section silencer to be tucked in tight, with the V85 TT’s shaft final drive housed in the right arm.

Suspension is by Kayaba, with the 41mm fork set at a relaxed 28 degrees of rake with 5.0 inches of trail matched to a cantilever rear single shock offset to the right with a dual-rate spring. Suspension stroke front and rear is a generous 6.7 inches, and both fork and shock are adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping. Braking comes from Brembo via twin 320mm front discs with radial four-piston calipers, and a 260mm rear disc with two-pot caliper. Dry weight is quoted as 459 pounds. Zocco’s distinctive neo-Classic enduro styling sets this all off, complete with a short screen that isn’t adjustable for height. The 1980s-style twin round LED headlamps are ingeniously bisected by a bright DRL depicting the Guzzi eagle motif. An upsized 430-watt flywheel generator provides the current to power these, as well as any of the wide range of accessories like heated grips, which Guzzi offers in the bike’s dedicated accessory catalog.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Adventure
The more off-road-oriented V85 TT Adventure is shod with Michelin Anakee Adventure tires and comes with hard luggage as standard (not shown). Photo by Alberto Cervetti.

The TFT dash is well designed and legible, with a variable color background depending on light conditions. Aside from the speedo, tach, odometer/twin tripmeters, clock, gear selected, ambient temperature, fuel level, average and current consumption, DTE and selected Riding Mode displays, you can even adjust when the shifter lights flash to remind you to change gear.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Full-color TFT display is ambient light-sensitive and includes speedo, tach, odometer/twin tripmeters, clock, gear indicator, ambient temperature, fuel level, fuel consumption data, DTE and riding mode. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.

The V85 TT has real visual presence, and build quality seems high, with excellent paint finish. Hop aboard its 32.7-inch-high seat (there’s 31.9/33.5 options), and you’ll find a quite upright but very comfortable riding stance via the taper-section alloy handlebar and relatively low footrests, which only drag in turns at quite extreme lean angles. The Kayaba suspension is really outstanding, especially the well-damped 41mm fork which gives good feedback so you can use heaps of turn speed despite the skinny 19-inch front.

The TC lets you get on the throttle hard and early exiting the switchback turns along Sardinia’s southwestern coast, where my only criticism was that the rear suspension is a little “dry” in low-speed damping over ripples and ridges, with initial compression of the twin-rate spring not as smooth as I’d like. But medium and high-speed damping is excellent, even without a rear link–I could feel the shock compressing and releasing smoothly beneath me through faster turns, or over a series of high speed bumps. And the generous wheel travel front and rear, coupled with the wide handlebar and tucked-in silencer, makes this a comfortable and capable ride off-road.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Adventure
The V85 TT handles almost delicately, making twisty roads a low-effort delight. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.

Guzzi has got it just right, and the same goes for how the V85 TT steers. It holds a line well but changes direction easily–it’s almost delicate in the way it steers. The radial brakes also performed well, with a strong but not aggressive initial bite. You can even finger the front brake lever to throw off a little excess speed once committed to a turn, and this Guzzi won’t sit up on you and head for the hills like some other motorcycles with this much trail dialed into the steering geometry. Job well done, amici.

However, my real plaudits are reserved for the V85 TT’s outstanding new engine, which feels more “modern” and sophisticated than any Moto Guzzi OHV/pushrod engine I’ve yet sampled. Work the light-action clutch lever–this’ll be an excellent commuter bike, thanks to that and the upright riding stance–to insert bottom gear, and not only does this go in with no sign of the clunk previously ubiquitous on Moto Guzzi engines, but as you drive forward practically off idle with minimal use of the clutch, the V85 TT motor gives a good imitation of a turbine. It’s unbelievably smooth not only by the standards of the past, but also compared to rival middleweight twins.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Left side of the asymmetric swingarm allows the high silencer to be tucked in tightly for ideal weight distribution and to allow the luggage, optional on this gray model, to be mounted as close to the subframe as possible. Photo by Marco Zamponi.

However, while Guzzi’s new 853cc engine drives very well from as low as 1,500 rpm, you need 3,500 revs or more to get the strong pickup it’s capable of delivering. Top gear roll-on below that mark is a little sluggish, so you’re encouraged to use the very sweet-shifting gearbox–I can’t remember ever using that term to describe a Moto Guzzi transmission!–to keep the revs up on the open road. If you do that you’ll get excellent response from the motor from 4,000 revs upward, meaning I spent a lot of time in fourth gear. But there’s vibration through the footrests from 5,000 rpm upward, equating to 80 mph in top gear. The engine is otherwise very smooth with just a few tingles through the seat as you near the 7,800-rpm limiter. Instead, you’ll want to surf the V92TT’s ultra-flat torque curve and hit a higher gear at around 6,800 rpm, which’ll put you back in the fat part of the powerband each time.

A relaxing and enjoyable everyday ride, with the debut of the V85 TT the wings of the Moto Guzzi eagle have started flapping a lot harder.

Keep scrolling for more pictures below the spec chart.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Adventure
2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Adventure in red/yellow. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Specs
Website: motoguzzi.com
Base Price: $11,990
Price as Tested: $12,990 (V85 TT Adventure w/ luggage, multi-color & Michelin Anakee Adventure tires)
Engine Type: Air-cooled, longitudinal 90-degree V-twin, OHV, 2 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 84.0 x 77.0mm
Displacement: 853cc
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated dry clutch
Final Drive: Shaft
Wheelbase: 60.2 in.
Rake/Trail: 28.0 degrees/5.0 in.
Seat Height: 32.7 in.
Claimed Wet Weight: 505 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 6.1 gals., last 1.3 gals. warning light on
MPG: NA

2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Hard luggage is optional on the base model (shown here), but comes standard on the Adventure models. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.
2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Radial front brakes are by Brembo, with strong but not aggressive initial bite. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.
2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
Standard seat is perched 32.7 inches off the ground, rather accessible for an adventure tourer. A low 31.9 and high 33.5-inch option are also available. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.
2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT
2019 Moto Guzzi V85 TT in gray. Photo by Alberto Cervetti.

Source: RiderMagazine.com