My 2009 Kawasaki Versys 650 was one of the best utilitarian two-wheelers I’ve owned, but since I’m always putting miles on test bikes, I hardly ever rode it. When I realized I’d added only 500 miles to the odometer in five years, a deep sense of shame prompted me to sell it. After listing it on Facebook Marketplace, it was gone in a flash. Due to the high prices for used motorcycles right now, I earned a small profit – about a dollar for every mile I put on it.
Flash forward a few months and I’m wending my way through the twisty interior of San Diego County aboard a 2022 Kawasaki Versys 650. It’s the $9,999 LT version with hard saddlebags and handguards, which only comes in Metallic Spark Black/Metallic Flat Spark Black this year. The base model is available in the same color for $8,899, or in Candy Lime Green/Metallic Flat Spark Black/Metallic Spark Black for $9,099.
Not surprisingly, the 2022 upgrade is a much better motorcycle than my just-sold 2009 model, but they still have a lot in common despite 13 years of separation. The seating position, performance, and overall essence of the motorcycle remain virtually unchanged, but a few key aspects go a long way toward improving the bike’s desirability.
New for ’22 is a full-color 4.3-inch TFT display that is a major improvement over the previous instrument panel, and light-years beyond the one on my ’09 model. The layout of information is modern and clean, blending everything – the gear position indicator, fuel gauge, tach, speedo, clock, tripmeter, etc. – into a centrally located format. A rider can choose between a black or white background, and the screen brightness automatically adjusts to ambient light levels.
Simultaneously depressing two analog buttons on the display allows a Bluetooth connection to be established between the Versys and Kawasaki’s Rideology smartphone app. The app features a useful and handy maintenance log, general bike info, and the ability to record rides as well as share them with others.
During the ride, when the bike and app are talking to one another, the TFT display will notify the rider when a new call or email has been received. The part of my ride recorded with the Rideology app showed that I traveled 79 miles for 1.34 hours from Orange to San Diego counties at an average speed of 54 mph. The map, however, displayed a straight line from point A to point B, not an accurate GPS mapping of the twists and turns.
My old Versys’ windscreen was adjustable only if I were willing to remove the four bolts necessary to position it differently, which rarely, if ever, happened. The inefficiency of the process meant a rider found a likable position for the windscreen and that’s where it stayed. The new Versys features an easily adjustable windscreen that can be raised and lowered to four different settings over a 3-inch range. It’s a two-handed affair with one hand depressing the lock button while the other moves the windscreen, but it’s worth the small effort. The upper position deflects wind quite well while the low position puts the rider more in the wind stream.
The new windscreen is the cherry atop a redesigned upper fairing that shares a family resemblance with its liter-bike counterpart, the Versys 1000. The sides of the new cowling are ducted to move air around the rider while the dual headlights are now bright, low-wattage LEDs. The rear of the Versys matches the front with aggressively pointy style and a new LED taillight.
Anti-lock brakes now come standard on all Versys 650 models, as does traction control. The 649cc liquid-cooled parallel-Twin powering the Versys isn’t a tire shredder – when we dyno tested a 2020 Versys 650, it sent 63 hp and 43 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheel – but it can certainly break traction given enough throttle when leaned over. TC has two settings, with the first being less intrusive and the second providing a more conservative safety net that should prove beneficial to newer riders or experienced ones caught in low-traction conditions. If desired, traction control can be switched off entirely via a switch located on the left switchpod.
Kickstand up and traveling south on Interstate 5 toward San Diego, the Versys felt like a comfortable and familiar old shoe. Exiting the slab and venturing into the twisties, it soon becomes apparent the Showa suspension’s stock settings were a tad soft for my taste. Once stopped, a few stiffening clicks of preload on top of the left fork leg, a few clicks of tensioning rebound on top of the right fork leg, and a few stiffening twists of the remote preload adjuster on the rear shock dialed things in for tackling the road ahead.
The 28-liter saddlebags are large enough to accommodate a full-face helmet, though without much room to spare. There is also a helmet lock if you need to secure your lid when the saddlebags are full of other incidentals. The ignition key unlocks the saddlebags and allow them to be removed from the motorcycle. For those requiring more storage, Kawasaki offers a matching 47-liter top case along with other accessories, such as heated grips and a GPS mount.
The bike’s peppy midrange thrusts its 503-lb claimed curb weight forward in enthusiastically manageable fashion. Dual 2-piston calipers grip 300mm petal discs to slow the party down with equal efficiency. When leaned over, the Versys holds its line effectively and transitions to and fro confidently.
The 5.5-gallon fuel tank combined with efficient fuel consumption allows for extended mileage between fuel stops. (During our 2020 test, we averaged 46 mpg for 253 miles of range.) That’s great news for commuters or anyone wanting to incorporate longer trips into their Versys ownership. Complementing the Versys’ fuel range is an ergonomically neutral riding position that is one of the things I loved most about my old Versys as well as the new one.
Like my old Versys, the new version is a modern, solid, middleweight jack-of-all-trades that’s as steadfast as a motorcycle can be. It responds dutifully to what’s asked of it, whether that be cruising around the city, commuting to work, or taking off on long weekends or longer tours. During my Versys ownership never once did it fail to start, or run badly once started, even though it spent most of its time languishing in my garage.
My old Versys didn’t have ABS, traction control, a remote preload adjusting shock, TFT display, a slip/assist clutch, LED lights, or an easily adjustable windscreen, and it didn’t look nearly as good as the ’22 Versys. In 2009, the MSRP of a base-model Versys was $7,099, which is just over $9,700 in today’s dollars. The new bike offers much more for less money, and the touring-ready LT is a fantastic bargain.
2022 Kawasaki Versys 650
Base Price: $8,899 Price as Tested: $9,999 (LT model) Website:Kawasaki.com Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel-Twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 649cc Bore x Stroke: 83 x 60mm Horsepower: 63 hp @ 8,700 rpm (rear-wheel dyno, 2020 model) Torque: 43 lb-ft @ 7,300 rpm (rear-wheel dyno, 2020 model) Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch Final Drive: Chain Wheelbase: 55.7 in. Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/4.3 in. Seat Height: 33.3 in. Wet Weight: 503 lb (as tested) Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gals. Fuel Consumption: 46 mpg
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Suzuki is helping sport-tourers make a comeback. With the rise of adventure bikes over the past decade, sport-tourers got shoved aside, relegated to the dark corners of showroom floors. Development cycles stretched out, and model updates became few and far between. That’s a shame. Not everyone wants a motorcycle with a 19-inch front wheel, a 34-inch seat height, and a jungle gym’s worth of crash bars.
As the name implies, sport-tourers combine go-fast performance and touring prowess into a single package. What’s not to love about a superbike engine tuned for the street, a chassis built for both speed and comfort, and ergonomics that won’t make you cry uncle after an hour in the saddle? With their 17-inch wheels shod with grippy radials, sport-tourers love to lean, and modern electronic rider aids help keep things in check.
The GT’s bodywork is distinctive and angular, with a wedge-shaped front fairing that juts sharply forward and houses a V-shaped LED position light and a pair of mono-focus LED headlights (for low beam, only the right lamp is illuminated). Attached to the top of the fairing are mirrors perched on the ends of long stalks and a nonadjustable windscreen. Lower fairing panels keep the radiator and much of the engine hidden, and they are vented to pull hot air out and away from the cockpit.
GEAR UP: Helmet: Scorpion EXO-R1 Air Jacket: Scorpion Optima Gloves: Scorpion Havoc Pants: Scorpion Covert Pro Jeans Boots:Sidi Gavia Gore-Tex
Two-up comfort was an important consideration in the GT’s development. All the rider and passenger touchpoints – the handlebar, footpegs, and rear grab handles – are rubber-damped to minimize vibration. Compared to the GSX-S1000F, the handlebar is 0.9 inch wider and 0.6 inch closer to the rider, allowing for more steering leverage and a nearly upright seating position. The wide, slightly dished rider’s seat sits 31.9 inches off the deck and is comfortable enough for long days in the saddle. A sporty amount of cornering clearance necessitated high placement of the footpegs, sacrificing some legroom, and they are positioned just below the rider’s hips.
Seat height for the passenger is 34.2 inches, and the 2.3-inch boost in height provides a better view over the rider’s shoulders. Large grab handles allow the passenger to hold on securely to the bike rather than just a strap on the seat or the rider’s hips. Both the front and rear seats have thick, supportive foam and are covered in a slightly grippy weather-resistant material.
To accommodate the added weight of a passenger and luggage, the GT has a trellis-style subframe that provides both strength and visual flair. The GSX-S1000GT+ comes standard with side cases that hold 36 liters (and up to 11 lbs) on each side, and they’re large enough to fit most full-face helmets. The saddlebags are easy to open, close, lock, remove, and reinstall, and they are keyed to the ignition. The only downside is that they cannot be left unlocked for quick access.
Paying the $650 premium for the GT+ is money well-spent. High-quality, lockable, removable, weatherproof saddlebags are undeniably convenient and practical. And buying the cases and necessary hardware as standalone accessories will set you back more than $1,000.
To further enhance the GT’s touring ability, Suzuki gave the bike a 6.5-inch full-color TFT display, all-new switchgear, and Bluetooth connectivity. The TFT has a large analog-style tachometer, a digital speedometer, and a fuel gauge on the left side, as well as an array of bike and trip info on the right. It also has a sensor that automatically switches the background from white in bright light to black in low light.
Buttons on the left switchgear allow the rider to adjust settings and navigate menus. Installing the Suzuki mySPIN smartphone app and pairing via Bluetooth provides access to contacts, phone, maps, music, and calendar functions, which are displayed on the TFT screen. You’ll need a Bluetooth helmet headset to make/receive calls, listen to music, or hear turn-by-turn directions. A USB port on the dash provides on-the-go charging for devices.
In Thrust We Trust
Like the GSX-S1000, the GT is powered by a 999cc in-line Four adapted from the GSX-R1000 K5 (2005-2008). It’s been retuned to make the engine more suitable for the street, but there’s still plenty of heat in the kitchen. On Jett Tuning’s rear-wheel dyno, the GSX-S1000 churned out 136 hp at 10,200 rpm and 73 lb-ft of torque at 9,300 rpm. Updates to the engine include new camshaft profiles, new valve springs, new throttle bodies, a revised airbox, and a Euro 5-compliant 4-2-1 exhaust. Together, they result in an extra 2 hp at the peak and smoother horsepower and torque curves.
The GSX-S engine is a gem with no rough edges. From cracking open the throttle above idle to twisting the grip to the stop, power comes on cleanly and predictably. Slaloming back and forth on a series of curves with grace and confidence requires accurate additions and subtractions of fuel and air, and the Suzuki mixes them perfectly. Using a throttle-by-wire system, turning the right grip directly activates the throttle position sensor, which sends instantaneous signals to a servo motor that precisely moves the throttle plates. Throttle response is further enhanced by a long, tapered intake tract that is narrower at the bottom where the 10-hole injectors are located.
The GT’s throttle-by-wire also enables the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System, which includes three ride modes (Active, Basic, and Comfort) that adjust throttle response and power delivery, 5-level traction control, cruise control, and Suzuki’s Easy Start, Low RPM Assist, and Bi-Directional Quick Shift systems. ABS is also part of the electronics package, but with no IMU, neither it nor the TC are lean-angle adaptive. The 6-speed transmission has a cable-actuated slip/assist clutch. Gear changes using the quickshifter are fast and smooth, and clutch action is light with predictable engagement. Both the clutch and brake levers are adjustable for reach.
Being derived from a Superbike championship-winning sportbike like the GSX-R1000, the GSX-S1000GT has a massive twin-spar cast-aluminum frame that surrounds the engine and attaches to a cast-aluminum swingarm. KYB suspension – a fully adjustable 43mm inverted fork and a link-type rear shock that’s adjustable for preload and rebound – is taut yet comfortable.
Brembo 4-piston radial-mount monoblock front calipers are mated to fully floating 310mm rotors, and they offer strong power and precise feedback. A Nissin 1-piston rear caliper squeezes a 240mm disc. The GT rolls on six-spoke, 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels shod with Dunlop Roadsmart 2 sport-touring radials that deliver reliable grip and neutral cornering behavior.
On the Road Again
Suzuki hosted a two-day press launch for the GSX-S1000GT+, with a test route that started and ended at its U.S. headquarters in Brea, California. Back-to-back 300-mile days gave us a chance to thoroughly evaluate the GT in a wide range of conditions, including traffic-choked freeways, wide-open highways, and tight, technical backroads. We followed that up with more miles on a test bike over several weeks on home turf.
The qualities that impressed us about the GSX-S1000 – impeccable smoothness, predictable handling, unflappable stability, and linear power delivery – carry over to its GT sibling. Likewise, its braking and suspension components and electronic rider aids were selected to deliver sporting performance without inflating the retail price.
Where the GT really stands out is its rider and passenger comfort, cruise control, instrumentation and connectivity, and, on the GT+, stylish and useful saddlebags. Weighing in at 521 lbs with its 5-gal. tank full, the GT+ is much lighter than open-class sport-tourers like the BMW R 1250 RT (615 lbs), Yamaha FJR1300ES (644 lbs), and Kawasaki Concours 14 (691 lbs). It weighs more than the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT (503 lbs) but makes significantly more rear-wheel horsepower (136 vs. 108). With its cornering ABS and TC and semi-active suspension, the Tracer 9 GT also costs $1,200 more than the GSX-S1000GT+ ($14,999 vs. $13,799).
If the GT has one notable shortcoming, it’s the nonadjustable windscreen. Though Suzuki says it and the bodywork were developed in a wind tunnel, airflow over the windscreen hit me square in the chest and created a lot of turbulence around my helmet. Of course, the size of the rider plays a role in aerodynamics (I’m 6 feet tall), but the lack of height adjustability means you get what you get. Suzuki makes an accessory touring windscreen ($169.95) that is 2.75 inches taller and has a more vertical pitch near the top, but one was not available during our test.
Other available accessories include heated grips, a two-tone rider’s seat with a suede-like cover embossed with the GSX-S GT logo, axle sliders, ring-lock tankbags (small and large), tank pads and protectors, and wheel rim decals.
We’re glad to see Suzuki helping bring the sport-touring class to its former glory. The GSX-S1000GT+ strikes an excellent balance between performance, technology, weight, comfort, and price. Life is good when the scenery is a blur.
2022 Suzuki GSX-S1000GT+ Specs
Base Price: $13,149 (GT) Price as Tested: $13,799 (GT+ w/ 36L side cases) Warranty: 1 yr., unltd. miles Website:suzukicycles.com ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse in-line Four, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 999cc Bore x Stroke: 73.4 x 59.0mm Compression Ratio: 12.2:1 Valve Insp. Interval: 15,000 miles Fuel Delivery: EFI w/ throttle-by-wire, 40mm throttle bodies x 4 Lubrication System: Wet sump, 3.6 qt. cap. Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch Final Drive: O-ring chain CHASSIS Frame: Twin-spar cast aluminum frame & swingarm Wheelbase: 57.5 in. Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/3.9 in. Seat Height: 31.9 in. Suspension, Front: 43mm inverted fork, fully adj., 4.7 in. travel Rear: Single linkage shock, adj. spring preload & rebound, 5.1 in. travel Brakes, Front: Dual 310mm floating discs w/ 4-piston radial monoblock calipers & ABS Rear: Single 240mm disc w/ 1-piston caliper & ABS Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.5 x 17 in. Rear: Cast, 6.0 x 17 in. Tires, Front: 120/70-ZR17 Rear: 190/50-ZR17 Wet Weight: 521 lbs (as tested) Load Capacity: 405 lbs (as tested) GVWR: 926 lbs PERFORMANCE Horsepower: 136 hp @ 10,200 rpm (rear-wheel dyno) Torque: 73 lb-ft @ 9,300 rpm (rear-wheel dyno) Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gals. Fuel Consumption: 35.5 mpg Estimated Range: 178 miles
Indian Motorcycle, now in its ninth model year since being relaunched under Polaris ownership, continues to expand its range of American-made V-Twins. Less beholden to tradition than Harley-Davidson, Indian has embraced liquid-cooled engines since the introduction of the Scout for 2015. The air-cooled Thunderstroke V-Twin is still available on Indian’s Chief, Springfield, and Roadmaster models, but radiators are found across the Scout cruiser and FTR street-tracker lineups, and the liquid-cooled PowerPlus 108 powers the Challenger bagger that was introduced for 2020.
Joining the Challenger for 2022 is the new Pursuit, a full-dress tourer that adds a top trunk with an integrated passenger backrest, vented fairing lowers, a Touring Comfort seat, and heated grips. The Pursuit is available in two versions: the Limited with chrome finishes (starting at $29,999) and the Dark Horse with blacked-out finishes (starting at $30,999).
Both versions of the Pursuit are available with a Premium Package ($3,000) that adds electronically adjustable rear suspension preload, Smart Lean Technology, integrated driving lights, and heated seats for both the rider and passenger.
After the Pursuit was unveiled in February and first shown to the public at Daytona Bike Week, Rider got early access to a Premium-equipped Pursuit Limited for a full test.
Power to the People
All of Indian’s liquid-cooled V-Twins share some common elements. They have a 60-degree spread between their cylinders, four valves per cylinder, and high compression ratios. Unlike the DOHC valvetrain on the Scouts and FTRs, however, the PowerPlus 108 in the Challenger and Pursuit models uses SOHC with hydraulic cam-chain tensioners and hydraulic valve lash adjusters.
Indian went all-in with full conventional liquid cooling on the PowerPlus rather than the partial liquid cooling used on Harley-Davidson’s Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight. The frame downtubes on the Challenger and Pursuit wrap around a large black radiator to downplay its presence. Full liquid cooling improves an engine’s thermal efficiency, more effectively manages temperature in a wide range of conditions, and more easily satisfies increasingly stringent emissions regulations. Liquid cooling also improves performance, fuel efficiency, and comfort for the rider and passenger. Heat radiating from the engine was not a problem during our test of the Pursuit. Like other Indian tourers, it has rear-cylinder deactivation that kicks in when the bike is idling at a stop.
Displacing 108 cubic inches (1,768cc), the PowerPlus churns out a claimed 128 lb-ft of torque and 122 hp at the crank. After working its way through the clutch, gearbox, and belt final drive, engine output was 113 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm and 108 hp at 5,600 rpm at the rear wheel on Jett Tuning’s dyno. Even though a pair of big 4.25-inch pistons work through a 3.8-inch stroke, the PowerPlus revs eagerly from idle all the way to its 6,500-rpm redline.
The Pursuit Limited with the Premium Package weighs a hefty 925 lbs, but it pulls away from stops authoritatively and lunges forward with quick twists of the throttle. Three ride modes – Standard, Sport, and Rain – adjust the throttle-response map to suit conditions or preferences. When it’s time to just cruise, shifting into the overdriven top gear of the 6-speed constant-mesh transmission turns the engine at a relaxed 2,500 rpm at 60 mph, and cruise control is standard.
We’re In This Together
A big part of what distinguishes the Challenger from the Pursuit is the latter’s top trunk with integrated passenger backrest. A two-up test ride with my wife, Carrie, earned high marks for the passenger accommodations. The wrap-around backrest provides both comfort and security, and we both appreciate the firm-yet-supportive Touring Comfort seat. There are separate seat heating controls for the rider and passenger, with individual buttons on the left side of the seat. The Ride Command+ touchscreen can also be used to activate seat heaters as well as the heated grips.
Carrie also liked the passenger footboards and speakers integrated into the backrest, which allowed her to hear and feel the music when we cranked up the tunes on the 100-watt audio system. What she was less enamored with, however, was the amount of bobblehead helmet buffeting she experienced when the electric windscreen was in the lowest position. That’s my favored position for the windscreen because it allows me to see over the top of the screen while providing wind protection for my upper torso.
Raising the windscreen to its highest position did a fantastic job of reducing turbulence and noise for both of us, though it forced me to look through the screen. With the screen all the way up, there’s an almost eerily quiet bubble within the cockpit, isolating the rider and passenger and allowing the thrum of the engine to be the primary soundtrack. In all, the windscreen has 3 inches of height range, so riders and passengers of different heights and preferences should be able to find a happy medium. On warmer days, opening the vents on the lowers and inner fairing boosts airflow through the cockpit.
The electronically adjustable preload on the Fox rear shock is a convenient, useful feature. On the Ride Command+ touchscreen, the rider can make various selections: Solo or Passenger; No Luggage, Light Luggage, or Heavy Luggage; and Trunk or No Trunk. The rider’s weight can also be set, and preload can be fine-tuned up or down in two increments. The system is user-friendly and makes a significant difference in how the Pursuit handles under different load conditions. (It’s available as a $999.99 accessory upgrade on all 2022 Challenger and Pursuit models.)
Like the Challenger, the Pursuit delivers a comfortable ride and responds predictably and confidently to steering inputs when pushed hard through a series of corners. With 31 degrees of cornering clearance, the footboards rarely scrape the pavement. The frame-mounted fairing takes weight off the handlebar, giving the big tourer a neutral, low-effort steering feel when applying pressure to the grips.
Part of what gives the Pursuit such poise is its modular aluminum backbone frame, which is shared with the Challenger and similar to the one used on the Chieftain. The frame is rock-solid, and despite having hundreds of pounds of engine, motorcycle, humans, and gear trying to twist it out of shape, it remains as unmovable as a mountain. This is the same frame that, by regulation, must be kept in stock form for the MotoAmerica King Of The Baggers series, where Indian’s factory team regularly wins races on Challengers.
A pair of 4-piston Brembo front calipers clamping down on big 320mm rotors and a 2-piston Brembo rear caliper squeezing a 298mm rotor provide prodigious stopping power. The front brake lever is adjustable for reach, but the clutch lever is not. ABS and TC are standard on the Pursuit, and the Premium Package goes a step further by adding an IMU that enables lean-angle-adaptive ABS and TC as well as drag-torque control.
Take It with You
The Pursuit’s top trunk is the same one used on Roadmaster models, and it’s a cavernous cavity that holds two full-face helmets. It’s also lined with durable gray fabric and has a 12-volt power socket. If the Pursuit’s 35 gallons (132 liters) of storage aren’t enough, the trunk has a chrome luggage rack on top for lashing down your kitchen sink. The keyless fob has buttons to lock and unlock the luggage remotely. There are also two small, non-locking storage cubbies in the fairing, and the one on the right has a USB port for connecting/charging a smartphone or thumb drive. Under a flip cover on the dash is another 12-volt outlet, so none of your devices should feel neglected.
Indian’s Ride Command+ is one of the most feature-rich and flexible infotainment systems available. Mission control is the 7-inch touchscreen, which has multiple screens for vehicle info, settings, navigation, music, and more. A button on the left switchgear allows riders to quickly toggle through the screens, and there are five prominent buttons below the screen to directly access specific functions. Vehicle/trip info screens can be customized by moving or swapping out different widgets, so you always have your favorite stats in one place.
Ride Command+ includes tire-pressure monitoring, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay integration (which requires an iPhone and a Bluetooth headset), GPS navigation with turn-by-turn directions and built-in points of interest, and a customizable route builder that allows riders to add up to 100 waypoints. Pursuit owners get a free year of Ride Command+ connected features, which include live traffic and weather overlays, as well as a new vehicle locator feature that works through Indian’s Ride Command mobile app or website (after the first year, a Ride Command+ subscription costs $99.99/year).
Baggers and tourers are big motorcycles that can pack in a lot of performance, technology, and amenities. But without style they’d be like the shy, pimply-faced teenager at the school dance, staring at his shoes with no one to dance with. Going down the road in a big American V-Twin needs to make a visual statement.
Leading the charge is a trim fender topped with an illuminated Indian headdress ornament. The fender hugs a 19-inch Sport Contrast Cut cast-aluminum front wheel, which is paired with a 16-incher out back, and both are shod with Metzeler Cruisetec tires. The Pursuit’s massive, wide-mouth, frame-mounted fairing has a large central LED headlight flanked by LED running lights/turnsignals.
Outboard of the frame downtubes are highway bars and large fairing lowers that provide leg protection and house driving lights (on Premium-equipped models). Toward the rear are tip-over bars just ahead of the saddlebags, and the bags have black-plastic panels that protect their leading edges and lower sides from rock chips and other road debris.
Our Pursuit Limited test bike is painted a lustrous Deepwater Metallic blue (it’s also available in Black Metallic and Maroon Metallic over Crimson Metallic; the Pursuit Dark Horse is available in four other colorways), and it has just the right amount of chrome and Indian badging. The Pursuit’s trunk gives it more visual weight at the rear to balance out the large fairing. Overall, it’s a handsome machine that will make owners feel a sense of pride and confidence when going down the road or parking it on bike night.
It’s About the Ride
With my feet up on the floorboards and my fundament down in the diamond-stitched seat, taking a long ride on the Pursuit reminded me of why we picked the Challenger as our 2020 Motorcycle of the Year. As we wrote in our September 2020 issue:
“The PowerPlus 108 … offers the performance, comfort, and lower emissions that only liquid cooling can provide, and delivers impressive grunt and smoothness with the rumbling character that makes V-Twins so popular. That plus muscular, modern style, an excellent chassis, a full range of available technology, generous wind protection and luggage capacity, and plenty of long-haul comfort make the Challenger a really great bagger.”
The Pursuit advances to the Challenger platform with greater touring capability, improving comfort, convenience, weather protection, and cargo capacity. Equipped with the Premium Package, the Pursuit Limited and Pursuit Dark Horse are fully featured and leave nothing on the table. Still, motorcyclists love to customize their machines. Indian’s accessories include performance upgrades, speakers for the fairing lowers and saddlebag lids, a Pathfinder Adaptive LED headlight, and more.
Passionate V-Twin fans love to debate the merits of air versus liquid cooling, loud versus quiet exhausts, different vee angles, and much else, but the bottom line is that cruising down the road on a big V-Twin touring bike is deeply satisfying. The pulse and relaxed cadence of the engine, the solidity and security of a heavyweight machine, and the go-all-day comfort always feels good and never gets old. Whether it’s a short ride to blow out the cobwebs or a weeklong journey to escape and explore, the enjoyment is a renewable resource, the gift that keeps on giving. Life, liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness.
2022 Indian Pursuit Limited Specs
Base Price: $29,999 Price as Tested: $33,749 (Premium Package, Deepwater Metallic color) Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles Website:indianmotorcycle.com
ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 60-degree V-Twin, SOHC, 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 1,768cc (108ci) Bore x Stroke: 108.0 x 96.5mm Compression Ratio: 11.0:1 Valve Insp. Interval: N/A (self-adjusting) Fuel Delivery: EFI, 52mm dual-bore throttle body x 2 Lubrication System: Semi-wet sump, 5-qt. cap. Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated assist wet clutch Final Drive: Belt
CHASSIS Frame: Modular cast aluminum w/ engine as stressed member & cast aluminum swingarm Wheelbase: 65.7 in. Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/5.9 in. Seat Height: 26.5 in. Suspension, Front: 43mm inverted fork, no adj., 5.1 in. travel Rear: Single shock, electronically adj. for spring preload (as tested), 4.5 in. travel Brakes, Front: Dual 320mm floating discs w/ 4-piston radial calipers & ABS Rear: Single 298mm floating disc w/ 2-piston caliper & ABS Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 19 in. Rear: Cast, 5.00 x 16 in. Tires, Front: 130/60-B19 Rear: 180/60-R16 Wet Weight: 925 lbs Load Capacity: 460 lbs GVWR: 1,385 lbs
BRP’s Can-Am three-wheelers have come a long way since the first model was introduced back in 2007. What started out as a single Spyder roadster powered by a 998cc V-Twin has grown into three distinct platforms that include a total of 10 models, with base prices ranging from $8,999 to $29,999.
There’s the light, sporty Ryker platform, which includes a base model available with a 600cc parallel-Twin or 900cc inline-Triple, plus 900cc Sport and Rally models. Each has a Sport or Rally ride mode that allows playful drifting on pavement or dirt.
Next up is the feet-forward, cruiser-touring Spyder F3 platform, with four models powered by a 1,330cc in-line Triple, including the F3, the F3-S Special Series, the F3-T with saddlebags, and the F3 Limited full-dress tourer. For luxury touring, there is the Spyder RT platform, with three models also powered by a 1,330cc Triple: the RT, the RT Limited, and the ultra-primo RT Sea-To-Sky.
The “Y” in the Spyder and Ryker names refers to the two-wheels-in-front, one-wheel-out-back configuration. Unlike trike conversions or sidecar rigs where a third wheel is grafted onto a two-wheeled motorcycle, Can-Am Spyders and Rykers were designed from the ground up as three-wheelers. With two wheels in front and three automotive-size contact patches, they are incredibly stable.
We’ve tested many Spyder and Ryker models, but our last test of a Spyder RT Limited was back in 2013. Upgrades to the platform over the years made us eager to reacquaint ourselves with Can-Am’s big tourer.
Ace In The Hole
Propelling the RT Limited down the road is a liquid-cooled, 1,330cc ACE (Advanced Combustion Efficiency) inline-Triple that’s made in Austria by BRP-owned Rotax. Its 120-degree crankshaft gives it perfect primary balance, and a gear-driven counterbalancer offsets the secondary and rocking-couple vibrations. Maintenance is minimized with self-adjusting valves and belt final drive. Claimed output is 115 hp at 7,250 rpm and 96 lb-ft at 5,000 rpm, modest figures for a machine said to weigh 1,021 lbs dry (the engine alone weighs 246 lbs).
Given that its power-to-weight ratio is about half that of many motorcycles, one might think the Spyder’s acceleration would suffer accordingly. But you’d be wrong. With ample torque on tap throughout the rev range, the big RT blasts away from stops and launches out of corners, delivering smile-inducing exhilaration. Jackrabbit starts can even break the rear tire loose briefly before the traction control kicks in.
Using paddle shifters on the left switchgear, the 6-speed semi-automatic transmission delivers lightning-fast upshifts. When ridden hard, each shift delivers a visceral power surge that eggs riders on. You can manually paddle shift into lower gears, or the electronically controlled transmission will do it automatically as you slow down, and it shifts into neutral at a stop. The Spyder has an electrically actuated parking brake, and when it comes time to back out of a downhill parking space, the reverse mode is a huge benefit.
The Spyder uses a throttle-by-wire system that sometimes delivers delayed responses. Both the standard and Eco ride modes exhibited a noticeable hitch in initial throttle application, and irregular power pulses plague the fuel-efficient Eco mode at lower speeds. Those issues fall to the wayside once the Spyder gets rolling, and the big Triple remains ultra-smooth throughout the rest of the rev range.
Out on the open road, the RT Limited gallops along with ease. In 6th gear, the Spyder maintains 70 mph at 3,600 rpm, nowhere near its 8,100-rpm redline, and its relaxed engine speed keeps vibration and harshness to a minimum. A couple taps on the paddle shifter gets the engine closer to its torque peak to make a quick pass. Or you can set the cruise control, lean back, and enjoy the ride.
Stable Is As Stable Does
In addition to its Y-architecture, one of the Spyder’s early innovations was its Vehicle Stability System (VSS), which integrates ABS, EBD (electronic brake-force distribution), TCS (Traction Control System), and SCS (Stability Control System). As far back as the original 2007 Spyder, based on inputs from an array of steering, engine speed, wheel speed, and other sensors, VSS would reduce engine power or brake individual wheels to keep the vehicle under control. Those early models were also equipped with Can-Am’s Dynamic Powering Steering.
The Spyder’s electronic rider aids have evolved steadily over the last 15 years. The same basic systems described above are used on current models, but they are more advanced, so they respond more quickly and intervene more gradually. Also standard on the RT Limited is hill-hold control, which maintains brake pressure on inclines to make it easier to pull away from a stop.
Suspending the Spyder is a trio of Sachs shocks, with two non-adjustable Big-Bore shocks in front and a self-leveling air shock out back. Thanks to double A-arms with an anti-roll bar in front, each wheel moves independently and the vehicle stays planted over irregular pavement and off-camber turns. The shocks are calibrated to deliver a comfortable ride, and they soak up a lot of abuse without upsetting the chassis. With three separate wheel tracks, however, it can be a challenge to dodge big potholes or debris in the road.
The Spyder’s reverse-trike layout maximizes stability and traction, but the additional wheel also changes the steering dynamics. For riders accustomed to countersteering on two-wheeled motorcycles, there can be an adjustment period. For those with experience on ATVs or snowmobiles, the Spyder’s conventional steering will feel second-nature. To turn, you simply apply pressure to the outside handlebar. To hold a line, you need to maintain that pressure.
To help overcome the turning resistance of the Spyder’s two big contact patches in front, the Dynamic Power Steering system provides more assistance at low speeds and less assistance at high speeds. Still, because those dinner plate-sized front contact patches grab onto more pavement than the single, small contact patch on a motorcycle, Spyders can be sensitive to small inputs at speed. Early models often felt darty, a tendency that has been reduced but not fully eliminated on newer models. As riders rack up miles, they adapt and adjust their steering inputs accordingly.
When cornering at speed, leaning one’s body into the turn helps counteract centrifugal forces. It doesn’t make the Spyder turn quicker, but it helps the rider feel more planted and in control. Whereas early Spyders had both a brake lever on the handlebar and a brake pedal – using either applied brake pressure to all three wheels – newer models use only a brake pedal. For riders used to the finer motor control of their right hand for modulating brake pressure, using only a foot pedal can take some getting used to. With those three big contact patches and triple-disc brakes, the Spyder scrubs off speed quickly and stops on a dime.
Lap of Luxury
The RT Limited and the RT Sea-To-Sky, the latter featuring exclusive styling upgrades, are Can-Am’s top-of-the-line touring models. Standard equipment includes an electric windscreen, an integrated passenger backrest, heated grips, and heated pilot and passenger seats. The Spyder’s side panniers, top case, and front trunk offer a prodigious total of 47 gallons (177 liters) of storage for long-distance adventures.
Can-Am’s LinQ system allows the top case to be easily removed and reinstalled. The top case can also be swapped out with various LinQ accessories, such as a rear rack, a stand-alone passenger backrest, and bags of various sizes.
For those who want additional storage, the RT Limited has a towing capacity of 400 lbs. Can-Am’s accessory catalog includes trailer hitches and other towing accessories. Can-Am no longer offers its Freedom trailer, but the RT Limited is calibrated to work with earlier versions, and it is compatible with aftermarket trailers.
Both rider and passenger seats provide ample comfort and support for extended road trips, and they have separate heating controls. The broad seat pan paired with generous plush padding and a lumbar-supporting rear bolster promote comfort in the saddle and hold the rider in place during cornering. The handlebars sweep back to the rider for relaxed, easy steering, while the large rider footboards and adjustable passenger footboards allow both pilot and pillion to adjust their foot positions and stretch their legs.
The Spyder’s cozy confines encourage mile-munching journeys, but the infotainment system seems dated when compared to its contemporary counterparts. The 7.8-inch color LCD panel lacks the vibrance and visual detail of the TFT displays found on other luxury touring machines. It does provide a wealth of information, however, including a speedometer, a tachometer, a gear-position indicator, fuel level, ambient temperature, and other trip-related details.
Standard equipment on the RT Limited includes the BRP Audio Premium system with six speakers (four in front, two in back), a radio, and connectivity via USB and Bluetooth. The system can be controlled via buttons on the left switchgear, and the front storage compartment has a USB port for device connectivity and charging. The audio system envelopes the rider and passenger in sound, and volume automatically rises and falls in relation to the vehicle’s speed.
Additional connectivity is available by pairing a smartphone via the BRP Connect app, which allows riders to view texts and make/receive calls or listen to music using a Bluetooth headset. BRP Connect integrates other apps as well, such as REVER, Pandora, and AccuWeather, and they can be controlled through the Spyder’s switchgear.
Starting at $27,499, the Spyder RT Limited is price competitive against luxury touring motorcycles such as the Honda Gold Wing (starting at $28,500) and Harley-Davidson Road Glide Limited (starting at $28,729), but it’s significantly less expensive than Harley’s factory trike, the Tri-Glide Ultra (starting at $35,699). All offer generous rider and passenger accommodations, ample storage capacity, infotainment systems, and smooth, torque-rich engines.
From its Y-architecture and Vehicle Stability System to its “frunk” (front trunk), paddle-shifting semi-automatic transmission, and foot-pedal-only combined braking system, the Spyder is a unique powersports vehicle. Two-wheel riders may dismiss it because it doesn’t lean, but the Spyder offers an open-air riding experience for those who do not want to balance and manage a heavyweight touring motorcycle. The RT Limited offers a one-of-a-kind mix of comfort, stability, safety, and touring capability. Prepare to be impressed.
2022 Can-Am Spyder RT Limited
Base Price: $27,499 Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles w/ roadside assistance Website:can-am.brp.com ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse in-line Triple, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 1,330cc Bore x Stroke: 84.0 x 80.0mm Compression Ratio: 12.2:1 Valve Insp. Interval: N/A (self-adjusting) Fuel Delivery: Electronic fuel injection w/ throttle-by-wire Lubrication System: Dry sump, 5.0 qt. cap. Transmission: 6-speed, semi-automatic w/ reverse Final Drive: Belt CHASSIS Frame: Surrounding Spar Technology steel center beam Wheelbase: 67.5 in. Rake/Trail: N/A Seat Height: 29.7 in. Suspension, Front: Double A-arm w/ anti-roll bar & dual shocks, no adj., 6.9 in. travel Rear: Single shock w/ self-leveling air preload adj., 6.0 in. travel Brakes, Front: Dual 270mm discs w/ 4-piston fixed calipers & ABS Rear: Single 270mm disc w/ 1-piston floating caliper, integrated parking brake & ABS Wheels, Front: Cast aluminum, 5.0 x 15 in. Rear: Cast aluminum, 7.0 x 15 in. Tires, Front: 165/55-R15 Rear: 225/50-R15 Dry Weight: 1,021 lbs Load Capacity: 494 lbs PERFORMANCE Horsepower: 115 hp @ 7,250 rpm (claimed) Torque: 96 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm (claimed) Fuel Capacity: 7 gals. Fuel Consumption: 32 mpg Estimated Range: 224 miles
Few motorcycle manufacturers can hold claim to the word “classic” with as much legitimacy as Royal Enfield. Having launched its first motorcycle at the Stanley Cycle Show in London in 1901, it’s the oldest motorcycle brand in continuous production. Now, 121 years later, we have the 2022 Royal Enfield Classic 350.
One of Royal Enfield’s best-known models – the Bullet – was produced from 1931 until 2020, and it was available with either a 346cc or 499cc air-cooled Single. In 2021, Royal Enfield introduced the Meteor 350, a cruiser powered by a 349ccc air-/oil-cooled, SOHC, 2-valve, fuel-injected Single with a 5-speed gearbox. The Classic 350, which brings back the styling that made the Bullet such an iconic bike, is built around the same engine.
Built in Chennai, India, since 1955, Royal Enfields are designed for an enormous segment of the global market – those who want reliable, affordable small to mid-sized motorcycles. Over a 12-year production run, from 2008 to 2020, Royal Enfield produced and sold three million examples of the Classic 500, known here in the U.S. as the Bullet C5 Classic.
Royal Enfield North America hosted the press launch of the Classic 350 in Savannah, Georgia, a classic Southern city established in 1733 on the banks of the Savannah River. On hand were two variants of the Classic 350, both retailing for $4,599: Dark models, available in Gunmetal Gray or Stealth Black, with a blacked-out powertrain and 10-spoke cast wheels with tubeless tires; and Signals models, available in Desert Sand or Marsh Grey, with 1950s military-style graphics and spoked wheels with tube-type tires. The Signals models are inspired by Royal Enfield’s long association with India’s armed forces.
Later this year, Royal Enfield will release the Halcyon collection inspired by 1950s-era British roadsters. Halcyon Forest Green, Halcyon Black, and Halcyon Blue will retail for $4,499, while the Chrome Red and Chrome Brown models with a mirror tank finish and special badging are priced at $4,699.
Like the Meteor, the Classic 350 was a collaborative effort by Royal Enfield’s design teams in the U.K. and India. They endeavored to create a motorcycle that seamlessly blends authentic styling and ride character with modern necessities like electronic fuel injection, disc brakes, and dual-channel ABS. All Royal Enfields are built in a state-of-the-art, ISO-9001-certified manufacturing facility and backed by a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty with roadside assistance.
As pleasing as the Classic 350 is to look at while parked on one of Savannah’s brick-paved streets, it’s even more enjoyable to ride. Its relaxed, neutral seating position accommodates riders of all shapes and sizes, and its engine abides riders of all skill levels. Hit the starter and the Single burbles to life, delivering a pleasant, visceral pulse feel and a heartwarming exhaust note that your grandmother would love.
Royal Enfield claims 20 hp and 20 lb-ft of torque at the crank. When we tested a Meteor 350, it sent 18 hp at 6,200 rpm and 18 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm to its chain-driven rear wheel. Built around a heavy steel frame and weighing 430 lbs ready to ride, the Classic 350 isn’t exactly a featherweight. Add in a full-grown adult male compressing the 31.7-inch seat’s foam, and the result is a languid, unhurried experience. The engine revs at a relaxed pace, and acceleration lacks urgency. Top speed is about 75 mph.
Horsepower and speed, however, are not the appropriate measuring sticks for the Classic 350. It’s the sort of motorcycle that embraces the slower pace of life that comes with molasses-thick humidity and lazy afternoons. What’s the rush?
Classic 350s will pound the pavement of rough, neglected roads the world over, and its suspension and brakes are designed to take abuse. The 41mm non-adjustable fork with 5.1 inches of travel and twin emulsion rear shocks with adjustable preload and 3.5 inches of travel were chosen for their durability and affordability. Ride quality is good but not great, right in line with expectations. Likewise, the ByBre disc brakes, with a 2-piston front caliper squeezing a 300mm rotor and a 1-piston rear caliper squeezing a 270mm disc, provide modest but predictable stopping power.
With a 19-inch front wheel and an 18-inch rear, the Classic 350 rolls over road imperfections with ease. Its Ceat Zoom Plus tires, which are also made in India, are narrow – 100/90-19 front, 120/80-18 rear – and contribute to the bike’s quick steering.
It’s hard not to love a motorcycle like the Classic 350. It’s a time capsule, an attention-getter, and – like that 1960s ad campaign for Tab diet cola – a “mindsticker.” Riding around the streets of Savannah, every time our get-along gang of journos stopped at a red light or a crosswalk, locals and tourists alike stopped in their tracks and asked, “Hey, what kind of bike is that?”
Ride a Royal Enfield Classic 350 and you’ll make new friends, and that never gets old.
2022 Royal Enfield Classic 350 Specs Base Price: $4,599 Warranty: 3 yrs., unltd. miles w/ roadside assistance Website:royalenfield.com Engine Type: Air-cooled Single, SOHC w/ 2 valves Horsepower: 20 hp @ 6,100 rpm (claimed) Torque: 20 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm (claimed) Displacement: 349cc Bore x Stroke: 72.0 x 85.8mm Transmission: 5-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch Final Drive: O-ring chain Wheelbase: 54.7 in. Rake/Trail: 26 degrees/4.4 in. Seat Height: 31.7 in. Wet Weight: 430 lbs (90% fuel) Fuel Capacity: 3.4 gals.
Some motorcycles are like Buddha, such as a Gold Wing gliding down the road in near silence, its deep bucket seat cradling your fundament and scarcely a vibration felt at the feet and hands. Others are like mad dogs, snarling and pulling at their chains, ready to rip, tear, and lacerate at a moment’s notice. The original KTM 1290 Super Duke R was pretty much the latter – an idealized naked hyperbike that was introduced in 2014. It had terrific power, satisfying daily-rider ergonomics, and the immediate response that earmarks most race machines. KTM’s “Ready to Race” slogan was aptly fulfilled.
Now, after eight years of evolution, the latest-gen 1290 Super Duke R Evo goes further with the addition of multi-mode semi-active WP suspension to the KTM’s existing electronic elements, including throttle-by-wire, ride modes (which adjust throttle response and engine power), cornering ABS and traction control, wheelie control, cruise control, and more. Our test bike was equipped with the Tech Pack, a $899.99 option that adds an up/down quickshifter, Motor Slip Regulation (MSR), Suspension Pro, and Track Pack.
The settings may be configured statically or on the fly via multifunction switchgear on the left handlebar. The multilayered menu appears bright and crisp, day or night, on a 4.8-inch color TFT screen, which also includes a hockey-stick-style tachometer, a large digital speedometer, a gear-position indicator, and various annunciators.
FIRE ME UP
Let’s take a ride. There is no traditional ignition key, but rather an electronic transponder with a flip-out key that’s used only to unlock the seat. Approach within a few feet of the bike and the transponder and machine connect wirelessly. A quick press of the master power button on the right handlebar unlocks the fork and gas cap and illuminates the instrument panel.
From there, climb aboard and tag the start button. The highly tuned 1,301cc DOHC 75-degree V-Twin whirs and churns like a Massey Ferguson before firing and settling into a grumbling baritone idle through its enormous stainless headers. Sound pressure recorded at idle at helmet height was 88 decibels. And it gets louder as the revs build, naturally along with wind noise.
While the liquid-cooled motor warms up – we found the KTM to be somewhat coldblooded – use the opportunity to configure the electronic engine and chassis parameters for the ride. Which invites a fair question: What kind of ride?
First, select a ride mode: Street, Rain, and Sport modes are standard, while Performance and Track modes are part of the optional Track Pack. Next, select a suspension damping mode: Comfort, Street, and Sport are standard, along with electronically adjustable rear preload (in 2mm increments). Track, Advanced, and Automatic modes are part of the optional Suspension Pro package, which also adds automatic preload leveling with three modes (Low, Standard, and High). You can also turn off both traction control and MSR, turn off the quickshifter, and select an ABS mode (Road or Supermoto, which deactivates ABS at the rear wheel). Or not. Everything can be left in default settings, and you can just grab a gear and go.
It would take much more space than we have available to review all the settings and permutations. It takes some time to get familiar with everything, but for most riders the only settings that will be regularly changed are ride mode and suspension mode. Two customizable profiles allow riders to configure their favorite settings and toggle between them using a switch on the right handlebar. Set it and forget it.
Let’s start the ride with the default Street ride mode and the genial Comfort suspension mode to get a baseline understanding of how the semi-active suspension interplays with the carryover electronics. It’s surprising what a pleasant motorcycle the 1290 SD-R Evo is with these soft settings. The suspension – a 48mm WP inverted fork, a linked monoshock, and a single-sided swingarm – is surprisingly comfy. Rowing across town, I found the steering characteristics to be pure joy. The Super Duke is nimble and agreeable for any necessary urban maneuver, from tight turns to quick lane changes to streaking away from offensive traffic.
Switching to the Street suspension mode, the ride quality still proved fine for a rabid naked bike making a claimed 180 hp. So is the engine’s vibration signature, a minor miracle in that the motor is bolted solidly to the space frame’s thin-wall chromoly tubing, and serves as a stressed member. The motocross-style tapered aluminum handlebar wears a pair of 6-oz bar-end mass dampers, which change the bar’s resonant frequency to quell engine-induced vibration in the grips.
Breaking free of town onto a winding two-lane highway, I toggled to Sport mode for both ride and suspension, which firmed up damping characteristics and shock spring preload, quickened throttle response, unleashed full power, and loosened up traction and wheelie control. Like observing a dog perking up its ears, the countenance of the Super Duke noticeably sharpened. Gone was the relaxed, easy cadence of Comfort and Street modes; Sport settings picked up the pace, and so did I. Ride aggressively or casually, Honey Badger don’t care.
In fact, the twin-spark engine is so flexible, it can just lug around as a torque monster or rage to its 10,250-rpm redline. On Jett Tuning’s dyno, the KTM generated 166 hp at 10,000 rpm and 96 lb-ft of torque at 8,400 rpm at the rear wheel in Sport mode. Horsepower increases steadily with revs, while torque is prodigious throughout the rev range, exceeding 80 lb-ft from 4,000 rpm to redline.
In town, the profiles and contact patches of the Bridgestone Battlax HyperSport S22 radials – 120/70-ZR17 front and fat 200/55-ZR17 rear – proved most agreeable. Linear, predictable, and confidence-inspiring. With their fine-particle silica compound, these refined treads are said to excel in conditions from rain to racetracks. We hit neither on this test, but on every mile of street, road, and freeway we covered, they proved highly satisfying.
A word now about seating. Though dimensionally small, the pilot’s seat feels more standard than sportbike. In other words, it’s just right for most riding activities. (If you want to go sport-touring, check out KTM’s accessory Ergo rider’s and pillion seats.) With no front fairing or windscreen, it’s full wind blast, baby. Complementing the fine steering geometry, the ergonomics are refreshingly sensible compared to superbikes – that is, except for the wide tank/airbox combination that splays knees unnaturally. Further, with its hard finishing panel at the rear, the tank can be a ballbreaker if sudden braking intrudes.
For the most fun part of this test, high above the city on empty mountain roads, I toggled to the Track ride mode, which is included as part of the Tech Pack. It maximizes throttle response and power, allows rear wheelspin to be adjusted on the fly over nine levels, and turns off wheelie control. (A more street-oriented Performance mode offers the same features, but also allows riders to use cruise control and the KTM MY RIDE multimedia system.)
In Track mode, everything gets really focused. Throttle response, already made more direct thanks to the new 65-degree quick-turn throttle (reduced by 7 degrees), which also helps reduce wrist angle and elbow drop at full throttle, becomes immediate. The Track suspension mode likewise dramatically firms things up. Although harder-edged, these settings make the Super Duke the ultimate confidence-inspiring machine for attacking road or track. With so much horsepower cued up and lacking the runoff of a modern racetrack, I backed out of this after several miles and reverted to the slightly more docile Sport ride and suspension modes.
Our test of the Super Duke R Evo revealed its complete mastery of all kinds of roads, including fast sweepers and tight corners, off-camber bends, and varied surfaces. Throughout, it required no undue tugging of the handlebar to change directions, engaged in no weird chassis hijinks or bobbles, and stayed faithful and true in whatever conditions appeared. Building such a tenable package is complicated, requiring a refined blend of chassis geometry and stiffness, mass placement, suspension design and tuning, power delivery, adaptive electronics, and way more. And the Bridgestones make it all work, whether at trolling speeds or lightspeed. All primary controls – including throttle, clutch, shifter, and front and rear brakes – are balanced with a well-connected feel.
There are a few demerits, but they’re relatively minor balanced against the total 1290 SD-R Evo package. Some of the handlebar switches are poorly shaped. Particularly egregious is the triangular turnsignal switch; activation feel is fine, but canceling requires pushing what feels like the pointy end of a carpenter’s pencil. Additionally, the headlight high/low switch, toggled by the left forefinger, should be larger, and the horn button is too far from the left thumb. And that 3.2-inch horn! I’m sure it’s stamped with the letters “moo,” emitting barely a plebian bleat no better than a newborn calf’s. Riders deserve better, and not just Super Duke pilots. Lastly, while I was personally happy with the clutch and front brake lever adjustability, the thumbscrews are small, and the adjustment range might not satisfy riders with small hands. Balancing this, the shift lever and rear brake pedal (and fork stops) are also adjustable, albeit with some light wrench work.
The Super Duke R Evo’s optional quickshifter can be turned on or off through the electronics menu. It works spectacularly for rapid upshifts, but is quite sensitive, and so a careless touch of the gear shift lever interrupts power. Admittedly, this only caused problems during particularly aggressive riding. Bottom line, for track duty or raging up a mountain road, the quickshifter is a fine addition; for street riding, though, I was happier deactivating it.
Part of the Suspension Pro package is a programmable anti-dive feature. I well remember hammering bikes with conventional inverted forks and cursing the nosebleed dives they’d make under hard braking while rushing downhill. No worries with the SD-R Evo, as this feature keeps the chassis more balanced and its rider happy. While eclipsing miles of narrow, twisting downhill road, the 1290’s chassis, Bridgestones, and Brembo brakes with Stylema 4-piston radial front calipers seamlessly mastered the conditions, with excellent feedback and precision. The tires offer an additional advantage of sticking even when they’re cool. Translation: Premium DOT sport tires are a great choice for the wide range of conditions that this improved Super Duke can handle.
TASTES GREAT, LESS FILLING
As much as I enjoyed my time aboard the 1290 while bending it into and out of undulating mountain corners, the KTM proved to be well-mannered on efficient-yet-boring freeways. That’s the real magic of bikes like this with fully customizable riding dynamics. You can tame the power, soften the suspension, and set the cruise control, all while queueing up your favorite song on your smartphone. At 70 mph on the freeway in 6th gear, the engine turns a relaxed 3,500 rpm. The motor seems to be at its smoothest exactly at this point, perfect for touring or droning commutes. On the highway, I found no detriments to the nimble steering geometry; the 1290 tracked beautifully and retained excellent stability.
Modern bikes like this latest Super Duke augment riding fun while reducing certain hassle factors. Pull into a gas station, drop the sidestand, hit the kill switch, and pop open the fuel filler without ever pulling the fob out of your pocket. From the 1290’s 4.2-gal. tank, over a mix of city, freeway, and mowing-down-the-mountain riding, we netted 35 mpg, yielding nearly 150 miles of range. The transponder that allows key-free unlocking, starting, and fueling also simplifies locking. When parked, hit the power button to shut down the bike, then hold it down again to lock the steering.
During a night ride, I happily discovered that the Super Duke’s twin LED headlights are vastly better than the first Super Duke’s halogen system. KTM surrounded the headlight array (split up the center to feed twin ram-air openings) with a racy illuminated surround in white and orange, KTM’s signature colors. Thoughtfully, the headlight assembly can be quickly removed for track duty with three fasteners and an electrical plug. Same goes for the rear turnsignal/license plate assembly. The TFT display, which automatically adjusts background colors in low-light conditions, seems even more beautifully illuminated at night. The switchgear illumination is modest but gives a general idea where the key switches are.
The 2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo is a highly attractive motorcycle for riders with serious sporting intentions – and the skills to go with them. For me, it’s close to a perfect streetbike thanks to its instantaneous response, excellent dynamics and feel, agreeable ergonomics, and the added bandwidth of its new semi-active suspension. Let’s be clear though: In its most active state, a Super Duke pushes the boundaries of sanity for streetbike performance. Do we actually need such a device? Nope. Do we want one? Absolutely!
2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo Specs
Base Price: $19,599 Price as Tested: $20,499 (Tech Pack) Warranty: 1 yr., 12,000 miles Website:ktm.com ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 75-degree V-Twin Displacement: 1,301cc Bore x Stroke: 108.0 x 71.0mm Compression Ratio: 13.6:1 Valve Train: DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Valve Insp. Interval: 18,600 miles Fuel Delivery: Keihin EFI w/ 56mm throttle bodies x 2 Lubrication System: Dry sump, 3.7 qt. cap. Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated slip/assist wet clutch Final Drive: X-ring chain CHASSIS Frame: Tubular-steel w/ engine as stressed member, composite subframe & cast aluminum swingarm Wheelbase: 58.9 in. Rake/Trail: 25.2 degrees/4.2 in. Seat Height: 32.8 in. Suspension, Front: 48mm inverted fork, electronically adj., 4.9 in. travel Rear: Single shock, electronically adj., 5.5 in. travel Brakes, Front: Dual 320mm discs w/ 4-piston radial monoblock calipers & ABS Rear: Single 240mm disc w/ 2-piston caliper & ABS Wheels, Front: Cast aluminum, 3.50 x 17 in. Rear: Cast aluminum, 6.00 x 17 in. Tires, Front: 120/70-ZR17 Rear: 200/55-ZR17 Wet Weight: 466 lbs. Load Capacity: 471 lbs. GVWR: 937 lbs. PERFORMANCE Horsepower: 165.5 hp @ 10,000 rpm (rear-wheel dyno) Torque: 95.9 lb-ft @ 8,400 rpm (rear-wheel dyno) Fuel Capacity: 4.2 gals. Fuel Consumption: 35.3 mpg Estimated Range: 149 miles
The hills are green! Time to up the saddlebags on the BMWR 18 Classic and hit the road.
California has two seasons – green and brown. Green is short, typically lasting only a couple months after winter rains. Come springtime, the rain stops, and the grass and wildflowers enjoy a brief moment of glory before they wither and lose their color. Brown is dry, dusty, and interminable, usually lasting from spring until after the new year. Brown is also the season of wildfires, which have become more intense and widespread in recent years.
The Los Angeles Times recently reported that the American West’s megadrought – now in its 22nd year – is the driest in 1,200 years. The last time it was this dry was in the early Middle Ages, only a few hundred years after the fall of the Roman Empire. Here in California, the only appreciable amount of precipitation within the past year fell in December, after which the spigot simply turned off. Warm, dry conditions in January and February encouraged green shoots of grass to emerge and wildflowers to bloom earlier than usual.
After eight or nine months of brown, it’s uplifting to see hillsides and fields carpeted with bright green vegetation. Last year was so dry that nothing turned green, so the brown season lasted for the better part of two years. When the green season arrived last year, I knew I had to take advantage of it.
Since its debut in late 2020, BMW’s R 18 lineup has grown to include four models: the R 18 cruiser; the R 18 Classic, which adds a windshield, saddlebags, a passenger seat, cruise control, and driving lights; the R 18 B bagger, which has a handlebar-mounted fairing and hard saddlebags; and the R 18 Transcontinental full-dress tourer. The Classic is the only model we haven’t tested, and it was the perfect choice for a leisurely cruise north through the green hills of California’s Central Coast.
Getting into and loading/unloading the Classic’s 15.5-liter saddlebags is easy thanks to quick-release buckles for the straps and form-fitting drop-in liners, which are open-top tote bags with carry-handles as well as snaps to secure them inside the saddlebags. For those who sometimes prefer a minimalist look, the saddlebags, small passenger seat, and windshield are removeable.
The day before my ride, an erratic winter storm dusted the mountains with snow but brought no rain. On the morning of my departure, it was a frosty 39 degrees, so I dressed in multiple layers and switched the Classic’s heated grips to high. With photographer Kevin Wing in my rearview mirrors aboard our Yamaha Tracer 9 GT long-term test bike, we cruised north on U.S. Route 101 along the coast from Ventura to Santa Barbara. The Classic’s small windshield parts the air smoothly around the rider’s head and torso, but the rider’s hands and lower body remain exposed.
Rush-hour traffic compounded by highway construction motivated us to turn inland and try our luck on State Route 192 through well-to-do residential areas nestled in the foothills of the coast-facing Santa Ynez Mountains. We finally escaped the soccer moms and work trucks on State Route 154, a scenic byway that follows an old stagecoach route up and over San Marcos Pass. We took a break to warm up at Cold Spring Tavern, a former stagecoach relay station that dates back to 1865. Though too early for lunch, it’s a favorite spot for delicious tri-tip sandwiches, chili, and other fare. The rustic stone tavern holds special memories for me. Kevin and I ate there before my very first photo shoot – on a Buell XB12XT – back in 2008.
Strong as an Oak
After crossing the Santa Ynez Valley, we reconnected with U.S. 101 and continued north, riding through the rolling hills of Santa Barbara County’s wine country. The grapevines were still bare, but grass grew between the evenly spaced rows – sometimes kept in check by grazing sheep – and gnarled California oaks stood like giant sentries.
All R 18 models are built on BMW’s Big Boxer platform, with an air-cooled 1,802cc opposed flat-Twin mounted within a tubular-steel double-cradle frame. When we tested the standard R 18, it sent 80 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheel on Jett Tuning’s dyno, with all that grunt working through a 6-speed transmission mated to a single-plate dry slipper clutch and shaft final drive. Like many heavyweight cruisers, the clutch requires a firm pull (both levers are adjustable for reach). My boot didn’t easily fit under the shift lever, so for upshifts I used the heel shifter.
Throttle-by-wire enables three ride modes – Rock, Roll, and Rain – that alter throttle response, idle character, engine-drag torque control, and traction-control intervention. As the mode names imply, Rock offers more assertive throttle response and a lumpier feel at idle, whereas Roll is more relaxed, and Rain dials things back even further for sketchy conditions.
The R 18 Classic is a long machine, stretching 68 inches between the axles. Add in lazy rake and long trail figures, and the result is a motorcycle that’s happier on straight roads than tight curves. The wide pullback handlebar provides plenty of steering leverage, and the Classic is stable and obedient, but limited cornering clearance and a rear shock with 3.5 inches of firmly damped travel necessitate a modest pace on backroads. Broken, patched, and potholed pavement can be jarring.
After warming up with hot coffee and stuffing ourselves with giant burritos at a Mexican restaurant off State Route 1 near Morro Bay, we wound along Old Creek Road, passing Whale Rock Reservoir and groves of avocado trees before climbing out of a tight canyon and riding through ranchland. Crossing State Route 41, the narrow byway becomes Santa Rosa Creek Road, a narrow, neglected 16-mile stretch of pavement that’s perfect for a BMW GS but a rough ride on the Classic. The road cuts through more ranchland and follows its namesake creek toward the coast.
We spent the night in Cambria, a charming seaside village that’s one of the last places to find food or lodging before riding Route 1 north to Big Sur. Our home for the night was the Bluebird Inn, which for many years was a gathering place for Rider staffers and contributors during the annual summer pilgrimage up to Laguna Seca for the Superbike races. Back then, the Bluebird was owned by the Cooper family, and they’d provide a cooler of beer and snacks for our motley crew. We’d share laughs and stories on the Bluebird’s shaded patio before walking to dinner. The Coopers retired a few years ago, but the family that bought the place has retained the motel’s cozy vibe and friendly atmosphere.
Don’t Feed the Elephant Seals
Kevin and I woke up dark and early to find the seats of our bikes covered in frost. There was no coffee in our rooms, and nothing in Cambria opened until 7 a.m., so we grumbled as we quietly started the bikes and rode north to a parking area right on the coast for some sunrise photos. As we polished the BMW’s chrome and positioned the bike just so, we heard the distinctive barking and fart-like noises of elephant seals.
We walked a few yards to a small bluff to find a pair of juvenile male seals fighting each other on the beach. With no females nearby, this was merely practice for when the males got older and would need to fight full-grown alpha males – which can be up to 16 feet long and weigh 5,000 lbs – to compete for mates.
A little further north, within sight of the Piedras Blancas lighthouse, is a dedicated parking area and elevated boardwalk where visitors can view an elephant seal haul-out area. A population of 25,000 elephant seals gathers at various times of the year along an eight-mile stretch of coast. Pups are born in December and January, and in the early months of the year you can see enormous alphas protecting their harem and exhausted mothers feeding their black-furred pups. The adults go months without food or water while on land during breeding season, so mostly they just lie about like giant sausages on the beach.
Backroads & Byways
California Route 1 is world famous, and for good reason. It hugs the rugged coast for hundreds of miles, and the section from San Simeon up to Big Sur and Monterey is as beautiful and challenging as roads get. But in the shadows of well-known scenic roads are hidden gems like Santa Rosa Creek Road.
As we headed south, past the iconic Morro Rock, we left Route 1 and took South Bay Boulevard past the marshy Morro Bay Estuary, and then Turri Road along Los Osos Creek and through rolling ranchland. My favorite road in the area, which I discovered just a few years ago, is Prefumo Canyon Road. It climbs up and over the northern side of the coastal range, briefly turns to hard-packed dirt as it winds through a tunnel of trees, and then becomes See Canyon Road, which twists its way among apple farms and vineyards. It ends at San Luis Bay Road, which soon connects to Avila Beach Road for a short ride to Port San Luis, where an old wooden pier juts into San Luis Obispo Bay.
Our 2021 R 18 Classic test bike is outfitted with a few extras. It has the First Edition Package ($2,150), which includes Black Storm Metallic paint with white pinstripes and chrome-plated levers, covers, fittings, and calipers. It has the Premium Package ($1,450), which includes BMW’s Adaptive Headlight, Headlight Pro, Reverse Assist, and Hill Start Control. And it has the Select Package ($225), which adds heated grips, a locking fuel filler cap, and an anti-theft alarm.
Instrumentation is limited to a single gauge that includes an analog speedometer and an inset LCD, which displays ride mode, gear position, and an info screen that can be scrolled through various functions: tachometer, tripmeters, odometer, voltmeter, fuel economy, average speed, clock, and date. A touring bike in this price range should also provide fuel level and ambient temperature. We averaged 38 mpg from the 4.2-gallon tank, for a range of about 160 miles. The low-fuel light comes on with one gallon remaining.
End of the Road
Two full days in the saddle gave me an appreciation for what the R 18 Classic offers. Its traditional styling, especially the black-and-white-pinstripes First Edition version inspired by BMW’s 1930s-era R 5, fits well within the expectations of many heavyweight cruiser buyers. But with the opposed cylinders of its Big Boxer jutting out to the sides, the R 18 does not conform to the usual V-Twin formula.
The engine has the right sound and feel, and it produces plenty of low-end torque, but the cylinders create a barrier that prevents riders from stretching out their legs. On long rides, there’s limited space for changing hip and knee angle. Due to the placement of the heel-toe shifter, brake pedal, and dual exhaust pipes, the small footboards are also somewhat cramped (at least for size-11 boots). The firm seat is supportive, but there isn’t much room to move around.
Beneath the R 18 Classic’s throwback aesthetic is a fully modern motorcycle with ride modes, cruise control, linked ABS, traction control, and other electronic rider aids. The rhythmic lope of its big Twin, especially in Roll mode, encourages a relaxed, unhurried pace, to slow down and appreciate the view. Enjoy the season of green – and the ride – while you can.
2021 BMW R 18 Classic Specs
Base Price: $19,495 ($18,995 in 2022) Price as Tested: $23,320 (First Edition Package, Premium Package, Select Package) Warranty: 3 yrs., 36,000 miles Website:bmwmotorcycles.com ENGINE Type: Air-/oil-cooled, longitudinal opposed flat-Twin, OHV w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 1,802cc (110ci) Bore x Stroke: 107.1 x 100.0mm Compression Ratio: 9.6:1 Valve Insp. Interval: 6,000 miles Fuel Delivery: BMS-O EFI w/ 48mm throttle body Lubrication System: Wet sump, 4.2 qt cap. Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated single-plate dry slipper clutch Final Drive: Shaft CHASSIS Frame: Tubular-steel double cradle w/ tubular-steel double-sided swingarm Wheelbase: 68.1 in. Rake/Trail: 32.7 degrees/5.9 in. Seat Height: 28.0 in. Suspension, Front: 49mm telescopic fork, no adj., 4.7 in. travel Rear: Single cantilever shock, adj. for spring preload, 3.5 in. travel Brakes, Front: Dual 300mm discs w/ 4-piston opposed calipers & ABS Rear: Single 300mm disc w/ 4-piston opposed caliper & ABS Wheels, Front: Spoked, 3.0 x 16 in. Rear: Spoked, 5.0 x 16 in. Tires, Front: Tube-type, 130/90-B16 Rear: Tube-type, 180/65-B16 Wet Weight: 805 lbs. Load Capacity: 430 lbs. GVWR: 1,235 lbs. PERFORMANCE Horsepower: 80 hp @ 4,500 rpm (2021 R 18, rear-wheel dyno) Torque: 109 lb-ft @ 2,900 rpm (2021 R 18, rear-wheel dyno) Fuel Capacity: 4.2 gals. Fuel Consumption: 38 mpg Estimated Range: 160 miles
Sometimes there is a recognizable moment when you click with a motorcycle. That moment didn’t happen right away on the 2022 KTM1290 Super Adventure R. It happened after we had already completed two days of testing and photography, burned 18 gallons of premium fuel, and redlined the KTM on Jett Tuning’s dyno.
That moment came on a Saturday, when I was out on a solo ride, winding my way through Los Padres National Forest on State Route 33. The 33 passes within earshot of my house, but it doesn’t get good for another 13 miles, when it starts to slither through a canyon carved by the Ventura River and enters Wheeler Gorge, which is so narrow that three tunnels had to be blasted through the rock to build the road. After climbing out of the gorge and passing a campground, Route 33 curves left in a big sweeper that’s like passing a bright-red neon sign that says GO FOR IT!
It was a cold, gray morning – just 43 degrees, according to the KTM’s temperature gauge. My fingers ached and I wished the bike had heated grips, but the engine and tires were up to temp. I thumbed a few buttons to switch from Street to Sport mode, gave the throttle a good twist, and felt the 1290 lunge forward.
Following the big sweeper is a series of constant-radius corners – right, left, right, left, right, left – that are like a racetrack with smooth pavement and familiar curves. I quickshifted down a couple gears, adjusted both body and throttle, and looked far ahead to each corner exit. As the last one opened onto a long straight, I gave it the whip. The big blocks of the Bridgestone Battlax Adventurecross AX41 tires squirmed as they found grip and the TC light flashed to let me know the electronics had things under control.
That was the moment. That was when a mix of satisfaction and heightened awareness combined into a mischievous smile that no one could see. When I realized that this – this right here – is what it’s all about.
Refined over many years, the LC8 has been further updated to reduce weight and improve performance. Thinner crank-case walls and other internal changes shed 3.5 pounds of weight. Revised oil routing reduces friction losses, while new ignition coils and a centralized spark plug improve combustion. A new cooling system uses dual radiators to better dissipate engine heat. A revised and repositioned airbox allows the ram air intakes to work more efficiently. In front of the fuel tank is a new storage compartment, which can be removed by taking out four screws to easily access a new air filter with vertical ribs that help direct dust and dirt to the bottom of the airbox. A new Euro 5-compliant exhaust system has two headers, two catalytic converters, and three sensors, and a revised stainless-steel silencer reduces exhaust noise.
The 6-speed Pankl transmission has been reworked to provide shorter shifting action and smoother, faster gear changes, especially when using the optional quickshifter. The shift drum, now made of aluminum rather than steel, is lighter and machined with more precision. A new bronze coating on the shift forks reduces abrasion compared to the hard-chromed parts on previous models. New friction plates help the slip/assist clutch disengage easier at low speeds.
Holding the LC8 in place is a chromoly-steel trellis frame that uses the engine as a stressed member of the chassis. To improve weight distribution and agility, the steering head was moved back 15mm, the engine mounts were relocated, and the aluminum subframe was redesigned. A longer cast-aluminum swingarm, which has an open-lattice design to minimize weight, improves stability during acceleration.
Zeros and Ones
We’re living in the digital age, and nearly every top-tier motorcycle has electronic features that allow the riding experience to be customized and enhanced. Equipped with throttle-by-wire and a new 6-axis IMU, the 1290 SA-R has ride modes (Sport, Street, Rain, and Off-road), dual-mode ABS (Road and Off-road), KTM’s Motorcycle Stability Control system, and cornering lights. The ride modes adjust engine output, throttle response, and lean-angle-sensitive traction control.
In full-power Sport mode, the 1290 produced 126 hp at 9,100 rpm and 88 lb-ft of torque at 8,000 rpm at the rear wheel on Jett Tuning’s dyno. Street mode offers the same level of power with less direct throttle response and more TC intervention. In limited-power Off-road mode, it made 81 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 62 lb-ft of torque at 6,900 rpm. Rain mode offers the same power with softer throttle response and maximum TC intervention, whereas Off-road mode allows the greatest amount of rear-wheel spin among the four modes. (These dyno figures are down a few points because the knobby tread of the 40% on-road/60% off-road Bridgestone AX41 rear tire does not hook up as well as a more street-biased tire on a dyno’s rear drum.)
Our test bike was equipped with the optional Tech Pack ($749.99), which adds Rally mode, motor-slip regulation, hill-hold control, and the up/down Quickshifter+. Intended for aggressive off-road riding, Rally mode delivers full power and 1:1 throttle response, or it can be customized with maps from other ride modes. It also allows rear-wheel slip to be adjusted (levels 1-9) on the fly using up (+) and down (-) buttons on the left switchgear. The same buttons are used to set, resume, and adjust speed for cruise control, which is standard.
Rally mode also activates a special screen on the new, larger 7-inch color TFT display that shows slip level and gear position in extra-large numerals. On the TFT’s default and sub-menu screens, the information is shown using bold, vivid fonts and graphics. The angle of the TFT display can be adjusted, and the surface is scratch- and glare-resistant. It’s easy to read even in bright sunlight, and the background color automatically changes from white to black in low-light situations. KTM has always had an intuitive menu system, and it is now even easier to use, aided by redesigned switches.
Greg’s Gear: Helmet:Fly Racing Odyssey Adventure Modular Jacket and Pants: Fly Racing Terra Trek Gloves:Alpinestars Patro Gore-Tex Boots: Forma Adventure
Bluetooth connectivity is available via the KTM MY RIDE smartphone app, which will display turn-by-turn navigation, mu-sic, and incoming calls on the TFT. The storage compartment in front of the fuel tank is waterproof and has a USB charging port, though it cannot be locked. KTM’s keyless Race On system, which uses a remote fob to turn on the bike, lock/unlock the steering, and open the gas cap, offers extra security with a new Anti-Relay Attack mode.
Heading for the Hills
The 1290 Super Adventure R is KTM’s top-dog ADV for the dirt, but like any adventure bike in the open-class segment, most of its miles will be logged on pavement. That’s why it has Sport, Street, and Rain ride modes, a Road ABS mode, cruise control, and removable rubber inserts in its cleated footpegs. Although the new Bridgestone AX41 tires have an off-road bias, the big-block tread rolls smoothly on the road with minimal noise and provides decent cornering grip.
With photographer Kevin Wing on my six, we rode more than 200 paved miles to reach Lone Pine, a high-desert town that sits at 3,700 feet in California’s Owens River valley. A few miles to the west, the Sierra Nevada range forms a jagged wall that towers more than 10,000 feet above the valley floor. On a clear day, standing just about anywhere in Lone Pine provides an unobstructed view of 14,505-foot Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states.
We were battered by severe headwinds on the ride to Lone Pine. The KTM’s short, rally-style windscreen, which can be hand-adjusted up a couple inches, provides only modest wind protection. Handguards are standard, and the lower pods of the horseshoe-shaped fuel tank (a design also used on the 890 Adventure) provides some lower body protection. Wrapped around the new tank is fresh bodywork with large exit vents for the dual radiators. With most of the fuel located in the pods on either side of the engine, the upper tank area was made slimmer to facilitate stand-up riding.
The two-up seat was also redesigned. It has firm, supportive padding and grippy cover material, and the height of the pi-lot’s portion was lowered from 35 to 34.6 inches. Behind the pillion seat is a sturdy aluminum luggage rack with integrated passenger grab handles. The rack provided a convenient place to mount Nelson-Rigg’s 30-liter Hurricane Waterproof Backpack/Tail Pack to carry my gear.
As with many full-size adventure bikes, the KTM has a spacious cockpit with an upright seating position, generous legroom, and a comfortable reach to its wide, tapered aluminum handlebar. Seat height is fixed, but handlebar position, clutch and brake lever reach, and gear shifter and brake pedal height can all be adjusted to suit different riders.
In the rolling foothills between Lone Pine and the Sierra Nevada lay the Alabama Hills, a group of rock formations that for many years has been a popular filming location for westerns and other movies. The area is crisscrossed with sandy roads and trails, making it an ideal place to evaluate the 1290’s off-road chops. Before leaving the pavement, I aired down the AX41 tires from the recommended 35/42 psi to 30 psi at both ends for better traction. The TFT’s bike info screen shows a schematic of the 1290, and at the lower pressure the wheels changed from green to red and the tire-pressure-monitoring system issued a warning (which can be cleared by pressing a button). To maximize off-road capability as well as tire choices, the 1290 has a 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheelset. Spoked aluminum rims are made by Alpina, and they have an O-ring seal system that accommodates tubeless tires.
Riding an adventure bike off-road, especially a powerful one that weighs 539 pounds, comes with abuse. Tubular-steel lower crash bars and a big skid plate are standard equipment, as are a centerstand and integrated mounts for optional saddlebags. The 1290’s greatest asset for off-road riding is its WP XPLOR suspension, which was originally developed for and is still used on KTM’s EXC enduro models. The fully adjustable setup offers 8.7 inches of travel at both ends (ground clearance is 9.5 inches). The 48mm inverted fork has compression in the right leg and rebound in the left, both easily adjustable with dials on the fork caps. Out back, a PDS (Progressive Damping System) monoshock offers both low- and high-speed compression, rebound, and a remote preload adjuster. Damping settings were revised to provide greater control, and the rear shock now offers more bottoming resistance.
The high-quality suspension is incredibly forgiving. It compensates for mistakes and minimizes drama, absorbing hits big and small to keep the chassis from getting out of shape. The 1290 also has a steering damper made by WP, which helps keep front wheel deflections from becoming white-knuckle headshakes. When riding a big ADV off-road, it pays to be judicious with line choice, but soft sand, ruts, and other obstacles often have other plans. Time and again, the 1290 allowed for corrections to be made or dealt with the unexpected in a way that translated into trust and confidence.
On one long stretch of two-track in the Carrizo Plain National Monument, I was up on the pegs and humming along at speed when the road beneath me suddenly disappeared. A small gully had snuck up on me, and I launched off the lip and landed hard on the opposite face. The suspension fully compressed but didn’t bottom out abruptly, and the bike stayed on course. I was chastened by my oversight but relieved by the outcome.
The 1290’s Off-road and Rally ride modes, especially the latter’s adjustability for throttle response and rear-wheel spin (it also turns off wheelie control), allow the engine’s power to be tailored to conditions. With a linear power curve and a flat torque spread, it’s easy to dial in just what you need for big powerslides or to slowly navigate a tricky rock garden. The slip/assist clutch provides good feel at the lever, the quickshifter simplifies gear changes, and the Off-road ABS allows the rear wheel to be locked up as needed.
As good as the 1290 Super Adventure R is off-road, it’s also highly capable and an absolute blast to ride on paved backroads. Those who don’t plan to do much off-road exploring will get more mileage and better grip out of a set of 90/10 adventure tires, but the 40/60 Bridgestones allow deep lean angles and provide good straight-line stability.
The appeal of adventure bikes is their ability to do it all. You could mount luggage on the 1290 and ride solo or with a passenger to the nearest campground or clear across the country. Its 6.1-gallon tank encourages long rides between fuel stops. Over the course of our 1,000-mile test, we averaged 36.4 mpg and 222 miles of range. With headwinds on the free-way and aggressive on- and off-road riding, fuel economy dipped as low as 30 mpg (184 miles). In mellower conditions, we got 44.3 mpg (271 miles).
Once you arrive at your destination, you can drop the luggage and explore what begins when the pavement ends. No, you can’t ride a big ADV like it’s a dual-sport. But with a little restraint and sound judgment, the 1290 Super Adventure R can take you to places well off the beaten path. There are more than one million miles of unpaved roads in this country and millions more beyond our borders. What are you waiting for?
2022 KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R SPECS
Base Price: $19,499 Price as Tested: $20,249 (Tech Pack) Warranty: 1 yr., 12,000 miles Website:ktm.com ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 75-degree V-Twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 1,301cc Bore x Stroke: 108 x 71mm Compression Ratio: 13.1:1 Valve Insp. Interval: 18,600 miles Fuel Delivery: Keihin EFI w/ 52mm throttle bodies x 2 Lubrication System: Dry sump, 3.8 qt. cap. Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated slip/assist wet clutch Final Drive: X-ring chain CHASSIS Frame: Chromoly steel trellis w/ engine as stressed member, aluminum subframe & cast aluminum swingarm Wheelbase: 61.3 in. Rake/Trail: 25.3 degrees/4.4 in. Seat Height: 34.6 in. Suspension, Front: 48mm inverted fork, fully adj. w/ 8.7 in. travel Rear: Single PDS shock, fully adj. w/ 8.7 in. travel Brakes, Front: Dual 320mm floating discs w/ 4-piston radial calipers & ABS Rear: Single 267mm floating disc w/ 2-piston caliper & ABS Wheels, Front: Spoked tubeless, 2.50 x 21 in. Rear: Spoked tubeless, 4.25 x 18 in. Tires, Front: 90/90-21 Rear: 150/70-18 Wet Weight: 539 lbs. Load Capacity: 453 lbs. GVWR: 992 lbs. PERFORMANCE Horsepower: 126.4 hp @ 9,100 rpm (rear-wheel dyno, Sport mode) Torque: 87.7 lb-ft @ 8,000 rpm (rear-wheel dyno, Sport mode) Fuel Capacity: 6.1 gals. Fuel Consumption: 36.4 mpg Estimated Range: 222 miles
Engine development is the costliest aspect of designing a new motorcycle. Manufacturers, always vigilant about the bottom line, sometimes spread out these costs by using the same engine in multiple models. The 2022 SuzukiGSX-S1000 is built around the 999cc inline-Four originally from the GSX-R1000 K5 (2005-2008), which won multiple AMA Superbike championships. Advantages of the K5 engine include a long-stroke design that delivers strong low and midrange power, a crankshaft/gearbox configuration that allows the twin-spar frame to run directly from the steering head to the swingarm pivot, and a proven track record of performance and reliability.
When the GSX-S1000 debuted for 2016, it was available in a naked version and a faired “F” version. Because the GSX-S was a sportbike designed for the street rather than the track, its detuned engine made less peak power than the GSX-R it was based on. Cam profiles and valve timing were mellower. Valves and the exhaust were made of steel rather than titanium. The tradeoff was a less expensive bike that was easier to live with thanks in large part to its more relaxed ergonomics.
Over time, successful spin-off models – like the Suzuki V-Strom 650 that was derived from the SV650 – take on a life of their own and follow their own development path. That’s the case with the GSX-S1000, which has been thoroughly overhauled for 2022 and is joined by two new sport-touring models, the GSX-S1000GT and saddle-bags-equipped GSX-S1000GT+ (we’ll have a test of the latter soon).
Visually, the new GSX-S1000 has much more aggressive, sharp-edged bodywork than its predecessor. It has angular panels flanking the larger fuel tank (5 gals., up from 4.5) and radiator, small MotoGP-style winglets, and a stacked headlight array that juts forward like a beak. It also has a slimmer tailsection and LED lighting all around. But the GSX-S received more than just a facelift.
New camshaft profiles, valve springs, throttle bodies, and airbox, and a revised 4-2-1 exhaust contribute to a 2-hp bump in peak power, a broader, smoother torque curve, and Euro 5 emissions compliance. On Jett Tuning’s dyno, the GSX-S1000 sent 136 hp and 73 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheel. Power climbs linearly to its peak at 10,200 rpm while torque spreads out wide like a mesa, with more than 60 lb-ft on tap from 4,300 rpm to 11,300 rpm. (See dyno chart at end of post.)
A new throttle-by-wire system enables three ride modes (Active, Basic, and Comfort) that adjust throttle response and power delivery. The GSX-S1000 is equipped with switchable, five-level traction control, a new up/down quickshifter, and Suzuki’s Easy Start and Low RPM Assist. And the 6-speed transmission is mated to a new slip/assist clutch.
From the first few moments in the GSX-S1000’s saddle until the last time I dropped the kickstand, the word that kept popping into my head was “smooth.” At idle, the engine hums dutifully, and spent gasses exiting the stubby exhaust seem to barely disturb the surrounding air. The riding position is pleasantly neutral, with a damped-mount aluminum handlebar that is 0.9 inch wider and 0.8 inch closer to the rider than on the previous model. The seat has been revised with more comfortable padding and a dished shape that cradles the rider.
Greg’s Gear Helmet: Fly Racing Sentinel Jacket: Fly Racing Strata Gloves: Fly Racing Brawler Pants: Fly Racing Resistance Jeans Boots: Fly Racing Milepost
Pulling away from stops and rowing up and down through the gears feels effortless. Like other slip/assist clutches, the Suzuki Clutch Assist System uses interlocking ramps that increase plate pressure during acceleration and provide slip as needed during aggressive deceleration and downshifts. The clutch requires only a light pull, and feel and engagement are spot-on. Both the clutch and brake levers are adjustable for reach.
Suzuki’s Bi-Directional Quick Shift system uses a gear-position sensor near the shifter that provides more precise response than quickshifters incorporated into the shift rod. Of the many quickshifters I’ve tested on a variety of different motorcycles, none have responded with such crisp, immediate engagement, especially in lower gears and on downshifts. No vagueness, no hiccups, just smooth, accurate gear changes.
Fueling and power delivery are close to faultless. Even the slightest movements in the throttle translate to small adjustments in speed with no hesitation or electronic delay. The connection between the rider’s right wrist and the rear wheel feels direct, almost intuitive. Likewise, large handfuls of throttle produce a rapid surge in thrust with no ap-parent peaks or valleys, the exhaust delivering a satisfying wail as the inline-Four spins up quickly.
In keeping with its Superbike pedigree, the GSX-S1000 has a massive twin-spar cast-aluminum main frame that wraps around the engine, as well as a robust cast-aluminum swingarm. Suspension is by KYB, with a fully adjustable 43mm inverted fork and a link-type monoshock that’s adjustable for preload and rebound. With damping tuned for the street, the suspension is responsive at speed and provides reassuring compliance on irregular pavement.
A pair of Brembo 4-piston radial-mount monoblock calipers provide stopping power at the front, squeezing fully floating 310mm rotors. They have good initial bite and progressive feel at the lever, slowing the 472-lb bike and its rider with authority. Out back, a Nissin 1-piston caliper squeezes a 240mm disc. ABS is standard but, like the traction control system, it is not lean-angle sensitive.
The GSX-S1000 rolls on Dunlop Roadsmart 2 sport-touring tires that walk a middle ground between grip and mileage. Their Intuitive Response Profile (IRP) provides a large, reassuring contact patch when leaned over in corners. The rubber is wrapped around six-spoke, 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels. On bikes with the Metallic Triton Blue paint scheme inspired by Suzuki’s MotoGP race livery, the wheels are color-matched to the bike; the wheels are black in the Metallic Matte Mechanical Gray colorway.
While negotiating one challenging series of corners after another, I continued to be impressed with how smooth and composed the GSX-S1000 felt. Its agreeable rider tri-angle, easy-to-operate controls, predictable handling, and silky power delivery help the bike work with the rider, not against them. There are no frustrating quirks, no “if only” caveats. But the GSX isn’t dull, either. It’s a well-engineered, precision-crafted perfor-mance machine that is a genuine pleasure to ride.
If there’s one area that left me wanting, however, it’s the instrumentation. The GSX’s monochrome LCD display is cluttered with information and, despite the screen’s adjust-able brightness, was difficult to read in direct sunlight. With vivid, easy-to-read TFT displays being the norm on many modern bikes, the GSX’s instrument panel looks dated. And while I appreciate the simplified switchgear, with a single mode button and a large up/down toggle on the left side to adjust settings, it isn’t intuitive.
It’s clear the GSX-S1000 was designed to meet an aggressive price target. The LCD instrument panel, the simplified electronic riding aids, the lack of cruise control, and other cost-saving measures enabled Suzuki to achieve an MSRP of $11,299. Other liter-class naked sportbikes from Japan cost significantly more – the Honda CB1000R retails for $12,999, and the Yamaha MT-10 is priced at for $13,999.
Suzuki has been smart about updating the GSX-S1000. It gave it a distinctive new look, improved power delivery, more comfortable ergonomics, and useful new features like throttle-by-wire, ride modes, and a fantastic quickshifter. Some manufacturers go all-in on IMU-enabled electronics, but they ratchet up the price. The GSX-S1000 is much improved from its predecessor yet still delivers solid value. Smooth is as smooth does.
2022 SUZUKI GSX-S1000 SPECS Base Price: $11,299 Warranty: 1 yr., unltd. miles Website:suzukicycles.com
ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse inline-Four, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 999cc Bore x Stroke: 73.4 x 59.0mm Compression Ratio: 12.2:1 Valve Insp. Interval: 15,000 miles Fuel Delivery: EFI w/ throttle-by-wire, 40mm throttle bodies x 4 Lubrication System: Wet sump, 3.6 qt. cap. Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch Final Drive: O-ring chain
CHASSIS Frame: Twin-spar cast aluminum frame & swingarm Wheelbase: 57.5 in. Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/3.9 in. Seat Height: 31.9 in. Suspension, Front: 43mm inverted fork, fully adj., 4.7 in. travel Rear: Single linkage shock, adj. spring preload & rebound, 5.1 in. travel Brakes, Front: Dual 310mm floating discs w/ 4-piston radial monoblock calipers & ABS Rear: Single 240mm disc w/ 1-piston caliper & ABS Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.5 x 17 in. Rear: Cast, 6.0 x 17 in. Tires, Front: 120/70-ZR17 Rear: 190/50-ZR17 Wet Weight: 472 lbs. Load Capacity: 408 lbs. GVWR: 880 lbs.
Heavyweight adventure bikes are built to munch miles and tackle trails. The brief sounds simple, but balancing the demands of tarmac and terrain is a subtle art. Most manufacturers favor one side of the on-/off-road equation. Instead of splitting the difference, though, the 2023 Triumph Tiger 1200 splits the field, catering to long-haul road trippers with the GT series and intrepid explorers with the Rally variants.
The thoroughly updated Tiger 1200 didn’t just assume a split identity, it also went on a crash diet, shedding a claimed 55 pounds. To pack on extra muscle, Triumph repurposed the 1,160cc inline-Triple from the 2022 Speed Triple 1200 RS to pump out 148 horsepower (at 9,000 rpm) and 96 lb-ft of torque (at 7,000 rpm). Surround that punchy powerplant with a lightweight trellis frame, a cast-aluminum Tri-Link swingarm with shaft final drive, and Showa semi-active suspension, and you end up with one capable cat.
The Tiger 1200 variants may share the same DNA, but they express different traits. The GT and Rally models have different headstock angles, suspension travel, damping rates, ride modes, and curb weights. Those differences allow the GT to pound the pavement while the Rally tears up the trail, with Pro and Explorer versions of each, the latter with more fuel capacity and other features for long-haul travel (including heated seats, a tire-pressure monitoring system, and blind-spot radar). With the latest-generation Tiger 1200 primed to take on the competition, we tested the GT Pro, GT Explorer, Rally Pro, and Rally Explorer (but not the base-model GT) variants on Portugal’s picturesque backroads and enduro tracks to determine whether these heavyweight adventurers can satisfy the needs of different ADV riders.
GO GET ’EM, TIGER
At the heart of the Tiger 1200 is Triumph’s liquid-cooled, 12-valve, 1,160cc inline-Triple engine. The mighty mill shares the same bore, stroke, and compression ratio as the Speed Triple 1200 RS, but a 270-degree crank, a 1-3-2 piston firing order, and shaft final drive endow the Tiger with a personality all its own. Those preparations outfit the Tiger 1200 for life on the open road and off the beaten path.
A steady torque curve and linear powerband make the Tiger ready to romp, with usable power throughout the rev range. In Tiger trim, the big Triple with a T-plane crank may not boast the most stimulating power profile in the class, but what the 1200 loses in outright horsepower numbers, it makes up for in character. Between 4,000-7,000 rpm, the engine emits a bellicose growl, and it roars up to its 9,500-rpm redline.
Unfortunately, that pleasing exhaust note is accompanied by extra vibrations just above 6,000 rpm. The footpegs buzz first and the vibes reach the bars in the higher registers. Luckily, the mill only spins 4,000 rpm at 70 mph in 6th gear, remaining comfortable for long-distance journeys. At a more spirited pace, those vibrations aren’t top of mind. During slower city riding, short shifting quelled the tremors and softened the power delivery.
That same approach benefits trail riding, too. On the road, the direct line between the rider’s right wrist and the rear wheel lets the Tiger pounce out of corners. The torque-rich midrange that suits the road, however, can overwhelm grip in the dirt. The tractable Triple is just as happy to spin up or chug along, and I quickly adapted my inputs to the conditions. Triumph’s ride modes also help tame the Tiger.
Road, Rain, and Sport ride modes come standard on all models and adjust the Triple’s character accordingly. The GT Pro and GT Explorer add Off-Road and Rider (custom) modes, and the Rally Pro and Rally Explorer go one step further by adding an Off-Road Pro mode. Each mode dials the Tiger’s throttle response, damping settings, ABS, and traction control to the occasion, allowing the big-bore ADV to adapt to any environment.
The Road and Rain modes live up to their names with usable power and increased ABS and TC intervention. The Tiger bears its claws in Sport mode, with a stiffened suspension, reduced traction control, and peppy throttle response that encourages a lively pace. Off-Road lowers the thresholds of both traction control and ABS actuation, while Off-Road Pro disables both for unfettered fun. With a dedicated button at the left switchgear, riders can quickly toggle between the ride modes while the Tiger is on the move.
ONE AGILE CAT
While the Tiger’s engine is the star of the show, its new Showa semi-active suspension is hardly an understudy. It offers automatic rear preload adjustment and two damping maps – Road and Off-Road – which are preselected with on-road and off-road ride modes, and damping is adjustable over nine levels within each map, from Comfort (soft) to Sport (firm). Users can fine-tune the settings on the fly to deal with pothole-strewn roads, fast-paced twisties, technical trails, long-haul cruising – you name it.
Regardless of conditions, neither end of the nine-setting spectrum felt too spongy or hard-edged. Even in Comfort mode, the fork yields sufficient support under heavy braking without diving excessively. Conversely, the shock doesn’t buck the rider out of the seat in the Sport setting. Each mode prepares the chassis for differing conditions, but the system’s electronically controlled valves preserve the Tiger’s composure.
Users will inevitably find the suspension’s limits off the beaten path, but due to the Rally’s 8.7 inches of suspension travel and the GT’s 7.9 inches, bottoming the Tiger isn’t easy. Of course, a brisk pace on rutty trails will tax the suspension, but the semi-automatic system remained stout on the fire roads and technical singletracks we explored on the Tiger 1200 Rally Pro.
In concert with the adaptive suspenders, Triumph outfits the Tiger 1200 with superbike-worthy Brembo Stylema calipers. A Magura HC-1 radial front master cylinder provides precise feel and feedback at the lever, and braided hoses maintain consistent performance. The system’s finesse shined when modulating the binders on the trail, yet there’s more than enough bite and stopping power when hammering the brakes into a paved hairpin. The setup’s dependable braking performance increases confidence and complements the Tiger’s sporty ambitions.
Thanks to the communicative and responsive chassis, including a new, 12-lbs-lighter trellis frame, the Tiger 1200’s sharp on-road handling belies its 540- to 575-lb curb weight (depending on variant). The heavyweight adventurer feels light on its toes, and correcting a line mid-turn is effortless. As expected, the GT series attacks the tarmac best thanks to its 19-inch/18-inch cast-aluminum wheels shod with street-optmized Metzeler Tourance 90/10 tires. However, the Rally Pro and Rally Explorer are no slouches on the asphalt, even with 21-inch/18-inch tubeless spoked wheels shod with more dirt-oriented Metzeler Karoo tires. Despite the Rally’s slight disadvantage on the street, riders with even modest off-road ambitions will benefit from the trim’s capability without losing too much pavement performance.
In the dirt, it’s easy to tell when the Tiger breaks traction, allowing the rider to adjust throttle application accordingly. After sliding the Tiger through several corners during the off-road day, a ham-fisted whack on the throttle quickly brought the rear wheel around. Luckily, the Off-Road mode’s traction control helped me save the potential low-side crash. Expert off-roaders will spring for the Off-Road Pro’s aidless experience, but the standard Off-Road setting’s safety nets will suit many novice-to-intermediate riders.
RIDE THE TIGER
The Tiger 1200’s ergonomics puts the rider in a commanding position to tackle both on- and off-road sections, with a roomy cockpit that offers enough space for the rider to move fore and aft. The two Explorer variants raise the handlebars to accommodate the larger 7.9-gallon fuel tank (up from 5.3 gallons on the GTs), but it doesn’t sacrifice comfort in the process.
While the Tiger’s ergos fit my 5-foot, 10-inch frame, results will vary based on the rider’s dimensions and weight. The same goes for the windscreen. In the lowest setting, the screen pushed oncoming air up to my shoulders. The highest position shifted that current to the peak of my helmet, introducing reverberating wind noise and batting about my head. For that reason, I kept the one-hand adjustable screen in the low setting, but customers may remedy the situation with a windscreen extension from Triumph’s accessories catalog.
On the technology front, the Tiger 1200’s user interface is intuitive and straightforward. A dedicated home button on the right switchpod opens the primary menu, and a joystick at the left lets riders quickly toggle through settings. Unlike some of its competitors, the Tiger’s folder system is easy to navigate and requires a minimal learning curve. In certain modes, the 7-inch TFT display even prompts riders to revert to the previous ride settings, allowing users to seamlessly jump back on the trail without resetting ABS, traction control, and suspension damping options.
The Tiger’s new blindspot detection system, which is standard on the Explorer models, matches that convenience with safety. Similar to the tech found on the Ducati Multistrada V4 S, the Continental-developed system utilizes a rear-facing radar and mirror-mounted lights to inform riders when other vehicles enter their blindspot. The tech accurately detected both cars and motorcycles during my time with the Tiger 1200, but the light location doesn’t always grab the rider’s attention. Whereas the Multistrada places the notification lights at the top outer corner of each mirror, Triumph positions them at the lower edge, which may not be in the user’s line of view when looking far up the road. The system works just fine, but Tiger 1200 riders may want to do a double take before committing to a lane change.
Other useful features that are standard on the higher-spec Pro and Explorer models include cruise control, a quickshifter, cornering lights, hill hold control, LED auxiliary lights, heated grips, a centerstand, a skid plate, engine protection bars (Explorers and Rally Pro), and fuel tank protection bars (Rally Explorer).
OUT OF THE BAG
With the introduction of the 2023 Tiger 1200, Triumph returns its biggest cat to the adventure lineup. It may have taken Hinckley a few years to overhaul the heavyweight ADV, but the 55-pound weight savings, semi-active suspension, T-Plane inline-Triple, and other upgrades were worth the wait. The GT and Rally lines make all that fun accessible to both worldly travelers and rugged overlanders.
Pricing starts at $19,100 for the standard Tiger 1200 GT, which is competitively priced and equipped to take on its main rival, the BMW R 1250 GS. The higher-spec Pro and Explorer variants add more features to suit different on-road, off-road, and long-haul missions. The agility of the GT, GT Pro, and Rally Pro along with long-distance capabilities of the GT Explorer and Rally Explorer position the Tiger 1200 as a suitable option for all styles of adventure riding. Yes, balancing the demands of tarmac and terrain is a subtle art, but Triumph proves that it’s possible to have the best of both worlds. Choose your own adventure.
2023 Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro / GT Explorer / Rally Pro / Rally Explorer Specs
Base Price: $21,400 / $23,100 / $22,500 / $24,200 Website:triumphmotorcycles.com Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse inline-Triple, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 1,160cc Bore x Stroke: 90.0 x 60.8mm Horsepower: 148 hp @ 9,000 rpm (claimed) Torque: 96 lb-ft @ 7,000 rpm (claimed) Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated slip/assist wet clutch w/ quickshifter Final Drive: Shaft Wheelbase: 61.4 in. Rake/Trail: 24.1 degrees/4.7 in. (GT models) / 23.7 degrees/4.4 in. (Rally models) Seat Height: 33.5/34.3 in. (GT models) / 34.4/35.2 in. (Rally models) Wet Weight: 540 lbs. / 562 lbs. / 549 lbs. / 575 lbs. (claimed) Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gals. (Pro models) / 7.9 gals. (Explorer models)