Friday, April 20, 2012

2012 650 Adventure-Touring Shootout: BMW G650GS vs. Kawasaki Versys vs. ...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

2012 Montreal Moto Show: BMW


It was worth the trip.

One bike I absolutely wanted to see at this moto show was the G650GS Sertao…a welcomed Dakar comeback.

The Sertao is really a dual purpose adventure bike.  It is light and has enough power to comfortably hit the highway.  The taller windscreen has a decent wind protection for higher speed.    The engine is economic to run – which is appreciated when gas prices keep soaring.

Furthermore, this motorcycle comes with all required off road accessories: skid plate, handguards, heated grips (optional?), and wheels adapted for more difficult trails.


Summary of what I like:

  • good enough for commuting;
  • economic;
  • able to comfortably accommodate a passenger;
  • already adapted for intensive trails, albeit the tires could be more aggressive;
  • rugged style. 

When comparing this motorcycle to smaller dual sport motorcycles, the benefits are obvious: more power, but still easy on gas, undoubtedly more capable and comfortable on long highway rides even with a passenger.

Because of its high ground clearance and lightness, this is one, or perhaps even the most appealing dual purpose adventure bike.  It is better adapted than any of the bigger adventure bikes as the 1200GS, Super Tenere or the Multi-Strada on tougher trails when a lighter bike is required (mud, big rocks or logs).

At the moto show, when I finally got a chance to sit on this bike (I was not the only one drooling), I noted that the seat comfort was…ok. But overall, I really like this bike and I will certainly consider it as my next motorcycle.

The minuses: maintenance fees scare me a little since my mechanical skills are limited.  As an example, the valve adjustment cycle is about 6000 miles… that means many vi$it$ to the dealer.  While browsing motorcycle forums, I noticed that many people do the valve adjustment task by themselves.  If you are like me…mechanically challenged, you could probably find a good soul on a dedicated forum to teach you how to do this task.

About wheels.  It would be interesting for BMW to adopt tubeless wheels similar to the Super Tenere – that would ease tire repair out in the wild.

Overall, kudos to BMW for getting back on the market with this superb bike which meets many of my adventurist expectations.

Next:  First 2012 adv ride report

Thursday, April 5, 2012

2012 Montreal Moto Show: Suzuki



Best new 2012 adventure bike?

Yes, I’m talking about the Adventure version of the V-Strom 2012 (or EXP as seen on this picture).

I still keep a great impression of when I first sat on this bike.  The seat: the best I have tried so far (I hope that it was not an aftermarket seat!) and the riding position is perfect.  Everything seems to fit and even the size of the bike is just right.  

The style… definitely Japanese.  Every time I look at it, I can’t help thinking about  Ultraman (Winking smile) probably because of the headlights…but not ugly - I like it.

The aluminum panniers from SW-Motech (rebranded for Suzuki) are well assorted.  Yes, I want this bike!

But I must keep my head cool and also mention the negative aspects:

  1. The weight: it is too high.  This motorcycle should lose between 40 to 60 pounds, and that would still be much more than the BMW Sertao.
  2. The valve adjustment cycle could be better; if I recall it is around 10000 miles.  The new reference is the Super Tenere with 24000 miles.  Yamaha has set the bar high.

By the way, the people at Suzuki used racks that hold the motorcycle straight on some of their demos.  It gives a much better idea of the riding position when you can put your feet on both pegs.



I could not pass by the venerable DRZ-400 without having a peak at it.  It’s no surprise that this bike is so appreciated by people who prefer dust to asphalt without excluding the later.  And when I say dust, I mean a lot more than gravel roads.  This bike seems to be able to pass anywhere.  Its 400cc engine has more torque than smaller 250cc dual sport bikes for a similar price - which is a big advantage.

The ground clearance is pretty high and this is surprising when you first sit on it.  I don’t know if we can speak of comfort with this type of motorcycle: if you are always sitting when riding, it is most likely not the kind of bike you need.  However, if you travel more than 50 miles on paved roads before accessing your trails, the ride may seem a little long.

I like this bike even if it is not as modern as others in the same category.  But this is a genuine dual sport motorcycle – so a great week-end bike to hit the trails, period.

Last stop: BMW

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

2012 Montreal Moto Show: Yamaha


War is war!

Could the Japanese motorcycle makers’ current interest for the adventure bike market be the response to BMW for kicking their asses with the S1000RR? A revenge against the GS?  A way to regain lost market shares?  Or are those manufacturers simply answering growing consumer demand for adventure motorcycles?

The answer does not really matter.  The real impact however is a much broader choice for the adventurers compared to 5 years ago.

In my opinion, Yamaha is proposing one of the most interesting adventure bikes with the Super Tenere.  Visually speaking, it is a success.  One of the most appealing bikes on the market with an original design.

I owned a Yamaha for 7 years, a V-Star 1100.  Attention to details was remarkable.  But ouch! maintenance fees where just too high because of the valve adjustment rate: 7000km (4500 miles) .  And…I had to change the seat…Still, I really liked that motorcycle.

But, about the Super Tenere.  Comfort wise, my first impression was good. However, I found the bike a little too big for my taste.  Valve adjustment cycle is 38000km (24000 miles), which is unique (!) and makes that motorcycle more affordable over a long period of time.  Autonomy wise, the bike is good for 320 km (200 miles) between refills.  This is more than acceptable.

But what about the off-road aspect?  This motorcycle’s only sin is its weight.  I think weight is the main weakness of the new Japanese adventure bikes (Super Tenere and also the CrossTourer).  You can compare your motorcycle to man’s best friend – a dog… and the weight of your motorcycle to the fang size of your dog: when you’ll lose control in an unexpected situation, you’ll feel the difference.  So off-road capabilities are limited…right?

Well, this video seems to contradict whatever I said about the weight of this bikeSurprised smile.

Enter video caption here
Next stop: Suzuki