AN EXPANDABLE METAPHOR FOR ALL THAT’S POSSIBLE ON TWO WHEELS
If there's one material device that defines motorcycle adventure, I submit it's not a knobby-tired ADV bike. It's not 12 inches of suspension travel. It's not a 28-liter fuel tank or a windshield or a skid plate. It's the nob1e yet humble bungee cord.
Our Senior Editor’s pick for the single-best motorcycle you can ride today
1290 Super Adventure
When the KTM 1290 Super Duke R concept broke cover at EICMA in 2012, we couldn’t believe our eyes. It seemed so over the top—but that was then. Now we’ve lived with a Super Duke R for more than a year. And more to the point for an ADV rider, stuffing the 1,301cc twin into the brand-new KTM 1290 Super Adventure makes complete sense.
We visit the second-largest island in the Mediterranean to ride Aprilia’s new more adventure-oriented Caponord 1200 Rally
What came first, the sardine or Sardinia? Short answer: It’s generally believed that the oily little fish, once bountiful in that part of the Mediterranean, got its name from the island, whose colorful history includes the Nuragic civilization of 1500 B.C. (thousands of their towers still dot the island) and the Phoenicians, who founded the capital city of Cagliari in 1000 B.C.
The Yamaha FJRl300 has long been a staple of sport-minded travelers. Those looking for a lighter, more affordable alternative now have the all-new FJ-09 to think about. Based on Yamaha’s FZ-09 sport naked, the FJ-09 makes use of the same 847CC cross-plane triple that powers the FZ, the only difference being the mapping of the D-Mode throttle-response characteristics resulting in smoother response and delivery than its naked sibling.
If sport-touring appeals to you but you're looking for more versatility than an über-size sporty bike, a street-oriented adventure-tourer like Kawasaki’s new-to-the-US 1,043cc inline-four-powered Versys 1000 is a bike worth considering.
If there were any lingering doubts that the revived Indian is here to stay, a relaxing ride on the 2015 Roadmaster sends them into the dust at the side of a long road. As I wandered down the Mississippi River south of Minneapolis in the heart of American touring country, the bike’s plush leather seat and excellent ergonomics were highly reminiscent of the company’s Chieftain bagger, which makes perfect sense because the Roadmaster is essentially a fully decked-out Chieftain.
The middle ground is good, especially when that ground is dirt
Tiger 800 XC
For those who take serious issue with adventure-touring machines growing larger and more street-oriented year after year, looking at a middleweight ADV might be the solution. Currently, only Triumph and BMW (F800GS) have completely modern versions in their lineups.
A quick trip riding the Spanish Riviera on the Costa del Sol
Word-association time: You're a motorcyclist, and I say "Europe." You probably think “Alps” and for good reason. Those picturesque, twisting mountain passes in Switzerland, Northern Italy, Austria, and spilling over into France are pure magic.
Push or pull? In our everyday life, most of us probably use GPS to pull us someplace; TomTom's new Rider model has a different approach. An explanation: In general principles, the hardware of TomTom’s Rider functions like most other GPS devices, reading satellites to determine your position, speed, elevation, etc.
You want to stir up a hornet's nest? Forget about politics, religion, and stuff like that. Just ask a group of motorcyclists about technology. Start with something like traction control or ride by wire. Half will tell you they’re Satan’s handiwork, while the other half are all for it, viewing the traditionalists as Luddites who think motorcycling started heading straight down the porcelain convenience with adoption of pneumatic tires and automatic oiling systems.
Celebrating four decades of touring innovation by a man who's been along for the entire ride
I knew what it was. I was pretty sure I knew why it was. And I thought I knew what it could become. But as the ensuing 40 years proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, I had not the faintest clue what the future would hold for motorcycles called Gold Wing.
No single product did more to change the world of motorcycle touring than the Vetter fairing. A strong statement, but the numbers back it up. Between 1971 and 1981, Vetter sold about 689,000 Windjammers alone, in addition to the earlier Phantoms, trunks, and saddlebags.
On the gas in the land of Ducati, Aprilia, and Moto Guzzi
Bruno de Prato
From Siena we head east by southeast toward Sinalunga and then Perugia, going through the hills surrounding lake Trasimeno. (The small Magione Race Track lies just east.) Past Perugia we can either ride south on the SS75 or southeast on SS147 then rejoin the SS75 south, toward Foligno, then to the SS3 to Trevi and Campello sul Clitunno, and then to SS4 to Antrodoco, L'Aquila.
ADV meets MTB: Some guys just can’t get enough of life on two wheels
It's a crazy/genius idea: Riding a dirt bike, you see some beautiful country, perfect for a mountain bike too. So why not opt for a little two-wheeled surf and turf, a combo meal of the best in the backcountry? No one’s really sure who came up with the idea, but seven years ago enduro racer Russell Bobbitt strapped a mountain bike to a Suzuki DR200 and headed off for an adventure.
We know you'd never make a mistake like running out of gas, but what about one of your riding buds? Or what happens when there's a big bang deep down between your feet, and suddenly you can see that stuff Kevin Cameron is always talking about inside your engine?
Back in the "good" old days of magneto ignition and leather belt final drives, roadside repairs on a motorcycle were the rule, not the exception. Today, so long as you’re not a crasher, you can probably ride a new bike across a continent without doing anything more than topping off the tank every few hundred miles and maybe changing the oil and filters.
Every rider probably has a personal bucket list. If you're all about sportbikes, maybe it includes the world's famous racetracks. But my list is full of far-away destinations, remote regions, and roads less traveled. Floating to the top of my bucket: a ride along the historic El Camino Real in Baja.
The Big Blocks’ wide knob spacing helps make these tires great in the dirt but not so grippy on the road. Consequently they lost out to Continental’s TKC80 in our Baja testing. Still, they’re priced affordably, and since big adventure bikes have an insatiable appetite for rubber, this provides a real incentive.
This is our favorite ADV tire. They bring out the very best in your bike off highway, but they work well on asphalt too. They are easily the single best performance modification you can make to a big ADV machine. The shortest life we recorded on a set of TKC80s was less than 1,000 miles; our best was almost 3,000.
With a more closed pattern than the TKC80, the TKC70 promises not only good highway performance but longer tire life as well. In Baja, we thought a knobby front would have been a better choice, given all the sand and silt we rode through-we'd like to try a TKC70 rear with a TKC80 front.
Just as we were going to press, Avon announced its new Trail Rider tire. Replacing the Distanzia, this closed-pattern tire promises good wet grip and high mileage. It’s available in six front and 12 rear sizes, and well be providing a full evaluation as soon as we have some time on them.
IN 1974 IT WAS THAT RAREST OF THINGS A FAST GLAMOROUS, COMFORTABLE, RELIABLE, TWO-UP EUROPEAN CAFE RACER WITH GOOD LUGGAGE
Memory is an unreliable tape recorder, but I think the first time I ever heard the term "sport-touring" was right after the BMW R90S came out in 1974. It was also the first time I heard the words, “I may have to buy a BMW motorcycle some day,” come out of my own mouth.
REDISCOVERING THE JOYS OF SIMPLE TRAVEL ON THE DUCATI SCRAMBLER
Who hasn't had the dream? Hop on a bike, throw a sleeping bag on the back, and go where life takes you. Forget about slavin' away for the man; you're a cowboy wandering the West. Seeking adventure and truth. Enlightening others with your freedom.
RIDING LANZAROTE’S MULTI STRADAS ON THE DUCATI MULTISTRADA
The Canary Islands might be just off the coast of northwestern Africa, yet they're under Spanish rule. The archipelago unique in its wide variance of microclimates: The western islands are lush, while Lanzarote, the eastern most, is severely arid. Yet something these islands all have in common is the intense trade winds that blow every day.
BMW'S LIQUID-COOLED R1200RT FLAT-TWIN SPORT-TOURING IN THE ARID LAND OF RED ROCK
They say water is life. But when the BMW R1200RT was redesigned and reintroduced for 2014, it gained the radiators that had been first introduced on the GS a year before, and traditionalists wondered if the we11-balanced spirit of Munich's Reise Tourer bike would survive this and the many other upgrades.
ADV bikes and adventure-touring have given rise to billed hybrid helmets like the Touratech Aventuro Carbon. This is really three helmets in one: Without tools, it can transform from an ADV helmet into a face shield-less MX lid or no-visor street protection. The large faceport makes it goggle friendly. XS-XXL/$649
Cycle World’s Mark Hoyer chooses the Shoei Hornet X2 as his go-to adventure/dual-sport helmet. Notable features include a new V-460 visor that’s longer and wider than the previous model’s. The interior liner is easy to remove and offers loads of adjustment. There’s even a “cheekpad exchange program” at no cost. XS-XXL/$594.99-$715.99
Flip-front modular helmets are popular in Europe, and Shoei’s Neotec is one of our favorites. The helmet is quiet and vents well, and an integrated sun shield flips down à la a jet pilot’s helmet. Standard Shoei fit. DOT-approved (not Snell). Helmets like this can be a great choice for riders who are living on their bikes for weeks at a time. XS-XXL/$648.99-$662.99
An open-face helmet with a flip-down clear face shield and a retracting eyeshade, the Schuberth Metropolitan 1 is notable because it’s Bluetooth compatible with your GPS. You’ll need Schuberth's optional SRC-System package, but it’s a super-dean installation; the microphones and speakers are pre-installed. Modular design lets you mix and match features for several hundred combinations. XS-XXL/$550
Just like any touring bike, a helmet has to cover a lot of varied territory. And we all know there’s no single more important piece of gear. The good news? We’ve never had as much selection as we do now. Here are four of our latest test lids.
Rev’lt! is a Dutch company that produces a full range of riding gear, from traditional leather jackets and road suits to textile ADV gear. The Defender Pro CTX jacket and pants shown here employ a “system” philosophy with add-on liners and cooling vests, jacket $899, pants $639 revitusa.com
For more than 30 years, Aerostich suits have been the gold standard for riders who live on their motorcycles. This year, the Duluth, Minnesota-based company announced a major update of its Road crofter suit-the new R-3. A suit like this is an investment, but an Aerostich will last for years. It’s one of the most versatile pieces of gear any rider can own. One-piece $1,127 aerostich.com
If you’re only riding for an afternoon, it’s easy to pick the right riding gear. But what if it’s a week and you’ll be crossing a couple of time zones? And how about riding on both the dirt and the street? ADV bikes need to handle it all and so does a rider’s gear.