Tiger 1200 Explorer - Other new Adventure Bikes in 2014
Since I purchased my Tiger Explorer in October 2012 a number of new Adventure bikes have appeared. The Explorer quickly
overtook the BMW GS1200 as the best selling bike in the UK however the competition is hotting up.
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I was in Italy in July 2014 when I saw my first KTM1190 Adventure R and I got to sit on
it. It is very tall in the saddle, light and nicely built, I think it looks better in real life than
in photos. The KTM comes with a 24 Litre tank and the owner assured me he could
better 60 mpg cruising at 70mph which gave over 300 miles per tank (I am not so
sure). At higher speeds he reckoned to get 50 + which is much better than the old
I test road the regular KTM1190 Adventure in August 2014. It does feel light and at
5'8" I found it slim and manageable. The seat is hard but it is well shaped. I thought
the bars were a little too narrow and the standard screen was small. I like the clocks
and all the buttons on the left hand bar which allow the rider to modify the settings.
Clear instrumentation really helps as well. At 220kg + fuel the KTM feels good to ride,
the tyres are wide but the steering still felt quick. The engine produces 150bhp
which is more than the Explorer. On my ride a Hayabusa came past and I followed,
accelerating hard out of a roundabout I hung on to his number plate up to 130 when
he backed off (That is millimeters per hectare officer). The fuelling is well sorted for
a V twin. I could hold 5th gear at 30 mph with no chain snatch. I found it easy to
speed on the KTM and the lack of cruise control would worry my licence. Brakes,
handling, gearbox, tyre feedback were all good. When I got back on the Tiger
Explorer my bike felt turbine smooth and much more refined, the Explorer is a better
tourer but the KTM is the better Adventure bike. The normal version is over £14,500
on the road which is £3,000 more than my Triumph, The Adventure R is £4,500 more
than the Explorer. I don't think I need 150 bhp on a bike, everything happens so fast
and the traction control was very active keeping the front end down. I like the Street
and Rain settings which offer sensible power curves. Mine had the electronic
suspension package and I really don't know if I like them. I prefer to set my bike up
to suit me and keep it there.
The photo left shows the new KTM1050 which is a lower level entry Adventure bike
for £10,900. It could be a good buy if KTM have sorted out the fuel economy. Still a
big bike, it has street orientated suspension, wheels and tyres but it can be ridden
off road. A 1050 KTM that offers the same power as an 800 Tiger.
In August 2014 I test rode the Aprilia Caponord 1200. An interesting bike and well
priced at £12,000 with luggage. The ground clearance is low and the Caponord is
more a dressed up Dorsoduro. However I could get my feet down OK. The engine
was smooth and with 120bhp the Caponord performed well. Lots of mid range and
perhaps a bit flat at the top of the rev range. The fuelling is good for a V with no
snatching and smooth acceleration. The handling, ride and brakes were all good.
This bike is a serious contender as a tourer but not a real Adventure bike. Mine
came with cruise control but I could not figure out how it worked, partly because the
instrumentation is too small, hard to read in sunlight and hard to understand. My
main beef is all the wires and cables running under the right side of the engine,
being vulnerable and untidy. Still a nice bike overall and much better than the
Aprilia deserve special praise for keeping the exhaust low to ensure the luggage is
nice and slim and it does not have to lose space to occupy an enormous silencer.
The Caponord is another bike with all electronic, self adjusting, it knows how you
want to take the next bend, suspension. Hmmmm, see comments on the KTM.
Ducati Multi Strada 1200 Adventure bike. There were several of these in the Alps
and they all seemed to be mint and ridden by riders who don't do rain or off road or
use the edge of their tyres. Our UK bikes had covered 3,000 miles in some
appalling weather to get to the same place and just looked shabby in comparison.
The 1200 engine produces 150 bhp and the Multistrada is nice and light. Big power
seems to lurk above 6,000 revs so it needs to be revved to produce the goods and it
is lumpy at low revs. I might get to ride one, but I doubt I will own one just yet. I will
wait to see if high mileage examples appear to prove they can be ridden 15,000
miles per year. (2017 still waiting to see a high miler!)
I have ridden the Yamaha MT-09 Tracer, it is low, light and has a fabulous engine, a
real sports bike. However the seat is hard and the suspension is awfully cheap.
Back to back with a 2015 Tiger 800XCx the Tracer is too uncomfortable. Also the
Tracer was showing rust in places where Triumphs never rust e.g Rear Shock,
exhaust, fittings. I think Yamaha have pulled off a masterstroke for £8,200. Around
210 kg fully fuelled and 113bhp blimey. However it is built to match the price.
The new Kawasaki Versys 650 below left and the super light (Super slow) CCM450
below are interesting options.
The KTM1050 (Below right) is also a great bike at a good price, power is down on
the old 990 and 1190 but it should be torquey. If they have sorted the fuelling and
massively improved economy it would be a sensible choice however no cruise
control. KTM are rumoured to be building an 800cc middleweight adventure due out
in 3 years, let us wait and see.