The GS is still brillant bikes: easy to ride both on-road and off.
The Triumph has a slight edge over the Beemer in terms of poser and comfort, but the British bike can't match the GS's handling.
The 1190 Adventure is fun, but a little disappointing off-road, because it's the Africa Twin that's the easy off-road winner - and its price makes it a bargain. Although it is out-classed on tarmac in this company, if you are serious about off-road riding and want a capable tourer then this is where your money shoud go.
1 - Ducati
2 - GS
3 - Triumph, Honda
5 - KTM
MCN Sports Editor
"Honda Africa twin is in a different class"
The Honda is in a different class and feels like an off-road bike. Any one of us, regardless of ability, felt most confident on it, which makes it more fun. You feel like you're on top of it, the bars are in good position and it's more accurate, thanks to the more off-road wheel sizes. If you want to change line by a couple of centimeters, you can, It only weighs a few kilos less than the BMW, but it feels lighter. It's a bit too high-geared, tut it's not a big problem.
Just getting the Ducati off its sidestand takes some doing and it looks huge, but I'm amazed how natural the riding position is off-road. It's a bike where the faster and more confident you are, the more it rewards. The supsension is amazing; the front tracks well, the rear is controlled over bumps and jumps and it doesn't bottom out. I didn't hit the sump once. Turning the TC off makes it feel more alive and the engine is incredibley smoth at low rpm. I think for Ducati's first off-road attempt, it's genuilely stunning.
They must have had some very good people invoved devloping it.
I'm dialled into the GS having just done the GS Trophy, but I'd never been a big fan. Now the more I ride it the more it grows on me. The Telelever front end, which I don't normally like, gives an assured feel. There are times when you brace yourself for a big bump and it just soaks it up. The motor runs at almost tickover and once you get used to the big dollop of torque at the bottom end, you can use it to help you turn.
The biges disappointment is the KTM. They're an off-road company and the DNA generally runs throught their bikes. I'm a fan of the 1190 Adventure R - it's an absolute weapon - but the standard 1190 jsut doesn't work. the handlebars are too narrow and don't offer much leverage. The front feels vague, and there's lots of transmission noise. the engine is punchy down low, but not in a nice way.
The Triumph Explorer can do it all and is a big improvement over the last model. The riding position is better and now allows you to get further forward over the front when you're standing up. the power is smooth, but the front is vague and there's no real mechanical grip. The Triumph went everywhere the other bikes did, but it feels the most out of its comfort zone.