By the numbers: giant adventure tourer showdown

Dailies -


Adventure_Showdown.jpgWith the release of the 2010 Yamaha Super Tenere and the Ducati Multistrada 1200, there’s now five serious adventure tourers competing for your round-the-world budget. We’ve broken them down by their performance figures  to help you decide which one’s best. >

All these numbers come straight from the manufacturers. We’ve chosen to use dry instead of wet weights since the relatively large difference in tank sizes would artificially skew the comparisons. While these aren’t the weights you’ll experience as you try to navigate across a sandy slope, they do lead to the fairest comparison possible. We’ve italicized what we feel is the winner in each category; in the case of rider aids, this is a bit subjective, feel free to decide which setup works best for you. We’ve thrown the originator of the current adventure tourer archetype, the 1980 BMW R80G/S into the mix just to give you an idea how far things have come.

BMW R1200GS:  110bhp @ 7,750rpm
Ducati Multistrada 1200  150bhp @ 9,250rpm
Yamaha Super Tenere  110bhp @ 7,250rpm
KTM 990 Adventure  105bhp @ 8,250rpm
Suzuki V-Strom 1000  98bhp @ 7,400rpm
’80 BMW R80G/S:  50bhp @ 6,500rpm

BMW R1200GS:  88lb/ft @ 6,000rpm
Ducati Multistrada:  88lb/ft @ 7,500rpm

Super Tenere:  85lb/ft @ 6,000rpm
KTM Adventure:  74lb/ft @ 6,250rpm
V-Strom 1000:  74lb/ft@ 6,400 rpm
’80 R80G/S  41lb/ft @ 5,000 rpm

Dry Weight
BMW R1200GS:  203kg (448 lbs)
Ducati Multistrada:  189kg (417lbs)
Super Tenere:  244kg (538lbs)
KTM Adventure:  209kg (461lbs)
V-Strom 1000:  207kg (456lbs)
’80 R80G/S:  186kg (410lbs)

Power to weight (bhp:kg)
BMW R1200GS:  .54:1
Ducati Multistrada:  .79:1
Super Tenere:  .45:1
KTM Adventure:  .50:1
V-Strom 1000:  .47:1
’80 R80G/S:  .27:1

Torque to weight (lb/ft:kg)
BMW R1200GS:  .43:1
Ducati Multistrada:  .47:1
Super Tenere:  .35:1
KTM Adventure:  .35:1
V-Strom 1000:  .36:1
’80 R80G/S:  .22:1

Tank Size
BMW R1200GS:  5.3 gallons
Ducati Multistrada:  5.3 gallons
Super Tenere:  6.1 gallons
KTM Adventure:  5.2 gallons US
V-Strom 1000:  5.8 gallons
’80 R80G/S:  5.2 gallons

Front Wheel
BMW R1200GS: 19″
Ducati Multistrada: 17″
Super Tenere: 19″
KTM Adventure: 21″
V-Strom 1000: 19″
’80 R80G/S: 21″

Rider Aids
BMW R1200GS: optional and fully-defeatable ABS
Ducati Multistrada: push-button adjustment of suspension height, power delivery and traction control, fully-defeatable ABS
Super Tenere: combined brakes, non-defeatable ABS, three-mode traction control, two-mode power delivery
KTM Adventure: fully-defeatable ABS
V-Strom 1000: none
’80 R80G/S: balls

BMW R1200GS:  $14,950
Ducati Multistrada:  $14,995
Super Tenere:  $16,000 (est)
KTM Adventure:  $14,898
V-Strom 1000:  $9,799
’80 R80G/S: n/a

As you can see, the new Multistrada comes out on top in terms of performance, but its 17″ front wheel, street-biased tires and lack of engine or frame protection means its off-road capability is extremely limited. This comparison is very unflattering for Super Tenere; it’s the heaviest bike here by 77lbs and, thanks to the strong Yen, it’ll likely be the most expensive too. That weight, combined with the 19″ front wheel and non-defeatable ABS is also going to limit its ability off-road.

All that means the BMW R1200GS and KTM 990 Adventure are, in our minds at least, still the leaders in this category. Both are genuinely capable off-road, fast on it and comfortable over long distances. If the high prices put you off, the Suzuki V-Strom looks like a bargain. Sure it’d need a couple grand in modifications before it could hit the dirt, but even with the add-ons, it’d still be the cheapest of this group. 

  • Russ

    One of each please.

  • Troy Smith

    Where’s the 800GS? That’s the one i’m lusting for.

    • Wes Siler

      We wanted to look at how the Super Tenere and Multistrada stacked up to their direct competitors, the 800GS is a lot smaller and competes in its own class of mid-size adventure bikes.

      • Wes Siler

        Having said that, the F800GS’s power to weight ratio is .46:1, slightly better than the Super Tenere’s.

        • Troy Smith

          Personally, power numbers are of relatively little importance in an adventure tourer. What’s important is smooth delivery, especially at crawling speeds.

          Also, a low empty weight, and the ability to carry a lot of weight are very important to me.

          And suspension capability and ergonomic comfort are critical.

          Bonus if it’s really ugly.

          For what it’s worth, my experience owning a v-strom 650 for a few years and also having spent some time on a ktm 950 is that the v-strom is surprisingly capable but crippled by inadequate suspension. I had it in some relatively gnarly spots though, including a fair amount of single-track trail. I’m not saying it was ideal, but it will do it. And i got it for under $5k.

          Also did a 17 day 2-up camping dual sport (80/20 street bias) tour on the wee-strom and (aside from the weak suspension) it performed spectacularly.

          Power was never an issue. Ground clearance and suspension were.

  • AdvRider

    The V Strom really should not be in the mix as it would make a terrible adventure bike. I think the BMW 800GS should be in and the V Strom out. I am not saying that the V Strom is in anyway a poor motorcycle it is just that I feel it is in the same league as the other bikes. In fact I almost bought a real nice used 2008 V Strom 1000 but I waited too long and missed the deal. My pick of the bunch would be the BMW R1200GS if I was to pick from this list. It is a proven machine with unmatched aftermarket support. Plus it is a BMW…..

    • Alex

      @ advrider: have you actually ridden a bike in an adventure mode? have you actually ridden the V-strom AND the 1200gs on multi thousand mile trips to compare? I have. The GS is a loser in every category, period. And I was comparing a DL650, not the 1000. I’ve done both. The BMW is a distant second to the strom

      • jconli1

        I have. Nearly 65k miles on both flavors of Strom, and about as many on various flavors of BMW (single, boxer, new F800GS). I mean, for the money, Stroms are a great value… but stop kidding yourself.

        Adding Jesse bags to my DL650 took 10mph off of the cruising speed, and the increased drag significantly affected both bikes’ high speed stability. No fun.

  • Chuluun

    Man, that Yamaha is going to be heavy with a full tank. Good luck picking it up when you drop it.

    Didn’t realize the GS was so light, that’s quite an achievement for such a big bike, less than my old ZZR-600.

    The Duc’s power is ridiculous, and both maximum power and torque a tad high in the range for my liking. The Beemer’s still gonna rule the roost — it’s one of those bikes that just works, and gets respect even from people who wouldn’t dream of owning one.

    Slightly OT, whatever happened to Kawasaki’s version of the V-Strom? I remember some reviews preferring it to the Suzuki.

    • ryan

      How can you say the BMW will rule the roost when the KTM continues to dominate events like dakar???

      EVERY SINGLE STAGE WIN in 09. WIth only Yamaha being able to get up onto the podium??

      BMW definitely doesn’t get the pick as being the best of the best here.

      The adventure is a piece of piss to work on, in all conditions.

      • Wes Siler

        Dakar races are so far departed from bikes we can buy now that they’re either 450cc or restricted.

  • Chuluun

    Wait a sec … the Yamaha comes with metal panniers as standard, by the look of it. That would explain at least some of the weight difference.

  • Dubito

    I’m fan of Yamahas but currently a bigger fan of Beemers (love my K100RS), and frankly the Super’s non-defeatable ABS and mass disappoint me. Is the listed dry weight inclusive of panniers? Wes?

    I think the most interesting old-new comparison would be the F800GS versus the R80G/S – old 800cc, new 800cc. I have heard many reviewers say that the F is the GS that the R-GS should always have been.

    • Wes Siler

      Don’t know if the Yamaha’s dry weight is inclusive of panniers, it’s simply the dry weight they list in Europe. Even if it does include them, they’ll weigh what, 15-20 pounds?

      Grant’s ridden both the R1200GS and the F800GS back to back and he really prefers the 1200, says it’s just as easy to ride off road and way more comfy and fast on it.

  • XT the Shamu of Adventure tourers?

    The R1200GS’ weight is impressive given its a shaft drive. I wonder how much lighter it would be if they dumped that silly telelever front end for a proper fork.

    Yamaha’s Super Tenere is built specifically faux adventure riders.

    Wes, one more important category you should include in your comparo: maintenance schedules (i.e. how often the valves need to be adjusted)

    • Wes Siler

      I wanted to include service schedules and the recommended octane, but the info isn’t available on the Super Tenere yet.

  • Jay Altazan

    I’ve been a fan of Yamaha for years. Grew up riding their dirt bikes and enduros. 8 years ago I found myself riding a Beemer GS. No going back for me. 152K miles on it currently with zero problems. The telelever is kinda vague on gravel/dirt but is like nothing else on pavement.
    I’m disappointed in the Big Yammie. I would have expected the aluminum frame and some weight savings in there. And then to show it to us and not bring it here is downright sinful.


  • XT the Shamu of Adventure tourers?

    I wonder if the 2010 BMW R1200GS with it’s new double overhead cam heads from the HP2 will be as reliable as the previous generation. The HP2 engine is high maintenance- I was concerned when I heard they were using those heads on the new GS and RT; it would be a shame if they sacraficed reliability for only a modest gain in midrange torque.

    Any of you dudes remember those BMW adds from the late 70′s or early 80′s that showed old guys who had over a quarter million miles on their boxers? To me that’s what the R class is all about.

  • Chuluun

    Thumbs up for including the R80G/S in the comparo by the way — a nice reminder for the young pretenders that the big GS wasn’t just an overnight sensation, despite Ewan and Charlie. It’s a highly evolved tool and you can’t just copy that sort of heritage.

  • Shaun

    the Vstrom is by far the most reliable in this group. Never had any problems with the thing – easy as hell to work on. Also owned a KTM 950 – great bike, pain in the ass to work on, lots of engine mods necessary to get the thing to breathe correctly. Sure I’d lust after a Super Tenere or Beemer, I pulled the trigger on a KTM and enjoyed the hell out of it. But, in the end, the Vstrom is as capable as any and won’t let you down. It’s ugly as fuck, but a pleasure to ride.

  • HansP

    I think you forgot the Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX 1200, which would be my pick…

  • Todd

    We need some better numbers to compare these bikes.

    A R1200GS Adventure with wire wheels and crash bars, no skid plate, no ABS and no bags has a road ready weight of 256KG. With skid plate, bags and ABS standard on the Tenere, but no crash bars, the road ready weight is 261KG.

    5KG difference “road ready” is a whole lot less than the misleading 90LB “dry” difference in the figures above.

    Let’s get real with the comparo’s.

  • PeteP

    Sounds like the R80 G/S is my kind of bike!

    • Cowpieapex

      The R80 g/s was a natural progression on the earlier BMWs who’s sweet low end tourque would walk you to where angels fear to scramble, but I found that it missed the mark. Extra suspension travel on the primative shaft drive and smog spec. engine made it a boat anchor on tarmac and low power to weight left it sucking hind tit in the dirty stuff.
      I stand in wonder at how little compromise is embodied in all these new designs. Ive chased the KTM on fast 2 lane on a built Buell Thunderbolt (102 RWHP) and must admit that it was lack o’ balls that saw me drop off the back.(Hi JW Everitt)
      In the end I chose not to compromise and picked up a KLR. Before you write the little thumper off check out,
      The Ducati press releases further up page proclame the Multistrada as a type of machine that didn’t previously exist. It may be that a machine that makes me want fewer motorcycles still does yet not exist.

  • DoctorNine

    The Yamaha Super Tenere looks like a pig to me, but then so do the others. I’d rather have the XT660Z regular Tenere if I was really adventure riding. If all I am going to do is backroad touring at distance, then the comparison is valid, but these big bikes are just too much power for what needs to be done in mud and gravel. Makes them less tractable, actually.

  • art

    Interesting. I’ve just been thinking I should trade my ’07 R1200GS Adv. for an F650GS or F800GS to drop 100+ lbs.

  • TEvo

    The road-oriented Triumph Tiger should be on this list… :)

    • Wes Siler

      Don’t really think that’s an adventure tourer anymore.

  • Jim Priest

    Need to add “Fix on the side of the road” and see what that filters out…

    I’d also like to see maintenance schedules (and est. costs of maintenance)

  • TEvo

    I agree… but the Triumph Tiger and Multistrada 1200 probably have more in common than they do with any of the other bikes on the list?

  • jb

    Duc appears to have a skid plate in the pics I’ve seen.Maybe there will be carbon fiber frame protectors as an option….doubt any of these bikes spend much time off road(gravel drive ways maybe).

  • Sasha Pave

    Thanks for the specs Wes!

    I welcome the Super Tenere to the mix, even if we don’t get it out here in the states. Its shows that finally the Japanese are paying attention to the big bike adv market. However I can’t believe that Yamaha didn’t put an ABS disable button on it. Anyone who’s ridden a 500lb+ GS down any steep off-road hill knows that it’s essential. You really can’t ride anything more than benign trails if that’s the case.

    The Multistrata is an awesome street bike, but I don’t think Ducati is fooling anyone calling it “Enduro” in any regard.

    In any serious off-road capacity, the KTM is clearly the best of the bunch (I’ve owned 3 different GSs and a KTM 950 ADV). It’s the only one you can ride aggressively off-road on without risking serious injury to the bike.

    Looking forward to more ADV comparisons!

  • Hiwatt Scott

    From what I’ve heard, the Super Tenere comes with several accessories (such as, but not limited to, the panniers) that are standard for the first year only, becoming optional for the second. That’s probably where a lot of that weight is coming from.

  • gt1

    Is there a reason Moto Guzzi Stelvio wasn’t included?

  • mikec

    Sorry this doesnt answer your question -I just endorse it -about to embark on 25000km trip doing searching for the most suitable bike and love the feel and ride of the Guzzi NTX it just seems it doesnt exist judging by all comparisons on web and forums -I wonder why?,- for me its the bussiness but still awaiting confirmation from MG regarding the petrol tank being enlarged they dont seem to help themselves.