With 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
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
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
BMW R1200GS: 19"
Ducati Multistrada: 17"
Super Tenere: 19"
KTM Adventure: 21"
V-Strom 1000: 19"
'80 R80G/S: 21"
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.