The face of motorcycling may be changing...
The face of motorcycling may be changing, and bikes like Yamaha's TDM900, Suzuki's V-Strom and Triumph's Tiger might - in the near future - be not only useful, usable bikes but also desirable pieces of hardware. So just what is going on in the once-humble adventure sports class?Hmm, let's get one thing straight right away. Neither the V-Strom, Tiger or TDM are what you'd call sexy motorcycles.
You could (unkindly) almost say they were the exact opposite - pig ugly workhorses best left to despatchers (the few that are left) and those (poor souls) who simply aren't turned on by sportsbikes. But although - to some - these kind of bikes will always be a turn off it seems - and the manufacturers obviously think so - that the market for rugged, do-anything, anytime motorcycles that are relatively cheap to own, run and maintain and, just as importantly, easy to get on with is going to grow over the coming years.
Yamaha have, to be fair, ploughed a lonely furrow for 10 years with their TDM - although for a full decade it's been second only to Honda's VFR800 in the 750-1,000cc sales arena. Triumph joined the field with the first version of their Tiger in 1994 and Suzuki have just, for 2002, livened up the harvest with the V-Strom. And don't forget next year Ducati will be launching the funkadelic Multistrada. It's getting interesting alright in this corner, and these ain't sportsbikes.
So, in terms of metal what are we looking at? Although the TDM900 is the oldest model here it's had a makeover this year - the 10-valve liquid cooled parallel twin engine has gained a few extra cubes, redesigned internals, a six-speed gearbox and - most importantly - fuel injection. The TDM's suspension package has been uprated with a fair degree of adjustability and the front brake calipers have been robbed from the R1. Cosmetically it looks much like the previous model, just a bit sharper here, a touch smoother there, with a much tidier electronic dash buried up front in the bike's pointy snout.
The Triumph Tiger also got a tickle for 2002. Actually it got the fuel-injected 955cc liquid-cooled 12-valve three-cylinder powerplant which propels this year's 955i Daytona. The rest of the Tiger's pretty much as it was when it recieved a major facelift four years ago, bar some front fork revisions.
Stand up the Suzuki V-Strom, then. A brand new model, powered by the 996cc 90° V-twin engine from the now extinct TL1000S - with some detail changes. The diameter of the intake valves has been reduced 4mm to 36mm to help low and midrange throttle response and, in much the same vein the cam timing has been altered to shift power and torque down the rev range. The pair of pistons are now forged aluminium rather than cast, saving 20g each over the TL1000S items and the rods are shot-peened, making them lighter and stronger. A hydraulically-operated clutch replaces the TL's cable and the V-Strom's fuel injection system borrows heavily from the GSX-R sportsbikes, with dual butterfly valves in each 45mm throttle body. A new aluminium beam frame clamps the motor and running gear is quality but not top shelf - the 43mm forks are non adjustable, while the rear monoshock at least has remote spring preload adjustment (nice touch, the Tiger has it too) and adjustable rebound damping.
Click to read the Yamaha TDM review
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