2014 BMW R1200GS Adventure: the rivals

It’s more powerful and sophisticated than ever before. So does the GS Adventure deserve the huge sales dominance it enjoys over its rivals?

BMW R1200GS Adventure

Last year BMW introduced its first liquid-cooled boxer engine on the R1200GS. This year it’s put the same plant in the more off-road-biased variant, the R1200GS adventure.

With the new engine the GS Adventure also gets a fancy electronics package derived from that of BMW’s flagships sports bike, the S1000RR.

It means the Adventure's got more power than ever, up from 110 to 125hp, plus BMW’s multi-mode traction control system and optional semi-automatic suspension.

So where does that leave it in relation to its closest competitors, from Yamaha’s Super Ténéré to Ducati’s more road-oriented Multistrada.

Well, that’s what we’re here to tell you.

Engine: 1170cc boxer-twin

Kerb weight: 260kg

Power: 125hp

Torque: 92lbft

Price: from £11,650 OTR

First ride: 2014 BMW R1200GS Adventure review

Review your BMW R1200GS Adventure

Suzuki V-Strom 1000

There’s nothing exactly wrong with the new V-Strom but it doesn’t feel like Suzuki ever set out to make a GS-beater.

Rather, the V-Strom seems like a machine aimed at mopping up sales in a lucrative market, for riders who might like a GS but find its sheer size and price intimidating.

In all areas – power, torque, handling, brakes, suspension, electronics – the V-Strom is good but not as good as the competition.  It could get away with that and still come highly recommended if it cost, say, £8,500. At 10 grand, we’re not so convinced.

Engine: 1037cc V-twin

Kerb weight: 228kg

Power: 99hp

Torque: 75.9lbft

Price: £9,999 plus OTR

First UK ride: Suzuki V-Strom 1000 review

KTM 1190 Adventure

The 1190 Adventure and its more off-road focused ‘R’ variant get a world first this year: cornering ABS. The optional Bosch ‘MSC’ Motorcycle Stability Control system means you can grab as much front brake as you like, mid-corner, with the bike on its side and your toes scraping the Tarmac, and it won’t wash out. No it won’t.

Neither will it go straight on into a ditch. Instead the bike will stand up and stop, on the same curved trajectory. Visordown tested it in September and it really works.

Together with Bosch’s highly effective traction control system, and 148hp from the 1195cc V-twin engine, it makes the 1190 Adventure one of the most impressive bikes you can buy, never mind in its class. The 1190 Adventure R also has some actual off-road potential, with off-road ABS and traction control functions.

Engine: 1195cc V-twin

Dry weight: 212kg (R version 217kg))

Power: 148hp

Torque: 92lbft

Price: from £12,999 (R version from £13,799) plus OTR

First Ride: 2014 KTM 1190 Adventure with cornering ABS

Review your KTM 1190 Adventure

Ducati Multistrada

The Multistrada was the first adventure bike to offer true sports bike-like power, thanks to its superbike-derived 1198cc Testrastretta V-twin engine making 150hp and 98.1lbft – class leading figures.

It’s got Bosch ABS and Ducati’s sophisticated and precise traction control system. In Sport mode it’s raw, hot headed and aggressive; in touring or urban it’s much more mild-mannered, with power capped at 100hp in the latter.

It’s a fantastic if slightly mental all-rounder.

For 2013 it got Ducati’s ‘Skyhook’ semi-active suspension system.

Engine: 1198cc V-twin

Kerb weight: 224kg

Power: 150hp

Torque: 91.8lbft

Price: from £12,850 plus OTR

2013 Ducati Multistrada MTS1200 S Touring review

Review your Ducati Multistrada

Honda Crosstourer

The only V-four in this list, the Crosstourer shares its 1237cc engine with the VFR1200F, along with its aluminium twin-spar frame.

The engine is heavily detuned, from the VFR’s 172hp to 129hp, but you get shed-loads of low-down torque. It’s strong from 1,000rpm. 

It’s definitely more soft-roader than off-roader - basically a VFR1200F with longer-travel suspension, spoked wheels and quasi-off-road styling. 

It also comes with the option of Honda’s automatic ‘DCT’ Dual Clutch Transmission.

Engine: 1237cc V-four

Kerb weight: 275kg (285kg with DCT)

Power: 129hp

Torque: 92.9lbft

Price: £12,399 OTR (£13,199 with DCT)

First Ride: Honda Crosstourer review

Review your Honda Crosstourer

Kawasaki Versys 1000

Like the Crosstourer, the Versys is really a four-cylinder road bike with no serious off-road pretensions, despite being marketed in Kawasaki’s ‘dual purpose’ category.

It’s got the aluminium twin-spar frame and 1043cc inline-four engine from the Z1000, detuned from 142hp to 118hp.

The Versys is a great mile-eater, good for two-up touring, but vague front suspension limits cornering potential. 

Engine: 1043cc in-line-four

Kerb weight: 239kg

Power: 118hp

Torque: 75.2lbft

Price: from £9,599 OTR

First Ride: Kawasaki Versys 1000 review

Review your Kawasaki Versys 1000

Yamaha Super Ténéré

Unlike most of the other ‘adventure’ bikes here, the Super Ténéré is designed to meet BMW’s market-leading R1200GS head-on, with an 1199cc twin, shaft drive and a modicum of off-road potential.

It’s a competent effort, insofar as it's a bit like a GS with a Yamaha badge. For 2014 it gets revisions including an extra 2hp, a new instrument cluster and an adjustable screen.

As well as the base version, Yamaha has launched the XT1200ZE edition featuring electronically adjustable suspension.

Engine: 1199cc parallel-twin

Kerb weight: 257kg

Power: 112hp

Torque: 86.2lbft

Price: from £11,999 OTR

Yamaha Super Ténéré launch test review

Review your Yamaha Super Ténéré

Triumph Tiger Explorer

The Tiger Explorer is a big, fast, comfy motorcycle that’s fun to ride because of that turbine-smooth, howling triple engine. ABS, cruise control and traction control as standard make it all the more likeable, as do 10,000-mile service intervals.  

True off-road capability is debatable, although the XC edition comes fortified with an aluminium sump plate and engine protections bars.

Shaft-drive will add further appeal for many.  

Engine: 1215cc triple

Kerb weight: 259kg

Power: 137hp

Torque: 89.2lbft

Price: from £11,299 OTR

First Ride: Triumph Tiger Explorer 1200 review

Review your Triumph Tiger Explorer