BMW F800GS vs. Triumph Tiger 800XC

Comparo dyno charts

Motorcycle.Com has a head-to-head comparo between the two hottest mid-sized adventure bikes in the world right now. It looks like it was tough choice between these two, too. Just take a look at the dyno graphs.

It’s a fascinating comparo, because the two bikes are just so close together in features. Triumph even replicated the layout of controls and accessory power ports on the BMW. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I guess.

At the end of the day, it seems the only difference between these two machines is their relative street/trail performance. Which one is best really depends on how you’re going to use it, but, as a practical matter, both are great.

There’s still something about that Triumph triple powerplant, though…

Best of the year

Cycle World once again picks the 10 best bikes for the year. They’re unveiling the results day by day.  It was no surprise that yesterday’s pick for top standard was the new, improved Kawasaki Z1000, which, by all accounts, is a fantastic motorcycle. The brand new Triumph Tiger 800XC, was a bit of a surprise as the best Dual-Sport, though.  I think that may change when the new wears off the Trumpet.

Similarly, today has a surprise, too.  The shocker is not that the Ducati Multistrada wins the best open streetbike award. It may be one of the best all-round motorcycles ever produced by anyone.  Personally, it’s the best motorcycle I’ve ever ridden.  The unexpected win for today is that the Ducati Diavel–a bike that has only been available in the US for several weeks–has been selected as the best cruiser of the year.

While I’ve seen it, I haven’t gotten to ride it yet, but I don’t think it’s a “cruiser”.  It’s definitely something, but, aside from seating position and fat rear tire, it’s not what comes to mind when I think of a cruiser.

But congrats to Ducati.  These two bikes account for a hefty share of the 61% sales increase Ducati has achieved in the US over the last quarter.

2011 Ural Gear Up

2011 Ural Gear Up

The Ural line of motorcycles has a fascinating history. And, as far as modern bikes go, it’s about as close as you can get to a real old-school motorcycle, without actually rummaging around in a junkyard.

I admit, I have a fascination for them. In my mind’s eye, I picture myself setting off across the trackless wastes of the Mojave, or riding down mountain deer trails. In real life, of course, I would actually do none of those things, ever, but if I had a Ural I could. No doubt when the aliens attack, or the astroid hits, I’ll really wish I had one.

In any event, Motorcycle.Com has a 2011 Ural Gear-Up Review showcasing the highlights of the Gear Up, Ural’s two-wheel drive, go anywhere, do anything model.

It’s also pretty affordable for what you get: a sidecar with loads of space and a 400lb cargo allotment, 2-wheel drive for the sticky bits of wilderness, and, apparently, a fair amount of chick-magnetism. I suspect a lot more ladies feel more comfy at the prospect of riding in a sidecar, than on the back of a two-wheeler. And I syspect the actual ride would be more comfy, too.

Also, a note to prospective owners in California: California law does not require a motorcycle license to operate a sidecar motorcycle, or any other vehicle with more than two wheels.

Bagger Cruiser Comparo

Motorcycle-USA did a comparo between the 2011 Star Stratoliner Deluxe, Kawasaki Vulcan Vaquero, and Harley-Davidson Street Glide. It was close, but the Street Glide won.

Now, maybe it was a little unfair, because the Street Glide was not the standard model, but the one equipped with the “Power Pack” options package of the 103ci mill, and ABS. On the other hand, it was still the slowest bike in the comparo. So why did it narrowly win?

Comfort on long rides is second to none in every aspect. The seating position is upright and relaxed, and the saddle has the perfect profile, putting less pressure on your posterior than the other two machines in this test. Long days in the saddle are pain and ache free, which can’t be said for the Vaquero or Stratoliner Deluxe.  There is no better seat on a bagger than the Street Glide’s…

“Without a doubt the Harley is the most fleet-footed bagger in this test. It is lighter and it feels lighter. It has the shortest wheelbase and as a result is the most agile in the turns. The suspension is very good as well. On the highway it feels firm and doesn’t exactly float like you would expect. But then in the hills it feels taught and gives the best feedback of these three bikes.”

I would’ve liked to see how a Victory Cross Country would compare in a test like that.

The Griso comes to America

Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE

Moto Guzzi isn’t the easiest brand to find over here, and dealerships are few and far between. Yet, Moto Guzzi still has a dedicated fan base, who’ll probably be a little happier knowing the Griso 8V SE is coming to America. The Griso itself isn’t new over here, of course, but the SE model, with its distinctive styling, has only been available in Europe.

Some might say the engine looks a bit too…agricultural, and, well, I guess I’d be among them. The Griso’s air/oil-cooled 1151cc slant twin does put out a respectable 95hp and 73lb-ft of torque, which combined with the responsive steering and chassis will have you surprising supersports in the twisties–assuming you put on some stickier tires than the EOM Pirelli Scorpions. And that’s even counting the fact that, at 555 lbs–mainly thanks to a big, honkin’ shaft drive–it’s a bit on the portly side.

On the other hand, a day of canyon carving won’t leave you with a notched back and stiff knees.

Honda Crosssrunner First Ride

2011 Honda Crossrunner
2011 Honda Crossrunner

Motorcycle Daily has taken the new , VFR800-based 2011 Crossrunner out on the road to put it through its paces.

The Crossrunner was introduced last fall as a 2011 model at the EICMA show in Italy as bike with offroad pretensions–and pretensions is pretty much all they are. Really, this is a street bike, although one powered by the 782cc V-4 VTEC mill that powers the European version of the Interceptor. That’s not a bad heritage for any streetbike.

Unlike the VFR, however, the Crossrunner sports comfy, upright ergonomics to go along with its V-4 character.

The pluses appear to be  a bike that, like the Suzuki Bandit, offers you a torquey engine with 100HP, a relaxed riding position. The down side for the sporting enthusiast, is the 530lbs wet weight, but in general it seems like it would be a fun bike.

2011 Triumph Sprint GT: Four Views. All “meh”.

Motorcycle Daily got four different riders/writers to asses the 2011 Triumph Sprint GT, the longer, fatter, heavier American version of the Sprint ST–which is still available in Europe–and write down their impressions.

Essentially, the four different motojournalists seemed to say, “Nice, but too heavy with too long a wheelbase.” Which is pretty much what I thought when the initial specs came out.

I guess we’re just in the middle of a trend to larger and heavier motorcycles right now.  Unless you buy a crotch rocket, and can live with the scrunched up riding position.  Cruisers are sporting 1800cc mills now, the sport tourers are up to 13oocc+, all with heavier engines, frames, etc.

It’s beginning to look every bike will soon be a Gold Wing.

Another Diavel ride report

Motorcycle Daily has weighed in with their first impression of the Ducati Diavel. Unlike some other reviews, they seem impressed by the handling–even at low speeds.

But perhaps the best impress in comes from one of the article’s commenters, who quips that it looks like somebody finally made a V-Rod that works.

The Diavel’s Big Rear Tire

A few days ago I noted that the big 240-section rear tire on the new Ducati Diavel seemed like it would make handling a bit less fun.  But lots of reviews from European writers say it’s fine. New Diavel ride reviews are in from Motorcycle USA and Motorcycle.com, and both of them bring the subject up in somewhat different terms.

Motorcycle USA’s Bart Madson writes:

[T]he Diavel is probably the best-handling fat rear we’ve ever sampled.

But that’s somewhat damning praise, as there are inherent issues with the rear. Some in our journalistic riding troupe vocalized zero flaws, but we noted a hinky sensation on low-speed maneuvers. Sharp hairpins exhibited a flopping sensation when pitching over. Quick transitions, more noticeable at lower speeds as well, also delivered an awkward feel. The 240mm rear didn’t have us bitching and moaning as a deal breaker by any means. It just left us wondering what that Diavel could been had it been delivered with a more conventional tire choice.

Motorcycle.Com’s Pete Brissette echoes the sentiment, somewhat more technically:

The big rear tire works for me as part of the Diavel’s styling; however, the rear tire’s low-speed handling performance doesn’t work quite so well for my tastes.

Initial turn-in response is neutral; transitioning from upright to three-fourths lean is a fairly smooth, linear-feeling process. But it’s the last little bit of lean you might initiate to complete the turn that results in a “falling in” sensation, as though the tire’s profile is more triangulated than it appears.

As I rolled into the throttle to power out of the apex of a turn, the bike would sometimes exhibit a front-end “push” – like the rear of the bike was chasing the front – depending on the radius of a turn and camber of the road.

This is not to say the Diavel’s handling isn’t light-years better than just about any cruiser you can name, but it’s not as good as any other Ducati you can name either.

Ultimately a 62.2″ wheelbase, and 240 rear tire are what they are, and the effect on handling is ultimately insurmountable. Geometry and physics are pretty unforgiving taskmasters. On the other hand, though, handling that isn’t quite up to snuff in Ducati terms probably equals vastly superior handling in, say, V-Max terms.

Actually, remove the word “probably” from the previous sentence.

First Ride: 2011 Ducati Diavel

The first ride reports are trickling in from the Ducati’s press launch for the Diavel in Marbella, Spain.  Visordown’s ride review tells me exactly what I wanted to know about the Diavel.  My main concern in looking at the specs of the Diavel was the handling.  It’s a bike with a long wheelbase, and a big, honkin’ 240-section rear tire.  That just screams “slow turn-in!” to me.  But, according to Visordown, Ducati has somehow done something special that those specs don’t capture.

The real ace up the Diavel’s sleeve is its handling. A massive 240-section rear tyre and a long wheelbase are not the ideal ingredients if you want a bike to handle, but – and I’m not sure how – the Diavel doesn’t suffer one bit…What really stood out to me was that throughout the whole day, I didn’t think about the bike’s handling once. It went exactly where I wanted it to, not once did I feel like I was running wide, or that I could do with more ground clearance. There are no footboards gouging the tarmac here, no concerns about getting home with half of your exhaust chamfered off. It doesn’t just handle well for a cruiser, it handles well for a sportsbike…When the rear Pirelli can’t cope, Ducati’s Traction Control steps in and gently corrects your over enthusiastic demands, keeping the rear wheel in line and most bikes struggling to keep up.

That…interests me.

Sadly, there are no Diavel’s available yet on this side of the pond, but my crystal ball tells me that sometime in the near future, I’ll be begging Balz Ringli at Moto Forza for a Diavel test ride.

Ducati Diavel Press Launch

The world motorcycling press is gathering in Marbella, Spain for the unveiling of the 2011 Ducati Diavel.  Already, reports are filtering in, including from Motorcyclist Magazine, who give us their first look and test ride reports.

What’s interesting to note from this report is how serious the Ducati guys were about building a cruiser-style bike that didn’t sacrifice performance.  Ducati officials relate it to the commitment they had to creating the the new Multistrada 1200S, making it a bike with serious, Ducati performance.  Based on my experience with the new Multistrada, they certainly did that.  So, how’d they fare with the Diavel?

Well, Motorcyclist seems to like it.

Overall, the Diavel is surprisingly easy to ride fast, aided by Superbike-spec Brembo radial-mount brakes, a firm, 50mm Marzocchi inverted fork, a perfectly controlled Sachs shock and generous cornering clearance allowing a claimed 40-degree lean angle. Slicing and dicing through downtown L.A. traffic on a busy Friday morning, it felt much more like a broad-shouldered Monster than a V-Max or any other so-called “sport cruiser” that has come before.

It looks better, too. The level of fit and finish is the finest we’ve seen on any Ducati-maybe on any bike…It’s an impressive machine that attracts attention even from non-riders who don’t know a Ducati from a Dodge. That’s the one trait it does share with a custom chopper: Everyone notices this bike.

Sadly, I haven’t has a chance to ride the Diavel yet, so, for now, I’ll take their word for it. What I do have are lots of lovely pictures, shown in the gallery below. That should satisfy any Diavel jones you might be feeling.