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ADV VideosBig Adventure Bikes Get Pushed To Their Limit Off-Road

Big Adventure Bikes Get Pushed To Their Limit Off-Road

Off-road comparison shows how good modern ADV Bikes really are.

Published on 06.18.2014

Bike SA Magazine, the oldest and best-selling motorcycle magazine in South Africa, recently released a video highlighting the off-road capabilities of some of the top liter-class Adventure Bikes.

Many people think that big Adventure Bikes like the BMW R1200GS Adventure, Yamaha Super Ténéré and KTM 1190 Adventure are just glorified road bikes unable to handle extreme off-road terrain. It’s often said that you need a 650cc or smaller single-cylinder dual sport for serious off-road riding.

Bike SA set out to debunk this myth and put several liter-class Adventure Bikes to the test for a story in their June issue “Big Adventure Bikes – Very Much Off-Road.” A highlight video of their testing reveals some of their findings.


We like that they included the KTM 990 Adventure R in the comparison as a known “off-road capable” liter-class Adventure Bike benchmark. It is interesting to see how the other more modern and larger Adventure Bikes compare to the KTM 990 Adventure R on identical terrain.

The video demonstrates the impressive off-road capabilities of the KTM 1190 Adventure R, BMW R1200GS Adventure and KTM 990 Adventure R. In an off-road drag race, the BMW R1200GS Adventure is incredibly fast off-road with the “Enduro Pro” mode turned on. Even when placed in the lowest traction lane, the big GSA is able to beat the KTM 990 Adventure by the end of the straightaway.

For the hill climb comparison, the KTM 990 and 1190 Adventure make it up the hill as effortlessly as a smaller dual sport bike. However, the BMW R1200GS Adventure with its wide horizontally opposed cylinders has some trouble in the deep rut. Nevertheless, the big GSA makes it to the top of the hill.

90% Rider, 10% Bike
The riders in the video are experts off-road and make it look easier than it really is. It’s clear these bikes can do impressive things off-road in the hands of a skilled rider. We’ve seen the KTM 1190 Adventure R and BMW R1200GS Adventure handle difficult terrain with ease before. However, the average rider is likely to get hurt trying to muscle one of these big bikes up a hill climb or attempting a high-speed jump as demonstrated in the video. A smaller bike is still the smart choice if you are an off-road novice.

Impact of Advanced Electronics
While today’s Adventure Bikes are bigger than ever, their technology is a large part of what allows them to achieve these amazing feats off-road. Advanced off-road traction control and ABS systems continue getting better every year, helping mask the significant weight of these bikes. These new technology improvements are making aggressive off-road riding on big Adventure Bikes more accessible to the average rider.

For more details about this off-road test, you can download the June issue of Bike SA Magazine here.

Author: Rob Dabney

Rob Dabney started a lifelong obsession with motorcycles at the age of 15 when he purchased his first bike – a 1982 Honda MB5. Through his 20’s and 30’s he competed in off-road desert races, including the Baja 250, 500 and 1000. Eventually, his proclivity for exploration led him to dual sport and adventure riding. Rob’s never-ending quest to discover what’s around the next bend has taken him on Adventures in Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and throughout the American West. As a moto journalist, he enjoys inspiring others to seek adventure across horizons both near and far.

Author: Rob Dabney

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Jeff S. Wiebe (@JeffSWiebe)
Jeff S. Wiebe (@JeffSWiebe)
June 19, 2014 9:04 pm

Enjoyed that, thanks for posting.

Ron Howell
Ron Howell
August 13, 2014 8:41 am

if that’s pushing them to their off road limit……..then they are glorified street bikes! l.o.l. do a article what it will cost to fix damage when crashing one of these….in even a minor off road mishap.

Rob Dabney
Rob Dabney
August 13, 2014 9:40 am
Reply to  Ron Howell

Actually, that’s an interesting topic for a story. We should crash test all of the top-of-the-line ADV bikes and then calculate total repair costs. Anyone interested in loaning us their bike for the story? 🙂

October 5, 2014 9:12 pm
Reply to  Rob Dabney

Thats what insurance is for!


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