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Old 06-29-2013, 04:55 AM   #10
Davy F
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Joined: Jul 2008
Location: 36th Ulster Divison
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Originally Posted by Tancakar View Post
you will be alot happier with KTM mate go and read some reviews and problems in BMW gs water cooled ;)
I've now tested both the KTM 1190 and BMW WC and here's my impressions.

KTM 1190 Adventure

It's going to be difficult to write my thoughts on the newly released KTM 1190 Adventure without getting carried away because of the performance that their revised LC8 V twin engine has on tap, so I'll get the engine part out of the way first and try to keep an objective mind in place. So here goes................this engine ROCKS !!!!!

I have never ridden a V twin that is so smooth as KTM's offering. OK, it can be made to feel a bit lumpy if you try, but used correctly it is amazingly vibe free and in the 112 miles I put on the odometer, I suffered no tingles in my hands or feet. And the power, ohhhh the power !! I can't remember Ducati's MultiStrada being so manic when the throttle was twisted open. Maybe I've forgotten just how quick their engine is, but the KTM's is like having the throttle of a superbike attached to the long legs of an Adventure bike. But unlike the MultiStrada, the KTM is smooth enough to do slow as well and I was able to ride in sixth gear comfortably down to 35 mph without the snatchiness that V twins are prone too. Top gear overtakes from around 45 mph did induce some vibratory character if the throttle was wacked open, but in reality, I was trying out as much as I could on the bike in the time available and when I went for overtakes sitting in say forth, the bike simply lifted its skirts and headed for warp 9 unbelievably fast and smooth. But having 150 horsepower at hand I guess is the reason this bike is so relentless and the speed you can call upon at any given moment is intoxicating. I played about with the power modes, which is easily done from the simple switch on the left handlebar and it is very noticeable when doing so, especially when taking the bike away from the tarmac. 100 hp is still a lot on the dirt, but I can vouch for the option to neuter the power to the rear wheel on the rough stuff as I did several miles off road. The traction control also played its part in these conditions and you can tell that the boffins at KTM have thought carefully about how this bike will potentially be used.

All this power would be pretty useless in a chassis that couldn't cope and KTM have done an excellent job in that department also. The handling is brilliant and not once did I feel that the chassis couldn't keep up with all that the engine could throw at it. The demo bike came with the electronic suspension wizardry which seems to be the norm on these high end motorcycles these days and again, it was nice to use what is available and actually find that it does make a difference. In Sport mode, the bike can hustle along on good roads in indecent haste and truthfully, I can say it gave me so much confidence that I started to think that this bike is uncrashable. I know, that's probably a stupid statement, but the feedback offered from the White Power suspension is amazing. The big Katoom is so flickable that it's hard to think that this bike has long travel suspension and a 19" front wheel. Heck, when I got back onto my Versys, a bike renowned for its sharp handling, it felt positively lethargic compared to the KTM. Considering the size and extra weight of the KTM, this feat is quite outstanding. Street mode is obviously the compromise option and Comfort was good in taking the worst out of the poorly surfaced roads that I ride on daily. It's not GoldWing levels of plushness as it still communicates what's going on underneath you, but it is good enough to take the nasty ripples and washboard annoyances away while allowing you to make good progress if desired. I was of a mindset that I wouldn't need this modern electro gadgetry, but I now think that if it is offered, it would be silly not to tick that part of the options list. The brakes also need no superlatives heaped on them as they are simply top notch items fitted to stop the bike in a hurry if needed with loads of feel. Also the gearbox was a revelation, especially when you think how poor the early KTM RC8 gearbox's were. Buttery changes were the order of the day without one missed gear and snicking into first was a mostly silent affair.

The ergos of the KTM certainly suited me (I'm 5' 11") and I could easily get both feet on the ground. After my 112 miles, I had no aches or pains, except in my butt as I found the seat to be too hard for my boney bum. But suffice to say, that's a problem I seem to suffer with on the vast majority of bikes, but I would like to try their comfort seat for comparison. The windshield seemed to be set at it's tallest position and provided me with good wind protection for my Arai TourX. It was very effective up to XXX miles per hour and I didn't bother trying out different positions as it was fine as it was. I know some make a big deal of the easy adjustability of the new BMW 12GS's or Tiger 1200's screens, but personally, once set to how you like it, that feature is virtually redundant. And it's the little features on various bikes that seem to make a difference to how others perceive a rival manufacturers machine, like the switchgear on the handlebars not matching or something equally trivial. Believe me, when you're riding something this good, those little things pale into insignificance. But as the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I'll be the first to say that the KTM isn't the nicest looking Adventure bike available and that award probably goes to the Ducati MultiStrada (especially their Pikes Peak edition). But then, if we all bought these bikes for their aesthetic qualities, BMW wouldn't have the success of the GS on their hands either. Maybe it would be best to describe the KTM as functionally beautiful and the sum of all its parts make one hell of a motorcycle. The fit and finish of the 1190 is right up there and going on how many of their 950/990 Adventures have kept their looks, there's no reason to doubt that the 1190 isn't more of the same.

Overall, this is one heck of a motorcycle. The toys is has available seem to be all worthwhile while the riding experience is nothing short of amazing and it is hard not to get swept away with the available performance. But when that performance is tied together with a beautiful chassis and the feeling of go anywhere anytime, you end up with a very accomplished machine.

Did the arrival of the 2004 R1200GS Hexhead divide opinion much the same as the new WC has for quite a few GS owners ? I bought a 12GS in 2005 and didn't know at the time just how divisive the release of the 2004 12GS was and I wonder what the reactions of the old 1150 crowd at the time were considering that even today there still seems to be quite a void between owners of the 1150 and 1200 models ?

I took the new GS out for a spin as the sun was out, the roads dry and I made an effort to organize a demo ride. Unluckily, I was limited to only two hours as the bike was needed for NW200 duties later that day, but never the less, I headed off with great expectation and hope that this new model would reignite my fire for the brand, just like the 12GS did back in '04 when I first rode one.

Now, there's no doubting that this isn't anything but an acomplished motorcycle. The new engine seems smoother and obviously, the extra power that it now comes with is very noticable. But it lacks the character of the old air/oil cooled donkey and appears to me to actually be rather bland. Wind the throttle back and it certainly shoots forward with gusto, but there doesn't seem to be any drama going on. OK, it's not turbine smooth like a Jap Four, especially with noticable vibes coming through while cruising at 80ish mph, but that boxer feel just isn't there anymore to the same degree. What I did feel that I didn't like was how clunky the gearbox has become on the new model. My old '05 12GS had a really nice 'box and it snuck into first gear like a Ninja assassin sneaking behind your back to stick his Samuri sword into you. And the amount of missed gears I found was annoying as it seems that BMW have employed crab footed development riders to design the footpeg/gearlever ergos. I suppose many would say that you need to get it set up for the individual, but I've never had this problem on any other manufacturers demo bikes I've ridden.

I also take it that with time spent on the bike, the info panel within the clocks would become second nature, but initally I found it wasn't as intuitive as its main competitor, the KTM 1190. And what's with the tiny numbers on the speedo about ? C'mon Herr BMW, we're all getting older with failing eyesight and because the bike is so much quicker than the last model, keeping an eye on what speed you're doing is made harder by making the figures difficult to read at a glance. Maybe it's a ploy to cater for younger riders and to get all the old farts off the GS series.

I was able to have just enough time to take the bike down my favourite roads and was impressed with how the bike handled. Yes, this is still a very capable bike and experiancing the lack of dive from the front forks combined with the very strong brakes reminded me just how good a GS is at floating over road imperfections giving the rider the confidence to hustle on in an unseemly manner. It still doesn't give the ultimate feedback of, dare I say again, the KTM 1190 ? But it is an undeniably good package and I have no doubt that the different suspension modes work very well as I do think BMW are the leaders in this field. The riding position was the usual wide bar upright stance and swinging the bike side to side through the corners was so easy.

In summary, I think that the new WC will appeal to many riders that haven't considered the brand before. Yes, loads of GS fanatics will think that criticisms will be akin to heresy and those that don't agree with the expected platitudes should be burnt at the stake. But when you set yourself up as the top dog, you have to expect others to take a pop at you, especially when the latest and greatest doesn't have the same appeal to many people in the ever improving adventure bike market.

Maybe for me, and unlike the many new owners, it's a slow burner. However, I think back to how I felt when first riding the 2004 Hexhead and how that bike seemed so full of character. As I hinted earlier in my report, this bike has lost something for me and I don't think that a longer ride will significantly change my mind and that there's now a more impressive machine out there in an nice orange colour. And that machine did give me the fizz that the GS has lost in an even more explosive package.

I've now ridden all the main bikes in the adventure class, bar the Kawasaki Versys 1000 which just doesn't do it for me, and currently I am trying to sell my Versys 650. The replacement ? Well, it has to be the 1190 Adventure as I think it's simply the best overall for my needs and the most exciting machine in the class. It seems well built, good quality and IMO, it looks good too. I'm actually going to retire at the end of July this year and the KTM might just be the perfect retirement prezzie to myself. However, time is marching on this year and if I get into August without changing bikes, I'll more than likely just wait for 2014 as I don't ride my bikes from October on, so there's not much point in having one sitting in the garage un-used.

Health to ride your new KTM, Tancakar.
Good luck exploring the infinate abbyss !

Davy F screwed with this post 06-29-2013 at 05:02 AM
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