Review: Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT World Adventure

This year Suzuki is offering the V-Strom 1050XT in a World Adventure edition on the Belgian market. Due to Corona perils, we weren’t able to wander off with the V-Strom to the other side of the globe, so we picked out a worldly adventure close to home: the two of us went for a ride from the Belgian coast to the Pajottenland.

Suzuki pimps the World Adventure with a decal set with reflective details, aluminum cases, adjustable footpegs that they got from Gilles Tooling, a GPS mount, a Hepco&Becker aluminum bashplate with World Adventure label, heated grips and LED high beams.

You can get this adventurer in a yellow-blue, gray-blue or black livery. The black sparkles in the sun, which you can expect from “Glass Sparkle Black”. The many stickers are a bit over the top, but all in all it looks quite right.

When revamping the V-Strom in 2020, Suzuki returned to the legendary Dr. Big from yesteryear – just like they did before with their Katana. The new lines and the square headlight look nice and are reminiscent of the oldschool adventure bike.

However, the looks were not the most important innovation. Suzuki finally put its biggest adventure bike on the same level as the competition by adding a full electronics suite thanks to ride-by-wire. For example, Continue reading

Review: Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special

The story of Harley-Davidson has been a soap opera in recent years. The fully electric Livewire that was revealed in 2014? Quite the plot twist for a brand that’s usually linked to classic choppers and rumbling exhausts. And if that wasn’t already hard enough to swallow for the average Harley rider, they had to stomach an adventure bike and a streetfighter a couple of years later. Or at least the announcement. Preproduction models of both bikes (the Pan America and the Bronx) were shown at the 2020 Brussels Motor Show. Shortly afterwards the storyline spiraled even further with a new CEO who immediately decided to ditch the Bronx. Just to quickly give you an idea of a few plot lines.

The announced adventure bike did appear in showrooms this year, so I took the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special on a little trip to Germany to discover how it rides.

The Special version of the Pan America differs from the standard version with a range of extras: semi-active suspension, tire pressure monitoring, crashbars, handguards, heated grips, steering damper, centerstand, bash plate, radiator guard, cornering lights and a brake pedal that can be easily adjusted to two different heights. Starting prices: $17,319 for the standard Pan, $19,999 for the Special. My version also had the optional spoked wheels and the adaptive seat height.

If you don’t like the design of the Pan America: it looks a lot better in real life than it does in the pictures. The striking front will probably be the pitfall for this model even though owners will think of it as ‘different’ or ‘original’. After one week, Continue reading

Review: Triumph Trident 660

“Ah, there you’ll have it.” That’s what crossed my mind when Triumph announced the new Trident. Because isn’t it logical that Triumph, with its rich triple history, also offers a more “classic” three-cylinder naked in the current range?

The new Triumph Trident 660 is the third Trident generation. From 1968 to the mid-1970s and well into the 1990s, Triumph built its first two generations. The new one received a 660 cc engine, as its name suggests.

That engine is very different from the one in the Street Triple S, which also has a 660 cc heart. Of course the Trident takes over some parts from the Street, but just under 70 new components provide a different engine character. While the Street’s three-cylinder mainly emphasizes sporty top end power, the Trident aims at the lower and middle revs. You can also see it in the Continue reading

Review: BMW R 1250 RT

When BMW traded in its 1200 RT for the 1250 RT in 2019, the main change was the renewed engine. ShiftCam technology, more horses and Newton meters, remember? But no design update at all, and the dashboard with the two analogue counters and the small digital display also remained unchanged (while that combo had already been replaced by a full-color TFT display on other models). I thought it was a missed opportunity. Now we are two years further down the road. Enough time for BMW to overhaul its touring bike for model year 2021.

The first thing you notice is of course the new muzzle of the R 1250 RT. The two round headlights have given way to a more angular design, with the fairing around the LEDs now painted in body color. It gives the RT a more refined look. Too bad that the rear end remained untouched. Another missed opportunity. Or a reason for an update in two years?

The fairing has been made more aerodynamic, which doesn’t detract from the still overwhelming width of this beast. 985mm to be exact. Certainly in front view, the RT looks like a mastodon. You would almost be afraid to jump on it, because “Can I handle such a big bike?!”

However, I already experienced the opposite during previous RT encounters. Maneuvering at walking pace or pushing the bike out of the garage … it required some effort. But once Continue reading

Review: Yamaha Tracer 7

Do you smell that? The scent of incense? Yes, your nose already guessed it: you’re reading a review in which Yamaha’s universally praised CP2 twin plays a role. This time it’s spooned in between the legs of a sports touring model: the Tracer 7. But that incense of praise, does it apply to just the engine or the whole bike? Let’s find out.

Never change a winning team, they say. That is, until someone commands you to “Apply Euro5 standards, now!” which forced Yamaha to work on their two-cilinder engine (year of birth: 2014). The air intake, injection system and exhaust got reworked among other things. Yamaha claims a more linear power curve, but at the same time they also lost some power: the Tracer 7 has 73.5 hp, while its predecessor (that went by the name of Tracer 700) had 74.8 horses shining on its passport. Newton meters stayed the same at 68 units.

Yamaha didn’t just do an engine update: it’s impossible to miss the new face of the Tracer 7. It looks a lot more modern, sportier, yes, even more aggressive than the previous generation that all of a sudden seems to be boring and dated. The position of the two headlights, the frowning light strips, the tight lines of the bodywork: great design.

The rather plump indicators of the previous model were replaced by slimmer ones, but apart from that the design department Continue reading

2020: Jean’s year in review

I guess I don’t have to tell you 2020 was a somewhat special year. For me it started on January 1st with a job change: much closer to home. No more long daily commutes from Limburg to Brussels. And as if that hadn’t enough impact on my milage, there was also this virus. So not only the number of km’s dropped dramatically in 2020, but also the number of motorcycle tests. An overview:

9.110 km ridden, for the first time not a five-digit number (3.627 km with my BMW F 800 GS, 5.483 km with test bikes)

3 motorcycles tested (BMW F 900 XR, Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro, Yamaha Ténéré 700)

2 trips done (Tournée Staycationée in June and the Moselle in September)

1 trip cancelled (Alps in june, due to you know what)

1 motorcycle training attended

1 maintenance done (at 106.000 km)

0 offroad days :/

0 track days :/

0 pitbike sessions :/

0 falls 🙂

Review: KTM 390 Adventure

For years, KTM has been building the most offroad-worthy bikes. They make use of the knowledge they’ve gained in the rally world to build a production bike with – just like any brand nowadays – the pieces they have in stock.

This way they’ve constructed a full 1290 line-up: from The Beast all the way up to the Super Adventure. The engine of the 790 Duke was the base for one of the most praised adventure bikes of recent years, the KTM 790 Adventure. Recently they repeated the trick with the 890 Duke.

Downsizing is a popular trend in the motorcycling world as well, because not everyone can afford an expensive motorcycle. Especially European constructors want to get a piece of the cake that we know as ‘growth markets’. When you’re present in one of those BRIC-countries, you’ll want to have the bike built over there to reduce costs. So KTM took the engine and the frame of the Duke 390 platform to India where the Bajaj factories gave birth to the KTM 390 Adventure.

For the last test ride of this year, I went out for a ride on this smallest adventurer from Mattighofen. During a staycation I travelled from the Ardennes to the coast, wondering how much of an adventure one could experience on this Indian Austrian. After all it’s “but a four hundred”.

I’m pretty confused when I stand next to it for the first time: is this the 390 or the 790? The 390 isn’t at all as small as I expected. The standard seat height measures 855 mm, half a centimeter higher than the 790 Adventure. The bodywork looks just as Continue reading