BMW’s biggest GS and its even bigger brother, the GSA, always do extremely well in the sales charts. Which surprises me every time. Not in the least because of the steep price, but also because of the dimensions of both bikes. The R 1250 GS Adventure in particular seems colossal. It’s high, wide and has a wet weight of 268 kg: that’s a lot of motorcycle for someone with an average physique.
When BMW unexpectedly asked if I wanted to test a 1250 GSA, I didn’t hesitate for a second and replied, “Of course!” It was only afterwards that I realized that I was about to ride that mastodon of a GSA. Exciting!
The GS Adventure which BMW provided was one in beautiful Style HP set-up. In addition to golden cross-spoked wheels and a rally seat, it has the BMW Motorsport colors which in my opinion is the nicest version there is.
Before hopping on the seat, the explanation of all setting possibilities took a while: BMW had equipped the bike with just about every possible optional pack. The Comfort pack consists of a chrome exhaust, heated grips and tire pressure control. In the Touring pack you’ll find Dynamic ESA suspension, keyless ride, navigation preparation, cruise control, fog lights and the luggage rack. The Dynamic pack includes a quickshifter (up and down), Pro riding modes, DRL and white direction indicators.
Changing the settings is easy thanks to a few buttons on the handlebars and the well-known rotary wheel. The beautiful (and standard) 6.5” full-color TFT display tells you which settings you’ve selected. There was also an Continue reading →
In 1937, Triumph launched the Speed Twin 5T, the first series-produced 500 cc parallel twin. It would become an example for many other twins that followed. And now Triumph reintroduces one of the most glorious names of its history, with the 2019 Speed Twin.
On Triumph’s list of modern classics, the “new” Speed Twin sits nicely between the Street Twin and the Thruxton. Its looks are clearly copied from the Street Twin while the Thruxton set the standard for its performance level. The result of this combination had to be a retro-styled motorcycle with modern technology and the handling qualities of a naked. So did Triumph achieve this?
The design is more than good. What a beauty! The Speed Twin looks as classic as the Street Twin but can’t hide its sporty ambitions: weight on the nose, the tank tilted slightly forward, the rear set high. I hope you don’t mind I’m drooling a bit.
The beautiful engine, with the cylinders nicely visible from all sides, the uninterrupted exhausts, the brushed aluminum parts, and that paint job! Continue reading →
The history of Benelli is an eventful one. In 1911, Mamma Benelli opened a workshop for her six sons in Pesaro, Italy, so they could earn a living doing car and motorbike repairs. They often made parts themselves, so in 1921 they took it a step further and built the first Benelli motorcycle from the ground up.
The factory was bombed during WWII but the brothers didn’t give up. In the 1950s Benelli gained a name thanks to several racing successes, highlighted by winning the 250 cc world championship with pilot Dario Ambrosini.
In the 60s and 70s, Benelli did well, but the strong Japanese competition brought the brand to its knees in 1988. In the 90s, Benelli came into the hands of the Merloni group and released legendary bikes such as the Tornado and the TnT 1130. But again the success didn’t last.
The Chinese group Qianjiang took over Benelli in 2005 and the brand disappeared off the radar. At least, in Europe. Benelli focused on growth markets such as India and even Iran. At EICMA 2015, Benelli unveiled the Leoncini and the TRK 502. The beginning of Continue reading →
It was on a drizzly winter’s day that I was reflecting on the coming motorcycle season. I wanted to try something different, something special. So I got in touch with Jean.
“I want to test a maxi scooter,” I said.
Silence. Then, with a hint of disbelief: “You want to test a scooter?”
“Yes,” I answered.
I know nothing about maxi or mini scooters, except that they’re highly popular in big cities. Just join the daily traffic jams on the Brussels Ring and you’ll see many of them lane-splitting. So I became curious about those maxi scooters. But which one should I test?
Soon I bumped into the Honda X-ADV. Not just “a scooter”, but one that claims to be in a class of its own: a motorcycle with the sitting position and the comfort of a scooter.
The X-ADV is part of Honda’s adventure range, which is justified by giving the X-ADV some adventure characteristics: a larger front wheel than on traditional scooters, adjustable front and rear suspension, switchable traction control, hand guards and a beautiful digital dashboard similar to the one of the CRF450 Rallye. Combined with tough “armored” colors and rugged Bridgestone tires, the X-ADV just looks cool.
Motorcycle or scooter?
Right from the very first meters I notice how agile the X-ADV is. Ideal for city traffic, where it really plays out its scooter nature. The sitting posture takes some getting used to. It’s upright, with wide handlebars, and feels a bit like an adventure bike. But my feet in front of me and nothing between my legs, that’s new to me. Yet, it doesn’t take long before I throw the scooter from one corner into another. When I stop at a pub, I can easily store my helmet in the 21-liter compartment under the seat.
When I leave the city and can pick up the pace, the X-ADV’s stability Continue reading →
The Canary Islands are my favourite last minute destination: reasonably cheap, plenty to see and do, and most of all: the weather is good year-round. They are called “the islands of eternal spring” for good reasons. I had already visited Tenerife, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura so Gran Canaria was the next logical choice.
In my search to ride a motorcycle on the island to awaken from riding hibernation, I ended up with Canary Motorcycle Tours. Martin and Joy, an English couple, offer guided motorcycle tours on Gran Canaria for groups of up to 8 motorcycles. Prices are only slightly higher than renting a motorcycle yourself.
Canary Motorcycle Tours is based in Vecindario, a small town on the east coast of Gran Canaria, fifteen minutes from the airport. It has a pedestrian street with plenty of cafeterias but altogether there’s not much to do. For touristic Canarian highlights you need to go elsewhere. If you book a tour with Canary Motorcycle Tours they offer you a 2-star or a 4-star accommodation in Vecindario. Should you stay somewhere else, they will also organise transport from and to your hotel, on the condition that it’s not too far away.
After only a few emails the deal was done and dusted: three days of riding with stay in the 2-star hotel in Vecindario. I booked my flights and a week later I set foot on Gran Canaria!
Joy picked me up at my hotel in the morning. Upon arriving at the motorcycle shop the obligatory paperwork was swiftly done and I could choose my riding gear if I wanted to. The vests, boots, helmets and gloves they offer all looked in good condition, however I had brought my own gear.
Together with Martin I decided I would ride the Honda NC750X (he has 8 bikes in total, all Honda’s, of which I had already ridden the CB500X on Madeira). The NC750X is, according to the general opinion, that somewhat boring Continue reading →
The Aprilia Tuono has a lot in common with its donor bike, the RSV4. It still looks a lot like the hypersport, even if it’s a naked bike. It has more body panels than other fat naked bikes on the market. Especially the windscreen is taller than what we are used to. It seems to invite you to tug yourself behind it at higher speeds. A mere sign on the horizon?
The Tuono comes in two versions: the RR and the Factory. The Factory has everything what the RR has and adds a racy rear end, Öhlins everywhere and sportier shoes: Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa’s in a wider 200/55 rear tyre are standard on the Factory, while the RR gets 190/55 Diablo Rosso III’s. The Superpole Graphics are exclusive to the Factory. Besides that both models boast a very complete equipment level.
The electronics on this bike are impressive. Don’t say “traction control”, say “Aprilia Performance Ride Control”. It doesn’t just regulate a few thingies but computes real “assistance strategies”: ATC (traction control, adjustable in 8 positions on the go through flippers on the handlebars), AWC (wheelie control, adjustable during riding and softening contacts with the road), ALC (launch control, recommended only for the track), APL (pitlimiter, very practical in city traffic) and ACC (cruise control).
There is also Continue reading →
Three years ago Husqvarna presented the prototype of the Vitpilen 701 at EICMA. We had to wait a long time for the final production model. Beginning of this year, at the Brussels Motor Show, it was love at first sight. Now, finally I had the chance to test if this Husky rides as good as it looks.
There’s no accounting for taste, but still: the Vitpilen is a stunner. Design-wise, it deviates very little from the concept model and usually that’s a good thing.
“Simple. Progressive.” That’s the motto Husqvarna uses for the Vitpilen line. This can be seen in the design of both the 701 and the 401: progressive. And unique in the motorcycle business. Just have a look at the odd shape of the tank. Or at “the split”, the yellow line cutting the bike in two. The LED lights, both front and rear, are true design wonders and stylish logos are strewn around without ever being too much.
It’s a shame they threw a GS style license plate fender on it. And how cool would it have been should they’ve kept the open air filter as seen on the concept model?
After all this drooling, it’s time to ride! No explanations beforehand needed because there are only three buttons on the small round dash. These allow you to adjust some menu settings and switch off the traction control or ABS. That’s it. Simple.
With a seat height of 830mm the bike is rather high. The saddle also has Continue reading →