Review: KTM 1290 Super Adventure S

In 2018 I tested the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S and during that test week I developed a profound love for the bike. So much so that the Super Adventure made it to the number 1 on my list of favorite test bikes that year.

That experience made me very curious about the new 1290 Super Adventure S, which got a big make-over for model year 2021. Even though an untrained eye perhaps wouldn’t notice much of that update.

The headlight is probably the biggest eye-catcher. It now contains the sensor for the (standard) adaptive cruisecontrol. Quite easy to spot as well: the new 23-litre tank hangs like two large cheeks along both sides of the also renewed frame. Furthermore, the LC8 V-twin has been thoroughly revised: it weighs 1.6 kg less now, received a Euro5 diploma and spits out 160 hp/138 Nm. The steering head was moved 15 mm rearwards for sharper handling, while the swingarm was extended by 15 mm for more stability and grip. And there’s more, but we’ll discuss that later.

When I hop on the bike, I immediately notice that the adjustable seat (849 / 869 mm) is lower and narrower at the front than on the previous model. At the same time, 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: Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro

Last year we said farewell to the Triumph Tiger 800 because Triumph unveiled a completely new Tiger 900. Completely new indeed, because there’s a new engine, a new frame, new brakes and suspension, and a new dashboard …

When the press release came in I must say it wasn’t love at first sight. The 800 looked good with its double headlights but the 900 tried something else which I didn’t fancy right away. But hey, a test could maybe change my mind. So I decided to head out on the Tiger 900 Rally Pro, five days in the Moselle region (of which you can find the travel report right here).

Love at second sight?

Pictures don’t always tell the whole story so I was curious to see if sparks would fly on our first real life meeting. Unfortunately, they didn’t. Something about the proportions. The headlight seems a little small and looks less ballsy than the previous model. The rear light is okay, but is mounted into a plump construction. And even though the fuel tank with its sloping frontside doesn’t deviate that much from its predecessor’s looks and the finish is right up to Triumph’s standards (read: very high), the 900 just doesn’t do the trick for me design-wise. A shame, because the 800 was one of the best looking adventure bikes if you ask me.

In our last Tiger 800 review (the XCa in 2018) we suggested a few improvements. We missed a quick shifter in the options list, the tire choice was dated, it was impossible to mount tubeless tires and wasn’t it time for lean-angle technology to make its way onto this bike? Triumph went to work and added all of it to the new Tiger, or at least Continue reading