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

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

Five days in the Moselle, the report

Planning a motorcycle holiday isn’t easy nowadays. In June we had to convert our trip to the Alps into a staycation. In September I had a week off work, but where would I go to?

The Covid-19 colour code carousel changed my plans for that week more than once. My first idea was to give our getaway to the Alps a second try, but the green zone of France quickly said ‘Adieu’. Next idea: Dolomites. I was already plotting out routes when that green zone turned to red. Arrivederci.

Germany still looked good, but what about preparing a trip on German roads? Not that obvious in my opinion, because of the lack of Google Streetview. Would I spend my time researching to see a green zone turn to red once more? I didn’t feel like doing that.

So I changed my plans. No more figuring out routes or looking for overnight stays myself, I was just gonna go for a last minute all-in package: a motorcycle hotel in a green zone, with gps-tracks in the deal.

That wasn’t simple either. The five days in the Harz mountains which I hoped for fizzled out when the green disappeared just a few days before my departure. So I booked five days in the Moselle with Horizon Motorreizen. Nothing but green over there, or at least when I visited.

Day 1: Off we go

The outward route is 277 kilometers long and starts near Aachen, which is 30 minutes from my home. I leave the highway after a few kilometers of full gas on the Triumph Tiger 900 (test report coming soon).

I’m crossing the Eifel to reach the Moselle valley and even though this is nothing but the ‘route to get there’, I’m having fun. There’s a wide variation of corners: slow, winding, sharp, pointed, fast, it’s all there.

The countryside changes from woods to sloping meadows and fields as far as the eye can see. Add a lot of climbing and descending to this and you can say Continue reading

Review: BMW S 1000 XR

With the arrival of the 2020 BMW S 1000 XR, we say goodbye to the first generation XR. That bike received very nice reviews and Jean even named it his favorite test bike in 2015. But when I got to ride it last year, I wasn’t really convinced. OK, the engine was awesome and the suspension very good, but the bike felt aged due to its outdated dash, it vibrated a lot and a stubborn quickshifter spoiled all the fun. Curious to see if they fixed this for the 2020-version. I was very eagerly looking forward to this test.

BMW puts the S 1000 XR in their Adventure family. Strange, because the ’S’ in its name clearly points out the sporty DNA. The extensive standard equipment shows that touring is definitely within the possibilities. So in which category does this powerhouse really belong? Adventure, Sport or Touring?

Equipment

First let’s start with the dull part of this review: all the bells and whistles you can find on this top of the line machine. Dynamic ESA, lightweight cast wheels, adjustable windscreen, small storage compartment, LED-lighting, TFT-display, Connectivity, integrated pannier attachment points, Pro riding modes, ABS Pro, hill start control, traction control, engine brake settings: it all comes as standard.

Our test bike was further equipped with some of the well-known – and actually indispensable – BMW option packages that make that this S 1000 XR basically has anything you could want on a motorcycle. Quickshifter, automatic height setting, cruise-control, keyless ride, heated grips, center stand, GPS-holder, USB-port … The list continues for a while and – another BMW habit – adds up to the price until you’re well over budget.

Sport?

The solid pricetag luckily offers a lot of motorcycle in return. The XR is rightfully Continue reading

Review: Yamaha Ténéré 700

It was the year 2016 and as the first pictures of the Yamaha T7 Concept came in, I couldn’t stop drooling over them. It was a long wait until the Ténéré 700 finally arrived in 2019 and an even longer wait until I could finally swing my leg over it mid-2020. Enough with the drooling, shall we go for a ride?

Before I turn over the key, let’s have a look at what I’m dealing with. A middleweight adventure bike. That’s a very crowded segment with all the usual suspects and mavericks. It’s not hard to find some ten competitors once you start listing them up. BMW F 850 GS, Triumph Tiger 900, KTM 790 Adventure, Suzuki V-Strom 650, Moto Guzzi V85 TT, Ducati Multistrada 950, Kawasaki Versys 650, Benelli TRK 502, Royal Enfield Himalayan, Honda CB500X … almost all brands have got one in their model range. What added value can Yamaha offer?

The looks and equipment clearly state which side the Ténéré 700 is choosing. Offroad? Yes, please! It turns its back on more road-focused adventure bikes, thereby shortening the list of competitors.

The high, slim figure, the rally-inspired face, the long suspension travel (8.3 inch front and 7.9 inch rear), block pattern Pirelli’s, aluminum engine guard: it all looks pretty tough. The seat matches the adventurous appearance: Continue reading