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Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

and ex­udes com­pe­tence. It’s old but thor­oughly sorted.

Like the BMW, the Tri­umph takes a lit­tle get­ting used to as there’s a lack of dive and feel from the semi-ac­tive sus­pen­sion, which is al­ways try­ing to keep the bike level for com­fort (de­pend­ing on the rider mode and set­tings). The rear shock has ac­tive preload ad­just­ment that changes on the move and which, apart from lack­ing a lit­tle feed­back when chas­ing crazy Ital­ians up scary moun­tain roads, in­creases com­fort dra­mat­i­cally. You don’t re­ally no­tice how good the Tri­umph is un­til you ride it back to back with any of the oth­ers. It turns badly sur­faced roads into near per­fect smooth­ies and makes it the most com­fort­able of the lot for rider and pil­lion.

The sporti­est award, how­ever, goes to the KTM, which just edges out the Du­cati. The Ad­ven­ture is so light on the move and a de­light to throw around, while its re­spon­sive and ag­gres­sive en­gine has some real bark to it, es­pe­cially when you keep revving it hard. But this is no one-trick pony and has some clever rider aids keep­ing you safe, in­clud­ing KTM’S ex­cel­lent cor­ner­ing ABS. As I said, the Du­cati runs it close and has a stronger en­gine, but for me is a lit­tle too top heavy, es­pe­cially with a full tank of fuel. It cer­tainly han­dles beau­ti­fully and stays glued to the back wheel of the KTM, but the Aus­trian bike is just a lit­tle eas­ier to ride at speed. Only the Honda, which doesn’t have ac­tive sus­pen­sion, rider modes or cor­ner­ing ABS, was out­classed in the on-road han­dling stakes. But con­sid­er­ing it’s also the only bike with a 21-inch front wheel it kept up a de­cent pace; it’s only when rid­ing with larger-ca­pac­ity bikes that it feels out­gunned.

As we climbed fur­ther up Etna, the road tight­ened, be­came nar­rower and we had to over­come other dan­gers, too. Piles of black vol­canic ash sat in the gul­lies, while melt­ing snow trick­led across the road when we least ex­pected it, and the bikes started to gasp for oxy­gen. The speed of the ride up Mount Etna soon re­duced as the tem­per­a­ture tum­bled and snow sat on the road around blind cor­ners.

Soon we reached the end of the road, al­most within reach of the alarm­ingly ac­tive crater. As the bikes cooled down with the stun­ning sight of Etna in the back­ground we had time for re­flec­tion and a chance to chat about the bikes.

Michael Neeves praised the Du­cati highly. At 6ft tall he hadn’t ex­pe­ri­enced the same top-heavy feel­ing I had, and the tall seat wasn’t a prob­lem ei­ther. Our Ital­ian guest riders from Pirelli also praised the Du­cati’s power and speed. MCN'S Michael Guy rel­ished the sporti­ness of the KTM: "It feels raw and me­chan­i­cal, it re­ally wanted to take off, it's the sporti­est of the bunch," he said. We all agreed that de­spite the BMW’S age and rel­a­tive lack of power it was any­thing but past it, far from it. The

Tri­umph hadn’t scored highly in the fun stakes on the climb up Etna but we all agreed the semi-ac­tive sus­pen­sion was supremely com­fort­able, and it was backed up by a strong mo­tor.

So which would we choose for a fun ride back down Etna’s end­less twists and turns? Both Michael Guy and I opted for the KTM fol­lowed by the Du­cati. Neevesy had the re­verse or­der: Du­cati first and KTM sec­ond, while the BMW was ev­ery­one’s third favourite.

For longer miles into the heart of Si­cily both Michaels opted for the Du­cati, fol­lowed by the Tri­umph with the BMW third. They cited the En­duro’s huge fuel tank, ex­cel­lent com­fort, er­gonomics and en­gine as the de­ci­sive fac­tors. The Tri­umph XRT was my long-dis­tance win­ner be­cause of its sump­tu­ous com­fort, with the BMW sec­ond and Du­cati third. The Africa Twin didn’t make it into any­one’s top three but we had to re­mind our­selves that at only £10,495 it is by far the cheap­est bike here.

There's more than one way up a vol­cano... here's the hard way The KTM and Du­cati do bat­tle in the power stakes, but the Ital­ian bike has the edge It's down on power com­pared to its ri­vals, but the Africa Twin is a flat­ter­ing ride Twin peaks − the boxer

Full-colour dash packs plenty of info Func­tion over flash for Africa Twin dash Don't worry, the UK bikes are in English Ger­man ma­chine rocks ana­logue clocks Twin LCDS show speed and in­for­ma­tion Four-pot Brem­bos pack cor­ner­ing ABS Wave discs boost th

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