R1200GS v KTM v MULTISTRADA
KTM and Ducati try to knock BMW off the top of the adventure bike table
With the adventure bike class still dominating the new-bike market, there has been no let up in the push by manufacturers to be top dog. BMW’S R1200GS is the number one seller year on year and after decades of playing second fiddle to the Germans, KTM and Ducati have clearly had enough.
To maintain the bragging rights of BMW’S flagship, which is the UK’S best-selling bike over 125cc, the GS TE Exclusive has undergone a minor revolution – think Bakeoff moving to Channel 4 rather than Fidel Castro overhauling the Cuban government –while the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S is similar with tweaks to an already highly competent package. The KTM 1290 Super Adventure S, meanwhile, has had the biggest upgrades with the addition of semi-active suspension, cornering ABS and a game-changing new dash.
The ethos of these road-biased flagship adventure bikes is that they can be all things to all men and women – engaging to ride, with real world performance, while retaining some off-road credentials and providing serious levels of comfort even after monster mileage days in the saddle.
To find out which one delivers the most, we took them on a 600-mile ride through Wales, taking in motorways, fire tracks and everything in between. Ducati’s road-biased Mutlistrada has a different take on adventure compared to the KTM or BMW. The most obvious and significant difference is the 17in wheels, which bring pros and cons to the overall package.
Like the KTM, Ducati also claims big horsepower – 160bhp to be precise – but its L-twin configuration delivers the bulk of its power at higher revs, meaning that it has to be worked harder to run at the same pace. It’s still a great motor, offering an engaging ride with superb performance, but
A 20-litre tank means regular fill-ups
DUCATI MULTISTRADA 1200 S £17,750 BMW R1200GS TE EXCLUSIVE £15,565 Now Euro4 compliant without losing any power or torque. New ESA self-levelling electronic suspension and lean angle sensitive traction control and cornering ABS. Featuring Ducati’s Skyhook electronic suspension and proven Desmodromic variable valve timing motor. Multi-stage traction control, ABS and many updates.