Can these big bikes really tackle trails?
Even on road tyres all four bikes were able to comfortably deal with twisty, hilly and sometimes wet tracks we tackled as we weaved across the peak district. The Ducati and BMW defy their huge weight and specs and perform above expectation. The KTM is ultimately the most capable off-road bike here, but it needs an experienced rider to exploit that potential. The Honda is the cheapest, simplest and lowest spec bike, but as a package it inspires confidence and was the bike all four testers felt the most comfortable on. The manual geared version would be better still.
1 Africa Twin DCT
Although it weighs a chunky 242kg, the Africa Twin is the most userfriendly off-road thanks to its relative lack of bulk and 21in front wheel. There are no off-road maps or electronics, just a beautiful linear power and torque curve that might feel dull on the road but enable the rider to feel exactly what the rear of the bike is doing off road.
2 Multistrada 1200 Enduro
With its 30-litre fuel tank and 150bhp the Multistrada Enduro should be a nightmare off-road, but it isn’t. Thanks to its sophisticated electronics, which drastically reduce power in Enduro mode and incredible electronic suspension, the Ducati is an impressive package when things get dirty.
3 R1200GS Adventure
It’s hard not to be intimidated by the sheer size of the GS, with its bigger-capacity fuel tank and crash bars making it significantly wider than a standard GS. But it holds its weight low and has a sublime throttle connection which means it will track up hills on minimal throttle and has an uncanny ability to find grip.
4 1290 Super Adventure R
High, narrow and stiff are the characteristics that defy the aggressive 1290R. With fully adjustable WP suspension controlling its 21in front and 18in rear wheels the KTM is essentially a huge, powerful 160bhp off road competition bike! At slow speeds it feels too taut and stiff, but the faster you go the better it gets.