Asphalt & Rubber typically posts between 20 and 30 stories a week. We are not prolific in the amount of content we produce each week, instead we are selective about what we cover, and always try to frame a single story into a much larger understanding of what is happening in a particular segment or in the industry as whole.
So, this means that not everything we want to cover gets covered. Some stories don’t make the cut, some stories fall to the wayside because of time or resources, and some stories just simply get lost in the shuffle.
It is a shame, so I wanted to create a new segment where we touch back on some of those topics, and include a few others that are completely outside the scope of this motorcycle blog.
Part clearinghouse for stories that we will never get our full attention, and part book club for our loyal readers who are doing their best to survive the work day, say hello to the first installment of the “What We’re Reading” column series.
BMW basically created the adventure touring category, popularizing the segment with its Gelände Straße motorcycles. Ever since, the German brand has created more and more “GS” bikes to help diversify its lineup for the tastes of riders, and also to defend its position from other brands.
Here, designer Oberdan Bezzi imagines a different kind of GS – a grand sport. Living somewhere between a scrambler and a maxi-motard, Bezzi’s creation sees the use of an air-cooled 1250cc boxer engine, wedged into a light adventure-sport format.
It is an intriguing idea (and design), and it pokes an obvious hole in BMW’s current crop of motorcycles. We didn’t think the Bavarian brand could use another boxer-powered motorcycle in its lineup, but Bezzi’s Global Sport makes a good case for such a machine.
Just the other day, I was lamenting to a Ducati person about how the Desert Sled should have been the first model from the motorcycle makers Scrambler sub-brand…since, you know, it goes off-road quite well. Built for the hard hits and jumps that come with taking a production street bike scrambling through the woods, the Desert Sled pretty much lives up to its name. But, if you really want to do the business, some changes need to be made. This is where Alex Earle comes in the picture, with his Ducati Desert Sled “ADV Alaska” Prototype. A designer for Audi by day, Earle is known better in motorcycling circles for his street-tracker inspired custom Ducatis. You’ve probably seen them before.
The Brits over at MCN have an interesting story right now, whereby Honda is considering making a middleweight version of its Africa Twin adventure-tourer. Really, that thought isn’t so shocking, and if this year’s EICMA show was any indication of things, it’s that the middleweight ADV segment is of particular interest to motorcycle manufacturers right now. One look at Honda’s lineup, and it is obvious that Big Red is missing something that can go head-to-head with bikes like the BMW F850GS and Triumph Tiger 800, and the soon-to-come KTM 790 Adventure and Yamaha Ténéré 700. Focused for off-road use, the Honda Africa Twin may not be the pluckiest liter-class adventure-tourer on the market, but it certain is at the top of the pack when it comes to trail riding capability.
The middleweight ADV segment is hot in Milan right now, with a bevy of models in this category debuting at this year’s EICMA show. For BMW Motorrad, its a two-pronged effort, showing the updated BMW F750GS and BMW 850GS models.
This space has always been a big crowded in the BMW motorcycle lineup, with the F700GS and F800GS having considerable overlaps. For 2018, the Germans explain how they see the F750GS and F850GS as differing.
Accordingly, the BMW F750GS is designed for riders who prefer a travel enduro that has a low seat height, good power, and plenty of bang for the buck.
Conversely, the new BMW F850GS boasts more power and torque, is more feature-heavy, and is designed with extensive off-roading in mind.
We were the first outlet to bring you photos of the KTM 790 Adventure R prototype, but now this 799cc trail-shredding machine is out in the wild, and we can share with you more specs, details, and higher resolution photos. The first point is the obvious, the KTM 790 Adventure R will not be a 2018 model, but instead will debut for the 2019 model year. It shares a parallel-twin engine with the KTM 790 Duke, which also debuted today at the EICMA show in Milan. The 105hp engine is a fully stressed part of the steel-tube chassis, which means there should be excellent weight savings for the 790 Adventure R. A full electronics suite is expected as well, with the 790 Duke already showing itself to be fully stocked against the competition.
A quirky bike in its own right, the Moto Guzzi Stelvio had a strange cult following behind its bulky adventure-touring frame. As such, it was missed when it disappeared from Moto Guzzi’s lineup. Well, now it’s back…sort of. The following is what’s being called the Moto Guzzi V85 concept. It’s a loud enduro model that picks up where the Stelvio left off, and it also boasts a new 850cc engine platform from the Italian brand, which with its 80hp, will sit between the V7/V9 family of bikes, and the big 1400 cruisers. Strangely, Moto Guzzi isn’t sharing too many details about the new V85 concept, though we know that it will have a fully digital dash, as well as LED daytime running lights.
The name of the game for Triumph’s 2018 ADV bikes is subtlety, but effective updates for the upcoming model year. As such, we have already seen at the EICMA show in Milan that the Triumph Tiger 800 gets modest updates for the 2018 model year.
The 2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 too gets a much needed overhaul, though like the Tiger 800, the changes are hard to spot on the full-size adventure-tourer in the British brand’s ADV lineup.
Triumph is quoting a 22 lbs weight reduction for the new Tiger 1200 though (note the name change too, by the way), along with over 100 other improvements found on the adventure bike.
The biggest improvement comes to the 1,215cc three-cylinder engine, which makes just shy of 140hp in its shaft-drive format – just as it did in 2017.
Hoping to make a splash with adventure riders with its 2018 edition however, Triumph has been sure to pack the Tiger 1200 with a bevy of premium features, starting with WP Suspension’s semi-active suspension pieces.
The Triumph Tiger 800 gets a refresh for the 2018 model year – 200 of them, if you believe the British brand, though they are hard to spot with the naked eye. While not a completely new ADV bike, the 2018 Triumph Tiger 800 does get meaningful upgrades to a variety of its core systems, helping it maintain its status as the benchmark in the middleweight ADV category. Triumph tells us that the 800cc three-cylinder engine has been made more responsive, while peak power remains at 95hp. The Brits have also shortened 1st gear, for better low-speed character. The exhaust has been worked over, as has the new five-position windscreen. Of course, the feature you will be really happy to hear about is the new “Off Road Pro” mode (XC models only), which lets one turn off the various rider aids.
Last year, we were teased with the Yamaha T7 concept, a bike we expected to become a 700cc Yamaha Ténéré adventure machine. A year has passed now, and finally we can see the new Yamaha Ténéré 700 at this year’s EICMA show…or so we thought.
Based on the parallel-twin engine found in the Yamaha FZ-07, the Yamaha Ténéré 700 World Raid promises to bring a potent middleweight adventure bike to Yamaha’s dual-sport lineup. But instead, it is yet another prototype teaser from Yamaha.
We are Jack’s utter disappointment.
The Honda Africa Twin gets a sibling for the 2018 model year, as the Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports debuted today at Honda’s pre-EICMA event. As expected the Africa Twin Adventure Sports is a more off-road focused version of the Honda Africa Twin, and comes with a robust set of features that make it easier to go globetrotting on the plucky ADV bike from Honda. Like on the now revised 2018 Honda Africa Twin, the Adventure Sports version comes with improvements over the original Africa Twin design. This includes new foot rests, a new instrument panel, RbW throttle control with three throttle maps, seven levels of traction control system, a new exhaust design, and a lithium-ion battery.