Motorcycles for the Touring Season (Part 1: Dual-Purpose)

  • It’s touring season for Malaysian bikers again.

  • While one could tour with any bike, riding one which is designed specifically for the purpose would be perfect.

  • We start with dual-purpose (DP) machines.

Touring season is upon us Malaysian bikers head out to tour the country as well as to Thailand for Songkran, Phuket Bike Week and various our locations. As the saying goes, “Always use the right tool for the right job,” it applies to the type of bike, too. Of course, there are hardcore riders who tour all the way to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand on 1970s Vespas and Lambrettas or mopeds, but there’s nothing like riding purpose-built machines.

We’ve put together a collection of bikes that we’ve tested and a (very) few that we hadn’t. However, we start with dual-sports (DP) motorcycles in Part 1.

As the designation implies, dual-sport motorcycles are suited for rough road and off-road riding, hence you could safely handle difficult situations (such as broken roads, dirt from a previous landslide should they arise handle well even at low speeds. They are also able to carry lots of luggage in addition to a passenger with ease. Long travel suspension soaks up surface irregularities, contributing to rider comfort. Adventure-tourers usually have bigger fuel tanks too, for longer ranges. Many, if not all, feature lower engine compression ratios meaning they could accept lower octane fuel.

Please note that we’ve left out the enduro-style DPs as they have limited range and luggage carrying capacity for long-distance touring.

LIGHTWEIGHT

The lightweight DP motorcycle segment isn’t necessarily new if you include enduros and trail bikes; but the segment is now joined by the “mini” Versys and GS.

BMW G 310 GS

The G 310 GS is the adventure version of the G 310 R roadster. (Please click here for our full review.) BMW Motorrad intended the bike for the far-flung markets hence the affordability and simplicity of these models. The G 310 GS is commendably fast on tarmac and has a great balance when ridden off-road.

Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valves, single-cylinder
Displacement 313 cc
Maximum power 34 bhp (25 kW) @ 9500 RPM
Maximum torque 28 Nm @ 7500 RPM
Seat height 835 mm (unladen)
Wet weight 169.5 kg (ready to ride)
Fuel capacity 11 litres
HONDA CRF250 RALLY

The CRF250 Rally is probably the best-looking bike in this lightweight group. (Please click here for our full review.) It features a handsome bodywork, along the lines of its CRF1000L Africa Twin bigger brother and will all the beautiful Honda quality you can shake a stick at. The engine is derived from the CBR250 and its got a nice set of LED headlamps. The CRF250 Rally is geared more towards relaxed off-road trail riding, hence it isn’t a real roadrunner. But if your holiday plan calls for riding off-road and camping, it’s hard to beat this bike.

Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valves, single-cylinder
Displacement 249 cc
Maximum power 23 bhp (24.7 kW) @ 8500 RPM
Maximum torque 22 Nm @ 7000 RPM
Seat height 895 mm
Wet weight 157 kg
Fuel capacity 10 litres
KAWASAKI VERSYS-X 250

It could be said that the Versys-X burst onto the scene. (Please click here for our full review.) Here was a bike that resembles the popular KLR650, is very light and has a lively 250cc engine sourced from the Ninja 250. Kawasaki had given the Versys-X longer legs (presumably for off-road riding), incidentally making it a quick road bike. The suspension may feel a little simple but it gets the job done in absorbing hard bumps supporting the occupants’ weight plus luggage.

Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valves, parallel-Twin
Displacement 249 cc
Maximum power 33.1 bhp (24.7 kW) @ 11500 RPM
Maximum torque 21.7 Nm @ 10000 RPM
Seat height 815 mm
Curb weight 173 kg
Fuel capacity 17 litres

MIDDLEWEIGHT

While the middleweight sport-touring segment is the most hotly contested, there are not many middleweight DPs except for BMW and Triumph in Malaysia.

BMW F 800 GS / F 800 GS ADVENTURE

The BMW F 800 GS and its Adventure variant has been around for some time. Slender cross-section and midsection, long travel suspension, ability to haul luggage, simplicity in maintenance and repair makes it the favourite among BMW riders who love to ride off-road. The model is slated for replacement by the new F 850 GS.

Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valves, parallel-Twin
Displacement 798 cc
Maximum power 85 bhp (62.5 kW) @ 7500 RPM
Maximum torque 80 Nm @ 5750 RPM
Seat height 890 mm
Wet weight 229 kg
Fuel capacity 24 litres

*Specifications based on the F 800 GS.

TRIUMPH TIGER 800

The Triumph Tiger 800 had enjoyed splendid sales and following from the previous model and the Hinckley-based manufacturer had successfully updated the 2018 model to make it even better. (Please click here for our full review.) There were 200 revisions just to the engine and chassis, there’s a new TFT screen and switchgear lifted from the Street Triple RS, bigger and adjustable windscreen and comfy seats, among other things. Updates to the chassis has resulted in a surefooted, confident ride. Refined Ride Modes, traction control and smooth engine power delivery sets new standards. The Triumph Tiger 800 is currently the best 800cc DP.

Choose from two different lines and six specs: XCx and XCa are adventure oriented, while the XR, XRx, XRx LRH and XRt are more road-oriented.

Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valves, inline-Triple
Displacement 800 cc
Maximum power 95 bhp (62.5 kW) @ 9500 RPM
Maximum torque 79 Nm @ 8050 RPM
Seat height 840 – 860 mm
Dry weight 205 kg
Fuel capacity 19 litres

*Specifications based on the Tiger 800 XCx.

HEAVYWEIGHT

This segment is populated by the technologically-laden heavy hitters. Everything from electronic suspension to lean-sensitive traction control and ABS are found here.

BMW R 1200 GS / R 1200 GS RALLYE / R 1200 GS ADVENTURE

What else could be written about the massively popular BMW R 1200 GS that hasn’t been? Long-range comfort, ability to haul everything apart from the house itself (216 kg permissible payload), goes anywhere, etc. etc., and it just keeps getting better and better.

Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valves, Boxer-Twin
Displacement 1170 cc
Maximum power 125 bhp (92 kW) @ 7750 RPM
Maximum torque 125 Nm @ 6500 RPM
Seat height 850 – 870 mm
Kerb weight 244 kg
Fuel capacity 20 litres

*Specifications based on the BMW R 1200 GS Rallye.

DUCATI MULTISTRADA 1200 ENDURO / MULTISTRADA 1200 ENDURO PRO

Although the Multistrada 1200 (and Multistrada 1200S) include an “Offroad” ride mode setting, it isn’t truly capable of taking on the gnarlier stuff other than a kampong (village) trail. Ducati knew they had a great sport-tourer but they were missing out on the go-anywhere territory, which is dominated by BMW and KTM.

Ducati revised the bike to give the Enduro more offroad capabilities such as the riding position, wheels, suspension, seat, handlebar, windscreen, gearing, traction control and a 30-litre fuel tank. The Enduro Pro version is fitted out with offroad accessories. The wonderfully smooth DVT-equipped engine is retained.

Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valves, 90o V-Twin
Displacement 1198 cc
Maximum power 160 bhp (117.7 kW) @ 9500 RPM
Maximum torque 136 Nm @ 7500 RPM
Seat height 870 mm
Kerb weight 254 kg
Fuel capacity 30 litres

*Specifications based on the Multistrada 1200 Enduro.

HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN

The Africa Twin name is one which is synonymous with DP that many fans cursed and swore when production stopped from 2004. Its comeback in 2016 was hailed as one of the biggest events and it has been selling steadily since then. Honda’s quality is on every control and surface you see and touch, and it’s offered in manual or Honda’s proprietary DCT automatic transmission. It’s one of the easiest big bore machines to ride.

Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valves, parallel-Twin
Displacement 998 cc
Maximum power 93.8 bhp (70 kW) @ 7500 RPM
Maximum torque 98 Nm @ 6000 RPM
Seat height 850 – 870 mm
Kerb weight 232 kg
Fuel capacity 19 litres

*Specifications based on the manual transmission option.

KTM 1050 ADVENTURE

The KTM 1050 Adventure is the model to entice new adventure riders into the Austrian giant’s adventure lineup.

Low seat height, low weight, easy handling are its core characteristics. It may not have as much technology such as the 1290 range but it holds its own with stuff like three Power Modes, assist and slip clutch, two-channel ABS, and a torquey engine. It may be a road-centric bike but all you need is a set of adventure tyres to ride both on and off-road.

Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valves, 75o V-Twin
Displacement 1050 cc
Maximum power 93.8 bhp (68.8 kW) @ 6200 RPM
Maximum torque 107 Nm @ 5750 RPM
Seat height 850 mm
Dry weight 212 kg
Fuel capacity 23 litres
KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R

There are two versions of the 1290 Super Adventure. The 1290 Super Adventure S is for the road (although it could do off-road too), while the 1290 Super Adventure R is geared for off-road riding. The 1290 Super Adventure lineup consists of technological marvels and are “fierce” bikes if you choose to ride fast (only 5 kg more than the 1050 Adventure but with 160 bhp on tap), but they are also civil when ridden at sane speeds. The new 1290 Super Adventure R also look great with that distinctive LED headlight. As we mentioned before there are so much technology to list down but the main ones are electronically controlled WP Semi-Active suspension, lean-sensitive traction control and ABS, five riding modes. Owners can opt for the Travel Pack which includes Hill Hold Control, Motor Slip Regulation, up and down Quickshifter+, KTM My Ride which turns the 6.5-inch LCD instrument panel into your communications centre. The 1290 Super Adventure R differs from the S-version in the wheels, windscreen and off-road traction control strategy.

Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valves, 75o V-Twin
Displacement 1031 cc
Maximum power 160 bhp (118 kW) @ 8750 RPM
Maximum torque 140 Nm @ 6750 RPM
Seat height 890 mm
Dry weight 217 kg
Fuel capacity 23 litres
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