Adventure-Tourer Comparo

ad*ven*ture n. 1. a. An undertaking or enterprise of a hazardous nature. b. An undertaking of a questionable nature, especially one involving intervention in another states' affairs. 2. An unusual or exciting experience. 3. Participation in hazardous or ex

Photography by Joe Bonnello

Why no Multistrada?Left at home on purpose? Or is it just a wallflower?

The less-than-gentle readers among you might, even now, have your fingers poised midair over your computer's keyboard, prepared to type a rather intemperate--incendiary, even--query to the effect of, "Why didn't you knotheads include the Multistrada?"

The Multistrada's omission is easily explained. First and foremost, Ducati has maintained right from the beginning that despite the bike's name--for the umpteenth time, Multistrada means many roads--the only roads it's meant to traverse are paved ones; crudely paved mountain passes perhaps, but paved just the same. As designer Pierre Terblanche said, "It's very much a sports bike with some extra features, not an enduro bike adapted for the street."

Still, some confusion might insist upon arising given the engine's designation, 1000 DS. Again, for those of you just joining us, or who live too much of an isolated, Bates Motel lifestyle, the DS means Dual Spark, as in twin spark plugs in each cylinder head, not Dual-Sport.

Lastly, the Multistrada simply doesn't have the rolling stock for adventure-touring, nor could you easily fit some even if you wanted to disregard all the evidence so far that it's a streetbike, period. Wheel sizes are distinctly sportbikey at 3.50 x 17 front and 5.50 x 17 rear. There simply aren't any dirt-worthy tires available to fit.

And that's all there is to it. Return now to Tim's Adventure Test already in progress.

Adventure TechniqueEasier than you think, more fun than you can imagine.

Dirt Rider Editor Jimmy Lewis is nothing if not a hugely talented and accomplished off-road racer. He's won at everything from backyard supercross to the ISDE to stages in the Dakar Rally--and even the Baja 1000. He's also a teacher, having taught off-road riding for a decade, specializing in adventure-touring machines for the last few years. Here's Lewis' quick primer on getting the most from your adventure machine.

BalanceAs with all aspects of riding, it's all about balance. Keep your bike upright and inline and even the heaviest machine will feel light. Lose that balance and the bike will suddenly feel heavy. The trick is catching it quickly and getting it back on point while moving or stopped. Many riders hold their bikes out of balance while riding and then wonder why they get tired.

Loose and RelaxedThe key to controlling an adventure bike is using your body weight to make the machine do what you want, not the other way around. If you're tense and tight on the bike, your mass is added to the bike's weight, and when something happens you've got nothing to fight back with. By being loose (and often by standing on the pegs) you can let the bike move under you and use your body's influence when necessary.

Clutch, Throttle and BrakeCan you ride around more slowly than first gear allows by slipping the clutch? Can you do it with very little throttle and not stall? Can you now apply the brakes and come to a full stop, balanced, without putting a foot down? Then, can you use the controls to snap back into balance? When going slow off-road, being in control is crucial. These three controls are key, and you'll need to use them like never before.

Knobbies--the only way to goGet beyond a graded dirt road on street tires--or even what manufacturers call a 50-50 tire--and the fun can end really quickly, especially in mud or sand. A true knobby has to have blocks, especially on the sidewall. The Continental TKC80 is about the best compromise for these large bikes. It'll do anything, from cylinder-on-the-deck scratching to desert dunes.

Slow Down This is most important: You are not on the Dakar, and no matter what you think your bike's capable of, its weight is just waiting for the next ditch or rut to toss you into terra firma. If you can't stop before a danger or obstacle, you're going too fast. I ride my big off-road bikes like I'd drive a Jeep--slow, controlled and balanced, except when I tip over, and that's about all I'd want to do on a bike this size.

More For The HardcoreUpgrades for the earnest adventurer

Touratech Motorrad-ausrstung started out selling trick, computerized speedometers to the sort of riders who know La Paz is the highest capital city in the world because they took el Camino del Muerte through the Bolivian rain forest to get there. Based in Neiderschach--56 miles south of Stuttgart--in southern Germany, the company's original 12-page 1995 catalog has grown to 674 pages in '05, covering everything from titanium coffee mugs to sump guards for BMW's R1200GS. Imagine L.L. Bean meets the Dakar Rally.

There are loads of interesting bits here for all manner of adventurous tourers, even those who don't ride a GS. Here are four fully Tourateched--and much more off-road-worthy--versions of our test bikes. We've picked four helpful bits for each, but there are far more parts on each bike than we can list here. See the rest at http://www.touratech-usa.com.

BMW R1200GS Sport seat: $369.10hlins shocks: front, $719;

Suzuki DL1000 V-StromHandlebar risers: $50.70ZEGA pannier system: $963.70Oil-cooler guard: $53.80High windscreen: $195

KTM 950 AdventureXenon auxiliary headlights: $443.80Kevlar fuel-tank protectors: $200.40High front fender: $221.40Tank bag: $176.30

Triumph Tiger 955iWirth fork springs: $118.80Handlebar brace: $28.80Crash bars: $248.90

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