Off The RecordMitch BoehmAGE: 42 HEIGHT: 6 ft. WEIGHT: 225 lb. INSEAM: 32 in.I must be getting soft in my old age. I love all four of these things, including the Tiger, which is a great streetbike. Yeah, it's softly suspended, and a touch lacking powerwise down low. But it's a gas to ride, and a plush one at that. Ditto the V-Strom, which adds stump-pulling power to the party. Ultimate Urban Assault Vehicle (UUAV) honors go to the KTM, which would have no problem wheelieing over bothersome VW Beetles like speed bumps if the need arose. And then there's the GS, the best all-around motorcycle going. I'll be heading to Europe again this fall for our Alps Challenge Tour (sign up and come with us!), and I've already booked a GS. Werner, don't let me down!
Barry BurkeAGE: 41 HEIGHT: 6ft. WEIGHT: 165 lb. INSEAM: 33 in.When Carrithers first called me about helping out with this adventure bike test, I had a few doubts. Bikes weighing 500-plus pounds? Saddlebags? Semi-knobby tires? On the street? What would my buddies say? But at least I'd be riding, and getting paid for it. So we took off in traffic, and...hey, these things were sorta fun. Things got better on the fire roads north of the city, where the KTM and BMW were huge fun blasting around on. The KTM is most impressive on loose surfaces, but the BMW wasn't too far off the mark, which is impressive for such a good streetbike. Heated grips? (Cue Homer Simpson voice.) Mmmmmmmmmmm. I have a whole new respect for this adventure riding thing. Carrithers...call me anytime!
Tim CarrithersAGE: 46 HEIGHT: 6ft. 3in. WEIGHT: 210 lb. INSEAM: 35 in.Sportbikes have evolved to the point where you can stick a fork in the thought of riding one hard on the street: done. Cruisers are great if you're in the market for a loud, 600-pound hunk of costume jewelry. That leaves these gigantic trailies, which is just fine with me. Aside from AMA Supercross or roadrace nationals, they'll let you take a stab at just about any other two-wheel pursuit. And when it's time to ditch the dangerous cretins clogging up all the good roads every weekend, these bikes are the only way.
Paul GoldeAGE: 50 HEIGHT: 5ft. 11in. WEIGHT: 170 lb. INSEAM: 32 in.Obviously, none of these big trailies are the sharpest tools in the dual-sport shed, mostly because of their dismal stock street/dirt tires and high streetbike-like weight. The KTM is the most capable in the dirt even with the stock rubber and the BMW is capable enough, so sehr kuhl. The Suzuki is a great value of a streetbike with comfortable seating and suspension, but does not like to go off the tarmac, period. Ditto for the Triumph, though it's $1500 more.
Paul Golde has been riding for 37 of his 50 years, and is the international brand manager for Fairchild Sports, a company that controls brands such as Held, Hein Gericke and Vemar.
RawHyde AdventuresPortable luxury for the enlightened adventurer
Those who've become accustomed to the whole civilization thing may have issues with adventure touring. Where should you go? What if you get lost? Will you be eaten by wild dogs? Moreover, various staples of enlightened existence--clean sheets, hot showers and edible food, for instance--often stay home. After a day in the dirt you often trade funk-infested gear for an even funkier sleeping bag, warm Gatorade and a deformed Power Bar from something called a fanny pack.
Sign up with RawHyde Adventures and things will be considerably different.Proprietor Jim Hyde can explain the intricacies of successful adventuring: riding technique, requisite accoutrements and routes. The works. Then, after an all-day immersion in California high-desert splendor, you ride into RawHyde's rolling oasis and the most difficult decision is this: Heineken or Corona? There's a hot shower waiting inside the mobile RawHyde hotel, along with air-conditioning, comfy sofas and chairs, plus satellite TV and a munificent bar for those who appreciate that sort of thing. Halfway through Corona numero dos, Gigi--RawHyde's truly gifted chef--emerges from her professional kitchen on wheels. After warming up with appetizers that shamed 80 percent of the restaurants we know, she took it up a notch with every ensuing course.
After swapping the usual implausible stories, towering exaggerations and blatant contradictions of physical reality around the campfire with your fellow adventurers, adjourn to an actual air-conditioned bedroom upstairs--complete with a queen-sized bed--or one of the safari tents mounted above nifty gear lockers on another trailer in RawHyde's little desert caravan.
We sampled an abbreviated version of Hyde's Adventure Experience, essentially a three-day 500-mile boot camp for prospective omnisurface adventurers. It starts at Jim's 42 Bar Ranch near Castaic, California, and includes some valuable riding instruction, magnificent scenery, two nights of RawHyde-style camping and then some for $1195. Bring your own bike. Various other programs are available depending on the time and money you have to spend. If you're interested, click on www.rawhyde-offroad.com for the particulars.