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It’s what we do

This entry is part 1 of 17 in the series Adventure Rider Issue #22

There’s an interesting little tug-of-war going on in the Australian adventure-riding fraternity at the moment.

On one side a section of bike manufacturers has decided horse-power is an excellent marketing tool. Whatever one brand offers, the others will match and go bigger.

The Ducati Mutlistrada 1200 Enduro offered 160 horsepower and we all peed our pants. KTM’s new 1290 matched it and we all peed our pants again. BMW’s Wasserboxer motor has a punchy 135 horsepower, and I must say I’m a little surprised that wasn’t increased for 2017, but for a while it was king and we peed our pants.

You know this is a marketing exercise because those figures are trumpeted to the public. Do you ever see horsepower figures quoted “Whatever bike makes you stare, care and takes you there is the one you should have. ” for 650 singles? Does anyone reject those bikes because their horsepower figures don’t match their competitiors? Well, no, because none of us know what the horsepower figures are. That’s because it’s not all that important.

Does anyone seriously feel disadvantaged by having 25 horse-power less when they still can punch out over a 100?

If you do, you’re far too accomplished a rider to be interested in this grey-headed old wobbler’s thoughts and opinions on anything.

On the other side of the tug-of-war rope is a group of manufacturers saying, “Folks, what you need is a light, easy-to-live with bike that uses very little fuel and whose tyres last forever.” Yamaha leads the push with the WR250R, but Kawasaki looks like it’ll be lending its weight to the argument with the new Versys 300.

Honda’s offering a rally version of its CRF250, and anyone who discounts Suzuki’s DRZ 400 is a mug.

To keep the edges blurred, Yamaha also has the 1200cc Super T. While I haven’t seen horsepower figures quoted, I’ve ridden that very excellent motorcycle enough to know it’s offering some serious snort, and there’s a great deal more to be unleashed with just a little tuning.

Suzuki has the V-Stroms, especially the 1000, so its hedging its bets as well. Kawasaki’s Versys are more road-oriented, but the 1000 snorts like a Kwaka motor at its best.

I reckon there’s a better value increment to apply to adventure bikes. I don’t know what to call it, so I’ll just say ‘Happiness factor’.

If 250kg and 160 horsepower leaves your face aching because you can’t stop grinning about the way that bike feels, it’s the bike for you. If effortlessly flipping your bike up from on its side in the sand has the corners of your north’n’south stretched from one ear to the other, that’s the bike you should be riding.

If seeing the sun reflected in the deep, multilayer paintwork makes your bottom lip quiver with desire, it’s desire you should embrace.

And if your riding buddies all want something different?

That, I say, is where the real heart and soul of adventure riding is beating strongest. Whatever bike makes you stare, care and takes you there is the one you should have, and let’s all keep our fingers crossed that our sport never becomes so controlled and homogenised that we all end up riding the same thing.

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