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Old 07-24-2013, 10:21 PM   #1
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CrossTourer versus Super Tenere, R1200GS, & Triumph Explorer

We spent the last couple of weeks in Sweden and Norway, mostly on a R1200RT. There was also a red DCT CrossTourer that I was able to take for a few hours on a couple of occasions, making some notes while the impressions were fresh. I was able to get a pretty good spread of conditions, from muddy dirt roads to highway.


My subjective observations after riding the 4 bikes. (fwiw, I've rented or borrowed GS's a couple times a year forever, currently own a Super Tenere & son's DL1000, and only rode once on a Triumph Explorer, but did get to borrow the TEX for a long leisurely demo and was impressed.)

The Honda gives us buyers a choice and if it blows your skirt up, a person could be very happy and proud to own one. But at nearly the same price is the better equipped and finished Triumph Explorer. Or if the 'Tourer comes to the US with relatively the same pricing as the Triumph, a person could save a bunch to buy the Yamaha Super Tenere.


THE PRO & NEUTRAL STUFF:
The Honda is a nice bike in fit and finish. Love the red color.

I liked the slightly smaller feel than of my Super Tenere, even though the Honda is heavier. To do this, the front of the Honda feels closer, the hand/foot/seat triangle felt ever so slightly smaller and I just fit it well. The upper body panels (tank especially) seem narrower and from the rider's perspective, the Crosstourer tank is closer to the narrower BMW shape, versus the broad massive impression that the Triumph and Yamaha have.

The Honda felt like it also has a steeper steering head, making it steer faster and feel lighter on the road, but less planted on the Norwegian highways. Not bad and note that I have this as a neutral (not pro or con) for most use, but less of a stable feel than the three competitors.

The throttle response and other controls had a really good feel and feedback. This was one of those "not too hot and not too cold subjective things, but enough that I made a note about it.

The ABS worked great when the brakes were slammed on, on both wet pavement and on mud. The action was more of the smooth Yamaha style than the pulsing BMW feel. For those who want it, the ABS does have an OFF switch. Didn't think to try it on a loose downhill that would be a problem for the BMW ABS, but then with the smaller front wheel I am not sure I'd want to with a borrowed bike.

The DCT is something that people love or hate. For running around, it was great and after a while I "got it." It'd suck if you want to play Ricky Racer, but then that's not what this bike is about.

This bike was MADE for Euro or California commuting, or for really long days working to do deliveries and such!!! With the DCT and 1200, it's twist and go, plus a great choice for stop & go traffic. It is a GREAT bike for cutting between cars in traffic and at lights.

While not perfect, I liked the windscreen. Great choice again for the commuter and general use.

Reliability? We had no problems, but then it's a Honda. Ride it and fuggetabout it.


CONS:

Overpriced by comparison.

Suspension and brakes were passable for knocking around, but sure not up to the other bikes. These were where it felt like Honda saved money.

In the garage, there is no question that the Honda outweighs the GS and Tenere, and it's heavier to get on the center stand.

On the highway it is light on the bars, which is great for errand running, but the other 3 makes would be my choice for serious US interstate travel.

The front seat was OK, but for rides of more than a few hours most owners will want something different. No where near as good as the Tenere or GS for the passenger. The seat would be cramped by comparison for the sustained heavy loads at higher speed, and especially if 2-up that many of us do in the US.

Did ok on tame packed gravel and grass, but it was slip sliding away on deeper gravel and muddy roads, much more than a GS or Tenere. (No muddy experience on the Triumph, so can say.) No surprise with the smaller front wheel, weight, and the steeper feel of the steering head.

The tighter seat/bar/pegs were ok to ride standing and better than the Triumph, but not as intuitive or natural as the Yamaha or GS.

I don't know why, but the CrossTourer engine vibed more than any of the other three makes, which says a lot because my ST needs a throttle body sync. I don't think this bike had a problem and I'm sure that owners get used to it, but the engine pulses were relatively more noticeable when just riding along.

The gas mileage for the twice I had to fill it was less than what I get on the Tenere or GS.

The instrument cluster gives more info than the Yamaha, but is faddish and you have to look for info, so it's just not as quick and intuitive as on the Yam or even a BMW GS. For example, the tach is a thin LCD ribbon across the top of the display.


The buzzing front brake sound should've been minor but just kept intruding on my attention.


MY TWO CENTAVOS:
By the end of a day the Honda left a feeling of "nice bike." What I did not get was the "I want one" more than the Triumph, Yam, or BMW.
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Wreckchecker screwed with this post 07-25-2013 at 07:31 PM
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Old 07-25-2013, 07:59 AM   #2
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Good Write up!

But not sure what you meant by smaller front wheel? Thought they all had the 19 incher.
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Old 07-25-2013, 08:07 AM   #3
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Nicely done.
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Old 07-25-2013, 07:30 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by RED CAT View Post
But not sure what you meant by smaller front wheel? Thought they all had the 19 incher.
WOW


I had to go and look after seeing your comment and sure enough, it's the same tire as on the Tenere and GS. So I started to look closer into why such a different feel?

Kevin Ashe did a review and noted that he could actually see flex in the front end. Hmmm. I noticed the springiness but thought it was my imagination so didn't write that one down. Maybe it has something to do with the front feel.

Meanwhile, the specs show that the wheelbase of the Honda is more than 2" longer than the Yamaha and 3.5" longer than the GS, so the frame should be slower to roll into a turn when the big gyros are turning. Yet while the frame is trying not to change course and the head angle is the same as that of the Tenere, the 20mm shorter trail of the Honda calculates into the steepest trail/head ratio of the three. My thought is that the greater and higher weight with this combination of frame numbers are probably the reasons for the overall less planted/coordinated feel to the steering, especially in mud.
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Old 07-25-2013, 08:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wreckchecker View Post
WOW
.
Meanwhile, the specs show that the wheelbase of the Honda is more than 2" longer than the Yamaha and 3.5" longer than the GS, so the frame should be slower to roll into a turn when the big gyros are turning. Yet while the frame is trying not to change course and the head angle is the same as that of the Tenere, the 20mm shorter trail of the Honda calculates into the steepest trail/head ratio of the three. My thought is that the greater and higher weight with this combination of frame numbers are probably the reasons for the overall less planted/coordinated feel to the steering, especially in mud.
Have you got a good source for info about head/trail ratio's and subjective effects.

I have been trying to get a good grip on this stuff for a while. Any idea's?

Most of the things I heave read talk about angle, but not so much about that ratio you talk about OR the combination of wheel bass head angle and trail.
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Old 07-25-2013, 09:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrahamD View Post
Have you got a good source for info about head/trail ratio's and subjective effects.

I have been trying to get a good grip on this stuff for a while. Any idea's?

Most of the things I heave read talk about angle, but not so much about that ratio you talk about OR the combination of wheel bass head angle and trail.
The classic text is Motorcycle Handling and Chassis Design: The art and science, by Tony Foale. Foale's website has some interesting free stuff under the "Articles" menu.

This page hosted by Yamaha Europe has a surprisingly clear summary of the individual components.

Not so much on the combination though: that's where the art comes in.

Just be aware (if you're not already ) that the term "caster", used in the Yamaha article, is used by different people to refer to different things. Sometimes caster = trail, and at other times it refers to the steering head angle or rake (more accurately the caster angle, but the angle bit is often left out).

Wreckchecker, interesting comments. I recall that when I rode the Crosstourer briefly I had a similar impression to yours, although it arose in reverse: I was acquainted with the spec, and so was surprised the steering didn't feel lazier. Your speculation on the effect of shorter trail and higher CG make sense to me, particularly the CG which I hadn't thought of.

I too would be interested in anything you can offer on how you would calculate combined effects.
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Old 07-25-2013, 10:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moronic View Post
The classic text is Motorcycle Handling and Chassis Design: The art and science, by Tony Foale. Foale's website has some interesting free stuff under the "Articles" menu.

This page hosted by Yamaha Europe has a surprisingly clear summary of the individual components.
Thanks Moronic. Looks like I will have to cave in and buy the book.

I suppose what got me about Wreckcheckers comment about the trail being different to the Tenere is the both bikes have a 19Inch wheel, Both have 28Deg rake, both have centre line mounted axles, so where does the difference in trail come from?

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GrahamD screwed with this post 07-25-2013 at 11:49 PM
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Old 07-26-2013, 01:07 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrahamD View Post
Thanks Moronic. Looks like I will have to cave in and buy the book.

I suppose what got me about Wreckcheckers comment about the trail being different to the Tenere is the both bikes have a 19Inch wheel, Both have 28Deg rake, both have centre line mounted axles, so where does the difference in trail come from?

Could be triple clamp offset.
The 'book' to my opinion is not that great at all. Use common sense and you can understand anything by yourself.
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Old 07-26-2013, 03:25 AM   #9
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^^^ yep. Couldn't find a pic but from memory the Honda has a heap of offset, the Yam not so much.

It's probably a couple of decades since I read the book. I vaguely remember being less impressed than I'd hoped, but I'm unaware of anything that's superseded it. Doesn't mean nothing's out there. To get a sense of the book, read some of the articles on Foale's site. I think some are simply chapters from the book.
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Old 07-26-2013, 09:12 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrahamD View Post
Have you got a good source for info about head/trail ratio's and subjective effects.

I have been trying to get a good grip on this stuff for a while. Any idea's?

Most of the things I heave read talk about angle, but not so much about that ratio you talk about OR the combination of wheel bass head angle and trail.
Long ago, I designed and started to build a low rider, copying the Gurney Gator. Finding time for the project turned into a nuisance that had little to do with the bike. Before finally junking it, I sat through some SAE seminars, read a lot, and somewhere I've still got a copy of Cossalter's book "Motorcycle Dynamics" and a folder with everything I could find from Sharp (Sharpe?). Foale's stuff is also first rate and better written for the non-engineer. I'm still fascinated by frame dynamics. (geek engineer)

The two basic ways to get less trail with the same head angle are to shorten the forks or raise the rear. In this case and without taking measurements, it looks like Honda probably did some of both. The 'Tourer has 2" more wheelbase than the VFR1200 that sits lower, has a steeper head, less fork travel, and only slightly less trail. They probably needed the additional wheelbase for what the additional height did to turning dynamics when the forks shorten during braking. With the additional length and head angle, the 'Tourer could have had an immense turn radius, so my guess is the compromise was to do what they did. The result just feels ever so slightly uncoordinated till you get used to it.

btw - If the few degrees of angle or 19-20mm trail difference doesn't sound like much, realize that metric cruiser numbers start just a few degrees and about 20-25mm beyond the 126mm for the Tenere. It doesn't take much to make a big difference.
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Old 07-26-2013, 03:21 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wreckchecker View Post
Long ago, I designed and started to build a low rider, copying the Gurney Gator. Finding time for the project turned into a nuisance that had little to do with the bike. Before finally junking it, I sat through some SAE seminars, read a lot, and somewhere I've still got a copy of Cossalter's book "Motorcycle Dynamics" and a folder with everything I could find from Sharp (Sharpe?). Foale's stuff is also first rate and better written for the non-engineer. I'm still fascinated by frame dynamics. (geek engineer)

The two basic ways to get less trail with the same head angle are to shorten the forks or raise the rear. In this case and without taking measurements, it looks like Honda probably did some of both. The 'Tourer has 2" more wheelbase than the VFR1200 that sits lower, has a steeper head, less fork travel, and only slightly less trail. They probably needed the additional wheelbase for what the additional height did to turning dynamics when the forks shorten during braking. With the additional length and head angle, the 'Tourer could have had an immense turn radius, so my guess is the compromise was to do what they did. The result just feels ever so slightly uncoordinated till you get used to it.

btw - If the few degrees of angle or 19-20mm trail difference doesn't sound like much, realize that metric cruiser numbers start just a few degrees and about 20-25mm beyond the 126mm for the Tenere. It doesn't take much to make a big difference.
Thanks Wreck,

Found a few more things last night as well. I found another missing link in the knowledge as well. All good.
Good to have some professors on the site.
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Old 07-26-2013, 05:39 PM   #12
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Good to have some professors on the site.
Beats me who they are.
I'm just curious and make a living by figuring out why things break and crash. As our unofficial motto says:

"You wreck 'em, we check 'em."
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Old 10-28-2014, 01:11 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Wreckchecker View Post
I don't know why, but the CrossTourer engine vibed more than any of the other three makes, which says a lot because my ST needs a throttle body sync. I don't think this bike had a problem and I'm sure that owners get used to it, but the engine pulses were relatively more noticeable when just riding along.

I thought the V4 was a smooth running engine. This disappoints me as I am interested in the CrossTourer primarily because of the V4.

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Current: 2007 VStrom DL650A
Want: '85 or '86 V65 Magna
(Or sell and get a CrossTourer, kind of like a VStrom with a V4. Plus it will go with my Honda Crosstour automobile.)
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Old 10-30-2014, 07:47 PM   #14
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Thanks for your views.

After riding a KTM 1190 Adventure, a Super Ten, Mulitistrada and the Explorer, I went and bought the Crosstourer.

You do notice the V4 motor, but the Varadero twin was more noticeable (owned one of those a few years back). I previously owned a Triumph Tiger 955i, and the triple is smother but the power performance of both are similar in style albeit the V4 is quite a lot more powerful. They both have even power bands throughout the rev range.

I actually prefer the road handling abilities of the Crosstourer over the other bikes, although the KTM 1190 Adventure is an awesome bike that handles both tarmac and gravel with aplomb. But I wanted a bike that is good for two up touring mostly on tarmac and has a drive shaft over chain. My only criticisms of the Crosstourer are the Honda panniers (expensive for what they are), heavy on gravel in corners with a negative camber and the lack of fuel range. The latter is a serous consideration but not too bad for New Zealand, we're never to far way from a petrol station although some routes you have to be careful in the weekends.

I'm a very satisfied CT owner. Will be interesting to see what Honda reveals at EICMA next week

Cheers from downunder...
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