Discussion in 'Land of the Rising Sun: ADV Bikes from Japan' started by Boredsurfer, Apr 25, 2013.

  1. Moronic

    Moronic Long timer

    May 16, 2006
    Melbourne, Australia
    From some experience of bike reviews in a previous life, a couple of things stand out in hindsight (and indeed were fairly obvious at the time).

    First, the emphasis for the testers is firmly on performance, and it can't be any other way. You ride the bikes as the importers present them and you get a good sense of how they compare from a performance standpoint - indeed, a better sense than most owners ever get.

    What you cannot say much about are the broader aspects of ownership. Reliability? You can speculate, but given it is speculation you can't say much without risking inaccuracy and hence unfairness. Running costs? Same, really. Even intangibles such as character resist comment because they are so much in the eye of the beholder and because the relatively short time spent on each bike doesn't allow a deep appreciation to build up.

    Second, even with respect to performance, it is easy to be worlds away from the owner experience. So many apparently minor aspects of set-up affect the performance of modern bikes. They steer differently on different tyres, an aftermarket rear shock transforms the suspension, different brake pads transform the brakes, etc.

    With adventure tourers, all this is magnified compared with, say, sport bikes, and you have the added difficulty that typical conditions of use will vary so widely from owner to owner.

    Nevertheless, I still enjoy reading what the testers write about the bikes. Life would be poorer without all this. IMO. You can also find a bit of stuff to read between the lines. :D
  2. GrahamD

    GrahamD Long timer

    Oct 11, 2009
    Blue Mnts Ozstralia
    Appreciate the input Moronic.

    I can understand that reliability may be "speculation" but it must get to the point eventually with some bikes where the statement "legendary reliability" is just as much speculation and shows a lack of, lets say, impartiality or homework.
    It could have been phrased that the legendary reliability is just that..legendary.

    Some magazines are just so woefully biased or incompetent in some tests, that you wonder why they even bother.

    Anyhow, there are some people that are universally appreciated, whether I personally agree with them or not, and it has a bit to do with their depth of understanding, ability to point differing strengths and weaknesses, some explanation for these differences and possibly the fact they they are generally interested and knowledgeable about a range of bikes.

    Some mags on occasion the other hand just don't pass the sniff test often. This gets pretty obvious when they get really out of whack with a majority of owners and/or other reviewers.
  3. Moronic

    Moronic Long timer

    May 16, 2006
    Melbourne, Australia
    I was reading a series of features a while ago - perhaps archived on Superbike Planet but might have got that wrong - where former staffers of defunct US heavyweight Cycle magazine spoke about their time there.

    There was a tale of the presses being stopped because an inaccuracy had been discovered in a spec sheet. Another of how the apprenticeship for writing a bike test was trying out 200 different bikes.

    Those days appear to be gone, at least in the English speaking world. Sadly.

    OTOH, you see a lot of comment on this forum and elsewhere to the effect that this or that magazine is heavily influenced by its advertisers, to the point where the reviewers refrain from criticizing this or that marque.

    The peculiar thing is, advertisers tend to be surprisingly tolerant when it comes to copping criticism of their products, provided they can accept it as fair. A bad review can damage sales, but pulling your ads as payback won't help sales either, and most are smart enough to see that. (Well, they used to be, anyway.)

    What pisses off advertisers - and justifiably so - is criticism that they believe is unfair. And that is where the reviewer must struggle. For one thing, writing entertaining but balanced comment to deadline demands considerable skill, and not all have it. For another, often the reviewer's sample size is too small to permit confident generalisation.

    Take the recent controversy over whether the new 1200 GS LC is prone to terrifying tankslappers. The reviewer for Bike magazine - probably the premier English-language title remaining - experienced the most serious instance at the launch event, and in the print article included a photo of the broken steering stop that resulted. But was it a sign of a dangerous design flaw, or a fluke event that did not merit reporting? The reviewer reported it as a possible flaw - demonstrating surely that his integrity could not be bought. But subsequent owner experiences, and the magazine's own experience in a follow-up test on home soil, seem to be pointing towards the fluke.

    BMW would have had a case for criticising the initial report as unfortunate, even unfair. But my guess is they took a look at that broken steering stop and understood that the report had to be made. Some readers, it appears, are less kind. The overriding reaction to the initial report from commentators on this site and at least one other GS forum I've seen, was that it was ridiculous to suspect a design flaw and the reviewer must have caused the problem himself. After the subsequent home-soil test, where the mag picked the GS over the 1190 KTM, it was suggested on this board that the victory could be accounted for by the mag's needing to curry favour with BMW after its launch faux-pax. :rolleyes There is no pleasing everybody.

    In the current issue, Bike had a go at something rarely attempted: recognising that many would want the GS for two-up touring, they parked an experienced pillion on the back for 1750km through Europe and then devoted five pages to her rambling account of the trip. She panned the pillion possie. I'll bet BMW didn't like that. And I'd not be at all surprised if Bike receives a flood of letters from angry GS LC owners, all asserting that the passenger accommodation is not only fine, it's superb. :lol3
  4. phoenixdoglover

    phoenixdoglover Where to next?

    May 23, 2010
    Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
    I like magazine reviews, but only if I can get my hands on all of them. Here's why.

    In 2012, there were numerous polls on the national election in the US. If you took just a handful of those polls, you would have concluded that Mitt Romney was going to win, hands down. That is what many GOP pundits did, and they were very wrong. :rofl

    If instead, you followed what Nate Silver did, your predictions would have been spot on. All Nate did was compile the data for ALL the polls, and then he applied a few factors to the polls to account for some easily determined biases. Voila! A Meta-Poll.

    I have read a ton of magazine and online reviews of so-called adventure bikes. They all come to slightly different conclusions. But I know when I read a comparo in Bike magazine, the Triumph always does well or wins.:huh But in the hands of American reviewers, the Triumphs get high marks for their sweet engines, and bad marks for many things off road.

    So I'm with some of the guys, what does it matter? Buy the bike that inspires you, regardless of what the journos say. Or, read every friggin' review you can find, and correct for biases. And....then buy the bike that inspires you. Because the decision is never entirely rational, no matter how many factoids we can remember. :norton
  5. McJamie


    Oct 3, 2009
    Courtice, Ontario, Canada
    About 5 years ago, I had a long discussion with my boss at the last bike shop I worked at, that they needed to drop all this cruiser stuff, and all the poseurs are going to start buying adventure bikes.
    Every magazine, every month will have at least one or two ADV touring articles of some sort. They are the current generation's "scrambler" or "enduro" as they were back in the 60's & 70's.
    Check most dealers now a days, and there are endless line ups of cruisers that have been traded in, but something as simple as a KLR disappears within a few days.
    It's the where the market is these days.
  6. vivo

    vivo Adventurer

    Jan 8, 2013
    I'm not certain the market is driven by adventure bikes? Harley sells an awful lot of cruisers. Ido think sportbike sales have fallen off , certainly. Adventure bikes are getting a lot of press. Much interest in those GS sales created this market. It seems Japanese bikes have fallen out of favor somewhat while European manufacturers have gained market share. This seems to be supported in the press and much of journalistic interest seems centered on European models OR perhaps I am more focused on these types of bikes?

    I think a certain demographic is still buying bikes, obviously some of these bikes are VERY princely priced. That's the market! In 2000 when I purchased my Triumph Speedtriple, few Triumphs were seen on New Jersey roads. That has changed. Triumph has expanded it's market share, same with Ducati and little Moto Guzzi is getting market interest too. The California, a big cruiser is getting talked about, the V7 is selling, the Stelvio is getting market interest too.

    I just think we are moving in a different direction, not totally away from cruisers but instead toward more things that look fresh to our eyes. Or maybe its what I am interested in that directs my focus?

  7. danketchpel

    danketchpel Long timer

    Jun 1, 2010
    Camarillo, CA
    To me magazine or online reviews produce data input for me but not conclusions. I rely on my own conclusions after reading, listening, actually riding, then asking owners who have gone before me for real world input. After all that I digest and mix with my own feelings and ride experience.

    Nobody can make a good decision for you, all they can do is provide data in one form or another. What I look for is quality data, something more than I can read in a press release or spec sheet. And I do believe it should include opinion and real world cost factors. I hate it when the most expensive vehicle always wins "cuz it's the best", price needs to be included because it is a very real factor for real world buyers.

    I like individual editorial sidebars by the reviewing staff which should always include the "for my money I'd...." statement.