KTM 1290 Super Adventure S vs Multistrada 1200 (with some GSw for good measure)

Discussion in 'Moto Bellissima: All Other Dualsports' started by nostatic, Feb 4, 2018.

  1. nostatic

    nostatic i drank what?!? - Socrates Supporter

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    I figure some might be cross-shopping these bikes, and I've been lucky enough to own all 3 (though only have 2 at the moment). The KTM is a new model for the US in 2018, has been out in the rest of the world since 2017. I did an extensive comparison of the Multi and the R1200GSw in the G-spot, and a few days ago traded the GSw for the KTM. So I figure a point-by-point rolling review of the Multi and KTM might be interesting to some.

    Parameters: I'm 6'1 195lbs, wife is about 120 lbs, and we ride 2-up a lot. I also commute, we do weekend tours and frequent the local canyons. Have about 400 miles on the KTM, put 8K on the Multi in about 6 months, traded the '16 GSw in with 14.5K miles.

    ENGINE: I'm still in break-in period with the KTM so I'm staying below 6.5K to be a good boy. But you can tell what's in store. Where the DVT is a peaky screamer (has a full Termi with race map), the KTM just pulls. Hard. Really hard. In fact it feels somewhat like the GSw down low, but it seems as though unlike the boxer, the KTM won't get breathless as you climb above 6K. Plus is just pulls harder, even below 6K. My wife commented as such.

    I'll reserve some judgement until I'm through break-in, but the KTM is a brilliant engine, and my brief ride on the new Multi indicates that the 1260 is closer to the KTM engine than the 1200. The main difference is that I have to think when I'm riding the Multi, either downshifting before I need the power or keeping the revs up. The KTM just pulls wherever you are.

    HANDLING: The Multi is a quick handling bike. That is one reason I gravitated towards it. Actually my Turismo Veloce was even quicker handling, but it was a bit of a handful 2-up, and didn't have a top box option. In fact I was worried that the new Multi with the longer swingarm and wheelbase would deaden the handling. A test ride of the 2018 indicated that it is a bit more lazy, but not by too much. The KTM handling reminds me of the GSw in that it carves really well. The difference is the KTM is sprung a bit more tightly, and the traditional suspension does give you a bit more information about what is going on with the bike. So far the WP semi-active is impressive - fork dive is minimal and it stays planted. It isn't as plush as the Multi or the GSw though, even on comfort setting.

    DISPLAY: Both the Multi and KTM have TFT displays. KTM wins on size and color, though the font size is a bit small. The 2018 Multi display is improved, but still isn't quite as nice as the KTM one.

    CONTROLS: Both bikes have a lot of settings, and you have to "mouse around" to change things. THe KTM has a few quick access features that are nice, but some things you have to menu dive to change. Cruise control is about the same between the two. Both have lighted switches, Multi has a dedicated heated grip button (have to go into the menu on the KTM), changing modes is about the same between the two. I don't care for the turn signal feel on the KTM. But we're nitpicking.

    Levers are fine on both. I put an Oberon clutch slave on the Multi and that was money well spent. Don't think the KTM needs one but may do that as well just because I think they are really well made and also lighten up the feel a bit.

    QUICKSHIFT: Well, my Multi doesn't have one. Ducati fixed that for 2018. The GSAP (BMW's quickshift) wasn't great. Downshifts were actually quite good, but I found upshifts to be very inconsistent and clunky. The KTM QS is much better, relatively smooth in both directions and quite useful.

    SEATS: Let me get this out of the way - the KTM seats suck. As in terrible - hard as a brick. I didn't like the GSw seat either (too soft) and went custom on that bike. Many complain about the Multi stock seats but I like them fine. In fact I had a Corbin built and think I prefer the stock one. I have the PowerParts heated seats on order for the KTM. The one saving grace is that the POwerParts seats are reasonably priced (under $200 each - including heat).

    LUGGAGE/EXTRAS: This is where the GSw really shines. So many of them out there, so many parts, farkles, instruction videos, etc. On the Multi I have the DUcati top box and panniers and they work fine. The top box swallows a ton of stuff. For the KTM, have the Touratech top box on order, will probably add their panniers as well. Different look, different bike. The top box stays on the bike all the time, panniers only go on when we're touring.

    Oddly enough, While I felt like I needed to change a bunch of things on the GSw (screen, seat, more lights, crash bars, etc), I have kept the Multi mostly stock - just luggage, Oberon slave, and full Termi system. I think the KTM may be somewhere in the middle, but so far the stock screen seems fine, lights are good (just have to add Skene P3 to the back).

    Can't wait to get the 600 mile service done on the KTM...
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  2. bobw

    bobw Harden the phuck up

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    Congrats! Nice review of all "3" and look forward to more thoughts as you get to know her better.

    Cheers
    #2
  3. nostatic

    nostatic i drank what?!? - Socrates Supporter

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    So with the 600 mile service complete on the KTM and a top box installed along with PowerParts Ergo seats (with heat!), a nice long ride today 2-up over a variety of terrain - freeway lane splitting, twisties up and down, and some fire road.

    DIRT: I've only briefly had both bikes off-road, had many more miles on an older GS in the dirt. 2-up offroad is tricky, at least for me, but it is fun in the right conditions. The Multi isn't ideal in the dirt, the KTM is a bit better. Partially because the KTM position feels more like a dirt bike than the Multi.

    PILLION: I put the top box on the KTM, and taped on the pad as the glue takes 48 hours to set so I figured I'd do it during the week. At the first gas stop I pulled it off as the wife felt fairly cramped and at a funny angle. Without the pad it was a lot better, and the hinges didn't dig into her back, mostly due to the back armor in her jacket. Even then, much less fore-aft room than on the Multi. In fact, the Multi also beat out the GSw on pillion comfort. The wife did like the heated seat on the KTM. There may be other top box options on the KTM that are set a bit further back.

    ENGINE (again): I have been a fan of Italian twins for years. THe 1200 DVT is not a perfect iteration, but with the full Termi system and race map it is a very fun engine. But it really shines from 5K to redline. Below that and it doesn't really jump consistently. The KTM 1290 though - I have yet to find a weak spot with it. You can putt around town and it is fine. It pulls hard from any rev point, and is a freakin' hammer in the midrange. I have yet to red line it, in part because I want to keep my license ;-). The bottom line is that going in I thought the reviewers and vloggers were kinda over-hyping the motor. I was wrong, it is the real deal.

    GESTALT: Each brand has its vibe, and I will admit that I typically like to use stuff that is a bit off the beaten path. While KTM is the largest moto maker in Europe, it certainly has less presence here in the US than either BMW or Ducati. That is a plus in my book. Plus orange is their brand color, and it is mine as well - I wear it every day. I will also admit that I've historically not been a fan of BMW cars, mostly due to some of the owners here in SoCal. We did own two of them, one was a disaster as was dealing with BMW NA. The other was fine, but I found that I just didn't like owning one. The bikes are kind of a different thing, but while there is some stigma in some circles, it didn't bother me as much. That said, Ducati has its detractors as well. At the end of the day, I mostly don't care about that, I just want a bike that is entertaining. The Multi certainly has that - Italian drama and the Termi song. The KTM has it as well - the Austrian craziness, kind of "anti'clinical" (unless you're talking about a methadone clinic). The BMW gestalt is all about competence, at least with most of their bikes. And while I can appreciate that, it just isn't where I am at the moment.

    TOURING: Haven't done it on the KTM, but it has zero issues pulling like a freight train 2-up, and it handles incredibly well. The Multi is fine fully loaded, but I found the handling was a bit compromised when fully loaded. It will be interesting to see how the KTM does with panniers full. I suspect that part of it is the box placement. While the Multi has more pillion room, the trade-off is that the weight is pushed further back on the bike.

    So am I thinking of selling the Multi? Nope. Different bikes, and as long as I have the luxury of having two bikes, these are the two I want. In fact I can't really think of any better pair, though admittedly they do have a fair amount of overlap. The Multi is coming up on the 9K service, maybe I'll change my mind when it gets closer to the 18K service :D

    [​IMG]

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    #3
  4. Florida Lime

    Florida Lime Long timer

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    I found that the 18,000 mile service isn't as bad as many people say. I do much of my own service work, so I did the 9000 mile service myself.

    At the 18,000 mile service, I did my own oil change, but left the valve check, belt change, spark plugs, etc. to the shop. Just over $1,000, and I do get a break on the parts needed, but not the service end of it. Valves did not need adjusting.

    I've heard the $2000 horror stories, but I think many times the whole story isn't told. Like they had the tires replaced. Oh, and new chain and sprockets. :rolleyes Things that really aren't part of the 18,000 check, but needed to be done at the same time.

    I do my own tires, and I have a new chain and sprockets (42T rear :D) in my garage ready to go on soon.
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  5. nostatic

    nostatic i drank what?!? - Socrates Supporter

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    More time in the saddle, some more ramblings.

    AROUND TOWN: The Multi is a mixed bag around town. The top box swallows a ton of stuff so it is great for commuting. The bike sits low enough that dealing with uneven surfaces is quite easy. I will admit that I have the engine mapped "high" in all rider modes as I like a consistent throttle response (mostly, when I need it to jump, I want it to jump). Suspension is plenty comfy on crappy LA roads. Only downside is the engine is more towards the high strung side of things, so putting along in traffic isn't really what the motor is made for. The Termi is great for getting the attention of drivers tapping away on their phones though.

    The KTM 1290 motor, with the tune they have on the Super Adventure, is kinda magic. Total Jekyl/Hyde thing. It will poke along surface streets a lot like the GSw boxer motor. I tend to keep it in sport mode (you can't set engine mapping individually, other setting are grouped with the mode though KTM doesn't specify which - damping does have a separate control) so that is equivalent to the engine-high on the Multi. When you crack the throttle, it'll jump, and unlike the GSw boxer, as you climb above 6K it just keep pouring on the juice. While I find the Multi a bit peaky (which is fun in certain circumstances), the KTM is a freight train.

    I may mess around with going back to the stock "urban" map and see how I like that on the Multi. Or just embrace the peaky.

    2-UP: The Multi has been a bit of a surprise 2-up as my wife says it is the most comfortable for her. Plenty of fore-aft room with the stock Ducati top box. It is fun in sport mode in the mountains, and eats up miles well on the slab. Right now the KTM has a Touratech box on back, and it makes for a much tighter pillion area due to the box placement and the angle. Going to swap to a different top box, as otherwise it will be an ideal 2-up machine, and is more suited for getting off the pavement than the Multi is.

    GESTALT 2: Having two bikes is a blessing and a curse. WIth only one bike, you never have a decision to make on what to take, and you never have the "I wish I'd taken the xxx..." thoughts on a ride. I have the same issue with my bass guitars, and over time have dropped down to three so I have less of that packing anxiety. But with this pair, I have yet to be out on the Duc and be missing the KTM and vice-versa. While they have different personalities, they both have enough juice to entertain me, and no real shortcomings to annoy me. Great place to be. I was close with the GSw and Multi pair - but there were times when the sometimes klunky tranny on the GSw and the lack of top end push would bug me.

    RELIABILITY: knock on wood, nearing 9K on the Multi with no issues, passed 1K on the KTM and same story. I've accepted that these will be more expensive to keep running than many Japanese bikes, but I love the ride so no regrets there.
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  6. bobw

    bobw Harden the phuck up

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    Great news/updates on excellent motorcycles delivering the level of fun as promoted!

    As an aside, you do a nice mix of surfaces, speeds and two up, any input on tires? I was going with the Angel GT, but instead want to try ContiRoad 3s on the XR. Depending on how they handle gravel, the next set I may go with "90/10" tires like you've run. Any wear and tear thoughts between the ape, duc, katey, gs miles?
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  7. nostatic

    nostatic i drank what?!? - Socrates Supporter

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    So far my favorite tire has been the Angel GT. I've had the Scorpion 2s as OEM on the MV, GSw and now the KTM. I ran Road 4 Trails on the GSw but wasn't that happy with them as they squared off quite quickly and I never really felt that I got good road grip - and also didn't have much dirt performance (which is expected). I haven't run the Contis, but may try those on the KTM when I run through the OEM tires. I have the Angel GTs on the Multi now (and put them on the MV as well) and find that it works well for my riding, and I'm at about 4K miles on the rear and still have life. At this point I'm pretty much a 95/5 rider, with the Multi really being 99% road. At some point if we get a bit more adventurous the KTM may see more dirt, then I may think about something different, but it'll always see more road miles as I commute and it takes a ride to get to some viable dirt.
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  8. Bluesilver

    Bluesilver Long timer

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    KTM vs Enduro,my wife was the same,KTM pegs are higher so have ordered drop plates and the heated ergo seats fixed the stock seat issue.
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  9. nostatic

    nostatic i drank what?!? - Socrates Supporter

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    Agree on the Ergo seats - huge improvement over the stock boards.

    Oddly enough this bike is a bit easier for her to mount. Her challenge is getting the right leg over the seat, and the higher pegs make that easier. You'd think the taller pegs would be tougher...
    #9
  10. nostatic

    nostatic i drank what?!? - Socrates Supporter

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    Swapped the top box on the KTM from the Touratech to the PowerParts rounded version (I think Shad makes it). Much happier pillion - the box sits an inch or two further back, and probably most importantly the square shape of the TT box and the canted angle of the mount cramps the pillion room even more.

    An interesting weekend of A/B. Rain on and off Sat, I ended up riding the KTM solo around town on various errands (including checking out the Panigale V4 in the flesh). Then back home to pick up the wife and swap to the Multi to drop her off at a dinner party. On the way home, with the sun going away and some lingering rain made for an interesting freeway run.

    Sun was about 150 miles on the KTM 2-up, exploring some mountain roads we'd never done before (pics below). The new box got the thumbs up, much better than the TT. But the wife still says the Multi is "more luxurious", mostly more fore-aft room. I continue to be amazed at the 1290 engine. It just pulls everywhere, I don't have to think much about what gear I'm in, even 2-up. The Multi, by comparison, I need to keep the motor on boil if I want it to jump. I'm one or two gears lower in the Multi over equivalent sections.

    Would be interesting to do some miles on the 1260 Multi. I had a brief ride on that and it felt a bit more even-tempered than the 1200DVT. But I think the 1290 is something special. And that is stock tune, cat, and stock exahust vs full Termi and race tune on the Multi.
    #10
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  11. mortarman

    mortarman Hang it; Fire!

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    Thanks so much for the reporting of your experiences with your bikes. I'm actually in "analysis paralysis" over which big-bore ADV bike to buy so this has been helpful - kinda (explanation below).

    I thought I'd settled between the GSW Rallye and the Multi Enduro, but your reports have me reconsidering (back into spin-cycle!). One of the reasons I'd kind of discounted the Katoom were reports that the riding position felt cramped, and overall fit and finish didn't seem to quite measure up to BMW and Ducati. Would you mind giving your impressions on those topics, please?

    Thanks, and I'm looking forward to hearing more of your feedback about these bikes.
    #11
  12. nostatic

    nostatic i drank what?!? - Socrates Supporter

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    Really depends on how you're going to use the bike, and what features are important to you.

    For me, I ride 2-up a lot, and don't do much dirt (though we may do a bit more). So that means that I need a bike that handles well fully-loaded, is easy to swap from solo to 2-up, and is probably biased more towards street than dirt.

    I haven't ridden the Multi Enduro but I've sat on one. I fit that fairly well, and conventional wisdom would say I'm "cramped" on the regular Multi but for whatever reason, despite less legroom, I'm comfortable on the bike most of the day. The KTM riding position is "less cramped" than the Multi, but is in the ballpark of the GSw and probably the Multi Enduro.

    For fit and finish, to be honest the Multi is just a notch below the BMW and KTM. The plastics on my bike don't line up as well as they could/should, but other examples I've seen were better. I don't see a lot of difference between the BMW and the KTM in that regard. I will say that having put the top box and engine guards on the KTM, everything fit and it was dead-simple. Took more time to fit the AltRider engine bars to the BMW and in general is it a bit more complex. The Multi again kinda loses in that regard as they try to hide all the bolts on the plastics which looks clean but can be a pita to remove/put back. I put Skene P3 lights on all my bikes, and the KTM was the easiest to tap, but hardest to mount the lights as they have a Euro plate mount and use an adapter to fit a US plate (which I had to take a hacksaw to for mounting the P3s). The BMW was a bit more work to tap the harness but easy to mount while the Multi has an oragami rear section which was a total pita to snake wires through. Some may be my incompetence, but in comparing the half dozen bikes I've installed them on, the Multi was the most work.

    But the real choice comes in the motor - and you need to figure out how important that is to you. I liked the GSw motor on my '16 a lot better than the one on my '08. It really is well done, pulls hard from low revs, has no problem powering the bike fully loaded. While you can take it to redline, it kinda starts to run out of wind above 7K. For most riding, you really don't need to go there and a lot of guys will never bounce off the rev limiter. Kinda isn't the reason for the bike. I kinda got sick of the transmission over time, rumor has it the '17 and '18 bikes are better but you'd have to ride one. Compared to the Multi and the KTM, the GSw transmission is tractor-worthy.

    I was pretty impressed with the GSw and was fine with the power - until I got the Multi. Hard to go back once you get that rush of the 1200 DVT climbing above 6K. That said, I kinda thought the GSw was better fully loaded than the Multi. The Multi needs to be kept on boil to be in the sweet spot of the motor - you can't putt around at 3-4K fully loaded and expect it to jump. I know some guys will say they don't have an issue but I'm comparing it to other bikes, most recently the KTM. Both the GSw and SA-S will pull hard from 3K. The Multi, even with the full Termi system and race map, still has a bit of a flat spot around 5K. You certainly can work around it, and some won't even notice it. Depends on expectations. Riding the Multi between 5-10K rpms is pretty damn fun.

    But the 1290 on the KTM - it's another planet. Best motor I've ever ridden, period. You can putt along city streets, or you can go warp speed. Or anywhere in between. It really is that good.

    Fit is another consideration. The KTM is a tall bike so shorter riders will be challenged. You can get the GSw in a low option, and the Multi is fairly low to begin with (though the Enduro is taller). Then you also need to sort out dealer support. I'm lucky to be in LA where I have a good Duc dealer (and their network has gotten better over the years), multiple BMW dealers, and a good (so far) KTM dealer.

    Take with a grain of salt - I kinda don't get the Multi Enduro (I don't really need the extra range). The regular Multi makes sense to me - 17" wheels, essentially a sport bike with more upright riding position, cruise control and heated grips. But not sure Ducati has the dirt thing sorted, they certainly don't have the dirt cred of either BMW or KTM. I think the Rallye is a nice looking bike, and the GSw does pretty much everything well. But they also are a lot of them (GSs) on the road. I've lusted after KTM dirt bikes for a long time, and orange is my favorite color. I took a chance on the SA-S as I wan't really sold by the test ride, but turns out I picked right. To quote the KTM rep, "you don't need 160 hp in an adventure bike but it sure is fun." I liked the GSw a lot. I love the KTM. The Duc still does tickle my fancy, but frankly if there was a top box solution for the 1290 Super Duke R, I'd have already traded the Multi for one. That's how much I like the 1290 motor.
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  13. mortarman

    mortarman Hang it; Fire!

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    Nostatic, thank you for the comprehensive response and I really appreciate the insights. All of the information is very helpful and provides information I wouldn't be able to glean even from long-term ride reviews.
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  14. BobcatSig

    BobcatSig They call me... Huckajawea

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    An easy solution; go ride both bikes back to back on the same day. Get whichever bike tingles your fizzy bits.
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  15. nostatic

    nostatic i drank what?!? - Socrates Supporter

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    Today I took the Multi to work - and was going between 3 locations so a mix of urban, freeway, and lane splitting. It's funny because as much as I love the KTM and end up thinking, "I should swap the Multi for another KTM", I ride the Multi and am reminded that a properly set up Ducati is...a Ducati. It just is a different personality. Both bikes go fast enough to scare me. Both carry my wife and our stuff without any complaint. The Multi demands a bit more involvement and there is more drama, the KTM is easy going until you poke it, at which point it calmly heads to crazytown.

    We are in the golden age of motorcycles, and I count myself lucky to have a pair that are both awesome. Hard to make a bad choice...
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  16. arindian

    arindian n00b

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    Great reviews. Thank you, I am currently shopping big adventure bikes as well. Looked at a ktm sat today. It was a 2017 and a pretty good deal. Also had a leftover 2016 sar for an amazing deal. I like the tft vs the 2016 display. Have you experienced Andy issues with the display?ive heard a lot of good things about it.
    #16
  17. nostatic

    nostatic i drank what?!? - Socrates Supporter

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    I had a (so far) one-time issue and I think I know the cause. My wife plugged her heated gear in before I powered up the bike (her gear is not switched power) and when powering up the display didn't come on. The bike started and rode fine, just riding blind. Stopped a few miles later, she unplugged, I switched the bike off, then turned back on and everything was normal. Since then I've made sure my wife doesn't plug in until the bike is running. My theory is the current drain was enough to confuse the computers.

    With the Multi I had key not found issues, the fob was eventually replaced under warranty.
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  18. Vrode

    Vrode Wait....what?

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    Thanks for the reviews. And thank god there isn't a KTM dealer close by. The 1290 Adv-S is the one that ticks all the boxes for me, but around here with the riding I do, it would be mostly overkill (but, oh man, the possibilities!)
    #18
  19. nostatic

    nostatic i drank what?!? - Socrates Supporter

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    I think dealer support is a question to ask for any modern bike (even Japanese ones). They are complicated and so much is controlled by software, the days of DIY everything are pretty much gone. The upside is crazy amounts of power that is actually usable and safety features that help keep the rubber side down.

    I rode the Multi to work today, and I have a tough time faulting the bike outside of always wanting something new/different. It is lower to the ground, easier to walk around the garage, and has a bit more "sport" position that still is somehow comfortable to someone with bad knees and back.

    Most any modern bike has way more capabilities than the rider will likely need. But they may want it, so the companies fill that desire. If I were doing a compare/contrast, I think the SA-S and GSw are pretty much direct competitors. The Multi is a bit of a different beast, and probably compares most closely to the SDR-GT and maybe the XR. The SA-R kinda doesn't have an equivalent being a more dirt-focused bike. Maybe the BMW GS Rallye. The Duc Multi Enduro Pro and GSA are the direct competitors, and the Triumph TEX fits in there somewhere. The now-discontinued SA-T is in that group as well.

    There are lots of great choices - it pretty much comes down to a preference for bike personality and dealer support.
    #19
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  20. nostatic

    nostatic i drank what?!? - Socrates Supporter

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    Yeah, it can be hard to sort through all the information out there. Most of the video reviews are journalists who are on the bike at a launch event (in some swanky resort with free food and booze). There are some guys out there who have the bikes for a bit longer period (MissendenFlyer does some reasonable reviews). Like I said, my test ride on the SA-S was short and really didn't impress me. What pushed me was some of the threads here, but videos by TheMissendenFlyer and in particular, KaiserWheelHelm helped tip the scales.

    The other thing is that forums are typically where people come to solve problems and/or complain, so it can be tough to figure out what the reality of riding and owning a particular bike can be hard to figure out. Plus you have the honeymoon syndrome - plenty of guys will buy a bike, be excited, then kinda disappear. That makes sense given the number of low miles BMW, Ducati, and other high end used bikes out there.

    Then others like me are just insane and want to try new bikes all the time :D
    #20
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