KLX250S Project Bike – March Update

Since we first introduced our KLX250S project bike last October, we’ve tinkered here and there with it. March marks out first major update to the bike which sees us install a new bar, bar risers, sprocket, chain, new hand guards, grips and skid plate. It adds up to quite a lot and all of it was done with one goal in mind – making the KLX250S more capable off-road.

Let’s start at the rear. We replaced the OEM chain (which hadn’t been looked after by the previous owner) with a nice RK chain. We’re going with a clip type master link which while isn’t as reliable, will serve a purpose – more on that later. More importantly, we replaced the OEM 42 tooth sprocket with a 48 tooth one from States MX. This is a hybrid steel/alloy sprocket – steel on the teeth and allow elsewhere to create a great combination of longevity as well as weight reduction. It also comes in pretty Kawasaki green.

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Now, going for a 48 tooth sprocket when the stock one is 42 is a big jump and it most certainly comes with compromises. The biggest downside is obviously when on the highway – our KLX250S now gets close to redline while in sixth gear when doing 110 kph. That’s neither comfortable or economic – but there is method to our madness.

Having the bigger sprocket now means we can crawl along in either first or second gear off-road without having to play with the clutch lever. It’s been a godsend on the more technical terrain, although if we’re honest, first gear is probably somewhat useless now – it doesn’t allow enough speed with our new setup. However, it does help with engine braking while going down steep declines.

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Ultimately, we may go down maybe to 47 or 46 in the future when off-road, or we might wait to see how the dynamics of the bike changes when we eventually increase the bike’s capacity to 350cc. Either way, we do need to factor in how the bike performs on the open road, which we’ll get to later.

Up front, we’ve changed just about everything to do with the controls. The biggest change is our new bars – a set of fat bars from Kwala which helps a lot with off-road riding while standing up. The new Kwala bars, aslong with the risers from Spex, mean total handlebar height is now around an inch higher. Both items seem to be top quality and ooze strength.

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We know rising the bars so much isn’t ideal for sharp and quick handling, but even with this new setup, I’m still having to bend my knees to comfortably hold onto the bars while standing on the pegs. Being 6’3″ does that. The Kwala bars seem extremely strong and from all reports, the OEM bars they’re replacing bent on first impact.

We’ve also put on some Kwala grips which are quite a bit more comfortable than the stock ones. We’ve also replaced the Barkbusters with a set of plastic guards from Polisport. No doubt the Barkbusters provided better crash protection, but they were bulky and quite frankly, rather ugly with their multiple attachments to actually connect to the bars. We save a bit of weight with the Polisport guards and they’ll provide protection for all but the worst impacts.

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Speaking of impacts, we’ve now also greatly improved the crash protection to our engine. Our new skid plate actually provides protection to some of the most expensive bits of our bike. Why things like this don’t come standard on dual sports we’ll probably never know.

So, why have we decided to sacrifice the KLX250S’ performance on the road? That’s because on our next update, we’ll be showing off our supermoto setup for the bike. What we’re hoping to achieve is a roll off, roll on setup where we can quickly change the bike from an enduro machine to a daily street machine in a matter of minutes. With this we hope to show how you can have a one size fits all motorcycle with just a little bit of effort.

That means a separate set of wheels with their own properly sized sprocket for the street, and thus with a clip type master link, removing the off-road chain and putting on the supermoto chain will be quick and easy. That at least is the plan…

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SWM RS 650 R Review

The RS 650 R is the first bike under the Speedy Working Motors (SWM) name to come out in over 30 years. It enters an incredibly competitive off-road market and while the 600 cc dualsport isn’t going to break any records or transform the category as we know it, it’s an extremely solid and competent motorcycle that offers incredible value for money.

SWM was founded back in 1971 and had a great reputation among trials and enduro riders. Despite early successes, the company shut its doors in 1984. So how is it that the name now has been resurrected? Well, it’s complicated. The man behind the reborn SWM is Ampelio Macchi, a legend of the industry who has been behind brands such as Cagiva, Husqvarna and Aprilia. Upon BMW selling Husqvarna to KTM, he saw an opportunity and with backing by Chinese conglomerate Shineray purchased the Lombardia factory in Italy.

SWM RS 650 R

The Husqvarna factory wasn’t the only thing that Macchi got hold of though. The RS 650 R is essentially a Husqvarna TE630. Visually it appears identical save for the colour scheme. There’s been a few minor tweaks here and there but overall this is a bike that was released first in 2010. From a commercial point of view it’s a clever move. The TE630 was a reliable and capable machine and it lets SWM get to market quickly – saving years of developing a brand new bike. Those brand new bikes are coming – including 250 cc and 300 cc dualsports and motards, an adventure bike and some retro styled street bikes.

One of the advantages to being based on a discontinued bike is that the aftermarket support is already out there. Anything that fits the TE630 should bolt onto the RS 650 R without a hitch. That means you can get a safari tank that will double your fuel capacity, luggage racks, skid plate and more – something you wouldn’t normally get for a brand new bike, least not one from a newly established company.

My initial time on the RS 650 R was mainly some twisty mountains, country roads and a bit of gravel as well. The bike carved up the corners without any problems and given how the dynamics of the bike felt, the supermoto version of this bike (the SM 650 R) should be brilliant. The tires on the bike are Korean ‘Goldentyre’- rubber I’ve never heard of before and from the tread pattern look to be an 80/20 or 90/10 design for road/off-road use. They seemed to offer plenty of grip and I didn’t once feel unsettled on them though I’m sure most people would switch to a more known brand as soon as needed.

SWM RS 650 R

Being a thumper, vibrations are usually a given but they’re really not too noticeable on this bike. In fact, the lack of vibrations for the most part were very impressive considering I was the first person to ride this bike save for SWM’s sales rep who bolted it together a week earlier. Only 200 clicks had been put on it before I was handed the keys so after a few weeks of solid riding the bike will no doubt loosen up nicely. Vibrations really only become apparent above 5,000 rpm but given that in sixth gear on the highway speed limit you’re only sitting on around 4,650 rpm, it’s really not an issue.

There’s a definite truck like quality to the engine, both in its sound (a rough grumble) as well as how much torque it has down low. It’s definitely a highlight of the single cylinder 600 cc unit – even as high as third gear it briskly responds when you need some extra speed without any hesitation – great for when you’re tackling tricky terrain and don’t want to have to change gears.

Front and rear brakes both feature Brembo callipers with a single 300mm disc up front and a 240 mm one at the back. Brake response at the front was very good with excellent feel as you squeeze the lever in. The back brake I felt locked up a little too easily on bitumen with just a small push of the lever seeing you put down a strip of rubber on the road.

SWM RS 650 R

After spending a few hours on the black stuff I finally arrived at the off-road part of my journey. It would be an hour long trip of Duck Creek Road, a public road that meanders through private properties and up to the summit of a national park.

As I hit the dirt I realised I hadn’t brought my tyre pump with me. So in addition to the road biased tyres, I also had to deal with higher than ideal tyre pressures. The RS 650 R performed flawlessly though. The road wasn’t just easy to ride hard packed dirt either – there was ruts, potholes full of water and plenty of rocks – both rough and smooth – and the bike performed effortlessly. A set of knobbies and proper tyre pressures would probably see this machine capable of tackling all but the most technical of terrain.

That’s no doubt thanks to the weight of the SWM RS 650 R. At 147kg fully fueled (claimed), it’s a mere 10 kg more than Yamaha’s benchmark WR250R dual sport – but with plenty more horsepower and oodles more torque. It even feels lighter than it is too – comparing it to our KLX250S project bike (which weighs slightly less), the Kawasaki feels frumpy. SWM must be using some of that magic dust Honda has access to that makes its bikes feel lighter than they are. They’d be able to shave a few more kilograms off the total too if they did away with the dual exhaust cans…

SWM RS 650 R

The great handling is also down to the quality suspension that the bike comes with. Though you could spend a couple of thousand dollars on aftermarket fork and shock upgrades, only the most hardcore of riders will really need it. The 45mm upside down Marzocchi forks up front and the Sachs rear shock to a very good job given the price point of this bike with plenty of room to customise your setup but even out of the box the handling was great.

It’s a huge advantage that this bike has – the agility (or very close to it) of a small dual sport but with the power of a mid-capacity machine. It makes overtaking on highways a breeze with acceleration that while not sportsbike quick is nevertheless still very rapid.

The standard gearing of the bike is a pretty good compromise between off and on road applications. As mentioned before there’s plenty of torque so tootling around the trickier stuff in second gear is for the most part fine. On the terrain where first gear is required it’s generally happy to putter along without any clutch input until the inclines start to get steep – not bad for a bike that will sit at 100 kph in sixth gear with plenty in reserve.

Fifth and sixth gear are definite overdrive gears and if I had my way, I’d probably go up a couple of teeth on the rear sprocket just to make the bike easier to use on tighter trails. That would also potentially make second gear more useful at slower speeds too – something of a personal preference of mine as I sometimes find the engine braking when in first gear a little too abrupt.

SWM RS 650 R

The ergonomics of the bike are fairly standard, with the bars low enough to encourage an attack position when standing. That might not suite some taller riders who prefer higher bars when riding more casual trails but it is good for higher speed cornering. The seat is fairly flat and gives you plenty of room to move back and forward depending on your preference. Being essentially a dirtbike, the pew is hardly comfortable but on the flip-side I’ve sat on plenty worse.

Annoyingly, the sides of the petrol tank are not only wide, the lip of them has a slightly exposed edge at the seam where your legs sit. By the end of my first day of riding the RS 650 R, my nylons had caught on this countless times and my knee braces (despite being under my pants) had scuffed up the plastics pretty badly. I’d hate to see what it would look like after a few months of riding.

Two other quibbles I had were that the brake lines are positioned in such a way that when you’re sitting down they partially block the view of the diminutive display and depending on your height will mean you either can’t see the speedo or the tacho – or both. The kickstand is also a pain in the rear. It’s too long by a good inch and a half meaning you need to tilt the bike to the right in order to properly extend it. It’s also on a spring and automatically pops back up – that will no doubt cause a few drops for new owners.

SWM RS 650 R

Strangely, later in the day as I was returning home on the freeway in moderate traffic, the bike had some speed wobbles – it became apparent at around 110 kph and saw the front end shimmy from side to side – not uncontrollable but not nice either. I didn’t notice any shimmy at the front earlier in the day but I hadn’t taken the bike up to those speeds, either. Searching Google to see if the issue appeared for owners of the Husqvanra TE630, it seemed that the main culprits of the speed wobbles were incorrect rear sag and unbalanced tyres. After adjusting the rear sag for my weight and taking the bike back out on the freeway, the problem was gone.

From my week of riding the RS 650 R, I really enjoyed it. It was a blast on the trails with great low down torque, plus its extra power made merging and overtaking on the highway a breeze. It has a few design quirks which detract from the bike but you can perhaps overlook those when you see the price. In Australia the bike sells for $9,490. By way of comparison, the new Husqvarna 701 Enduro’s asking price is $15,995. That’s a massive difference for what is in essence a Husqvarna in many respects anyway. In the UK it’s a similar story with the SWM going for £5,699 while the Husqvarna will set you back £7,999. That is nothing short of amazing value for a tried and tested platform that already has plenty of aftermarket support.

SWM RS 650 R SWM RS 650 R

SWM RS 650 R

IMG_7889 SWM RS 650 R SWM RS 650 R

Big or Small? What Makes an Ideal Adventure Bike?

The adventure bike market is huge and probably the biggest growing segment in the motorcycle industry today. While adventure riding has been around for decades, it has recently undergone a renaissance of sorts thanks to a certain television series featuring the BMW R 1200 GS. Now, every company wants in on the action.

That’s because adventure bikes are normally priced at the upper end of the scale, which generally means more profit margins. But are riders missing the obvious here? Instead of spending huge wads of cash on bikes that come with all the latest technology and gadgets, why not settle for a humble dual sport – essentially a dirt bike that can legally be ridden on and off road?

For a new dual sport, you’ll probably be forking out less than half the amount of money for a machine that’s arguably more capable of adventure riding. Or is it? We decided to take a look at that supposition – for adventure riding are you better off on a smaller, cheap(er) dual sport, or a big, more expensive ADV bike?

The KTM 1190 Adventure R is powerful, but is that power needed?

The KTM 1190 Adventure R is powerful, but is that power needed?

For the purposes comparison, we’re going to focus on two specific motorcycles just to help us see real numbers and specifications – although the comparison could equally apply to similar machines. Those two bikes are the Yamaha WR250R and the BMW R 1200 GS – both are regarded (arguably) as among the best in their respective categories. The WR250R has long been classed as the best dual sport machine in the market, while the 1200 GS is a sales success and has no doubt inspired many an individual to purchase an adventure bike.

But if your purpose is to actually ride a wide variety of surfaces and conditions, which is better? The roughly 1200 GS with all its gadgets and glamour or the far cheaper and more humble WR250R? And regardless of the specific bike your’re looking at, is big or small better?

Weight

Weight is the enemy of all motorcycles. The more a bike weighs, the less manouverable it is at low speeds and the less agile it is too. While a heavy bike most certainly doesn’t prevent you from going off road, it does make things more difficult for the vast majority of riders. And even if you are in the top percentile of skilled pilots, fatigue will definitely be reduced if you’re riding a lighter machine. Low speed maneuvers – something that is often required when on the dirt and other terrains that isn’t asphalt – are much easier with smaller, lighter bikes.

The Yamaha WR250R weighs only 295 lb (about 133 kg) fully fueled.

The Yamaha WR250R weighs only 295 lb (about 133 kg) fully fueled.

Here, smaller bikes win, no question. Heavier ADV bikes are less able to take on technical trails which means that your choice of where and what you can see are reduced. We’re not saying it’s impossible for an ADV bike to overcome, it’s just far easier and more within the grasp of mere mortals on a dual sport. And given the difficulties in some types of terrain, when you eventually do go down you’ve sometimes got double the weight to pick up.

Yamaha’s WR250R weighs only 133 kg (295 lb) as opposed to the R 1200 GS’s 256 kg (564 lb). That’s a massive difference and while there are big adventure bikes that do weigh less, they’re pretty much all tipping the scales at well over 200 kg.

winner dual sport

 

Power

Most small capacity dual sports have around 20 to 30 horsepower, whereas big sized ADV bikes with their liter plus capacities have over 100 horsepower and a far stronger power to weight ratio. That makes them the winner, right? It does, but it’s a lot closer than the specifications might indicate.

For the vast majority of off-road riding, you really don’t need much power at all – 30 horsepower on a bike that weighs less than 150 kg is more than enough for off-road riding. It will still get you to 100 km/h – a speed that most won’t hit off-road, and it’s plenty for getting up inclines and over obstacles.

Where the lack of horsepower does become an issue is when you’re on highways. All dual sports will hit the speed limit of a highway with a bit to spare, but it generally won’t be its preferred habitat. You’ll be in sixth gear and on your way to redline with the accompanying buzzing and noise that goes with it. A big ADV bike on the other hand will barely be breaking a sweat and have plenty of speed in reserve for overtaking.

As the saying goes, there’s no replacement for displacement and while not much is needed when you’re off the beaten track, it becomes an issue at other times.

winner adv

 

Comfort

This is a somewhat subjective criteria, but it’s also the one that you can’t really nail down by just looking at our two picks – the WR250R and the R 1200 GS. But as a general rule of thumb, dual sports are designed to inflict extreme pain on your posterior from a days riding, while ADV bikes will only make you feel sorry for yourself until the next morning.

Most stock bikes come with seats that are awful, but overall the padding and cushioning you get on an ADV as opposed to a dual sport is better.  Some dual sports like the KLX250 have a seat that’s just a small piece of foam over what we’re assuming is a slab of concrete and has been designed by sadists.

That comes down to the design of the differing machines. ADV’s are usually inspired by road bikes while dual sports come straight from motocross machines where seats aren’t sat on that often. When adventure riding, you’ll be standing a lot, but there are plenty of times when you’ll be sitting and here, ADV bikes usually offer a nicer experience for your derriere.

This isn't really recommended on a dual sport with their less than well padded seats.

This isn’t really recommended on a dual sport with their less than well padded seats.

Additionally, ergos on ADV bikes are just generally better than dual sports. Again, dual sports are generally just modified motocross bikes which are designed for riders to do fairly short stints around a track whereas ADV bikes are made from the outset to accommodate entire days in the saddle. Add in luxuries like heated grips, seats, adjustable windshields and so on and it’s a far more pleasant place to be for days on end.

winner adv

 

Running Costs

As we said at the outset, smaller dualsports are cheaper to purchase than big ADV bikes, sometimes by more than half. And those savings continue when you own the bike, too. A dual sport on average is going to use less oil and other fluids, go through tires less (plus replacement tires which are smaller will also be cheaper) and service intervals are usually greater for the smaller bikes too.

For example, the current model WR250R only requires a valve check every 40,000 kilometers, whereas the 1200 GS needs to have its valves checked twice as often at 20,000 kilometer intervals.

And given that a dual sport uses cheap and flexible plastics as their fairings, any scratches, dents or breaks are much easier and cheaper to replace – and there’s also the added benefit of aftermarket replacement plastics which you generally won’t be able to get for bigger ADV bikes.

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Luggage

If you’re going on a driving holiday with the family, what’s better – a family statoin wagon or a compact? Obviously, the bigger vehicle. It fits more in without a hassle whereas a smaller car means you have to play virtual tetris to fit everything in. So the same applies to bikes, right?

Well, if you’re going solo like most would, how much do you actually need? For adventure riding, both types of bikes will probably be adequate when it comes to the amount of luggage you need to fit. So, draw?

No, because when it comes to luggage options – both for the actual carrying of your items and for attaching them onto your bike, ADV bikes are way out in front. Panniers, top cases, various types of mounts – there are entire companies out there that design and produce luggage systems for ADV bikes. If you’re lucky, they might do the same for the most popular dual sports.

That’s aftermarket. Many ADV bikes come standard with luggage options from the get go – that’s pretty much unheard of for small dual sports.

winner adv

 

Range

Here, maths gives us an easy answer. A WR250R has a fuel tank that can hold two gallons of fuel (about 7.5 litres) whereas, a 1200 GS is happy to hold 20 litres of black gold (5.3 gal). While the bigger machine is thirstier, that isn’t enough to for the smaller dual sport to compete on range. The BMW is good for around 300 miles (a bit under 500 kilometers) while the WR250R can eek out around 117 miles (a bit under 200 km).

Sure, you can buy aftermarket tanks for the WR250R that just about double capacity, but you can also buy aftermarket tanks for the 1200 GS, too. The simple fact is that a bigger bike has more room for a bigger fuel tank and thus has better range. And that goes for just about every bike in their respective categories – bigger bikes get more mileage. The WR250R’s range is actually at the pointy end for dual sports – there are some that struggle to get more than 150 km in range.

This Suzuki DR-Z400 owner ran out of fuel while crossing the Amazon river.

This Suzuki DR-Z400 owner ran out of fuel while crossing the Amazon river.

How important is this? Well, that obviously depends on where you’re riding but there’s probably few riders who don’t get range anxiety on their dual sports when they’re out in the middle of nowhere with an OEM tank. As we said, larger aftermarket tanks alleviate this, as do fuel bladders and the like, but from the showroom floor, ADV’s win this hands down.

winner adv

 

Repairs

When you’re out riding in the bush, forest or desert, you’re always praying to the motorcycle gods that everything is reliable. And the less that can go wrong, the better. Here, dual sports reign supreme.

All those luxuries you miss out on – ABS, heated grips, cruise control and so forth can become a curse if they malfunction in the wilderness. ADV bikes often sport the most sophisticated and recent technology of all bikes – even superbikes – one just needs to look at the list of standard features on the KTM 1290 Super Adventure to see that.

On the other hand dual sports tend not to have changed much in the past decade. Sure, companies refine them but they’re essentially very similar machines to what they were many, many years ago. Same engine, suspension, chassis and so. They’re fairly low-tech.

That means that should an issue arise, they’re simpler to fix but also parts are far easier to come by. Given the lack of electronics on smaller dual sports, you can usually Macgyver something up in a pinch. Even today you can buy a brand new dual sport from a dealer like the Kawasaki KLX250S that uses a carburetor instead of electronic fuel injection – that’s how basic they can be. Add to that the options available for a two-stroke machine and it gets even easier.

winner dual sport

 

Conclusion

So it’s a fairly even result, which shouldn’t be surprising – they’re essentially two different machines that approach the same problem in different ways. For the real hardcore adventure rider, a dual sport will get you to places you can’t easily access on a big ADV bike, especially highly technical terrain.

That said, while the dual sport does have advantages in maneuverability and weight, we’d argue for them to be a truly “one size fits all” bike, they do need some upgrades – not least is a larger fuel tank. Generally, larger ADV motorcycles are ready to go from the showroom floor, have more range and better luggage options. And while they’re not quite capable as a smaller bike (at least without considerable effort) it will still get a capable rider wherever they want to go 90 per cent of the time more comfortably and at home on the tarmac.

Like so many things in life, it’s all a matter of compromise. Now, if only someone decided to sell a mid-capacity adventure bike, like a 690 Enduro…

Weeeeee

Weeeeee

Pirelli Scorpion Trail II Tire Review

The holy grail for adventure riders is a tire that offers long lasting wear, as well as great grip on and off the road.  And while there’s no such tire that truly meets all three criteria and probably never will be (that is until someone develops a tire that can morph from road tire into a knobby on the run) the new Pirelli Scorpion Trail II provides brilliant road grip, long lasting wear and does a pretty decent job on the dirt too.

Pirelli offered me the opportunity to test their new Scorpion Trail II tires recently which had been affixed to a Suzuku V-Strom 1000 – a machine that’s actually pretty capable of hitting the odd trail. In addition to hitting some twisty roads at pace, I was keen to see how far I could push the tires off road as well.

Pirelli Scorpion Trail II Tire Review

Dirty chicken strips

Pirelli is aiming this tire at the ever expanding adventure touring segment and is an evolution rather than a revolution over the previous version. The aim is to create a tire with good road performance, while still capable of tackling unpaved surfaces. It is designed for motorcycles such as the Ducati Multistrada, Aprilia Caponord, Kawasaki Versys and Suzuki V-Strom and in fact is starting to come standard on a number of such bikes.

The tread pattern of the tire takes cues from the Pirelli Angel GT which is aimed at the sport touring segment, but with modifications to provide more off-road grip. The side grooves of the new Scorpion Trail II have been modified to ensure optimal drainage in case of rain, while the layout and “binary open” shape of the central ones not only contribute to the drainage of water but also ensure better traction, greater stability and more regular wear.

Pirelli Scorpion Trail II Tire Review

Compared to its predecessor, the new tire has a wider central section which retains a compound developed for high mileage without compromising cornering performance, and especially developed to offer excellent wet performance. The side compound was designed to optimize the balance between performance on dry and wet roads. Pirelli states that they think mileage will be around 30 per cent higher on the Scorpion Trail II range compared to its predecessor without any reduction in grip levels – a sizable improvement.

That all said, these tires aren’t designed as off road specific boots. In fact, they’re really a 90/10 ratio offering of road/off-road and so if you’re planning on going through the mountains or forests where you won’t see asphalt for days a time, this isn’t the right tire. What they are designed for is the adventure tourer who expects good amounts of grip but with the ability to hit hard packed dirt roads with confidence should the need present itself.

Pirelli Scorpion Trail II Tire Review

There’s even little scorpions on the tire. Aww…

So how do they go for what they’re expected to do 90 per cent of the time? Very well. Tire technology has come ahead so far over recent years that it’s almost a case of every new tire coming out offering grip levels that far surpass what most mere mortals need for the road. In fact you could take your adventure bike to the track with these tires and be assured they will perform effortlessly.

After racking up a many hundreds of kilometers of aggressive riding over a few days, they didn’t once miss a beat. I found that turn in performance from the tire to be pretty much spot on for what I personally like on an adventure bike – not too aggressive that sees the bike lean over too quickly but still enough to really let you throw the bike into the corners.

But what i really wanted to do was test them off the black stuff. Unfrotunately the weather was against me. Day after day there was light to moderate rainfall and I wasn’t particularly enthused with the idea of taking these tires attached to a 250kg V-Strom onto muddy roads – I’m just not that competent an off-road rider. But as the deadline to me returning the bike grew ever closer I bit the bullet and headed out to try my luck.

Despite a few hairier moments, the Scorpion Trail II tires were surprisingly good in light mud.

Over the course of the day I road over packed dirt, light gravel and some rather wet patches that caused me to reconsider what the hell I was doing. That said, the tires performed admirably. Yes, I had a number of moments where the back end stepped out when on muddy patches in corners but every time I just held the throttle open and waited for the tire to hook back up. Again, not my tire of choice for the mud but it did far better than I expected it to. I’m sure that with a better rider at the helm and perhaps dropping the pressures down, those moments might have been avoided all together.

Overall, the new Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tires offer good value given their grip levels and based on the previous Scorpion Trail range, provide a good amount of life before needing to be replaced. Best of all, they’re now available in a 90/90 21 size for dual sport riders wanting another option.  Prices start at $169 for a front and reach $308.95 for a rear, depending on size.

Sizing Available:

Pirelli Scorpion Trail II Tire Review

Is the Christini 450DS the Best Enduro Bike You Didn’t Even Know Existed?

There are some amazing niche products available for those that like to ride offroad such as AJP, Beta, Gas Gas – but potentially the Christini 450DS is the best yet. That so many people haven’t heard of it before (including dual sport aficionados) is a crying shame but let’s try and rectify that. The Christini 450DS is an all-wheel-drive(!) dual sport based upon a Honda CRF450X that you can road register – and it only costs $8,995.

Christini actually started out as a mountain bike company, developing AWD technology for bicycles back in the 90s before selling the first model in 2001. In 2007, Christini sold their first AWD motorcycle and now offers a range of two and four stroke bikes – both competition only and street legal. So good is the technology that the US military employs the technology on many of the motorcycles they use overseas.

Christini’s patented mechanical All Wheel Drive system delivers power from the motorcycle transmission to the front wheel through a series of chains and shafts. There is no energy-robbing hydraulics involved. It can be turned off at any stage, too – should you wish to show your dirt riding prowess without additional assistance.

The lightweight all-mechanical system works similar to that of AWD systems found on four wheeled vehicles. The AWD system (powering the front wheel) is driven at a slightly lower rate than the rear wheel (approximately 80%). Under optimum traction conditions, the rear wheel is actually driving faster than the front AWD system. One-way clutches within the front hub allow the front wheel to freewheel under these conditions. At this point, the AWD system is effectively passive. Though the front AWD system is turning, it is not actually transferring power to the front wheel. When the rear wheel loses traction, the drive ratio, relative to your forward speed, changes. The AWD system engages, transferring power to the front wheel until traction is reestablished at the rear wheel.

The way the front system works is like pedaling a bicycle down hill. You are pedaling, but because of gravity (acting like the rear drive) the bike is traveling faster than you are delivering power. When you get to the bottom of the hill and slow down (similar to what happens when the rear wheel spins), you will begin to power the bike again.

An added benefit of AWD is that the front wheel does not want to wash out. When a front end tucks, the wheel stalls, stops turning, and begins to push. With the AWD system, as soon as the wheel begins to stall, power is delivered to the front wheel, forcing it to turn. With the front wheel under power, it is nearly impossible to wash out the front end.

The 450DS chassis and frame is based on the Honda CRF450x, modified to accommodate the required components for powering the front wheel. The engine is also based on the Honda and built by AsiaWing motors in China. We’ve talked to a few owners of the bike and they say it’s rock solid, engine included. In fact, Christini has kept things so in line with Honda that if a Christini dealer isn’t nearby, you can get the bike serviced at a Honda dealership.

The AWD 450 Dual Sport is an EPA approved street legal bike and includes DOT tires, lights, turn signals and mirrors.  It uses the same motor and suspension as the off road, but is more geared towards adventure.  You can cruise the roads, hit the trails and explore.

We’ve been in contact with local Christini dealers and actually hope to ride and review much of their range in the very near future.

 

KTM 1290 Adventure Dual Sport Confirmed

It’s been known for a while know that KTM was going to bring out a dual sport based on the insane 1290 Super Duke. For those of you unfamiliar with said bike, it sports 180 hp and yet weighs only 416 lb.  It can hit the double metric ton of 200 kph (124 mph) in just 7.2 seconds. It’s also boasts the most electronic gadgets you can probably find in a bike today, including the most advanced ABS system available. How’s that sound for a bike you can take offroad?  Yes, good. Very good indeed. Other than the official picture below, KTM haven’t released any specific details on the bike yet but given KTM’s pedigree and history, this won’t be a poser bike. Spoked wheels, radiator guard and high exhaust all point to a bike that is more than capable of a some gravel or more.  It’s likely that gearing on the bike will be modified somewhat compared to the 1290 Super Duke and from the photos we can also deduce that it has a larger fuel tank. KTM 1290 Adventure KTM will release all the details at the INTERMOT bike fair in October. In similar news, the best photos yet of the BMW Sports Tourer which itself is based off the brilliant S1000RR have surfaced on the Internet. To be called the S1000XR (and not the S1000F has previously thought), it will be more go than show as it’s off road ability will be limited. It will however be perfect for long distance rides and will come with a host of luggage options as is one of BMW’s fortes. Like the 1290 Super Duke, it will feature all the bells and whistles including BMW’s new ABS cornering system. As was guessed at in renders we published last month, BMW has done away with the asymmetrical headlights for a more mainstream look. Again full details will be released at INTERMOT.

 


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