All Comparisons – Test drive: the BMW R1200GS against the Honda Crosstourer, Kawasaki Versys 1000 and Triumph Explorer – 1012 kg on the scales!

Test: BMW R1200GS against Honda Crosstourer, Kawasaki Versys 1000 and Triumph Explorer

All Comparisons - Test drive: the BMW R1200GS against the Honda Crosstourer, Kawasaki Versys 1000 and Triumph Explorer - 1012 kg on the scales!

Ras the helmet of the R1200GS? That’s good news: the range of maxi trails has never been so rich as in 2012! Excluded on the web, Site compared the BMW to the Honda Crosstourer, Kawasaki Versys 1000 and Triumph Explorer. Comparative test.

1012 kg on the scale !

Lovers of "real trails", these light and manoeuvrable motorcycles capable of venturing off the beaten track, reacting in a flash to the slightest movements of the upper body and clearing an obstacle with a gas stroke: you can stop here your reading…

Because there is no need to hide the face: with their buxom measurements (2210 mm long for the BMW, 2235 mm for the Kawa, 2248 mm for the Triumph and 2285 mm for the Honda) and their pachydermal masses (285 kg for the Crosstourer DCT !) the R1200GS, the Crosstourer, the Versys 1000 and the Explorer don’t have much to offer off-road riders.

MNC nevertheless ventured into a soggy meadow with the BMW and the Triumph, but the heaviness of these machines (229 kg all full made for the GS and 259 kg for the Explorer) quickly reminded us that the escape was mainly suggested by the look of these gentrified adventurers !

And why haven’t we tried the Honda and Kawasaki experience? Quite simply because the Japanese lend themselves even less naturally to the exercise, especially as their ABS delivered as standard (optional only on the BMW!) Cannot be disconnected. Logical, as they are designed like and from road bikes !

The Versys 1000, which weighs "only" 239 kg, even kept tires and wheels with 100% road dimensions: 120 mm wide at the front and 180 mm at the rear on 17-inch rims. Its rivals are modeled on the same mold as the R1200GS: 110/80/19 at the front and 150/70/17 at the rear. Here is which tends to confirm the words of Kawasaki which proclaims loud and clear that the Versys 1000 is not an "anti-GS" !

This different philosophy can be felt even in the ergonomics: if the four motorcycles have in common a large TT-style handlebars that are easily grasped without having to tilt the torso, the comparison with the world of off-road stops there for the two Japanese..

Wider at the knees, the tanks of the Crosstourer (21.5 liters) and the Versys 1000 (21 l) do not make standing strolls very natural: the generously hollowed 20-liter tanks of the BMW and the Triumph are less annoying when the pilot is up on the footrests.

Likewise, the Honda and Kawasaki’s footrests are set slightly further back, which goes hand in hand with their more road orientation. The legs are therefore more folded than on the BMW and the Triumph. The phenomenon is also more noticeable on the Crosstourer, whose "saddle / footrest" distance is the lowest..

The reception reserved for the lower extremities of the body of a pilot of 1.75m remains however very correct on the two Japanese. But it could have been improved by adopting an adjustable saddle, a practical aspect available to the German and the English on which the seat height can vary as standard between 850 and 870 mm (BMW) and 840 and 860 mm ( Triumph).

welcome aboard !

Since we are talking about saddle height, know that the Explorer and the Versys 1000 put the "short legs" the most comfortable: in the low position, the seat of the Triumph is the lowest of the four, while that the Kawasaki culminates only 5 millimeters higher (845 mm). In both cases, the soles of a 1m75 pilot’s boots rest their entire length on the ground.

Slightly less affordable, the BMW and the Honda offer an identical saddle height: 850 mm (in the low position for the Behème). Despite its generous dimensions, the Triumph wins the "title" of the most accessible trail in this comparison: its saddle is not only the lowest, but also the narrowest on its front part, which reduces the arch between the thighs. A big "bonus" when maneuvering at a standstill !

Explore: the annoying detail

Between the on-board computer controls on the left and those of the regulator on the right, the Triumph’s stems are even more loaded than those of the BMW. This is undoubtedly the reason which prompted the English to install the warning switch on the… dashboard! Moderately accessible, this location requires you to operate with one hand to reach the hazard lights while driving. On the Honda and the Kawa, the warnings are controlled from the left stalk, while the BMW asks to activate at the same time its traditional turn signal controls located under the stems..

However, the Explorer’s seat does not only have qualities: its padding is slightly firmer than that of its three rivals which are almost equal in terms of smoothness. "Almost", because the Kawasaki saddle is a bit softer than the seats – yet cozy! – from the BMW and the Honda.

The Versys 1000 saddle manages to reconcile the comfort and support of your favorite chair, without its qualities diminishing over the miles: a real success! Coming back to the Triumph, the detail that most penalizes the "posterior-esque" pleasure of the Explorer saddle comes from the slippery nature of its coating..

And if this characteristic is annoying for the pilot, it is just as much for his passenger who slides forward under braking. Too bad because without this defect, the Englishwoman could have dethroned the R1200GS, the most comfortable of the four duo.

As on the Triumph and the Kawasaki, the BMW thus offers a passenger seat generously raised and surrounded by accessible grab handles. Climbing on it does require an important "leg lift", but the co-pilot gains in pleasure since he can see the road over the driver’s helmet..

On the Honda, the passenger seat is not high enough to overhang the rider. The double clutch (one for even gears, one for odd gears) however offers a major advantage: thanks to the DCT, the jerks during automatic ascent (in "D" or "S" mode) or semi-automatic (in "MT" mode) speeds are completely erased. No more accidental "helmet blows" in duet !

On the other hand, the space provided for the legs is more restricted at the back of the Crosstourer, while the slight tingling emitted by its V4 at high speeds sometimes goes up to the handles. Nothing prohibitive so far, especially compared to the Versys 1000 whose vibrations present from mid-speeds to the switch spoil the pleasure of the pilot as much as that of his guest….

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