Alpen-Masters 2017 Finale – The largest motorcycle group test

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Alpen-Masters 2017 Finale - The largest motorcycle group test
Rossen Gargolov

Alpen-Masters 2017 Finale - The largest motorcycle group test

Alpen-Masters 2017 Finale - The largest motorcycle group test

Alpen-Masters 2017 Finale - The largest motorcycle group test

Alpen-Masters 2017 Finale - The largest motorcycle group test

27 pictures

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Alpine Masters 2017 – Final.

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BMW R 1200 GS Rallye, BMW R nineT Scrambler, Ducati SuperSport S, Honda Africa Twin, Kawasaki Z 900, KTM 1290 Super Adventure R and KTM 1290 Super Duke R at the final of the 2017 Alpine Masters.

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Tapped in proper style: At the Hotel Tannenheim in Trafoi, the beer flows out of a Kawasaki Z 900 motor housing.

Four connecting rods are used for metering. Landlord Hugo Ortler drives Ducati Monster himself. The verdict of the MOTORRAD jury, who is also knowledgeable at the counter: highly recommended.

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Passo Gavia (2618 m) Nobody is bumpier, nobody places higher demands on the chassis. The flat top of the pass is decorated by a lake.

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Sebastian Schmidt, freelancer, triathlete and driver of the…

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…BMW R nineT Scrambler.

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Passo Mortirolo (1852 m): Bushy green, tight hairpin bends, steep ramps and hardly any traffic – the trademark of Mortirolo.

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Klavs Lyngfeldt, editor-in-chief, hobby drummer and driver of the…

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…Kawasaki Z 900.

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Passo del Bernina (2330 m): Wide swings, posh asphalt – almost like Hockenheim in Switzerland. A big movie theater.

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Digital ballot box: Top tester Karsten Schwers organizes, notes and registers – including the election results in the final.

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Kristijan Ticak, Editor-in-Chief, USA traveler and driver of the…

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…Ducati SuperSport S..

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Passo del Foscagno (2291 m): you have to climb the Bernina, you should get to the Fraele – you have to cross the Foscagno. An unadorned transit pass.

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Sergio Romero, editor-in-chief, climbing freak and rider of the…

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…KTM 1290 Super Duke R..

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Passo di Fraele (1941 m): cul-de-sac, no pass – and yet worth every meter for this view and sight. It’s only ten kilometers from Bormio. An insider tip .

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Andrea Toumaniantz, editor, IT specialist, motocrosser and driver of the…

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…KTM 1290 Super Adventure R..

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There were still seven: A small lake at the top of the pass gives the Gavia a very special flair.

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Stilfser Joch (2757 m): If you have this pass at your feet, you are right up there. Don’t brake now.

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Karsten Schwers, top tester, cyclist, climber, restless and rider of the…

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…Honda Africa Twin.

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Wahl-Lokal: There is a lot of discussion on every pass. Which one flies out, which one stays in?

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Peter Mayer, editor, cyclist, trialer, motocrosser and driver of the…

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…BMW R 1200 GS rally.

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BMW R 1200 GS rally.

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Alpen-Masters 2017 Finale – The largest motorcycle group test

Alpine Masters 2017
The biggest motorcycle group test – the final

Seven motorcycles, five magazines, one goal: to choose the 2017 Queen of the Alps. Only the winning bikes of the preliminary rounds are eligible to start: BMW R 1200 GS Rallye, BMW R nineT, Ducati SuperSport S, Kawasaki Z 900, KTM 1290 Super Adventure R, KTM 1290 Super Duke R and the defending champion of the 2016 Alpine Masters: the Honda Africa Twin.

Peter Mayer

08/03/2017

Seven machines are in the final of the Alpen Masters 2017. The six current group winners BMW R 1200 GS Rallye, BMW R nineT, Ducati SuperSport S, Kawasaki Z 900, KTM 1290 Super Adventure R and KTM 1290 Super Duke R as well as last year’s defending champion, the Honda Africa Twin.

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Four experienced test drivers from international partner magazines form the jury together with three MOTORRAD editors. It is decided by vote. The circuit, peppered with all alpine challenges, is 300 kilometers long. The decisions are made on six passes. The bike that is voted out is eliminated. There is no second chance. Pass by pass, the field of applicants is decimated. The coronation ultimately takes place at the top. The highest pass in Italy, the 2,757 meter high Stilfser Joch, becomes the throne for the 2017 Queen of the Alps.

Alpen-Masters 2017 Finale - The largest motorcycle group test

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Load changes, pressure, steering behavior, suspension

Once we are allowed to sniff the consecration place in advance. Because Trafoi, the starting point of this year’s Alpine Masters, is on the northeast ramp of the Stelvio. The path to the final round on the south side of the Ortler massif leads direttissima over the yoke. For the MOTORRAD men, the 48 hairpin bends during the Alpen Masters preliminary round became, so to speak, the home route. One that, even after many ascents, does not lose any of its fascination. Like a concert staging, long harmonious curves alternate with shrill hairpin bends, following each other – the further the asphalt strip winds towards the sky – in ever faster staccato, to culminate shortly before the pass in the finale of a true spiral drum roll.

For Andrea, Klavs, Kristijan and Sergio, the spectacular ascent is a vertical start. Demanding route, seven new motorcycles – even the professional testers are challenged. And excited. After all, the structure carved into the rock 200 years ago sums up the basic idea of ​​the MOTORRAD Alpine Masters. The ascent melts the non-driving slag from the machines like a burning glass. What is left here counts: smooth load changes, pressure from the lower rev range, neutral steering behavior, sensitive suspension.

The higher the miserable the asphalt

For this year’s 100th anniversary of the Giro d’Italia, the roof of the Tour of Italy was given a new asphalt surface in many places. The BMW R nineT Scrambler, the overwhelming winner of the Modern Classics category, suits the course maintenance. Ultimately, the Bavarian struggled with a somewhat uncomfortable appearance at the rear in the preliminary round despite the fact that the spring travel on the rear wheel was increased from 120 to 140 millimeters compared to the basic nineT. The soft strut sinks deep into the progression, then passes on some of the transverse joints hard to the pilot. You quickly get used to squeezing your buttocks together on the flat and thinly padded bench. On the ascent to the freshly polished yoke, this remains a marginal issue. Instead, the Scrambler, which differs from the nineT primarily through a conventional telescopic fork, a 19-inch front wheel, flatter steering angle and longer wheelbase, turns back the wheel of time not only visually, but also technically. And that in a positive sense. While the new water boxer was only domesticated over the years with a larger flywheel mass, shock absorber and revised clutch, the air-cooled predecessor recycled in the Scrambler pushes forward calmly. It is easy to dose and takes over from the apex of the curve and thunders forward with a measured 107 hp for the alpine curve thicket with just the right muscles.

It doesn’t take a quarter of this effort to get to the top of the pass at a slow pace. Those passing through, those looking for a parking space, those on the lookout, cyclists, hikers and photographers squeeze their way between the Tibet hut and the kiosk line. The mood in the chaos is still good. No bad word is spoken. Does being close to heaven help? Immediately after the summit, the landscape and curve radii widen. It goes quickly to the valley to Bormio. We know that in many hours on this climb there will be the final showdown of the last two Alpen Masters candidates.


Alpen-Masters 2017 Finale - The largest motorcycle group test


Map: Claudia Werel

Around 300 kilometers and 7600 meters in altitude: starting from the starting point in Trafoi, the circuit first crosses the Stelvio Pass and then leads over the Gavia, Mortirolo, Bernina, Forcola di Livigno, Foscagno and Fraele. Then it went over the top of the Stilfser Joch, the second highest paved pass crossing in the Alps at 2,757 meters.

In the winter sports hotspot Bormio we turn towards Gavia. Suddenly the traffic eases, almost completely ebb from Santa Catarina. It quickly becomes clear: The anniversary Giro was not here. The higher we climb, the more pathetic the asphalt becomes. Frost cracks and patches shake the suspension.

The field is expanding quickly. While the colleagues on the luxury-sprung travel enduros step on the gas as unabashedly as if they thought they were in the Andes at the Dakar, the men on the stiffer Ducati SuperSport let it go, Kawasaki Z 900 and the KTM 1290 Super Duke R take a more leisurely approach on the corrugated iron runway. And you guessed it: Sebastian on the BMW R nineT Scrambler is the hardest hit. Nevertheless, the casual retro off-roader does not lose its sympathies. The first decision is made on the flat top of the pass, which is wonderfully garnished with a lake. 4 to 3. Close – but definitely. The chic Bavarian is only allowed to ride as a spectator.

The tooth seal test continues after the pass. The warps pull the wheels as if by invisible threads, shifting the targeted line on the narrow lane. Only the travel endurists are not impressed. The rest suffers. The sportier the concept, the more agitated the bikes circle downhill. It throws them the hardest Ducati SuperSport S off track. Nevertheless, it is a gracious coincidence that the Italian from the sports department made it to the final. The constellation common in the racing genre – seat high, handlebar low – would probably stifle all fun in the sloping meander without leaving any residue. Fortunately, in Bologna with the Triple-S, they remembered the somewhat forgotten sports tourers and clamped the handlebars above the triple clamps. That relaxes. The body and thus also the mind. Also because the somewhat bumpy, but still lively engine contributes to the round lines on the descent. You can feel that he has easier play with the 217 kilograms of the SuperSport than with the 241 kilograms of the Multistrada 950, which is powered by the largely identical L-Twin.

Sports quartet kicks out the Kawasaki Z 900

The narrow road from Gavia winds its way down almost endlessly at 1,400 meters. The dense green that occasionally sprawls across the street like a tunnel clashes with the lime green of the Kawa. She had dominated the Mid Nakeds category in the preliminary round with flying colors. And she also pulls her trump cards out of her sleeve on the continuous valley trip. The four-cylinder responds smoothly and powerfully, and steers-neutral circumnavigates it Kawasaki Z 900 Oncoming traffic appearing in hairpin bends, it sits casually on her. The fact that the Nackedei lets the pilot sit in the wind doesn’t bother either on the Gavia or on the 20 straight kilometers towards Mortirolo.


Alpen-Masters 2017 Finale - The largest motorcycle group test

Day tour tip: the different passes guarantee a varied day of driving. Bumpy climbs (Gavia), narrow and densely overgrown loops (Mortirolo) and wonderfully flowing arcs (Bernina). Inexpensive fuel in Livigno, the lonely Fraele strait and the hustle and bustle on the Stilfser Joch complete the alpine experience.

There the traffic is finally drying up. We don’t come across a handful of cars on the remote ascent. For this reason alone, the climbing tour is worthwhile. Again, the Zett pleases with her nimble appearance. But at the very top the Kawasaki is caught off guard. The sports department made up of Karsten, Klavs, Sebastian and Sergio is into racers like the Ducati. The Kawasaki Z 900 cannot even help with the cheapest tariff by far in the high-priced field of finalists, at 8,900 euros. The sports quartet kicks them out with four votes. The Ducati SuperSport S and KTM 1290 Super Duke R share the remaining references. And: Via the three BMW R 1200 GS Rallye travel enduros, KTM The 1290 Super Adventure R and Honda Africa Twin did not say a word in the second election campaign. No speculation, please. The trail of the Kawa led here on the wrong track. At least the author.

KTMs are the most powerful bikes in the test field

Or was it the foresight of your sports colleagues? Because after the record-breaking long and steep descent from Mortirolo, the route of the Alpine Masters leads over Swiss soil one of the few times in its 13-year history. Luckily. Because the last ten kilometers of the Bernina Pass alone are worth this detour. As if lined up on a string of pearls, we tip the machines into the elongated arches of the road that has been built with federal thoroughness. The Ducati SuperSport S feels right at home. Even more so, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R. As if glued on, the two emphatically front-wheel-oriented machines hold the line, even creating a racetrack feeling in this spacious environment – if we weren’t in strict Switzerland. Nevertheless: The Super Duke is the boss here. Hard to believe that the so cultivated V2 with 1301 cm³ displacement carries the thickest pots in the entire Alpen Masters field in its tubular space frame. Unless you’re hooked on gas. Then the Austrian fires out of the corners as if ridden by the devil, burns – together with the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R – the measurably strongest start of all 21 Alpine Masters colleagues on the asphalt parquet.

And because the electronically finely honed KTM 1290 Super Duke R also flatters itself with an upright seating position that is friendly to the Alps, the Ducati SuperSport S at 2,330 meters above sea level lacks the arguments. Only Andrea, who lives in Bologna, and the former Isle of Man starter Sergio are still committed to their national pride and racing spirit. With five to two votes, the Ducati is thrown out. It’s just astonishing that the Honda Africa Twin, BMW R 1200 GS Rallye and KTM 1290 Super Adventure R are beyond all criticism even after the excess lean angle.

Travel enduros take over the reins

The unadorned driveway to Forcola di Livigno and the descent to the adjoining high valley are just right for investigating the causes. Because as soon as the emotional storm of curves subsides, the three travel enduros throw their rational qualities into the ring: dresser seating position, comfortable suspension, pillion suitability, universality and wind protection. Aspects that the test team obviously also honored in the alpine driving euphoria. But before the next stop, they refuel. The fuel costs less than one euro in the VAT-free Livigno. Keyword gasoline: The constant ups and downs in the mountains shake the engines easily out of their sleeves. The bikes consume a maximum of half a liter more than in the lowlands. Only the KTM 1290 Super Duke R falls out of line, with 6.7 liters it pours in one and a half liters more than usual. Nevertheless, it is not their record consumption that throws them out of the running on the dreary Foscagno Pass. 7-0. The verdict sounds much worse than the famous Austrian deserves. But the competition is getting tougher. And you know, the travel enduros – reason goes with them.


Alpen-Masters 2017 Finale - The largest motorcycle group test


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Passo di Fraele (1941 m): cul-de-sac, no pass – and yet worth every meter for this view and sight. It’s only ten kilometers from Bormio. An insider tip.

This election result will be a turning point. The broad range of the different motorcycle concepts in the Alpen Masters finals has been collapsed. The travel enduros have taken over the reins. Astonishing? No. Because the trio ultimately only reflects the reality of the alpine biker society. As MOTORRAD joked in the last issue: A quarter of all motorcycles sold are travel enduros. But on the alpine passes the question arises: Did the remaining three quarters stay in the valley??

However: The trio of BMW R 1200 GS Rallye, Honda Africa Twin and KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is separated by an invisible ditch. On the one hand, the Honda with down-to-earth technology, minimal electronics and moderate peak performance (95 hp) for 13,500 euros. On the other hand, the BMW and KTM. Both fully wired, powerful (125 PS and 160 PS respectively) and at almost 20,000 euros and 18,000 euros respectively, the most expensive of all 21 test machines. As a reminder: There are no points in the Alpen Masters final. Not even for prices, bits and bytes or a lot of horses. Now it is world views that will decide.

But first, the Passo di Fraele takes center stage. Shortly before Bormio, the little-known cul-de-sac to the Cancano reservoirs winds upwards for nine kilometers. Tight turns, no traffic. Focus on the essentials. The Honda Africa Twin won the last Alpine Masters because of its simplicity. Heads instead of buttons. Completely carefree, she goes from bend to bend, only seems a bit wobbly because of the unfortunate choice of series tires (Dunlop Trailmax D 610). Otherwise? Vain sunshine. The power is strong, the suspension fits even without electrical tuition. It is their no-frills concept that is still convincing.

Or is it the duo of BMW R 1200 GS Rallye and KTM 1290 Super Adventure S, which already made it to the final with a tie with the same number of points from the preliminary round? Even if the way there was anything but a common one. Because like the Super Duke, the Super Adventure is also defined by its incomparable pressure from the thick Vau. Everyone will succumb to the addiction to reignite this hurricane turn after turn. Protected behind the huge windshield, secured by lean angle sensors for ABS and traction control and appropriately bedded by the suspension that can be adjusted over a wide range, the Austrian combines two worlds, so to speak. But the dimensions of the 1290s are considerable, the towering front likes to steer into the wide line in bends, and the KTM, which is trimmed for stability, takes a bit of effort when it comes to twisting corners.

That’s why the BMW remains loosely on her heels. Instead of performance and performance, the Bavarian convinces with fine-tuning. Where the KTM driver needs the clutch, the boxer grumbles at low revs, but casually from the low rev range. If the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R falls slowly into an incline, the Bavarian will tip over with a snap of her fingers. And she draws her line as precisely as the mountain doctor draws his scalpel. Of course, the boxer does not deliver the emotional kick to the same extent as the Austrian V2, and the diffuse feedback from the Telelever front takes time to get used to.

The choice will be difficult. The view of the spectacular series of bends from the castle ruins around the Torri di Fraele lets your concentration wander. What matters? Enjoyable experience on the Honda, the kick of the KTM or the snazzy appearance of the BMW? 4: 3. Another surprise. The KTM has to go. The final will not only be a duel between the BMW R 1200 GS Rallye and the Honda Africa Twin, it will force a decision between the two philosophies.

BMW R 1200 GS rally against Honda Africa Twin

Only a few minutes later we screw our way up the final ascent on the south side of the Stelvio. The long, well-paved turns would be tailor-made for the KTM. Too late. As in a TV duel, the two presidential candidates bring up one last time the arguments that have long been spoken. Cheap or expensive? ESA or screwdriver? High-tech or carefree technology? Cardan or chain? Europe or Japan?

It’s late. The hustle and bustle at the top of the pass has long since died down and the kiosks are barricaded. It is quiet again in the kingdom of the Alpine kings. The calm before the choice of direction. With a landslide, pardon rockfall-like result: 7-0. The people cannot decide more clearly. Long live the new mountain queen 2017, the BMW R 1200 GS rally – and the anticipation of the 48 hairpin bends down to Trafoi.

Alpen Masters 2017 – final ranking

1st place: BMW R 1200 GS rally

She is not the strongest, not the fastest and certainly not the most spectacular. But definitely the most balanced. And that’s exactly what counts in the mountains. In the fifth year after the restart of the GS line, the Bavarian made it up again. A curtsey to the new Queen of the Alps.

2nd place: Honda Africa Twin

Honestly? Sometimes the annoying electro-zapping gets on my mind. I want to drive, not push buttons. The down-to-earth Africa Twin offers great driving pleasure and high utility value. Simply because their concept works. I can live with her losing her title.

3rd place: KTM 1290 Super Adventure R.

For me, the Super Adventure is a miracle of electronics. This is the only way to make their enormous bandwidth possible. The engine is extremely powerful and yet easy to control, the chassis sporty or comfortable. And all of this at the push of a button. Sure, it could be more handy. But not more emotional.

4th place: KTM 1290 Super Duke R

What a motorcycle! More emotion is hardly possible. And if you are afraid that 177 hp could overwhelm you, you can stay calm. The engine drives super cultivated. Of course, without a windbreak and with a chunky suspension, your focus is on the alpine quickie, not on the 100-pass tour.

5th place: Ducati SuperSport S.

Sport bikes belong on the racetrack, not in the Alps. But if it has to be, then with this Ducati. The high-mounted handlebar halves of the SuperSport S relax the sitting posture without destroying the racing spirit. It’s nice that Ducati remembers sports tourers again.

6th place: Kawasaki Z 900

Handling like a 650, pressure like a 900 – the Z 900 is convincing. The four-cylinder already grabs a lot in the speed cellar. This is a huge advantage in serpentines. May the other bikes be more specialized than this all-rounder. I enjoy it – also because of the price.

7th place: BMW R nineT Scrambler

The Scrambler really only has to be able to do one thing: look good. She does. But it also does well on the Alpine roads. Low seat height, beefy engine, neutral driving behavior. She easily won her preliminary round. That she struggles against the top-class players in the final – a gift.

Used offers from the Alpenmasters 2017 finalists


Alpen-Masters 2017 Finale - The largest motorcycle group test


1000PS marketplace app

Everyone against the Africa Twin – there is a large selection on the used market.

The finalists of the Alpenmasters 2017 are also popular motorcycles on the used market, which can be seen in the number of used motorcycles. Box office hits such as the BMW R 1200 GS and KTM 1290 Super Duke R can be found in various stages of conversion, which means that the used prices can vary. Here is an overview of the Alpenmasters 2017 finalists: Offers from the Alpenmasters 2017 finalists in Germany.

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