Alpine Masters 2011: Part 2

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Alpine Masters 2011: Part 2


Alpine Masters 2011: Part 2

Alpine Masters 2011: Part 2
Sweeping Week

Somewhere down there in the fog they lie, the countless hairpin bends and curves of the Stilfser Joch, l test field for part 2 of the Alpine Masters with the last two groups and the grand finale. Which machine will be adorned with the title King of the Mountains in the biggest motorcycle test this year??

Stefan Kaschel, Gert Thole, Eva Breutel


Tornante isse Italieniss, hot sharp bend, but not at the Ragazza, always stood on the sign on the street, capisci?” Sure, got it, always good if you ask a local when in doubt. But actually you can understand without a sign and an interpreter when the street makes the U-turn. It just doesn’t work without Tornanti when the asphalt strip has to screw up in the tightest of spaces.
In principle, the hairpin bend is nothing more than the extreme shape of the curve, which makes it a challenge for some. Especially since most of the nasty things you can think of are concentrated in the bend. This, in turn, has to do with the fact that the turn does not have an easy life, it suffers permanently. Because of the harsh weather conditions and the high mechanical stress. It is polished by erasing tires, torn open by braking and acceleration, and poorly patched up. Gravel and stones are always exactly where you can’t really use them.
And often the hairpin not only has to reverse the direction of travel, but also compensate for the topographically determined gradient of the roads that meet here within a few meters, which inevitably leads to corresponding height differences, bumps and faults in the middle of the curve.
So bends are typical of the mountain passes in the Alps, and the king of all bend passes is undoubtedly the Stelvio Pass with the famous 48 Tornanti in the east-
ramp, which is why car and motorcycle manufacturers put their prototypes through their paces here. This is also an ideal terrain for the Alpine Masters.
The photo above shows the view from the Umbrail Pass, practically the tributary of the Stilfser Joch leading into Switzerland, down into the valley. You can guess what makes the area so fascinating for motorcyclists. Everything that belongs to a perfect tour is offered. And almost on top of that there is the grandiose setting of a fantastic mountain landscape. That is why the Alps are a playground for bikers looking for pleasure in summer.
After three class winners have already qualified for the final round in the first part of the Alpine Masters with the Honda CBR 600 F, KTM 990 SM T and BMW K 1600 GT, the winners of Big Bikes and Classic Bikes have to be found first. As usual, these five group winners will meet last year’s winner, the BMW R 1200 GS, in the final. An international jury then selects this year’s winner of the Alpine Masters (from page 36).

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Unusual, but extremely fascinating: The Stilfser Joch in Italy with its 48 hairpin bends is by no means a typical alpine pass. And yet it casts a spell over tens of thousands of motorcyclists year after year, because it makes the highest demands. Anyone who conquers the yoke and its hairpin bends, whether man or machine, is on the safe side in the rest of the Alps, because nowhere is it more difficult on asphalt. This is precisely why the Stilfser Joch is the focus of the varied test route at the 2011 Alpine Masters, which also includes the Umbrail Pass in Switzerland and other very different passages, from fast alternating curves and long straights to a light piece of gravel and rough bumps. Each of the 20 machines that compete for the crown of the Alpine king goes through the circuit twice, whereby the fuel consumption is also checked. Start and finish is the base camp, the Hotel Tannenheim in Trafoi ( on the eastern ramp of the Stilfser Joch. The driving impression left by the motorcycles on the route is confirmed by objective measurements, some of which take place in Germany and some on site (see “This is how MOTORRAD tests”, P. 29). State-of-the-art GPS technology is used. But the human component is even more important: only experienced testers with a high level of experience are able to carry out professional braking and acceleration measurements on the Stilfser Joch.

The results from part 1


Harley-Davidson 1200 Custom

2-cylinder, 1202 cm³, 67 hp, 98 Nm, 267 kg, payload 187 kg, 11 295 euros
Motor with a lot of power from below
Load change behavior silky smooth
Seat height extremely low
Rear suspension very softly tuned
Long downhill braking distance
Sitting position inactive at the front, unreasonable at the rear

Kawasaki W 800

2-cylinder, 773 cm³, 48 HP, 60 Nm, 217 kg, load 183 kg, 8190 euros
Steering behavior neutral, fuel consumption low, sitting position relaxed
Braking distance downhill is very long
Gear shifting bony
Suspension set-up soft

For certain hours

No stress, no pressure to perform. Instead, relaxed posture, easy turning and curvy fun. With these four classic bikes, hours with that certain something are guaranteed in the Alps.

It’s actually a shame: modern kings of the Alps are not born in the group of classic bikes. In addition, they lack the equipment, because they make their way through life without ABS, traction control and wind protection. However, they are far from being a brake on fun – on the contrary.
The beautiful one Kawasaki W 800, the smart Triumph Scrambler, the noble one Moto Guzzi Bellagio and the headstrong Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom may not bring royalty, but a mountain experience of the original kind.
In order to plunge into the tumult of the hairpin bends on the Stilfser Joch with the Harley, you need good nerves and a good portion of self-confidence, because it persistently scratches the asphalt surface even in normal bends. How is that supposed to work in the serpentines? Better than expected. However, only if you fully immerse yourself in the twin from Milwaukee, especially in the seating position, which is not extreme, but takes some getting used to. Control freaks who always keep their motorcycle tight-
want to keep gelband, plunge into a deep leadership crisis because of the footrests positioned far forward, because the feedback leaves much to be desired. But anyone who overcomes this mental obstacle and builds up a certain basic trust directs the Harley around the hairpin bends in a relaxed manner, because the high-torque engine easily ironed out the weaknesses of the chassis. The clutch may require a lot of manual force, but little is needed. A full 95 Newton meters guarantee the very special, inspiring serpentine kick.
A certain ability to suffer is still necessary, for example on the fast bumpy piece at the Umbrail Pass. The suspension, which is far too slack, extends practically every bump directly to the spine. For a possible passenger, the fun ends much earlier, because on the narrow bench seat he slides backwards even with minimal acceleration. In terms of points, the Sportster Custom only landed in last place in their group with this performance. But she gets a lot of sympathy for the casual cruiser feeling and the rich V2.
The Kawasaki is a wave of sympathy W 800 even while standing, because vertical shaft, cooling fins and lovingly made spoked wheels are not only a magical attraction for nostalgics. With her harmonious, perfect line she looks like a total work of art from the Swinging Sixties and wins the beauty award in her group with the left hand – only there are no points for it. The two-cylinder can easily get that in other areas. Thanks to the straight handlebars and a weight of only 217 kilograms, it is feather-light to maneuver the 800 with a swing through even the tightest of turns. And the comfortable seating position for driver and front passenger makes you want more. In other areas, however, the retro queen has to give up, especially the blunt brakes gnaw at her points account. When measuring downhill from 75 to 25 km / h, it needs 39.2 meters. Clear record in the Alpen-Mas-
ters – but unfortunately a negative one. The chassis works better than the Harley, but is also very soft. This sets certain limits to a committed curve chasing, but only spoils the fun of Freud if you aim for too ambitious goals. With a measured 49 hp, the W 800 is the weakest in the field, and you can clearly feel that on the steep inclines of the Stilfser Joch.
The Triumph Scrambler shows how this can be done better. Although it only has six more horsepower, it is more lively on the passes. Your engine pulls up evenly and develops its maximum torque at 3400 tours; Given such a characteristic, even a modest 65 Newton meters is enough for high-alpine curve pleasure. Sit down and feel at home, is the motto of the little Englishwoman who, with two eye-catching, gleaming chrome exhaust bags on the right side, knows how to sit well in the retro scene, albeit not as elegantly as the W 800.
The wide and flat, enduro-style handlebars seem to have been made for casual serpentines. It’s just a shame that Triumph puts it so far away from the driver that he has to stretch for it. This makes the sitting position a bit strange, which costs valuable points. It is true Scrambler when handling on mountain passes at the front, but with a happier position of the handlebars things could have gone even better for them. It rushes up the yoke with a lively swing, takes on the most bumps on the Umbrail thanks to its comparatively stiff chassis and accommodates the pillion passenger in a neat spot. A real mood cannon that ensures a sunny mood even in wet and cold weather.
Such a relaxed yet brisk forward thrust could have been enough for group victory, if it weren’t for the Moto Guzzi Bellagio. The Italian benefits from the fact that she mixes a classic design with modern technology. This applies in particular to the stiff chassis and the well-balanced, firm suspension, as well as the double disc brakes with a good bite. Left, right, up, down: The Guzzi never seems overwhelmed, so you can turn the gas a little more briskly. The steering angle is not really generous, but the Bellagio easily makes up for that with a lot of feedback. It follows the specified course precisely and its stability is not shaken by strong bumps or deep cracks in the asphalt; She simply irons away such small annoyances and glides purposefully towards the summit. At the top of the wish list is an ABS, not just because of the difficult weather conditions.
The engine wants to be kept in good spirits when it comes to the summit because it suffers two small slacks at low revs. From 4500 tours, the short-stroke V2 bravely pushes ahead – the competition cannot keep up. In addition, it beguiles with a thump and rumble, as only a Guzzi-V2 succeeds: robust, primeval, simply wonderful. The Bellagio is aiming for one pass after the other, while the pursuers falter. The entry into the final is made.

Moto Guzzi Bellagio

2-cylinder, 936 cc, 75 hp,
78 Nm, 240 kg, payload
207 kg, 10 770 euros
Stable driving behavior
and neutral
Brakes with good
Motor easily revs
Steering angle not
very lush
Insufficient pillion space
Suspension uncomfortable on bad roads


1 Power on the crankshaft. Measurements on the Dynojet roller test stand 250, corrected according to 95/1 / EG, maximum possible deviation ± 5%

Triumph Scrambler

2-cylinder, 865 cm³, 54 hp, 69 Nm, 232 kg, payload 198 kg, 8990 euros
Motor with steady thrust
Chassis not too softly tuned
Light-footed handling
Handlebar positioned too far forward
Starting behavior is not always perfect
Long downhill braking distance

This is how MOTORRAD tests

What does a flat concrete surface have to do with the Alps? Very little, but you can still gain interesting insights on the handling course under safe conditions in the border area, which are very helpful during test drives in the mountains. The pylon carousel is driven by two people in order to simulate the loads caused by luggage and passengers. Incidentally, the results are not evaluated directly, but are included in many criteria for the evaluation in the mountains.
On the other hand, there are direct points for measurements in the Alps, such as the track-
or range. What can be seen? A lot of power often helps (Ducati Diavel), but not always (Aprilia Tuono). Less power means moderate acceleration on the mountain, whereby the
Bellagio is still doing bravely. It does the same when braking, while the simple systems of the other Classic
Bikes are overwhelmed. The only guarantee for short braking distances is an ABS. The classics from Triumph and Kawasaki are content with little fuel, while the Italians need plenty.

Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC

4-cylinder, 1000 cm³, 167 hp, 112 Nm, 212 kg, payload 189 kg, 14,990 euros
Chassis sets what precision, handling and
Feedback is concerned, the standards traction control eight levels with great functionality
Engine limp out of the hairpin bends
Consumption highest in its class
Convenience very clearly

Ducati Diavel

2-cylinder, 1198 cm³, 153 hp, 128 Nm, 241 kg, load 159 kg, ABS, 19 690 euros *
Motor pushes like Hulle
Brakes can be finely dosed, ABS handling is surprisingly good
Sitting position not quite ideal
Comfort could be greater
Payload nothing for fat people

Attack Department

There are motorbikes that come to the yoke for leisurely sightseeing. Not here. Aprilia, Ducati, MV and Triumph eat vertical meters like dairy cows on alpine grass. Beam up the short straights as if there were no hairpin bends. In this environment there is even a Ducati Diavel to the passports junkie.

Japan. Where is Japan? This classic question from the unforgettable sports reporter Bruno Moravetz hangs in the thin air over the turns of the Stelvio Pass. England storms with the extrovert Speed ​​triple uphill, Italy is in the big bike race with three representatives.
Thats it. Japan does not take place. At least not in this field of big naked people. Japan has nothing new to offer this year. And before anyone gets that down the wrong track: No, MOTORRAD has them too Diavel not taken because she would be a contender for group victory. The reason is rather her multiple personality, which promises a lot of tension in this special environment.
Even the predictions about how the flat iron will feel on this curve marathon are worlds apart. The Diavel on the Stilfser Joch – that is an intense experience. Whoever ascends below does not want to descend above. In between there is almost everything that can be experienced on a motorcycle.
First: the fear of entering the pass. It looks like a cruiser, has a mighty 240mm rear tire like a cruiser, sounds like a hot cruiser. Why, please, shouldn’t it drive like one?
Second: clear respect, mixed with a hint of pleasure. Hey, something’s going on here. It doesn’t matter how steep it is. No wonder, after all, the Desmo-Twin sends 90 Newton meters to the crankshaft even below 3000 rpm. He pushes the boom as if there was no tomorrow, with a live weight of a good 240 kilograms, he has an easy job.
Third? Surprise! Oops, that slows you down! No wonder, given the Brembo superbike stoppers from the 1198, combined with the corresponding ABS technology and a stable and elegant upside-down fork and 1590 millimeter wheelbase, which keep the rear wheel on the ground even on the steepest ramp.
Fourth? Astonish! Sapperlot, that really gives way. In the narrow yoke radii, the Diavel does not fail because of a fork that is too flat, or because of peculiar turning behavior or lack of lean angle. Even its 240 mm rear tire is not as big a handicap as its width would suggest, thanks to the restrained 45 mm cross-section. Of course, it doesn’t work out as neutrally and simply as its naked bike competition. Bigger, however, is an entirely different problem.
Fifth: Despite all the qualities, long arms and appropriate effort are required to safely guide the wide handlebars in the sharp turns. Those who are willing to do so will not lose touch with the front. And sixth, is thievingly pleased to keep watching the astonished look of the person in front in the rear-view mirror. Even after 48 hairpin bends.
The Aprilia driver, for example, because the young wild from Noale is high on the favorites list for some. Its formidable handling and the outstanding chassis qualities, proven in numerous tests, should also convince here in the thicket of bends in combination with the active seating position and the powerful engine. Maybe not when it comes to getting on the yoke as comfortably as possible, because a healthy hardness cannot be denied, especially the shock absorber. But at the latest when things have to go very quickly.
But nothing will come of it. Or better: not so easily. Because although the Tuono kept its landing gear promise in full and set the standard in practically every landing gear criterion (see table on page 34) both in the narrow bends of the east ramp and in the more extensive course of the west ramp (see table on page 34), it dragged a huge mishap on the yoke which was not so clearly noticeable under normal test conditions. It is the almost reluctance to perform, with which the high-performance V4 literally torments man and machine out of the hairpin bends. The result: The rider in a hurry lets the clutch slip and sweeps out of the bend at high speed.
This is reminiscent of blissful Class IV times, is unworthy of a 1000. And in view of the already mighty loud V4 it is not only an adolescent, but also exhausting pleasure in the long run.
It’s good that the Tuono in the APRC version has a perfectly functioning traction control. Otherwise, an overly hasty clutch hand here, where the wall lurks on one side and the abyss on the other, could quickly lead to painful and expensive consequences. No, the Tuono was not developed in Alpine turns. So it’s no wonder that this weakness, together with the many others that affect the tourist aspect (see scoring on page 34), leads to the quasi-athlete’s early retirement. And with the two remaining candidates, well-founded hopes of overall victory are fueled.
Yes, you read that right. MV Agusta Brutal 920 – and justified hopes for the overall victory. At least as surprising as the poor performance of the Aprilia-V4 is the committed appearance that the “small” Brutal with “only” around 130 hp pounding into the crumbly yoke asphalt. Just the start, with which her row four pushes the 213 kilogram light MV out of the bends, has a completely different quality than the clutch-killing Tuono gag. Except for a small, barely noticeable drop at 3500 rpm while driving, the marches “small” Brutale engine exemplary through the rev range, only suffers from the already MV-typical delayed throttle response, which causes annoyance at the apex of the sharp turns until you have found the optimal timing. The well-proportioned rest, however – all due respect! The small 920 also benefits significantly from the comfortable suspension set-up that has recently become common in Varese, with fine response behavior, which in return quickly reaches the limits of its suspension elements with two people and luggage. But in the long run you won’t want to put the second row here, on the narrow and bumpy terrain, on anyone. In one-person operation, however, the 920 purrs smoothly and without great effort uphill, hardly gives cause for criticism, is surprisingly uncomplicated. If anything, there are complaints about the ergonomics: there is not much space on the Brutale, the footrests are slippery and short, the tight steering angle makes turning difficult, and there is no ABS at all. The last point in particular takes a lot of points.
So the bottom line is what had to come. Despite a tight run-in, the big bike crown goes to someone who is used to winning. Simply because, despite her extroverted appearance, she hardly affords a weakness. The famous speed triple engine pushes up to 7000 rpm on the bearish level of the Ducati twin, unfolds its power in an exemplary linear manner and literally spits the British out of the hairpin bends. The chassis has become harder and more precise over the years, but still provides that portion of residual comfort that is absolutely necessary to survive here. The Speed ​​Triple offers both young and old a comfortable driver’s seat, has extensive equipment, sufficient range and recently an ABS on board. What she no longer has is the suppleness with which her predecessor went on the gas. Nevertheless, she is a worthy representative of her class in the final. Even without Japan. God save the Queen!

MV Agusta Brutale 920

4-cylinder, 921 cm³, 131 hp, 95 Nm, 213 kg, payload 180 kg, 11,990 euros
The engine is surprisingly powerful and the chassis is surprisingly comfortable
Looks good as always
Throttle response slightly delayed
Strut loaded too soft
Very limited space


1 Power on the crankshaft. Measurements on the Dynojet roller test stand 250, corrected according to 95/1 / EG, maximum possible deviation ± 5%

Triumph Speed ​​Triple

3-cylinder, 1050 cm³, 135 PS, 111 Nm, 221 kg, payload 188 kg, ABS, 11,934 euros *
Motor has pressure everywhere and undercarriage taut
Handy Ergonomics succeeded
Throttle response a bit rough
Comfort was already higher
Gear hard and rough

Pass by tout

Whether a stylish classic bike, mid-range all-rounder or touring steamer :. At the final, the winners of all groups have to pass the most beautiful passes in order to find this year’s overall winner at the end of the day. Who can last year’s winner BMW R 1200 GS conquer? Or defend their title?

Same procedure as every year: Unfortunately, this does not only apply to the course of the Alpine Masters, but also to the capricious weather. As in 2010 in the Dolomites, the test crew on the Stilfser Joch is fighting with rain, cold, wet roads and even snow. For a good week you chased every tiny hole in the clouds. But now, on the day of the decision, at breakfast at 6.30 a.m., a clear blue sky, the Ortler in glaring sunlight – madness. So quickly washed down the coffee, hastily thrown in the breakfast roll and quickly slipped into the suits – waterproof textile suits of course, you never know.
The five group winners and the defending champion, the BMW R 1200 GS, are already waiting in the hotel car park. Six ingenious machines that promise a sunny day full of fun and enjoyment. The tour leads over passes with a wide variety of characters (see box on page 38). The rules of the game are clear to everyone: The points of the preliminary rounds have been deleted, from now on the knockout process continues, a total of seven referees decide. At each pass, the jury, made up of experienced test professionals, selects a motorcycle that has to say goodbye to the battle for the title. The field is gradually thinning until the end of the test-
round the winner is determined.
Starting from the hotel, the steep eastern ramp of the Stilfser Joch is the first, tough touchstone. A unique switchback festival with steep straights, a tough test for a 600 meter. Will it hit the CBR first? She wants to be swirled out of the hairpin bends properly so as not to lose touch. On the other hand, it is surprising how elegantly the battleship BMW K 1600 GT manages the meanest hairpin bends. The engine pulls ahead violently from 1000 revolutions, the steamer steers completely easy. It seems clear that the two enduros, GS and SM T, just like the powerful Speedy, don’t have to worry here. In contrast, the Bellagio is a wobbly candidate, although it has dominated its category brilliantly. After many stops, constant swapping of machines and extensive comparison drives, Karsten at the top of the yoke hands out the papers for the first round of voting. The result: Six jurors selected the Guzzi, one of them would like to part with the K 1600 GT here. Whether it is Gerry who complains about the heavy weight and enormous dimensions of the GT?
We continue down the west ramp of the Stilfser Joch towards Bormio. Still bright sunny weather, wonderful. The troop enjoys the grandiose panorama, the fantastic combinations of corners with great grip. Here you can give the machines spurs. The powerful bikes with a sporty set-up and crisp handling are in their element here, especially Triumph and KTM. The SM T convinces even Kristijan, who actually prefers quiet locomotion: “You sit so relaxed and everything is so easy.”
Impressions that could quickly be put into perspective. Because in Bormio the entourage turns to Passo Gavia. And it has a different character than the rugged Stilfser Joch. The narrow strip of asphalt surprises again and again with narrowing curves and tricky alternating combinations. The roadway has been re-paved over large parts in recent years, but in between there are always passages that are in a desolate condition and that place great demands on the chassis.
That shouldn’t worry the agile CBR with progressive suspension. Or is it?? “The eternal switch shop and the high speeds are annoying”, stated Eva when she switched from the CBR to the Speed ​​Triple. The Triumph also loses a lot of its sovereignty here, Karsten complains about the stubborn chassis and turns out a few clicks of the pressure damping on the shock absorber. That brings something noticeable, but the Triumph is still not a sedan chair.
The next round of voting is already on the barren pass of the Gavia. Short process, no discussions, you can be sure. Karsten collects the papers, four testers kicked out the CBR, now two would part with the GT.
While the ascent to Gavia was more of a driving challenge, the descent into the valley is a real pleasure. You can’t get enough of the magnificent landscape. It is difficult to concentrate on the job, the machines. Surprisingly, a group of ibex appears directly at the roadside, which doesn’t seem to be bothered by the motorcycles. But it is precisely here that concentration is the order of the day, on the sometimes secluded, narrow street it becomes tight even for a motorcycle when there is oncoming traffic. And you know that: Cars always come at the wrong time.
Down in the valley the sky is visibly darkening, on a wide road the squad, decimated on four bikes, rolls through the valley. When it comes to eating kilometers, the two BMWs are unbeatable. Andrea praises the six-cylinder. A motorcycle like from another planet, more comfort is not possible. The travel qualities of a GS are well known. The repertoire of the KTM SM T doesn’t quite offer the bandwidth, but at least the rider sits relaxed and rudimentary wind protection is also offered. In contrast, the Speedy is more sporty and Spartan.
The junction to Passo della Foppa is easy to miss. A small, idyllic pass in the forest, on which only a few tourists get lost, at this time of the year it is practically a car-free zone. A paradise for the two enduros, who can easily be steered through the tricky combinations of corners and collect points here again for the next round of voting. At the pass, the judges crowd under the narrow roof of the passport sign for the voting round, because at this moment the expected rain sets in.
Election supervisor Karsten announces the result: three votes fell for the K 1600 GT, four for the Speed ​​Triple, uff, narrowly for the Triumph. The rain probably played a role in this, because with sports tires, hard suspension and a slightly delayed throttle response, the Speedy did not leave a convincing impression on the last few kilometers in the wet.
So pig for the BMW six – for now. The rainy stage from Passo del Foppa via Bormio to Passo di Foscagno is more like a connecting stage. Nobody wants to stand in the rain for long at the customs control for the Livigno free trade area. Just tick the box and continue – but without the big touring BMW. But with its incredible torque and unbelievable handling, it even impressed sports freak Sergio.
So now the defending champion against the challenger, BMW against KTM – in pouring rain. The test team has now passed Livigno, is back in Switzerland through the Munt-la-Schera tunnel and is approaching the Ofen Pass. It could all be so beautiful – it wouldn’t pour out like buckets here. Crisis meeting in the restaurant “Susom Give”. Test boss Thole makes a tentative attempt to move forward to the final rating. A good two hours later the decision is made: cancel, continue here the next day.
The next day, the GS can show what it can do. Especially on the last stretch, the ascent to the Umbrail with the whole spectrum of roads and slopes, it can prove its all-round qualities. What the KTM is still missing: a little more ride comfort, a little more equipment, better handling characteristics with a load and in the wet. But it counters in good conditions with more driving pleasure, more direct steering and better handling. The result is the closest possible result: four to three, one vote more for the old and new king of the mountains, the BMW R 1200 GS.

Number of jury members who voted out of the motorcycle

Finale grande, the big show at the end with new rules of the game: The points from the preliminary round are deleted, the cards are shuffled again. Now the international high-caliber jury chooses a candidate on a big tour at each pass height, who has to be eliminated on the spot. So the field is gradually decimating until the last two candidates decide on the winner of the 2012 Alpine Masters among themselves. The starting point is the Hotel Tannenheim in Trafoi, then over the Stilfser Joch to Bormio. From there to Passo Gavia, a completely different terrain, less steep, narrow and leading through picturesque landscapes. Much has been re-asphalted here, the former gravel and scree passages are no longer there for a long time. The Passo Foppa, a narrow strip of asphalt through forests, with traffic tending towards zero, then presents itself completely different. On the other hand, there are plenty of cars and trucks on Foscagno, and the road is correspondingly greasy. You should have driven the Munt-la-Schera toll tunnel between Lago di Livigno and Pass dal Fuorn (Ofenpass); Drilled 3.4 kilometers straight through the mountain, so narrow that it has to be used as a one-way street in alternation. If you want to let it go, you will find wide, handy streets on the Ofenpass. But be careful: Switzerland, speed offenders will be prosecuted immediately on the spot.
You hardly run this risk on the Umbrail, especially not on the gravel passage. The final decision is made here below the Passo di Stelvio.

The jury

The identical route, the same test machines, even the same hotel – the first Alpen Masters reader tour copied the original in proper style. After the successful start, a second edition is planned for the 2012 season. Location: somewhere in the Alps. Date: June. Costs: around 850 euros for four nights, half board, guides and use of the test machines. More at

Track readers

Chasing a total of 21 motorcycles over the highest Alpine passes in three days on the trail of the Alpine Masters is truly something extraordinary. MOTORRAD readers had the opportunity to do so.

The eight men grin as if they had climbed Watzmann, Mont Blanc and Mount Everest in a single day. Even if the comparison seems a bit far-fetched, in terms of altitude, the group has long trumped said climbing tour. But in the end, the Ofen Pass, Bernina, Passo dellAprica, Gavia Pass, Umbrail or the Stilfser Joch were just the playground for a rather unusual premiere: the MOTORRAD-Alpen-Masters-Readers’ Tour. Their concept is as simple as it is attractive. After the international motorcycle journalist crew, MOTORRAD readers chase the field of the most extensive of all comparative tests through the alpine area. In numbers: 800 kilometers, 20,000 meters in altitude, 21 machines, eight drivers, three days. Saddles are changed at least every 40 kilometers. An experience that impresses, but also challenges. Because of the personal ranking that everyone should put up after the event. Even if – in contrast to the evaluation mode of the MOTORRAD jury – regardless of measured values ​​or classification into categories, it can only be based on completely individual standards. Understandably, it’s not just Rolf Dung’s head that smokes. Nevertheless – or precisely because of this – the 51-year-old is enthusiastic: “The range of current motorcycles on offer has never opened up to me as intensely as here. It’s unbelievable how different the different machines feel here in the mountains.”
Ultimately, the man from the Eifel confirms the basic idea of ​​the Alpine Masters. Nowhere else do the characters of the machines crystallize more clearly than under the extreme conditions of the mountain roads. A bike like that Ducati Diavel, who swings lightly through the sweeping curves of the Ofen Pass, can become as stubborn as a truck a few kilometers later on the angled descent of the Stilfser Joch. Or when the supposedly lame retro bike Triumph Scrambler on the narrow driveway of the Gavia Pass turns into a handy crowd-pleaser on the valley roads – surprises are the order of the day on the mountain railway. Even beliefs are shaken. “To be honest, I’ve never been interested in a BMW. But I have to admit, the 1200 GS chiseled a grin on my face. The moped simply drives stress-free. And everywhere”, sums up the Yamaha XJR 1300 rider Dung.
Helmut Huber likes the more uncompromising. Maybe because of his professional past. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Bavarian was at the control stick of Starfighter and Tornado fighter jets. Even on the heights of the Alpine peaks, the southern German was impressed by an adventurous concept: that of the supermoto bike Aprilia Dorsoduro. “I like this full pressure from the low revs. You can literally feel each of the 1200 cubic centimeters of displacement as you accelerate out of the curve”, the pensioner is enthusiastic. The fact that the Italian is calm and balanced in most situations belongs to him “on the basics of a successful motorcycle for the Alps”.
They strike in the same breach
two youngest of the reader tour. Both Alex Waldo (29) and Richard Hahn (30) are warming up for the KTM 990 SM T. While Alex drives a Super Duke privately and is sure to give the Austrian a personal home advantage, the gap between Richard’s current motorcycle, a BMW R 65 , Built in 1978, and the sporty SM T could hardly be bigger. What the duo have in common, however: The tour in the footsteps of the Alpine Masters is for both of them the first motorcycle excursion into the Alps in which “the advantages of the great handling easily compensate for the KTM’s nervous engine in some situations”, Richard, in particular, is convinced of his choice.
Like the rest of the Alpen-Achters. Two votes go to the Triumph Tiger 800, one more to the BMW R 1200 GS, and one vote goes to the Triumph Speed ​​Triple. A list of favorites that is very similar to that of the MOTORRAD jury.

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