Final of the Alpine Masters 2016

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Final of the Alpine Masters 2016
Photo: Gargolov

Final of the Alpine Masters 2016

Final of the Alpine Masters 2016

Final of the Alpine Masters 2016

Final of the Alpine Masters 2016

25th pictures

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Eva Breutel, MOTORRAD, Germany.

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Gert Thole, MOTORRAD, Germany.

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Karsten Schwers, MOTORRAD, Germany.

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Sebastian Schmidt, MOTORRAD, Germany.

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Sergio Romero, MOTOCICLISMO, Spain.

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Federico Garbin, IN MOTO, Italy.

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Freddy Papunen, MOTORCYCLE, Sweden.

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Aprilia Caponord 1200 rally.

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Honda Africa Twin.

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KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.

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The two finalists Honda Africa Twin and KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.

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BMW R 1200 RS.

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BMW R 1200 RS and KTM 1290 Super Duke GT compete against each other in the semifinals.

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Honda Africa Twin and Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally meet in the semi-finals.

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Triumph Speed ​​Triple S..

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BMW R nineT.

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Suzuki SV 650.

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These seven machines have to assert themselves in the preliminary round of the Alpine Masters.

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This is where the wheat is separated from the chaff: After a number of cappuccini and a short discussion…

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…three machines have to go out, four are allowed to continue.

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If you love your car, push it: the Fiat is on strike right on the bridge in Introd; ten meters more, then it’s downhill.

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Phenomenal prospect: Tester Karsten Schwers was upside down with enthusiasm.

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The dam on Lago Agnel, which was built with Lago Serrù in the 1920s and to which we owe the Colle del Nivolet.

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Who wins, blue or orange? This could also be used to determine the winner at the Colle del Nivolet.

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Honda Africa Twin: A victory of balance and balance.

motorcycles

Final of the Alpine Masters 2016

Final of the Alpine Masters 2016
In the paradise of curves

At the final of the 2016 MOTORRAD Alpine Masters, the group winners of the preliminary round battled the previous year’s title holder, the BMW R 1200 RS.

Gert Thole

08/04/2016

July 2016, in Breuil-Cervinia at the foot of the Matterhorn: Gray sadness, low-hanging clouds, the air is steaming, the rain washes mud over the streets – we had actually imagined it a little differently. At the moment it doesn’t look any different up here than on a November day in the north German lowlands. Where have the mighty mountain giants gone, where is the highly ingenious alpine panorama? The legendary Matterhorn, actually within reach, disappears completely behind a thick wall of clouds. So day one of the grand finale falls thoroughly into the water. You don’t even need to take photos in front of the dreary backdrop, and testing motorbikes is hardly beneficial under these conditions. Wet, slippery asphalt, poor visibility, the mood is in the basement. So first find the nearest bar and sip a cup or two of cappuccino.

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What happened until now …

Mixed weather already had us in the group stage of the 2016 Alpine Masters in the Dolomites (see MOTORRAD 15/2016 and MOTORRAD 16/2016) accompanied. Let’s briefly recap what happened there: As usual, 20 machines, divided into five categories, competed in the Alpine Masters. Models of the current year or machines that had not been included before were selected. Because every motorcycle only has one chance to win the title “King of the Mountains”. The test machines were put through their paces in the Dolomites and measured and finally rated according to the point system that has been tried and tested for twelve years. Only the winner of each group makes it to the grand finale.

For the first time this year, even six machines made it to the finals, because in the Adventure category the Honda Africa Twin and Aprilia Caponord Rally achieved exactly the same number of points. In the Easy Going class, the Suzuki SV 650 had an easy game against less powerful and less powerful competitors. The Modern Classics, where the BMW R nineT was able to prevail against the Yamaha XSR 900. It was also tight on the naked bikes, here the Triumph Speed ​​Triple S won ahead of the Ducati Monster 1200 R. The result was again clearly out in the Sport / Touring class, where the favorite KTM 1290 Super Duke GT was unchallenged ahead.

Final of the Alpine Masters 2016

Naked bike


Naked bikes tested at the 2016 Alpen Masters


Ease or power?


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Defending champion BMW R 1200 RS

As usual, the defending champion joins the winning sextet in the grand finale, this time the BMW R 1200 RS, which last year was named Queen of the Mountains on Montblanc. This results in a final round with seven machines from five categories, including two adventure bikes and two sports tourers. In general, the final is not just about a competition between the individual models, but also different concepts.

This year, the testers chose the Aosta Valley in the north-western tip of Italy as the venue. Many motorcyclists know the region because one of the main connecting routes between Italy and France runs through it. Here you travel from Turin or Milan to Mont Blanc, through which the tunnel leads to Chamonix on the French side. If you turn off beforehand, you can drive over the Great St. Bernhard into Switzerland or over the Little St. Bernhard south to France.

Final of the Alpine Masters 2016

Enduro


Adventure bikes put to the test at the 2016 Alpen Masters


Caponord 1200, Multistrada 1200, Africa Twin and Tiger Explorer


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Final of the Alpine Masters 2016

Tourer


Sport and touring bikes at the 2016 Alpen Masters


Title contender warning!


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Final of the Alpine Masters 2016

Modern Classic


Modern Classic Bikes at the 2016 Alpen Masters


R nineT, V9 Roamer, Thruxton and XSR 900 in the test


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These are the usual routes for tourists traveling through and on, whether by car or motorcycle. But sometimes it is worth exploring the routes to the left and right of the usual paths. Little known even among experienced alpine drivers are the many cul-de-sac roads in the Aosta Valley, which often lead high into the mountains and mostly end in a mountain village or ski area.

In terms of driving, these spur roads offer different and therefore varied conditions. Because they end as dead ends, they have a different character than the well-known passes with their through traffic. In the Aosta Valley there are both cul-de-sac roads that are well-developed and well-maintained for the streams of winter tourists, as well as narrow and winding dead-end streets that are mainly used by residents and occasional day trippers and are only poorly maintained.

In any case, in the Aosta Valley, the impressive panorama of the mountain massifs with the famous 4000-meter peaks of Mont Blanc, Matterhorn and Gran Paradiso – unless the clouds are hanging low in the valleys.

The test team

The international jury made up of experienced testers and journalists decides after extensive test drives in the Alps about victory or defeat, elimination or advancement.

  • Eva Breutel Italy correspondent, has a heart for the little ones (MOTORRAD, Germany)
  • Gert Thole Head of Test, inventor of the Alpine Masters and offroad fan (MOTORRAD, Germany)
  • Karsten Schwers top tester with a lot of feeling for the limit area (MOTORRAD, Germany)
  • Sebastian Schmidt test driver, relies first on comfort and enjoyment (MOTORRAD, Germany)
  • Sergio Romero editor-in-chief, climbs in the mountains even without a motorcycle (MOTOCICLISMO, Spain)
  • Federico Garbin Italian colleague and very resilient touring rider (IN MOTO, Italy)
  • Freddy Papunen Swedish Superbike Champion with game overview (MOTORRAD, Sweden)

The motorcycles

The defending champion, the BMW R 1200 RS, joins the six group winners of the preliminary round (see MOTORRAD 15 and 16/2016). As always, the final is also a competition between different concepts

  • Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally surprised in the Adventure category
  • BMW R 1200 RS was the name of the winner of the 2015 Alpine Masters
  • BMW R nineT collected the most points in the Modern Classics group
  • Honda Africa Twin won the Enduros with the same number of points as the Aprilia
  • KTM 1290 Super Duke GT led the Sport / Touring group
  • Suzuki SV 650 was the undisputed winner in the Easy Going class
  • Triumph Speed ​​Triple S narrowly prevailed among the naked bikes

The test track


Final of the Alpine Masters 2016

This is what the test track looked like.

The international test team moved into quarters in Châtillon (1), 30 kilometers east of Aosta, within easy reach of the Great Passes (2) and Little St. Bernhard (3) (2473 and 2188 m respectively). The competition runs led to the spur roads that mark the Aosta Valley. These included the busy and well-developed route to Breuil-Cervinia (2006 m) with road damage. (4) at the foot of the Matterhorn, as well as the route into the Val di Cogne, which is also laid out with smooth curves, the one in Gimillian (1787 m) (5) ends. The cul-de-sac through the Savarenche valley to Pont (1960 m) is more winding and bumpy. (6) near the 4000m Gran Paradiso. The Colle del Nivolet (2612 m) turned out to be the furious highlight of the test days (7), whose summit is in the Aosta Valley, while the approach leads through Piedmont. From Ivrea it goes about 70 km gently uphill to the west, before the almost 20 km long, really breathtaking ascent begins in Ceresole Reale (1620 m) (see “Colle del Nivolet: Dream Road on Gran Paradiso”).

The scoring scheme

The organizing team has come up with a special scheme for the final this year, inspired by the European Football Championship. First of all, four semi-finalists will be selected in a preliminary round. This means that three machines are eliminated here. In the following two semi-finals, two motorcycles each duel; the two winners decide on the title among themselves in the end. As always, voting will take place throughout the final, the points from the previous group stage in the Dolomites no longer count. The decisive factor is therefore the judgment of the seven drivers from four countries, all of whom are professional testers from renowned motorcycle magazines.

Preliminary round

Seven machines line up for the first exchange of blows, three are already eliminated here: The usual suspects, or are there surprises?

The good thing about bad weather, especially in the Alps: It can change in a flash. This is exactly what happened on the first day after the bad weather described at the beginning. Completely surprisingly, in the late afternoon behind the mountain silhouettes, the famous silver lining appeared on the horizon, the nasty rain stopped pattering. In a flash, the crew already at the hotel in Châtillon threw themselves into their driving suits and set off again for the Matterhorn. And suddenly everything is completely different: drying roads, lots of driving fun. And further up there is a magnificent view of the dream summit for all climbing fans. Goodbye sadness, bonjour plaisir.

The task for the first round of evaluation is to sort out three of the seven candidates. And that should happen here at the foot of the Matterhorn as well as on other access roads that lead into the mountains to the left and right of the Aosta Valley. Seven machines, five concepts, there are favorites and outsiders. The engine output differs tremendously, between the 76 hp of the SV 650 and the 173 hp of the Super Duke GT are worlds. However, more power here in the Alps is not necessarily the only thing that makes you happy. In the first two editions of the Alpine Masters, the small V-Strom 650 won the title against much stronger competition.


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Suzuki SV 650.

But already after the first driving impression it becomes clear that this will not succeed this time. “How the SV hops over bumps, catastrophic.” Sergio shakes his head. The chassis seems underdamped, no talk of driving comfort.

Even the qualities of the small V-engine, which all drivers praise, cannot compensate for that. Karsten attests: “Actually, the performance is just right here, the rev range is enormous.” But the bottom line is that it doesn’t help, because the seating comfort is not the best either, and wind protection is not even rudimentary. The Dunlop series tires of the Qualifier type make driving on slippery-wet ground a dance of eggs. In short: Here and now, the little Suzuki does not have the slightest chance of the next round, six out of seven testers put her in last place, there are no discussions.

Hard, but also a question of the concept: uncovered machines generally have a worse starting position than all-rounders in the Adventure or Sport / Touring classes. On the other hand, many naked bikes have achieved overall victory in the past, so why not triumph this year, for example Speed ​​triple S.?


Final of the Alpine Masters 2016


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Triumph Speed ​​Triple S..

It certainly has better systems than the Suzuki. The Triumph three-cylinder is a fantastic engine with very special strengths that are in demand here in the Alps. From switchbacks, it moves linearly even at the lowest speeds, and after this year’s revision it pampers you with further refined running culture and the best table manners. Racing driver Freddy ponders: “That would be good for heating.” In any case, there is plenty of power.

On the second day of the test on the road from Aosta to Cogne, a holiday resort in the Gran Paradiso nature park, you can at least partially enjoy it. A wonderful curve stretch, two lanes fluidly developed. The machines are allowed to run a little faster here, which is forbidden on confusing and narrow Alpine roads.

Speed ​​is always good for a Speed ​​Triple. Then the somewhat sporty, bent sitting position is better. Anyone who rolls around like touring wants a higher handlebar. And more suspension comfort, on undulating slopes the damping is extremely tight, leaving a lack of responsiveness and suppleness. One reason why Freddy of all people even placed the sporty Speedy in last place, while the other testers fluctuated between fifth and sixth place. Either way: this is the end.

This also applies to the BMW R nineT, the third undisguised machine in this final septet. The comments sound much more positive. “It’s really fun,” comments Eva. “Great sound, full feeling,” adds Sebastian. That’s why they don’t even have the boxer on their loser list. Emotions certainly resonate a little in the evaluation, despite all the sympathy there are objectively a few bitter points of criticism. First of all, the nineT is more or less a solo machine, but nobody can stand it for long. Incidentally, this applies to all three nakeds and is a real knockout criterion for many alpine tourists.


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BMW R nineT.

In terms of chassis, the classic boxer does not necessarily belong to the top. This is hardly noticeable on level ground like up to Cogne, but even more so on jogging slopes. The front of the BMW is softly tuned and underdamped, but it is all the harder from the rear. The soft fork also does not harmonize with the brakes, which grip the lever after a long free travel.

But the air-cooled boxer is and remains a stunner. Runs so smoothly, pulls so emphatically, always delivers the required thrust with pinpoint accuracy. And the 115 hp peak power is exactly what you need here. More would be pure luxury, but less would also be a shame. Nevertheless, the nineT is not an ideal alpine all-rounder, so it is eliminated in the preliminary round.

So no surprise after all, but the expected result: The Nakeds are out. Only Eva and Sebastian would have voted out the R 1200 RS. Ironically, the highly acclaimed defending champion. Just why? More on that later, after all, there is enough time in the semifinals to take a close look at the RS.

Result of the preliminary round


Final of the Alpine Masters 2016

Result of the preliminary round.

Meanwhile, the weather plays a decisive role, the temperatures in the valley are over 30 degrees. So let’s treat ourselves to another cul-de-sac into the cool mountains, namely the one from Aosta to Pont, right on Gran Paradiso. A spectacular route, nature lovers should make a stop here and there. About shortly after the entrance to Introd, where a bridge from 1916, well worth seeing, leads over a 100 meters deep and very narrow gorge. Parallel to a raging brook you meander further up the mountain, changing sides several times. The road ends right at the top behind Pont (1960 m) with its derelict stone houses. Finito for motorized vehicles, for cyclists and hikers it only starts here. The once planned connection to the Colle del Nivolet in nearby Piedmont can be seen to some extent. It’s only a few kilometers away, but can only be reached by motorcycle after a huge loop through the valley and almost 200 kilometers of driving. And that is exactly the plan for the finals.

Semifinals

No more fun, the favorites are among themselves. In the semifinals there will be a duel between two travel enduros and two sports tourers.

Semifinals I. BMW R 1200 RS and KTM 1290 Super Duke GT
Semifinals II Honda Africa Twin and Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally

Ours often thinks: I’ve seen everything in the Alps, experienced everything after twelve Alpine Masters. You think you know all the passes and have driven every street. But the Alps are a mighty mountain range with many hidden nooks and crannies off the beaten track. The Colle del Nivolet is one example, a cul-de-sac on Gran Paradiso, which was once supposed to be a pass through, but now ends in nothing at 2600 meters.

Not even our Italian colleague Federico, who lives around the corner in Genoa, had heard of it. A really grandiose route winds its way up over around 20 kilometers from the valley. It’s quiet up there, no ski area, no bed castle, no mass tourism. An experience for motorcyclists and nature lovers alike, for the machines the tougher conditions. Here the road twists upwards in seemingly endless hairpin bends, curves and twists along the mountain slopes. And the pretty good condition of the narrow asphalt belt brings a lot of driving pleasure. A very impressive setting in which concentrating on the essentials, the motorcycles, is not easy. Four machines are still in the running; the remaining quartet from the preliminary round was divided into an enduro group and a sports tourer group.


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BMW R 1200 RS and KTM 1290 Super Duke GT compete against each other in the semifinals.

Let’s start with the two enduros, who already fought head-to-head in the group stage in the Dolomites, which ended in a Solomonic draw. The Africa Twin, which has been praised since its appearance in the spring, was expected to perform well, in the case of those that have so far been less present in tests Caponord 1200 Aprilia Rally surprised it. So now the duel goes on, but now the points, measurements and hard facts from the group stage no longer count, the two machines have to get votes from the testers.

The test area might suit the Africa Twin, with its narrow 18/21 inch tires, it seems predestined for such demanding terrain. The Honda offers plenty of comfort, from ergonomics to suspension. The driver sits enthroned on the comfortable seat behind the wide handlebars, which ensures a confident and exhilarated driving experience. Although the Africa Twin is not particularly light at 238 kilograms, it appears light-footed thanks to its precise steering behavior, even in wavy hairpin bends. Long bumps and nasty breaks in the asphalt can do little to you thanks to the narrow tires.


Final of the Alpine Masters 2016


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Honda Africa Twin and Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally meet in the semi-finals.

Of course, the super-smooth two-cylinder engine also impresses with its superb running smoothness. The twin can easily sink in hairpin bends to below 2000 rpm. Without complaining, he pulls gently but forcefully. Clutches, gears and brakes also always do exactly what the driver demands. All arguments why the balanced Africa Twin was well received by all testers in this demanding environment.

From the key data, the appears Aprilia Initially quite similar, but feels completely different on the road. The Caponord looks more direct, sportier – more Italian. The latter is expressed in a sound that the testers classified between hearty and painful. However, there are no discussions about the chassis. The Caponord runs on better tires than the Africa Twin – Metzeler Tourance Next instead of Dunlop Trailmax – which provide more transparency and clearer feedback. It feels like the Aprilia is cutting grooves in the asphalt, and you’re welcome to give it its spurs.

The V-Zwo delivers exactly the right dose of thrust, starts out of the turns spontaneously, but not too hard with a decent torque wave that does not ebb in the middle. And whoever turns up the upper third of the rev range quickly on the short straights of the Nivolet will find that the Caponord develops more steam and dynamism there than the Honda. However, she also treats herself to 1.5 liters / 100 km more fuel.

One thing is certain: With these two machines, performance is not decisive for the war, but the bottom line is that the overall package and the implementation make the difference. Neither enduro has any serious weaknesses, but they have many qualities that are in demand here in this winding terrain. “Two really good bikes, that could have been my final,” says Federico.

But there cannot be another stalemate, one of them has to end here. And according to the test driver’s vote, that’s the Aprilia. The fact that five voted for the Honda, but two for the Caponord, may be taken as proof of their qualities. But the smooth driving and discreet appearance of the Honda simply provides greater driving and travel comfort, and with good off-road qualities, a wider range of applications than the sportier, extroverted Aprilia.

In the meantime we have reached the end of the Nivolet. A few hundred meters of gravel road, then a barrier blocks the journey. If the few kilometers to Pont could be bridged somehow, we would be back in no time at the hotel in the Aosta Valley. On foot or by mountain bike this should not be a problem, but impossible and illegal anyway with a motorcycle. But we’re not in such a hurry, the impressions are too powerful. There are spectacular views around every corner. And while some are soaking up the grandiose landscape, others grab the two sports tourers for a final driving impression. Whether the second semi-final will be such a tight box?

Not from the paper form, a whopping 50 hp separate the two sports tourers. But performance is certainly not the decisive criterion here. The BMW boxer has definitely had enough of that KTM indulges in abundance. “Far too much, why?” Asks Freddy. You can see that, but after all there is the handle on the right-hand side of the handlebars, nobody has to turn it all the way. One thing is clear: when full throttle and high revs collide, you are in the red with the KTM.

Nevertheless, sheer power always has a certain potential for fascination. Karsten is flashed: “This huge thrust is absolutely awesome.” But paddling around in the partial load range is also very special fun and a kind of luxury. Especially since that works great with the GT. Only at the very bottom is the V-Twin, which used to be so rough, still chops a little, from 3000 revs it runs smoothly and smoothly.

In terms of running culture, however, the boxer is unbeatable. Its suppleness and controllability in difficult situations is suspect. Power and torque are always available in the desired dose, there is absolutely nothing to complain about.

White-blue vs. orange, chain vs. cardan, V2 vs. boxer – the two machines always interpret the respective philosophy of the house. The KTM feels more direct and crisp, the BMW more comfortable, calmer and more sophisticated in terms of equipment and operation. In the end, subjective impressions and preferences always play a role. Smaller drivers have to stretch themselves on the RS, that takes getting used to. There are also other objections: “It feels so heavy around the steering axis,” says Eva. The KTM is certainly more active and compatible with the masses. And it provides better feedback and is more sporty. As a result, however, it is inevitably less comfortable on bad slopes. On real bumpy roads, there is a disturbing clacking noise from the fork, which obviously has no effect on the function.

Enough of the discussions, votes will take place in the mountain hut right in front of the barrier at Nivolet. With six to one the result is clear, the author is alone with his vote for the RS. A clear verdict with which the Super Duke GT consolidated its victory in the sports touring group test in MOTORRAD 13/2016.

Last year’s winner R 1200 RS surprisingly failed in the semifinals, proof of the high level of this year’s final round. And in the final duel, two candidates who could hardly be more different make it: Here the Super Duke GT power bike packed with the latest technology, there the technically simple, restrained Africa Twin.

Adventure bike versus sports tourer – in the final two concepts collide, the tension strives towards the climax. So something is brewing. Unfortunately, all of a sudden also in the sky, dark clouds are already pressing against the main ridge of the Alps from the west. Time to retreat before it gets too uncomfortable up here. But first the decision has to be made.

Scoring semifinals I.*

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT 6

BMW R 1200 RS 1

Scoring semi-finals II*

Honda Africa Twin 5

Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally 2

* Votes per motorcycle

Technical specifications


Final of the Alpine Masters 2016

Technical data of the Alpen Masters machines.

Here you can see an extract of the technical data. If you would like the complete measured values ​​determined by us including all consumption, torque and acceleration values, you can buy the article as a PDF for download (scroll all the way down).

final

Honda Africa Twin and KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

Two completely different bikes made it to the final at Colle del Nivolet – an exciting decision between two polarizing characters.

With the climax, the 2016 Alpine Masters is unfortunately drawing to a close. We started with 20 current machines from five categories in the Dolomites in Val di Fassa, where we determined a total of six finalists. We were looking for a new area for the final and discovered a fantastic, previously unknown corner of the Alps. The Valle d’Aosta with all its branches – surrounded by the mighty peaks of Mont Blanc, Grand Paradiso and Matterhorn – offers a wide range of options for motorcyclists, but also for nature lovers and those interested in culture. And the Colle del Nivolet has cast a spell over us with its dreamy, lonely mountain landscape in the middle of the surrounding 4000-meter massifs. That was a magical moment: when the test team reached the vantage point just below the top of the pass for the first time, everyone dismounted and soaked in the surroundings for ten minutes, speechless. For a brief moment you forget your motorbikes and your job.


Final of the Alpine Masters 2016


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The two finalists Honda Africa Twin and KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.

But back to duty: The basic idea of ​​this event is to test and evaluate motorcycles under the special conditions of the Alps. Because the Alps in general, with their winding roads and passes, have special requirements. The respective venue with its road network always has a certain influence on the rating. The Dolomites, for example, offer varied routes, but often damaged surfaces; Good suspension is essential here, bad forks and dampers rob you of driving pleasure. The French Alps present themselves completely differently: with extensive, curving pass roads, on which you can also let it run quickly. High-torque engines dominate there.

This year’s venue has a different focus. On the narrow, confusing streets, smooth engines, a lot of driving comfort, good handling and easy, precise steering behavior are what count. Performance and driving behavior at the limit are not an issue here at all: There is simply no way of exploring this, and any temptation to give it a try is nipped in the bud by the calming radiance of the landscape. That certainly has an influence on the assessment.

The final decision, the final duel between the two best machines of this year’s Alpine Masters, provides a whole range of interesting facets. First of all, the Alpine Masters is always a competition between the various concepts. So now a sports tourer faces an adventure bike. Both categories with a wide range of applications, with high all-round qualities that are particularly needed in this special environment. And both categories have adequately demonstrated their potential in recent years with victories at the Alpine Masters.


Final of the Alpine Masters 2016


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KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.

Then of course it is also a duel between the two manufacturers, Honda and KTM, who to a certain extent also stand for the respective philosophy of Japanese and European motorcycle construction. On the one hand there is the Africa Twin, a typical Honda, technically more Japanese-conservative, visually and acoustically discreet, solidly processed and finely balanced. A machine that perfectly reflects the brand and country of origin.

On the other hand, the 1290 Super Duke GT. A typical KTM, the pride of the Austrians and the current top of the model range. Optically certainly polarizing, aggressive and extroverted styled, technically highly innovative, packed with modern electronics. The Super Duke also represents the European understanding of motorcycle construction. So there are fundamentally different ideas behind these two protagonists.

In the end, the origin, brand, country or continent are not what count; what counts is the implementation in the two motorcycle models, the qualities and properties under these special conditions. So Africa Twin versus 1290 Super Duke GT – two machines that are miles apart in every respect. That starts with the key data. The KTM relies on displacement and performance: a whopping 1.3 liter displacement and a brute 173 hp peak output, a huge 144 Nm torque and 260 km / h top speed. The fact that none of this is needed up here has already been mentioned and probably does not need any further explanation. But the KTM can do a lot more than just be fast. She can also be slow, and extremely well. As is typical for KTM, the V2 is finely tuned and hangs on the throttle in a filigree manner in every speed range. He delivers an exorbitantly wide speed range, inspires with almost perfect running smoothness.

The Africa Twin cannot and does not want to be fast. It focuses on other qualities, namely drivability, sociability, balance. 95 HP peak power looks poor on paper, but is absolutely sufficient under these conditions. Even and especially when the motorcycle is viewed not as a means of transport but as a luxury item. Especially since the parallel twin has a continuous torque curve and hangs wonderfully gently on the gas, almost completely dispensing with vibrations.


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Honda Africa Twin.

The two machines are also drifting far apart when it comes to the chassis. Here the KTM with its fully electronic, semi-active high-tech suspension that can be adjusted from firm to soft. There the conventionally functioning, at least also adjustable suspension of the Honda with a screwdriver.

When it comes to sporting aspects such as transparency, agility, driving dynamics, the KTM is clearly ahead. When it comes to tourism aspects, seating comfort, wind protection, suspension comfort, long-distance suitability, the Honda is superior.

Two outstanding representatives of their guild, who are very enthusiastic in very different ways. In the end, perhaps it is not their qualities that decide, but rather their weaknesses? If you search a little, you will find approaches to criticism in both cases. In the case of the KTM, for example, the fork’s response to hard edges or cracks in the asphalt is not entirely accurate despite its semi-active function and various adjustment options. And then those strange knocks from inside the fork tubes when driving slowly. That may be the normal operation of the electronic damper valves, but it is irritating and does not seem mature. And finally, the somewhat cumbersome menu navigation with the simple LCD display, that could be imagined more finely.

The Honda is a little lucky that the final didn’t take place in the rain. Your standard tires then offer little grip. Not everyone likes the fact that the foot hits the muffler cover on the right. And the front wheel sometimes jumps over bumpy slopes.

The two finalists are also far apart in terms of price: While an Africa Twin costs less than 12,000 euros, the Super Duke GT in the basic configuration already costs 18,000 euros. However, as always, the price does not play a role in the assessment in the Alpine Masters.

Tested enough, the time to make a decision has come. The team takes a last break at Lago di Ceresole. Karsten distributes the ballot papers, everyone ticks his or her cross. Not an easy decision. In the end, the majority votes for the Honda Africa Twin. A worthy winner for the Alpine Masters 2016, which in some ways builds on the beginnings. Because in the first two years even an underdog managed to win against the nominally much stronger competition, namely the Suzuki V-Strom 650. That would hardly have a chance in today’s competitive environment, but the Honda Africa Twin has implemented its philosophy in modern times.

Scoring finals*

Honda Africa Twin 5

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT 2

* Votes per motorcycle

The small final for 3rd place


Final of the Alpine Masters 2016


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Aprilia Caponord 1200 rally.

The duel between the two losers in the semi-finals, the battle for third place, is quite unpopular at the World Cup. We wanted to know anyway, because with the Aprilia Caponord Rally and the BMW R 1200 RS, two excellent motorcycles failed that by no means want to be branded as losers. The RS started as the defending champion and had won against top-class competition last year. With her sleek, cultivated boxer, with a lot of suspension comfort and great equipment, she convinced again this year. The Caponord was the big surprise this year. Hardly anyone had her on the list, but then she won the group stage, easily survived the preliminary round and only failed in the semi-finals at the Africa Twin. As in the final, a duel between a sports tourer and a travel enduro. And how are things going here? Quite tight, four drivers voted for the Aprilia, three for the BMW. In this case, too, the adventure bike prevailed, if only just barely.

Eva Breutel, MOTORRAD, Germany


Final of the Alpine Masters 2016


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“Sit on it, feel good, take off!”

Yes, I have a heart for the little ones. Or at least the smaller ones. The BMW R nineT really surprised me, it really shows off the powerful charm of its boxer in the mountains. With an engine that is so present, I am happy to forgive small chassis weaknesses. But my real favorite was and is the winner: The Africa Twin can do everything in the Alps, not annoying with high weight like the Aprilia, superfluous performance like the KTM or mega electronics like the BMW R 1200 RS. Sit on it, feel good, take off!

Gert Thole, MOTORRAD, Germany


Final of the Alpine Masters 2016


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“Life can be so easy on the Honda”

It’s a shame, I would have liked to see the R 1200 RS in the final, then, in my opinion, it would have been more exciting. So the final decision was a clear one. The KTM may turn on more, but the clacking in the fork on bad roads doesn’t work at all. The Honda may be described as unexciting by some, but it makes life up here in the mountains very easy and pleasant. And it runs wonderfully round lines even on the worst of slopes. Life can be so easy.

Karsten Schwers, MOTORRAD, Germany


Final of the Alpine Masters 2016


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“If necessary, the GT can make rapid progress”

For me, the Super Duke GT would be the right machine. It has enough space for luggage, on the train it goes very quickly when necessary, and when I arrive in the Alps, I can call up the desired performance in every situation in order to have a lot of fun. Nevertheless, the GT is always easy to control. I can forgive her that the fork clicks every now and then. I still like the RS, especially on long stages, also because of the complete equipment and the perfect operation.

Sebastian Schmidt, MOTORRAD, Germany


Final of the Alpine Masters 2016


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“The Caponord is kicking, but the Super Duke is ahead”

My Alpine queen would also be the Super Duke GT. For me it has perfect ergonomics, great handling and an extremely strong, good-natured motor. Behind that I would have the Aprilia Caponord just ahead of the Honda Africa Twin. Both machines impress with their easy handling and top running gear. But the Aprilia drive simply kicks more. In the internal BMW duel, I would even prefer the R nineT to the RS. The RS is certainly more suitable for touring, but the ergonomics are too stretched.

Sergio Romero, MOTOCICLISMO, Spain


Final of the Alpine Masters 2016


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“Adventure bikes are ideal in the Alps”

After many years of Alpine Masters, it is clear to me that the Adventure Bikes are ideal. Nevertheless, the Caponord was the surprise for me. Not only is it comfortable and comfortable, it could also be a pretty sporty ride. The electronic chassis also works very well with her. I was delighted that the Aprilia landed in third place. The Honda is playful to drive, hence the deserved winner. On an Alpine tour you want a machine that makes it easy for you.

Federico Garbin, IN MOTO, Italy


Final of the Alpine Masters 2016


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“The SV disappoints, the Caponord surprises”

There was a big disappointment and a big surprise this year in my opinion. The SV 650 drove pretty badly with the slack chassis, from which I had expected a lot more driving pleasure. But the Aprilia Caponord offers that, which for me could even be the overall winner. But unfortunately she didn’t make it to the final. But the Africa Twin is definitely a worthy winner, an almost perfect travel machine. The KTM is not comfortable enough for me, and the engine runs too rough.

Freddy Papunen, MOTORCYCLE, Sweden


Final of the Alpine Masters 2016


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“You certainly don’t need a lot of power here”

Although I should really like strong, sporty machines as a racing driver, the lightness and balance of the Africa Twin convinced me. You certainly don’t need more power in this area. I think the overall package of the RS is great, operation and equipment are almost perfect. However, the steering seems a bit sluggish. The Speed ​​Triple is hardly fun here despite the great three-cylinder, it is simply too hard and uncomfortable. The Super Duke GT? It’s just overpowered here.

MOTORCYCLE conclusion

Veni, vidi, vici: The Honda Africa Twin just arrived in the spring, immediately recognized its chance at the Alpine Masters and won against strong competition. A machine that is not really outstanding in any discipline, but which does everything so incredibly easily. A victory of balance and balance.

Alpine Masters in retrospect

Basically, the Alpen-Masters was based on a concept comparison in MOTORRAD 12/2003, which led across the Alps. Back then, the testers called the BMW R 1150 GS the Bergkonig. This gave rise to the idea of ​​a large, international event in the Alps, which took place for the first time in 2005 on the Stelvio Pass. To the surprise of many readers, it was not the favored BMW R 1200 GS that won, but an outsider, the small Suzuki V-Strom 650. After that, there were quite different winners with the BMW R 1200 R and the Honda CB 1300. And from 2010 the R 1200 GS was finally on the line. Whenever she was there, she was always one of the favorites, but had to share or even give up her title here and there. Two years ago, for example, the KTM 1190 Adventure won against the R 1200 GS Adventure, but a year later the boxer struck back in the form of the RS.

Even if the travel enduros made up the majority of the winners, naked bikes or sports tourers have also achieved successes. The winners have one thing in common: They are good all-rounders with comfortable chassis and smooth, high-torque motors. Seen in this way, the Honda Africa Twin fits perfectly into this series.

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