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Reader’s test: On the trail of the 2011 Alpen Masters
Alpen Masters 2011: reader test
In the footsteps of the Alpine Masters
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.
Stefan Kaschel, Gert Thole, Eva Breutel
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. In the end, however, the Ofen Pass, Bernina, Passo dell’Aprica, 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 the Ducati Diavel, which 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 Stelvio Pass. 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 it 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 Aprilia Dorsoduro supermoto bike. “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”.
The two youngest of the readers’ tour strike in the same breach. 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, is that the tour in the footsteps of the Alpine Masters is the first motorcycle excursion into the Alps for both of them, where “the advantages of the great handling easily compensate for the nervous KTM engine in some situations,” says a business graduate Richard 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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