First up is the Yamaha Tenere. Not much to say other than it's the one I will buy when it comes down to putting cash on the line. Back in October, the dealer simply handed me the keys and let me have it for almost 2 hrs of street blazing.
The number one thing that is most important to me is slow speed drills. Clutch out at idle to small throttle openings this bike will almost go lock to lock without dabbing my foot. Very impressive considering the weight of the bike. Road worthiness. Hands down this is the very best bike I can imagine for long days in the saddle. Powerwise, more than enough. Nowhere near the KTM but more than I will ever need. I did not play with the different settings too much. There is something to be said about just jumping on a bike and having fun without screwing with stuff.
Funny thing is the shaft drive felt normal. None of the "pogo stick" crap found on the BMW. The fuel injection was unreal. Perfect at all throttle settings. Hate to say it but the Yamaha was almost boring to ride. That is until you glance down at the speedo and realize you are blasting over 100mph!! And the windscreen unlike the POS ones on the KTM's, worked pretty darn good with no adjustment!
So yesterday I had the unique experience of getting a huge amount of street saddle time on both of the KTM 1190 beasts. Got about 40 miles on the standard and 60 miles on the R. It was in gorgeous Temecula wine country.
1st off let me start off by saying I'm just a "C" rider at best and have almost zero experience with riding a true ADV bike. For the whole test I kept the traction control on and ABS engaged for safety.
There are 4 modes to choose from: Sport, Street, Rain and Offroad. I started off in Street mode. The seats were set in the low position. I'm 5' 9" 190lbs and have a 30" inseam. I was able to flat foot the Standard model and a bit up on my toes with the R.
First off was the standard model. Starting out on one of these beasts is a trip! You better be eating your Wheaties if you want to do slow maneuvers on these. The fuel injection is very "lurchy" with throttle off and clutch out. The smaller front wheel of the standard model did little to help. A lot of clutch slipping and foot dabbing for lock to lock turns for me.
Get it out on the road and HOLY COW!!! This is by far the fastest, best handling "road bike" I have ever swung a leg over. You can change to the different modes on the fly by simply scrolling through the menu and closing the throttle. I put it in Sport mode and it was like a true open class liter bike. It bumps the rev limiter in 3rd gear at just under 100mph. At 80mph in 4th gear the front end lifts off the ground if you whack the throttle. And this is with the traction control and safety features in the on position. IMO way too much power!! Sport mode is not for the throttle happy rider.
The rain mode was kind of strange in dry weather. Throttle response was very slow. I'm willing to bet it is a great feature in the rain. For 90% of my riding I just kept the bike in offroad mode. It was by far my favorite setting. I could actually ride faster and more controlled in this mode. Extremely smooth with no surprises.
This was the first bike I have ever ridden with antilock brakes (other than the Super Tenere). Wile I was able to safely slow down with one finger and light foot pressure at any speed, that was no fun! So I found some loose gravel on the pavement and grabbed a fist full of front brake. What a trip. No slide. Just a safe stop. When blazing along at 70+ mph and stomping just the rear brake, it's like a freight train no slowing. No brake sliding. You must use both front and rear you slow down. I'm on the fence with the antilock. I still think I could stop quicker with the rear disengaged from antilock.
Next it was the handling. No issues at all. In fact, through the twisties, I rarely had to use my brakes. Throttle, clutch, gear selection, and engine braking were spot on.
Differences between the standard and R model are minimal. Windscreens in all positions SUCK on both bikes. No wind protection at all. I'm sure the aftermarket has a fix for that. The R model required a bit more rider input in the turns and has no electronic suspension tuning. It's really cool that it has separate compression/rebound damping knobs right on top of the forks for quick adjustments.
The standard model has really really cool electronic adjustments for every possible riding condition you can think of. I think there are over 80 different settings!! You can even do the spring preload at the touch of the button! Unfortunately, the software for the suspension was not installed yet for the one I was riding.
Overall these are great bikes. But only for a special kind of rider. I'm not one of them. I cannot get my head wrapped around why anyone would need 150HP for everyday riding. Too much bike is an understatement. IMO, a lot of guys that get these will be "chest pounders" screaming LOOK AT ME, I have the fastest baddest bike around. OTOH, a very small percentage of guys that get these will actually ride them to their potential. Doing a trackday in sport mode, switching to knobbies for a day in the dirt, then bagging up for true cross country adventure.
Here are a few pics of the bikes:
They actually had my first bike ever on display!!
Electronic damping and spring preload of the standard model.
And me with a big smile. It was so much fun! Can you tell I liked the R model the best?
In conclusion I hope you will understand that I gave the more "detailed review" of the KTM. After riding the 2 different models they offer, me and my buddy concluded that they are way too much bike. The Yamaha just felt right. My dad and I were discussing both KTM/Yamaha today. It reminded him of a BSA he had. Brand new and shiny. Gorgeous bike! His buddy had some ugly looking Honda. My dads bike was long gone and in the junkyard and his buddy was still riding the Honda. The Japanese have it when it comes to bikes.
For looks and pure crazy horsepower, KTM wins hands down. For a bike that will give long days in the saddle, easy to maintain, easy to ride, I choose the Yamaha.
As far as offroad, I can't say which is better. For the riding I do the Yamaha should be more than adequate.