Motorcycle off-roaders with travel qualities: BMW, Benelli, Yamaha
In addition to the veteran Yamaha Ténéré 700 and the new Aprilia Tuareg, the inexpensive Benelli TRK 502 X and the flagship off-road model BMW F 850 GS also face the AUTO BILD MOTORRAD character test. Even Ducati is digging in this class with the brand new Desert X. You can read more about the adventurers on the following pages. Motorcycle season 2022 – the desert is alive!
BMW F 850 GS Adventure
After all, the little brother of the big GS has the capital F in its first name and, as the GS Adventure, fits perfectly into our desert quartet. The F model is particularly universal. The lavish payload matches the long spring deflections, even with a passenger and luggage, the BMW can handle the rough hump. In general, driver and passenger are comfortable on the 850. The wide seat carries well, the knee angle is right.
With a seat height of 875 mm in the driver’s seat, the GS as an adventure is one of the tall towers; anyway it’s hard to maneuver the wide and bulky enduro backwards. Here, for example, you have an easier game with the slim Yamaha. Great: BMW’s selection of luggage racks, transport solutions and case systems is extensive, and the customer can also choose lowering technology and various benches.
Technical data and rating
kW (HP) at 1/min
Nm at 1/min
weight ready to drive
Tank content / range / consumption
Advantages and disadvantages OFFROAD
Advantages and disadvantages ONROAD
Advantages and disadvantages EVERYDAY
18L / 450km / 4.0L/100km
front 90/90 R 21, rear 150/70 R 18
240mm front, 240mm rear
20L / 480km / 4.1L/100km
front 110/80 R 19, rear 150/70 R 17
front 140 mm, rear k. A
+ Engine response
23L / 540km / 4.2L/100km
front 90/90 R 21, rear 150/70 R 17
230mm front, 215mm rear
– stubborn starting behavior
16L / 370km / 4.3L/100km
front 90/90 R 21, rear 15/70 R 18
210mm front, 220mm rear
Aprilia Tuareg 660
The large front wheel rolls well over gravel surfaces, and the perceived low center of gravity helps with balancing the motorcycle, which weighs just 204 kilos. When driven off-road, the Tuareg may appear more top-heavy and push more in deep sand than the Yamaha, but on the road the 660 revs up lively as expected.
The mechanical engine hum turns into a racy sound spectacle with grunting intake noise, thanks to the smooth-running automatic gearshift (option, works in both directions) the 660 can be accelerated vigorously. In addition, the in-line engine feels extremely powerful even in the lower touring regions. The suspension works flexibly and shock-free, but never spongy – great!
You have to get used to the seating position behind the very wide handlebars and more sunk into the seat foam – corresponding to working with your hands higher up. In any case, on long stages you sit very comfortably on the Tuareg. In addition, passengers fit better on the wide seat than is the case with the Ténéré.
Yamaha Tenere 700
The CP2 engine has a lot to do with this feeling. In terms of running culture, the machine is growling, but always wide awake to work. Lively on the road, juicy and controllable off-road at the same time – the 700 prepares you in the same way on asphalt and gravel.
What’s more: the high-mounted instrument in road book design and the narrow, high window convey a very sporty feeling. Despite a rather simple basic attitude towards the subject of driving aids (apart from ABS, there is nothing in the Ténéré), the machine feels stable and inspires confidence.
Benelli TRK 502 X
Smaller 19-inch front wheel, big belly instead of narrow rally silhouette – does the TRK 502 belong in this comparison? Sure, of course. After all, the X in the name stands for Cross, and both seat height and suspension travel call for fast stages on sandy soil. The real hammer: The Benelli costs about half of the Ténéré and Tuareg.
It is not as sparsely equipped as the purchase price would suggest. Large windshield, extensive cockpit including illuminated switch units, plus thick hand protectors, a stable crash bar and spoked wheels – that’s something to be proud of.
Despite the mere 48 hp, the two-cylinder with 500 cc doesn’t seem sluggish at all, goes to work robustly and with a dull, pleasant soundscape from a powerful final pot.
Pleasant: The short gear ratio and the linear speed range are a perfect match, the R2 also likes higher revs. On the road, the Benelli is surprisingly agile and fluid, and the good wind protection is particularly pleasing. However, the front brake requires significantly more manual force than that of the BMW GS, and its effect is likely to be more toxic.
Off-road, the Benelli has bad cards. The grip is moderate despite the slightly angular profile, and you can’t ride optimally standing up – the tank interferes with the knee grip. Driving aids are not provided. Ultimately, there is still a lot of adventure motorcycles for little money.