STORY AND PHOTOS
Shootouts are a common form of editorial in the motoring world. You take a number of boats, cars, caravans or motorcycles and pit them against each other for the purposes of boldly claiming which one is the absolute best on the market.
Shootouts have been around for decades and in the print world they’re popular because those issues sell more advertising, and they also traditionally sell more copies at the newsstand.
The concept has merit to a degree. As a magazine editor for the better part of 20 years, I’ve been part of more than I can remember and disliked them as a means of investigating and disseminating information.
So much so that I refused to run them for about four years until my colleagues in Matt Bernard and Shane Booth, (Boothy now of BMW Rider Training and Safari), devised a way to give a motocross or enduro bike shootout more obvious relevancy and we were able to impart a lot of info on each and every bike through the process.
However, the notion of a shootout in the adventure bike market is as pointless as strapping a fart to a saddle and it should be resisted because it seeks to distil a very personal choice down to a single variant. It can and will happen in adventure as tired concepts get awoken from the crypt by lazy print and online publishers to come and suck your cash and attention.
The adventure bike market is blessed with a wildly diverse gene pool that is so broad as to take in the DR650 and the R1250GS. How do you judge one of those two as better/greater/superior to the other for every rider?
If you specifically want a DR650 then you’re most likely rejecting all the things that make the BMW so great and visa-versa. But you can go on fantastic adventures on either, as I have done myself. A bike is a tool, the experience is the entire purpose.
The adventure bike concept is vague because the concept of adventure itself is vague. If exploring for an hour on a dirt road gives you the feeling that you’re Charles Sturt discovering new territories, then revel in that feeling and accept that hour as a gift from the motorcycling Gods.
If you need to cross a continent to get that same feeling, then live that life in the spirit that’s recalled in the quote, “Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport.” And do it on whatever the fuck bike you like.
SHORTLIST, NOT SHOOTOUT
I’m not saying we can’t compare bikes at all. There is a good reason to do that but only if in the end you’re going to suggest which bike would suit which rider across a broad section of criteria, and we’d love to get a crew together to do that very thing at some point. That’s helpful information. And comparing one-on-one is even better because the info is more focused.
But to declare a single winner out of multiple bikes makes no sense and it perpetuates the shootout shitloop which is ultimately popular in part because it validates an opinion while at the same time producing a grievance. And if 2022 loves two things dearly it’s validating opinions and drenching oneself in outrage.
There is no best bike, but there is the best bike at a given time for you; in fact, there might be two or three. If money were no object, I could immediately identify three, maybe four adventure bikes I’d purchase in a heartbeat.
All great at different things and offering a distinct vibe that might catch my attention on a given day. And this coming from the guy who only ever orders the butter chicken.
Embrace the variety and depth of offerings in the adventure market and celebrate whenever anyone makes a choice no matter what it is because they’re out riding and that is all that matters. It is all that has ever mattered. Don’t accept anyone, or any media outlet, telling you that there’s only one bike worth buying – they are wrong.