By now you’ve undoubtedly read through the Torture Test: Off-Road Exotics bike comparison in the August issue of Dirt Rider. Now dig even deeper into our editor and test riders’ opinions and see how these machines stack up to the other bikes in the Torture Test with our all-inclusive radar charts.A friend called me for advice on a new adventure bike. He described what he was looking for, and a Suzuki V-Strom 1000 seemed tailor-made for his intended use. Instead of taking my advice and getting a new Suzuki, he spent $10,000 more on a used BMW. Not because the BMW worked better (though it might), but because the Zook didn’t “look tough enough.” He would’ve been embarrassed to be seen on it. I’ve never been able to understand that sort of thinking. I want a bike to work, and my experience is undiminished if I see other riders on the same machinery.I’ve met the folks responsible for the importation and proliferation of these brands, and they are as passionate about the machines as riding them. The Aprilia sounds amazing and the acceleration will simply blow your mind. The only place I could use all the power was punching through some late-in-the-year icy snow drifts at high altitude. It is sensory overload on wheels, but practical it isn’t. If I was serious about supermoto, I’d have one of these. For now, I wish my neighbor had one I could play with. This is a wonderful fling, but not a long-term relationship.The idea of one of my all-time favorite motors in a linkage-suspended chassis appealed to me. But I was expecting the suspension to be better than a non-linkage bike, and it isn’t. I wanted a better KTM, but got a heavier one that vibrates more. I’ve ridden the Gas Gas two-strokes before, and this one with some small modifications was one of the best, and it would be the one of these bikes I’d be most likely to keep, but while it’s my first choice among these bikes, it isn’t my absolute first choice.As far as the Berg goes, I love the power. It has the perfect amount everywhere, as a package it just isn’t finished as well as I’d like, and I don’t fit on it.If a “unique” or “exotic” machine is the best choice, I have no problem with riding or owning one. All four of these bikes are very nice dirt bikes with good qualities, but I’m not totally comfortable riding any of them. I think I could be happy with the Gas Gas or the Beta if I did some work on the riding position and suspension. If I was keeping one, it would have to be the Gas Gas, but there are bikes available that are neither as sexy nor exotic, but they would suit my style with less effort.
-Karel Kramer: 6’1″/210 lb/B riderThey were all a blast to ride. The Aprilia had a killer motor that would pretty much blast you over anything. The weight of the bike was a little on the heavy side, but that didn’t matter as much because of the raw power. That thing would hop over some crazy stuff with just a flick of the wrist. The only thing that needed fixing was the quarter throttle hesitation. When you were on and off the throttle in the tight trails, it would either cut out or give you an uncontrollable, yet exciting burst of power. This bike had to be the most fun and challenging, mostly due to controlling the power.The Gas Gas had more of a Japanese feel to it. It was light and effortless to throw around or pull out of snow drifts or drag over logs. The motor had smooth, all-around power and even when being a two-stroke, would cruise up rocky trails with ease. This motor was the two-stroke version of the Husaberg.The Beta had very smooth power, but seemed a little sluggish. The bike still got through some sketchy trails pretty easily. The one thing I didn’t care for was the steering. The bar mounts were too far forward and it made the bike feel awkward and hard to turn.If I were to buy one of these bikes based on the trails, I would have to take the Husaberg. At first, the Husaberg felt a little top-heavy, but after getting used to it, the bike was very easy to toss around. The motor had a lot of torque and would chug up any rocky, log-infested, waterfall-esque type section without stalling. The gearing was perfect for really tight, technical trails, but still gave you plenty of power for wide-open sections.
-Chris Barrett: 5’11″/175 lbs/Pro