I'll confess I'm a GS Adventure rider, but I have got my eyes on a shiny new 990 at the moment - awaiting test ride, then I'll make the choice.
My GS has been nothing but bullet proof. I know it has a few achilles heels, such as the sidestand switch but overall I have a big grin when I get home from a ride.
I recently took it off-road at the Walters Arena during the Touratech Adventure Travel event and was totally blown away with it's off road abilities, particularly as I only had standard tyres on and not the more off-road biased tyres as a lot of the other BMWs and KTMs had. The majority of my time is on asphalt, hence the tyres.
I will be going back for another session, possibly with one of the schools using their bikes as I'd love to see what they can really do.
Hitting the fire roads around the arena was awe inspiring and confidence building, I had tried my first session on one of Touratech's Husqvarna 300s and quickly resorted to my trusted steed.
Everyone will have their own viewpoint and yes I agree that many so called adventure bikes will never see the dirt, just like the Chelsea tractors of London.
What I have in my GSA is a very comfortable bike, more than capable of 600 miles per day, two up with enough luggage capacity to allow the missus to have more than onr thong in her luggage should she so choose, along with hair dryer, shoes, curlers etc... something that is not so easy on a sports bike.
And in my opinion the happier she is on the bike the happier I am, because there's less complaints if I want to fettle the bike with shiny spangly add ons as it's a shared passion!
I'm not in my my twenties (try doubling it) so comfort is higher up the list of must haves, so a good riding position is important to me. Much as a S1000RR looks very tasty I wouldn't swap the GSA for love nor money.
The adventure bike to me is a jack of all trades - it should be reliable, it should have a bit of poke, handle well, be useable as a daily commute and be just as happy heavily laden eating up the miles.
Off road - yes that's a bonus as it gives you a bit more scope for your adventures. I certainly would not want to take a 300-450cc bike from the UK overland to Morocco for a week or two travelling through the countryside - but I'd be more than happy taking my Beemer or indeed a 990 for the journey and still be able to enjoy the bike when I got to my destination.
By definition Adventure bikes are about having an adventure. That could be for some a trip to Margate or Abergavenny, for others that will be a cross continent epic.
Look at Nick Sanders pan America crossings on his R1, mad yes, fast yes... ideal bike? Well it was reliable but would it be most of our choice rides for such an adventure?
If money was not an issue then I'd have a stable of bikes, a personal mechanic to keep them all prepared, transport to take them where needed and much more - I don't so one bike does me.