Traveling on an adventure motorcycle is on the bucket list of many riders. And why not? There are few things as satisfying as riding an adventure motorcycle.
Adventure motorcycles are versatile. They can be used in the city or in cross-country riding. Capable of handling asphalt and dirt, these speed demons can bring you to remote locations and allow you to explore the great outdoors.
There are many options available for an adventure bike. You can get one with a small 250cc engine or even up to 1200ccs. Some bikes are built for pavement use, and others are for off-highways. Regardless of the engine size, you’ll want to get an adventure bike that offers a comfortable riding position, long travel suspension, and windscreen protection.
Below is our list of the best adventure bikes on the market today, followed by a brief buying guide you can peruse as you make your decision.
The KTM 640 Adventure is a lightweight, reliable, and versatile bike from the Australian manufacturer. It offers superior handling on dirt tracks and a long range fuel tank. This dual-purpose adventure bike is somewhat right in the middle of a large road bike and a small dirt bike.
This bike has a single cylinder, 4-stroke engine with a displacement of 625ccs. Produced until 2008, it remains popular with good aftermarket support. It features a big, 21-inch front wheel designed to handle bumps, while the 18-inch rear wheel should provide superior traction in most situations. The black rims create a nice contrast to the orange body.
Most riders don’t replace the stock parts of the 640 Adventure, proof that it is built and ready for adventure riding. The rear suspension is 11.8 inches while up front is 10.8 inches. As such, it can easily handle deep sand and more than capable in the highways.PURCHASE
One of the most enduring adventure bikes in the market, the Kawasaki KLR 650 also remains one of the best value-for-money models today. A dual-purpose bike, it is more than capable of handling long-distance exploration trips in the same way that it can easily cross paved roads. This is a no-frills bike which has seen very minimal changes over the years.
Rugged and tough, it features a 651cc 4-stroke single-cylinder engine. Its latest iteration features stiffer springs making it ideal even for the harshest off-road conditions. Its 41-mm telescopic fork and 22-liter fuel tank are designed for long travel.
It is available in different color schemes and graphics, further making it an appealing option to many riders. It has analog instrumentation, which isn’t really a bad thing as dials are easier to take in compared to a digital readout. Moreover, the gauges are placed above the bars for quick and easy viewing.
It doesn’t have ABS brakes, but that should not be a concern for riders who love to slide a little when riding off the pavement. Its 280-mm disc in the front and 240-mm disc in the rear should also be enough to control the bike.PURCHASE
This bike is powerful, robust, and agile. It’s a machine designed for riders looking for an adventurous foray into the countryside, or a bike that they can use for the day-to-day commute.
It is powered by a single cylinder, four-stroke engine with a capacity of 652ccs. It generates 50 horsepower at 6500 rpm and maximum torque of 44 pound-feet at 5000 rpm. It’s also intended to be fuel efficient with fuel consumption at 74 miles per gallon at a speed of 55 miles per hour. Relatively light at 423 pounds, it is easy to handle for most riders.
Expect a smooth ride on the road with this bike thanks to its central spring suspension. It also features a wide range of equipment, such as standard ABS brakes that performs well even on wet asphalt, and a luggage carrier. It has optional heated grips, alarm system, and a power socket that’s perfect for long distance rides.
The bike also comes in different color schemes, with the base color combination of black with lighter shades of metal gray.PURCHASE
KTM 690 ENDURO R
As the name suggests, the Enduro R is a monster bike that is packed in features and performs well in any terrain. You may need to be an experienced rider in order to fully unleash its potential.
Powered by a single-cylinder, four-stroke 690cc engine, the KTM 690 Enduro R is fairly new, having been introduced to the market this decade. It is a versatile bike that can easily hold its own on various trails. Going back to the engine, it runs smoothly with a secondary balancer shaft and sufficient cylinder head work, plus a resonator chamber that helps facilitate smooth throttle response. It churns out 74 horsepower and 74Nm of torque.
It features a cornering ABS to improve safety for street riding. There is also an off-road mode that comes in handy when the bike is on dirt, disengaging the rear ABS and allowing the front wheel to benefit from the braking.
The seat height is around 36 inches, which should be comfortable for most pilots. Its approximate dry weight is 322 pounds.Purchase
The latest iteration of Honda Africa Twin represents the first round of upgrades on this adventure bike since it was re-introduced in 2015. One of the noticeable changes is the increase in fuel tank capacity from 18.8 liters to 24.2 liters. This boots the range of the bike to more than 300 miles, making it one of the best grand tourers among adventure motorcycles today. Don’t forget some rain tires for bad weather.
Of course, a bigger tank means a bigger, heavier bike. The latest version of the Honda Africa Twin now weighs 243 kilograms. However, the manufacturer improved the suspension of the bike with fully adjustable Showa front forks, so you may not even feel nor mind the extra mass. Moreover, the ground clearance has been increased by 20 mm and is now at 270 mm.
The twin brakes provide solid performance and good feel. It only has one ABS setting for all road conditions, although it can be quite intrusive when off-road. You can turn off the rear wheel ABS by pressing the button when riding off-road.
Powered by a liquid-cooled, four-stroke 998cc engine, it has a claimed power 94 horsepower. The engine is enough to move the motorcycle in any kind of terrain. Moreover, it is very frugal in terms of fuel consumption. It can average more than 50 miles per gallon at motorway speeds.PURCHASE
The 2018-19 version of the Triumph Tiger 800 XCx has an upgraded engine and electronics with fresh bodywork.
It has a liquid-cooled, 12-valve and three-cylinder 800cc engine which delivers 95 horsepower at 9,500 rpm and 58 pound-feet of torque at around 8,000 rpm. Arguably, the most impressive thing about the engine is the tractability. It is possible to run at 40 kmph in the sixth gear without any noise from the engine. Power delivery is smooth, and the throttle response is nice and crisp. Meanwhile, the six-speed gearbox transfers power to the rear wheel through the chain drive.
This high-end adventure bike also gets high marks for comfort. It has a tall and wide handlebar, a wide and large cushioned seat, and enough space for moving around. Tall riders will love it, too. The fuel tank’s angular placement gives superior support for the legs during off-roading.
This bike is well-designed with buttons that are soft to touch and operate. Even the switchgear feels crisp and solid. The heated grips are of superior quality, too.PURCHASE
Launched in 2010, the Yamaha Super Tenere is known for its sharp looks, superior design, and excellent performance. This bike, which was named after a desert region in the Sahara, can give you the off-road and on-road confidence you’re looking for. Its engine with a six-speed transmission should give you the power to go over hills and handle pavement with relative ease. Its narrow chassis combined with a low center of gravity makes it easy to handle and maneuver on twisty roads.
Its engine, a liquid-cooled two-cylinder, 8-valve 1199cc variant, can deliver 86 pound-feet at 6,000 rpm. With a 46-mm Mikuni throttle, the engine enhances soft-surface performance of the bike much like a tractor. But unlike a tractor, the vibrations of the bike are reasonably low thanks to its lightweight pistons.
The bike has a fuel tank capacity of 6.1 gallons. It is also fuel-efficient and capable of achieving 43 miles per gallon. It weighs 575 pounds.
It is also dotted with off-road functions, like handlebar brush guards, a skid plate, and superior suspension. Its seat height and windscreen are adjustable, too. Plus, it has cruise control and projector lights that should give riders extra confidence while riding at night.PURCHASE
The Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro is one of the fastest and most capable motorcycles ever. It is fast, versatile, and capable of taking on any type of terrain. It features a liquid-cooled, twin-cylinder 1198cc engine that can deliver up to 160 horsepower. It makes the bike smooth and fun to ride.
It also features advanced off-road electronics. When on Enduro mode, the bike performs well and can give you a comfy and stable ride. For on-road, it offers Touring and Sport modes. Changing modes is quick and easy as all you need to do is push a button.
Its 30-liter fuel tank is also large enough to last for hundreds of miles. You can also pair this bike with the Multistrada Link app for documenting your ride and gaining valuable information, such as speed, fuel consumption, and power, among metrics. Indeed, this is one of the best and most advanced adventure bikes you can get on the market today.PURCHASE
Why Should You Get an Adventure Motorcycle?
Not convinced about which type of bike to buy? Here are some reasons to go for an adventure motorcycle:
Superior performance. Most adventure bikes have a longer suspension designed for increased ground clearance, enabling them to handle harsh terrain, potholes, and broken pavement. These bikes also have large fuel tanks, which can be critical during long travel, especially in the countryside where gas stations can be few and far between.
Safety, Comfort, and Ergonomics. Many of the adventure bikes today come with various features designed to improve performance and enhance rider comfort. These include ABS brakes, traction control, and riding modes for different types of terrain and weather conditions. These features can help ensure rider safety, in the process giving riders more confidence while they are on the road. Comfort and ergonomic features such as cruise control, high bars, low pegs, adjustable suspension, and heated seats are also available.
Reliability and Practicality. Generally speaking, adventure motorcycles are easy to work on. These require a few screws for removing panels, meaning it would be easier to get to the engine and other parts for preventive maintenance, inspection, and cleaning. Service intervals have also increased in the past years with some models not requiring valve checks until 12,000 miles or even more. Additionally, adventure bikes have components designed for extended use. These bikes are also light, fast, and easy on a rider’s body when off-road.
Things to Consider when Buying an Adventure Bike
Size and Weight. A big and heavy bike often provides a more comfortable and smoother ride, enabling you to cover large distances more conveniently. But it can be disadvantageous when off-road. Smaller bikes are more nimble and, thus, easier to control.
Tank Size. Since you’ll likely take an adventure bike to off-beaten paths, you will want to ride a bike with a large tank capacity. The last thing you want to happen is to be caught off-guard with an empty gas tank.
Height. Adventure motorcycles are taller than standard bikes and thus, allow more ground clearance. But your height and the length of your inside leg may also have to be considered in choosing the right adventure bike for you.