Large multi-cylinder adventure bikes may get all the glory, but that doesn’t have to be your only way of enjoying off-road riding. Take into consideration the Suzuki VStrom 800DE which offers peppy power with upright ergonomics at an extremely reasonable cost.
BMW revolutionized this category in 1981 with their R80 G/S, an agile street machine capable of carrying luggage for an expedition. Nowadays there are more options than ever available to suit every budget and skill level.
Modern adventure motorcycles can be traced back to 1981 when BMW introduced their R80 G/S as the first mass produced bike that combined street agility with dirt riding capability.
YouTube was an astronomic success and inspired a whole generation of riders to follow in their footsteps. Furthermore, many riders used this platform to share their journeys and document them for posterity.
Although other manufacturers quickly followed suit with models like the Cagiva Elefant and Kawasaki KLR650, Honda really popularized the term “adventure bike” through their Africa Twin. Now widely considered one of the top long distance adventure models available today. Qualifier words such as Dual Sport have also become widely used to differentiate this bike from more road oriented variants.
Adventure bikes stand out from other motorcycles with their ability to handle rough terrain on both road, dirt and gravel surfaces, making them highly favored among riders looking for new trails to discover, camping trips or other adventure experiences both on the road and off it.
Modern street bikes such as the KTM 390 Duke, Yamaha MT-07 and Suzuki SV650 all offer some dirt riding capability; however, most riders prefer an offroad-specific bike designed specifically for off-road riding. Affordably upgrading with knobby tires, frame sliders or luggage racks is one way to make any street motorcycle more suitable for offroad exploration.
Manufacturers are also increasingly placing emphasis on the dirt capabilities of adventure bikes, with Aprilia unveiling an updated Caponord and Honda unveiling their pre-production Africa Twin with “True Adventure” capabilities, both expected to launch this Fall.
Adventure motorcycles feature larger engines than their street bike counterparts, making it easier to keep pace on highways and long-range touring rides. Furthermore, adventure motor bikes feature rider aids such as cornering ABS, traction control and drag-torque slip control to help riders remain in control at high speeds.
KTM’s middleweight offering, the 1250 Adventure R, stands up against BMW’s GS with its massive liquid cooled V twin engine and four riding modes. It boasts premium components including fully adjustable suspension and TFT display – yet comes at a steep price point.
Triumph’s new Tiger 1200 offers more palatable riding for less, priced around PS20k with full rider modes and an appealing TFT screen – making it a worthy competitor to both BMW’s Africa Twin and Honda’s Africa Twin models.
Adventure motor bikes must be outfitted to handle the challenges associated with off-road riding, including helmets that protect riders and keep them cool and comfortable. A full-face helmet with flippable visor peaks and closeable venting may be best.
Cruise control is another must-have feature, enabling the rider to keep an even throttle position and reduce some of the stress from long rides.
Bash plates protect engines from debris and damage that may result from traversing rough terrain, while GPS devices can assist riders in navigating unfamiliar regions by loading updated maps with information regarding traffic conditions or potential permanent speed cameras in their route.
There is an array of motorcycles on the market today, from pure motocross dirt bikes you can ride like Evel Knievel off ramps to luxurious long-distance cruisers that feel as comfy as your living room couch. Each has its own purpose and style of operation.
Larger adventure motorcycles often come equipped with larger fuel tanks so riders can cover longer trips without stopping for gas, and boast special suspension systems and wider tyres for better off-road maneuvering.
As with any motorbike ride, safety measures for riders are of utmost importance for ensuring an enjoyable journey. To maximize rider success and avoid accidents on the open road, always practice riding skills in safe places prior to hitting the open road and always bring along essential tools in case of breakdowns or mechanical problems on the way.