Descended from the enduro and dual purpose machines of yore, Adventure is a class of motorcycle that has seen a surge in popularity over recent years- and for good reason.
As technology has improved, so have these bikes, and contemporary models bear more resemblance to a fighter jet than a 1200 Bandit.
What is an Adventure Bike?
Adventure Bikes are characterised by a few things:
- Wheel size/tyres- Most will have a larger front wheel. Many feature off road tyres.
- Suspension- More travel than a road bike. Often softer too.
- Ergonomics- Expect to see lots of peripheral aids and creature comforts.
- Range and Load- Will have extended range and increased luggage capacity.
Together, these factors mean that all adventure bikes, to some degree, will tow the line between on-road and off-road riding.
Some cater more to a sports touring demographic, and therefore have an emphasis in their design on comfort over long distance and fuel economy.
Others lean towards dirt riding, and features such as tyres and suspension are adjusted accordingly.
Our 10 Best Adventure Motorcycles
Now you have the basics, here’s our favourites
The Tank: BMW R1200GS
BMW’s top selling bike. After seeing the Long Way Round, you’re gonna want one of these too.
Engine: 1170cc boxer twin
Weight: 256kg wet
Fuel Capacity: 20L
Many would say this is the ultimate Adventure Bike. They’re probably right.
The GS is a beast of a machine that will eat most, if not all, terrain for breakfast. It comes with a litany of mod cons and can be customised and upgraded to your heart’s desire.
There are downsides though, as that massive wet weight is going to mean that most riders will struggle to lift the thing on their own. Not ideal if you’re out in the woods and drop your bike five times in a day.
On top of this, the newest model will set you back nearly 14 grand. That’s a number that makes my eyes water.
The Smaller Tank: BMW F 850 GS
Heavy armour always needs support.
Engine: 853cc Parallel Twin
Weight: 229kg wet
Fuel Capacity: 15L
The lighter counterpart to the 1200GS, the F 850 will suit a rider who would struggle to handle the sheer mass of its giant cousin.
It is a far less popular bike, however, and as such it will be more difficult and more expensive to maintain or repair.
The King: Triumph Tiger 800
A middleweight from the UK’s biggest bike manufacturer. Check out those stripes.
Engine: 799cc Inline 3
Weight: 215kg wet
Fuel Capacity: 19L
Agile, light, and packed to the rafters with mod-cons.
Triumph’s middleweight adventure bike has long been a popular contender in its class, and the newer models will give any of their rivals a run for their money in terms of sheer ability and features.
Coming in at a lower price point, mainly owing to its smaller displacement, the Tiger would make a perfect entry into the world of Adventure bikes.
The Ronin: Yamaha Super Tenere
This bike is named after a desert. It shouldn’t be a surprise that it would be at home in one.
Engine: 1199cc Inline Twin
Weight: 261kg wet
Fuel Capacity: 23L
There was a time when the Super Ten dominated the enduro market, and saw repeated success in off road competitions like the Paris-Dakar rally.
This legacy has since been overshadowed by BMW, the media fame of the GS backed by its irrefutable quality seeming to outdo the Yammy in every way.
The prevailing opinion remains the same, but Yamaha has been quietly upgrading the Tenere the whole time. If you’re after a heavyweight, give the Ten a chance, maybe it’ll surprise you.
The Flash: KTM Super Adventure
It’s bright orange, it’s loud, and it goes fast on any road. We’ll take three.
Engine: 1301cc V-Twin
Weight: 271kg wet
Fuel Capacity: 30L
KTM is a name synonymous with off-road riding, and since 2015, the Austrian moto x giant’s offering in the world of adventure bikes has been the 1290 Super.
Winning Cycle World’s ‘Best Adventure’ in its opening year, the 1290 Super has gone on to become a world renowned bike in its class.
The Wasp: Honda CB500X
After something you can pick up on your own?
Engine: 471cc Straight Twin
Weight: 196kg wet
Fuel Capacity: 17.3L
The lightest entry on our list is Honda’s CB500X.
Part of the popular and reliable Twins series, along with its cousins the CB500F and CB500R, the CB500x’ power plant delivers a surprising amount of grunt in a compact package.
This bike is perfect for a commuter with a predilection for greenlaning. A2 legal. (More on the A2 licence.)
The Gent: Ducati Multistrada
One with a little more… class.
Engine: 1262cc DVT
Weight: 254kg wet
Fuel Capacity: 30L
With a brand new from 2019, and the pedigree of an Italian giant behind it, the Multistrada is an adventure bike for those with a taste for the finer things in life.
Like ploughing through a muddy rut in an explosion of steam and dirt.
This bike is packed to the rafters with tech, and some of the higher spec models will leave you thumbing through a manual over a cold beer that your bike whipped up in its on board replicator.
The Contender: Benelli TRK 502
Engine: 500cc Inline Twin
Weight: 213kg wet
Fuel Capacity: 19.7L
Sitting at an excellent price point, the TRK from legendary Italian manufacturer Benelli is another A2 legal middleweight set to take on the CB500X.
Perfect again for all the things you’d buy the Honda for.
Parts for Japanese bikes will always be cheaper and more readily available, but nobody can deny the appeal of the Italian greats.
The Dragonfly: Suzuki V-Strom 650
No, they didn’t spell storm wrong. It means current, like a river. More specifically, the rivers you’ll be riding through.
Engine: 645cc V-Twin
Weight: 220kg wet
Fuel Capacity: 22L
Where the smaller engine of the CB500X might leave you wanting a little more grunt, the 645cc plant in the V-Strom has all the pull you need to face any situation on UK roads with ease.
Clocking in at £7999, this bike will make a very attractive option for those with a tighter budget.
The Outcast: Kawasaki Versys 650
Is it an adventure bike? A sports tourer? A dual sport? We don’t know, but it’s good.
Engine: 649cc Parallel Twin
Weight: 206kg wet
Fuel Capacity: 19L
The Versys struggles to fit in. It has traits of many different types of bike but doesn’t commit fully to being any one of them.
This brings some drawbacks, but it gives the Versys its identity, and allows it to tackle any task a rider throws at it- in moderation.
Time for an Adventure
So there’s that. 10 of the best Adventure bikes you can get your hands on, if you have the cash.
Whatever you’re looking for, this list has something for you. From the lightweight CB500X to the hi-tech GS and Multistrada, any rider will be able to find their niche in these bikes and enjoy the extra opportunities they provide.