The 7 Best Adventure Motorcycles
Do you love adventure bikes? Well, who doesn’t? Equipped with all the right features to get your adrenalin pumping, both on the pavement and beaten-down paths, these beauties are every rider’s dream.
However, it’s difficult to find a consensus as to which bike is best for adventure. Just about any enthusiast that you ask has their opinion about which adventure motorcycles are best for on- and off-road rides. And that is understandable. Yet, some bikes have been blazing the trail for quite a while and are worth mentioning.
So, here are my top picks for the best adventure motorcycles, especially with regards to models that have consistently topped the charts.
1. Suzuki V-Strom 650XT
Who says you can’t get a high-performance adventure motorbike at a reasonable price? Suzuki’s V-Strom 650XT is probably the best you can ever get if you are on a budget but still want a reliable, all-around adventure bike. A powerful 66 hp engine gets you up to 8,800 rpm with steady performance.
Suzuki makes one of the best gearboxes for adventure motorbikes, and the V-Strom comes with the latest version. Sure, this bike works best as a touring motorbike, but you’ll experience flawless handling off-road as well. Although it’s an affordable option, it doesn’t there’s no trade-off on maneuverability and power. This is an excellent choice if you’re just getting into adventure riding.
Fuel tank capacity: 5.5 gal
Seat height: 55.3 in
Weight: 476 lbs
Engine: 645 cc
Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh
Power: 50.4 kW @ 8,000 rpm
Torque: 69.0 Nm @4,600 rmp
2. Kawasaki Versys 650 LT
For the dedicated enthusiast with a love for versatile motorbike, the Kawasaki Versys 650 LT is the ultimate choice. With a 649 cc engine, you are sure of decent power to pull through long-distance road journeys. This bike offers impeccable handling at high and low speeds. Kawasaki makes some great motorcycles, and this latest addition won’t disappoint either. Riders will get the most functionality for its price.
Fuel tank capacity: 5.5 gal
Seat height: 33.1 in
Weight: 454 lbs
Engine: 649 cc
Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh
Power: 44 kW @ 8,400 rpm
Torque: 57 Nm
3. Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin
The 2020 version of the Honda Twin Africa is a brilliant bike and, by far, Honda’s best adventure motorcycle. The CRF1100L Africa Twin is built for long-distance adventure and is most suitable for easy-going bikers who prefer smooth rides.
Beyond its attractive architecture lies some mind-boggling power. With its ability to customize rides, you can decide if rear-wheel locking is necessary, how much traction control you want, and how much braking power is needed, all with a click on the touch panel. The bike’s neat ground clearance makes adventure riding a smooth experience.
Fuel tank capacity: 6.5 gal
Seat height: 33.5 in
Weight: 524.7 lbs
Engine: 1,084 cc
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Power: 75 kW @ 7,500 rpm
Torque: 105 Nm @ 6,250 rpm
4. Yamaha XT1200Z Super Ténéré
With a 1,199 cc, you can bet the XT1200Z Super Ténéré from Yamaha packs quite a punch. This steady runner screams of raw power, generating up to 108 hp. You won’t be disappointed in this bike regardless of the terrain. The rugged and durable build, combined with several top-notch ride-enhancing features, makes this bike the rider’s companion on- and off-road.
Equipped with an advanced traction control system, 6-speed transmission, twin braking system, and advanced fuel injection, the Super Ténéré is quite a classic. If you’ve straddled some other motorcycles, you’ll be pleased with the comfort this model offers.
Fuel tank capacity: 6.1 gal
Seat height: 33.3 in
Weight: 575 lbs
Engine: 1,199 cc
Transmission: 6-speed shaft drive
Power: 80.9 kW @ 7,250 rpm
Torque: 114.1 Nm @ 6,000 rpm
5. BMW R1250GS
It’s difficult to find a bike that can go toe-to-toe with an adventure motorcycle manufactured by the German Giant – BMW. The design of the BMW R1250GS is quite different from the look of other traditional adventure bikes, but isn’t that why BMW is unique? With the first throttle, you’ll quickly realize that this beast can pump a lot of power.
Besides the unimaginable power and BMW’s signature design, this adventure bike has notable features such as superior traction control, an adjustable ABS, heat seating, LED light design for maximum visibility, and an impressive seven riding modes. Whatever type of exciting and thrilling adventure you can dream up, living it up is a cinch with the dependable BMW R1250GS.
Fuel tank capacity: 7.9 gal
Seat height: 35.2 in
Weight: 492 lbs
Engine: 1,170 cc
Transmission: 6-speed shaft drive
Power: 92 kW @ 7,750 rpm
Torque: 125 Nm @ 6,500 rpm
6. Ducati Multistrada 1260S
The folks at Ducati seemed to have given their all while piecing together this adventurer’s dream. The Multistrada 1260S is a significant improvement on the previous 12600 Enduro model. With a 1,262cc engine, expect an astounding power of up to 158 hp. Dual spark ignition, cornering ABS Bosch, semi-active suspension, and an anti-theft system are notable features that make the 1260S version the best adventure motorcycle from Ducati.
But that’s not all. The four different riding modes, including touring, urban, enduro, and sports modes, offer exceptional versatility and convenience. Riders get to have complete torque control, thanks to the agility and performance of this beautiful beast.
Fuel tank capacity: 5.3 gal
Seat height: 32.5 in
Weight: 467 lbs
Engine: 1,262 cc
Power: 116.2 kW @ 9,500 rpm
Torque: 129.5 Nm @ 7,500 rpm
7. Triumph Tiger 800 XCx
Lastly, the Triumph Tiger 800 XCx should be on your radar if you want an adventure motorcycle that is lightweight with an improved riding position. Tiger 800 is undoubtedly Triumph’s most acclaimed and loved bike. As a variant of the Tiger 800 style, the 800 XCx boasts of a mass-optimized triple engine that can deliver up to 95 hp with a maximum torque of 58 ft-lbs. That’s more acceleration and responsiveness at your beck and call. Included are impressive and ride-enhancing features like traction control, ABS, among others.
As far as good looks go, the Triumph Tiger 800 XCx is the best adventure motorcycles available. But don’t be fooled by its stunning looks. There’s a tone of ruggedness under all that sleek design. This ride is the real deal when it comes to off-road performance and poise. Simply switch to its Off-Road Pro mode to bring its character and responsiveness to bear.
Fuel tank capacity: 5. gal
Seat height: 33.07 in
Weight: 452 lbs
Engine: 800 cc
Power: 70 kW @ 9,500 rpm
Torque: 79 Nm @ 8,050 rpm
Choosing the Best Adventure Motorcycle
Like I mentioned in the opening paragraphs, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to adventure bikes. Heck, fans will debate to death just to get each other to see things their way. But all that is really not necessary. Every rider has their definition of adventure riding, and that’s what fuels their preferences.
In a nutshell, no one bike is better than another in all aspects. For this reason, it is important to focus on those factors that are important to you when looking for the best adventure motorcycle that fits your unique definition of an adventure ride.
There are many factors to consider, but here are some of the most important ones.
Whatever you do, you’ll be better off with a bike that has an engine capacity of 400 ccs at the very least. The larger the engine capacity, the more power and smoother ride you will get. Small capacity engines have obvious drawback such as:
- Struggling to maintain 100 km per hour, especially on gravel roads
- High risks during overtaking on the road due to insufficient power to quickly return to your lane
- Chugging through slow-speed terrains can be tedious due to a lack of low down torque
- Headwinds and hills can significantly push back the speed
- Typical small gearbox clusters mean any change to the sprocket gearing makes the bike suitable for either the pavement or dirt, but usually not both
- More road-oriented gearing means technical terrains or steep hill climbs will require excessive clutch fanning
While bigger engines are more preferred, the weights of adventure motorcycles are majorly determined by the engine capacity. That’s because engines are the heaviest components on these rides. Before choosing a bike, think of your strength and size in relation to the bike’s weight. It would be helpful to ask yourself the following questions.
- How long can I ride this bike before getting fatigued?
- Can I comfortably handle this bike through technical sections?
- What if it goes over? Would I be able to pick it up without help?
- Can I get it out of mud holes, down a riverbank, or other shaky situations?
Here’s the bottom line. Choose a high-capacity engine bike as long as you are comfortable with the weight. The bike’s intended purpose will be defeated if you can’t comfortably manhandle it due to its weight. Consider choosing a lighter motorcycle if you plan on using it through rough terrains more frequently.
You don’t want to drop your bike when crossing deep waters if you can’t comfortably plant your foot down. Your bike might get drowned. That’s just one example of why seat heights are an important consideration.
Even the best adventure motorcycle would be difficult to control if you can’t get the balls of both feet to touch the ground at the very least. This is particularly true on off-road sections. The seats on most adventure bikes are high to suit adventure riding, so if you are medium to short in height, you’ll have a problem in that aspect.
You should look for bikes with seat heights that are comfortable for you or be prepared to spend extra to modify or lower the seats.
Consider picking a bike with a good stock holding of parts. This is especially the case if you plan on touring overseas countries. The more common a motorcycle is, the easier it would be to find parts for it when it comes time for a replacement. So, while owning a unique motorbike will stand you out of the crowd, it can also get you stranded if you can’t easily find replacement parts.
General Comfort and Riding Position
You want to choose a bike that offers the most comfort when you sit on it. But even if the riding position feels a bit off, and the bike checks all the other boxes for you, it shouldn’t be that much of a problem because riding positions are typically customizable for adventure bikes.
This is pretty straightforward. Higher performance bikes require frequent maintenance routines. When choosing the best adventure motorcycle, try to pick something that won’t put too much stress on you, maintenance wise. Lightweight models that offer astounding power and fantastic suspension are excellent if you can work your rides around servicing the motorcycle more frequently.
If touring around the city or commuting to work is all you intend to do with your motorbike, you don’t need to worry about reliability (although that would be a gross underutilization of these powerful machines, in my opinion). However, if riding in remote places is your thing, you might want to carefully consider a bike’s reliability.
If you are buying a brand new motorcycle, it is safe to assume that it is reliable, as the most popular models used for adventure riding are built to be reliable. But that’s all in theory. It is always best to ask around and do your research to find out what the common problems are with a bike you would love to own because, quite frankly, all motorcycles have their fair share of issues.
New or Used
Here’s the thing, both new and used adventure bikes have their advantages. While buying new seems like the obvious thing to do, not everyone has a bank account overflowing with the green stuff. If you are loaded with cash, buy a new bike because new options are generally more reliable.
On the other hand, if you are short on cash or simply choose to get a pre-owned bike, you can enjoy the benefit of useful upgrades in some cases. For example, you can get crash protection, luggage, and other comfort items that usually don’t come with new bikes.
However, you need to do some digging around whether you plan on buying a new or used bike for adventure riding. Poke around in a handful of online forums and speak with owners you may know to discover the most common issues with the bike you intend to buy. If you are buying a pre-owned bike, make sure to inspect it physically.
Ask to see maintenance receipts, as those will give you a fair idea of the bike’s maintenance history. If the owner doesn’t have the receipts, it could indicate that they don’t really look after their bikes, and you may want to look elsewhere.
Tips for Buying the Best Adventure Motorcycle
- If you are buying a new motorcycle, consider opting for a second or even third model year of the bike. These are usually more reliable than the first model. That’s because the good folks behind the brand need a couple of years to go back to the drawing board to fix kinks and bugs.
- Generally, interest rates tend to be on the high side on sports vehicles, particularly for the Powersports category. So, if you can’t buy it with cash, at least settle for the lowest interest rate on financing. For example, it’s difficult to find a good reason to sign paperwork on a deal with a 20% or more interest rate. That’s buying “too much bike!” Spending too much money on a bike doesn’t make it capable or reliable. If there’s an area you should splurge, it should be on safety gear.
- Always negotiate on price. Be prepared with a reasonable number before you even look at a bike. The thing is, you’ll always assume the answer is a “no” if you don’t ask.
- If you’ve had a bike on your radar for a while, but can’t seem to strike a good deal for it, don’t sweat it. There several others like it out there. You may hear phrases such as “the perfect bike for riders” or a bike that can “go all places.” These things simply aren’t true. No motorcycle is perfect for all riders, so you’ll do yourself a world of good if you don’t listen to bad advice.
- Don’t be too hung up on buying a specific motorcycle, regardless of how popular it is. You may want a specific motorcycle, but before you sign the dotted line, go out and sit on as many as you can find. If a bike doesn’t fit, choose something else, even if your heart is set on that model for as long as you can remember. It is better to have a well-tailored suit in the wrong color than to wear one that’s too small or too big.