While off-roading on 2 wheels can be done on dirt bikes and dual-sport motorcycles, adventure bikes trade some suspension travel for more comfort. And usually, the added refinement and tech comes with a higher price tag. But there are ADVs that let you hit the road and the dirt without going broke.
The bikes that didn’t quite make the cut
Although dual-sports, adventure bikes, and (some) scramblers can all go off-road, they approach it in different ways, RideApart explains. Dual-sports are basically street-legal dirt bikes, which limits their long-distance pavement capabilities. ADVs, on the other hand, are more like touring motorcycles that can tackle dirt and paved roads, Cycle World reports. And some are better suited to the latter than the former.
For example, with a $10,399 base price, the Suzuki V-Strom 650XT Adventure is fairly affordable. And it has some great standard features, Motorcyclist reports, including aluminum panniers, a center stand, handguards, a handlebar cross brace, and an accessory bar.
However, Ultimate Motorcycling reports that, despite having 6” of suspension travel, it’s more of a touring than an adventure bike. If your off-road trips are limited to good-condition dirt and gravel roads, that might be OK. But the suspension doesn’t handle rutted roads very well.
There’s also another well-regarded adventure bike not listed here: the Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports. Not because it’s bad—Cycle World reports it’s even easier to handle from a standing position than the base model. Plus, for those who don’t want to deal with a hand clutch, there’s an automatic dual-clutch model available.
But the 2020 Africa Twin Adventure Sports starts at $17,199. True, the base model is $2800 cheaper. However, that’s still significantly more expensive than any ADV listed below. In addition, Cycle World reports out-fitting the base Africa Twin to the same level as the Adventure Sports would cost even more than the $2800 upcharge. If you can afford it, it’s a great adventure bike. But it might be a bit too pricey for some.
The sub-$5000 adventure bike
One of the cheapest adventure bikes on the market today is the Royal Enfield Himalayan. For $4700, you’re not getting technology like traction control or a slipper clutch. However, the Himalayan does have 9” of ground clearance, over 7” of suspension travel, an aluminum skid plate, and multiple luggage racks. And it does feature ABS, crash bars, a center stand, an adjustable windscreen, and even an in-dash compass.
The Himalayan’s fuel-injected 411cc single-cylinder isn’t terribly powerful; it only makes 25 hp and 24 lb-ft. But, with a 428-lb wet weight, it’s light for an ADV, The Drive reports. That’s arguably the bike’s greatest strength, Revzilla reports. It’s not fast, but it is “approachable and affordable.”
For those wanting a few more frills, there’s the $6199 KTM 390 Adventure. At 387 pounds, it’s even lighter than the Himalayan. And while its 373cc single-cylinder is smaller, it’s more powerful; Cycle World reports it makes 41 hp and 26 lb-ft.
The 390 Adventure has slightly less suspension travel and ground clearance than the Royal Enfield, Motorcyclist reports. But it makes up the difference in features. In addition to an alloy skid plate, the KTM has a plastic engine shield, fully-adjustable suspension, and fully-adjustable pedals and levers. KTM’s smallest ADV also comes with traction control, a TFT dash, a 12V socket, and offers an optional quick shifter.
Finally, there’s the $9999 Yamaha Ténéré 700. It too is relatively light for an adventure bike, Road & Track reports, weighing in at 452 pounds. Combine that with a 34.4”-high seat, and the Ténéré 700 is “manageable and unintimidating” even for ADV newcomers. It’s also a better “complete package” than the 650XT, Revzilla reports. If the seat’s too high or too low, though, Cycle World reports Yamaha offers different seats as accessories.
The $9999 sticker price gets you a 698cc two-cylinder, rated at 72 hp and 50 lb-ft, Revzilla reports. The Ténéré also comes standard with handguards, switchable ABS, adjustable LED headlights, an LCD display, Brembo brakes, and Pirelli Scorpion off-road tires. The adventure bike has an alloy skid plate as standard, but there’s an even beefier one available as an accessory. Heated grips are also an optional extra.
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