It’s definitely possible to have a great off-road bike adventure without going broke. But, as with cars, paying a bit more for a motorcycle, especially an ADV, sometimes does mean getting a few extra appreciable features. That doesn’t mean that you have to go for a company’s range-topping flagship motorcycle, though. In fact, $15,000 can get you one of several excellent adventure bikes.
Adventure bikes, by their very design, are more road-oriented than dirt bikes or dual sports, RideApart reports. Because ADVs are similar to touring motorcycles, some are skewed a bit more towards riding on paved roads than dirt ones. However, even so, they’ll be more comfortable on gravel and sand than an actual touring bike.
The more road-oriented ADVs
An excellent example of this is the $10,399 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT Adventure. Its suspension and ground clearance isn’t quite up to heavy-duty off-roading, Ultimate Motorcycling reports. However, on the features front, it makes for a great tourer and mild off-roader, Motorcyclist reports.
For example, it has ABS, traction control, and ‘Low RPM Assist’ to prevent low-speed stalls. Plus, it has aluminum pannier cases, handguards, and crash bars which also shield the radiator. And its 645cc V-twin has good low-end torque, Cycle World reports. So, with a suspension and tire upgrade, it can make a good adventure bike.
There’s also the $12,990 2020 Moto Guzzi V85TT Adventure. Unique among adventures, it has a transverse 853cc V-twin. It’s rated at 79 hp and 59 lb-ft, Roadshow reports, which Revzilla reports is more than adequate. It also has a shaft drive, which requires less maintenance than a chain.
On the touring front, the V85TT Adventure has ABS, traction control, 3 different riding modes, and cruise control, Rider reports. One of those modes, though, is for off-roading. The ABS can also be switched off, unlike the V-Strom’s, during off-road rides. It also comes with a TFT dash, aluminum pannier cases, 2 skid plates, and about 8.3” of ground clearance, Autoweek reports.
With more off-road-oriented tires than the Suzuki, the Moto Guzzi V85TT can genuinely go off-road, ADVPulse reports. And it’s nimbler than its 505-lb weight would suggest, Asphalt & Rubber reports. However, as with the 650XT, its suspension prevents it from going too far into technical sections. And while shaft drive does require less regular maintenance than a chain, the latter is significantly easier to repair in the wilderness. But, if you keep that in mind, the V85TT Adventure makes for a good ADV.
The adventure bikes for exploring off-road
But, if you want an adventure bike that can venture a bit further afield, there are some available for under $15,000.
One is the $13,345 2020 BMW F 850 GS. It uses a more powerful version of the cheaper 750 GS’ 853cc two-cylinder, Revzilla reports. However, while the 750 is more of a tourer, the 850 is a proper off-road bike, Rider reports.
The BMW F 850 GS has about 10” of ground clearance, Motorcyclist reports, and over 8” of suspension travel. It weighs 504 pounds, but it’s narrower and more compact than you might expect, ADVPulse reports. ADVs typically aren’t as nimble as dirt bikes, but ADVPulse reports the 850 GS offers flat-tracker-like handling. And even when you’re standing up, it’s very controllable.
Plus, the F 850 GS comes with some impressive features. It comes standard with a quick-shifter, a slipper clutch, cruise control, traction and stability control, and multiple riding modes. Buyers can also fit the bike with upgraded ABS and electronically-adjustable suspension. And off-road tires are a no-cost option.
Another choice is the $12,699 2020 KTM 790 Adventure. Although the smaller 390 Adventure is a great bargain bike, the 790 Adventure offers more performance and more features. Plus, it’s a Cycle World 10Best winner.
The 417-lb 790 Adventure is powered by a 95-hp 799cc two-cylinder. Its seat is about 1” lower than the BMW’s, Rider reports, but the KTM still has over 8” of suspension travel. The $13,699 R bumps that up to 9.4”, Cycle World reports, with its more-adjustable suspension.
But even the base model handles itself well as an ADV. In addition to multiple riding modes, it also features independently-adjustable traction control and throttle response. There’s also adjustable ABS, a TFT display, and fully-adjustable pegs and seat.
If you’re willing to go a little beyond $15k, there are a few more adventure bikes worth considering.
The 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally starts at $15k, $400 more than the Tiger 800 XCX. But, while the 800 is a good adventure bike, Cycle World reports, the 900 Rally has several advantages that put it ahead, ADVPulse reports.
Its 888cc three-cylinder isn’t more powerful than the 800’s, Revzilla reports, but it does make more torque. The Triumph 900 Rally also has an easier-to-access airbox, and more-easily-removable passenger pegs and rear sub-frame. It also has more ground clearance and Brembo brakes. Plus, the bike’s adjustable Showa suspension has only slightly less travel than the KTM 790 Adventure, Revzilla reports. And for 2020, the Rally comes standard with Pirelli off-road tires.
On the electronics front, the Tiger 900 Rally has a TFT display, 4 riding modes (including an off-road one), ABS, traction control, and cruise control. Heated grips are also standard, as is a slipper clutch. The $16,700 Rally Pro, meanwhile, has an additional off-road mode, heated seats, electronically-adjusting rear suspension, tire-pressure monitoring, and clutch-less shifts.
Finally, there’s the $17,199 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports. The base model only costs $14.4k, but Cycle World reports the additional ADV features are worth the upcharge. Plus, although it costs more than a base F 850 GS, Cycle World reports a similarly-equipped model costs about $1000 more than the Honda. And the Honda gets better mileage.
And as an adventure bike, the Africa Twin isn’t hurting for features. It has a 1084cc V-twin, roughly 9” of suspension travel, and 10.6” of ground clearance. It also comes standard with crash bars, a skid plate, heated grips, a 12V socket, and even Apple CarPlay.
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