There are a number of excellent affordable motorcycles that you can take off-road. However, some may be nervous about bringing a brand-new bike to get banged up off-pavement. However, as is the case for most beginner bikes, the simple solution is to get a used motorcycle. It’s likely already been beat-up a bit. Plus, buying used means you can get access to high-end bikes at more affordable prices. In fact, you can get any one of the used adventure or dual sport bikes listed below for under $10,000.
Used adventure motorcycles
BMW arguably created the ADV segment with the 1981 GS. The latest R 1250 GS Adventure offers features like electronically-adjustable suspension, stability and hill-descent control, and GPS. But even in base spec, it starts at $20,195.
Fortunately, used GS models make excellent used adventure motorcycle purchases, Motorcyclist reports. 1994 and later models gained the Telelever suspension still found on the modern GS. A 6-speed came in 2000. The 1000c+ bikes are the range-toppers, but smaller-engine models are still great used adventure motorcycles. The 2013 F 800 GS shown above has ABS, stability control, heated grips, skid plate, and adjustable windscreen.
The 2020 Honda Africa Twin is a great ADV bike, but the Adventure starts at $17,199. Fortunately, lightly-used ones can be had for under $10k on Cycle Trader, even automatic-equipped ones. And 2016-2019 models still offer adjustable traction control and ABS, Cycle World reports.
Or, Motorcyclist reports, you can get the previous-gen XR750VT model. It ceased production in 2003, Bennetts reports, and it doesn’t have the current bike’s electronics or fuel injection. But for under $10k, you get a used adventure motorcycle with skid plates, pannier racks, and brake guards.
Triumph doesn’t just make neo-classic bikes. It also makes a great ADV, the Tiger. Re-introduced in 2011, the current Tiger 800 starts at $12.5k. But you don’t lose out on much by going with earlier models, Motorcyclist reports. With handguards, adjustable ABS, and multiple skid plates, a Tiger 800 is an excellent used adventure motorcycle. Especially the XC models.
Finally, there are KTM’s adventure motorcycles. Available in a variety of engine capacities, these bikes have won multiple Cycle World awards. The 1190 Adventure R offers ABS, traction control, adjustable riding modes, and electronic suspension. Plus, you can adjust everything from the footpegs to the windshield.
Used dual sport motorcycles
It’s tough finding a more stalwart used off-road motorcycle than the Kawasaki KLR650. The dual-sport was in production for 32 years, receiving an update in 2008 before being canceled in 2018. And even then, it still had a carbureted, 651cc air-cooled single-cylinder engine.
But, as with the Nissan Frontier and Toyota 4Runner, that old-school simplicity has its charms and benefits. Motorcyclist calls it “the John Deere of the motorcycle world.” It has the bare off-road essentials: windscreen, 8” of ground clearance, a few gauges and indicator lights, and a luggage rack.
The Kawasaki’s rival, the Honda XR650L, also makes a good used off-road motorcycle, Gear Patrol reports. Honda still makes it and hasn’t really changed it since the 90s. It’s slightly more agile off-road than the KLR650, Motorcyclist reports. And it has 11” of suspension travel and 13” of ground clearance. Plus, its 644cc carbureted single-cylinder is very reliable. A new XR650L costs $6999, but used ones can be found for as little as $2000.
The Husqvarna 701 Enduro is one of the fastest dual-sports on the market, but at almost $12k, it’s a bit pricey. Lightly-used ones, though, do squeak in under our $10k limit. For that, you get 9.8” of suspension travel, slipper clutch, a fuel-injected 693cc single-cylinder engine, and ABS. It also comes with multiple riding modes and traction control.
Finally, there’s the Suzuki DR-Z400. True, it’s also on our recommended new off-road bike list. But, as with the KLR650 and XR650L, this dirt-simple Suzuki makes a great used off-road motorcycle. The only real difference between the used and 2020 models is the inclusion of fuel injection. But for less than $5000, you can get a lightweight mule of a bike with disc brakes and a 398cc single-cylinder engine.
On the V-Strom
There is one more oft-recommended used off-road motorcycle: the Suzuki V-Strom. It does make an excellent all-round bike, RideApart reports. For touring and commuting, the 650 model has a lot to offer. The new 650XT Adventure is even on our recommended new off-road bike list. And indeed, used models can be bought for under $10k.
However, the base Suzuki V-Strom is more of a touring bike than a proper off-roader. It can be out-fitted with pannier bags, crash bars, handguards, and engine protectors. But its ground clearance is fairly limited. If you’re not planning on going further than some gravel roads, that might be enough. But if your adventure plans call for something more advanced, there are better used off-road motorcycles.
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