Hi mate! Glad to be back writing again.
As a matter of fact, there are many great iconic and incredible adventure motorcycles in the last decade. Started from the latest, biggest and hefty priced one like KTM 1290 Adventure and BMW R1200GS, to more budget friendly, smaller and affordable like new Honda CRF 250 Rally and Kawasaki Versys 300. All of them are great bikes, no doubt.
In addition, as adventure motorcycle becomes more and more popular in the recent years, many manufactures are trying to get their hands on the part of the cake. Thank God, because of this reason, now we have so many options when it comes to adventure or dual sports motorcycle.
However, long before those bikes were born, the world of adventure motorcycle already filled with many great bikes. You name it, KLR 650, Africa twin, XTZ660 Tenere, F800S and KTM 640 Adventure are small example of the bikes which helped to shape the adventure motorcycle world today.
Speaking of adventure motorcycle, The bikes listed below are famous and well-known for its capability and reliability both on and off-road. All of these bikes also have been existed for some time, so it is no wonder that many rider from the beginner to the more senior, regard and praise these bikes for their value and performance.
Although some bikes like Suzuki DR-Z400S, Suzuki V-Strom 650 and Kawasaki Versys 650 considered as dual sport bike and no match to the power of BMW R1200GS or Triumph Tiger 800XC, nonetheless, they make great budget friendly adventure bikes affordable to everyone.
Many thanks and credits to all these website for their images and information; adventurebikerider.com, adventurerideblog.wordpress.com, adventuremotorcycle.com, bmw-motorrad.com, cariboucases.com, cycleworld.com, dirtbikerider.us, gearpatrol.com, motorrevu.hu, and wikimedia.org for images and descriptions. Please support their great works by checking out their websites. Thanks and enjoy reading.
1. Kawasaki KLR650: The Ugly Duck
The Kawasaki KLR650 is a dual-sport motorcycle intended for use on both paved and unpaved roads. It has been a long-standing model in Kawasaki’s lineup, having been introduced in 1987 and remaining almost unchanged through the 2007 model. The 2008 model was the first significant redesign of the KLR650 since its inception.
The ugly duck in adventure motorcycle world. The bike might look as cool as BMW, but it is obvious since KLR is after affordability and Durability. Don’t get it wrong, KLR is widely used as an inexpensive adventure/touring bike. The addition of luggage and personalized modifications (GPS, heated handgrips, larger windscreens) make it more functional on long trips.
The Kawasaki KLR650 has been around for decades and its styling shows it. But it’s a bike that has been refined to perfection over the years. No fuel injection or ABS is offered on the KLR650.
KLR 650’s engine will not snap your neck back during acceleration, but it is low-tech and bulletproof. If something goes wrong in the middle of nowhere, simple tools will usually fix the KLR650. It’s not as popular in other markets, but in North America, the KLR is the king of mid-sized adventure bikes.
The more you spend your time on it, the more you will praise its sturdiness. Nope, it won’t grow up to be pretty BMW, but it will hel to grow you up to be real adventurer.
KLR650 is one of the most versatile Adventure Bikes available. The bike is fairly light for an Adventure Bike and includes all the touring necessities like a windscreen, large tank and luggage rack.
Ont the other hand, KLR isn’t that popular because of a long list of factory features – it doesn’t have ABS, traction control, heated grips or even EFI as standard, and it isn’t particularly powerful. What the KLR offers instead is a basic, reliable platform that’s moderately competent on both dirt and street, with a great price.
Despite the aftermarket parts availability, KLR riders have a longstanding reputation for being thrifty and many end up circling the world with DIY luggage systems. But it doesn’t matter whether the rider has pricy panniers or a milk crate zip-tied to the rack, the KLR has the ability to get them to their destination at an affordable price.
The main advantage of the KLR650 is its reliability, simplicity and low cost of maintenance. It is an excellent bike for new adventure riders that expect to do a significant amount of off-road miles but still want decent comfort for highway travel (at slower speeds).
Finall, KLR 650 can do anything you ask of it pretty well, that’s why the bike has survived for more than 25 years. Aftermarket accessories are also plentiful for the KLR650.
2. Yamaha XTZ660 Ténéré: The Foreign Legion
Looking for a top-notch mid-sized adventure bike, with a long reputation for toughness? XTZ660S Tenere is the answer.
The small Tenere 660 is like combination between comfort of KLR650 and toughness’ DRZ400S. No doubt that this bike is going to be my choice if I have to choose among the rest if I am tall enough (too bad I ain’t that tall).
If ever there’s been a bike that reflects the way motorcyclists have changed over the last couple of decades, it’s Yamaha’s Tenere. The original XT600Z Ténéré, launched in 1983, was a direct descendant of the XT500 that had won the first two Paris-Dakar rallies a few years earlier.
That first Ténéré might have had fancy French (like legendary french foreign legion) accents in its name but it was a down-to-earth bike with an aircooled, 43bhp single-pot engine, gigantic 30-litre tank and several yards of suspension travel. It didn’t repeat those Dakar wins but became hugely popular with desert racers. More power and a twin-headlamp fairing kept it successful into the Nineties.
Now the Tenere is back, and you’ve only got to glance at the spec sheet to realise that the new-generation XT660Z is distinctly different. This Tenere’s liquid-cooled motor, borrowed from Yamaha’s XT660R trail bike, is more sophisticated than the original aircooled unit, but has gained just 5bhp in 25 years.
Moreover, the small Tenere 660 is intended for adventure touring, not desert racing. It’s more rounded, heavier and less aggressive – just like the typical rider it’s aimed at.
In Europe, Australia and other markets, the single-cylinder 660 sells extremely well, and no wonder. It doesn’t require much maintenance, it has a reputation for handling well in the dirt, and the bodywork makes it look like something you might have stolen from a Dakar rider.
Last, It’s a bike that’s built for flying across the desert, mile after mile, and overseas buyers are lucky to have it as an option, consider it one of the rare species bike along with KTM 640 Adventure.
3. BMW F800GS: The Pretty Little Sister
Challenges? Yes! Compromises? No! This is the motto of the revised F800GS – the sportiest member of the big GS family. The motorcycle continues its longstanding success story, providing impressive versatility both on and off the road: the ultimate versatile enduro machine with sporty genes.
The front section of the body in particular has undergone significant transformation: the new fuel tank trim, intake snorkel, upper mudguard and a new windshield give the bike that extra dash of dynamic performance, reflecting the off-road side of the F800GS.
The F800GS Adventure offering many of the same options (electronic suspension adjustment, automatic stability control, larger fuel tank, spoked wheels) as its larger sibling R1200GS Adventure, but at a lower price tag, and with more off-road capability due to lower weight with aesthetically as good as its big brother R1200GS.
The prettiest among all other bikes in this list, BMW’s first GS was the 800cc R80G/S, way back in 1980, which many consider the first purpose-built adventure bike.
Another 28 years later in 2008, BMW returned to the 800cc segment with the twin-cylindered F800GS to provide riders a mid-sized adventure bike option that was lacking in the market at the time.
The 800s might aren’t as popular as the big boxer-motored 1200, but they’re BMW’s second-most popular machine in the lineup due to their combined offering of power and luxury. Many riders “in the know,” who plan on using their bike for bad terrain, go to the 800 over the 1200 due to its lesser weight and nimbleness.
4. KTM 640 Adventure: The Hybrid Species
The KTM 640 Adventure is the ultimate light-weight off-road capable Adventure Bike. With high-quality components, powerful engine and stiffly sprung suspension, it’s as close as you can get to a dirt bike with touring capabilities.
The KTM’s performance comes at a price though. The high-output single-cylinder engine vibrates noticeably on the highway and the bike is too tall for many riders.
The KTM 640 Adventure is the perfect tool for riders that already have an off-road background. The bike can tackle deep sand, single track, or big whoops easily.
However, it is still a heavy bike for a Dual Sport so don’t get carried away on technical trails. Short highway stints under two hours are acceptable, but the vibration and uncomfortable seat can become unbearable on longer rides. Otherwise, KTM 640 Adventure remains great dual purpose motorcycle.
The 640 Adventure was produced for many years and has good aftermarket support. The bike also has a large tank (6.7 gallon fuel tank) that allows you to travel roughly 300 miles per fill-up.
The reliability of the LC4 motor makes it a popular choice for long tours in remote areas where roads are rough or non-existent. The 640s have both kick and electric starters, which add starting reliability for situations in the back country where bump starting may not be feasible.
5. Honda Africa Twin XRV750: The True Legendary
The original Africa Twin! In 1984 Honda and the HRC decided to develop a motorcycle with one purpose in mind. This was to compete in the long distance overland race categories, which were growing in popularity during the 1980’s. This of course meant the Paris-Dakar.
In 1986 the Honda NXR750, specifically designed for races of extreme hardship and endurance, won the Paris-Dakar. The NXR750 was ahead of the competition in every way and was the first water cooled motorcycle to win this rally. Its technology then dominated the race for the following four years.
This Africa Twin was built for adventure and ability. With superb dynamics, long travel suspension, and powerful disc brakes the ride over almost any surface is fantastic.
Its bullet proof naturally aspirated V-Twin engine is fed from a large capacity tank and delivers smooth power where and when you need it. Based on its Dakar routes the design is timeless and is fitted with a protective bash plate, trip computer and extremely bright headlights.
Since Honda launched the Africa Twin XRV650 in 1986 to when they stopped selling the XRV750 version in 2003, the Africa Twin dual-sport motorcycle has maintained popularity. Both XRV650 and XRV750 Africa Twins can still be seen riding the world today, and this motorcycle is not just restricted to tarmac. With its tall ground clearance and precise dynamics it is also a worthy machine to be taken off road.
The Africa Twins proven reliability, ease of repair and responsive chassis has helped maintained its place among the adventure motorcyclist and commuters all over the world.
Even though it is no longer produced, this now iconic motorcycle is good enough to compete with newer machines on the market today. In recent polls the Honda Africa Twin still holds its own against other large dual-sports like the KTM and the BMW adventure motorcycles.
Alright mate, if you are given choice to choose one of the bikes for you adventure, which is it? do you prefer light and pocket friendly bike like Suzuki DRZ400, CRF 250 Rally, or Kawasaki Versys 300? or you don’t mind to spend some grands to get newest and more advanced bike like the new Honda Africa Twin, BMW R1200GS or KTM 1290 Adventure?
Well, don’t be shy to share you opinions with us!
Thank you for reading and remember to share this article to your friends 😀 Have a great adventure!