In the world of off-road adventuring, it doesn’t get any more rustic or independent than traversing the great outdoors on an adventure motorcycle. They’re about pushing the limits in personal transportation, leading to remote locations inaccessible by car or truck and too distant for a hike. Ask any avid rider about their time upon one of these dirt-friendly speed demons and they’ll simply smile, knowing that it’s a practice you must handle on your own and experience first-hand in order to understand.
But here’s the thing about adventure motorcycles; they’re highly diverse and offer different perks and attractions that cater to various riders. Options can range from relatively small 250cc engines to continent-conquering builds with engines up to five times that size. It all depends on your intentions. Weekend warrior or vagabond on-the-lam. The choice is yours. Fortunately, we’re here to help with eight of the best adventure motorcycles across the board to get you started in your travels. It’s by no means a round-up of every option out there, but instead a glimpse into the diverse offerings in the realm of adventure riding. Just be sure to keep your saddlebags packed, food rationed, and your tank full. It’s a big world out there. Ride on.
KTM 640 Adventure
Serving as a superior option for those riders already boasting a bit more experience in the adventure bike arena, the KTM 640 is a lightweight and highly capable offering from the Austrian manufacturer. It boasts a 625cc carbureted single cylinder engine with up to 54hp at 7,000 rpm and comes about as close as possible to the bridging that gap between a dirt bike and traditional tourer.
Rear suspension travel on the KTM clocks in at 11.8 inches while the front offers riders 10.8 inches of travel. It can handle deep sand and single tracks and is also highway ready to boot (though rides over two hours on the freeway aren’t recommended due to the seat). However, with a range of up to 300 miles per fill, the KTM 640 is a great companion for those extended off-road tours in remote regions.
Kawasaki KLR 650
Built to take a beating, the Kawasaki KLR 650 host one of the strongest suspensions around with springs that are 40 percent stiffer than their previous iterations. The same logic follows out the back as well, with a traditional Uni-Trak setup but with a 63 percent stiffer spring and dampening that’s been increased try 80 percent. All told, this adventure bike is ready for even the most challenging off-road conditions.
Powering this bike is a liquid-cooled single cylinder 651cc engine that can easily maintain traditional highways speeds. She weighs in at modest 432 pounds, boasts a range of 250 miles and functions as a perfect option for a first and reasonably-priced find for the curious adventure rider.
BMW G 650 GS Sertao
It’s hard to argue with the quality behind an adventure bike from BMW Motorrad. This machine was designed specifically to handle those difficult off-road trails with ease but also function quite well in your standard city traffic or commute. It’s all thanks to a water-cooled single cylinder 4-stroke engine with a 652cc capacity.
In addition, riders will also enjoy the Sertao’s state of the art ABS that boasts incredible stopping power on wet asphalt. Heated grips also work to keep your hands warm on those cold mornings and the road-ready weight clocks in at 425 pounds. From the desert to the city, this bike has you covered.
KTM 690 Enduro R
Yet another high-quality offering from KTM, the Enduro R is one of their newest releases for 2017. And with this newest iteration, the bike has enjoyed some note-worth upgrades, beginning with the shape itself – optimized for paved roads and tough terrain. An advanced single-cylinder, upgraded ABS and suspension with just under 10 inches of travel also don’t hurt this bike’s reputation either.
The Enduro also enjoys superior tracking stability on the road and the trails thanks to a high-quality die-cast swingarm and it’s chrome-molybdenum-made lightweight tubular trellis frame. She’s a curve bandit for sure, ready whenever you are to tackle the unforgiving outdoors.
Honda Africa Twin
Sometimes a specific engine format can make all the difference a bike’s ability to handle both complicated and unpredictable terrain. In this case, the Honda Africa Twin’s 998cc liquid-cooled four-stroke parallel twin engine shortens the bike, allowing for the front wheel to tuck closer to the engine. This, in turn, creates a shortened wheelbase of 62 inches, making the bike more adaptable to changing terrain.
In addition, the 2017 Africa Twin features a high-tensile strength steel subframe, a curb weight of 511 pounds, a torque control system and a six-speed transmission. Tear up the desert landscape, tour through the Pacific Northwest, or hit Pacific Coast Highway the proper way. The Africa Twin is your partner in crime.
Triumph Tiger 800 Xcx
No bike list is complete without the addition of a Triumph. Point-in-case being this Tiger 800 Xcx, powered by a liquid-cooled DOHC three-cylinder 800cc engine. It’s hard to embrace the spirit of adventure while riding one of these beauties. The XCx is built for longer rides, now offering three different rider modes that cater to specific trips, a Triumph Traction Control feature for a tailored experience, and a dedicated trip computer to keep everything logged for future reference .
It’s hard not to fall in love with a Triumph anyway, especially an off-road friendly version with 95hp, up to nine inches of suspension travel in the front and 8.5 inches in the rear, and a tubular steel trellis frame. The bike also weighs in at 432 pounds and comes with an LCD multifunctional digital instrument display on the dash.
Yamaha Super Tenere
Complete with a small yet powerful 1199cc parallel twin engine, the Yamaha Super Tenere gets you up and going without hesitation but remains highly-capable in those windy mountain roads thanks to the engine’s reduced mass. The bike’s traction control also regulates fuel injection, ignition timing, and throttle valve opening that works to keep things smooth and operational throughout the journey.
Keeping you safe is also the Super Tenere’s antilock braking system and unified braking system, cruise control for those longer cross-continent journeys, and adjustable seat and low maintenance drive shaft. And for optimal acceleration and control, Yamaha also included their advanced fuel injection technology.
Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro
Ducati doesn’t mess around even when it comes to adventure motorcycles. Take this Multistrada for instance, complete with a liquid-cooled Ducati L-Twin cylinder 160hp engine boasting an 1198cc displacement. This bike reaches new heights in the world of two-wheeled travel, placing significant power in the hands of you, the adventurous spirit.
Alongside its impressive engine, the 1200 Enduro also features a 30-liter fuel tank and spoked wheels with up to 8 inches of travel. And since’s it’s 2017, riders can also pair their Ducati with the accompanying Multistrada Link app that documents each ride and provides valuable specs such as speed, lean angle, fuel consumption and power.