2016 ADVENTURE BIKE BUYER’S GUIDE

01 KTM 1200 SuperAdventureweb

For the 2016 dual-sport buyer’s guide (690cc and below), click here.

KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE: $20,499
This is the most technologically advanced bike in KTM’s growing line. After designing the 1190R to be as dirt-capable as possible for a bike in this class, the company released the 1290 to appease more pavement-oriented adventure riders. It has more of everything, including power and weight. The displacement is 1301cc and horsepower is said to be 160, which might sound absurd for an adventure bike, but a number of electronic features make it manageable. It electronically alters suspension, power output, traction control, ABS and even has things like Hill Hold to keep it from rolling backward. The bike is fully decked out, even with cruise control and saddlebags at the base price.

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02 Tiger Explorer1200webTRIUMPH TIGER EXPLORER: TBA
Triumph took its 1215cc in-line triple and built eight configurations of the big Tiger Explorer. The XR models are slightly more street-oriented, while the XC, XCX, XCX Low and XCA are different option packages with more of an off-road slant. With the Tiger Explorers, Triumph has taken the concept of Ride Modes a step farther by offering a user-programmable setting where you get to choose your own level of performance, traction control, ABS and suspension. The top-of-the-line XCA has an electronically controlled windscreen, CNC-machined footpegs and other upgrades.

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03 Aprilia Caponord RallywebAPRILIA CAPONORD RALLY 1200: $15,699
Aprilia might be the first Italian motorcycle-maker to come to mind, but the Caponord Rally 1200 has just as much style and sophistication as anything else made south of the Alps. It has a 1197cc 90-degree V-twin motor that is said to produce 125 horsepower. The Caponord Rally has three levels of traction control and three power modes, as well as ABS that can be turned off by the rider. Aprilia also is proud of ADD, a semi-active suspension system that automatically alters itself based on road surface and riding style. The Caponord dates back about three years, but was substantially updated in 2015.

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04 BMW R1200GS AdventurewebBMW R1200GS ADVENTURE: $18,695
This is the flagship of the BMW line, if not the whole adventure bike world. At the core, the 1200GSA has the twin-cam, liquid-cooled boxer motor. It’s surrounded by electronics that include ABS at the base level and has options for ride modes that alter power, traction and suspension. In BMW nomenclature, the “Adventure” suffix means the model has beefed-up suspension, protection, more fuel and, in this case, even a different frame. Like most BMWs, the base model is somewhat difficult to find. Dealers more commonly stock the premium package with accessories that bring the price to $22,045.

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05 BMW r1200GSwebBMW R1200GS: $16,495
When BMW redesigned the Boxer motor three years ago, it got more than just a few changes. It became an entirely new powerplant that was smoother, faster and more reliable. The chassis is still unlike anything else in the motorcycle world, with a driveshaft that is isolated from the suspension and a single-shock Telelever fork. There are several packages offered that have progressively increasing electronic features, but even the base models has ABS. The more commonly found premium package pushes the price up to $19,445 with things like cruise control, electronic ride modes and more.

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06 BMW RNineT ScramblerwebBMW R NINET SCRAMBLER: TBA
A few years ago, the “naked bike” phenomenon spread rapidly throughout the sport-bike world on pavement. Now, the off-road equivalent is the “scrambler” movement. The new BMW R NineT Scrambler is a stripped-down adventure bike aimed at shorter rides than most of the fully equipped bike in this segment. The NineT has an old-school 1200cc air-cooled boxer motor with minimalist equipment, twin exhausts and a riding position that’s fairly dirt-ready.

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07 MULTISTRADA1200 ENDUROwebDUCATI MULTISTRADA 1200 ENDURO: $21,295
Riding a standard Multistrada in the dirt makes you feel a little like the vandals who sacked Rome. It’s a beautiful machine, and the thought of scratching it up seems sacrilegious. Now there’s a version that’s more off-road-ready called the Enduro. It has a 19-inch front wheel, a double-sided swingarm, more suspension travel, more ground clearance, different gear ratios and can carry almost 8 gallons of fuel. The standard Multistrada is still available, and both have all the most advanced electronic features in the world with sensors that tell the 90-degree V-twin motor virtually everything. In full force, the Ducati produces 160 horsepower. There’s also a Pikes Peak edition for 2016.

 

 

2016 Honda VFR1200XHONDA VFR1200X: $15,599
This machine blurs the boundary between the adventure category and full touring bikes. Compared to a six-cylinder Gold Wing, it’s small, but the 1237cc V-four is a big machine for a dirt road. It has a driveshaft, and Honda offers several transmission options, including a six-speed manual gearbox, a DCT automatic and push-button shifting. The wheels are a 17/19-inch combo and are spoked. Honda also offers its version of traction control, which it called Selectable Torque Control. It as ABS as standard equipment. The frame is aluminum, and the windscreen can be raised and lowered with one hand.

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09 Moto Guzzi stelviowebMOTO GUZZI STELVIO 1200 NTX: $15,990
The Stelvio is named for a pass in the Italian Alps with 84 hairpin corners at an altitude of over 9000 feet. That gives you an idea of what inspired the bike, which is decidedly more street-oriented than many bikes in this class. But, the Guzzi is sturdy and well-armored for long trips on dirt roads. It’s built around a modern version of Guzzi’s iconic transverse V-twin motor. The Stelvio comes standard with an 8.5-gallon gas tank, ABS, traction control, aluminum side bags, handguards, adjustable windscreen and saddle height, cylinder guards, spotlights, and an aluminum sump guard, making it extremely well-equipped before you bolt on the first accessory.

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10 Yamaha SuperTenerewebYAMAHA SUPER TENERE: $15,090
Yamaha was the first kid on the block with traction control and a true superbike motor in an adventure bike. Now it has plenty of company, but the Super T is standing up to the increase in competition well. It’s still fast and has a very dirt-oriented riding position. The 1199cc parallel twin delivers a satisfying beat with its 270-degree crankshaft. A button on the dash allows you to alter or disable traction control for full-power slides on dirt roads for those with strong hearts. Last year Yamaha added the ES model with electronic suspension and a price tag of $16,190. Now there’s also a 60th Anniversary model in yellow and black for $500 more.

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11 KTM 1190 AdventureRwebKTM 1190 ADVENTURE R: $16,999
KTM is a dirt bike company, so it makes sense that it would pride itself on having the most dirt-oriented big adventure bike. The 1190 is excellent off-road and has ABS and traction control that actually help rather than hinder off-road—most others have to be disabled in the dirt. There are actually two 1190s at the same price. The R model has 30mm more suspension travel and is correspondingly taller. It also has a lower windscreen and more crash protection. Both bikes have the 75-degree V-twin and 150 horsepower with a six-speed gearbox and a slipper clutch. And both have spoked wheels with a 12-incher in the front.

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12 BMW S1000XRwebBMW S1000XR: $16,350
The adventure bike world is now being subdivided into very specialized categories. The BMW S1000XR fits into the same group as the Ducati Multistrada and the KTM 1290 Adventure. It’s an extremely high-performance street bike that can deal with bad roads and trips into unimproved terrain. It doesn’t have the dirt-going abilities of the GS line, but with its 160-horsepower, inline, four-cylinder motor, it can hang with full-cry sport bikes on the pavement. The selection of ride modes is limited to street and rain, but they make alterations to power and suspension

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13 Honda CRF1000L Africa TwinwebHONDA AFRICA TWIN: $12,999
In Europe, the original Africa Twin of the ’90s was a huge hit, but somehow it never made it stateside. Now it has, but this is an all-new bike, built with the latest in electronic features like ABS and traction control, which the company calls Honda Selectable Torque Control. The motor is a 998cc parallel twin with a 270-degree crank and a Unicam head design reminiscent of the CRF50R. There’s a spoked 21-inch front wheel and an 18-incher in the rear. The standard transmission is a six-speed, but you can get it with a DCT automatic transmission for $13,699.

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14 Suzuki Vstrom DL1000AwebSUZUKI V-STROM 1000 ABS: $12,699
Last year Suzuki stunned us with the new V-Strom 1000, which was massively improved over the previous version. It has a strong V-twin motor and surprisingly good suspension. On the electronic front, the Suzuki is simpler than many of the other adventure flagships, but it does come standard with ABS and Suzuki’s version of traction control. The Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS Adventure is an upscale version with frame guards, hand protectors, saddlebags and other items. It sells for $13,999.

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15 BMW F800GS AdventurewebBMW F800GS ADVENTURE: $13,895
BMW took its 85-horsepower parallel twin and gave it the Adventure treatment. In this case, it means the bike got a 6.3-gallon fuel tank and a more protected rider compartment with a taller windscreen and a different seat. The Adventure version also has a number of guards, including ones that double as pannier mounts. It also has an upgraded handlebar, seat and pegs, a 21-inch spoked front wheel, an 18-inch spoked rear wheel. The $14,695 premium package includes a number of electronic upgrades, including heated grips, cruise control and traction control.

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16 BMW F800GSwebBMW F800GS: $12,295
This is one of the most dirt-worthy twin-cylinder adventure bikes, even in its most basic configuration. It has a fairly compact motor that was built in cooperation with Rotax, and comes with a 21-inch spoked wheel in front and a 17-incher in the rear. The standard suspension travel is over 9 inches in the front and 8.5 in the rear, but there’s a shorter option for riders that want a lower seat height. Combining that with a lower-seat option can bring the seat height down to 32.5 inches. There are various packages available that add in traction control and other upgrades, but even the hard-to-find base model comes standard with ABS.

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17 scramblerSixty2webSCRAMBLER DUCATI: $8495
We give Ducati all the credit in the world for coming up with this one. The Scrambler is one of those bikes that is whatever you want it to be. The basic machine is a stripped-to-the-bone 803cc V-twin with an old-school dual-sport look. It’s a fun bike to ride on dirt or street because it’s so small. In fact, it feels smaller than a full-fledged dirt bike, so it’s easy to get carried away. Just be aware that it would need some modification to do all the things you want to do with it, particularly in the suspension department. It comes in several looks, and for 2015 there’s a baby Scrambler called the Sixty2, with a 399cc version of the same air-cooled V-twin motor. It sells for $7995.

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18 TigerXCfrontwebTRIUMPH TIGER 800XC: $12,500
Everyone loves the motor in the Triumph 800. The in-line triple is fast, revvy and fun. It has now proliferated into four different Tigers. The XR and the XRX are the two more street-oriented models with cast wheels and a lower seat height. The XC and XCX are the dirty ones. They have spoke wheels, with a 21-incher in front (as opposed the 19-inch front wheel on the XR and XRX), longer suspension travel and more adjustability. The XCX model is an upscale version with cruise control and various guards. It starts at $13,700.

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19 BMW F700GSwebBMW F700GS: $9995
Even though it claims to be a 700, this model is powered by the same 798cc motor that comes in the F800GS. In this configuration, the motor is in a milder state of tune, and the 700 designation positions the bike in a less-expensive category. It has shorter suspension travel and cast wheels with a 19-inch in front. The styling of the 700 is completely different from the 800, but beyond the motor, it shares some elements with its big brother, like a trellis frame and a long list of accessories. This bike wasn’t designed with extended dirt use in mind, but can handle itself off-road.

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20 Husqvarna 701 EndurowebHUSQVARNA 701 ENDURO: $11,299
This is probably the most powerful bike to ever bear the Husqvarna name in the U.S. It is based on the KTM 690 Enduro, but has completely different bodywork. The motor has a single overhead cam with a two-spark-plug ignition and a slipper clutch. It’s said to produce 67 horsepower, but what makes it so impressive is the torque, which starts low and pulls hard. The stripped chassis makes it a slight misfit among the heavily accessorized bikes in this group, but the Husky caters more to the dirt purist than to credit-card touring.

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2016 Honda NC700XHONDA NC700X: $7499
This is the most practical in the adventure world, if not the whole motorcycle world. The NC700X has a 670cc parallel-twin motor that’s incredibly efficient. It has the fuel-mileage record of any adventure bike we’ve tested, just shy of 70 mpg. There’s an integrated luggage compartment in front of the seat and excellent wind protection. And, the price is far less than anything in its class. For a little more, you can get it with the automatic DCT transmission. The drawback is that the NC isn’t especially capable in the dirt, with limited suspension and ground clearance. Still, the NC has a big selection of aftermarket parts that can help on that front.

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22 KTM690 EnduroLFwebKTM 690 ENDURO R: $10,700
This is one of those bikes that crosses over between the dual-sport and adventure bike categories. The KTM 690 has one of the most impressive single-cylinder motors in the world, with power that many big multi-cylinder bikes can’t match. It can’t claim the title of most powerful single anymore because of the 2016 KTM Duke 690, which gets a new head and even more output this year. But the 690 Enduro is still impressive. It’s a very minimalist way of looking at the adventure ride, with little in the way of comfort or storage space, but it has excellent dirt credentials and will turn anyone into a wheelie outlaw.

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P90060193BMW G650GS: $7995
This is the gateway drug to the BMW GS line of adventure bikes. The bike has a single-cylinder motor with lineage that can be traced back more than a decade. Currently, the motor is produced at a BMW facility in Asia in order to keep the price down, making it the most affordable BMW that isn’t a scooter. The 650 runs on regular pump gas and can get 74 mpg, so even with a fuel tank that holds just 3.7 gallons, it can go a long way on not much money. The 650 has cast wheels with a 19-inch rim in front and a 17 in the rear, but you can get the spoke wheels for a $350 premium.

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2016 Honda XR650LHONDA XR650L: $6690
Is this an adventure bike? Absolutely. It might even be the first adventure bike. There is a timeless perfection to the Honda 650L. Unchanged since the early ’90s, the XR long ago reached dirt-icon status with a torquey (but not especially fast), air-cooled motor. The suspension is still surprisingly good on the trail. The ergonomics feel dated, but the bike works well and has electric start. It reminds us of the Scott Summers years in off-road racing every time we see it. It’s a little bit of an odd mix on group rides with bigger bikes. It struggles at higher speeds without wind protection, but it will run away from them in the dirt.

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25 Kawasaki KLR650webKAWASAKI KLR650: $6599
We know several BMW owners who have a Kawasaki KLR650 in the garage as a spare. Why not? They’re affordable, reliable and will fit places a bigger machine won’t go. The KLR isn’t very fast, but it carries a lot of fuel (6.1 gallons) and has space for all kinds of luggage. Before 2008, the KLR was already a hit as an adventure bike. We just didn’t call it that. Then it got a new frame-mount fairing without much increase in price, and it earned an official identity as the world’s best budget adventurer. This year there’s a new camo model (shown) for $6899.

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26 Suzuki V-Strom 650XTwebSUZUKI V-STROM 650 ABS: $8299
Suzuki probably didn’t know exactly what an adventure bike was when the first V-Strom 650 was built back in 2004. It was an odd variation of the SV650 V-twin sport bike, but with a more upright riding position and better wind protection. But, the V-Strom has since been elected to an esteemed place in the adventure bike community, while the SV is long gone. The V-Strom’s affordable price and durability make it a good dirt-road bike, but it needs more protection to venture into rougher terrain. The V-Strom 650XT ABS has different bodywork and more of an adventurous look for $100 more.

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27 Suzuki DR650SwebSUZUKI DR650S: $6499
Among the 650 singles, the Suzuki is in the middle between the slightly more dirt-oriented Honda XR650L and the pavement-oriented Kawasaki KLR650. It has a little more motor than the Honda, but the suspension isn’t quite as dirt-capable. Likewise, it will out-pull the Kawasaki slightly in roll-on acceleration, but is stripped without the fairing and comfort factor. It might look like the same type of bike as the Husqvarna 701 Enduro or the KTM 690, but it’s not. Those are much more modern, much more powerful and much more expensive.

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