KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R: $17,999
The addition of the R to the KTM 1290 targets a more dirt-worthy machine with suspension, steering damper, brakes and weight that transform the machine into a 16-horsepower, six-speed and electronically advanced two-wheeled Trophy Truck. In its class the machine is light, chain-driven and has optimized stiffness through the chassis and swingarm for handling gains. The Bosch MSC assistance package has a lean-sensitive cornering ABS. If necessary, it can be switched off or placed in off-road mode. MTC allows four different levels of traction slip at the rear wheel and reacts immediately if the rotational speed of the rear wheel is disproportionate to the riding situation. Its unfueled weight is 478 pounds.
TRIUMPH TIGER EXPLORER XC/XR: $18,400–$20,400
Triumph took its 1215cc inline triple and honed it into eight different machines in the Explorer XC and XR line. 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 ride modes that expand the usability via a user-programmable setting where you 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.
APRILIA CAPONORD RALLY 1200: $16,199
Aprilia’s Caponord Rally 1200 is wrapped around their 1197cc, 90-degree V-twin motor that produces 125 horsepower. The Caponord Rally has three tiers of traction control and three power modes, as well as ABS that can be manipulated by the rider. Aprilia fits the Caponord 1200 with ADD, a semi-active suspension system that automatically alters itself based on road surface and riding style.
BMW R1200GS ADVENTURE: $18,695
This is the flagship of the adventure world and BMW’s ADV line. The powerplant of the 1200GSA is a twin-cam, liquid-cooled boxer motor. It’s painted with electronics, including ABS at the base level, and has options for ride modes that modify power, traction and suspension. In BMW verbiage, “adventure” 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.
BMW R1200GS: $16,495
BMW completely redesigned the Boxer motor three years ago, and it received a new powerplant that was smoother, faster and more reliable. The chassis is unique in the motorcycle world with a drive shaft 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 premium package pushes the price up with cruise control, electronic ride modes and more. A more typical build is $19,445.
BMW R NINET SCRAMBLER: $14,400
While the R nineT is considered a naked bike, it really helped to spearhead the scrambler phenomenon. BMW’s R NineT Scrambler is a stripped-down adventure bike fit with an old-school, 1200cc, air-cooled, boxer motor with minimalist equipment, twin exhausts and a riding position that’s dirt-oriented.
DUCATI MULTISTRADA 1200 ENDURO: $21,295
Ducati’s Multistrada 1200 Enduro is a beautiful machine that bristles with technology, high-end looks and a pinch of adventure appeal for the riders looking to explore. The Enduro has a 19-inch front wheel, a double-sided swingarm, increased suspension travel, more ground clearance, a wider range to the gear ratios and it carries almost 8 gallons of fuel. In full force, the Ducati produces 160 horsepower.
DUCATI 1200 PIKES PEAK: $23,995
The Pikes Peak is a super-high-performance brother to the 1200 Enduro. It comes fit with an Ohlins fork, a TTX36 rear damper, superlight carbon fiber components and a Termignoni carbon silencer. Big power through the double-variable valve timing is further managed with ABS cornering, Ducati wheel control and the Skyhook suspension, which communicates with the Bosch inertial platform.
HONDA VFR1200X: $15,999
The VRF1200X finds life resting in limbo between the adventure category and full-touring bikes. It’s compact compared to a six-cylinder Gold Wing, but the 1237cc V-four is a substantial 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 traction control is tagged Selectable Torque Control, and it has ABS as standard equipment. The frame is aluminum and the windscreen can be raised and lowered with one hand.
MOTO GUZZI STELVIO 1200 NTX: $15,990
The Stelvio is street-oriented, but the Guzzi is sturdy and well designed for long trips on dirt roads. It’s molded around a modern version of Guzzi’s 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.
YAMAHA SUPER TENERE: $16,199
Yamaha set the tone being the first ADV machine that was equipped with traction control and a road-race-worthy motor strapped in a chassis adorned with adventure bike goods. The Super Tenere is fast and has a very dirt-oriented feel to the rider ergonomics. The 1199cc parallel twin belts out strong mid-to-top power via its 270-degree crankshaft. A button on the dash allows you to alter or disable traction control (for dirt guys who praise the importance of being able to lock up the rear wheel on a two-track). Electronically adjusted suspension with four preload settings, three damping presets and an additional seven fine-tuning damping adjustments allows for easily adjusted suspension to meet the needs of the rider, passenger and the amount of cargo and terrain.
KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R: $14,699
The KTM 1090 Adventure R offers a more dirt-worthy combination for the ADV rider. It has superb power-to-weight ratio and ride dynamics. It weighs in at 503 pounds while carrying 6 gallons of fuel, making it one of the lightest in the category. The suspension is WP, has 220mm of travel, uses a tubular trellis frame and an open lattice swingarm. With 125 horsepower, the smaller-capacity engine churns out competitive power, has traction control (TC) with four different ride modes, ABS and a slipper clutch.
BMW S1000XR: $16,350
The BMW S1000XR is an extremely high-performance street bike that can deal with hacked-up roads and long trips on questionable terrain. It lacks the dirt-going abilities of the GS line, but with its 160-horsepower, inline four-cylinder motor, it pumps out big power and reacts like a full-blown sport bike. The selection of ride modes is limited to street and rain.
HONDA AFRICA TWIN: $13,299
The Africa Twin is a gigantic hit built with the latest in electronic features like ABS, traction control and Honda’s 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 in front 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.
SUZUKI V-STROM 1000 ABS: $12,699
Last year Suzuki graced us with the new V-Strom 1000, equipped with a strong V-twin motor and good suspension. On the electronic side, the Suzuki is more pedestrian than most of the other adventure machines, 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.
DUCATI MULTISTRADA 950: $13,995
While it wears the clothes of a canyon carver, the Multistrada 950 has the goods to challenge the lighter facets of the ADV world. Powered by a liquid-cooled, twin, 937cc powerplant that pushes out 113 horsepower, the Multistrada 950 is economical on fuel, it’s lightweight via the trellis frame, and the aluminum subframe caters to a more street-happy environment, yet it will take on minimalist dirt with its brilliant Ducati looks and an appetite for fun.
BMW F800GS ADVENTURE: $13,895
BMW F800’s heart is an 85-horsepower parallel twin and then is wrapped with adventure-targeted goodies. Leading this list is a 6.3-gallon fuel tank and a more protected rider compartment with a taller windscreen and a saddle designed for the ADV crowd. The adventure version also has an upgraded handlebar, seat and pegs, a 21-inch spoked front wheel, an 18-inch spoked rear wheel, plus a number of guards, and including ones that double as pannier mounts. The premium package has a number of electronic upgrades, including heated grips, cruise control and traction control.
BMW F800GS: $12,495
Bred to be a dirt-worthy twin-cylinder adventure bike, the BMW F800GS has a compact motor (built in cooperation with Rotax). It’s fit with a 21-inch spoked wheel in front and a 17-incher in the rear. The standard suspension travel strokes out at over 9 inches in front and 8.5 in the rear, but there’s a shorter option for riders who 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.
DUCATI SCRAMBLER DESERT SLED: $11,395
The Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled is one of those bikes that makes you want to ride. The basic machine is a stripped-down, 803cc V-twin with an old-school scrambler appeal. It’s a fun bike to ride on dirt or street because it’s smaller and more agile than the fully dressed ADV machines. The fit and finish are brilliant, and the design team gets an A+ for building a machine that simply looks wicked and makes you want to ride. Ducati offers the Scrambler in several versions—the new Desert Sled being the most dirt-oriented and the Classic a touch more pedestrian.
TRIUMPH TIGER 800XC: $12,500
The Triumph Tiger has etched out a strong following in the adventure world. It’s the engine that drives the excitement factor, since it’s fast, revvy and fun. There are four different Tigers. The XR and XRX are the two more street-oriented models with cast wheels and a lower seat height. The XC and XCX are the dirt-oriented machines. 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.
BMW F700GS: $9995
Tagged a 700, this model is powered by the same 798cc motor that comes in the F800GS. They have modified the tuning and softened everything so it’s more rideable. 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, like the 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.
HUSQVARNA 701 ENDURO: $11,299
The Husky 701 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. The power has moved up the scale from 67 horsepower to a potent 74 horsepower. The stripped chassis is rather naked in the heavily accessorized bikes in this group, but the Husky caters more to the dirt purist than the touring elitist.
HONDA NC700X: $7699
While it caters more to the street world than dirt, the NC700X has a 670cc parallel-twin motor that’s totally efficient. It gets incredible fuel mileage at 70 mpg, has 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.
KTM 690 ENDURO R: $10,799
This is a crossover bike, being a strong dual-sporter and a bare-bones ADV machine, since it lacks the accouterments of the high-end exploration machines. The KTM 690 has one of the most impressive single-cylinder motors in the world. With broad power, the 690 Enduro is 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 let you conquer some incredible terrain.
BMW G650GS: $7995
This is BMW’s cost-effective entry in the adventure world. The bike has a single-cylinder motor that is produced at a BMW facility in Asia (helps control the price). The 650 runs on regular pump gas and can get 74 mpg, so even with a gas tank that holds just 3.7 gallons, it can cover some serious terrain. The 650 has cast wheels, with a 19-inch rim in front and a 17-inch in the rear, but you can get the spoke wheels for an additional premium.
HONDA XR650L: $6690
This is perhaps the strongest dirt-oriented ADV bike on the planet. It’s virtually unchanged since the early ’90s, and the suspension is still surprisingly good on the trail. The ergonomics are dated, but the bike works well and has electric start. It struggles at higher speeds without wind protection, but it is a riot in the dirt. Fitting up luggage and a windscreen is not brain surgery, and both give the Honda a strong face for the dirt ADV pilot.
KAWASAKI KLR650: $6699 ($6999 CAMO)
The Kawasaki KLR650 can be considered the most affordable and popular adventure bike in the motorcycle landscape. The KLR is smooth, albeit not overly powerful, but it carries a big fuel payload (6.1 gallons) and can easily be fit with various luggage packages. Prior to 2008 the KLR had a large adventure fan base, then it was painted with a new frame-mount fairing, and it earned an official identity as an excellent price-minded adventure machine.
SUZUKI V-STROM 650XT: $9299
Suzuki V-Strom 650 has an affordable price and durability, making it a good dirt-road bike, but it needs more protection to venture into rougher terrain. It makes good power, has decent suspension and has a good-handling side for both street and dirt. The motor hangs low and has to be fit with armor if any off-road is in your DNA.
SUZUKI DR650S: $6499
The Suzuki DR650S is stuck right between the more dirt-oriented Honda XR650L and the pavement-friendly Kawasaki KLR650. It’s equipped with a broad powerband, but the suspension is more road-worthy than dirt-happy. It’s stripped down, lacking a fairing or any comfort features, but can be modded with some imagination and a good look at the aftermarket.
BMW G 310 GS: $4995
This is BMW’s entry-level machine that is priced to enhance riders towards the BMW platform. The engine is a liquid-cooled, single-cylinder six-speed that makes peak power at 10,500 rpm. It’s wrapped in a tubular steel frame, has an upside-down fork and 7 inches of travel. It comes with two-channel ABS braking and a 19-inch front wheel that mates to a 17-inch rear. It weighs 373 pounds fully fueled up.
The all-new CRF250L Rally gets the same updated engine as the standard 250L via a larger throttle body, while a new muffler and an updated airbox enhance the bike’s low- and midrange power. Giving it the adventure necessities is the larger fuel tank, new Dakar-style bodywork, handguards, a windscreen, skid plate and increased suspension travel. ABS braking is an option.
KAWASAKI VERSYS-X 300: $5399
The Versys-X is Kawasaki’s newest machine designed for adventure touring. It’s powered by a 296cc parallel twin which is fed through a digital fuel injection system. It comes equipped with a 41mm Showa fork, a 19″ front wheel, 17″ rear wheel and a 4.5-gallon fuel tank that is good for a long exploration ride. An ABS models can be had for $300 more.