2021 ADVENTURE BIKE BUYER’S GUIDE

Adventure bikes once were little more that status symbols for the road-riding elite. Now, there’s a growing movement which insists on true off-road capability. The 2021 crop of adventure bikes from off-road oriented makers like Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Husqvarna, Suzuki and Yamaha have been joined by others who have cracked the code for off-road performance. BMW, Ducati, Moto Guzzi, Triumph, MV Agusta and even Ural offer legitimate bikes for off-road touring. Here are the ones worth checking out.

KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R: $18,599 (2020 model)
The 1290 Super Adventure Rs emerged from KTM’s lineage in the dirt world; its WP suspension (48mm fork, 220mm of travel), steering damper, adjustable footpegs, brakes and trellis chassis work are proof. It is chain driven and powered by a 160-horsepower, 6-speed engine with advanced electronics. It weighs 478 pounds (dry), has a Motorcycle Stability Control (MSC) package with multi-mode Combined ABS and multi-mode traction control (MTC), including Sport, Street, Off-road and Rain settings that allow the rider to fine-tune the power application in any situation. It uses turn-by-turn navigation on the TFT dash and now features a Power Assist Slipper clutch.

KTM 1290 ADVENTURE S: $18,599
(2020 model)
This is KTM’s more street-biased 1290 and uses alloy wheels that are lightweight and fit with a 19/17 combo of Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tires. The dashboard is organized on a 6.5-inch TFT display. In addition to standard data (speed, revs, fuel level etc.), the computer can show different ride modes, ambient air and oil temperature, on-board voltage, trip info, average speed and fuel consumption stats, plus range and distance to next service. The suspension comes with four settings—Comfort, Street, Sport, and Off-Road—and adjusts to real-time riding via an SCU (Suspension Control Unit) that adapts the damping to the terrain.

 

DUCATI MULTISTRADA 1260 ENDURO: Prices start at $22,095
Ducati’s Multistrada 1260 Enduro puts out just under 160 horsepower and sports the Quick-Shift, hands-free, cruise and multi-media system. It features Vehicle Hold Control, Traction Control, Ducati’s Cornering ABS/DTC and Wheelie Control. It has spoked wheels and a double-sided swingarm, and both suspension ends come equipped with electronic compression and rebound damping, as well as DSS (Ducati Skyhook Suspension), which is completely adjustability using an intuitive HMI interface that can be set to 400 different configurations.

DUCATI MULTISTRADA 1260 S GRAND TOUR: $23,295 (2020 model)
This machine is street-oriented, with a Superbike-inspired chassis and 158-horsepower, eight-valve, 1260cc, DVT-equipped engine. The 1260 S Grand Tour features a Kayaba 48mm USD fork, a Sachs rear shock, the Ducati Touring pack (panniers, side stand, heated grips) and LED fog lights. Like the other 1260s, it gets Quick Shift and features Vehicle Hold Control, Traction Control, and Ducati’s Cornering ABS/DTC) and Wheelie Control.

DUCATI MULTISTRADA 1260 PIKES PEAK: $25,795 (2020 model)
The Ducati Pikes Peak is a high-performance alter ego to the 1260 Enduro. A very high-end Ohlins fork, an Ohlins TTX36 rear damper and a superlight, EU-approved, Ducati Performance by Termignoni carbon silencer highlight this beauty.  It makes considerable power through the double-variable valve timing and is managed with ABS cornering, Ducati Wheelie Controls and four available riding modes.

BMW R 1250 GS: Base price $17,995
The more tarmac-oriented of the big-boy BMWs, the R 1250 GS comes with three ride modes, Dynamic Traction Control, and Hill Start Control. It has a height-adjustable seat (seat heaters are optional), cast-aluminum wheels, ABS, an adjustable windshield and connectivity with the 6.5-inch TFT display. The lights are LED. It comes with a steering damper, has an enduro package available (engine protection, handlebar risers, sport suspension) and, as with the entire BMW line, there are available upgrades for just about every facet of the machine.

BMW R1250 GS ADVENTURE: Base price $20,345
This is the more dirt focused of the BMW GS 1250 line. The GS Adventure 1250 has the 136-horsepower Boxer engine that’s a twin-cam, liquid-cooled 6-speeder fit with a BMW ShiftCam variable camshaft control system and full LED lighting. The Adventure has a 7.9-gallon fuel cell, a 6.5-inch TFT display, three ride modes (with more available), spoked wheels, a steering damper, 8.3 inches of travel out of the BMW Telelever Central spring strut front suspension, and 8.7 inches from the single-sided swingarm with BMW Paralever, WAD-strut rear suspension.

BMW R 1250 ADVENTURE EDITION 40 YEARS: Base price $21,895
For four decades, the GS has represented a longing for adventure. The R 1250 GS Adventure in the 40 Years GS edition celebrates this spirit and pays homage to the GS history. Wrapped in striking black and yellow, it is reminiscent of the iconic R 100 GS “Bumblebee” and impresses with its state-of-the-art technology and equipment. Standard data is a TFT color display, full LED headlight, Dynamic Traction Control, AVBS, three ride modes and, of course, the ability to upgrade with a host of options.

TRIUMPH TIGER 1200 XR: Base price $16,500
The Triumph Tiger Explorer 1200 RX is Triumph’s ADV machine line that targets a more on-road approach to adventure riding. The Explorer XR model features a 1215cc triple engine and delivers its power through a final shaft drive. It comes with three riding modes—Road, Off-Road and Rain—cruise control, switchable ABS, traction control, cast wheels, Brembo brakes, WP adjustable suspension, an adjustable seat and electronically controlled adjustable windscreen.

TRIUMPH TIGER 1200 XRX: Base price $18,900
Triumph’s Tiger Explorer 1200 XRX/XRX LRH features a full-color TFT display, key-less ignition, heated grips and four riding modes—Road, Rain, Off-Road and Sport. It uses Triumph’s Semi-Active Suspension and has optimized cornering ABS and cornering traction control. There is a low ride height model available. It uses an electrically adjustable windscreen and is fit with adjustable WP suspension.  The engine is a 6-speeder. The bike has a 5.2-gallon fuel capacity and has heated grips.

TRIUMPH TIGER 1200 XRT: Base price $21,300
The Tiger 1200 XRT shares features with the base-model XR and XRX, but includes Triumph’s shift assist, is lighter, uses adaptive cornering lighting, and a titanium and carbon fiber-wrapped Arrow silencer. There are five riding modes—Road, Rain, Off-road, Sport and Rider Programmable—along with hill-hold control, heated grips and seats, and an electronically adjustable screen.

TRIUMPH TIGER 1200 XCX: Base price $19,700
The XC line is more dirt-oriented, thanks to the new Off-Road Pro riding mode that turns off the ABS and traction control for enhanced dirt driveability. The XCX pumps out 139 horsepower, has five riding modes—Road, Rain, Sport, Off-Road and Off-Toad Pro—is lighter by 11 pounds (silencer, crankshaft, battery, flywheel), and uses spoked wheels, which are more dirt-oriented.

TRIUMPH TIGER 1200 XCA: Base price $22,000
This is Triumph’s big kahuna. The new 1200 is lighter, has adaptive cornering lighting, Triumph shift assist, a high-end Arrow exhaust and six riding modes, including Rider Programmable and Off-Road Pro. This is an advanced off-road setting that gives the rider maximum control over his ride precisely when he needs it. Basically, Off-Road Pro switches off ABS and traction control and sets the semi-active suspension setup to Off-Road so you can really push your motorcycling to the limit.

YAMAHA SUPER TENERE ES: $16,299
Yamaha’s 2021 Super Ténéré is powered by an 1199cc parallel twin and is a shaft-drive 6-speed that uses a twin downdraft throttle body for control and acceleration. It has a two-position Drive Mode, allowing the rider to adjust mapping for conditions, and has cruise control and traction control. The push-button, electronically adjusted suspension has four pre-load settings, three damping presets and an additional seven fine-tuning damping adjustments.

SUZUKI V-STROM 1050: $13,399 (2020 model)
Powered by a 90-degree 1037cc V-Twin, the 1050 V-Strom has four modes of traction control, three modes of power delivery and Suzuki’s easy-start system. The aluminum twin-spar frame controls flex and optimizes handling. The suspension is KYB, and this model is fit with cast-aluminum wheels, Bridgestone Battleax tires and Suzuki’s legendary handling.

SUZUKI V-STROM 1050XT: $14,799 (2020 model)
Suzuki’s V-Strom 1050XT features spoked wheels and makes power through a V-twin, ride-by-wire dual electronic throttle assembly, cruise control, traction control with four sensitivity modes, a three-mode Drive Mode selector, and the Easy-Start System that makes startups quick and easy. She comes with the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System (S.I.R.S.) that includes the updated Motion Track Anti-lock and Combination Brake System, Hill Hold Control System, Slope-Dependent Control System, and Load Dependent Control System that assists braking performance in a variety of conditions.

SUZUKI V-STROM 1050 XT ADVENTURE: $16,999 (2020 model)
This is Suzuki’s high-end adventure machine fit with a generous number of electronics, including a Traction Control System with four modes of adjustment and the Suzuki Drive Mode Selector (S-DMS) that lets the rider choose from three different engine power delivery characteristics. Included are Suzuki’s ADV-style, 37-liter aluminum panniers that attach to powder-coated, stainless-steel carriers. Built to be waterproof with rubber-sealing lids, these panniers have powder-coated interiors that prevent aluminum stains on cargo.

HONDA AFRICA TWIN: $14,399/DCT MODEL $15,199
The Honda Africa Twin has received a shot of more motor in 2020 via a new 1084cc engine spec that has a 6.4mm-longer stroke. This makes for better power and torque. The 2020 Africa Twin gets cruise control and a full 9.1 inches of front travel through Showa suspension. The frame lost 4 pounds, and the bike features a 6.5-inch, touch-panel, LCD, multi-information dash display. The DCT tranny is Honda’s automatic Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). Africa Twin models have the Throttle-By-Wire system (TBW) and Honda’s Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) that give the rider multiple levels of managing engine output and rear-wheel traction.

HONDA AFRICA TWIN ADVENTURE SPORTS ES: $17,199/17,999 DCT
The larger 1084cc Africa Twin Adventure Sports not only got a power increase last year, the frames lost weight. The Showa suspension is electronically controlled (Showa EERA-5 damping settings: Hard, Medium, Soft, Off-Road and Customizable). The bike has a new saddle, windscreen and a taller tapered aluminum handlebar. The Africa Twin’s Throttle-by-Wire system gives access to Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC). Here you can dial in the power delivery that you want. The fuel capacity is 6.5 gallons.

KAWASAKI VERSYS 1000 SE LT: $18,199
The Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT + features Kawasaki Electronic Control Suspension (KECS), Integrated riding modes, a Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KQS), Electronic Cruise Control and a TFT color meter. It’s fit with a slipper clutch, KCMF (modulates brake force and engine power), plus it has two power modes—Full and Low, allowing riders to select power delivery to suit their preference and riding conditions.

DUCATI MULTISTRADA 950/950 S SPOKED: Base price $14,495; S SPOKED $17,895
The Ducati Multistrada 950 is powered by a liquid-cooled, twin, 937cc powerplant with 113 horsepower. The S version (spoked wheels) is equipped with Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS), an Evo system (four riding modes, load conditions, number of riders and fine tuning for front or rear suspension), Ducati Quick Shift up and down (DQS), full-LED headlight with Ducati Cornering Lights (DCL), 5-inch color TFT display, Hands-Free system, Cruise Control and backlit handlebar controls.

TRIUMPH TIGER 900: $12,500
New to Triumph’s ADV line is the 900 Tiger. The 900cc triple uses a unique 1,3,2 firing order, makes 94 horsepower and comes fit with a torque-assist clutch, two riding modes and Marzocchi suspension fore and aft. The brakes are Brembo. The Tiger 900 holds 5.28 gallons of fuel and the seat height is adjustable. It uses a 5-inch TFT multi-functional instrument pack and cast alloy wheels—a 19-inch front and 17-inch rear.

TRIUMPH TIGER 900 RALLY: $15,000
The Tiger Triple 900 Rally most definitely targets the more dirt-oriented ADV rider via the spoked (21/17-inch) wheels and adjustable Showa suspension (9.44 inches front/9.05 inches rear). It has optimized cornering ABS, traction control, Pirelli Scorpion Rally tires, heated grips and four riding modes—Road, Rain, Sport, Off-Road—that help focus the 94 horsepower that the triple produces.

TRIUMPH TIGER 900 RALLY PRO: $16,700
The Rally Pro features everything that the Rally has along with My Triumph connectivity and a Bluetooth module enabling phone calls, music, turn-by-turn navigation and GoPro control. It also comes fit with Triumph shift assist (quick clutchless gear changes) and six riding modes (Road, Rain, Sport, Off-Road, Off-Road Pro and Rider Programmable), along with a heated seat and LED lighting.

KTM 890 ADVENTURE R RALLY: $19,999
This limited-edition machine is fit with state-of-the-art WP Pro Components, Nikasil-coated cylinders with a larger bore and a longer stroke, a 6-speed sequential gearbox, a high-end Akrapovic Slip-On Line titanium silencer (30 percent lighter, improved sound) and makes a big power gain over last year’s 790. The WP cone-valve fork features precision parts and cone-valve damping technology with serious dirt-worthy damping performance. The suspension has 30mm more travel than the 890 R’s.

KTM 890 ADVENTURE R: $14,199
KTM’S 890 Adventure R has an off-road persona and churns out a serious horsepower gain over last year’s 790. Ithas a 6-speed sequential gearbox and a compact parallel twin. It is fit with ABS, MTC and ride modes that are there to assist in a variety of conditions. MTC (Motorcycle Traction Control) is KTM’s lean-angle-sensitive traction-control system and the Rally mode unlocks almost instant throttle response and nine levels of wheel-slip control. It is equipped with dirt-worthy WP dampers, a steering damper and an adjustable low-profile windscreen.

MOTO GUZZI V85TT ADVENTURE 850: $11,990 STANDARD; $12,990 PREMIUM Graphics; $13,390 Standard
The classic Moto Guzzi V85 TT has an air-cooled, 853cc, fuel-injected, V-twin motor. It has three different riding modes—Road, Rain and Off-Road—and they correspond to unique mapping, ABS and traction-control calibration. It comes in three models: Premium Graphics, Standard and the Travel. The Travel model comes with panniers and a travel trunk.

BMW F 850 GS Adventure: Base price $14,545; SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS GS base price $14,945
BMW’s more off-road-oriented, 850-class adventure machine, the new 850 GS Adventure gets 90 horsepower out of the parallel-twin, water-cooled engine. The fuel tank holds 6.1 gallons. The wheels are cross-spoked, and the front is a 21-inch, preferred by the experienced off-road rider. The windshield is adjustable. There are two ride modes (Rain/Road), ABS, Dynamic Traction Control, and it comes with a rack and engine guards for protection.

BMW F 850 GS: Base price $13,545
The 850 GS makes strong power (90 horsepower) through the twin in-line engine. It comes fit with Automatic Stability Control (ASC) that regulates the power transmission to the rear wheel, while the standard Road and Rain Ride modes regulate the throttle response. You can upgrade and add the Pro mode and Dynamic ESA, which enhance the versatility and stability of the machine. The fuel tank is smaller on the standard GS (4.0 gallons). It uses spoked wheels, adjustable rear suspension, a tall windshield and a skid plate for the ignition.

TRIUMPH TIGER 850 SPORT: Base price $11,995
This is a new model that is more road-focused and features Triumph’s triple engine configuration. It makes 85 horsepower and comes with Marzocchi suspension fore and aft. It has an adjustable windscreen, two seat heights, a 5.2-gallon fuel tank, and electronics that offer switchable traction control and ABS.

MV AGUSTA LUSSO: TBA
MV Agusta is a company with true racing history. The Lusso is a high-end adventure bike with a 798cc three-cylinder motor producing 110 horsepower and comes in three models—the Lusso, Lusso SCS (with Smart Clutch) and the Limited-Edition RC SCS.  It has integrated MVICS electronics with full multi-map, ride-by-wire, eight-level traction control, and an up-and-down EAS 2.0 electronic gearbox.

BMW F 750GS: Base price $10,995/SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS GS base price: $11,395
The BMW F 750 GS gets 77 horsepower out of the parallel-twin engine. It uses a slipper clutch, has ABS braking, an on-board computer and, being more street-oriented, is fit with cast wheels (a 19-inch front and 17-inch rear). It has an LED headlight and selectable ride modes (Rain/Road) along with a host of options, including a new extra-low seat.

HONDA NC750X: $8099/$8899 DCT (2020 model)
This machine really rides the fence as a proper ADV machine. It is a whole lot more biased towards the street. It’s a SOHC, eight-valve parallel twin. It has two-level Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) and mode changes to the automatic Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). The suspension is Showa (though the travel is a paltry 5.5 inches). It uses cast-aluminum wheels, and has a 3.7-gallon, under-the-seat fuel tank for centralized mass.

URAL GEAR UP: $17,549
Ural’s Gear Up is a dirt-oriented, 750cc, opposed-twin sidecar motorcycle. It has two-wheel drive, reverse and a spare tire. It now has Keihin fuel injection. The gearbox is a 4-speed. It produces 41 horsepower and is shaft-driven. The sidecar is lockable and watertight. There’s an optional three-year warranty.

HUSQVARNA 701 ENDURO: $11,999
The Husqvarna 701 Enduro falls right in between a naked ADV machine and an overcharged dual-sport. It features a 74-horsepower engine that uses advanced electronics, a 50mm Keihin fuel injector and a 6-speed gearbox (fit with Easy Shift for seamless shifting without using the clutch), all wrapped around a trellis frame and a rear subframe that houses a 13-liter plastic fuel tank. The suspension is WP, which helps make the 701 Enduro quite adept in the dirt.

 

HUSQVARNA 701 ENDURO LR: $12,499
Husqvarna’s 701 Enduro LR mirrors the 701 Enduro, with the exception of the dual fuel tanks. Combined with the 13-liter (standard) rear subframe tank, the LR’s front tank adds an additional 12 liters of fuel capacity. It’s a single-piece construction made from impact-resistant polyamide. The fuel supply can be easily selected (while on board) with a handlebar-mounted switch, since each tank has its own fuel pump.

YAMAHA TENERE 700: $9999
The Yamaha Tenere 700 is powered by a 689cc, liquid-cooled, inline twin derived from the MT-07. The 6-speed transmission “stacks” the gearbox and the crankshaft in a triangular layout to keep the overall engine size shorter front to back, optimizing engine placement in the frame for proper weight balance. It has switchable ABS and 8.3 inches of fork travel with a little less out back.

KTM 690 ENDURO R: $11,999
The 690 Enduro R’s LC4 single-cylinder engine has two balancer shafts to reduced vibration and ride-by-wire to allow changeable ride modes and traction control. The electronic systems feature two ride modes (Off-Road/Street and MTC, or Motorcycle Traction Control), while the ABS system offers an optional Off-Road mode. The trellis frame is fit with machined triple clamps and WP XPLOR suspension, and the bike has Continental TKC80s. It also has a new look for 2021.

KAWASAKI VERSYS 650 ABS: $8,399
The Versys 650 is fit with a 649cc, parallel-twin engine, a 6-speed gearbox and sealed-chain driveline. Cast-aluminum 17-inch wheels, ABS braking with dual rotors up front and just under 6 inches of travel target the adventure side of touring. She carries 5.5 gallons of fuel, weighs in at 476 pounds with all the fluids (including gas) and has an adjustable windscreen.

KAWASAKI VERSYS 650 LT: $9299
The Versys 650 LT shares all the performance and chassis aspects of the standard model, but comes equipped with a set of color-matched, 28-liter (each) hard saddlebags with KQR mounts and an integrated mounting system that utilizes the ignition key for simple saddlebag unlocking and removal. The LT version is also fit with handguards.

SUZUKI V-STROM 650/ 650XT: $8849/$9349
The 2021 V-Strom 650 has a strong V-twin engine, Suzuki’s Traction Control, and a patented throttle body that stabilizes engine idle speed and lowers emissions. The XT version comes with spoke wheels, handguards and engine protection. It also has Traction Control, ABS braking and tubeless ADV tires.

SUZUKI V-STROM 650 XT ADVENTURE: $10,449
The V-Strom 650XT Adventure is adorned with an iconic Champion Yellow paint scheme; has spoke-style wheels with gold-anodized aluminum rims that carry tubeless, radial, dual-sport tires; handguards; and a protective lower-engine cowl. It comes fit with a 5.3-gallon fuel tank, has a three-way-adjustable windscreen, a 43mm fork, plus a set of Suzuki’s aluminum panniers, an accessory bar, a handlebar cross-brace and mirror extensions.

HONDA CB500X: $6999/$6999 ABS model
The Honda CB500X is a bit more street than a full ADV machine. It has limited suspension, though the 471cc twin makes good power. It’s fuel-injected and has been on the receiving end of some performance updates that improved the torque of the machine. The revamped intake tract and fuel injection mate to a slipper clutch with a lighter pull and smoother downshifts. For 2021, it gets ABS brakes as standard equipment.

CSC RX4 ADVENTURE: $4995
The RX4 has a 450cc, fuel-injected, DOHC motor with a 6-speed gearbox. The 5.3-gallon fuel tank gives it a range of around 300 miles. It comes equipped with an adjustable windscreen and 5.3-gallon tank, plus the RX4 comes with molded side cases and a tall rear box. The company sells its products online and offers a two-year warranty.

KTM 390 ADVENTURE: $6199
This compact, single-cylinder, travel enduro machine has a sporty feel, along with some good ADV features. It’s fit with a slipper clutch and ride-by-wire on a dual-overhead-cam engine with a 6-speed gearbox. A trellis frame, WP Apex suspension, cast wheels and ABS are highlights of the 390.

BMW G 310 GS: $5795 (2019 Model)
BMW’s 310 GS is its entry-level machine, and the single-cylinder engine is liquid-cooled, has six speeds and makes peak power at 10,500 rpm. The tubular steel frame is fit with an upside-down fork with 7 inches of travel. It comes with ABS braking, and the 19-inch cast front wheel mates to a 17-inch cast rear. It weighs 387 pounds fully fueled up.

KAWASAKI VERSYS-X 300 ABS: $5,899
The Versys-X is Kawasaki’s smallest machine designed for adventure touring. Power flows through a 296cc parallel twin that gets fuel via a digital fuel-injection system. It comes equipped with a 41mm Showa fork, a 19-inch front wheel, 17-inch rear wheel, windscreen and a 4.5-gallon fuel tank that is good for long exploration rides.

HONDA CRF300L RALLY/ABS MODEL: $5249/$5549
Honda’s CRF300L Rally is one great-looking machine. Nestled under the rally fairing is a recently upsized, budget-minded, Thai-built, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, 286cc four-stroke. It has 11-inch-travel front suspension, 10.3 inches in the rear, and targets the street guy looking to do just a modicum of off-road.

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