Choosing an Adventure Bike
There are many Adventure bike models to choose from and more new models appear each year as the manufacturers realise that Adventure / Dual Sport riding is a fast growing niche of motorcycling.
Choices range from road legal lightweight enduro weapons such as the WR range from Yamaha and KTM’s EXC models through to big bore continent crossing adventure tourers like the BMW GS series and Yamaha’s Super Tenere and many in between.
The right adventure bike for you depends on many factors, the type of adventure riding you want to do, your size and even brand preference can play a role in finding the right bike. Do you want to travel considerable distances or are you not likely to stray too far from home? Do you want to go down the odd gravel road or do you want to go up that rutted track you saw last week? Will you be carrying a pillion and/or luggage?
Size and Weight
On the road size and weight are often your friend, a bigger bike will tend to be more relaxed, larger bikes tend to be more comfortable and offer a smoother ride allowing the rider to cover large distances with ease, off road however that same size and weight can be your enemy and a smaller bike will be more nimble and easier to control when the going gets tougher.
Some of the smaller more trail orientated bikes come with very small petrol tanks only allowing as little 150km between fill ups. Adventure riding can take you well off the beaten path and during weekends and evenings petrol stations in smaller towns and communities may not be open. On a bike with a small tank extra planning may be required to incorporate regular fuel stops into your ride, or finding a way to carry extra fuel.
Pillion carrying ability
If you will have your partner as pillion regularly then their comfort is going to be an important consideration. If your partner finds the rear seat accommodation is too uncomfortable they aren’t going to want to come out with you again, if the pillion arrangements are really uncomfortable you may end up with a divorce before the ride is over!
Obviously cost is an important consideration in any motorcycle purchase and adventure bikes can be found to suit almost any budget. To enjoy adventure riding and the new places it can take you the latest greatest flashest bike is not required. As long as your bike is mechanically sound with appropriate tyres you will be able to enjoy adventure rides. An older bike may not be as fast or as smooth over rough terrain as the latest models but as long as you ride within the capabilities of the bike it can take you to many wonderful new places.
Adventure bikes, like trail bikes tend to be much taller than sports and standard bikes to allow for more ground clearance. Your height, and especially your inside leg length may be a consideration as to which adventure bike is right for you. Unlike on a dedicated road bike most adventure riders cannot place both feet flat on the ground when seated. How much, or how little foot placement you have on the ground when seated is up to your personal comfort and confidence levels but may limit your range of options in an adventure bike more than anything.
All adventure bikes are a compromise. Smaller lighter bikes tend to be much easier to ride in tighter or slippery riding conditions but can lack the road manners and comfort of a bigger bike when riding longer distances. At the opposite end of the spectrum the large adventure tourers can be ridden all day on the road in comfort but require a more confident and experienced rider on any more than a smooth gravel road.