Best Adventure Motorcycle 2019 – The WINNER is…

KTM 790

Enduro R

BMW R 1250 GS Adventure

Honda

Africa Twin

Whats the best adventure motorcycle? Not all adventure motorcycles are equal. 

I have listed 15 bikes. These are the most popular adventure motorcycles with strong communities and a stack of aftermarket accessories.

But what one is the best adventure motorcycle? Well, that depends on what you want to do, and how you ride.

There is no universal system for classifying all types of motorcycles. I want to make it clear that this is not in order of best adventure bike, but the leading bikes in the adventure moto industry.

Here we go...

Best Adventure Motorcycle

Heavy Weights (Big Enduro)

BMW R 1250 GS Adventure

From the Bavarian Adventure Factory

Man riding bmw r 1250

The BMW R 1250 GS Adventure. The latest addition to the GS family.

The BMW GS range is considered by some (And sales) the leading adventure bike. The “GS” refers to either Gelände/Straße (German: off-road/road) where BMW cut out a new market segment over 30 years ago.

The BMW GS has arguably founded the adventure segment when it made the R80G/S in 1980.

You can order two versions, the standard GS and the adventure. The most popular of these two in America is the GS Adventure with all the extras as it holds resell value.

There are three main areas of difference between the GS and GS Adventure models. They are size, protection, and suspension.

The new shift cam motor will fit the Euro 5 emissions requirements  (effective from in 2020) and give more power and reduce fuel consumption.

I have a 2014 BMW R 1200 GSA. It has circumnavigated Africa and crossed Europe several times. A great bike to cross the Sahara and hundreds of kilometers of washed out waist deep "potholes" of the Congo and Angola.

Specs

Engine:

Air/liquid-cooled, four-stroke flat twin, DOHC, BMW's ShiftCam variable engine timing system

Horsepower:

136 horsepower @ 7,750 rpm

Torque:

105 foot-pounds @ 6,250 rpm

Weight (wet):

549 pounds (GS), 591 pounds (GSA)

KTM 790 Enduro R

KTM Makes the Best Adventure Enduro

Two men riding the KTM 790 R

Built from the same rally DNA as all KTM bikes. The bike sells the dream of hitting sand dunes at breakneck speeds and sharing the podium with Dakar's greatest riders.

The parallel twin has the same architecture as 790 Duke, but with custom power delivery mapping for off-road adventure riding.

When you have rally legends like Toby Price, Marc Coma, and the kiwi king Chris Birch backing this bike, for sure it will make waves that will be felt by other bike manufactures.

This is one of the most important bikes of this year and a big move for KTM. A lot of people will now have the confidence with this bike to move onto dirt without the massive learning curve. It comes with some of the longest travel suspension in class front and back.

I'm going to get one for sure.

Specs

Engine:

799cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC parallel twin

Horsepower:

95 hp @ 8,000 rpm

Torque:

65 lb.-ft. @ 6,600 rpm

Weight (wet):

417 lb. (189kg)

​Africa Twin & Africa Twin Adventure Sports

BEST DUAL SPORT

Two adventure motorcycle moto
The latest update to the Africa Twin legacy happened back in 2016 for their big to become the best adventure motorcycle. Since then it has been a bike that has continued to keep loyal fans ranting about how awesome this adventure moto is. And with good reason.

The Adventure Sports Model is an attempt to grab that premium customer in the adventure moto market. It has a bigger tank, heated grips, better seat, bigger foot pegs, a flashy new paint job and crash bars to name a few. One of the main differences is the riding position, the handlebars are higher and you sit more upright and in control. Standing position ergonomics is far superior to the standard Africa Twin.

It has a 24.2L fuel tank that should go 300 miles/482km, and comes with Honda selectable toque parameters. It has 4 riding modes with ride by wire total control, and now has ESS or emergency stop signaling.

A badass bike with a good community and the build quality is fantastic. 

Specs

Engine:

998cc liquid-cooled Unicam® four-stroke 22.5º parallel-twin

Weight (wet):

555.8 lbs. Adventure Sports

KTM 1290 Super Adventure R 

Best Big Enduro from KTM

The KTM is a modern day adventure touring machine that packs a lot of power and can take on anything you can throw at it.

KTM is positioning it as “the bike” to explore the road less traveled. It’s tougher and better equipped to take on tough off-road riding while chewing the miles on the blacktop. Well, you can't argue with them as the bike is a beast. 

For the serious off-road enthusiast (That needs to do big miles too) this is the bike.

Built in Austria, to control the massive 160hp V TWIN, KTM has given you 4 drive modes to tame the best.

The roots of this bike started in the dirt and this is carried throughout the design with engine mapping, chassis, and suspension. ​

This bike is the big daddy of dirt bikes.

Specs

Engine:

V TWIN 1301cc

Horsepower:

160

Torque:

140 Nm

Weight (dry):

529lbs

Ducati Multistrada 120 Enduro

Best Big Enduro from Ducati

When the Italian bike manufacturer felt the industry moving more into the adventure off road market it had to react.

Ducati realized the Multistrada wouldn't cut it and developed the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro and now the 1250 to pit for its place as the best adventure motorcycle.

Holding true to the brand “Multistrada” the Italian engineers added a 19-inch front wheel, increased suspension travel, and revised and optimized the geometry to make the bike handle better off-road.

With the newer Ducati's, its got the upgraded Testastretta DVT 1262 engine. The torque is better than the previous engine and this has prompted a new chassis design. Ducati's new engine boosts the power delivery is smoother at lower speeds and makes maneuvering the big 1200 easy.

I would never need it myself at 6.1... But I like the “Vehicle Hold Control” option that holds the bike for hill starts up to 24.5 degrees.

One thing I love is the 15,000 km service schedules, but as I know Italian bikes (Or is that women?) they need a lot of attention to keep them running smoothly.

Specs

Engine:

Testastretta DVT 1262

Horsepower:

​116 kW (158 hp) @ 9,500 rpm i

Torque:

​128 Nm (94 lb-ft, 13.0 kgm) @ 7,500 rpm

Weight (dry):

225 kg (496 lb)

Yamaha XT1200Z Super Tenere 

Best Big Enduro from Yamaha

Super Tenere

Yamaha XT1200Z Super Tenere is one of the big boys. It keeps the others in check with affordable adventure moto packages full of extras other adventure bikes make as optional.

The Super Ténéré ES is a sophisticated piece of machinery that is often overlooked when it can clearly keep up with the BMW's and KTM's of this world.

A rugged, durable, and built for long stretches in the saddle. The bike is well executed and rounded for on and off-road, with many added off road features making it the perfect bike for exploring beyond the pavement.

Yamaha has added new graphics, increased the screen height and added fog lamps. All inching towards a more “Adventure” rugged look. They are selling the lifestyle before the bike for sure.

Going back to some of the add-ons other manufacturers make you upgrade and pay for,  the Tenere has KYB electronic suspension, heated grips, cruise control and a four-position adjustable windscreen.

Money well spent, some would argue that this makes it the best adventure motorcycle.

Specs

Engine:

1199cc liquid-cooled inline 2-cylinder; DOHC; 8 valves

Horsepower:

80.9 kW (108.5 hp) @ 7,250 rpm

Torque:

114.1 N⋅m (84.2 lbf⋅ft) @ 6,000 rpm

Weight (wet):

​261 kg (575 lb)


Best Adventure Motorcycle

Middle Weight Class

KTM 690 Enduro R 

KTM's disruptive mid weight bike

The first bike is the middleweight section is the latest 690 Enduro R and 790 R Adventure bikes.

It is clear that KTM wants to disrupt and make its mark in the middleweight adventure bike category with this bike. It makes sense for them too as they will be more than capable of dominating the space.

Looking at the numbers in the United States, KTM has almost doubled its market share. A massive boot and now KTM is scrambling to educate mechanics, dealers, and set up logistics to keep up with demand.  

Ok, back to the bike. The best thing about these bikes is you can go everywhere. It an 80% dirt and 20% road bike.

They say that KTM makes their seats hard because they want you to stand…

But if you want to do some long distance travel with this bike you will need to upgrade a few things. Seat, luggage, fuel and a few other creature comforts.

It is the bike I would take to do the miles, then rip off the luggage and excess kit to go Enduro riding. That makes it the dream bike right?

With this power to weight ratio, you could lift the front wheel in every gear. It comes with ABS but you can turn it off, this bike is at home in the dirt so for 100$ you can buy a dongle to keep ABS off. Crazy, these days you have to pay to make it less safe and more fun.

I can see KTM adding more and more features to tap into the adventure market, in 2019 they added 11 new features in this direction.

Specs

Engine:

Single Cylinder, 4-Stroke, SOHC

Horsepower:

​74 hp

Weight (dry):

​146 kg / 321.9 lbs

Suzuki V Strom 1000XT 

Suzuki answer to the Adventure Moto tribe

The Suzuki V Strom has come a long way from its market debut in 2002 with the V-Strom DL1000.

The most notable movements from Suzuki is it's moving away from the budget no frills angle, and providing more and more comfort for adventure motorcycle riders.

The Suzuki V Strom 1000XT Adventure is a carry-over factory model but loaded with accessories. Some of these accessories include 37-liter aluminum panniers, a center stand, and heated grips and a touring setup.

I must admit I have ridden all the other bikes in this lineup but not this Suzuki V Strom 1000XT. I have a friend in Brazil traveling through South America on one and speaks wonders. A well priced, do all bike that is for sure building a loyal following with every build year.

Specs

Engine:

4-STROKE, DOHC, 90° V-TWIN, LIQUID-COOLED

Weight (dry):

​233kg

Triumph Tiger 800 

The British Adventure

The Triumph Tiger 800 is ramping up its feature list with over 200 new updates and carried them over to this years model.

Some of the most notable features are the restyled bodywork, revamp and changes to the ergonomics, adding LED lighting, manually-adjustable windscreen, and putting in a new electronics package.

They are very affordable and have enough power for a everyday bike. The exhaust is lighter and sounds amazing when you open it up.

If you like clicking buttons it has 6 riding modes (Upgrade needed) but ABS and traction control is standard.

Let's be honest here, if Bear Grylls is riding one, it must be a badass bike.

Specs

Engine:

Liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder

Displacement:

800 cc 

Weight (dry):

​​452 lbs (205 kg)

BMW F850 GS Adventure 

The Bavarian Adventure Factory

I got to test drive one in Switzerland and coming off a bigger 1200 GS it felt nimble and a easy to throw around.

Upgrading the F800 models after almost a decade of faithful service, the F850 gets all the modern add-ons and safety features at a reasonable price.

It feels very nimble even with a 21 inch front wheel. It take a little getting used to but I would stiffen up the factory suspension settings as when you slam on the Brembo brakes you feel the bike dig in far too much.

While I’m there, I would change the muffler too, the sound of the 850 is brilliant but the stock muffler is letting it down. The new 853cc parallel twin is in both the F 850 GS as well as the F 750 GS. The engine is made by Loncin. A high-quality Chinese manufacturer.

The new steel bridge frame lets the engine sit much higher so you get more ground clearance. There is a lowered suspension option, but the Dynamic ESA is only available via the premium package. All this combined makes it a strong contender for the best adventure motorcycle.

Specs

Engine:

Liquid-cooled, two-cylinder, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, and dry sump lubrication

Displacement:

853 cc

Horsepower:

90 horsepower @ 8,000 rpm

Torque:

 63 foot-pounds @ 6,250 rpm

Weight (wet):

504 lbs (205 kg)


Best Adventure Motorcycle

Light Weight Class

BMW G310 GS 

The Bavarian Adventure Factory "Mini Me"

Doesn't big always mean better? Asking for a friend...

Big bikes get the big headlines but there is a new wave of bikes wanting to be lighter, simpler and more accessible to new adventure moto riders.

The “baby” GS is a new addition to the BMW GS family range. It brings with it all the aesthetic features off the bigger bikes but in a way smaller package.

BMW is not pushing the bike as a full adventure bike, but more of an urban jungle bike that can go off-road? The advertising and language from BMW are not as aggressive as the 850's and 1250's.

Although new, this bike opens the door to a whole new market in the adventure moto industry.

The bikes are accessible to the Indian and Asian markets, this is the strategy from BMW in my view, a seed bike that is accessible to the masses with desired BMW branding.

Plant the seed now and reap the benefits as the east keeps developing at breakneck speeds.

One sign of this is the size and the brakes they use. For Asian, and African markets 310cc is a big engine. And the brakes have been softened down compared to the incredible Brembo brakes we are used to in the west.

Many reviews note is travel comfort is superb and I would agree. You can buy an abundance of aftermarket accessories to tailor your G 310 GS to your personal tastes.

Specs

Engine:

Liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke

Horsepower:

​34 horsepower @ 9,500 rpm

Torque:

​21 foot-pounds @ 7,500 rpm

Weight (dry):

​374 pounds

HONDA CRF 250L RALLY 

Best Lightweight Adventure Bike

Photo: advpulse

Photo: advpulse

Last but not least is the Honda CRF 250L Rally

The first feeling riding the Honda CRF 250L Rally, was the power was predictable and not intimidating.

At 6.1 and 222-pound guy, I was comfortable right off the bat on this bike. A little surprised with that. I think they did a great job with the ergonomic aspects of this bike.

One other surprising area, they did a great job with mapping the power at low revs. Saves shifting down and you can hold longer with lower end power.

On the highway it chugs along nicely, I would get a bigger screen but there are a lot of extras for this bike.

Specs

Engine:

249.6cc liquid-cooled, 20º single-cylinder four-stroke

Displacement:

250cc

Torque:

​21 foot-pounds @ 7,500 rpm

Curb Weight:

346.1 lbs


Best Adventure Motorcycle

Honorable Mentions

​Royal Enfield Himalayan

The Indian Icon

​Triumph Tiger Explorer

The British Bombshell


New Adventure Bikes

Yamaha Ténéré 700 

The endless wait for the next gen Ténéré. 

What is a Adventure Motorcycle?

Technical concept

Enduro / Dual Sport motorcycles are also called dual-purpose or on/off-road motorcycles. These are street legal motorcycles that are fully capable of going off road.

Soft definition of an adventure motorcycle (Widely accepted in the community)

Any bike that you go on an adventure with.

What is Sport-Touring?

Any motorcycle equipped for long distance travel. Generally, road focused motorcycle riding.

​Final Word

What bike did I miss? What bike do you think should be in this list of the best adventure motorcycle? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for getting this far!

Need more ADV Moto goodness? Checkout my Best Adventure Motorcycle Boots article while you are here. 



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