Defining adventure biking can be a tricky thing, as there is no exact definition. It is different for everyone, and many call it liberating and freeing. Instead of sticking to normal roads, a trip with the adventure bike takes place on dirt roads and through nature.
In this guide, we’ll talk about:
- How to experience off-roading and adventure biking
- What makes a good adventure bike
- Bike laws and safety
- and more!
10 Adventure Bikes that should be on your wish list
There are a bunch of adventure motorcycles out there, which is no surprise as many people enjoy adventurous biking these days. But which are the best ones? We have a thorough look ad available adventure bikes and provide you with some of the best options out there.
1. Suzuki V-Strom
The Suzuki V-Strom has been around for a while, as it first hit the international market in 2004. Despite the fact this bike has a number of years behind it, the V-Strom is still one of the most solid choices in the world of adventure bikes.
One of the features that stands out most for the Suzuki V-Strom are its six-speed gearboxes, complemented with a liquid-cooled 645cc fuel-injected engine. Compared to most motorcycle options out there, that’s a real powerhouse!
Power is not the only thing that plays in favor of this motorcycle. It is one of the most adaptable bikes out there. You can easily use it to travel along normal roads, touring, but also riding along a dirt track.
While the Suzuki V-Strom is a solid, adaptable choice, it isn’t specialised in any particular kind of motorcycle riding. While this is not necessarily a problem, it does mean that there are other bikes out there with more extensive features to cope with off-road riding. Still, if you don’t prefer one type of motorcycle riding over another, then the Suzuki V-strom is an outstanding choice.
2. Kawasaki Versys
The Kawasaki Versys is an adventure bike based on one of the previous Kawasaki motorcycles, the Ninja 650R. However, the engineers at Kawasaki overhauled the engine, making many torque improvements.
We must mention that the Kawasaki Versys can feel very different to some of the other dirt bikes and adventure bikes out there. The reason for that is the unique design of the suspension.
Compared to other adventure bikes, the suspension of the Versys is more adaptable; this applies to the telescopic forks and arm swing configuration in the rear. While it may take some time getting used to, soon you won’t want want to travel without this kind of suspension and adaptability.
While the Kawasaki Versys is undoubtedly one of the best adventure bikes in existence today, it is not the cheapest. In fact, this motorcycle can cost you a small arm and a leg. That being said, those who are truly passionate about off-road riding will not find better anywhere else.
3. Honda Africa Twin
As you may have guessed already, the Honda Africa Twin is named after the Paris-Dakar rally. And staying true to its namesake, it is designed for long distances on dirt and off-road terrain. Let’s take a look at what makes this bike special.
The Honda Africa Twin may not have as much power as some sports bikes out there, it certainly comes with an amazing amount of features. Firstly, this amazing bike allows you to control brake power. In addition to that, you can also control the sensitivity of your traction-control. Evidently, these features make this bike a king among gravel bikes and an amazing choice for dirt terrains.
Even though the Honda Africa Twin is designed for dirt terrain, this bike still comes with an urban mode. In other words, you can use this bike for city riding without much effort.
The Honda Africa Twin is a remake of the original Honda Africa that was released in the 80’s. Since then, the manufacturer has made a lot of changes to this adventure motorcycle, including an upgrade from the V-twin 650 to the twin 1000 ccs in 2015. The newer versions also come with a DCT 6-speed transmission, which is enough to impress any rider. No wonder many manufacturers started to design their adventure motorcycles based on the original Honda Africa.
4. Yamaha Super Tenere
Every rider is different. While some riders prefer versatility, other riders may prefer a lot of power! If you are a rider that prefers power and excitement above all other things, the Yamaha Super Tenere will be the bike for you.
The Yamaha Super Tenere is named after the Ténéré region in the Sahara desert, which is quite a good name for a dirt bike. Still, this Yamaha model is more than just another dirt bike, as it comes with a 1199 cc engine, a 6-speed gearbox and a special shaft-driven wheel in the back. In other words, this dirt bike recommendation is king at acceleration and speed.
While the acceleration of the Yamaha Super Tenere is enough to impress any rider, the amazing electronics incorporated in the design of the bike may impress even more. The outstanding electronics automatically take care of the throttle valve movement and fuel injection, which all maximise the performance of your bike on dirt terrain.
5. BMW R1200GS
The BMW R1200GS may look a little beefier than most of the other bikes we mentioned today, but that should not be a hindrance, especially when you consider the iconic status of this off-road bike.
Aside from having excellent acceleration, the BMW R1200GS is actually 66 pounds lighter than its predecessor. Despite being lighter, it does have 19% more horsepower, which ensures better handling. This bike can also go from 0 to 60 mph under 4 seconds, which makes it stand out considerably from the other options in this overview.
The BMW R series of GS bikes were originally released in 2004, but models from 2017 and onwards actually have undergone some considerable changes. One of the changes is that these bikes now meet the European EU4 regulations, which is important if you are planning an off-road trip in Europe. This particular bike has also been featured in numerous television programs, including “The Hairy Bikers Cookbook”.
6. Ducati Multistrada
Ducati is a name that is synonymous with speed and luxury. While it is mainly a European bike, with a good track record on European dirt roads and off-road situations, the bike is now gaining popularity in the United States too.
The Ducati Multistrada has an impressive 1262 cc L-twin cylinder and is accompanied by a liquid-cooled engine. The engine also operates on a 4 valve desmodromic system, which can remove the need for valve springs completely.
One of the most interesting features about the Ducati Multistrada is that the rider can select various power modes for the engine. These modes include sport, touring, urban, and Enduro. All these modes can be selected by the rider when the bike is in motion as well, which saves quite some time when switching from a road to a dirt path.
The handling of the Ducati Multistrada is on point as well, this since the bike comes with ABS, DES and electronic suspension. So, no matter where you intent to travel, you will not encounter any issues with the handling of this bike.
7. KTM Adventure 990
While it might be the most unusual looking bikes on the road, we urge you not to ignore the KTM Adventure 990 when it comes to travel. As you may have guessed looking at the design of this bike, the KTM Adventure is specifically designed for rougher terrain. So, if off-road bikes are your thing, this is a gem that cannot be missing from your garage.
With the KTM Adventure 990, your off-road adventures will seem like the easiest thing ever. And while they may not score as brilliant when it comes to performance on the road, you will not find a more durable bike in this entire overview.
8. KTM Adventure 1290
If you found the 990 lacking, then the Adventure 1290 may provide you with all the things you were missing with the previous model. The Adventure 1290 was launched in 2015 and was even named as the best Adventure Bike by “Cycle World” that same year. Given this endorsement, we had no choice but to include the Adventure 1290 in this overview.
Interestingly, the Adventure 1290 has a whopping 160 horsepower and a complementary 4 engine modes. And since the Adventure 1290 was designed for use and rougher road conditions, you can make sure that the Adventure 1290 will take you through longer distances with the greatest of ease, no matter the road conditions you travel on.
9. Triumph Tiger 800XC
As with most bikes, the Triumph Tiger has undergone a lot of updates in recent years, with the most recent taking place in 2018. In fact, the modifications for the 2018 model were quite substantial, as the third generation bike from 2018 implemented a whopping 200 changes!
The Triumph Tiger 800XC has a good 799 cc inline 3 cylinder 12 valve double overhead cam engine. It also comes with an impressive front suspension travel in the front and the rear. Because of these modifications, the Triumph Tiger is one of the most pleasant bikes to ride around with.
10. BMW G 650 GS Sertao
While this bike may not stand out from the rest of our overview upon first glance, there is a crucial difference between this bike and the other bikes in this overview. The G 650 GS Sertao actually has a single cylinder water-cooled 4 stroke engine, enabling the rider to take this baby up to 106 mph!
Another brilliant feature of the BMW G 650 GS Sertao is its outstanding ABS system. With this innovative ABS system, the rider can easily brake on any kind of surface, even on rougher road conditions.
The BMW G 650 GS Sertao is remarkably comfortable too, as this model comes with heated hand grips for colder environments. So, if you value comfort as well as versatility, this bike will be an outstanding choice for most riders.
What Is An Adventure bike and should I get one?
An adventure bike is a motorcycle designed for use on regular roads as well as dirt roads. They are known as ADV bikes too, which immediately explains the term ADV riders.
Getting an adventure bike is a personal choice. It all comes down to the kind of routes you take on a regular basis. If you like to travel off-road more often than not, then an adventure bike might be the best choice for you.
Adventure Bike Laws in the USA
To ride an adventure bike, you need a valid motorcycle license. Your bike must meet the current laws and regulations for motorcycles too, of which the following are the most important.
Please bear in mind that some laws will differ from state to state, and the following is just a summ
- Motorcyclist must be registered to use their bike on a public highway. As such, their equipment must meet the required federal safety standards.
- Only motorcycles over 50cc can use interstate or limited access highways.
- Motorcyclists are required to use their headlights at all time in certain states, so always do your research before you hit a new state.
- Riding between lanes of traffic is prohibited in all the states.
- Some states forbid two riders riding abreast.
- It is recommended that all adventure bikes have a strong lock.
Adventure biking route bucket list: international
Are you ready to hit the road with your new adventure bike? If so, we recommend taking a look at our top bike routes. You won’t be disappointed, as we picked some of the best in the world.
Let’s start by looking at some of the international routes for those among you who like to travel. From Ireland to Italy and Spain, we have some of the most scenic and thrilling options for you today.
1. Wild Atlantic Way In Ireland
When you want something different than the dust of the desert, then we can recommend the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland. Ride along the seaside, soak up the numerous coasts and cliffs, but experience some rough mountainous terrains in the process too!
Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way stretches across 1,553 miles. The route starts in the Inishowen Peninsula and goes all the way to the Celtic Seashore. Of course, there are some things to stop for along the way; this includes historic limestone formations as well as the occasional and typical Irish pub.
2. Amalfi Coast Road In Italy
The Amalfi Coast Road is not just popular among motorcyclists, it is a popular road to drive for luxury car enthusiasts too. The reason for its popularity is not difficult to find though as the road is situated right near the Amalfi coastline.
One of the interesting little facts about this particular travel location is that it is known as “The Road of a 1000 Bends.” Each bend provides a picturesque look of small Italian villages, providing a riding experience unlike any other.
This particular route does come with a word of warning though. Some of the bends are extremely dangerous to travel along, so we only recommend this route for the more experienced riders out there.
4. E65 Senj-Prizna In Croatia
Some people may find Amalfi a little too dangerous. Or maybe the rider in question does not have the experience needed to tackle this route. Whichever it may be, there is always an alternative in the form of the E65 Senj-Prizna in Croatia.
Senj-Prizna provides just as many panoramas Amalfi, only without all the treacherous bends. The road stretches along a decent 29.8 miles, so you can easily cover this in a single day.
On the flipside, a trip along the Senj-Prizna is quite popular and you can encounter lots of tourists during the busier seasons. If you want to avoid that, be sure to plan your travel ahead of time to get the most from this unique experience.
5. Serra da Estrela In Portugal
If zooming across the mountains is your thing, you cannot afford to miss the Serra da Estrela route in Portugal. While Amalfi and Prizna both offer mountainous backdrops, the Serra da Estrela route has an interesting ride to offer too.
Interestingly, Serra da Estrela is the tallest mountain in Portugal, and you can ride right over it! Of course, this does mean you have to take glacial winds into consideration, so make sure you keep some warmer gear on you at all times. In addition to that, the road conditions on the top of the mountain are poor; this due to the harsher environment. That being said, nothing beats a view of Portugal at 2000 feet above sea level.
6. Transfăgărășan Highway In Romania
If you like a bit of weird in your life, then the Transfăgărășan Highway in Romania will provide you with all the weird you need during your travel. This interesting winding route was built in 1970 and was meant for the Romanian military. At the time, there was fear of infiltration by the Soviet Union, and these roads were meant to provide quick access to a vital area. That immediately explains the rather unique design of the route as well.
Any rider needs to experience the Transfăgărășan Highway in Romania at least once in their lifetime. It has several narrow turns, quick descents, dark tunnels and some interesting s-curves. Be warned though, because the maximum speed on this particular road is 25 miles per hour.
7. Furka Pass In Switzerland
We must admit that Furka Pass in Switzerland is quite reminiscent of the iconic highway in Romania. That being said, there are reasons to visit this part of the world and they could be quite different than the ones we mentioned for the Romanian highway.
Furka Pass in Switzerland has been immortalized, as the road was featured in the famous James Bond film Goldfinger. The route is packed with beautiful panoramas as well as high elevations and sharp turns. In other words, it provides a mixture of adventure, uniqueness and an overall thrilling travel environment.
8. Fuerteventura In Spain
Many people travel to Fuerteventura for the nice weather and the amazing views. It is also a popular destination for motorcyclists in search of different landscapes during their travels.
Fuerteventura is situated on the Canary Islands and is known to its unique topography and geology. In fact, you can enjoy twenty-thousand years of it during your travel, especially if you take the 21.7 mile road that takes you along some of the hidden towns in the area. You will also be interested to learn that you can ride at a relatively high speed here. Still, you don’t want to go too fast, as you might miss out on one of the most amazing sceneries in the world.
Adventure biking route bucket list: USA
Want to experience some of the best routes in the United States? Then check out some of the best motorcycle routes you can travel along in the US.
1. Beartooth Highway
This is one of the most beautiful rides in the United States. Surrounded by beautiful scenery and leading straight into the northern part of the Rocky Mountains, there are many reasons why you need to take this route at one point in your life.
Of course, a route as beautiful as this is not always available. Since Beartooth Highway is situated in Montana and Wyoming, there can be some heavy snowfall and freezing weather. Therefore, the road often closes down for the winter. Still, you can enjoy riding this route for the rest of the year.
2. Grand Staircase Escalante
We recommend this route for every type of rider and the reason for that is quite simple. The Grand Staircase Escalante holds several motorcycle paths, each offering something different. It does not matt if your prefer to ride on the asphalt or on a dirt path, this area covers them both.
3. State Route 1
Our last recommendation is the infamous State Route 1 in California. Situated right next to the ocean and taking you along both small and big cities, there is something to love for every kind of rider. That being said, this road can get quite busy. So, if you prefer solitude, one of our other two options might be better for you.
How To Stay Safe On The Road – Recommended Equipment
Getting the right equipment for an adventure bike trip is absolutely necessary, especially when you take a look at some of the daring routes you can take these days. Today, we take a closer look at some of the safety equipment you can acquire to keep yourself safe as a rider, but also to keep your motorcycle safe and secure.
Some riders prefer a helmet with a special visor instead of a half helmet with safety goggles. For adventure trips, a bike helmet with a full visor like this one can be more advantageous, especially when you consider the amount of dirt and debris that can surround an adventure route.
Choose a bike helmet can be a lengthy decision, since they come in all shapes, sizes and designs these days. Still, your first consideration should always be your own safety. Style is great, but a rider is better off with a helmet that provides the best protection possible.
Bike helmets must meet the minimum safety standards to be available on the market, but that does not mean that there aren’t various grades of protection.
Bike helmets all use different types of interior materials, which can provide better protection depending on the type you choose. Some helmets also provide better ventilation, which means they can be more comfortable for a rider that has to cover a lot of distance. We wrote about 25 great choices for motorcycles in a previous post found here.
Please note that a bike helmet will need to be replaced immediately after a fall. Even if you think your fall was not that serious, your helmet may have suffered considerable damage during that fall.
In other words, your bike helmet may not provide you with the full level of protection anymore. So, as soon as you had a fall from your bike, replace your helmet immediately to ensure you stay protected.
Reflective Rim Tape
Visibility is one of the cornerstones of a safe ride. Of course, visibility can be a serious problem for bikers, even in clear weather conditions. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to increase your visibility on the road; this includes adding some this reflective tape on Amazon to the rims of your tires.
Reflective tape can be used for aesthetics, but it increases your visibility in darker environments dramatically. When you take an adventure route, it is likely that you will encounter some roads with poor lighting conditions. So, reflective tape on the rims of your tires could increase your vehicle tremendously.
2. Anti Theft Lock
Motorcycles are incredibly valuable these days, so you may want to consider some additional security for your valuable property. There are various locks you could choose, but we particularly recommend a dedicated padlock with an alarm sound like this affordable one on Amazon.
You can get anti-theft locks with a decent alarm sounds these days, with the best versions being the 110 db anti-theft locks. You can even get locks with a special motion sensor, so your bike stays protected at all times.
When you choose an anti-theft lock for your motorcycle, always make sure you choose a lock that comes with an extra set of keys. If a set of keys is lost, then you still have the second pair of keys to open your lock and gain access to your bike. While this may sound straightforward, you would be surprised just how many people encounter this problem.
3. Motorcycle books
How does a book help you with safety you might think? Well, the saying “knowledge is power” is definitely applicable here. By being informed about your motorcycle and applicable safety regulations and rules, you are sure to have a much better and safer adventure.
There are many motorcycle books you could add to your collection. The Motorcycling Excellence series are some of the best books for riding enthusiasts, but you will encounter other interesting options too.
Ask yourself what kind of knowledge could benefit your adventure and choose your books based on your answers.
For example, if you wish to know more about bike maintenance, so you can fix your bike during your adventure, make sure you acquire an additional book about common bike problems and bike maintenance.
4. Reflective Vest
As we mentioned earlier, visibility is extremely important while driving an adventure route. We already recommended an unusual product in the form of a reflective rim, but you cannot forget about your standard equipment either.
The most important piece of safety equipment is arguably the reflective vest. By wearing a reflective vest while driving on an adventure route, you make sure you are seen by other road users.
Reflective vests are available in all kinds of shapes and sizes these days. They are also made with more breathable materials, so comfort is no longer a reason not to wear a reflective vest. You can find a good vest by Riding Tribe here.
5. Motorcycle Safety Boots
Another way to protect yourself on the road is with a good pair of motorcycle safety boots. There are dozens of reasons why you should wear motorcycle safety boots on the adventure route, but here are the most prominent reasons.
Safety boots like these are the first line of protection for your feet and ankles. They provide protection against abrasions and could even prevent bones from breaking. While wearing safety boots is no guarantee you won’t hurt your ankles or feet, not wearing safety boots ensures your injuries will be significantly worse.
6. Protective Jacket
Before you head out on your new adventure, you also need a decent protective jacket. Every rider needs such a jacket, as they provide more protection if you were to be thrown from your bike.
Protective jackets can be be made from various materials these days. The most common material you will encounter is leather. Leather is thick and strong, which means it provides more protection against abrasions and other types of injury if a rider should fall of his bike.
A lot of protective jackets also contain armor. Armor is placed in strategic locations such as the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and the back. Evidently, armor is placed in these locations to prevent injury in case of a fall.
Armor used in protective jackets is made from various materials too. Common materials for armor include high-density foam and foam-back hard polymers. These materials can reduce the impact from a fall, but also protect against the usual abrasions.
Please note that leather is not your only option as a base material for protective jackets. In fact, engineered textiles are more popular than ever for protective jackets. Engineered textiles includes high-density ballistic nylon, Kevlar, Cordura and Lycra.
When purchasing a protective jacket for your adventure bike trip, always make sure that your equipment meets the current standards in the United States. Of course, protective jackets that meet the requirement will always have the appropriate label.
We recommend an adventure backpack for anyone who is about to take an adventure route on their bike. The reason for that is quite simple as well. Not all backpacks are suitable for an adventure bike trip, as your backpack will have to deal with lots of wind. So, tiny parts and a less than streamlined design will become a serious hindrance, and in some cases a safety hazard.
Fortunately, there is such a thing as adventure bike backpacks. They have a streamlined design, contain a minimum number of small parts that could get affected by the win and still provide you with plenty of space to add riding gear, accessories, and essential documents. I found this really cool stealth design backpack on Amazon for you to check out.
We already talked about protection for the head, body and feet, but we haven’t really talked about bike gloves yet. Bike gloves are also necessary during your adventure bike trip, especially when you consider the damage a fall could do to them.
When you are on an adventure bike trip, and are about to deal with a lot of dirt and mud, you may want to look at specific off-road bike gloves. These bike gloves tend to be more breathable than leather, so they provide better grip. On the flipside, they provide less protection compared to leather bike gloves.
If you want the safest option possible, then leather or armored adventure bike gloves will be the best option. They protect your hands much better when you fall, but you will have less grip compared to the textile options.
Should I Rent Or Buy An Adventure Bike?
That is a valid question for many people. If you ride on a regular basis, for example weekly, then purchasing an adventure bike will be the most economical options for you. However, if you are planning a motorcycle trip for one week during the summer, then you can easily rent a bike instead.
Renting does provide an additional advantage that buying does not have. In some cases, you may be riding on some of the latest models of bikes, which surely speaks to all enthusiasts. Nevertheless, people who ride on a weekly basis may end up paying more than if they were to buy it.
Main Takeaways For Riders
There are many things to think about before you head on a riding adventure, but we hope this article made things a little easier for you. While you may be overwhelmed with a lot of information at this point, it can help to read things again later, so you can make choices with the utmost confidence.
Riding is one of the most fun hobbies to have, but it can be an investment and does require some research. Still, with our overview of suitable adventure bikes, routes and safety equipment, you will be on the road in no time at all! Be sure to keep this article handy, as you may need some additional tips and tricks in the future, for which you can always refer back to us.