Adventure motorcycles haven’t always been as mainstream as they are now. Needless to say, Charlie and Ewan made a massive impact on the perception of adventure and enduro motorcycle riding – changing the landscape forever. But here are the real stars of the show. Built primarily for off-road duties, these are the purebreds that have led to what we now take for granted.
1. BMW’s R80G/S – 1981
The first heavyweight, on-road/off-road motorcycle to hit the market. Not only is it still one of the best looking adventure bikes ever built, it soon became the standard to which all other adventure bikes would be based on.
2. Yamaha XTZ 750 Super Ténéré – 1989
Long range and race-ready production meant this middle weight adventure bike soon became a firm favourite. It really did look the part, too.
3. Ktm lc4 640 adventure – 1999
Incredibly light weight and versatile, what it lacked on road was more than made up for with its immense off-road handling prowess.
4. Triumph Tiger 955i – 2001
A sign of things to come, Triumph’s millennium attempt at their versatile tourer is easily one of the most beautiful adventure bikes ever built.
5. BMW R1150GS – 1999
This bike needs no introduction. Continuing to be the standard to which all adventure bikes designers, including BMW, aim to achieve. It has power, dependability, and above all, style.
6. Honda Africa Twin 750 – 1989
Based on the NXR-750, which won the Paris-Dakar rally four times in the late eighties, the Africa Twin agility and bullet-proof reliability made it one of the most popular adventure bikes of all time. Even just looking at it makes you wanna sell your house and ride around the world!
7. Suzuki DR800S – 1999
Loved for their low maintenance swagger, these little adventure bikes can still be found tearing up the mountains, 600,000 km later! Suzuki were ahead of their time with the design, which is more similar to the modern GS icons than other adventure bikes of the 90s.
Other useful info
Specialist motorcycle insurers, such as Bennetts, suggest that adventure motorcycles are some of the most affordable to run and insure. Many residents in the UK are ditching their cars in favour of these valiant commuters. You can’t blame them!
BMW accounts for a large chunk of the adventure market sales, the new 1200GS continues to be one of the biggest selling bikes of 2013. Servicing fees are high, but owners are generally more than happy to pay the extra money for the prestige and dependability that they receive in return. I know where I’d spend my money!