Five Parisians girls passionate about old motorbikes and adventure who ride the Himalaya on Royal Enfields with style. Good video – recommended watching to get a different story on a popular bikers destination.
This is the rumble in the jungle; in the heavyweight arena there are only big, torquey, bulky and powerful machines to take on the ultimate overlanding adventure.
If you’re looking for the best machine for that epic ride and need to take a LOT of gear, ride two up or want top end power for tarmac cruising at high speeds then these are the top bikes to consider.
900cc and upwards is the widely accepted engine cubic centimetre headmark to qualify for entry into the heavy weights. This kind of engine comes with a few different cylinder configurations but often twin, opposed or triple cylindered engines feature.
Bike all up weights are mostly north of 200kg wet. Predictably off road handling and overall speeds are affected by this kind of drag. Tyre choices count. This is a significant mass to pick up after an ‘off’ and advanced adventure riders will practice techniques to lift the bikes using leverage from the bike’s handlebars and their quadriceps. A solo lift from loose, wet or deep mud may be impossible and require 2 + riders in the team or a block and tackle. These are serious considerations if you’re venturing off road alone on a remote – treeless – expedition.
Power is the reward for the weight and size here; you’ll get best-in-class torque stats, very high top speeds and comfortable fast cruising on tarmac. There’s a convincing argument that these heavyweight bikes are the ultimate dual sport machine as they can keep up with anything on road and have a good off road potential. Whether you buy into the argument or not depends on your perspective on what ‘Adventure Riding’ means to you and what capabilities you find personally important. Essentially you’re trading ability on dirt for road manners.
Slower than the rest, heavy; particularly if you’re laden down with gear on the tail/panniers or a pillion – as you’re likely to be for a major exped. Locks and turning circles are still nimble but don’t expect to be really capable off road, the big bikes will use power and torque to get through most dirt obstacles rather than agility.
So here’s the Heavyweight Top Motorcycle Shortlist:
nota bona: BMW GS differences
With both the R1200 and the R1150 models there are two options; GS and GS Adventure. In each case there are small but significant differences designed for either use on road or dual sport (Adventure).
Still the latest incarnation from BMW dating from 2004/5.
Electronic ride settings designed to dial the bike in for the terrain. Rain, Ride and Sport give you a lot of great options to make the best of your road choices.
Power and range – the 2015 ‘Adventure’ model offers 92lbs of torque and 125bhp. More than you need off road or round the world but it is useable power.
260kg dry. Think twice before falling over on the dirt.
Electrics to go wrong in remote conditions.
Popular for the right reasons; the classic dual sport machine. Heavy but for many the only option. Lots of customization and accessory options. Fast and strong; this bike is the current market leader and the ‘go to’ machine for anyone entering this class.
The original big GS is, for many, still the definitive adventure motorcycle. An extremely robust design, combining the classic boxer with a shaft drive, solid frame and metal tank kept this bike going longer than any other of it’s class – except perhaps for the R1100GS.
The ride for many notable RTW and overland expeditions including both Ewan and Charlie and the ‘Two Ride The World’ crew.
Solid, proven design. Easy to work on and plenty of spares available internationally.
Getting long in the tooth now. High mileage, well looked after models will run for ever after the final drive seals and rear suspension are replaced around the 60k mile mark.
The original benchmark heavyweight adventure bike. The ‘Adventure’ version has 20mm longer front suspension travel and a taller first gear for more control off road but looks like a meaner bike.
Introduced in 2013 to replace the 950/990 series. Evolved from a heady DNA of Dakar Rallye know how and road design lessons from its forbears. This is primarily a street capable machine with great handling that can function off road with aplomb.
Did KTM go too far? Is this the bike you want to take round the world or is this the bike you want to ride for a weekend in a developed country? I’d be keen to have my mind changed but I can’t square the circle on this; I don’t think this is a contender for the overland heavyweight title.
KTM 950 Adventure
KTM came out of the Paris-Dakar Rallye series with the winning formula of low centre of gravity, exceptional stability and handling and a V Twin 950 cc engine in a large dirt bike style frame. The carb fed 950 models lifted the whole heavyweight category up a notch.
Great handling, riding and a near perfect balance between on road ability and off road agility.
Good range from the 24 ltr tank – 200 miles on the road.
Electrical gremlins worked through the loom. Over time the electrics would prove to be the weak point – particularly if water was involved.
If it wasn’t for the reliability issues then the early KTM’s would easily win this competition. Later models are strong contenders.
From the factory that bought you the original lightweight overlanding bikes like the XT600Z, the big Tenere has a great combination of power and handling. 270′ V Twin engine puts out 109bhp with 84lbs torque. First came out in 2010 and available since then.
It’s essentially built on the lines of a GS. Shaft drive, bullet proof chassis, great handling once on the move.
Nick Sanders rode one.
261kg. Need more? This is a heavy bike to live with.
Pricing from new when ranged against it’s competition.
Recommended for experienced long distance and adventure touring riders; this machine will get you there and in some comfort and style.
Last year, in the run-up to the football world cup, David Beckham and a couple of his mates decided to take a bike trip into the heart of the Amazon rainforest. 32 years as a footballer meant that David had never really embarked on any kind of adventure holiday. Of course, he had travelled the world, but nearly always in his professional capacity, and invariably on a tight schedule. This was to be the first time he would visit places where nobody knew his name.
For the trip, the boys didn’t ride the kind of BMW or Yamaha off-road bikes that one might have expected. Too obvious, and too Charlie and Ewan. Instead, they mounted themselves on modern, customised Triumph road bikes. Much cooler. And much more retro. The bikes were worked on both in the UK and Brazil and, in truth, the exercise involved taking bits off as much as putting bits on. An all over black paint job, the removal of mudguards, a custom exhaust and seat, and a new set of off-road tyres was all it took.
Despite the apparent unsuitability of the bikes, they held up well in even the toughest of conditions, demonstrating perhaps that modern Triumphs are just as rugged and dependable as their famous antecedents. Recently, Motolegends decided to make a replica of the Beckham bike and better yet, decided to give it away in a competition. This is their build story: They acquired a donor bike, a 2001 model, from a local ex-policeman. Even though it was over 10 years old, it had been meticulously looked after, and so presented an excellent starting point for the project. The build was actually incredibly simple, and although the end result is quite dramatic, the work is well within the scope of any budding , ‘bike-shed’ mechanic.
Part one was the strip-down. Off came the mudguards, the indicators, the rear grab rail, the exhaust, and so on. What was left was treated to a matt black paint job that included the wheels, fuel tank, engine casing, cylinder head and, handlebars on. The wheels were re-shod with Metzler Karoo 3s as per the original bike; rubber fork gaiters were added, the seat was re-trimmed, and a new rear mudguard and number plate holder was fabricated. The pièce de résistance, and the most expensive single part on the bike, was the Arrow exhaust. But it only comes in a metal finish, so it was sent off for a black ceramic coating. A bracket was fabricated, to allow it to hang correctly off the side of the bike.
Final touches involved moving the rear brake master cylinder to a new location, as the rear brake positioning couldn’t have been at all convenient on the original bikes. Discrete indicators were then fitted front and back. On the Amazon bikes there were no rear indicators; just front ones. The end result is a bike that somehow seems more than the sum of its parts. There are hugely complicated and intricate builds out there that sometimes fail to hit the spot. With the baffle removed, the bike sounds far better than a Bonneville has any right to. Being lighter than the original, it handles well, and the Metzeler tyres give a purposeful look, without any real detrimental effect as far as rideabilty and comfort are concerned. This bike is simplicity itself, yet has an undeniable wow factor to it.
Motolegends are running a publicity competition and will give their bike to the winner; details on how to enter competition: http://www.motolegends.com/beckham-bike
HUMM Morocco 2015
Horizons Unlimited Mountain Madness – Morocco – 13-16 May, 2015
The HUMM is a unique three-day, off-road motorcycle orienteering/geo-caching event near Ifrane in the mid-Atlas mountains of Morocco. Test your map reading and navigation skills, find hidden secrets and enjoy the fabulous riding. The trails and roads are amazing, the scenery is breath-taking, and the people are wonderful – so come on down with your friends!
And for those of you who would like to bring along your non-riding spouse / significant other, Ifrane offers lots of activities nearby, from spa/massage to souq shopping and a large national park to explore!
What is it?
This is the 6th Annual Horizons Unlimited Mountain Madness (HUMM) event. For 2015, we have moved from the Spanish Pyrenees to the Mid-Atlas Mountains of Morocco. It’s now a full 3-days of riding, and the most fun you can have on two wheels 😉
“The best day’s riding ever!”
“Ranks among the top ten ‘best fun’ biking experiences!”
This event is presented in partnership with Patrick Trahan, who laid out the checkpoints. The HUMM event map is in the mountains, and NO SAND is involved!
There are TWO off-road classes for dual-sports or trail bikes (must be street legal):
1 – Dual-sport off-road, all bikes over 645cc with off-road pretensions
2 – Dual-sport off-road, all bikes under 645cc with off-road pretensions
Bikes need not be dedicated off-road specials but need to have a vague predilection for the dirt. So GS Adventure yes, Electric Glide in Blue, no. Knobbly tyres a plus but by no means essential.
The trails have been heavily reconnoitered and tags have been affixed in stunning locations. Teams must record specific information from the tag.
Each team gets the same map and a checkpoint booklet on Day 1. Each checkpoint gets its own page with a clear description of its location and a map reference. Crucially, the booklet is not a roadbook. No two teams ever take the same routes, there is no course as such. So you’re never following a string of riders down the same dusty course!
13 May 2015
- Arrive on site at the Perce Neige Hotel
- Check in with event HQ. Room assignment. Check-in will be open from 12:00 to 17:00
- Welcome drink before briefing
- 18:00 – Event briefing and questions answered
- 19:30 – Dinner
14 – 16 May 2015
- Maps and Booklets with all the check points will be handed out to you at 08:00 on 14 May! You can ride from 08:00-18:00 on Day One if you want, or use some time planning your route and preparing your bike. There is loads of room to do your planning.
- Start / Finish Riding Time: 08:00-18:00 every day.
- The score sheets are collected after each day’s ride, and the team scores are posted.
- On 16 May at 18:00 the score sheets are collected for the final time, points totalled and the winners announced and trophies handed out at the HUMM Awards Dinner. A very congenial evening follows!
17 May 2015 – Transfer to airport!
Bikes will be available to rent from Wilderness Wheels at the venue.
KTM EXC 450 (2010-2012) or KTM 690
Price €500 Euro for 3 days (of event)
€170 Euro per extra day
Full payment is required in advance of the event.
Limited bikes available, advance booking is essential.
For all terms and requirements and to book, start here.
FROM THE UK
James Cargo is offering a service from the UK:
- To and From their London Heathrow terminal.
- Collections can be made from across the UK for additional fee.
- Leave UK end of April, return in June.
- Small trail bikes £835 (incl VAT)
- Larger trail/touring bikes £910 (incl VAT)
- If enough takers, price will drop.
HUMM Morocco 2015 is in Ifrane, at 1,700 meters in the Mid Atlas Mountains. Ifrane is one of the most beautiful places in Morocco, and was recently voted the second cleanest city in the world!
Things to do in Ifrane (for non-riders)
The Michlifen SPA. One of the best SPAs of Morocco. Everything is possible from normal Massage to Hamman and pools.
Centre-ville. The newer part of the city. Here, you can find the center for tourism, the iconic Lion statue that many tourists like to take pictures next to, the lake and park, and a number of restaurants, cafes, and convenience stores.
Marché. The marché or souq, open every day, is where the locals buy their supplies. Anything from books and electronics to meat and fruit can be bought here. There are also many restaurants of varying quality and price. Also traditional carpet and other souvenir can be negotiated here.
Source Vitel. A series of waterfalls, some of which are found inside the forests of Ifrane, others which you should take a taxi to.
Ifrane National Park. Covers 53,000 hectares and includes among its many natural wonders the famous cedarforest, the largest in the world.
We have booked 2 hotels in Ifrane.
Lonely Planet: “A pretty accommodation option situated about 200m southeast of the centre in garden surroundings. The rooms could be a bit bigger, but they’re very comfortable and come with satellite TV and bathrooms.
Some have a balcony, and those at the front can be a bit noisy. The licensed restaurant is a good dining option (set menus Dh150). The shop in the lobby sells paintings by local artists. Our independent authors have visited Hôtel Perce-Neige and selected this as one of our recommended hotels in Ifrane.” Read more.
The Grand Hotel Ifrane is one of the oldest hotels in town, but is under renovation and should be nicely spruced up by the HUMM date!
- You must ride in a team of 2, to a maximum of 5 people, (minimum two bikes) so be sure to put together your team before registering as we need the names of all team members. If you cannot find someone to team with, go ahead and register for the event, note that you do not have a team partner, and we will match you with someone with a similar bike and riding skill level as best we can. Several past winners were matched up by us!
- Prizes will be awarded in two classes:
- Under 645cc off-road
- Over 645cc off-road
Mixed off-road teams have the good and bad of each class to deal with, so can choose which class to be in.
- Two-up teams are ok, but there must be another bike in your team. We don’t want solo bikes out alone. If we have enough two-up registrations we will have a two-up class. Sidecars, quads – two vehicles in a team!
- Team mates must ride together at all times! If you separate for any reason other than one bike is broken down and stopped or one rider is injured, and the other rider is going for help, you will be disqualified.
- No GPS allowed! You CAN carry a GPS or Smart phone for emergency use, but it will be SEALED in a black plastic bag, and if the bag is opened, you are disqualified. “Dumb” phones with no GPS capability will not be sealed, so you may wish to carry one for non-emergency use.
- Start / Finish Time: 08:00-18:00 every day. You must check out and check in. Late returns lose points – really late returns lose lots of points! All team members must return together.
- Each checkpoint has a points value in direct proportion to how far it is from the hotel, with a few points values tweaked for difficulty. The HUMM is all about spending three days navigating your way around the mountains visiting plaques and seeing as much great scenery as possible.
- Obtaining checkpoint info from another team is grounds for disqualification. In the event of a dispute or challenge, a digital photo of all team members at a checkpoint will be required to verify the team has been to the checkpoint.
I’ve already registered – I just want to pay!
- Three full days of superb riding in the mid-Atlas Mountains of Morocco!
- Map (one for each team)
- Event book (one for each team) – example pages:
- Trophies for all members of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place teams in each class where there are sufficient entries.
- Certificate of completion for all finishers suitable for framing and mucho bragging rights!
- HUMM Support Package, to retrieve you and your bike in case of breakdown or accident out on a trail or on the road. This service is provided by Wilderness Wheels Morocco using trained mechanics and medical technicians who can provide first aid and medical evacuation to the nearest suitable facility.
- The Support Package is INCLUDED in your entry fee, and includes:
- SPOT tracking monitored by the support team
- Recovery to the hotel, workshop facilities and tools at the hotel (consumables must be paid for, if used)
- Medical Assistance – using Wilderness Wheels 4×4 vehicle and medical equipment, injured riders will be stabilised and recovered to the nearest suitable facility for medical care where feasible. Their bike will be recovered to the hotel should they be unable to ride.
- Note: Bike retrieval cost can be very high, so we think that this is a very valuable service.
- HUMM Commemorative synthetic riding t-shirt, €25 value and only available to participants.
- Buffet style awards dinner on last night.
- Welcome and end of day beer/soft drink.
HUMM 2015 PRICING
Includes Map and Event Book for each team; Certificate of Completion, Commemorative T-shirt and Support Package as above for each Rider and Pillion; Awards Dinner included for all attendees including Non-Riders. Accommodation and all other meals priced separately. Early bird pricing for registration fee only.
Pre-Register & Pay between:
|15 Oct – 31 December 2014||€295||€235||€75|
|1 January – 31 March 2015||
|1 April 2015 to close of registration||
|NOTE: There is no ‘On the Day’ pricing – you must pre-register to enter! Space is strictly limited.|
ACCOMMODATION & MEALS
Accommodation is ‘Half Board’, that is Breakfast and Dinner are provided. Accommodation pricing (per person, double occupancy) is as follows.
|Event accommodation package – 4 nights Half Board||€280|
|Single supplement – 4 nights||€80|
|Each additional night||€70|
|Single supplement – each additional night||€20|
Important: Registration closes when we are FULL!
And yes, we will REMOVE the registration form and post a note when we’re full and registration is closed.
Press and potential sponsors, please contact us here.
Finding the best minimalist adventure bike is a perennial source of debate and argument amongst the adventure motorcycling fraternity. Deciding what bike to buy is also one of the most common reasons to research online for help, advice and information. We’ve put together a list of the most important factors to consider whilst choosing your perfect bike, and a guide on some of the best and most popular minimalist adventure motorcycles out there.
Minimalist. We’ll consider bikes up to around 590cc as ‘minimalist’. These bikes will offer few comforts or concessions to long distances on the tarmac. They’ll generally be enduro focussed and likely to have engines around 400cc.
Very minimalist bikes appeal to the true overland traveller as they can be easily lifted and moved over obstacles, return great MPG and are generally easy to repair.
Deciding Factors. There are some pretty key requirements for a minimalist adventure motorcycle; here are the top ones.
Weight. Lighter bikes are easier to ride, particularly off road in the wet, and easier to lift (or manhandle onto a vehicle if need be). There’s also a trade off with a great MPG return – useful for long distances between fill ups and for saving money.
Luggage. Because the engines are smaller there is a need to pack light and scrutinise the kit taken much more carefully. The bikes are often designed for a solo rider with no equipment so care must be taken to keep the overall weight on the frame and luggage points to a minimum.
Here’s some of our recommended lightweight adventure motorcycles for minimalist overland travel.
The definitive lightweight adventure motorcycle of the nineties. Still out there as the cheap option. Production stopped in 1999 and the model was superseded by the DRZ400.
• Simple engine and ease of access for maintenance
• Light weight makes for good off road ability
• Plenty of spares available worldwide.
• Getting a bit long in the tooth – may be high mileage and heavily used.
• Narrow seat and limited wind protection
As used by Austin Vince in his Mondo Enduro adventure.
This bike set the baseline for minimalist motorcycle adventure. But has it retained it’s credibility today?
The 398cc single in the DRZ400 is well balanced for a mix of off road ability and some on road power. With a few refinements it can be made to carry gear and rider in comfort.
• Robust, reliable and easy to work on
• Plentiful spares available
• Limited road power
• Tank range of 100 miles on standard tank.
A great all rounder with a bias towards enthusiastic off road use. Virtually indestructible with a great reputation for reliability these bikes have a loyal following and deservedly so. With some modifications they can be made more capable for long distance but not all will appreciate the lack of comfort or refinement.
Just released from CCM in the UK. Review en route.
Very lightweight but capable off road.
Cruises around 55-60mph fully laden but makes up for this with good off road ability.
In adventure motorcycling terms there is a (very) small group of true middleweight ‘all rounder’ motorcycles that are ready for the adventure rider. It’s the combination of a larger engine size and a greater power coupled with a relatively light frame and fairing that works. It’s a good mix for off road – up to a point – and fine on the road for long distances and riding comfort whilst on the tarmac.
Middleweight in this market segment is probably around 700 – 850cc. The engine designs vary but many are versions of v-twin or parallel twin layouts.
Here’s some of the main factors to consider;
If the bike is too heavy (mostly caused by being designed for predominantly on road use) then it’ll handle poorly off road. The centre of gravity is likely to be high and possibly over the front; limiting agility and responsiveness and making for an uncomfortable trip on the dirt. A high weight also reduces MPG figures and can stress a frame when it’s loaded with overland gear and fuel.
The power to weight ration should be the driving factor in a middleweight bike choice. If you’re in the business of trading off road capability for on road ability then you will want a punchy engine that can manage sustained high speeds for long distance work.
This is a critical area. There are many contenders for the middleweight adventure motorcycle segment but only a few are genuinely worthy of consideration. To be in this list the bike must be able to go off road properly. Many look like they could do but few actually cut the mustard once on the dirt. Road biased set ups will generally have limited ground clearance and soft suspension. Whilst this can be changed with a set of TKCs and an adjustment to the fork preload it won’t be enough to get a road bike into the ball park and competing with a Dakar design.
Here’s a list of some of the best true middleweight adventure motorcycles out there:
Released in 2013 as an upgrade to the F800GS model, the ‘Adventure’ F800GS comes with 798cc in a parallel twin making a claimed 85bhp @ 7500rpm.
• 24 litre underseat tank increases range and lowers the centre of gravity.
• Massive amount of touring accessories available.
• Expensive BMW premium.
• Still relatively heavy at 230KG.
A very capable top-of-the-range adventure motorcycle. Powerful and capable off road and equally impressive on road, it’s a good all rounder that minimises the compromises common to this market segment. You get what you pay for; and in this case you certainly do pay for it!
Triumph Tiger 800XC
A classic middleweight design; 799cc, 215kg wet weight and plenty of real world power with 94bhp @ 9400rpm. In line three cylinder engine produces plenty of low down torque as well.
• Great power – able to be used on and off road.
• Off road handling is very good. Low centre of gravity and high agility.
• Spare and parts availability likely to be limited outside US and EU.
• Short screen and (relatively) small tank at 19litres.
A great all round option. The Triumph Tiger 800XC handles on and off road with the best of them. Triumph has taken on board the lessons of the big trailie era and in the 800XC has made a real tiger off road.
Honda XRV750 ‘Africa Twin’
The original Africa Twin was based on the Paris-Dakar NXR750 rally bike. Produced between 1989 and 2003, the Africa Twin was an adventure stalwart. Combining legendary Honda reliability with a 742cc v-twin design it had loads of useable power and great ability off road.
• Build quality and parts availability.
• Close to perfect balance of power, weight and dirt riding credibility.
• Now out of production, also not sold in the US.
• Heavy and slow compared to the latest generation.
As close as the last two decades have come to the holy grail of middleweight adventure hero – this is the bike you would choose for an overland expedition.