Tag Archives: enduro

The Best Middleweight Adventure & Dual Sport Motorcycles

BMW F800GS - Middleweight Adventure Motorcycle
BMW F800GS – Middleweight Adventure Motorcycle

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.

Definitions

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;

Overall Weight

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.

Power

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.

Handling

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:

BMW F800GS

BMW F800GS Adventure Motorcycle.
BMW F800GS Adventure Motorcycle.

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.

Pros

• 24 litre underseat tank increases range and lowers the centre of gravity.

• Massive amount of touring accessories available.

Cons

• Expensive BMW premium.

• Still relatively heavy at 230KG.

motorcycle
BMW F800GS Adventure

Summary

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

Triumph Tiger 800XC adventure motorcycle
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.

Pros

• Great power – able to be used on and off road.

• Off road handling is very good. Low centre of gravity and high agility.

Cons

• Spare and parts availability likely to be limited outside US and EU.

• Short screen and (relatively) small tank at 19litres.

adventure motorcycle
Triumph Tiger 800XC Adventure accessories catalogue and list

Summary

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’

Honda XRV750 Africa Twin
Honda XRV750 Africa Twin in Dakar heritage livery.

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.

Pros

• Build quality and parts availability.

• Close to perfect balance of power, weight and dirt riding credibility.

Cons

• Now out of production, also not sold in the US.

• Heavy and slow compared to the latest generation.

Honda_Africa_Twin_XRV750
Honda Africa Twin XRV750

Summary

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.

The Best Lightweight Adventure & Dual Sport Motorcycles

Matt's Trip 2012 013

Finding the best lightweight 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 motorcycles out there.

Definitions

Adventure. Everyone has their own definition of ‘adventure’. For some they will spend most of the time on packed dirt tracks, fire breaks and desert; perhaps with the odd stretch of tarmac thrown in to connect the trip together. Others will spend 90% of the journey on tarmac, only venturing on the occasional foray off road. Most riders will fall somewhere in the middle, looking for the best adventure orientated dual sport machine for them and the kind of riding they do.

Riding. There may also be a delta between the kind of riding people want to do and the kind of riding they actually do.  Adventure motorcycling’s ultimate vision is all about heading off into the distance on that trip of a lifetime around the world, ready for all the challenges ahead. The most common riding we actually do is either a regular commute or longer weekend trips at best. In the US or Europe most of the miles are done on tarmac.

Lightweight. We’ll consider bikes up to around 600cc as ‘lightweight’. There are lots of other designs that change the weight, power and appeal of these dual sport motorcycles but the outstanding design component is that they’ll all be enduro styled and able to carry a rider and equipment for a couple of day’s riding on and off road.

Deciding Factors. There are some pretty key requirements for a lightweight adventure motorcycle; here are the top ones.

Weight. ‘Light is might’ and ‘Light is right’. No two ways about it. There is nothing like the amount of sheer pain and effort of riding a bike that is too heavy to pick up, overloaded with gear and fuel in a challenging off road context. 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 better MPG return – useful for long distances between fill ups and for saving money.

Reliability. Once you’re on the road you’ll be happier with a more reliable bike because you rely on it. Any machine that’s solid, easy to work on and with a plentiful supply of spares will be better than an exotic bike with major electrical problems. The truth is that adventure motorcycles get exposed to a lot of wear and tear and the elements. They will break down at some point.

AdventureTouring1

The aim is to reduce the number of times or impact of this when it does happen. Bikes that are easy to work on will make it possible for you to not only repair if need be but also stay ahead of trouble; with regular servicing and replacing of worn parts.

Power.

2013-KTM-1190-Adventure-R-010

The amount of power needed to go round the world is much less than the amount of power most dual sport bikes make. A healthy, lean power-to-weight ratio is the holy grail. Useable and agile power will get you through tricky off road sections, over obstacles and even out of trouble around other vehicles on the roads. The top end of the engine power bands will help with long distance cruising in comfort and overall road ability. Too small an engine and you may get trapped between trucks or around other road users, too big an engine and the bike is going to be overweight and handle badly when you do get off road.

Engine. The engine design will affect the amount of power that you can put through the tyres in different situations. In general most adventure bikes favour a variation of one – three cyclinders, usually offset or opposed to produce more torque lower down the rpm range. This helps with low speed control and handling in off road situations.

Equipment.

Luggage

The bike’s frame needs to be strong enough to take the weight of at least the rider, a full load of equipment and spare pack fuel as well as the possibility of a pillion passenger.

Adventure Motorcycle Panniers Luggage
Packing light is important!

Luggage attachment points on the frame, panniers options and positioning of the exhaust system affects this. Think about what kind of luggage you want early on and plan ahead.

Extras to consider

Fuel tank – can you fit an aftermarket one to increase range?

Handlebar risers – are there risers available to aid control when stood up?

Screen and wind protection – is it sufficient for you?

Storage and luggage – how much do you really need?

Kick start – peace of mind when the electric start fails!

Having read this far you’ve hopefully got an idea of what to look for – and what might suit you and your style of riding. Here’s a compilation of some of the best lightweight bikes available:

KTM 690 Enduro

KTM 690 Enduro
KTM 690 Enduro

The KTM middleweight entry to the Dakar Rally from 2008 – 2010. Class leading power to weight ratio and a bulletproof single cylinder 654cc engine. KTM have designed this bike and it’s engine to fit at the upper end of the lightweight adventure motorcycle group (hence it’s included here).

Pros

• Lightweight overall and excellent power

• Excellent off road ability

Cons

• Limited long range comfort and protection

• Not many equipment options for hard panniers

Summary

A hard core option for dedicated trail riding and off road adventure. Few compromises made to long distance ability. Lots of power makes it a popular hypermotard model for street use rather than a true ’round the world’ option.  KTM build may indicate high maintenance and can suffer from electrical gremlins with the speedo cabling. For short trips off road it’s hard to beat.

_______________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________

Suzuki DR650

Suzuki DR650
Suzuki DR650

Single 650cc ‘thumper’ with a reputation for being solid off road. Can be ‘vibey’ during long distance on road runs.

Pros

• Long running Suzuki stalwart – plenty of spares and modification options.

• 46bhp on the road

Cons

• Heavy off road

• Needs modifications for off road comfort.

Suzuki DR650 modified
Suzuki DR650 modified

Summary

A good all round option on paper. Riders complain of nerveless hands after long distances.  Hardcore following modify it for RTW trips.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Honda XR650L

2012 Honda XR650L
2012 Honda XR650L

Honda’s virtually unchanged answer to the lightweight adventure market has been part of their long running XR production series since 1993.

Pros

• Great off road

• Reliable, easy to maintain engine.

Cons

• Limited comforts on road

• Fewer equipment options.

Summary

XR650L modifications adventure motorcycle
XR650L modifications

Lots of owners upgrade the tank and seat .

Summary

It’s noted for excellent useable power off road and has a more dirt capable focus than it’s nearest competition (KLR and DR series). It probably suffers slightly as a trade off once on the road with a weaker frame and fewer hard luggage options.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Yamaha Tenere XT660Z

Yamaha XT660Z Tenere Adventure Motorcycle
Yamaha XT660Z Tenere

‘Out of the crate’ ready for overland travel. This is Yamaha’s definitive adventure lightweight bike. Single cylinder not for everyone.

Pros

• Long range – 400 miles

• Simple and reliable construction

• Robust design with good options

Cons

• Single cylinder can be vibey

• Tall seat height

Summary

Very popular adventure travel machine. It’s centred around a single cylinder engine but solid and very capable on and off road.

_______________________________________________________________________________

BMW F650 ‘Dakar’

BMW F650 GS Dakar Adventure Motorcycle
BMW F650 GS Dakar

BMW’s popular lightweight adventure bike. Built on an air cooled single cylinder engine with a tall seat and robust frame.

Pros

• BMW build quality

• Good mix of on and off road capability

Cons

• Tall seat height

• BMW premiums.

Summary

Tall, miles of suspension travel and it’s got ‘Dakar’ in it’s name. Popular. 

______________________________________________________________________________

Kawasaki KLR650

KLR 650 Adventure Motorcycle
KLR 650

Kawasaki’s lightweight adventure bike is ugly, has plenty of modification options and is popular for it’s agile ability off road and solid presence on road.

Pros

• The simple design and ease of repair likelihood.

• Cheap and available. Plus good low down power.

Cons

• Heavy, underpowered and small range comparatively.

• Ugly yet functional!

Summary

Impossible to overlook, the KLR650 deserves it’s place in this lineup but it’s not for everyone.

Andy & Emilie ‘Riding to Rangoon’ from ADV Bike Magazine

5 lessons we learned while riding to Rangoon Print
Written by Andy
Monday, 03 February 2014 15:57

Andy and Emilie recently rode a Royal Enfield motorcycle from Delhi, India to Yangon, Myanmar, passing through Nepal and Bhutan along the way. This made them the first foreigners to cross independently and under their own steam from India into Myanmar in several decades.

The seven week, 6,500 km odyssey took them through high mountains and dense jungle and across some of the dodgiest regions and worst roads that the world has to offer. Having finally made it safe and sound back to Yangon, below they tell us five big lessons that they learned from the trip.

1. Maybe that insane trip idea is actually possible

The idea of picking up my old motorcycle in Delhi and riding it through India, Nepal and Bhutan back to our current home in Yangon, Myanmar (or Rangoon, Burma if you prefer) was something I suggested to my girlfriend as a joke one day on the train to Mandalay. But then we started fantasising about just how cool it might be and the image became a little hard to get rid of. So just how crazy an idea was this?

Pretty crazy, as it turned out – first and foremost because the border between India and Myanmar is closed to foreigners. Second, the route would have to pass through some of India’s dodgiest states in the country’s restive northeast. Plus there’s the unpredictable road conditions in the Himalayas, which looked to be some of the most challenging in the world. Then came the innumerable red tape involved in transporting a motorcycle across five international borders. And finally the small matter that it’s actually illegal to ride a bike in Yangon.

It was quite understandable, therefore, that we couldn’t find evidence of any independent travellers who’d driven this route previously. But just the names of the places that the route would take us through – Kathmandu, Sikkim, Bhutan, Nagaland – were enough to convince us that we should give it a shot.  And so it was that a few weeks later we found ourselves on a flight to India, not quite believing what we were about to try and do.

2. The places with the roughest reputations might surprise you

Our route took us through India’s restive north-east, a bunch of states practically cut off from the rest of the country where a smorgasbord of tribes live in remote hills and jungles and bear little or no resemblance to the rest of the nation in terms of language, religion or look. Many wonder how they ever got attached to India and are actively fighting to reverse the situation. This struggle for their own homelands has made Nagaland and Manipur two of India’s most dangerous states. Regular skirmishes between army and rebels, frequent bombings and a general feeling of lawlessness prevail. Criminal gangs allegedly smuggle drugs and guns in from Burma and highway robbery is an all too common occurrence.

As we crossed into Nagaland, bouncing over an old iron bridge and signing in at a rickety military check-post before being allowed to proceed, it was immediately clear that we were entering a different world. There was an instant deterioration of the roads, thatched huts replaced the brick houses of Assam, and military roadblocks and patrols made us feel that we were entering occupied territory. The stunning beauty of the lush green hills swathed in mist could only temporarily divert us from an overall feeling of eeriness and unease due to those tales we’d heard of rebels, drug traffickers and rogue Indian army units that were apparently somewhere out there.

Things were not made easier by the confused, hard stares of the few people we passed, seemingly shocked to see outsiders, and the fact that a lot of the men had locally-made rifles slung casually over their shoulders. First impressions can be deceptive though and in fact the next days brought us into contact with some of the most open, hospitable, and good-humoured people we’d met on our journey. On the way to Kohima, we were treated to the most abysmal jungle “road” of the trip which ended up defeating us but almost immediately we were taken in by an old couple and their daughter in a tiny hilltop village. They dried our clothes around the open fire and insisted on cooking us a hearty meal while urging us to “write a letter to the King of England” once we got home, drawing his attention to the cause of Naga independence.

As we continued on towards Manipur’s state capital of Imphal, which had just been bombed four times in as many weeks, we were suddenly surrounded by the town’s local biker gang, the Royal Riders, who had heard about our trip and ridden out to the city limits to escort us in. They made us feel right at home though our nerves were not completely calmed as it also happened to be Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights, which involves an all-night blitz of fireworks that left us never quite sure whether the last huge bang was just another Roman candle being let off or rather a home made bomb exploding.

3. Those best laid plans…

We would never have started the trip if we’d insisted on being sure that it was feasible before setting out. And from day one we realised we needed to throw a lot of the planning that we had done out of the window. It was a great reminder that not all of the knowledge you need is available through Google. The condition of a road, the availability of a mechanic, the temperament of a border guard, the safety of an area, these are all things you only find out by extreme proximity, which means embracing uncertainty but also allows the journey to remain mysterious and to unfurl and evolve each day, with you never quite knowing what’s going to happen next.

Our route was soon out of the window as roads which had been said to exist turned out to be washed away. The timetable also got binned pretty fast as we had failed to anticipate that, for example:

  1. The road through the Himalayan foothills from Kathmandu to the border that they said had just been finished would actually turn into a goat track half way along.
  2. The steering, battery, clutch and suspension of our bike would all fail on successive days, and then the exhaust would fall off.
  3. The yummy though slightly fishy dish from the market in Kathmandu would turn out to be riddled with some particularly nasty bacteria that would oblige me to spend the next three days in bed.

We had lots of good delays too though, such as the irresistible smaller, rougher road that led up to an old monastery and just begged to be explored, that inviting river we were riding alongside in southern Nepal which lured us in for an afternoon dip, and the wonderful people all the way along from Delhi to Rangoon who insisted we sit down and have tea with them while explaining what on earth we thought we were doing. Our conclusion: always allow at least twice the time you think you’ll need!

4. You’re probably worrying about the wrong things before the trip

We had sat fretting about getting hijacked and robbed, feeling we’d be sitting ducks as two lone westerners riding through some of the remotest parts of South Asia. As it happened though, never once did we even actually feel genuinely threatened. We worried that the border crossings would involve interminable questions and delays and that we probably had only a 50-50 chance of actually getting through to Myanmar. In reality we were greeted with friendly smiles, a little curiosity, and all-in-all a pretty efficient and fast service and not once were we fingered for a bribe.

What we should have worried about instead was road conditions. Sure we expected lots of potholes, but we were not quite prepared for the extent of knee-deep water-logged mud and roads made entirely out of fist-size loose rocks, the lack of bridges across rivers and the rockfalls that occur in the mountains with surprising frequency. When the road got better we were instead faced with a heady mix of brightly painted trucks, rickety buses, speeding cars and weaving motorcycles to contend with, united in a desire to get wherever they were going as quickly as possible with scant regard for the laws of physics or the basic tenets of road safety. And finally there were the dogs, goats, yaks, pigs, and odd camel who were ever keen to assert their right of way.

5. Visit Bhutan once in your life

India, Nepal and Myanmar are all wonderful, fascinating, beautiful countries that we can’t recommend highly enough. But our passage through Bhutan was simply magical. The country strictly controls tourism and we had spent several months organising to drive our motorcycle through the country – doing it alone is an absolute no-no as all travellers must be supervised and have their itinerary pre-approved. We were greeted by a tiny Himalayan kingdom of less than a million people sandwiched between China and India.

It’s the home of the concept of Gross National Happiness, a place where no tree can be cut down nor any animal killed, where tobacco is banned, where all buildings are built in the traditional style and decorated with ejaculating phalluses in reverence to a certain “Divine Madman” and where there’s a national park dedicated to the protection of the yeti. We spent ten days or so winding our way through this spectacularly beautiful and pristine wonderland of soaring snow-capped peaks, hidden green valleys and magnificent fortresses and monasteries, topped by colourful prayer flags flapping in the wind. We ended up totally enthralled by the natural splendour, openness of spirit and deep cultural reverence that permeate this land and its people. Go there.

To read more about Andy and Emilie’s trip, take a look at their website: http://www.ridingtorangoon.com

Last Updated on Monday, 03 February 2014 16:23

 

Nick Sander’s Mongolia Expedition suffers a fatality in the Gobi Desert

From Nick Sander’s current expedition into Mongolia. On the edge of the Gobi Desert one of the group crashed and his condition deteriorated. Despite a rapid CASEVAC and swift medical intervention one of the group died the following day. Sad and troubling times for the family, the remaining members of the expedition group and Nick Sanders (motorcyclist). Our thoughts and hopes for a peaceful return go out to them.

The perfect adventure bike or the perfect adventure attitiude.

One of the most insightful articles published recently on the perfect all round adventure bike. Paul Pitchfork is currently in S. America and writes at www.horcamoto.com. He’s spent some time musing on the series of comprises that go into the perfect expedition machine.

“In this post, I look at the much-debated question of which machine is best for a long road trip. It’s probably one for the motoqueros amongst Horca Moto’s readership, but perhaps there is a lesson here for others about life in general….

It is one of motorcycling’s perennial questions: “What is the perfect adventure bike?” Asked and answered from many differing angles, it is a favourite on biker forums, in magazines and no doubt in many a pub and bar around the world. So to celebrate hitting the 40,000km mark on the roads and dirt tracks of South America, I’ve decided to don my flack jacket, raise my head above the parapet and throw my hat into this well-trodden ring.

Firstly, let’s get clear on semantics. ‘Adventure biking’ can mean many things to many people, which can muddy the waters of the discussion. Here, I am talking about ‘overlanding’ – a long road trip through foreign lands, and furthermore one which seeks out remote places along the back roads and dirt tracks wherever possible.

Let me start by asking you a question of those of you planning a long ride through South America, Siberia or elsewhere. Are you going on a bike trip, or are you going to travel on a bike? The difference in phraseology is subtle, but the difference in philosophy is big. If the soul of the trip is built around the bike, then which bike you ride will have much more impact on the experience. If, however, the moto is simply your mode of transport, choosing your machine is less of an issue. So when you decide to ride, get clear on what you are aspiring to do – you might save yourself a lot of unnecessary agonising over which machine you need to buy. I’ve met people who sit at both extremes of this spectrum; some who only want to ride, ride, ride and others who are happy on a local Chinese 200. However most of us, I suspect, sit somewhere between the two.

The ‘perfect bike’ debate usually revolves around factors such as comfort, tank size and range, reliability, off-road and on-road handling, access to spares, field-maintainability, service internals and the like. The pros and cons of air-cooled verses liquid-cooled, EFI verses carbs, mainstream Japanese verses niche European get batted back and forth. Some zealots will stake there lives on a particular bike being ‘the one’. Others will sagely point out that the choice of any bike will always involve compromise and the ‘perfect bike’ can never actually exist. And still more will rightly observe that when choosing the best bike for someone, we must consider three key factors together – the bike, the rider’s skill, and the terrain on which the bike will be used. The bike itself cannot be considered in isolation. But for me, the most important ingredient of all is nearly always missing – and that is the rider’s attitude.

It is rider attitude that makes the statement, “You can have an adventure on any bike” true. And of course, the impact of attitude isn’t unique to riding a moto – it applies to everything in life. If in your mind something is good enough, then it is. When my former girlfriend bought a 10-year old Fiat Uno to learn to drive in, I surprised myself when I started doing long motorway runs in it, choosing to leave my 3.2 litre Audi in the garage to save on fuel. Why did I surprise myself? Because after years behind the wheel of an A3, I realised that 75mph was ample, the lack of a CD player could be overcome by using my iPod and the ineffective heater could be overlooked if I wore an extra jersey. It is about changing attitude – adjusting expectations, recalibrating. And when you actually go ahead and do it, you realise it is no big deal. Remember, humans are very adaptable creatures.

imageThis isn’t simply theory. Over the twenty months I’ve been on the road here in South America, I’ve seen it in action time and time again. My girlfriend and riding partner is a perfect case in point. We have ridden the length of Peru and Ecuador together, on asphalt and dirt, through mountain and jungle. I’m on an upgraded 660 Tenere with EFI, bags of power, a 23-litre tank, Ohlins suspension, heated grips and a whole lot more. She is on a stock Suzuki DR200 – and she’s loving it. She’s set her psychological dials to match the Suzuki’s performance, so she needs nothing more.

When we rode one of the most demanding sections of the trip thus far – through the Peruvian highlands in the rainy season on dirt – we met a local motoquero as we waited together at some roadworks. He was travelling across the country on a 250cc Chinese street bike, wearing a pair of wellington boots and an old windbreaker. When the road opened, he was soon out of sight ahead of us. We caught up with him later when he was stopped beside the road, out of fuel. I gave him a two litre top-up and then never saw him again, despite encountering three major fords further up the road. He clearly negotiated them and the rest of the dirt road without much problem; yet he was on the most ‘unadventure bike’ you could imagine.

He wasn’t concerned about tank capacity and range; he was happy to pullover and wait for someone to come along with some spare gas. And judging by his happy-go-lucky disposition, I’d guess he would deal with a breakdown (inevitable on a cheap Chinese moto at some point) with the same sanguine attitude. When his butt gets a bit numb on the unforgiving seat, I suspect he just stops for ten minutes. And when 50kph is the best his machine can do on the steep inclines at 3500m, he probably just gives himself a bit more time to get to his destination and enjoys the scenery a bit more.

So maybe we get ourselves a bit too tied up in knots in the quest for the perfect, of even the best, adventure moto. I have a sneaking suspicion that if you forced every GSA 1200 rider you met to dismount, shed a bit of luggage and then get on a 250cc Honda Tornado for the rest of his trip, at least half of them would be having a ball after a week.

But having said all that, I do have a view on what I think are the three most important characteristics for a moto, if you want to go beyond the asphalt. Firstly, you have to be able to ride your chosen mount comfortably off-road; that might be a KTM 990 or a XT225 Serow, depending on the rider. Secondly, your must be able to pick up your bike, loaded, alone; if you can’t, you’ll fear dropping it which in turn will stop you from exploring those magical, lonely routes which (for me) define these trips. And thirdly, it needs to be reliable. I’ve ridden some dirt roads through the mountains and not encountered another person for 300km; doubting my machine’s reliability would have denied me such a stunning ride.

imageFor me, ‘Light is Might’. And the lighter, the better. Having ridden both my Tenere and my girlfriend’s Suzuki through mud slides, fast-flowing gravelly fords and rockfalls blocking our route, and having put the Suzuki in the back of a pickup with one other person (it took four to do the same thing with my Tenere and my chum’s 1150 in Patagonia), I’ve learnt this lesson from experience. I may change my mind after a long trip of a light and less powerful bike; but for now, lightweight is the direction I want to go in.

All that said, I accept this whole subject is a case of ‘each to their own’. If you like the ‘big bike’ feel, or are travelling two-up or are a seriously competent dirt rider, a GS1200 or V-Strom may be your chosen mount. Me? I love my Tenere, but she is a bit heavy. Until Yamaha give us a WR450R, I’m eyeing up the new CCM GP450. If the engine proves to be reliable, then for me we might be getting closer to the mythical perfect adventure bike.”image