Since the commenting that I’m in the market for an Adventure bike I’ve been met with apprehensive responses from a lot of different people. In attempt to better explain my interest, I started looking for articles outlining the advantages of owning an adventure bike. To my surprise, I couldn’t find very many; especially considering how the “adventure” niche is growing in popularity. Thus, I figured I’d write my own.
Why you should buy an adventure bike:
- Increased Suspension
As a motorcyclist that covers around 14,000 miles annually, comfort in the saddle is obviously a concern of mine. From what I can tell, the average cruiser typically brings about three and half inches of suspension travel to the table; while that’s more than the depth of most pot holes found in the early spring, that’s still not saying much, especially when you’re riding two-up. Most adventure bikes are sporting at least seven inches in the rear; even the “adventure-esque” bikes have at least five (i.e. Yamaha FJ-09). More suspension travel means more cushion to take the punishment of off-road conditions, let alone the decrepit roadways. I understand there are aftermarket suspension options available for other bikes, and that may be enough for most people, but this isn’t the only reason to buy an adventure bike.
- Taller Seat height
More suspension travel often translates into taller seat heights. This is typically a deal breaker for a lot of people; if they’re not flat footed at a standstill, it’s a no-go. There are “low” seat options available from most manufacturers, but I won’t argue with the concern about flat footing at a stop light. That being said, there are advantages of the taller seat height; namely the ability to see over cars, and increasing the likelihood of being seen on your motorcycle. If you can see over the cars in front of you, there’s potential to spot hazards earlier, which makes me feel safer. Being taller may also help draw attention to you as a rider, hopefully that puts your hi-vis gear up at eye level so the SUVs can see you.
This is arguably my number one reason; I see the “adventure” bike as the jeep of motorcycles. There are unquestionably better off-road vehicles and better touring machines, but the adventure bike is the blend of both worlds. The adventure bike is “no frills” with blacked out motors and the almost nonexistence of chrome. Their trellis frame is designed to have gear slung off the sides and virtually every part of the rear end of the bike; the photos on ADVrider.com are incredible with hard cases, dry bags, stacks of tires, and the occasional teddy bear.
Again, an adventure bike IS NOT a dirt bike, but it they’re undoubtedly related. Beyond the increased suspension, some adventure bikes are already fitted with the necessary off-road kit right off the showroom floor (i.e. BMW 800 GS Adventure), but typically with a few bolt on parts you can be ready to tackle some serious back country adventures. For those of you not familiar, the average “off the shelf” options include sump bash plate, knobby tires, hand guards or “bark busters”, engine guards or crash bars, bolt on fog lights, headlight protectors, aluminum panniers, folding gear shift lever, just to mention a few.
I consider the adventure bike to be the “all-a-rounder” not necessarily the best at any one thing, but the flexibility to do a little of everything. Taking into consideration my annual mileage, moreover the frequency of two-up riding, I began debating about getting a touring motorcycle. Shortly after I realized that I could get all the best parts of touring bikes with less chrome or less plastic molding if I purchased an Adventure bike, and at less cost. Triumph’s Trophy and Tiger Explorer essentially share the same power plant, shaft drive, and throttle by wire electronics; yet the Tiger is over $3500 cheaper. If you don’t need the “dressing” (or stereo system), the adventure bike can do what the other bikes do; moreover it can typically cross over into other types of riding; some riders take their adventure bike to track days, other riders wander through the dirt when the asphalt ends.
Riding through the city I often feel like there are essentially two bikes, big displacement V-twins, and Asian sport bikes. Certainly this is an exaggeration, but I wonder what happened to the “standard” bike; did it evolved into the “adventure bike”? For sport riders looking for more upright seating, or cruiser riders who can no longer tolerate the impact shock directly to their spine from the recumbent position, the adventure bike offers neutral seating. I find a lot of riders like to “stretch out” when they’re on long freeway stints and therefore cannot fathom the tight seating of sport bike. While I agree, at no point can I truly get the pressure off my tailbone when riding a cruiser; the adventure bike may cause increased knee bend angle over a cruiser, but the adventure bike offers what the cruiser cannot, the ability to stand up and ride; stretching out doesn’t get much better than that.
- Thirst for Adventure
Tavern to Tavern is as good as it gets for some folks; more power to them. However, the limited few thirst for the rarest forms of adventure, completely leaving society behind. For those folks, the right tools are needed; in my case, there’s a lot of freeway between me and the expanse of the “great west”, riding a 250 Dual Sport might be possible, but far from comfortable, the adventure bike bridges that gap. While I have aspirations of traversing the nation, the immediate use of the adventure bike is to take a motorcycle where normal street bikes don’t typically venture; from there who knows?
Adventure bikes aren’t for everyone, but for riders that value utility over vanity they’re often the right tool for the job. While searching for “pros and cons” of owning an adventure bike, I also found these articles: