Motorcycle Shopping: 7 Reasons to buy an Adventure Bike

20141019_092327Since 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:

  1. Increased Suspension

Kawasaki KLR 650 frontAs 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.


  1. Taller Seat height

20140913_192732More 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.


  1. Utility

20150131_153146This 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 are incredible with hard cases, dry bags, stacks of tires, and the occasional teddy bear.


  1. Ruggedness

Icon-Raiden Tiger 800Again, 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.


  1. Versatility

20140201_130611I 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.


  1. Ergonomics

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.


  1. Thirst for Adventure

20140201_132416Tavern 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:

What is an Adventure Motorcycle

Why Adventure-Touring Bikes Are So Popular

Choosing An Adventure Bike

Eight Adventure Bikes You Can Actually Take Off-Road

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15 Responses to Motorcycle Shopping: 7 Reasons to buy an Adventure Bike

  1. Robert Nichols says:

    Sigh….great article, but now I have to rethink my decision to buy a sport touring bike. The sport bike I have is crippling me so I figured a sport touring, but you made a lot of good points. So I’m off to the dealer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Like I said, I too was convinced I needed an ST… then I realized several Adventure bikes offer more for less. If you want electronics (blue tooth/stereo) and fairings you’re still going to need and ST, but if all you need is a big alternator and cruise control, the big adventures have you covered. Thanks for reading!


  2. John says:

    Really enjoyed the article, thanks for posting. Unfortunately, I’m one of those guys not on the Adventure Bike band wagon. Too tall and not my taste in styling. If I’m going to South America I’d get one. But, with three weeks a year vacation and other stuff to do it’s not likely I’ll be going around the world soon. I mostly see them used as “standard” motorcycles. I think it’s like how many SUV’s ever get off road? Some but not many. Everyone should ride what they want but a good old fashion standard works for the way many people ride!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I couldn’t agree more sir. Without question there are hundreds (if not thousands) of riders with decked out BMW 1200 GS’s that have never even considered the dirt. Like I said, Adventure bikes aren’t for everyone, there are lots of people buying based on looks, but that also sells thousands of Harley’s each year too. It’s a shame that manufacturers haven’t been putting more “Standard” options into the U.S. market. I would argue that the new FJ-09 is a step in the right direction.


  3. Ry Austin says:

    I’ll try to keep this short, as it’s a topic one could easily get carried away with. In late ’09, after briefly considering STs, I bought an F800GS because I wanted to be able to do on two wheels what I’d been doing my whole life: camping in remote locations in the deserts and mountains that I love. Here are some of my conclusions and observations from the years since:

    I started with zero dirt-riding experience (if I exclude mountain biking) and had many skills to learn and much confidence to gain. This has taken time, and I still have much to learn and gain.

    With patience, practice, persistence, and a bit of fearlessness, I really can ride to wherever I want. Patience practice, persistence, and fearlessness remain required.

    I can haul as much gear as I need for at least five days away from civilization and pavement, even if I’m headed into the desert and have to take all the water I’ll need (it gets heavy, but it’s doable).

    As I travel alone most of the time, I would not want to have to pick up anything bigger or heavier than the 800, and I have had to pick it up several times in sand, in loose rocks, and on ledges.

    Even with the bike fully loaded with gear, I would not need anything more powerful.

    Where are all of the dual-sports? In all of the desert and mountain riding I do, I rarely–RARELY–see other dual-sports on other than pavement.

    Dual-sport riding and camping has enriched my life immeasurably.

    Though I’ve since acquired a few other motorcycles that are thrilling to ride, put in the position to keep only one, I’d keep the dual-sport–for its versatility.

    Again, where the hell are all of the dual-sports?! Really, I never see them on even moderate dirt or gravel roads.

    Happy shopping. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Dan says:

    Great blog, Sir!   From: Moto Adventurer To: Sent: Thursday, April 23, 2015 1:03 PM Subject: [New post] Motorcycle Shopping: 7 Reasons to buy an Adventure Bike #yiv9212221793 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv9212221793 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv9212221793 a.yiv9212221793primaryactionlink:link, #yiv9212221793 a.yiv9212221793primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv9212221793 a.yiv9212221793primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv9212221793 a.yiv9212221793primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv9212221793 | drewkfaulkner posted: “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 adve” | |

    Liked by 1 person

  6. steve ford says:

    I bought an F800GS 3 years ago, before the trend began, and have since put 20,000 miles on it with no regrets. True ADV bikes are like Swiss Army knives. They do it all. Not necessarily as well as a task specific bike, but they are still a lot of fun. Read about my adventures here –

    Liked by 1 person

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