Here's our top 10 Adventure bikes for any budget!
The Suzuki DRZ400 has fought head to head with Honda’s XR400 in the middle weight category for well over a decade. Considering Honda pulled the pin on the kick only XR400, the DRZ is essentially the winner by default. Too heavy for motorcross tracks and serious jumping, too light as a serious tourer (without modifications) the DRZ400 is right at home for a few days at a time through moderate trails. Plenty of low down grunt means experienced riders will have no dramas punting one through tracks that would leave a 4WD for dead.
Kawasaki’s KLR650 is the start of the lightweight ADV bikes. They’re up a weight class from the 400cc trail bikes, which leans them slightly away from a nimble trail bike and more towards a long distance tourer. While not much heavier than a traditional dirt bike the KLR650 offers a versatile platform with a real headlight, large cowling to protect from wind and cold at speed, and a 22L fuel tank for an ample range for most touring situations as well. The KLR650 is the perfect entrance into the Adventure bike realm. Learner legal, lightweight enough to not intimidate beginners, and enough comfort and power for the long haul.
A serious contender in the middleweight category, Triumph’s Scrambler straddles the gap between semi-off-road capability and on-road performance. Its upright seating position, high ground clearance and wide handlebars all lend themselves perfectly to off-road riding. Now let’s get one thing straight, the Triumph is by no stretch of the imagination an off-road focused bike. Even calling it an ADV bike is pushing it. But, if you’ve got room in the garage for one bike that needs to be ridden to and from work, hours down the freeway and then out to your favourite campgrounds, the Triumph Scrambler is certainly worth a look.
KAWASAKI VERSYS 650L
Another 650 offering from Kawasaki, the Versys 650L is a whole different beast to the light-weight KLR650. While the KLR650 focuses on rugged reliability, the Versys is a more refined platform. Rather than a KLR650 with a modern skin the Versys 650L is a shrunk down, learner legal version of Kawasaki’s Versys 1000. Much like the Triumph, the Versys 650L is a perfect all-rounder kind of bike. You wouldn’t be punting it up the Old Tele Track, but with a set of off-road tyres it’d make mincemeat of the Peninsula Development Road and all for a fraction of the cost of the larger bikes.
TRIUMPH TIGER 800 XCA
Stepping up a size again (and a price tag) the Triumph Tiger 800 XCa is one of our first forays into the all-out ADV bike category. The XCa tops out Triumphs renowned 800 Tiger range. Don’t be mistaken, it’s heavier and far more expensive than an entry level bike. Although if you’re looking to ride to Birdsville, cross the Simpson Desert, and duck into Adelaide on your way home this is the starting point.
It comes with all the gadgets and gizmos you’d expect for the price tag. Selectable ABS, Traction Control, heated rider and passenger seats, heated grips and an alternator powerful enough to run the fog lamps, tyre pressure monitoring system and auxiliary power outlets. Factor that in with off-road tuned suspension, bash guards and a legitimate reason to wear a tweed jacket and it starts making for a compelling package.
HONDA AFRICA TWIN
For those with a touch of nostalgia for the 80s, Honda might have just the thing for you, although short shorts and terrible moustaches are optional extras. Back on the tracks as of 2016, Honda’s Africa Twin has hit the ground running. The completely new bike has pushed capacity up to 998cc up from the original 750cc in the 80s. The bike retains serious off-road credibility with minimal plastics, slim body work and a 21/18” wheel combo.
The Africa Twin oozes old school cool and would be right at home zig zagging through the Outback. Although if you’re after comfort and all the frills of a long distance tourer you might be barking up the wrong tree.
YAMAHA SUPER TENERE ES
Just crossing the line into the 20k+ category, Yamaha’s Super Tenere ES represents serious value for money on the larger end of the scale. As with most bikes in this category the Super Tenere ES has considerable bulk, daunting for a beginner but once rolling carries the weight well. While it comes standard with ABS and a unified brake system (front and rear operate off one lever) the Tenere is essentially a stripped down, Dakar bread Adventure bike. The options like heaters and fog lamps are all available. But if you’re after a bang for buck adventure machine that could take you all across Australia the Super Tenere is hard to go past.
KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R
The Austrian brute ticks every specification box you could ask. Comfort, power, and a near on 1300cc V Twin powerplant that’d put most sports bikes to shame. It’ll outrun anything short of a Ferrari in the quarter mile and then turn left into thick scrub riding on the back wheel. But expect to pay for the privilege. In this end of the field the electronics are stepped up another notch again. ABS is a given but the KTM packs lean-angle-sensing traction control, multiple power modes and Electronic Damping System suspension. The R offers off-road oriented wheels, suspension, and geometry over its road going S brother. It even comes sporting an auto indicator turn off function. Don’t be that rider.
BMW R NINET URBAN G/S
BMW have built a reputation the world over for their robust, no-nonsense adventure bikes, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that when they kicked off their retro-revival R NINET line, it wouldn’t take long till they throw a set of muddies on it, slapped a Dakkar inspired sticker kit down its flanks and worked out the best way to jump it. The Urban G/S is powered by an iconic 1170cc air-cooled flat twin giving it that unmistakeable BMW low centre of gravity, with modern tech like ABS and fuel injection making it a whole heap easier to live with. The Urban G/S is the perfect bike for adventurers who fantasise about taking to the hills on a 30yo bike, but who’d rather buy a new one and keep it for 30 years than deal with an old dunger.
DUCATI MULTISTRADA 1200
If the BMW ticks all the boxes, but is a little too knitted cardigan for your taste the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro Pro may take your fancy. With Ducati’s typical in your face styling the Multistrada is one of those purchases that make absolutely no sense, but leave you smiling from ear to ear every time you use it. There’s not enough room on this page to begin to list the Ducati’s electronic aids so we’ll keep this short. The Ducati is loud, fast, capable, over the top, and sure to be surrounded by a small crowd every time you stop for fuel. If you’re after bang for your buck, the most capable off-road bike on the market, or a friendly bike for beginners there are far better places to look. If you want your mates to secretly cuss you out every time you leave this is the bike for you.