Talk to me about big adventure bikes.

J-mobzz

Well-Known Member
So I can’t stop daydreaming of punishing myself with a very very long ride. And I need a bike to do it on. Here are some of my wants.

Something capable of very long days on asphalt.

Able to handle dirt roads and mild two track

I would prefer getting something brand new if available.

Something that is pretty well outfitted as is for traveling/adventure style riding.

Very available parts. If something happens a few thousand miles from home I don’t want to be stuck for weeks waiting for parts.


Really at this point I’m looking at the Vstrom, BMW and possibly the KTM.

Feedback, advise, suggestions are all wanted.
 

pkrfctr

Registered User
Location
Spanish Fork, UT
Ive run down baja for a couple years with a ducati, KTM, harley, tenere and several GSA's. They are all good but different. I ride a GSA. The KTM has had issues leaving him stranded once, none of the others have. Go ride them all and see what fits you best. The GSA is heavy but that big gas tank comes in handy. the littler tank guys have to fill up out of barrels on the side of the street while the bigger tanks can make it from city to city. The new ducati v4 actually gets fewer miles per tank than the previous model so pay attention to that too. You can do the miles on any of them. the adventure bikes have so many different riding positions and if you get saddle sore you just stand up for a min or two. Parts are going to be about the same for most of them. The harley will eventually have the edge here but for now they are still new and not much out there.
 

Gravy

Ant Anstead of Dirtbikes
How big do you want? is the first question to answer.
How off-road worthy do you want is the next.

I've ridden:
KTM 1090r, 690r, 990 Adventure, 950 Super Enduro, 1290 Super Adventure. 790 and 890 adventure R's
Ducati Scrambler and currently a Desert Sled.
Honda 650xr, XR650L, vfr1200x, and briefly an Africa twin, nc750.
BMW GS1200 adventure, and 750gs
Triumph Tiger 800 XE
Suzuki Vstrom 650
KLX650

For big touring the really big bikes are nice. I wouldn't say they're very off-road worthy in the way I use bikes. A 750 is much easier to pickup when you drop it than a 1200 for example.
Wind protection makes long rides less tiring that's real.
If all you're going to do off-road is dirt two track, then a Vstrom makes a lot of sense. It does it all with a price tag that isn't too bad. It doesn't do anything exceptionally well but it does everything.
The Africa Twin also makes sense for you as well -I'd put that on your list too.

I'd probably consider a Tenere 700 for my next bike, as I'm very off-road oriented.

Figure out you wants as precisely as possible and we can steer you.
 

Greg

Starting Over
Admin
IMO, every Adventure bike has compromises.... you're asking one bike to perform multiple, very different tasks and each bike will excel in one area, while leaving something to be desired in another. The best thing you can do is ride each bike you're interested in. Seat time will really help you decide what fits your needs, I can't stress this enough. I have bought bikes based on the internet hype and been quite disappointed with how it worked for me. IMO having a bigger bike means more power at freeway speeds and less getting blown around on the freeway. If you want to travel and cover some miles, a bigger bike (larger than a 650) is best.

I've owned several adventure bikes, I'll try give a run down of them from my experience.

The Suzuki DR650 is a killer, low budget adventure bike with a huge following with great aftermarket support, so you can built it how you want. The subframe is super stout, unlike the Honda 650's. Air cooled, simple engine. Suspension is cheap, but it works. Bigger aftermarket tank is needed, options as big as an 8 gallon tank! Easy to ride, lower seat height but no fairing means you're always in the wind at highway speeds.

The V-Strom is very much a road touring bike that is capable on limited dirt adventures. It's the kind of bike that is super smooth and comfortable eating up road miles. If you want to cover some ground on the street, the V-Strom is a great option. Low seat height, nice fairings, comfortable seating position. A rough 2 track is asking a lot of a V-Strom, the suspension, ground clearance, wheels, etc aren't built for harder trails.

The KTM 690 is a super fun dual sport, with a small gas tank. It get's good MPG, but if you're looking for real mileage range, bigger tanks are needed.... but not cheap. Great factory suspension, super sporty on road and off. Gobs of HP for a single cyl bike. Capable of bombing down the freeway, but lack of any real fairing makes it tiring.

KTM 990 Adventure.... IMO the perfect adventure bike. Way more power than needed, pretty decent suspension out of the box, good sized gas tanks, incredibly capable in the dirt. Probably one of the most dirt capable ADV bikes offered. Enough fairing to be comfortable on the freeway for hours. I thought the 990 was more capable than I was, but still loved riding it.

I think the KTM 1190 and 1090 Adventure are similar to the 990, but newer, more refined and even more capable.

I haven't cared for the Honda Africa and it's weird clutch, IMO Honda builds middle of the road stuff. Tame, predictable and blaaaa... boring.

I feel similar about BMW's, the big GSA is so big you better know how to ride it offroad if you plan on anything rougher than a dirt road. The GS800 wasn't my cup of tea either.

Hope that helps and feel free to ask if you need more info!
 

J-mobzz

Well-Known Member
How big do you want? is the first question to answer.
How off-road worthy do you want is the next.

I've ridden:
KTM 1090r, 690r, 990 Adventure, 950 Super Enduro, 1290 Super Adventure. 790 and 890 adventure R's
Ducati Scrambler and currently a Desert Sled.
Honda 650xr, XR650L, vfr1200x, and briefly an Africa twin, nc750.
BMW GS1200 adventure, and 750gs
Triumph Tiger 800 XE
Suzuki Vstrom 650
KLX650

For big touring the really big bikes are nice. I wouldn't say they're very off-road worthy in the way I use bikes. A 750 is much easier to pickup when you drop it than a 1200 for example.
Wind protection makes long rides less tiring that's real.
If all you're going to do off-road is dirt two track, then a Vstrom makes a lot of sense. It does it all with a price tag that isn't too bad. It doesn't do anything exceptionally well but it does everything.
The Africa Twin also makes sense for you as well -I'd put that on your list too.

I'd probably consider a Tenere 700 for my next bike, as I'm very off-road oriented.

Figure out you wants as precisely as possible and we can steer you.
I’ve owned a vstrom 650 And the off-road capability of that bike was enough for me. However I want something that handles interstate better. @ 230lbs it didn’t give me the passing power at 80 mph I would want in a bike for the type of trip I’m planning. The new Vstrom 1050 adventure looks like a decent fit and at $15k the price seems right. I’m not sure if they are actually available though. But I do think that is currently on the top of my list. 2E27CE4C-FADF-4820-9309-DE574C15CD7C.jpeg
 

J-mobzz

Well-Known Member
My favorite big bike ride was on my KTM 990 Adventure up to the Canada border and back. ;) - https://www.rme4x4.com/threads/ride...es-on-a-ktm-990-adventure.104958/#post-996374
I remember reading that thread. And it’s honestly the only reason the ktm is on my list.

my trip will definitely see it’s fair share dirt and logging roads and I know the KTM would just shine compared to a V Strom. my biggest hangups on a KTM are my personal experience owning one. given it was a dirtbike not an adventure bike. while the performance was better than anything I had ever owned the reliability and maintenance was far more in depth than anything I’ve ever owned. I’m not exactly wanting to have to stop every thousand miles to work on the bike. And second is cost it’s about $5000 more than the V-strom that’s a lot of spare parts, gear and gas. And third I haven’t actually ridden one so I need to do that but I am curious how they compare on the highway. For the trip I want I’m definitely going to have to lay down some heavy miles during the day on interstate.
 

J-mobzz

Well-Known Member
Ive run down baja for a couple years with a ducati, KTM, harley, tenere and several GSA's. They are all good but different. I ride a GSA. The KTM has had issues leaving him stranded once, none of the others have. Go ride them all and see what fits you best. The GSA is heavy but that big gas tank comes in handy. the littler tank guys have to fill up out of barrels on the side of the street while the bigger tanks can make it from city to city. The new ducati v4 actually gets fewer miles per tank than the previous model so pay attention to that too. You can do the miles on any of them. the adventure bikes have so many different riding positions and if you get saddle sore you just stand up for a min or two. Parts are going to be about the same for most of them. The harley will eventually have the edge here but for now they are still new and not much out there.
This is interesting I had no idea that Harley made an adventure bike now. I owned a road glide for a while and while it was fun I have to admit I’m not really a Harley fan. But it’s definitely worth checking one of those bikes out I do like that it has a fixed faring that would make it much more enjoyable on the highway.

B53EFD79-CAF1-4CD6-AE53-3EC245C3CBF7.jpeg
 

Gravy

Ant Anstead of Dirtbikes
You can get a standard clutch on an Africa Twin. It's 100hp. 77lb/ft. It's stupid fast. Fuel injection. Huge tank. Excellent suspension. Good fuel mileage. Honda reliability.

The biggest drawbacks of the 990/950 ktms are carbs and poor fuel mileage. I averaged 30 combined and sold the bike promptly. Liked the bike but the weight was too much and too high up for my kind of proper offroading.
Many report 140-160 mi to the tank. (5.1gal)
To put that in perspective I got 50mpgs on my 690r over 5k average miles. And put me around 175miles to the tank. And 130 lbs lighter before fuel.
It was also no good for long freeway runs... Because of the steep head angle on the R. The S was better on road.



Fuel injected bikes will get 10mpg better.
IMO it's not an option if you want a newer bike there are few out there without lots of miles.
Even the newest 1090r is 4 years old.

I like that big Vstrom for you. Very practical. People knock them for that but it's what IMO makes them great.

Ride a 890 adventure- it's pretty magical. It's kinda the sweet spot. The weight is carried so low it feels so much lighter than any similar sized full fairing bike.

The BMWs are unmatched in on road comfort. I spent 5.5 days straight on the 1200 (it turned over 60k miles while I was on it!) and my wife on the 750. Plush. Heated seats, grips and cruise control made it feel like the luxury SUV of ADV bikes. The newer F800GS is quite cool also and more manageable off-road.

I cannot wait to get my butt on the new Harley btw. The Revolution motor is cool.
 

pkrfctr

Registered User
Location
Spanish Fork, UT
My buddy loves his Pam America harley. He is short and so the self lowering when he stops is what sold him. The bike will lower about 1.5 inches(if I remember correct) when the bike stops. As far as gas mileage- I get about 45 in my 1250 GSA, my friend gets mid 50's on his ducati with pipes.
 

Greg

Starting Over
Admin
I remember reading that thread. And it’s honestly the only reason the ktm is on my list.

my trip will definitely see it’s fair share dirt and logging roads and I know the KTM would just shine compared to a V Strom. my biggest hangups on a KTM are my personal experience owning one. given it was a dirtbike not an adventure bike. while the performance was better than anything I had ever owned the reliability and maintenance was far more in depth than anything I’ve ever owned. I’m not exactly wanting to have to stop every thousand miles to work on the bike. And second is cost it’s about $5000 more than the V-strom that’s a lot of spare parts, gear and gas. And third I haven’t actually ridden one so I need to do that but I am curious how they compare on the highway. For the trip I want I’m definitely going to have to lay down some heavy miles during the day on interstate.

I forgot you had that 650 V-Strom! I really like the newest model, the 1050 XT looks like a great candidate for your needs. Plenty of HP, good fairing and weight for long road days, etc. You can add aftermarket seats for more comfort and highway pegs to stretch your legs.

I honestly considered one with the idea of riding less dirt after my shoulder injury.

Japanese bikes are lower maintenance and cost of ownership versus European bikes, with longer intervals for sure.

I'd steer you towards a KTM if you wanted a bike that dominated in the dirt, but that sounds like it's not your priority.
 

rholbrook

Well-Known Member
Location
Kaysville, Ut
Having been wrestling with this myself I have begun to ride the different bikes out there. I actually rode the Yamaha Tenere 700 two Saturdays ago. My friend owns two of them which he was happy with until he rode the KTM 890 Adventure R I was on. He didn't want to give it back to me. The Tenere was very capable, plenty of smooth power but not a lot of electronic stuff (good or bad) but the cockpit was horrendous in my opinion. The stock geometry was terrible. If you plan on riding on the road and stay seated, it would work but off road, standing is a must. In stock form, the bars are way too low. The foot pegs are feel slippery and I think its because it is round rubber inside of a flimsy metal peg. The clutch cover hits your shins and that is the most annoying of it all. It forces you to ride more stiff legged without bending at the knees. The instruments vibrate when off road, the suspension is really not very adjustable. In my opinion, stick with the European bikes which started this craze. For the price, Yamaha will sell a ton of them but go ride one and stand up and get your shoulders over the bars and see if the clutch cover hitting your shins drives you nuts like it did me. I quickly checked that bike off my list.

The Africa Twin is a big girl, especially off road as is anything over 1000cc. I would call Utah Adventure Touring in SLC and talk to the owner Seth. He gets guys wanting all the big bikes until they ride the 890 Adventure R and then they are converted. Go rent the 890 R, the crazy thing about it is the electronics works. I like the off road mode which is anti-lok front wheel and traction control in the rear. The bike is still light enough that it rocks off road but yet is very stable at 80MPH. It feels nimble still and if you tip it over, you can pick it up without your buddy. The riding geometry still feels more dirtbikish than the bigger bikes. The R version over the standard Adventure version is basically the suspension and more obvious, the higher front fender but if you can find one, thats what I would get for me personally. Give Seth a call.
 

J-mobzz

Well-Known Member
I forgot you had that 650 V-Strom! I really like the newest model, the 1050 XT looks like a great candidate for your needs. Plenty of HP, good fairing and weight for long road days, etc. You can add aftermarket seats for more comfort and highway pegs to stretch your legs.

I honestly considered one with the idea of riding less dirt after my shoulder injury.

Japanese bikes are lower maintenance and cost of ownership versus European bikes, with longer intervals for sure.

I'd steer you towards a KTM if you wanted a bike that dominated in the dirt, but that sounds like it's not your priority.
That little 650 was a good bike. I put about 8k miles on it and really enjoyed it. But I did take it up to Boise a few times and it wasn’t the best at 80-90 mph oh the freeway.

I like the 1050xt myself. I like the updated electronics and cruse control. I love the long service intervals. I shot emails to a bunch of dealers last night to see if anyone has one in stock. I’m guessing probably not unfortunately as no one’s inventory shows one.
 

glockman

I hate Jeeps
Location
Pleasant Grove
I'll echo most of what's been said.

For the type of trip you are talking I'd look at the KTM 1290 or 1090 or 890. It purrs down the freeway at 80 pretty easily. I have over 5K miles on my 1090 which now has 15k miles on the clock. I have changed the air filter to an aftermarket pod style and nothing else. Oil change intervals are 5K miles. It still has the stock chain and sprockets. It's nice on the road and it does really well on dirt roads. On single track the big girls are a hand full, even really mild single track. There are a ton of guys on ADVRIDER in the 1x90 thread who go the standard intervals (19k miles) between valve adjustments and other more in depth maint with no issues other than tires, oil and brake pads.
You are welcome to come ride mine anytime if you'd like.
 

Gravy

Ant Anstead of Dirtbikes
Having been wrestling with this myself I have begun to ride the different bikes out there. I actually rode the Yamaha Tenere 700 two Saturdays ago. My friend owns two of them which he was happy with until he rode the KTM 890 Adventure R I was on. He didn't want to give it back to me. The Tenere was very capable, plenty of smooth power but not a lot of electronic stuff (good or bad) but the cockpit was horrendous in my opinion. The stock geometry was terrible. If you plan on riding on the road and stay seated, it would work but off road, standing is a must. In stock form, the bars are way too low. The foot pegs are feel slippery and I think its because it is round rubber inside of a flimsy metal peg. The clutch cover hits your shins and that is the most annoying of it all. It forces you to ride more stiff legged without bending at the knees. The instruments vibrate when off road, the suspension is really not very adjustable. In my opinion, stick with the European bikes which started this craze. For the price, Yamaha will sell a ton of them but go ride one and stand up and get your shoulders over the bars and see if the clutch cover hitting your shins drives you nuts like it did me. I quickly checked that bike off my list.

The Africa Twin is a big girl, especially off road as is anything over 1000cc. I would call Utah Adventure Touring in SLC and talk to the owner Seth. He gets guys wanting all the big bikes until they ride the 890 Adventure R and then they are converted. Go rent the 890 R, the crazy thing about it is the electronics works. I like the off road mode which is anti-lok front wheel and traction control in the rear. The bike is still light enough that it rocks off road but yet is very stable at 80MPH. It feels nimble still and if you tip it over, you can pick it up without your buddy. The riding geometry still feels more dirtbikish than the bigger bikes. The R version over the standard Adventure version is basically the suspension and more obvious, the higher front fender but if you can find one, thats what I would get for me personally. Give Seth a call.

Russ, if you like the 890 you would absolutely adore my Ducati Desert Sled. It feels light and nimble and it makes the most glorious noise.
It's also not a pile of plastic.
Ducati has produced their L-Twin air-cooled motor in one form or another since the 1970s and so it is supremely reliable as long as you do timing belts (they call them Desmo belts) at the correct interval.
It also allows you to turn the ABS off completely on the rear and it stays off when you turn the bike off and on unlike any other new bike.
It doesn't have the wind coverage of the bigger bikes, but I've gotten used to it and it has personality and excellent suspension.
The only reason I don't tell @J-mobzz to get one is the lack of wind protection.

I will remark that absolutely none of these bikes were talking about (except the KTMs) have pegs that are worth anything but weighing down the garbage can stock. New pegs are the first thing I've done on any bike except my KTMs. The rubber insert style ones are fine and comfortable on road but no good off-road.
 
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