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Are big adventure bikes past it?


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I’ve struggled with the concept of big adventure bikes for years. They’re too big, too heavy, and generally not used to their full capacity.

 

But in an era where middleweight adventure bikes are just as good (and a whole lot lighter), isn’t it about time we retired the big adventure bikes?

 

* KTM 890 - 196kg (dry)

* Yamaha Tenere 700 - 187kg (dry)

* Husqvarna Norden 901 - 166kg (dry)

* Triumph 900 GT - 194kg (dry)


I can’t think of a single trip where I would absolutely need a 270kg+ adventure bike over a sub-200kg middleweight one.

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I don't see it as a "need" for a big bike.

I wouldn't change from my 300kg Pan unless is for a goldwing.

Some of us like them big :P 

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I like my 225 kg (wet) multistrada. Do I need it - probably no. Do I take it off road - other than the odd gravelled track - definitely  no. Do I really love riding it in just about any weather - very definitely  yes. So long as I can horse it around on the odd occasion I need to I won't be getting rid of it, it's just too much fun.

Edited by S-Westerly
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37 minutes ago, husoi said:

I don't see it as a "need" for a big bike.

I wouldn't change from my 300kg Pan unless is for a goldwing.

Some of us like them big :P 

Good point!

 

But then again, I should imagine you don’t spend a lot of your time picking your 300kg Pan up out of the mud!

 

On the other hand, having something for no other reason than you love it is as good a reason as any in my book.

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27 minutes ago, S-Westerly said:

I like my 225 kg (wet) multistrada. Do I need it - probably no. Do I take it off road - other than the odd gravelled track - definitely  no. Do I really love riding it in just about any weather - very definitely  yes. So long as I can horse it around on the odd occasion I need to I won't be getting rid of it, it's just too much fun.

Fair point! 😎

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4 minutes ago, MotorcycleTourer said:

Good point!

 

But then again, I should imagine you don’t spend a lot of your time picking your 300kg Pan up out of the mud!

 

On the other hand, having something for no other reason than you love it is as good a reason as any in my book.

Exactly. Off-road is not my thing :thumb:  

Edited by husoi
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1 hour ago, MotorcycleTourer said:

I’ve struggled with the concept of big adventure bikes for years. They’re too big, too heavy, and generally not used to their full capacity.

 

But in an era where middleweight adventure bikes are just as good (and a whole lot lighter), isn’t it about time we retired the big adventure bikes?

 

* KTM 890 - 196kg (dry)

* Yamaha Tenere 700 - 187kg (dry)

* Husqvarna Norden 901 - 166kg (dry)

* Triumph 900 GT - 194kg (dry)


I can’t think of a single trip where I would absolutely need a 270kg+ adventure bike over a sub-200kg middleweight one.

 

A big adventure bike did not even make sense when Ewan and Charlie made them very popular with the Long Way Round. They would have got on better with smaller, lighter bikes, like the Kawasaki KLR650 or even the BMW F650. I think that the larger bikes have morphed into adventure tourers, which are for long distances on road.

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1 hour ago, Throttled said:

 

A big adventure bike did not even make sense when Ewan and Charlie made them very popular with the Long Way Round. They would have got on better with smaller, lighter bikes, like the Kawasaki KLR650 or even the BMW F650. I think that the larger bikes have morphed into adventure tourers, which are for long distances on road.

I'd agree with that. If I was to win the lottery and be in a position to do the Trans America  Trail I'd probably not do it on anything bigger than a 450. In the real world I use my mutley as a long distance bike and enjoy it. 

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No (thinking of resale value of mine. Must not let this idea go any further).

 

On a serious note. Charlie Boorman was right. The KTM would have been a much better choice for their trip. KTM really f**ked up. 
 

I like the concept of a bike where I sit tall. It allows me to get better visibility, looking over hedges, not having to crane my neck to see stuff. It all started with my ST1100, I felt much more in control sitting upright. My Tiger 1050 confirmed this (less an adventure bike, more a sports tourer on stilts). 
 

I have yet to tour on the GS - house move and the pandemic has impacted my opportunities, I have, though done long days riding (eg. several Norfolk to Cumbria rides), and had a few days out two up. I rode it for my RoSPA test, had a day trying Motogymkhana and have used it for volunteer work carrying NHS scrubs where the luggage capacity was appreciated. 
 

It is the best all-round bike I have owned. Yes, I’m sure other bikes can do other things better but, as a package, it suits me better than any other bike I tried in my quest to replace my FJR. 
 

 

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6 hours ago, MotorcycleTourer said:

I’ve struggled with the concept of big adventure bikes for years. They’re too big, too heavy, and generally not used to their full capacity.

 

 

Well.. this begs a very obvious question. Why do YOU own one?

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I think there's something to said for a bike that gives you relaxed sofa-level comfort while you munch up the miles on the autoroute and then will ride as crazy as you wish on twisty roads when you get to the hills. And, whatever's said against them, most adv bikes do that really well. You can do the same thing on other bikes, but few others offer that same effortlessness on the motorway combined with the action the other end.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Steve_M said:

No (thinking of resale value of mine. Must not let this idea go any further).

 

On a serious note. Charlie Boorman was right. The KTM would have been a much better choice for their trip. KTM really f**ked up. 
 

I like the concept of a bike where I sit tall. It allows me to get better visibility, looking over hedges, not having to crane my neck to see stuff. It all started with my ST1100, I felt much more in control sitting upright. My Tiger 1050 confirmed this (less an adventure bike, more a sports tourer on stilts). 
 

I have yet to tour on the GS - house move and the pandemic has impacted my opportunities, I have, though done long days riding (eg. several Norfolk to Cumbria rides), and had a few days out two up. I rode it for my RoSPA test, had a day trying Motogymkhana and have used it for volunteer work carrying NHS scrubs where the luggage capacity was appreciated. 
 

It is the best all-round bike I have owned. Yes, I’m sure other bikes can do other things better but, as a package, it suits me better than any other bike I tried in my quest to replace my FJR. 
 

 

Agreed on the KTM thing... rather than helping them succeed, KTM pulled out because they thought they would fail! That’s pretty shameful.

 

I also agree with your points regarding height, visibility and luggage capacity. (They’re some of the reasons I bought a big adventure bike, too.)

 

However the mid weights are just as tall, provide just as much visibility and (almost) the same luggage capacity.

 

I just wonder if we really need to carry all the extra heft around when smaller machines do the same job 🤷‍♂️

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2 hours ago, Gerontious said:

Well.. this begs a very obvious question. Why do YOU own one?

Haha, I bought one because I thought it was a do-it-all machine (which it can be - in the right hands.)

 

I’ve seen riders throw them around off-road like they’re a 125. Unfortunately, I’m not good enough to do that and feel more comfortable off-road with smaller capacity bikes.

 

Therefore mine is just really a glorified touring bike.

 

For me personally, it’s overkill for day-to-day use. And for touring, there are better options anyway.

 

I don’t think there’s anything I could do my bike that I couldn’t do just as well on a lighter bike.

 

 

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14 minutes ago, MotorcycleTourer said:

Agreed on the KTM thing... rather than helping them succeed, KTM pulled out because they thought they would fail! That’s pretty shameful.

 

I also agree with your points regarding height, visibility and luggage capacity. (They’re some of the reasons I bought a big adventure bike, too.)

 

However the mid weights are just as tall, provide just as much visibility and (almost) the same luggage capacity.

 

I just wonder if we really need to carry all the extra heft around when smaller machines do the same job 🤷‍♂️

“There’s no substitute for cubic inches”, I think was the American phrase. 
 

Some years ago I attended a course for work. Some of it covered decision making. The guy leading the course asked a bunch of senior managers (not me, I hasten to add) if their decisions were all based on sense and logic. Naturally they all said yes. Then he asked them about the cars they drove... at which point it was obvious that there was an emotional element to their decision making that defied logic. We are not entirely logical creatures. Sometimes ego / vanity / call it what you will determine what we buy and all sense goes out of the window. I’m sure any NLP practitioners would be able to explain it better. 😁 

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After 5 years on the GS, to be honest, I got a bit bored of it. Sure, it could do loads more than I was capable of getting it do... but the things I wanted it to do - get me home from work, take me off for a week here or a weekend there - it could do all that without really breaking into a sweat. The DRZ is raw by comparison, and absurdly light - and huge fun. But 400 is too small an engine to do large miles comfortably, and it doesn't have anything like the presence of a GS on the motorway - nor the power on tap to warp yourself out of potential trouble.

I always imagined there should be a bike - an 800 or a 900 perhaps - that falls smack in that sweet spot between light and raw on one side and heavy and refined on the other. So I got a Tiger and it was fine, although it never felt like it really wanted to come out to play. Only just got the current one, I know it comes with compromises, but hoping that it's closer to the magic spot. 

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Just to prove the old 'adage'; there's nothing new under the sun... again, once again, for the gazillionth time. I see people talking about "adventure bikes" especially modern ones and throwing the term 'off road' about.. like it actually means something in this context.

 

It doesn't. It never has. especially in terms of the UK. where because of our wonderful climate "Off Road" nearly always means mud. A word the OP couldn't resist using.

 

22 hours ago, MotorcycleTourer said:

I should imagine you don’t spend a lot of your time picking your 300kg Pan up out of the mud!

The modern "Adventure Bike" evolved from and are direct descendants of "Paris Dakar" Bikes.. The Africa Twin has that name for a reason. The bikes can cope with 'some' mud,  but that was never what they were for. When you are talking "off-road" with these bikes what that really means and has always meant is "Off-Tarmac"

What the Americans call "dirt roads" or "unpaved roads" They have a lot of them, so do the Australians. and these roads, where they exist at all.. are very common in the arid regions of the Paris Dakar, in the desert.

In the UK.. this means that these bikes are brilliant on shit roads.. and we have an awful lot of them!! They are also perfect for narrow single lane roads.. which tend to usually be shit too. because you have a much better view ahead from the higher seat. damage to the tarmac doesn't matter.. you probably wont even notice it. nor do pot holes or other problems that you need to be wary of' or steer round on other bikes.

 

BMW invented this style of bike, in 1980. and then went on to win the P-D in 1981,83,84 and 85. this made them hugely popular, especially in Europe and elsewhere.. but this popularity didn't happen here. except in a fairly minor way when the original Africa Twin appeared in 1988. Here they were oddities.. because this country was sports bike mad. sports bikes and road bikes with these others as fairly rare oddities that people either ignored or pointed and laughed at. Because by and large they just didn't get it. "Stupidly heavy for an off-roader" It amazes me that idea hasn't gone away even now.. all these years later.

 

Anyway, In 1994 we got another one... the Triumph Tiger. I have the 1994 Triumph Brochure.. and Triumph capitalised on this joke status for these bikes... see photo below. And in their spiel, they say. "On paper it doesn't work. Powerful Superbike performance with rugged off-road styling seems an ill-matched blend of extremes. Until, that is, you actually ride a Tiger."

 

Then nothing really happened. The Tiger, just as the GS and AT sold in relatively small numbers throughout the remainder of the decade until BMW decided to revamp the 1100. make it a bit bigger... more 'modern' looking. a cheap upgrade. not really much. aside from an up-specced, larger tanked GSA. Then some idiot at KTM made a bad decision.  One of the biggest blunders in motorcycle history. BMW stepped in and the year that TV programme aired... the world went mad. A lot of eyes were opened to a style of bike that had really been under the radar.

 

here were bikes that you could do anything on. all set to travel the world if you want. not that that was a new idea either.

 

And now.. almost 20 years later. Adventure bikes are not what they once were. Every marque has got on the bandwagon and given them their own spin, now they are effectively sports bikes in different clothes. 130-160BHP ?? almost normal.  The original 'new' Africa Twin was mocked by many as it was a little less than 100BHP.!! (The 'long way round' GSA produced a measly, by comparison 85 BHP)

 

why do we need such power? its not to make the bikes more manageable in mud!!!

 

someone said these bikes have morphed into tourers. no... they have not. they have always been tourers... with that edge of practicality that doesn't exist for 'proper', more traditional  motorway munching tourers.

 

I've never really got used to the word "Adventure" it seems just a smidge childish to me... Im going out for an "Adventure" is like something out of an Enid Blyton kiddies book. To me they have always been what they were originally. "Monster trailies" or "Dual Sports". nowadays the emphasis is really on that second, Sports.

 

1994 Tiger brochure photo. and.. if it's readable, the text from the brochure, which you might find interesting, written as it was almost 10 years before "adventure bikes"as we now know them.. were even thought of.

 

IMG_0289.JPG

IMG_0290.JPG

Edited by Gerontious
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10 hours ago, Gerontious said:

Just to prove the old 'adage'; there's nothing new under the sun... again, once again, for the gazillionth time. I see people talking about "adventure bikes" especially modern ones and throwing the term 'off road' about.. like it actually means something in this context.

 

It doesn't. It never has. especially in terms of the UK. where because of our wonderful climate "Off Road" nearly always means mud. A word the OP couldn't resist using.

 

The modern "Adventure Bike" evolved from and are direct descendants of "Paris Dakar" Bikes.. The Africa Twin has that name for a reason. The bikes can cope with 'some' mud,  but that was never what they were for. When you are talking "off-road" with these bikes what that really means and has always meant is "Off-Tarmac"

What the Americans call "dirt roads" or "unpaved roads" They have a lot of them, so do the Australians. and these roads, where they exist at all.. are very common in the arid regions of the Paris Dakar, in the desert.

In the UK.. this means that these bikes are brilliant on shit roads.. and we have an awful lot of them!! They are also perfect for narrow single lane roads.. which tend to usually be shit too. because you have a much better view ahead from the higher seat. damage to the tarmac doesn't matter.. you probably wont even notice it. nor do pot holes or other problems that you need to be wary of' or steer round on other bikes.

 

BMW invented this style of bike, in 1980. and then went on to win the P-D in 1981,83,84 and 85. this made them hugely popular, especially in Europe and elsewhere.. but this popularity didn't happen here. except in a fairly minor way when the original Africa Twin appeared in 1988. Here they were oddities.. because this country was sports bike mad. sports bikes and road bikes with these others as fairly rare oddities that people either ignored or pointed and laughed at. Because by and large they just didn't get it. "Stupidly heavy for an off-roader" It amazes me that idea hasn't gone away even now.. all these years later.

 

Anyway, In 1994 we got another one... the Triumph Tiger. I have the 1994 Triumph Brochure.. and Triumph capitalised on this joke status for these bikes... see photo below. And in their spiel, they say. "On paper it doesn't work. Powerful Superbike performance with rugged off-road styling seems an ill-matched blend of extremes. Until, that is, you actually ride a Tiger."

 

Then nothing really happened. The Tiger, just as the GS and AT sold in relatively small numbers throughout the remainder of the decade until BMW decided to revamp the 1100. make it a bit bigger... more 'modern' looking. a cheap upgrade. not really much. aside from an up-specced, larger tanked GSA. Then some idiot at KTM made a bad decision.  One of the biggest blunders in motorcycle history. BMW stepped in and the year that TV programme aired... the world went mad. A lot of eyes were opened to a style of bike that had really been under the radar.

 

here were bikes that you could do anything on. all set to travel the world if you want. not that that was a new idea either.

 

And now.. almost 20 years later. Adventure bikes are not what they once were. Every marque has got on the bandwagon and given them their own spin, now they are effectively sports bikes in different clothes. 130-160BHP ?? almost normal.  The original 'new' Africa Twin was mocked by many as it was a little less than 100BHP.!! (The 'long way round' GSA produced a measly, by comparison 85 BHP)

 

why do we need such power? its not to make the bikes more manageable in mud!!!

 

someone said these bikes have morphed into tourers. no... they have not. they have always been tourers... with that edge of practicality that doesn't exist for 'proper', more traditional  motorway munching tourers.

 

I've never really got used to the word "Adventure" it seems just a smidge childish to me... Im going out for an "Adventure" is like something out of an Enid Blyton kiddies book. To me they have always been what they were originally. "Monster trailies" or "Dual Sports". nowadays the emphasis is really on that second, Sports.

 

1994 Tiger brochure photo. and.. if it's readable, the text from the brochure, which you might find interesting, written as it was almost 10 years before "adventure bikes"as we now know them.. were even thought of.

 

IMG_0289.JPG

IMG_0290.JPG

A definitive piece on the subject 👍 . As I've often pointed out , for the most tortuous single track roads in the UK , there is nothing better than an ordinary mid range commuter bike . 

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Interesting thread. I have a harley, (heavy), but not going anywhere soon cos i love it. I bought an 1150 gsa and whilst i loved riding it having two heavy bikes was not where i wanted to be. I sold the gsa and bought a 650 v strom which is a great bike if a little dull. I am convinced a middleweight is where i want to be and am now thinking about either a triumph or bmw 650/800. However the er5 threads on here have also peeked my interest.

 

thanks again for the thread

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For road use most adventure bikes are used as upright cruisers, weight is the biggest enemy off road, there is however a use beyond single track and our pretty crap Road system

 

We have green lanes that are usually anything but green,plus  boats, there are a surpring number of these and the more challenging are beyond the average Street bike even with the right tyres.

 

I have a customer who has spent years tracking these down and ticking them off, he does it with his son, he started out with a gs but struggled badly with the weight, even with the 2 of them dropping it 3 or 4 times in a short distance was hard work, he changed to the big tiger and found same problem, not really surprising, dropped down to the 800xcx and was over the moon, dosen't drop it half as much and when it does go it's no problem.

 

No the bikes never going to be a true off road bike but he dosen't want a trailer and to drive everywhere and when him and his son go away usually it's with camping gear, there is always a trade-off but he's decided less speed on the road and better performance off it is worth it, he misses the big bikes but not enough to go back to one.

 

As for adventure he seems to have plenty of them.

 

The guy I took a pic of in Capetown who had just completed his Cape to Cambridge UK and back again had certainly had an adventure.

 

You can't blame the bikes if a market was created that riders want to be a part of real or imagined. Some of the bikes are very capable it's not the bikes fault if it never sees anything but tarmac

 

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