The Adventure bike boom is showing no signs of slowing, with all but a handful of manufacturers now featuring some kind of dual sport bike in their range.
In recent years, adventure bikes themselves have been growing too though, with most hovering around the litre mark and kerb weights, seat heights and list prices following suit. There’s a bit of a backlash going on though though, with a host of smaller capacity machines now hitting the showrooms.
The way forward?
Well, with BMW’s G310 GS and rumours of a KTM 390 Adventure in the pipeline, this sector is just about to hot up. Here’s our pick of the current crop:
CCM GP450 Adventure
CCM’s GP450 can claim to be the original antidote to oversized adventure bikes, as it was conceived to go where bigger bikes couldn’t/daren’t, but still offer more useable performance and comfort than a straight enduro. It comes in three flavours: the standard ‘Adventure’, the higher-spec ‘S’ and the road-biased, supermoto-style ‘RS’. All three feature the same 449.50cc, 40bhp motor from BMW’s discontinued G450X; a lightweight ‘bonded’ chassis; and electronically adjustable suspension. There are options of hard or soft luggage, extra lighting, center stand, and four seat heights to choose from. It’s light (125kg), fast (90mph+) and more than capable of tackling both Tarmac and trails.
Honda CRF 250L Rally
Honda say the CRF Rally is ‘A small capacity machine made for the serious dual-sport rider.’ It certainly has the look of an adventurer – it’s styled to mimic the HRC CRF450 Dakar racer – but it lacks a little in continent-crossing performance. That’s because, underneath that fancy face is essentially the CRF250L, with the same 250cc, 24bhp, DOHC single. It’s soft and progressive power delivery and the 157kg kerb weight makes tackling the trails a doddle. On Tarmac, it’s less than electrifying, but will happily chug along at 60-70mph, the extra bodywork giving much improved wind protection compared to its enduro sibling.
Honley RX3 250
At 175kg and 25bhp the Honley – on paper – is a decent match for the competition. It’s well spec’d with a fuel-injected, liquid-cooled motor; upside down forks, LED lighting and a digital dash. You also get three-piece hard luggage, engine bars and pannier protectors as standard. Although you wouldn’t want to be entering the Dakar on it – or attempting the Trans-Americas two-up – it’ll handle a green lane or two and should be able to hold its own on A- and B-roads. It won’t cost the earth to buy either. If you’re OK with the badge on the tank, and can find one, it just might be worth a look.
Kawasaki Versys-X 300
Kawasaki’s baby Versys is the latest addition to the growing small capacity adventure class, and it’s a good one at that. It uses the same engine as their popular Ninja 300, putting out 39bhp in this guise. Coupled with the 173kg kerb weight, it makes for lively, all-round performance. The seat is hard as nails and the gearing too low for high speed road work, but with those sorted it’s a cracking bike. There’s a new ‘Adventure’ version – complete with luggage, hand guards, engine bars etc. – and an Urban version coming soon too.
Suzuki V-Strom 250
The new V-Strom has a lot to live up to, its family name has become synonymous with good value adventuring. All signs suggest it should amply fill those shoes; although it’s the heaviest here at 188kg and the 249cc parallel twin motor only musters 25bhp, it’s the same unit found in their popular Inazuma which is flexible, fun and frugal – Suzuki claim the new ‘Strom will give you a healthy 88mpg and 310 miles per tank – ideal for exploring. It’s the most road-biased here, so any green laning will have to be gentle, but who says you have to get muddy to be adventurous?
But that’s just what we here at Motofire think? What about you?