The 10 coolest adventure motorcycles

Ewan McGregor might have made the GS cool for a while but now your accountant, dentist and solicitor has one. Time to look for something else.

THE ironic thing is that adventure motorcycles were cool long before Ewan McGregor and Charlie Wotzhisface went off on an adventure. People had been doing it for years.

Now adventure bikes have risen in popularity and we're obsessed with them but today's £12,000+ offerings are about as cool as a pair of walking boots. Modern adventure motorcycles are packed with electronic gadgets (cruise control!?), ABS and LED headlights. They've lost their simplicity, the brash colour schemes, and strayed miles from the dirt tracks they could once take on. They've become tourers with long travel suspension, wearing a lumberjack's shirt. 

Here are 10 adventure motorcycles that ooze the cool sorely missing from the modern technology-packed barges.

Honda Africa Twin

How can you not love the Africa Twin? Introduced in the early 90s, it was still being produced until 2003. A softly tuned 742cc V-twin, the bike was loosely based on the Dakar-winning NXR-750. Its 23-litre tank (25 on the earliest models) gives a 200-mile range and the 895mm seat height offers a commanding riding position. It's a managable 189kg dry and 219kg fully-fuelled and ready to go. Ten years ago no-one was that bothered by them but over the past few years they're becoming a cult in the adventure world and prices are on the rise. It's a cool Honda - there aren't many of those.

Price range: £1,800 - £5,000

Suzuki DR750/800 Dr. Big

Another great bike from an era where they named bikes right. Suzuki's huge-single-cylinder engined Dr. Big (also known as the Desert Express) is a proper bit of kit. The original bike was a DR750, introduced in 1988, offering a 727cc single-cylinder engine running carbs (obviously) and pumping out around 45bhp. Two years later, the DR750's stroke was increased by 6mm and the 779cc, 52bhp DR800 was born. The original bike offered a huge 29-litre tank, later reduced to a rather stingy 24-litres in 1991. Production ran until 1996. Unfortunately, they rarely come up for sale. A massive single-cylinder is cool, make no mistake.

Price range: £1,500 - £4,000

KTM 950 Adventure R

The blunt screen and slab-sided design are unmistakably KTM. The 950 Adventure had the Austrian firm's first V-twin engine. The original bike was launched in 2003, with a 942cc 75-degree V-twin, 100bhp, fully-adjustable WP suspension and a 22-litre fuel tank. The performance adventure motorcycle entered a new era. A year later, KTM followed up with some minor tweaks and the Rally Raid Gauloises GO!!!!!!! paint job which makes the bike stand out. Properly off-road capable, it's ultra-cool. Don't you think? 

Price range: £3,750 - £5,000

Honda X600R

Honda's XR600 series is the no-nonsense, go anywhere adventure/enduro. Offering a 591cc single-cylinder air cooled compact engine with a dry sump, the XR600R weighs just 152kg ready to go. The massive 955mm seat height sounds intimidating but the XR is set high to tackle all terrain. The 12-litre tank is the only thing that holds the XR back but 21-litre aftermarket versions are available. A perfect do-it-all second bike, cool because of its simplicity.

Price range: £1,000 - £1,800

Yamaha XTZ750 Super Ténéré

Already a cult bike, the Super Ténéré hardly needs an introduction. The paint schemes alone make it impossibly cool. The plastic brake disc covers and fork protectors are the icing on the cake. Model production ran from 1989 to 1996 and the bike remained largely unchanged throughout its life. The Super Ténéré's engine is a parallel-twin liquid-cooled 749cc four-stroke, producing a modest but managable 65bhp. The stock tank holds 26-litres, giving the Super Ten a 250-mile range. It's cool without trying hard.

Price range: £800 - £1,500

Aprilia Tuareg

A '90s Italian adventure bike probably isn't high up on anyone's list for crossing the Sahara on but the Rotax-engined Aprilia was capable of exactly that. The Tuareg's single-cylinder air-cooled engine produced 40bhp, and with its 21-inch front wheel, 17-inch rear and 18.5-litre tank, the bike is perfect for hacking down trails or into work. It's got 'that Dakar look' and is, for my liking, another decent slice of '90s cool.

Price range: £500 - £1,200

Cagiva Elefant

It's another '90s Italian adventure motorcycle, which can also be found badged up as a Ducati E900. The Elefant was powered by the same engine as Ducati's 900ss. Producing 65bhp, it's got plenty for everyday riding and is far from slow. What makes this bike cool is that a) it's a Cagiva, b) it's from the 90s, c) it uses a Ducati engine and d) some came with Lucky Strike paint. I'm in, aren't you?!

Price range: £1,000 - £1,400

Yamaha XTZ660 Ténéré

Modern adventure bikes can be cool, as the XTZ660 proves. It's seriously handy off-road, especially if fitted with worthy tyres, but on the road it's a peach. Alright, so it's fuel-injected, but the 660cc single, coupled with a massive 23-litre tank, offers a 300+ mile range. Bonza. It's a mild-mannered, go anywhere motorcycle, proving you don't need cruise control, traction control, adaptive suspension and a massive kerb weight. Features that bulk up the weight and the price and seem to be par for the course with most modern adventure motorcycles. The XTZ proves you don't need 'em.

Price range: £4,500 - £6,000

KTM LC4 Adventure

A hardcore single-cylinder off-road motorcycle from the company who made their name coated in mud, spraying the opposition with sand and gravel. The LC4 Adventure is the Clubman's Dakar bike. Its 625cc single-cylinder engine produces a healthy 50bhp, and it offers electric and kick start and a massive 28-litre tank. It weighs 190kg fully-fuelled. It's a proper Dakar replica and therefore very cool indeed.

Price range: £2,000 - £4,000

Yamaha TDR250

I couldn't produce a cool top ten without a two-stroke. Sure, the TDR isn't everyone's idea of an adventure motorcycle, it's a mad mix of motocross, trail, adventure and supermoto.The long-travel suspension, 18-inch front and 17-inch rear give it some off-road potential. It packs the 249cc, 40bhp YPVS engine from the TZR250 of the same era, and it's ultra light at 155kg fully-fuelled. That paint scheme, those fork guards and the plumes of smoke are cooler than any modern adventure bike. They're becoming something of a collector's item, so be quick.

Price range: £1,200 - £2,000