Muddy marvellous! The Top 10 CHEAPEST Adventure Motorcycles of 2021

A dirty weekend away needn't be an expensive affair if you choose one of these, currently the cheapest adventure motorcycles on the market

Adventure bikes remain one of the most popular motorcycle classes of all and it is easy to see why.

They do it all: If you want a machine that can tour, take a pillion, has a classy, high spec, enough performance to satisfy most and even go off-road, no machine does it better. No wonder they’re often referred to as ‘two-wheeled Range Rovers’…

But there’s a down-side to all that, too. A Range Rover, after all, is anything but cheap and the same is true of its two-wheeled counterpart. The top-selling BMW R1250GSA starts at almost 15 grand and, when you start ticking BMW’s famous options list, that can quickly rise to over 18. Triumph’s Tiger 1200 often costs over £15K, too, while, if you go for Ducati’s top-of-the-range Multistrada, the 1260 S Grand Tour, you won’t get much change from £19,000. 

Granted, these are pinnacle machines showcasing the latest in tech but if your budget doesn’t stretch so far it doesn’t mean you won’t be getting a quality motorcycle that will tick most - if not all - of your own boxes.

There’s now so many adventure machines available there’s now more and more budget-orientated, usually lower capacity, options available, as well – some from as little as just over £4K. So what’s out there and which are the best? Here’s our current pick of the budget adventures bikes on the UK market, in price ascending order…

Royal Enfield Himalayan (from £4199)

Indian-made Royal Enfields have attracted their fair share of ridicule over the years for their antiquated, 1950s-style designs and basic build – which actually has huge appeal if you’re after a ‘brand new classic’. However, more recent models like its all-new, twin cylinder 650 Interceptor and Continental GT, have rightly been huge hits due to their combination of improved performance, classic style and brilliant value. 

The Himalayan, introduced in 2018, falls between those two stools yet still offers a tempting taste of the adventure experience while also being available at a bargain price. Its 410cc air-cooled single is an enlarged version of the old design and offers just 24bhp, which is barely enough for fast roads.

 The brakes and soft suspension struggle, too, while its spec is basic to say the least. But, being so simple, light and reasonably rugged means you can take it off-road; it potters along happily with luggage for miles on end and it has a classic, utilitarian charm few can match. 

If that appeals, for just over £4K you won’t be disappointed.

Sinnis Terrain 380 (from £4495)

Here’s a newcomer worth getting excited about. Chinese-built Sinnis have a long reputation in the UK for providing basic, affordable but decent lightweights and broke the mould when it had the audacity to come up with its first ‘Terrain’ model in 125 guise. 

Although inevitably limited by having just 11.5bhp, that bike provided a breath of fresh air in the learner class by being a full size adventure, complete with optional luggage, in a class normally restricted to diminutive roadsters and sportsters. Now, as available from the end of October, the brand is following that bike up with a 380cc version. 

Powered by an eight valve, liquid-cooled, SOHC, parallel twin, the new Terrain 380 produces a respectable 36bhp at the crank, which is well within the A2 licence categorisation yet also has modern looks, LED lights that remind of the R1250GS, crash protection, full-size proportions, a slick LCD dash and yet costs just under £4500. 

Between this and the Royal Enfield, is there a whole new line of proper budget ADVs just waiting in the wings from some of the more established manufacturers?

Benelli TRK 502 (from £4999)

Another machine created with Chinese cash but remains drenched in Italian heritage, the Benelli TRK 502 offers a full-size adventure riding experience (albeit without the 100bhp+ performance) for commuter bike money. 

Introduced in 2017, the TRK 502 comes in two guises – standard and better-equipped, more off-road orientated ‘X’ trim, with wire wheels, more crash protection etc, for £300 more. But neither is lacking. 

Both are powered by a modern, 47bhp, A2-compliant parallel twin not dissimilar to Honda’s CB500X, if a little harsher in delivery. The chassis is full-sized, the bodywork reminds of Ducati’s Multistrada, the handling and braking are both decent and if the clocks and some detailing are a little basic and crude that’s all forgiven due to its bargain basement price. 

As a decent performing middleweight that does it all we doubt there’s anything that is better value. It’s no coincidence this recently became the best selling motorcycle in Italy...

Kawasaki Versys X-300 (from £5149)

Japan’s cheapest offering in this class has somehow managed to ‘fly under the radar’ and remains largely unnoticed, despite the fact it remains such good value and its closest Japanese competitor, Suzuki’s V-Strom 250, has now been deleted. 

Kawasaki’s smallest Versys was introduced in 2017 and is based around the old Ninja 300 296cc parallel twin motor, but updated to meet the latest Euro regs. With 36bhp it’s both willing and A2-compliant and is carried in a roomy but slim and light chassis that means it’s both capable (if a little breathless) two-up and a reasonable off-road performer as well. 

It’ll cruise happily at 80mph, looks good, has OK equipment and now is the cheapest of the Japanese/European options, making it well worth a look. 

On the downside it’s a little buzzy and vibey at speed, somehow a tad anonymous and not a patch on its brilliant, bigger 650 brother. But if this is all you can afford, you won’t be disappointed.

BMW G 310 GS (from £5435)

In a bid to attract newcomers into the BMW fold, the German marque began introducing its new, Indian-built (via a tie-up with giant TVS, who now also own Norton) G310, small capacity, A2-compliant, single cylinder family in 2016. 

The smartly-styled G310R roadster came first with the adventure-styled GS variant the following year – and it does a decent enough job, too. The novel, reverse-cylinder, single produces a reasonable, easy 33.5bhp. It’s light, low and manageable, all good for novices. 

It undoubtedly looks the part, sharing design cues from its R1250GS big brother and, considering the badge, it’s good value, as well. On the slight downside, the ride is a little on the soft side, its spec is a little basic and its build quality isn’t quite as high as the firm’s Berlin built big bikes. 

Overall, however, as a novice, you won’t be bothered and, as an entry into BMW ownership, with all the quality dealer experience and brand kudos that goes with it, you can’t get any better. 

Oh, and if you do want more, for 2021, BMW are now also producing a special edition ’40 Years of GS’ edition, too – for £5515.

KTM 390 Adventure (from £5499)

Now we’re starting to get serious. Austrian off-road specialists KTM has built its reputation on world-beating adventure bikes, particularly with larger capacity, genuinely dirt-capable machinery such as the 1090 and 1290 Adventures, so it was only a matter of time before it came up with smaller, more affordable versions, too – especially as it already had Duke roadster and RC sportster 390s. 

A 790, twin cylinder Adventure came first in 2019 which was widely acclaimed for its off-road ability with a 390cc single-powered version following in 2020. And, with a punchy 44bhp, it’s been more than worth the wait. 

Oddly, it’s more road-orientated than most KTM Adventures, primarily because it’s also a novice-orientated machine. But it’ll still handle a gentle green lane, has more dynamic road performance and manners than most in this category and plenty of quality touches, too. 

As a novice bike that has ‘KTM Adventure’ kudos it has bags of appeal, especially at the price, even if it’s not quite the long-legged, off-road expert all-rounder its name might suggest.

Honda CRF250 Rally (from £5649)

Sometimes it’s difficult to know where the terms ‘trail bike’ and ‘adventure bike’ diverge – especially in the lightweight classes – but thankfully Honda has settled that conundrum by offering both the CRF250L trail bike and an adventure variant, the CRF250 Rally. 

The basic CRF was introduced first, back in 2012, and is that rare breed these days: a classic, old school style trail bike powered by a 23bhp four-stroke single. As such, it’s hugely capable off-road, particularly for novices, and makes an OK road bike, too. 

The Rally, however, adds substantially to that mix courtesy of pukka Dakar Rally styling, which includes a larger, 10.1litre fuel tank (up from 7.7litres) and touring screen, larger front disc brake and longer travel suspension. 

The result is more ‘Dakar replica’ than truly versatile adventure bike, especially as it’s still only 250ccs, but it is a better road bike as a result. So, if you want a genuinely capable off-roader with extra, passable road ability, it’s certainly worth a look.

Honda CB500X (from £6119)

If your budget is under £7K and have few off-road riding ambitions, Honda’s A2-specific CB500X is arguably the best affordable adventure bike available. It was first introduced in 2013 as the adventure-styled variant of Honda’s all-new, A2-targeted, CB500 family, along with the CB500F roadster and CBR500R sports, all three being powered by a new, 47bhp parallel twin in a budget, but capable and novice friendly chassis.

And, by being right on the 47bhp limit yet being smooth, responsive twins when most rivals had less powerful, single cylinder engines, they were hugely popular, too. The X is the tallest, roomiest of the three and was most recently updated in 2019 when it gained a slick, new ‘reversed-LCD’ dash, styling refresh to be more in line with the likes of Honda’s Africa Twin and larger front wheel.

The result is the best CB500X yet – still slick, smooth and novice friendly but also roomy, comfortable and genuinely long-legged. Of all the bikes here bar the two more expensive 650s, the CB is undoubtedly the best all-round roadster.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 (from £7049)

The last two bikes featured here are in most respects a class above all the preceding ones – both in ability and price, being the only machines here above £7K. But they’re also so good – and so popular as a result – they’re certainly worth a look, if you can afford it. 

The V-Strom debuted first, back in 2004, as an adventure-styled version of Suzuki’s already brilliant SV650 novice-friendly roadster. It shared that bike’s excellent and eager 70bhp V-twin but in a more upright, roomy, adventure chassis – even if it never really had any off-road ability. 

It’s also been successively updated since and remains a great budget all-rounder with better performance and versatility than you might expect – so much so that, although now aging slightly, you might question why you’ll ever need a bigger bike. It really does do it all. 

Oh, and if you want slightly more spec and style, there’s the wire-wheeled, more rugged looking XT version, for £300 more.

Kawasaki Versys 650 (from £7349)

Kawasaki’s oddly named Versys – it’s some kind of play on the word ‘Versatile’ – has evolved into such a brilliant, affordable all-rounder it has a valid claim for being all the bike you’ll ever need. 

Its perky parallel twin produces 70bhp and is genuinely entertaining (and the basis for most TT ‘Minitwin’ racers); its chassis manages the neat trick of being both not intimidating for novices yet roomy enough to take a pillion and luggage in comfort with ease; though built down to a budget it manages to be both modern and well-equipped (including such niceties as an adjustable screen); there’s plenty of luggage and accessory options plus it also handles well, too – in short, it really does do it all (except off-roading that is). 

The flip side of that, of course, is, that in this categorization, the Kawasaki is also the most expensive of all. If you can afford it, however, the Versys remains a bargain adventure styled bike and one of the best all-rounders you can get.
 

Join the conversation!

Let us know what you think, just sign up for a free account, leave a comment and get involved!
Register Now