Top five big adventure bikes for off-road

The not-so-soft-roaders

Top five big adventure bikes for off-road

THE adventure bike class has developed so rapidly that it's really two classes now, one for road-biased machines and one for the more genuinely off-road capable.

It could even be four, if your start separating 160hp sporty ones like Ducati's Multistrada 1200 and softer touring-focused machines like Kawasaki's Versys 1000.

But we haven't got forever, so we're sticking with two. To that end, having last week brought your our top 10 road-going adventure bikes, here, in no particular order, are our five favourites for off-road.

1. Honda Africa  Twin

This bike had some big boots to fill when it was launched in late 2015, sharing its name as it does with the XRV750 Africa Twin, renowned for having some genuine off-road ability.

And fill them it did. The CRF1000L Africa Twin remains possibly the most natural-feeling off-roader of the big adventure bike class, the one that feels most like an actual off-road bike. The DCT version makes it probably the best prospect for off-road novices too (which, admit it, most adventure bike owners are).  

Read our full review of the Honda Africa Twin.

Price: from £10,849

Engine: 998cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin

Power: 94hp @ 7,500rpm

Torque: 72lbft @ 6,000rpm

Kerb weight: 232kg (non-DCT model)

2. BMW R1200GS Rallye

The very off-road capable Llewelyn Pavey tested the new more off-road focused variant of the GS,inventor of the big adventure bike class, in Portugal for us just last week. He was blown away. 

He said: 'The engine is effortless, pulling tall gears with ease and letting you glide along like a magic carpet. It’ll pull you up hills and out of holes if you let it. Even better is the balance left to right. Those sticky out cylinders keep the centre of gravity low and controllable. It makes technical riding, slow speed turns and difficult trails easier than should be possible on a 200kg+ machine.

'It somehow feels light and effortless to steer despite its size and weight. I’m not sure any other bike in the category manages this trick to the same extent.

'Don’t get me wrong; when you push the envelope you need skill to make the GS work off-road, but its brilliance is its planted, docile and nursing nature. It helps you out, gets you through no matter what type of riding you do.'

Read Llewelyn's full review.

Price: from £12,730 (from £12,250 for base-model GS)

Engine: 1170cc liquid-cooled boxer-twin Engine type

Power: 125hp @ 7,750rpm

Torque: 92lbft @ 6,500rpm

Wet weight: 244kg

3. KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

KTM should know what they're doing when it comes to making off-road capable bikes, since that's what the firm is based on.

And they most certainly do. We've just ridden the new KTM 1290 Super Adventure R, a machine so packed with technology it makes anyone feel like an off-road god. 

Simon Hargreaves wrote: 'Other adventure bikes might look the part, but the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R can really do it, and help you do it too.'

Read Si's full review.

Price: £14,499

Engine: 1301cc, 8v, liquid-cooled 75° V-twin

Power: 160hp @ 8,750 rpm

Torque: 103lbft @ 6,750 rpm

Dry weight: 217kg

Wet weight: 240kg

4. Triumph Tiger 800 XCx

A bit smaller than most other bikes in the class and all the better off-road for it, the Tiger 800 also has that thing that sets Triumph apart: the blend of torque and power of a triple. 

With off-road ABS and traction control, the dirt-biased XCx variant makes anyone feel like a trail expert. 

At 95hp, it can also be restricted for A2 licence holders, unlike the other machines on this list.

Read our full review of the Triumph Tiger 800 XCx

Price: from £10,400

Power: 95hp @ 9,250rpm

Torque: 58lbft @ 7,850rpm

Fuel economy (claimed): 65mpg

Wet weight: 221kg

5. Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro

Let's face it, the Multistrada 1200 is a 160hp comfortable sports bike. Or was.

Until last year, when Ducati changed everything except the frame and that monumental engine to make the dirt-focussed Enduro variant. 

Llewelyn Pavey, who tested it for Visordown, wrote: 'Novice or even first-time off-road riders will find a huge area of the power that is usable, friendly and gentle in delivery.

'That smooth character combines well with the chassis to create a bike that is incredibly manageable and easy to ride off-road. The ABS and traction control systems also perform superbly and add dramatically to the accessibility of the 1200 Enduro.'

Read Llewelyn's full review.

Price: from £17,295

Engine: 1198.4cc Testastretta V-twin, variable valve timing, four valves per cylinder, dual spark, Desmodromic, liquid cooled

Power: 160hp @ 9,500rpm

Torque: 100.3lbft @ 7,500rpm

Kerb weight: 254kg