Ultimate Adventure Motorcycles up to 1000cc - Mud Fight!

With new entries in the middleweight adventure motorcycle category for 2022, Visordown takes a look at the ultimate adventure motorcycles up to 1,000cc

The Transalp splashing through a stream

2023 will have some new additions to our ultimate adventure motorcycles up to 1,000cc​ segment, with new entries from Honda, in the form of the XL750 Transalp, and Suzuki, with the V-Strom 800DE.

Both these all-new middleweight adventure motorcycles will be landing in 2023 with high-spec electronics, off-road-ready suspension, and a new engine platform that sees both the XL and V-Strom ranges take their first steps into the parallel twin-cylinder sector.

They'll be joined in the battle by the raft of heavyweight ADV machines, with the BMW R 1250 GS Adventure, KTM 1290 Super Adventure and Triumph Tiger 1200 still leading the big-bore sector. At the other end of the spectrum, we have options like the Royal Enfield Himalayan and KTM 390 Adventure, ensuring there is more choice than ever for adventure bike fans.

However, it is the mid-to-large adventure motorcycle market that is booming right now with new entries from the Ducati DesertX, Husqvarna Norden 901 and Aprilia Tuareg 660, new XL750 Transalp and V-Strom 800DE.

So join us as we get our knobbly tyres dirty as we hit the rough stuff to bring you the Top 10 Best Mid-to-Large Adventure Motorcycles, or put another way, the best adventurers up to 1000cc

10 - Moto Guzzi V85TT [priced from £11,400]

Moto Guzzi has made a habit of doing things a little differently to its rivals over the years, but given it has just celebrated its centenary, it’s clearly doing something right.

It goes a long way to explaining why Guzzi - famed for its exotic Italo-American style sportsters - went off piste again in 2018 with the launch of the V85 TT.

Straddling somewhere between off-roader, tourer and scrambler, while the V85TT perhaps doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up, it will at least look good doing so, as it deftly evokes the retro desirability of 1980s rally raiders.

The V-Twin 853cc engine is a brisk performer and while it is perhaps a touch too sophisticated to chuck hard around on the rocks, it holds its own when the going gets tough. It will take you a long way too with a class-leading 23-litre fuel tank keeping you in play when its rivals have to go home.

9 - Suzuki V-Strom 800DE [priced from £10,499]

Diving straight into the new metal, the Suzuki V-Strom 800DE bursts onto the scene in 2023, boasting an all-new engine and chassis platform for the V-Strom range. With heavily re-worked styling compared to the previous V-Strom 650XT, the new 800DE offers riders a fresh-looking take on mid-weight Suzuki adventure touring.

And it isn't just a new look, engine, and chassis, the new 'Strom also gains a host of electronic upgrades over the previous 650, with V-Strom 1050 derived TFT, full riding modes, adjustable traction control, and off-road specific Gravel mode.

Landing in dealers in the new year, the V-Strom also looks value, at £10,499, to see how it performs on the road and trail, we will just have to wait and see.

8 - CFMoto 800MT Touring [priced from £11,099]

If the Chinese are indeed coming, then it is CFMoto leading the way as it continues to prove motorcycles from our friends in the East are an increasingly competitive option.

The latest example of this is the CFMoto 800MT, a motorcycle that is new for the brand but otherwise very familiar as a re-imagined version of the now discontinued KTM 790 Adventure.

Not that this is simply a hand-me-down model though. For a start, we reckon CFMoto have restyled it into a more attractive proposition and while the 800MT isn’t perhaps the last word in refinement on the road, it does at least benefit from its Austrian donor’s impressive off-road capabilities.

As a buying prospect though, the 800MT really stands out with this flagship Touring trim offering a heap of kit, plus a class-leading four-year warranty. Priced at just over £11,00 thousand pounds, CFMoto have even thrown in pannier cases as standard.

In short, the 800MT makes a very strong case for itself. Literally. It literally comes with strong cases.

7 - Husqvarna Norden 901 [priced from £12,349]

Fittingly, the CFMoto 800MT comes hot on the heels of another manufacturer pushing into the lucrative adventure market with its own KTM-based creation.

This is the Husqvarna Norden 901, the Tesco Finest to CFMoto’s Tesco Value… it makes use of the current generation KTM 890 platform, but dresses it in a signature style that marries both premium and rugged aspirations. 

Whether ‘Huskie’ has been successful in this objective we’ll leave up to you, but it’s a similar story on and off the road, with the Norden 901 attempting to prove it’s a rough’em, tough’em adventure bike while being a compliant, refined tourer yet not quite hitting the mark at either.

But, in a saturated market of options you might find a touch generic, the Husqvarna Norden 901 is an adventure motorcycle for the discerning rider.

6 - Honda XL750 Transalp [priced from £TBC]

For a number of years, if you wanted mid-weight adventure touring with a Honda badge on the tank, you either had to opt for the Honda CB500X, or an older generation V-Twin Transalp. Both were sound options, although on the face of it, slightly out-gunned by more modern, high-tech competition. That all changes in 2023, as the all-new XL750 Transalp roosts its way into dealerships in the early part of next year.

While we have seen the bike already, we haven't had a chance to ride it, although after sharing the stage with it at EICMA, things so far are looking pretty good. Like the V-Strom above, it too is benefiting from knowledge gained from a bigger sibling, as Africa Twin-derived electronics promise the most technologically advanced mid-weight ADV machine to date from Honda.

As I mentioned, bikes are landing in dealers in the early part of 2023, and we expect the press ride to take place around then too. Stay tuned for the full review when that does happen.

5 - Aprilia Tuareg 660 [priced from £10,600]

Aprilia has waded back into the adventure segment with the third model to spin-off from its new 660 platform after the RS sportsbike and Tuono naked.

With its boxy, upright appearance very clearly inspired by those rally-raiders we gaze back at so fondly, this - the Aprilia Tuareg 660 - is quite a departure from the slinky lines of its brothers.

It’s quite a different proposition under the skin too, with the revvy, eagerness of the 659cc parallel twin engine being toned down for the Tuareg in favour of gruntier low down torque. 

Even so, with 79bhp on tap there is still evidence of Aprilia’s sporting DNA out on the road and weighing in at 187kg, the Tuareg is lighter than its rivals too

On the flip side, compared with the Tenere 700, it is easy to tell it prioritises on-road use over going to extremes off it.

4 - 2023 KTM 890 Adventure [priced from £12,999]

If you put ‘conquers mountains, breaks rocks and never backs down from a challenge’ at the top of your motorcycle wishlist, then the KTM 890 Adventure is the motorcycle for you.

With all of its off-roading experience and know-how distilled into the middle child of KTM’s Adventure line-up, the 890 Adventure and the hardcore Adventure R are the Bear Grylls of motorcycles.

Freshly updated for 2023, latest 890 Adventure smooths off some of the rougher edges and features new styling plus internal and electronic updates, and it is shaping up to be a bit of a weapon.

3 - Triumph Tiger 900  [priced from £11,595]

The Triumph Tiger 900 Rally is so capable off-road, it’s even the motorcycle of choice among baddies in the latest James Bond flick No Time To Die.

Fortunately, you don’t need to work for an international criminal to enjoy what the Tiger 900 has to offer. In fact, far from it being ‘baddie’, it’s actually rather good.

In Rally trim, the Triumph Tiger 900 is tougher than the sister GT tourer version but still benefits from a similar level of on-road refinement and touring gusto.

However, where the GT has to leave its skills on the Tarmac, the Rally can get right down to business off it with the 94bhp 937cc triple-cylinder engine making light of heavy work.

At £12,195 for the base Rally version, the Triumph Tiger 900 is quite pricey but it is well equipped, is well built and comes brimming with tech that complements - rather than disrupts - your progress.

2 - Ducati DesertX [priced from £14,095]

Considering the segment’s popularity and the success of its increasingly off-road inclined Multistrada range, it is surprising it has taken until 2022 for Ducati to join the adventure mud fight.

So is the Ducati DesertX better late than never… without a doubt. Indeed, Ducati - being Ducati - has taken its proper adventure debut very seriously, going to the lengths of developing an all-new chassis and frame around the well-proven 937cc Testastretta twin.

Far from betraying its novice status in the rough stuff, the DesertX is a convincing first stab at a trails bike, while it is packed to the brim with riding modes for every occasion.

Naturally, Ducati hasn’t abandoned its sporting DNA on the road either with the 110bhp engine feeling frisky, while the DesertX handles with eagerness. We also love the simple modern-retro design that pays homage to the Ducati-engined, Dakar Rally winning Cagiva Elefant.

So why doesn’t it win here? Well, it is arguably a better motorcycle in isolation than our winner… but at £14,095, the DesertX commands a hefty premium over similar engined rivals. 

Nevertheless, if you’re willing to pay extra, you won’t be disappointed.

1 - Yamaha Tenere 700 [priced from £10,999]

They came for the throne but the King is still sitting pretty.

Yes, the Yamaha Tenere 700 fends off its rivals for another stint as Visordown’s favourite adventure motorcycle.

There is a lot to like about the Tenere 700, which focuses on doing the basics very well. It’s an excellent companion off-road, proving chuckable and easy to handle, while it gives the KTM 890 Adventure a run for its money in the rough stuff.

It’s a peppy performer on the road too, with the 689cc crossplane two-cylinder engine feeling brisker than its modest 72bhp on paper might have you believe.

Better still, having been criticised for its limiting 16-litre fuel tank in standard trim, Yamaha has not only listened to its customers, it’s gone to lengths with its response of the new Yamaha Tenere 700 World Raid.

Using a clever bit of repackaging, the World Raid comes with a vast 23-litre fuel tank, while other upgrades - such as more sophisticated suspension and multi-functional GPS tech - single it out as an off-roader for the more intrepid of adventurers.

There are certainly more desirable and cutting-edge options out there but with prices starting at under £10,000 going up to just under £12,000 for the bells and whistles World Raid, the Yamaha Tenere 700 is the best at a bargain.

* prices correct at the time of publication [July 2022]