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The Best Adventure Motorcycles [2023 Edition]


The Best Adventure Motorcycles [2023 Edition]


Need an Adventure Machine?

The SUVs of the motorcycle world are adventure bikes. They’re the motorcycles that are designed to do anything and pretty much everything. They can take you across the country comfortably, traverse difficult terrain, and they even handle much better than expected on a twisty canyon road.

These motorcycles are the Swiss Army Knives of the motorcycling world and they’ve become quite popular in recent years. If you want a bike that can chug along through pretty much any pavement-based environment and handle loose dirt, hard-packed trails, sand, mud, rocks, and more, you have to have one of these. So, with all that said, let me guide you through this interesting segment.

The State of the ADV Market


Born from the need to do more than a typical dual-sport motorcycle is capable of, adventure motorcycles seek to be the only bike you need in the garage. The genesis of this type of bike is often attributed to the 1981 BMW R/80 GS, a motorcycle that basically opened the door for these hybrid off-road and on-road machines. It was a misunderstood machine at first, but it made more sense than people originally thought.

Since that first GS, BMW has crafted more and more advanced adventure motorcycles and became more or less the king of the segment, but other manufacturers were building interesting dual-sport and adventure machines right alongside them and the segment continued to evolve until we get to where we are today.

And where we are is a wonderful place to be. What you have is a slew of fantastic adventure motorcycles that blend touring characteristics with off-road characteristics into one extremely practical and versatile package.

These days there’s not just big adventure bikes and middleweight adventure bikes, there are smaller displacement bikes, too. Smaller displacement used to lean more towards the old school dual-sport lineups, which were little more than dirtbikes with lights and number plates on them, but now we have legit adventure motorcycles with displacements in the 300cc and 400cc range. This brings the price and barrier of entry down. It opens the door to more adventure riders, and that means even greater popularity of these bikes.

The Most Anticipated 2022 Additions to the ADV Bike Class

Given the fact that the ADV market’s trajectory continues to explode at unprecedented rates, there are many new models coming into 2022 that we know are awesome just by looking at the stat sheets; but haven’t had a chance to give a hands-on review of. Here’s a list of some very highly anticipated ADV motorcycles here for the 2022 model year.

2022 Aprilia Tuareg 660

2022 Aprilia Tuareg 660

While the other manufacturers go up and up in the cubic centimeters, Aprilia has really doubled down on the 600cc to 700cc niche. First came the highly anticipated RS660 supersport, then the sport-touring Tuono 660. Now, for the adventure crowd, the Tuareg 660 is just a few short months away from jumping into the midsize ADV market.

Sporting the same 659cc parallel-twin as the other two 660s, the Tuareg comes with 80 HP and 51 lb-ft of torque, giving it appreciable and friendly grunt in lower gears for rock scrambling, but good power to keep the trail fast and fun. It’s also built to last, with a steel-tube trellis frame supporting an aluminum bracket, all of it high tensile. A 21 inch front wheel and 18 inch rear is almost par for the course in this segment, but Aprilia adds nice touches like classic spoked wheels, Brembo brakes, and a full suite of electronics.

Those electronics are simple to use as well, with two default ride modes (road, off-road) and two customizable ones that let you set traction control, engine braking, engine mapping, ABS levels, the works. It also has a traditional rally-style seat, with the lowest point being 33.85 inches high. All said, this promises to be one hell of a midsize bike, and we can’t wait to get our hands on one for a thorough test!

2022 Husqvarna Norden 901

2022 Husqvarna Norden 901

Might as well address the elephant in the room right off the bat: Yes, the Norden 901 is brother/sister with the KTM 890 Adventure. That, however, is where the two brands and three bikes take different approaches to the ADV space. The 890 Adventure is much more of an on-road tourer, while the 890 Adventure R is much more composed on the dirt. The Norden 901 straddles the two, with riding modes adjustable on the fly to suit either riding style.

One thing that also impresses with the Norden 901 over the KTM bikes is that is it much less edgy in terms of styling. Some people like the triangles and geometric shapes that KTM has adopted as their aesthetic, but the Husqvarna is, at least in this writers’ opinion, much more civilized and not as garish.

Another huge bonus to the Norden 901 is that it massively improves on one major nitpick many KTM riders have, and it has an actual seat cushion for the saddle instead of a brick covered with some waterproofed cloth. Tailbones of ADV riders rejoice! In truth, if you’ve been wanting to get a KTM because of their specialization in off-road machinery but could never find their aesthetics pleasing, the Norden 901 is the answer you’ve been looking for.

2022 Triumph Tiger 1200

2022 Triumph Tiger 1200

You really can’t fault Triumph when they introduce a new motorcycle. Not only do they take what they learned from previous generations and evolve it, they also introduced no less than five different versions of the new 2022 Tiger 1200. Your base model is the Tiger 1200 GT, meant to be an adventure tourer, with the top of the range being the 1200 Rally Explorer that is a dirt-eating beast through and through.

All models, however, share the same 1,160cc T-plane crank triple, chucking out a modest 148 HP and a grunty 95 lb-ft of torque. What makes the differences in the models is that the GT side gets 19-inch fronts and 18-inch rears, while the Rally versions get 18-inch rears and 21-inch fronts. All of the bikes also feature a low-maintenance shaft final drive, so no chain to snap when you are a hundred miles off into the wilderness.

Also of note is that the Explorer versions (GT Explorer, Rally Explorer) are designed to be long-distance machines, as both have 9 US gallon tanks and an EPA rating of 58.8 MPG. For those that don’t want to do the math, that’s over 500 miles per tank. 500 miles. Per tank. Sign us up!

2022 MV Agusta Lucky Explorer 9.5 and L.E 5.5

2022 MV Agusta Lucky Explorer 9.5 and L.E 5.5

Who said luxury Italian vehicles have no place off roads? I sure as hell didn’t; and the designers over at MV Agusta definitely didn’t either. If we want to use car metaphors to get this point across… Imagine putting a lift-kit and mudding tires on a Ferrari.

2022 welcomes MV Agusta’s highly anticipated Lucky Explorer family with open arms. Although MV Agusta is typically known for over-stylized art pieces with high attention to detail, the Italian motorcycle manufacturer has decided to take the long and beaten path home with the introduction of their first fully-fledged ADV motorcycles.

The Lucky Explorer comes in both 931cc and 554cc configurations to follow suit with most major OEMs releasing different size varieties of the same model. Although these two bikes are from the same family, the differences don’t just stop at the engine though.

We look forward to seeing how these two bikes match up against each other on the trails and hope the intel provided can assist with consumers making sure they select the version that is right for them in the event they want to go down the MV Agusta ADV route.

2022 Ducati DesertX

2022 Ducati DesertX

For many years now, if you wanted to go adventure touring on a red rocket, you were stuck with the Multistrada or, in a pinch, the Scrambler families of bikes. That is no longer the case, as Ducati has released the new DesertX, a more-off-than-on-road adventure bike that was born from lessons learned during desert rallies, most famously the Dakar.

The Ducati DesertX was built from the ground up for rough rides, with a 21-inch front wheel, an 18-inch rear wheel, and 10 inches of ground clearance. The chassis is a double frame for added resilience and rigidity, and while it may be designed to kick up a wild rooster tail of sand, it is perfectly happy on the road as well… just not as happy as a Multistrada is.

This is also shown in that the default riding mode, of which there are six, is set to rally. This bike wants to be leaping over dunes, spraying dirt and mud behind on an adventure trail, and getting so dusty that you need a vacuum cleaner with three replacement filters just to get the seat clean. As well, it has a rally-inspired windshield that gives more than enough room for a navigation roll, and the exposed rear frame can handle pretty much any panniers or saddlebags you need.

2022 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

2022 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

Practically bred for playing in the dirt, the 2022 KTM Super Adventure R is truly a sight to behold. One look at this thing and you can be sure that KTM has put a lot of thought into developing their top-of-the-line adventure motorcycle.

As the 2022 off-road-centric brother to its 1290 Super Adventure S brother, the R version has tons of creature comforts included that tailor this bike for heavy off-road use. It retains the same 1301cc engine, but exchanges some of its touring-centric parts for ones more fitted for offroading. When looking at the S and the R next to one another, the first thing you will probably notice is the lack of a windscreen. No need to block 90mph walls of wind on the trails.

Fully adjustable WP XPLOR suspension will help absorb and manage some of the ruts and crevices that one would find on a dirt trail. When you pair that with some knobby tires, you really do have a recipe for some good adventure cookin’.

2022 Ducati Multistrada V2

2022 Ducati Multistrada V2

A humble take on Ducati’s ground-shaking Multistrada V4; the Multistrada V2 provides half of the engine without compromising half of the performance.

At a much lower price tag found at the expense of a 300cc drop, the 950 Multistrada’s have always managed to find their way into the shadow of its much more luxurious V4 older brother. In order to share some of the spotlights, Ducati has brought some key upgrades to this round of V2s in hope that it can stand on its own against the V4 titan.

Without a complete ground-up reinvention of their credited middleweight ADV bike, Ducati has done their part in min-maxing the V2 to squeeze every bit of performance out of the platform. The L-Twin engine lays down 113 horsepower paired with a comfortable low-end grunt provided by 71 lb-ft of torque.

A more comfortable riding position paired with a 3.7 lb unsprung weight loss and lighter clutch means that the ADV lords over at the Ducati factory have been hearing your prayers to make this Multistrada V2 the best rendition to date.

Can These Unproven New Machines Entering the ADV Class Replace Proven Winners From 2021?

2022 KTM 890 Adventure R

2022 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

Although the “gone but not forgotten” 790 Adventure R made a big impact on the ADV scene despite its short run, the 890 Adventure that KTM elected to take its place does just as good of a job; if not better.

The 790 was already an admirable dirt assassin, but thanks to the bump in displacement – and obvious bump in horsepower as a result – the 890 Adventure R is even better equipped for long-distance riding on the highways. 105 horsepower and 73 lb-ft of torque make this bike a strong middleweight ADV contender.

With other great features not often seen in the middleweight market such as an up/down quick shifter, this bike truly knows what it means to go anywhere, any time.

2022 Yamaha Ténéré 700

2022 Yamaha Ténéré 700

The only negative I can think of when it comes to the Ténéré 700 is the fact that I need to use special keys to type “Ténéré” more than once when writing this article. Going forwards we will refer to it as the T7 for that reason.

The T7 is Yamaha’s answer to the beckoning call of the middleweight ADV market. Since its initial introduction back in 2019, the T7 has already cemented itself as one of the more capable middleweight bikes on the market.

The 689cc parallel-twin engine boasts a smooth power curve suited for both on and offroad riding styles and thanks to Yamaha’s experience in developing championship-winning MX bikes you can be sure that the T7 is packed with all kinds of off-roading potential.

If you’re lucky enough to be located in Europe, you can get your hands on a Rally Edition special for 2022; pairing a heritage colorway with Yamaha’s top-of-the-line accessories. Fancy.

2022 Honda Africa Twin

2022 Honda Africa Twin

There isn’t much to say here that hasn’t already been said. Born from a legendary lineage of Dakar racing, the Africa Twin is the king of off-road capability. Although it isn’t as luxurious as the Multistrada, or as fast as the 1290 Adventure R; there is a reason why the Africa Twin has faded in and out of relevance since 1988. Before becoming the CRF1000L Africa Twin in 2016, the AT originally started its life in Europe as an XRV650 Africa Twin.

Now that we’re in 2022, the Africa Twin is jampacked with features and design cues that combine to create a potent concoction that is the ‘King of No Roads’.

The fully homologated 1084cc engine churns out a bump in power equating to 104 horsepower and 77 lb-ft of torque thanks to the upgrades in displacement thanks to a longer stroke for the 2022 edition.

2022 BMW R1250 GS Adventure

2022 BMW R1250 GS Adventure

There’s that saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This is especially true with the BMW 1250 GS Adventure. The twin-cylinder, 1,254cc boxer engine inside engine cage, the steeply raked windshield, the flat rear rack just begging for a top box and a pair of pannier lockers… you really can’t go wrong with any flavor of BMW GS, but the 1250 GS Adventure is their top of the line model for a reason.

The 1250 GS Adventure has a peppy 136 HP and a grunty 105 lb-ft of torque on hand, thanks to the engine characteristics of the boxer. It’s also dual-cooled, air and liquid, so even if you accidentally bash the radiator while riding, you can limp it home on air cooling alone. The TFT display is amazingly visible in all lighting conditions, there are rider modes aplenty, and the variable cam timing (what BMW labels as ShiftCam) makes sure you have power when you need it, and grunt when you need it, and both when you’re riding along standing on the pegs as the bike conquers the trail beneath its wheels.

2022 BMW F850GS and GSA

2022 BMW F850GS and GSA

Don’t have the confidence for a 1250cc engine or $20,000 in the bank to make your ADV dreams become a reality? BMW has kindly provided the world with an 850cc version of their award-winning 1250GS in the form of the F850GS and F850GS GSA (depending on if you want an on-road or off-road centered model).

The robust Parallel Twin engine configuration lends itself to ample power straight from the tap; capable of producing 90 horsepower and 63 lb-ft of torque for smooth and agile power when getting out of off-road messes.

If difficult to list off the available features on the F850Gs because that is heavily dependent on which of the three trim options you end up settling on… But it is important to note that the $3100 premium package adds semi-active electronic suspension, a flawless quick-shifter, and keyless operation among other small things.

The 2022 version of this bike bikes virtually no changes to the motorcycle at all beyond some features being slid around BMW’s clever pricing ladder for this model.

2022 Harley Davidson Pan America 1250 Special

2022 Harley Davidson Pan America 1250 Special

Just when you thought that the 2022s couldn’t get weirder; as you’ve probably heard, Harley Davidson decided to completely pivot their entire business model and targeted demographics and now offers an ADV bike. Go figure.

With H-D being America’s bread-winning motorcycle manufacturer for the better part of a century, they definitely had enough capital to develop this bike and add as much ADV prowess to the new platform as they’d like.

The Pan America 1250 Special comes complete with semi-active suspension controlled by a 6-axis IMU, 7 rider modes, a giant full-color TFT display, and a brand new torque-heavy Revolution Max 1250 V-Twin motor capable of 94 lb-ft of torque.

With this bike generating so many headlines through its production process due to its strange styling and un-Harley-like roots, we’re more than excited to get our hands on one so we can see for ourselves if the Pan America 1250 Special really lives to its hype.

2022 Ducati Multistrada V4

2022 Ducati Multistrada V4

We’ve already covered the Multistrada V2 in this article, so what’s this “V4” we keep referring to? Meet the Italian grand-daddy of ADV touring motorcycles, Ducati’s Multistrada V4. With it being first introduced to the world last year, Ducati packaged this new model with tons of industry-leading technology such as radar sensors to monitor traffic conditions for its highly advanced cruise control system.

To add to the laundry list of trick tech you can find on this model, the new V4 S for 2022 comes with a semi-auto ride-height function which allows the bike to raise or lower itself at the discretion of the computer and sensors.

The main ingredient of this Italian mud-cake would obviously be the non-desmo 1158cc V4 engine capable of producing a staggering 170 horsepower and 92 lb-ft of torque (boasting power figures quite unheard of for a motorcycle designed to take the occasional backroads and pathways).

ADV riding doesn’t get much more luxurious than this.

2022 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally

2022 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally

Designed to compete with the likes of the aforementioned BMW F850GSA, Triumph brings a little piece of their British heart to the mid-displacement ADV market with their Tiger 900 Rally.

Like many of these ADV models riding the recent boom of popularity, the Tiger 900 Rally made its official debut in 2020 and has already seen a few rounds of fine-tuning and revisions.

The Tiger 900 wasn’t just a tuned-up Tiger 800 (now discontinued), this is a completely new bike with not a single part spared from the 800’s dead corpse. With Triumph having the ability to create a completely new bike from scratch, they were sure to not leave a single stone unturned when building this highly-capable off-road monster.

The 888cc Inline-Three engine featured in the Tiger 900 Rally is capable of producing 94 horsepower and 64 lb-ft of torque. Beyond the sturdy engine, the bike comes complete with a beautiful TFT display, a dizzying amount of rider modes to use depending on the environment you’re riding in, and even a special James Bond edition.

Yes, you read that correctly. For 2022, Triumph has cooked up a special Tiger 900 James Bond edition to celebrate the 25th installment of the James Bond franchise. The bike will be limited to 250 units worldwide, however, so you probably won’t be taking this thing off-roading with its special tux and bow livery equipped.



South Island, NZ – adventure motorbike tour, news, publication

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