What’s it take to be an adventure motorcycle?

BMW R 1200 GS Adventure

BMW R 1200 GS Adventure

Adventure Motorcycle: A state of mind or a genre of bike?

In the past few years, the popularity of the “Adventure Motorcycle” has steadily increased, while overall sales are a bit down.  The fact of the matter is, after years of dominating the market, in most parts of the world, sport bikes sales are being overshadowed by the desire to feel as if you can take your motorcycle anywhere… 

The market is inundated with this new breed of bike, which is good for business, with manufacturers like BMW, KTM, Triumph and Yamaha leading the pack.  The companies are churning out bikes complete with the stuff of adventure: semi-knobby tires, skid plates, heated grips, aluminum panniers and a host of other options.  Forums such as ADVRider continually have loyal followers, and adventure aftermarket sites are booming.  What does this tell us about ourselves, as motorcycle riders and consumers?  Well, it seems that many of us seek to leave the beaten (paved) path, and get ourselves deeper into the world, preferably the part of it populated by dirt roads.

Is this an Adventure Motorcycle?

Is this an Adventure Motorcycle?

The recent acquisition of a Kawasaki Versys has pulled me into the sphere of Adventure Motorcycle influence, despite the bike not technically being built for this type of riding.  But because I was looking to use this bike for longer trips, including to places like Vermont, which has MANY unpaved, gravel roads, I sought to have this be MY adventure bike, complete with common Adventure Motorcycle accoutrements.  In went the 12V power outlet,  on went the pannier racks, and soon will be a switch to more dirt-ready motorcycle tires.

I did a ton of research, and inadvertently slipped into the adventure culture, debating with myself how far I should “take this adventure thing.”  I finally read an article that seemed to ring very true for me, putting things in perspective.  In the August issue of the British magazine BIKE, an article titled ‘We’re Having Loads of Fun!’ highlighted several riders, who all enjoy different types of motorcycles.  One section focused on Neil Leigh, who operates a B&B in Belgium, catering to motorcyclists, and running ride tours.  Mr. Leigh commented that “I think an adventure bike is whatever you have in the garage; every ride should be an adventure.”  Well said!

This put my mind at ease, and the simple phrase uttered by Mr. Leigh, reminded me that the adventure is in the eye of the beholder, and the ‘adventure motorcycle’ is in the feeling about the metal, plastic and rubber beneath the rider.  While it’s nice to see ANY segment of motorcycles gaining in sales, it’s important to make sure that our priorities are on the fun at hand, regardless of which bike we choose.

So go ahead, get out on the road (paved or otherwise) and have your own adventure…

What bike do you adventure on?

One Reply to “What’s it take to be an adventure motorcycle?”

  1. …after nearly a year and a half on the road, from new york to bolivia, i’ve spent about the same for everything, including my bike, as a new bmw would cost. Probably less. Actually way less with all the luggage and gear and stuff that people who ride those bikes usually buy.

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