What’s new in the adventure motorcycle world? New bike models aside, has anything changed in the last few years, and if so, what are we riding, how are we overlanding, and what adventure motorcycle trends are emerging that we haven’t seen before?
From my vantage point – one of being indefinitely on the road and geographically unstable while staying deeply enmeshed in the ADV moto media and social media world, by design and by chance – I’ve noticed a few changes. Maybe they’re not entirely new, and maybe they cant quite be called adventure motorcycle trends just yet, but here’s what I’ve been seeing more and more of – and what makes me smile:
Tiny Bike Adventures
There was a time when the image of A Real Adventure Rider was that of a male (preferably beardy) person of middle age riding off into the sunset, or at the very least, the Pamir Highway, aboard a large-capacity adventure motorcycle, typically bearing the BMW logo. Partly thanks to the Long Way Round craze, the excellent efforts of BMW’s marketing department, and the overall obsession of big ADV bikes, this image dominated the covers of adventure motorcycle magazines for years, and most of us bought into the whole thing so completely it rarely got questioned.
Now, it does; not only riders are ditching the big GS’s, but they’re getting younger, more creative, and ride ever-smaller bikes. Just look at this French adventurer taking on the world aboard a Honda Monkey: currently exploring the Trans Euro Trail, Bruno and his Monkey are gaining momentum. Not convinced? The Adventurists have been organizing Monkey Bike runs for years already:
Tiny bike adventures isn’t a new thing in itself – from Nathan the Postman and Sean Dillon to Ed March riding the world on Honda C90’s, the little bikes have been part of the scene for years already. Now, however, it’s like there’s a tiny adventure bike Renaissance – and for many of younger travelers, riding the world on monkey bikes, Groms, and Cubs is a lot more preferable than the old GS story.
All Bike Adventures
In fact, an adventure bike is now any bike: there are people riding RTW on sport bikes like this fearless lady on a CBR, vintage bikes, choppers, Chinese street bikes, little dirt bikes, and so on, and the category “adventure bike” can now mean any bike at all. If you’re adventuring on it, it’s an adventure bike, right?
I’d say so.
Less Bike Snobbery
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it feels like there’s less and less brand and model snobbery out there when it comes to long-distance motorcycle travel. Back in 2013-2014, I remember snide remarks and questions of when was I going to get A Real Adventure Bike when traveling South America on a no-name 150cc; now, in real life and reading comments online, it seems we as a community have become a lot more relaxed about labels and categories and welcome anyone who’s on two wheels and willing to put in the miles. Whenever there are articles or moto blogs mentioning people riding the world on tiny bikes, weird bikes, scooters, and the like, the comments are usually in the lines of “more power to you!” than put-downs about brands, makes, and models. And that’s certainly an awesome trend to see.
More Moto Mags and Blogs
Speaking of articles: it feels like there’s more out there in terms of adventure motorcycle zines, podcasts, blogs, vlogs, and other content sources than ever before. From new magazines like Traverse and podcasts like Gravel Travel to new emerging ADV moto bloggers and vloggers like Winding Wheels, it feels like the community is growing exponentially – and blogging about it along the way. Hopefully, this means more diversity, more new stories, and more inspiration to go around for everyone.
Spontaneous ADV Meets
This year, Revzilla threw an ADV party with their Get On! ADV Fest in South Dakota; here in Europe, spontaneous, rider-organized mini-adventure festivals and meets are happening all over the place from the Netherlands to Bulgaria. It may be the post-pandemic thirst for hanging out with other adventure riders in real life, or it might be a sign that there’s more and more of us each year. Either way, it sounds like good news.
ADV to Rally
Dakar Rally may be out of reach for most of us, but more and more rally organizers are adding an Adventure or Adventure Raid class to their events. From 1000 Dunas and Hellas Rally Raid to the Dinaric Rally, Iberian, and Hispania, most mid-level rally races now welcome adventure riders – and any bike is a go. If you’ve ever wanted to do a rally race as an adventure rider, it seems like there’s no better time than now.
What adventure motorcycle trends have you spotted in the last couple of years? Share in the comments below!