As the amateur rally racing world grows – seemingly exponentially – more and more rally organizers are offering Adventure Raid classes. Hellas Rally, 1000 Dunas, Hispania Rally, Dinaric Rally, Sonora – all of these events have an ADV class open to large capacity adventure bikes, and usually, organizers have no trouble filling them. Having raced Hellas in 2019 and Hispania in 2020, I noticed the ADV classes are always at least 30-40 riders strong, and chances are, they’re going to grow even more in the future. While most of the Adventure Raid classes offer shorter stages and GPS navigation instead of roadbook, it’s still a decent enough challenge: the big bike riders face the same routes, same technical terrain, and the same test of endurance as everyone else.
My own rally weapon – or rather, pack mule, but that’s a story for another time – of choice is a heavily modified Suzuki DR650. Not exactly a big ADV bike, but not quite a lithe and graceful KTM 450, either; so far, since I have no delusions of placing anywhere but at the end of the pack, I’ve mostly been grateful for my indestructible tractor. Bivouac maintenance, for the most part, consists of a quick check and a tire inspection; there’s no need to change the oil every five minutes, and for the most part, the thing just keeps on going despite what the rally conditions or terrain throw at it. For a complete amateur like me, that’s plenty of bike, and plenty of reliability to stick to the DR rather than think of getting something more race-appropriate, especially as I’m indefinitely on the road in between the races.
Perhaps that is the beauty of racing big ADV bikes: they won’t just get you through a rally, they’ll also get you to and from the rally. Who knows – maybe Races to Places will become a thing, with adventure riders traveling from race to race and keeping up with the rally world.
What’s your take? Would you ever race a rally with a big ADV bike?
Featured image: Actiongraphers