Best lightweight adventure bikes?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by B1, Sep 8, 2020.

  1. B1

    B1 Carbon-based bipedal

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    For some reason adventure bikes just seem to get heavier each year - fine if you spend most of your time on the highway. But if you like the rough stuff as well then weight becomes important. I'm keen to hear what has worked for you.

    What would you pick if this is what you are chasing?

    CRITERIA
    - Between 260lb and 390lb dry weight (all figures below are estimated dry weight)
    - Good balance between performance and reliability
    - A decent sized fuel tank
    - Preferably a 21" front wheel
    - Decent oil capacity and oil change intervals
    - Still available in 2020 as a new bike.
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  2. AwDang

    AwDang Enabler

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  3. rd400racer

    rd400racer Long timer

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    I know I'll get blistered for this but I don't believe there is a such thing as a lightweight adventure bike short of the VStrom 650. To me, every motorcycle on the OP's list is a glorified dirt bike. I tried a couple of the bikes above and found them to be miserable on the highway. I know, the Ride Reports has hundreds of stories from people that took their DR650 to the Arctic Circle, and all I can say is you can have it.

    My idea of a perfect setup is a GSA for the road and 10% off road and a YZ250 for everything else.
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  4. Snowbird

    Snowbird Cereal Killer

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    I agree with you. Today's market has turned away from such bikes because most buyers realize they are going to want to do some road miles to get past sections they don't want to or cannot do on dirt. That means higher speeds, more carrying capacity, etc. all of which will make a bike heavier. To your list I add the KLR and T7.
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  5. rd400racer

    rd400racer Long timer

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    Interestingly, my son and I had this exact conversation the past weekend. I took my GSA and Tenere over to West Virginia. I just bought the Tenere for him and he's never ridden it as he lives in a different state. My MIL lives in the backwoods of WV; you have to cross two creeks and ride out about a 2 mile dirt/gravel road to get in. We did about 3 hours Sunday then came back and discussed bikes with many beers by the fire. We tried to figure out the perfect all-around bike and couldn't come up with anything. The T7 made the list, but we just sold a KTM 990R that I bought for him because in our book, a 21" front wheel sucks on the road. But we're picky...both of us have road raced extensively and we value perfect handling.

    But hey, that's why manufacturers make a variety of motorcycles...because not everybody thinks like us (and that's a good thing:D)

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  6. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @motopossum Super Moderator

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    Man , I get it. To me, dual sport bikes are the true adventure bikes. They can handle enough highway to get me to where I want to ride and don't limit my riding ability once I arrive. While the big bikes can gobble up multiple 1000 miles days in relative comfort, they just don't get me anywhere near the terrain that gives me the feeling of true adventure.
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  7. Husky360C

    Husky360C Been here awhile

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    The KTM 690 and Husky 701 which have the "new" engine ( the engine which has the second balance shaft and the redesigned valve train ) are game-changing bikes.

    Unlike the many folks who malign the 690 / 701, I actually OWN one. That makes me far more qualified to evaluate the bike than people who do not own one ( this is obvious but it does not stop some people from spewing misinformation about a bike they do not own and may never have ridden ).

    I've ridden 12,000+ miles on my 2019 690 in the past year and it has performed flawlessly with the exception of a failed clutch slave cylinder when the bike was new. KTM replaced the failed slave cylinder with a new updated part ( under warranty, no cost to me ) and since then the bike has been 100% reliable and has provided a superb riding experience. The bike will do everything most riders are ever actually going to do, and it does it all very well.

    The 690 / 701 is not like other singles - it is much smoother with respect to vibration, and it is seriously quick ( 74 horsepower +quickshifter = acceleration that mus tbe experienced to be appreciated ). Yet the bike can also be ridden anywhere, though for stuff like gnarly singletrack with 180 degree switchbacks you would be well advised to ride something lighter and smaller, such as a 350 or 500 KTM / Husky.

    The 330 pound weight of the 690 means you can ride solo with confidence that you'll be able to pick the bike up and avoid being stuck far from help. All the 400 or 500 pound bikes are considerably more difficult to pick up. This may or may not make a difference to you, but it is a difference that is significant in terms of what the bike can be used for if you're riding solo.

    Bottom line : if you're looking for a "one bike that does it all" solution, you owe it to yourself ignore the non-owners who say bad things about the 690 and SEE FOR YOURSELF.

    Ride one, and make up your own mind.
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  8. Husky360C

    Husky360C Been here awhile

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    A blanket generalization like "a 21 front wheel sucks on the road" might be true in many cases but it is NOT true in all cases.

    I've owned a KTM 990 Adventure and two 950 Super Enduros, and a 640 Adventure, along with several 690s and a 525 EXC. The 21" front does tend to drift
    more under high cornering loads on pavement on the heavy bikes. It will also lock up sooner under very hard braking than a 19" front will. So I agree with you that on some bikes, particularly the heavy bikes, a 21" front wheel is less than ideal on pavement, and this becomes more of an issue if you like to ride fast on pavement and use your front brake hard.

    On a much lighter bike like the new KTM 690 a 21" front wheel works just fine. Before you ride a new 690, it is difficult to imagine just how well the new 690 handles on a twisty paved road. I've been riding for 50+ years and I've road raced also. I can say the 2019 690 is one of the best handling bikes on pavement that I have ever ridden. This is with Continental TKC-70 tires, which are not knobbies but which work well as an all-purpose tire unless you encounter deep mud.

    I caution those people who assume a 21" front wheel will always equate to poor handling on paved roads. There ARE exceptions to this, and the 2019+ KTM 690 is very much an exception. It's one of the best handling bikes on pavement that I have ever ridden, and that is compared to numerous pure street and sport bikes. Like I said in my earlier post, ride one yourself and make up your own mind before you accept what a person who does not even own a 690 says about 21" front wheels always causing sub-optimal handling on the street.
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  9. CDN Rick

    CDN Rick Canoodia Eh?

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    I did own one...
    If all motorcycles were as bad as the 690 I’d take up knitting....
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  10. Husky360C

    Husky360C Been here awhile

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    The DR650 is a great bike.

    I'd pick one for a ride to Tierra Del Fuego before I'd pick any of the other bikes on the OP's list. I'd pick the Suzuki over my KTM 690 for a ride that would take me far from parts suppliers and diagnostic computers.

    The DR 650 is to me the best 650-class single, if you value reliability and simplicity above all else. The KTM 690 is horrendously complex in comparison.

    I ride a 690 because I live where it will be quick and easy to deal with problems if the bike has problems, and I really like how fast the 690 is. But on a long-range adventure ride for me it would be the DR650, with appropriate mods for the trip in question.
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  11. Husky360C

    Husky360C Been here awhile

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    I think I can understand where you're coming from based on my ownership of an earlier 690.

    I owned a 2010 690 and indeed that bike was not a bike I ever liked. That 2010 690 had issues with random flame-outs, and it never handled like I wanted it to handle.

    So I sold it and moved on. KTM apparently actually paid attention to the faults the earlier 690 had and KTM made major changes in the new ( 2019+ ) bikes.

    The new 690 is a whole different story. The fueling is spot-on, the bike never "flames out", the engine is smooth and makes crazy power, and the bike is simply wonderful.

    I had high expectations when I bought the 2019 690 and the bike has exceeded my expectations by a wide margin. I started riding in the era before bikes had disc brakes or water cooling. The 2019 690 is the best "do it all" bike I have ever ridden. Sure, there are better street bikes, and better enduro bikes, but there is no "do it all" bike that comes close, unless you're willing to sacrifice comfort in exchange for weight and then the 500 EXC might fit the bill.
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  12. AdvNener

    AdvNener Long timer

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    Too bad that the 690 gets heavier almost every year then...
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  13. Husky360C

    Husky360C Been here awhile

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  14. Bultaco206

    Bultaco206 Back-to-back motos suck Super Moderator Supporter

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    +1 :gerg

    That is all.
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  15. AdvNener

    AdvNener Long timer

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    Haha, somewhat true! But I prefer to see it more as an healthy trenchant criticism&frankness. :D
    Like.. in this case I have no complain about 690/701. Stating a simple fact.
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  16. Snowbird

    Snowbird Cereal Killer

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    I used to enjoy riding my RST or FJR to travel the 1000 mile plus trip to FL so I could leave the bike there for use over the winter. The 700 miles on the southern side of the trip were ho hum. After about five or six trips I realized I was just passing through the best riding and no matter how many trips I was going to miss most of it. So, I bought the KLR, put it on the back of the motor home and camped for a period of time smack in the middle of the best riding, with the KLR also opening up a wider variety of roads for my use.
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  17. Husky360C

    Husky360C Been here awhile

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    Please stop.

    You're making me want to buy an RV and I cannot afford it !

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    Actually this sounds like a really awesome plan. Maybe a Nissan NV conversion with my 525 or 690 on the back ...
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  18. Husky360C

    Husky360C Been here awhile

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    D'accord :1drink

    While it IS absolutely true the 690 has gained a bit of weight, it's still insanely light for its engine power.

    The 690 can be looked at as a very heavy dirt bike that is not really a dirt bike, or it can be looked at as a very light adventure bike. Both cases would be true.
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  19. VikingMoto

    VikingMoto Been here awhile

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    What he said.
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  20. Twin headlight Ernie

    Twin headlight Ernie Custom fabricated dual sport accessories

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    Dual sport adventure bikes are all about compromise. I have a KLX300, DRZ400, KLR650 and a pair of GS's. I took the KLR to Moab and the UP the past couple years. I took the DRZ trail riding in Colorado last year and the lighter weight spoiled me. It was definitely the better bike for the job. The DRZ will be going to the Black Hills this week but we are hauling the bikes out. I have rode my GS out there and after a 850 mile day there and back I can't imagine trying that on the DRZ. I also can't imagine doing the trials the DRZ has seen on the GS. Like I said: Compromise.
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