I don't get the big Adventure bikes

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by ObiJohn, Oct 24, 2015.

  1. ObiJohn

    ObiJohn Screaming Banshee

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    I have to admit that I got into riding because of the fantastic ride reports here on ADVRIDER, then stumbling upon 'Long Way Around.' I've looked at the GS, the Super-Ten, the Tiger, and lately the big Honda ADV bikes (the new Africa Twin and the new-to-the-US Crosstourer). Yes, the big ADV bikes are compelling... but how practical are they for their purported use, especially for those of us without a 33"+ inseam?

    These bikes are larger versions of the typical dual sport design; 33"+ seat height, high center of gravity, long suspension travel. I can see how this design works for a lighter bike ridden at speed... but does it make sense to flog a 550 lb.-plus bike like a 250cc dirt bike?

    I have an '09 FJR1300 that is a great on-the-road sport tourer. I can't see how one of the big ADV bikes would be better for the same role... 2-lane highway, paved backroad, and interstate multi-day touring. I also have a Honda CRF230L for exploring the forest roads, two-track, and moderate single-track here in the Pacific Northwest. I can't see how one of the big ADV bikes would be better for that, either.

    This all came to a head when reading the thread on crossing railroad tracks without a grade-level crossing. What is fairly simple on a lighter or lower bike is difficult and dangerous (chances of breaking something on the rider) on the larger ADV bikes. Even a 'scrambler' design from the likes of Ducati, Triumph, or based on a UJM with suitable tires, would be far easier to ride across mixed terrain... pavement, gravel, easy dirt roads, city, freeway, backroads. Certainly, duplicating the 'Long Way Around' ride on smaller bikes (especially when accompanied by support vehicles) would be far easier.

    Wouldn't a better TRUE adventure (all-terrain, not motocross or endure) bike design begin with perhaps a longer wheelbase to obtain lower seat height with sufficient clearance, and lighter weight? Maybe something along the lines of a ruggedized NV700/Deauville, but with less fairing?
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  2. khager

    khager Long timer

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    I happen to ride a Wee-Strom jack of all trades master of none M/C. It does make an excellent low-cost commuter bike and is a lot of fun in the twisties. It is 475 lbs wet so not as heavy as some of the big bikes. With that said I don't really take it down anything worse than a forest service road or a gravel road. It meets my intended use just fine.
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  3. shoeb

    shoeb Long timer

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    What if you had to do all of that on one trip? I guess that's the idea of big trailies, jacks of all trades. If you plan on doing more dirt, perhaps a 650 dual sport. If you plan mostly for the road and only occasional off reading, maybe a 1200 big boy is the answer. Personally, I'd take a 650 even for highway use, any more seems unnecessary.
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  4. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer

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    Actually a longer wheelbase makes for less practical ground clearance (in some situations) for the same measured ground clearance compared to a shorter wheelbase bike. But the big bikes are designed to accommodate a passenger which necessitates about a 60" wheelbase minimum (other factors come into play as well).

    The big "adv" bikes are simply all-arounders with a nod towards off-pavement activities. The better designs (IMHO) route things like the exhaust in a way that they can be protected easily, something that most purely street biased motorcycles don't typically do. Lots of bikes will handle light off-pavement, heck I've rode my Concours 1000 on lots of fire roads some light two-track and a couple of stream crossings, but I can ride those same roads and rougher tracks on a Tiger 800 XC more quickly, with less chance of damage, and still hit the highway all day long day after day if I care to. My KTM 525 is great for a day of mixed on and off-road riding but only if the highway stints are kept short. It's not a bike I'd care to go on a 3000 mile ride on.

    You're right about other bikes possibly being better suited to shorter riders when it becomes necessary to dab a foot down. The height of a big ADV with a tall seat allows for both comfortable sitting and standing for taller riders but is pretty high for shorter riders unless they have above average skills. My aging knees attached to a 34" inseam appreciate the longer seat to peg relationship that most big ADVs, dual-sports, and dirt bikes offer.

    I guess the bottom line is no one bike is perfect for everyone. As luck would have it they make lots of different ones though. :)

    The biggest issue I see with the big bikes is folks that have little or no off-road experience buy them thinking that they will enjoy taking them off-road and these big bikes absolutely suck to learn how to ride off-pavement. They are viewed by new riders as big, intimidating and scary when the asphalt ends, and understandably so! I'd have hated to take one off-road without having ridden a lighter Dual-sport or dirt bike to learn on first.
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  5. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    How else you gonna get to your latte?

    [​IMG]
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  6. Tallbastid

    Tallbastid KTM Convert Supporter

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    I own the Super Tenere, and I've ridden a 990. They're surprisingly good offroad, and super comfortable on road, where the majority of riding will be done on long distance ride. I think you should take a biggen for a ride; they're expensive, but for good reason.
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  7. TexaNate

    TexaNate Been here awhile

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    Bigger bikes = bigger margins = more marketing

    Bigger engines = more stonk = better test rides in the parking lot

    There are folks who can ride liter-class ADV bikes offroad extremely well (look up Chris Birch's videos on the KTM 1190). Stuff just gets a lot hairier a lot quicker when you have 500lbs+ sliding down the side of the hill, rubber side up...

    That being said, us taller folk like big ADV bikes for street use because the upright riding position is more comfortable.
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  8. 2tallnwide

    2tallnwide Long timer

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    I don't get sport touring bikes. Too heavy, and slow to be a sport bike, too uncomfortable to be a touring bike.

    The El Caminos of motorcycling perhaps? :lol3

    Just makes no sense to me at all. :augie
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  9. CaseyJones

    CaseyJones Ridin' that train

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    I don't get the Milwaukee infatuation.

    Too slow to be a young man's bike. Too heavy to be an old man's ride. A pain in traffic; but neuralgia-inducing on the open road.

    Why would you want a stereo or a Bluetooth when your pipes are so loud you can't hear your tunes, or ANYTHING, because you're deaf? :jack
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  10. 2tallnwide

    2tallnwide Long timer

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    Huh?
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  11. BadKarma

    BadKarma Long timer

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    Well that escalated quickly...
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  12. zpooch

    zpooch Been here awhile

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    Status. They're big expensive bikes that suck off road. Most people would be better served on a KLR in the dirt but nobody wants a KLR when they can get a $20k bike with all the fancy shit
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  13. BadKarma

    BadKarma Long timer

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    Status? Maybe, in some cases, but that's rather large brush you're swingin'. In my case and honestly I suspect most people's cases as well we really couldn't care less what you think about the motorcycles, cars or trucks we choose. Variety and choice are good things.

    Not everyone wants to ride a KLR 150 miles to the fire road they're riding that day. Or take a KLR for a two up trip out into Southeastern Utah Canyonlands... You could of course but you wouldn't want my wife for a pillion if you did. Easier and more peaceful is to buy an ADV bike, be comfortable on the road, but give up the extreme dirt worthiness of the KLR.
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  14. CaseyJones

    CaseyJones Ridin' that train

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    Well...if we're going to post what kinds of bikes we don't "get"...like the poster before me...

    I did forget to put a big Smiley on it. Sorry 'bout that...
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  15. FireDog45

    FireDog45 Mid-life crisis sufferer

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    I had a lengthy response ready but BadKarma hit the nail on the head. I will add this: choosing a motorcycle is a compromise since there is no one bike that will do everything you want. Unless someone is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to buy a big Adv bike why waste the energy figuring them out? Either give one a test ride and make an educated post or just move on. It's not that important.
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  16. CaseyJones

    CaseyJones Ridin' that train

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    Far more than a car or truck, a motorcycle is a compromise.

    A big touring ride is not practical for short hops. A small commuter bike would be unthinkable for a week-long trip.

    A small trail bike or dual sport, as noted, is an insane way to ride two-up out of the city to the destination. And...as a former Boxer GS owner, I can tell you...the big ones, are a handful on anything rough.

    In the end, you pick what you like, and what's going to accommodate most of your riding. Truth be told, most of us don't **NEED** a motorcycle of ANY sort. So, you try and pick your pleasure...which machine will give you the mostest.
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  17. Black Rhino

    Black Rhino Hopelessly optimistic cat herder

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    OP , I am tall , came from dirt , rode pure street bikes for several hundred thousand miles before finding that I wanted to ride dirt again. Bought a dirt bike , then found that I had little extra time for just loading up the bike to go ride it some place. Sold the dirt bike. Enter "adventure" bike. I bought a used Vstrom 1000. Found that I loved the bike. So I bought a new Vstrom 1000. Littered it up all of the goodies needed to protect a 550 bike (now a 600lb. bike) and tried some off road stuff. Not so hot. Then I bought a Tiger 800 (474 wet) , and littered it up with what's needed to play off road (now about 500 lbs.). Love the thing. Sure , in a perfect world , I would have multiple bikes to satisfy that itch , but I don't have that kind of income. I do have enough to enjoy the Tiger and set it up to my liking , and take it places where I would be sweating bullets on a standard street bike or cruiser. So for some of us , this really works.
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  18. ObiJohn

    ObiJohn Screaming Banshee

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    I can see buying a GSA or Super-Ten or Crosstourer... if you're tall and have a long inseam. Basically, you're getting a UJM with lots of suspension travel. But, for over-the-road touring, I honestly don't see what a Super Tenere would offer that my FJR won't. It gets worse gas mileage, it's about as heavy, but it's taller and more top heavy. Even for two-up touring, I'd think the lower bike would be easer for rider and pillion.

    Maybe it's because I'm not tall (5'6") and don't have a long inseam (30"). If I could get either bike with a 31" seat height, I'd be a lot more prone to buying one. As it is, I'm seriously thinking about checking out a CTX1300 or the F6B. If they'd CTX'd the VFR1200 power plant I'd be all over it. Maybe a CTX1300 with a slightly larger tank and a cruise control would make the ultimate adventure bike... able to do dirt roads or highways, you can get your feet down, and it would be effortless to ride for miles and miles. Seriously, how would a GSA be better for dirt roads?
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  19. The_Precious_Juice

    The_Precious_Juice The Virginian

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    I agree with windblown101 with regards to the wheel base conserns.

    -------
    It is all relative.

    For a solo tour the KLR and CB500X rally raid are Big ADV bikes to me.

    For a 2 up tour, the DLXT would be considered ok, but down on power in some situations.

    My end range for a 2 up tour is the V2 and base model New AT.
    Plenty of beans to get you out of trouble, and cargo room for 2 up touring.

    Big ADV bikes are a great fit for me.
    I love the commanding views, and the plush suspension. Why would I drag my pegs in a curve that I have never been in, when I am 2,000 miles from home?
    I love the 21" tyre to slice through heavy gravel and sand when it comes out of no where.

    I have no dirt bike skills, so I am a point A to point B guy on the forest roads. So no biggy air or two feet deep mud crossings for me. No siree, Bob.

    The tour is about the culture, sites, nature, and meeting people. Granted, Chief Joseph Highway is all of that in one.

    The thing is, my tours last so long, I do not need to average more than 135 miles per day. I can't justify a big bore for that. Furthermore, I stealth camp, so like I typed, a 435lbs bike would be a hand full.

    If I can get the milage below 200/day, I would take the MIGHTY DR to Alaska.
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  20. 2tallnwide

    2tallnwide Long timer

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    I was just yanking his chain, thus the emoticons.

    The "Huh?" in reply to you was hard of hearing humor as well... :lol3

    I actually get sport touring bikes, they just don't suit our needs.

    As for the Harley, I never woulda bought the first pig in '13 if it wasn't for my wife wanting to ride with me again. But after two years with it I became geezerfied, and traded it for a new one in Sept. :D

    As for the OP's original question; Bought my first adventure touring bike in '05, a R1200GS. At the time I already had a 1500 Intruder for 2up, and the KLR650 for my solo antics. Didn't take long riding 2up in NC on the cruiser looking for property out in the sticks to figure out the KLR was useless at home in Florida. No way we were riding the KLR 2up on a long trip, if at all. After our first 4000 mile trip on the GS I gave the KLR to our SIL, and sold the Intruder back to the dealer (long story). The GS was better at both applications for us.

    Keep in mind I am a big guy, with a background in off road riding. I felt right at home on the GS immediately, and it is still my favorite overall bike ever. My wife now has a bad back, there are only a few bikes she can physically stand to ride with me on these days, thus the Road Glide Ultra.

    The performance, handling, added suspension travel, upright riding position, ease of standing while riding, and amenities offered on the newest adventure touring bikes make them a great choice for a lot of riders that never plan to ride them off pavement, especially for bigger guys. YMMV as always.

    .
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