When you think of an adventure bike, you might think of those giant, heavy-touring two-wheelers that will eat up hours of your ride time. But this isn’t the case for every adventure-ready motorcycle. Some models are smaller and lighter than traditional touring bikes, making them great for long-distance travel. Yet the question still remains – is an adventure bike good for touring?
Absolutely! Adventure bikes are good for touring as they offer an excellent choice for riders who need to navigate diverse off- and on-road conditions. They feature smooth and rugged, long-travel suspension setups, dual-purpose tires that provide reliable traction and comfortable handling, as well as ample fairings and adjustable windscreens that shield the rider from wind, rain, and other weather conditions, among other capabilities. An adventure bike is probably the best type of motorcycle if you frequently go on long journeys via on-road and off-road routes.
However, choosing the right ADV is one of the most crucial decisions you will make during your tour planning process. Luckily, this article is here to help and discuss what features make a good touring bike. I’ll also provide some useful motorcycle safety tips while touring so that you can have the best experience possible. But first,
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What Is an Adventure Bike?
An adventure bike — like the 2023 Kawasaki Versys 650 Adventure Bike illustrated above — has a sweet spot that inclines more towards the street motorcycle side of the spectrum with an emphasis on long-range comfort.
If you have never heard of it before, an adventure bike refers to a type of motorcycle designed to handle both the street and light off-road travel over long distances. The basic idea behind an adventure bike is that it combines the stability and comfort of a touring bike with the easy handling of a sport bike.
On the street, these high-capacity go-anywhere machines provide a comfortable and smooth ride, while their wide tires and adjustable suspensions allow them to handle light off-road travel such as gravel roads or dirt paths. In other words, in design, an adventure bike is most similar to a dual sport motorcycle.
What Is the Difference Between A Touring Bike and an Adventure Bike?
Sport bikes and touring bikes cater to distinct riding preferences and purposes.
For instance, sport bikes are engineered for speed and agility, appealing to riders who relish high-performance experiences on smooth, winding roads or racetracks. Their design emphasizes a forward-leaning riding position, with higher footpegs and lower handlebars to enhance aerodynamics and maneuverability.
On the other hand, touring bikes are tailored for long-distance travel and comfort. They feature an upright and relaxed riding position, with higher handlebars and a more comfortable overall design to minimize strain during extended rides. Touring bikes prioritize smooth power delivery from larger, torque-oriented engines, and their suspensions are tuned for comfort and stability on highways.
Additionally, touring bikes are equipped with features like built-in storage options, larger fairings, and windscreens to enhance wind protection during extended journeys.
Is an Adventure Bike Good for Touring?
Adventure bikes can be good for touring, and many riders prefer them over traditional touring bikes for various reasons. These bikes offer a combination of comfort, versatility, and various features that make them well-suited for touring, especially for riders who want to explore a variety of terrains during their journeys.
Now, let’s break down some of the awesome features that a good adventure bike can offer you.
5 Awesome Features of a Good Adventure Bike
To help a new rider make an informed decision, we’ve generalized the characteristics of adventure motorcycles in the chart below:
1. Comprehensive Wind and Weather Protection
When you’re out on an adventure motorcycle, and the weather turns for the worse, your bike must be prepared. Wind and weather protection are the most overlooked aspects of touring motorcycles.
Adventure motorcycles can make longer trips more comfortable. Therefore, having good wind and weather protection is a crucial feature of an ideal adventure bike.
Touring motorcycles should be equipped with windscreens and fairings to protect you from the wind, rain, and other weather conditions that may arise during a journey.
The best touring motorcycles will have windshields adjustable to different heights so that you can keep your vision open based on your surroundings.
Fairings — the plastic housing units surrounding the engine and most of the frame of some motorcycles — are designed so that the rider can comfortably ride through windy or rainy conditions without drag and too much wind coming from behind or getting soaked by rain from your front wheel.
2. Ample Ground Clearance
One feature that all good adventure motorcycles have is high ground clearance. If you’re planning to go off-road on your adventure motorcycle, you’ll want a bike with high ground clearance. This can be useful for maneuvering over obstacles and streams and avoiding potholes, rocks, and other loose debris.
Ground clearance is often listed as a number on the spec sheet for an adventuring motorcycle, so you should check this out before buying to ensure your bike has enough ground clearance for your needs.
3. Robust and Enduring Engine
While your motorcycle may be a monster on the open road and the perfect companion for cross-country adventures, it’s important to remember that it’s not invincible. Like any other machine, a motorcycle is only as good as the shape of its parts, and one of the most essential parts you’ll use regularly is the engine.
The engine is the heart of every motorcycle, and the more it can endure, the better. The engine propels you through your journey, so having a robust engine that can handle long distances and off-road use is essential.
Not all engines are created equal, and if you’re going to tour on your motorcycle, you need a reliable one to get you to your destination and back safely.
The engine must also overcome challenging road conditions. These conditions include rain, mud, dirt roads, and even snow. Good adventure bikes have solid engines ready to handle everything you throw at them.
4. Optimal Comfort for Long Rides
While adventure touring motorcycles don’t offer the luxury of other touring bikes meant strictly for on-road use, they’re particularly suited for on and off-road use. Therefore, such levels of comfort will restrict maneuverability.
Nonetheless, the motorcycle you take on a tour needs to be comfortable – that’s the main criterion, and it shouldn’t be sacrificed for other considerations.
Generally speaking, adventure touring bikes are built with comfort in mind. They’re designed with longer shocks and broader tires than their less-specialized counterparts, adding extra cushioning and absorbing bumps in the road easily.
Comfort is paramount to an enjoyable day on the road – or off it, as the case may be. An excellent touring bike should have a comfortable seat. Even the most comfortable seat is useless if it’s not comfortable for you. The first thing to do when shopping for a bike is to get hands-on with as many different types of seats as possible.
Ultimately, finding a suitable adventure touring bike is more than buying a sturdy machine with wide tires. It’s also about finding a model that fits you, your style of traveling, and the kind of terrain you’re likely to encounter on your journey.
5. Strategic Storage Solutions
Your body isn’t the only thing you need to keep comfortable while riding – you’ll need to consider how your luggage will fare, too.
Every biker has to make compromises when it comes to packing. But if you’re in the market for a touring adventure bike, you may want to consider a few things that will make your life easier on the road.
If you are traveling on the off-road tracks, you’ll probably want to leave a lot of your stuff at home to keep your weight down and speed up. Nonetheless, to have enough room to pack the things you need for your trip, the bike needs to have enough space in its frame and its components.
An excellent touring bike will have enough room in the rear luggage rack or saddlebags so that you can easily store extra clothes, tools, and valuables without worrying about being uncomfortable.
Adventure Bike Riding Safety Tips
Adventure bikes can be intimidating to some riders, as they are not your typical touring bike. They strongly focus on off-road capabilities (which is why they’re often referred to as dual-sport motorcycles).
Any time you’re traveling on two wheels, safety is a concern. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2019, there were over 5,000 motorcycle fatalities alone.
Adventure bikes have a reputation for being fast and nimble, with the ability to go virtually anywhere. While this is undoubtedly true, there are some essential points to remember when riding these machines if you want to avoid being stranded or in a life-threatening situation.
Let’s take a look at some helpful adventure bike safety tips:
- Ride With a Friend
When riding with a friend, the benefits are apparent – protection in numbers, a built-in safety buddy, and someone to share the fun with. Riding with a group is also great for building confidence and camaraderie, which can help make all riders better drivers.
When riding solo, things can get tricky – if you have an accident, no one will know or help. Traveling in tour groups of two or more is best because you never know what situation you might be in and need help.
You’ll need all the necessary skills to handle any situation that might arise on the road. It’s not enough to be good at riding – you need to be able to do everything from changing a flat tire to fixing engine problems.
When you’re not alone, there’s a higher chance a problem can be resolved. If not, at least you won’t be stranded all alone.
- Always Travel with Tools
Regardless of the vehicle, it’s wise to be prepared for any breakdown. But with motorbikes, the stakes are significantly higher. If you’re stranded without the proper tools and supplies, there’s a much higher risk of being broken down.
As a general rule of thumb, bring along enough tools to be able to make minor repairs on your bike. If you know how to replace a spark plug, oil your chain, and adjust your brakes, you’ll get out of most minor jams.
- Wear the Appropriate Safety Gear
First and foremost, wear a certified helmet.
A helmet is one of the most vital safety components you should wear on your adventure tour. A good helmet will reduce the chance of head injury if you are ever in a crash. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, wearing a full-face helmet provides optimum safety.
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Additionally, you should prepare for both the ride and a possible crash. Wear over-the-ankle boots, gloves, and clothing (such as pants and a jacket) made of leather or another durable, protective material.
- Be Visible to Others
When traveling at high speeds, it’s essential to ensure you are visible to others around you. Always wear reflective strip clothing so other drivers can see you more efficiently during the day and at night.
If you are riding at night, wear bright colors like red or orange to increase visibility and add light reflective material like stickers or strips on your clothing.
An adventure motorcycle is a bike you want to take when planning an extended trip.
Longer trips require more preparation and planning than shorter, local jaunts, and an adventure motorcycle makes it all worthwhile. A good touring bike is a lot like a backpack – it’s not just a sum of its parts but an ensemble of many pieces working together to create a great tool.
Therefore, no single feature defines what makes a motorcycle great for touring. Instead, it combines many qualities that make up a bike that will keep you comfortable and safe on and off the road.
I've diligently categorized my motorcycle gear recommendations into all available categories, with the aim of providing you with a comprehensive analysis that showcases the absolute best options for all your needs. These items are the culmination of in-depth research, extensive testing, and personal use throughout my vast experience of 50+ years in the world of motorcycling. Besides being a passionate rider, I've held leadership positions and offered consultancy services to reputable companies in over 25 countries. To See Top Picks and the Best Prices & Places to Buy: Click Here!
Information for this article was partially sourced and researched from the following authoritative government, educational, corporate, and non-profit organizations: