Written by Eglė Gerulaitytė | Photos Provided by Manufacturers. Posted in Bikes
Last year was exciting in the adventure motorcycle world with the likes of the Ducati Desert X and Aprilia Tuareg making a splash in the middleweight category. And rally raid inspiration is now the theme with several manufacturers playing on Dakar nostalgia.
Onboard technology and electronics move forward into 2023—from TFT displays to clever features like Hill Start Assist—adventure bikes are now techier than ever (for better or worse).
This year’s trends are just as eclectic as 2022’s mix of nostalgia and progress. Brands like Benelli are trying to enter the middleweight category, and MV Agusta is resurrecting a new model of the Cagiva Elefant, and futuristic electric tourers are at the gates. Expect even more interesting ADV options next year for all tastes and riding styles.
Looking Back: Exciting Bikes in 2022
• Triumph Tiger Rally Pro 1200: The Ultimate Allrounder
Is it just us, or are manufacturers over-hyping rally raid tie-ins and branding for their new bikes? Whether it’s in the colors, design, or just the model names, “rally” comes up often, thus adding credibility to a bike’s off-road capability. Sort of. Does it work for the Triumph Tiger Rally Pro 1200? It does and it doesn’t: while few riders could ride this bike over the finish line of an actual rally, the Tiger Rally Pro does feel like a more off-road-oriented adventurer. The 2022 version shed 55 lb. and featured upgraded suspension, 21/18-inch spoked wheels, and improved ergonomics. It was also given a larger, 5.3-gallon fuel tank, TFT display, and its liquid-cooled 1,160cc engine at 147 HP offers an impressive power ratio (although missing that low-grunt torque of a GS).
At $22,500 MSRP, the Rally Pro is a seriously exciting adventure bike aimed at off-road riding—and could likely take on a few amateur rally races with ease.
Click here to read a full review on the Tiger 1200 Rally Pro.
• KTM 1290 Super Adventure R: The ADV Beast
Another iconic adventure bike, the 2022 KTM 1290R Super Adventure comes with significant changes: A reworked transmission offers smoother gear changes, new clutch plates ease the shifting, the steering head has been moved back by 15mm, the aluminum subframe has been redesigned, the suspension upgraded, and KTM has added a longer swingarm. These changes improve weight distribution and stability.
The 1,301cc V-Twin and 126 HP make a powerful combination, and with an optional Tech Pack ($749.99) offering Rally mode, Hill Start Control, quickshifter, and motor-slip regulation, the Super Adventure lives up to its name (and its rally-inspired bodywork).
Priced at $19,499, this 539-lb. machine is trying to give the GS a run for its money.
• Ducati Desert X: The Dakarian Heritage
Middleweight adventure motorcycles have captured a chunk of market share from their bigger brothers, and Ducati Desert X is a serious competitor in that range. Featuring 21/18-inch wheels, new frame, 250mm ground clearance, a 937cc engine with a new gear ratio aimed at decent off-road handling, and 110 HP on tap, the Desert X looks—and feels—like it can take some abuse on the trails. With six rider modes (Enduro, Rally, Sport, Touring, Urban, and Wet), and four power modes plus adjustable suspension, this bike can be fine-tuned to your riding style. If you’re thinking of doing long distances, the Desert X’s fuel capacity of 5.5 gallons can be improved with an auxiliary 2.1-gallon tank available as an accessory.
Should a 937cc bike weigh 445 lb.? That’s debatable, but the design, suspension, and stability might just make up for it. Forgiving but fun, at $16,975 this is a remarkable motorcycle capable of just about anything you throw can at it.
• Aprilia Tuareg 660: The Sahara Native
It’s been a long while since Aprilia did anything adventurous, but its 2022 creation—the Tuareg 660—was vying for a place alongside machines like the Yamaha Tenere 700. Agile, off-road-oriented, and ridiculously fun to throw around, the Tuareg has a bare-bones, no-nonsense design and looks like a bike that’s simple and reliable. The downside is the potentially limited parts supply and aftermarket mod availability. But the Tuareg with its 659cc engine, 80 HP, and 412 lb. weight is a fresh alternative to the T7, competitively priced at $11,999 MSRP.
• 2022 BMW R1250GS: Wizardry of Power and Electronics
The GS is an adventure icon with more than three decades behind it, and the 2022 edition of the BMW R1250 GS retained its classic qualities. The 1254cc, low-slung boxer engine remained unchanged, with an impressive power delivery at 136 HP. But the beast still weighs 590 lb.
So what was new? The revamped 1250 featured more electronic wizardry than ever. The suspension adjusts with different riding modes (Eco, Road, Enduro, Rain); it offers HSC (Hillside Start Control), where the rear brake engages when stopped upslope, making it easier to start; and ABS Pro reads the lean angle as you brake. Then, there’s the bright, crisp TFT, LED lights, and DTC (Dynamic Traction Control). It’s hard to keep track of all the abbreviations for the nifty new features that were introduced, but one thing is for certain—the 2022 GS is a marvel of both engineering and tech.
For the 2022 model, the Comfort, Touring, and Dynamic packages were replaced by Select and Premium. The Select Package (an additional $1,875) included a chrome exhaust, cruise control, GPS prep, heated grips, heated seat, keyless operation, pannier mounts, and a tire pressure monitor. The Premium Package ($4,325) offered all that plus Ride Modes Pro, semi-active electronic suspension, quickshifter, electronic engine compression traction control, and smart lighting.
At $20,345 MSRP, the BMW R1250GS wasn’t exactly a budget bike. But was it the best money can buy? Quite possibly if you’re into powerful beasts with the latest tech.
• Husqvarna Norden 901: The Ultimate Adventurer
Lyndon Poskitt now rides a Norden, and it’s a bike that’s just… well, hard to resist! From its eye-catching design and bodywork to its 889cc parallel-twin engine (the same as the KTM 890 Adventure) and equal on/off-road capability, the Norden 901 might just be that perfect allrounder that’s as fun on the paved twisties as it’s good on the trails. This is Husqvarna’s first attempt to produce a non-niche motorcycle aimed at adventure riders, and so far, it seems to be carving out its own place in the ADV world. With a starting price of $13,999, the Norden isn’t exactly priced competitively, but riding on the fame of the KTM 890 and 790, and beloved by rally and adventure maniacs, it’s got a lot going for it.
Click here to read a full review on the Norden 901.
New Mentions for 2023
• Royal Enfield Scram 411: The Urban Adventurer
Does it really fall into the adventure bike category? Royal Enfield says “yes.” Mark Wells, the chief designer at RE, commented, “When we began work on the Scram 411, we were determined to create a motorcycle that would be distinct in design and purpose, and bring the best of rough-road capability to urban riding. With its distinctive look and design, playful colorways, and accessible riding proposition, the Scram 411 is an ultimate ADV crossover for the urban environment.”
Does it mean the Scram is an adventurous-looking commuter, or that it’s a city bike capable of some adventure riding on the weekends? That’s for the riders to find out, but the Scram does look like a fun, easygoing bike. Its 407 lb. weight seems a tad much for its 411cc single-cylinder engine and 24 HP. With MSRP at $5099 USD, it makes a great entry-level bike.
Click here to read a full review on the Scram 411.
• MV Agusta 9.5: The Old Dakar Nostalgia
Brand-new and ready for launch in 2023, the MV Agusta looks exciting (and if you’re nostalgic about the Cagiva Elefant, this is the bike to watch). It’s got a newly developed 931cc engine, 123 HP, a Rekluse clutch, Sachs suspension, 9.1-inch ground clearance, rally-inspired colors, and design, and it’s clearly aimed at adventure riders who love hitting the dirt. However, while the exact price hasn’t been announced yet, the bike is likely going to cost somewhere around $18,000—more than just about any other bike in the category.
• Energica Experia Green Tourer: The Electric Tourer
Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire was a bust, at least as far as the spec sheet went, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a future for electric adventure motorcycles. The Energica Experia Green Tourer might prove that. Featuring a new, high-tech platform with a redesigned powertrain and battery, the Green Tourer boasts an increased range (up to 260 miles) and 102 HP at peak power. It looks like it’s aimed at mostly paved riding, but it’ll be interesting to see what the bike can do—priced at $25,880 MSRP, it could be a new green alternative.
• Benelli TRK 702: The Middleweight Promise
While Benelli has century-long roots in Italy, the company has been the property of the Qianjiang group for the last 17 years—essentially a Chinese motorcycle manufacturer. Most riders still balk at Chinese bikes, BUT they’ve come a long way—and the Benelli TRK 702 could be an interesting newcomer in the middleweight adventure bike world.
Boasting a 693cc parallel twin engine and 75 HP, the TRK weighs more or less the same as a Yamaha Tenere at 485 lb., and while it looks similar to the TRK 800, the design seems to be new. The TRK 702 will offer a feature new to western riders—built-in cameras at the front and back of the bike working as dashcams on the TFT display.
There’s no official launch date or price yet, but the TRK 702 seems to be poised to compete alongside bikes like the Kawasaki Versys 650—if it proves to be as well-designed and reliable.
Eglė Gerulaitytė is a freelance writer on a quest to ride around the world and race amateur rallies whenever she can find them. @advtorally | AdvToRally.com