Lightweight Adventure Bikes—That Do Not Cost an Arm, a Leg and a House

Dual-purpose bikes that do not cost an arm, a leg and a house.

The words “adventure bikes” would more likely than not conjure images of the BMW R 1250 GS, BMW F 850 GS, KTM 1290 Adventure, Triumph Tiger 800 and the like. But there is a whole lot of small capacity and lightweight adventure bikes in the market, even after excluding the truly dirt-oriented enduro bikes.

While it is true that the big boys are technically more advanced, the smaller adventure bikes can hold their own. The latter are simpler to operate, easier to control for riders of any skill level and cost less to maintain. Apart from those factors, they also have economical fuel consumption. Being light also makes it easier to pick them back up if dropped on a trail.

BMW G 310 GS

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BMW Motorrad launched the G 310 series, which includes the G 310 GS and G 310 R, as the brand’s entry point in many countries. But the G 310 GS became its own sales phenomenon and outsold the G 310 R. Well, why not. The BMW G 310 GS gets its styling cues from BMW R 1200 GS. The front quarter has all the looks of its Big Brother, including the raised mudguard, headlamp “mounts”, radiator flanks and tail section.

The 313cc, single-cylinder, four-stroke may be shared with the TVS Apache 310RR, but it seems torquier and more responsive on the BMW. That character works well in the rough, while not feeling over-stressed on paved roads.

The longer-travel suspension is well-calibrated for both road and off-road use.

Only thing is the wheels are cast-alloy 19-inch and 17-inch items. Replace them with wire-spoked wheels and you’ll have a great time out on the trials.


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It looks like a carbon copy of the CRF450R Rally raced in the Dakar Rally.

Compared to the CRF250L, the CRF250 Rally has a fairing for decent wind protection, LCD instrumentation and a small yet useful storage compartment. Its 250cc, single-cylinder engine was adopted from the CBR250RR and is a lively performer. But typical of a Honda, it is economical as well.

The CRF250 Rally is a trail bike hence should not be mistaken as a motocrosser. Therefore, the suspension is on the plusher side to soak up even the most gnarly of bumps.


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Kawasaki seemed to have built this model off the KLR650’s DNA.

The engine is derived from the previous Ninja 250/300, along with the slip-and-assist clutch, but has been retuned for more low-end and mid-range torque. It is also frugal on fuel as the tank can last for as far as 400 kilometres between fill-ups.

The bodywork gives the appearance of a larger bike and provides pretty good wind protection for road riding. While the Versys-X is definitely more road-oriented, it is decent when ridden off-road too, due to the long-travel suspension and 19” front and 17” rear wheels.

Kawasaki had also designed mounting points into the bike to carry lots of luggage.



Image source: KTM

Developed over 8 years, this bike may just become the class leader. The engine is derived from the ultra-fun 390 Duke and RC 390, while its styling closely resembles the revolutionary 790 Adventure.

If it is anything to go by, that 373cc, single-cylinder engine is one lively unit which would most probably make this bike a thrill to ride.


Image source: Suzuki

The V-Strom 250 fits into the V-Strom family among its 650cc and 1000cc brothers.

But while its bigger brethren are powered by V-Twin engines, the little guy’s engine is a parallel-Twin. Additionally, while the bigger bikes are off-road capable, the V-Strom 250 is very much a road bike.

Suzuki was honest during its launch, calling it a commuter bike with more low-end and mid-range torque that’s friendly to beginners.

However, you could still ride it down a mild unpaved trail and not be intimidated at all—as Suzuki said, it is a great start for beginners to experience a taller bike and some light off-roading.

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