Shrinking The Planet – One Ride At A Time

Big, Medium or Little? What To Do, What To Do?

I was at another website the other day and found a post that asked whether true “adventure bikes” should be big, medium or small.  It was and excellent and interesting question.  So I had to stop and ask myself, “do I really think there is a best size of bike for adventure riding?”  After some thought, I came up with an answer that really wasn’t an answer.  From my perspective there were a bunch of variables that could define what the “best” adventure bike would look like.  If I were on a long ride with only pavement and well maintained gravel roads to deal, it seems to me that the full size adventure bikes (e.g. BMW GS1200 or GS800, KTM 1190 or 990 etc.) would be the “best” for covering those distances in comfort, load capacity and speed.  However, if there was some real rough stuff ahead, I’d rather be on a lightweight easy handling bike (e.g. Yamaha WR250, Honda CRF250L etc.) might make it the “best” choice.  I wouldn’t have to worry about the technical tracks, but of course the light weight nature and size of the bike would limit the amount of cargo I could carry and potentially impact range.

So where does that leave us?  Do we need to compromise comfort, range and speed over ease of handling on technical sections?  Perhaps not.  What about those middleweight machines like the KLR650, Vstrom 650 and KTM 690E?  Could they be the answer?  Well, after I thought about it a while, I came to the conclusion that everything is a trade off.  The middleweight machines weren’t especially heavy, nor were they exceptionally small.  They provide the rider with relatively good  comfort and can carry quite a good amount of cargo.  Not bad, not bad…  But when you looked at the entire equation, the Middleweight bikes really constituted a trade off on just about everything.  They were neither highly comfortable platforms, nor were they light and “flickable” as the lightweight small bikes.

So where does this leave us?  Big bikes do certain things very well, little bikes do certain things very well and the middleweight machines don’t do much with excellence.  Therefore, it would seem that the right size for a true adventure bike is the bike you feel confident on that will get you through the terrain you plan to travel.  Kim and I travel all sorts of terrain, the majority of which will be maintained gravel roads and fire roads.  As such, we’re taking the middle ground and going on middle weight machines.  We’re planning a 2800 mile ride through six states in the west this summer, so it’s a KTM 690 for me and a DR650 for Kim.  I still have to get Kim’s bike into “adventure” shape, but I think my KTM 690E is coming up to snuff.

So what do you think?  Let us know what you think the best size for adventure riding is.  We want to hear from you!

Mike and Kim

Ride to Adventure – Shrink The Planet, One Ride At A Time

4 responses

  1. itsmewilly

    It’s just what you said,each kind of road asks for a certain kind of bike. Isn’t that the case with everything ? Each kind of job needs certain kinds of tools. But unlike tools, of which
    you can carry a whole assortment with you, to get the job done, you can’t take along 3 different bikes (unless you have a driver with a van full of bikes who rides along with you ) .
    So, depending on where you plan to go, you choose a bike that you can handle comfortably on most of the road and you just put up with some of the rougher stretches.
    By the way, did you really mean to say (3rd pararagraph)” bike bikes do certain things very well “? hehe!


    April 25, 2013 at 8:11 pm

  2. Mike what works for me is the KTM 990 for the adventure trips comfy, and powerfull, handles most off road trails . Then for the local or trail ride trips, I ride the KTM 250,2 stroke, wow is this bike fun, not really a cross country machine, but it gets the job done on the single track!



    April 26, 2013 at 7:32 am

  3. Fredo,

    Good choice of machines! And you do ride them sooooo… well!



    April 28, 2013 at 8:48 pm

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