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Motorcycles can be broadly classified into two realms, road bikes and off-roaders. Most road bikes aren't really good performers on any surfaceexcept for tarmac, off-roaders will run on tarmac but won't feel most comfortable doing the same. So in this tusslebetween off and on road skills was born the class of dual sport motorcycles, bikes which take the dirt head on and glidecomfortably on normal roads. The top cream of dual sport motorcycles is constituted by the class of bikes known as Adventure Touring Bikes.
These are big, brawny motorcycles flaunting unconventional aesthetics and big bore, high capacity engines (usually 1000cc or more) putting out tidal waves of torque to get you out of any tricky situations. Apart from just being able to hold their own on off-road conditions, they are equally capable of running smoothly on tarmac. They are loaded to the brim with creature comforts and can be ridden for week long cross-country trips without tiring the rider or showing signs of fatigue, themselves.
Nowadays they are laden with technologyborrowed from Supersport siblings to further enhance the riding experience. In a country like ours where road conditions are very inconsistent, Adventure Tourers are the need of the hour and are gaining popularityat a massive rate. So, without any further ado, let's have a look at what we consider are the ‘5 best Adventure Touring Bikes’, we have for sale in the country.
1. BMW R1200GS
Max Torque: 125 Nm at 6500 RPM
Price: Rs.19.5 lakhs (ex-showroom New Delhi, Dynamic Pro variant)
It would be a shame if we didn't start off the with the bike that brought this segment to the limelight. In the early 2000's BMW had a rather disappointing motorcycle portfolio which wasn't very commercially successful. If there's a reason as to why they rose to the top spot in Europe as the best motorcycle manufacturer and held that tile for a quite a while, it can solely be attributed to the birth of the R1200GS “BMW Tourer Bike”.
The R1200GS came out as a replacement to the R1150GS which although was a wonderful motorcycle, wasn't able to get any major public attention. The R1200GS was launched in 2004 with a tonne of hype and boy did it deliver accordingly. The quirky looks, insane technological bits like the shaft drive system, Telelever suspension (Big deal in a time like 2004) and its innate ability to tread any surface on the planet with no modifications whatsoever got a lot of people to purchase it and get out in the open.
The signature element of the R1200GS is the classic BMW boxer-twin engine. The cylinders are placed flat towards the ground and protrude from either side like their original motorcycles of the 1950's. Over the course of ten years, numerous record sitting cross country rides were done aboard an R1200GS. Riders, reviewers, and enthusiasts everyone fell in love with how capable the motorcycle was. It was deemed by Cycle Word Magazine in 2012 as the most successful motorcycle to hit the market in the past two and a half decades. As of 2007 itself, BMW had sold 1,00,000 of these big boys, a mere three years into its launch.
The current rendition of the R1200GS is nothing short of a technological marvel. It comes equipped with every possible electronic aid you can imagine, selectable Traction Control, an intelligent ABS with different modes to suit different types of terrain to name a few. Furthermore, there's an adaptive electronic suspension that automatically adjusts itself to suit the terrain you're riding on even better and a Hill Start Assist system to ensure you can start the bike even on an incline with minimal difficulty.
To add icing to the cake, BMW Motorrad made its official entry into the Indian market in 2017 and slashed the ex-showroom price of this adventure bike in India that is 19.5 lakhs for the top Dynamic-Pro variant. Compared to the earlier 25+ lakhs for the base model, getting the fully kitted version of the world's best adventure tourer at under 20 lakhs ex-showroom is good as a dream come true for the Indian motorcycle enthusiast.
Max Torque: 128 Nm at 7600 RPM
Price: Rs.14.5 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi, base model)
As of today, not many motorcycles are capable of competingwith the R1200GS. One such Adventure motorcycle which gives it a strong, befitting response is Ducati's Multistrada 1200. The Multistrada was actually born a year prior to the BMW but didn't really come into the limelight till its second generation was launched in 2010. The first generation Multistrada was awkwardly designed and was strongly biased towards the on-road aspect, giving the R1200GS an upper hand all the time. This lasted till Ducati launched a completely built from scratch Multistrada in 2010.
The new Multistrada not only performed the part but it also looked the part, something that Adventure Tourers are not known for doing. The engine was a derivative of the scintillating 1198 superbike but had gone through complete dimensional changes to give priority to the torque output. But again, going out on the dirt aboard a beast giving out a 150 bhp payload is an experience that can't described in mere words. The Multistrada 1200 was a strong performer off the bat. In it's debut year in 2010, it decimated the Pikes Peak Internation Hill Climb in the upto 1205cc category and continued to do so till 2012, grabbing the attention of every other manufacturer.
The latest rendition of the Multistrada completely obliterates the stereotype of off-road bikes lacking visual appeal with its gorgeous Panigale inspired head cowl and a single-sided swingarm. The new engine also gets Duacti's proprietary Desmodromic Valve Timing system which is seen on their superbike range. Where the Multistrada really shines is the electronics package. There is everything you'll need, Adaptive Traction Control which zcan be changed on the go, a Bosch 9M ABS system with cornering function, Ducati's signature Sky-Hook
from the menu. It's practical, it's versatile, it's powerful, it's intelligent and most importantly it's a Ducati. I need not say anything more.
Click here for our detailed review of the Ducati Multistrada 1200
Max Torque: 98 Nm at 6000 RPM
Price: Rs. 13.85 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi, DCT Automatic variant)
Before the KTM's, BMW's and the other Europeans took control of the off-road dominion, one of the earliest kings of the segment was a very much humble Japanese. Back in 1990's the most popular production dual purpose motorcycle was a legend known as the Honda Africa Twin XRV750. It was based on the Dakar Rallywinning NXR-750 prototype but much better suited for the road in comparison.
But make no mistake, it could very well have traversed through Mars with the level of off-road finesse it had. It was also the first production motorcycle in the world to sport a digital readout as a part of the instrument cluster. The first-generation Africa Twin was halted in 2003 due to rising competition from Europeans and the focusof Honda shifting towards superbikes, leaving enthusiasts around the world in dismay.
After a13-year long hiatus, Honda resurrected the former off-road king with a brand new1000cc engine and the same legendary badge in the form of the Africa Twin CRF1000L. The new Africa Twin was launched with a strong message, that Bhp doesn't mean everything. Despite being almost 40-50 bhp down from it's competition, it is as capable as it's competition and comes at a much lower price. It emphasizes on ease of riding and control which are much more necessary off-road than big bhp figures.
The Africa Twin completely shines on both these aspects with two things, firstly it's amazingly light, a good 50 kilos lighter than the BMW. Secondly it comes equipped with Honda's revolutionary DCT (Dual-Clutch Transmission) Automatic system which lets the bike do the gear shifting, keeping your attention locked to the route ahead. The electronics are minimal and simple. There is only a traction control system in the form of the HSTC (Honda Selectable Torque Control) and an ABS which can be switched off with the click of a button. No complicated menu scrolling, no 15 different combinations, just one button click which can be done on the go, simple and effective.
The Honda really kicks serious ass in the dirt as it does on the road. The tall windscreen, plush seat and narrow tank give it a commanding position on the highways while proving to be as functional off the tarmac. Ready for the best bit? As a part of Honda's make in India initiative, the Africa Twin was brought to the country as a CKD model, allowing you to have the fully decked out, DCT equipped top model Honda adventure bike price in India (only model sold in India) for a mouth-watering of 13.85 lakhs (ex-showroom).
4. Triumph Tiger Explorer XCx
Max Torque: 121 Nm at 6400 RPM
Price: Rs. 18.75 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi)
The Triumph Tiger is a bit of a dark horse in this list. Unlike most of its competition, the Tiger is not doused in an expansive history lesson or has gained reputation from competitive events. In fact it only came into existence in 2010with the 800cc variant while the top model Tiger Explorer 1200 took birth in as late as 2011. So, you may be assuming it's a newer bike, no doubt it's not going to be able to compete with veterans that have at least 10 years of experience in the segment. Wrong! The Tiger Explorer is a complete motorcycle that actually in many ways trumps the competition.
It ticks in all the bells and whistles out of the box and you can literally take it out of the showroom and straight to the gravel. While its rivals mostly run on twin cylinder engines, Triumph opted to equip the Tiger with their pioneered Inline-Triple configuration which definitely gives it an upper edge in the acoustics department. What will really take you by surprise is the list of features and standard equipment on the bike.
While all the other bikes have adjustable windscreens which need to be rotated with a knob or actuated by a lever, Triumph has gone one step ahead and made it electronically operated. Who wants to fiddle with knobs mid ride when you want to adjust the screen positioning? Push the button a few times next to the handlebar and you're done. Absolute genius! Apart from that, cruise control, heated grips, adjustable seats, auxiliary lamps, bash plates are all standard equipment, not add-on accessories. Triumph built this to tackle terrain and they certainly weren't joking around. Even from the electronics standpoint, it's got everything.
Throttle on the Tiger Explorer is Ride-by-Wire and mated to a superbike level Traction Control. There is a top of the line Bosch ABS system with adjustable parameters clamping on Brembo Monobloc calipers. All this is governed by a state of the art Inertial Measurment Unit that is again seen mostly on superbikes. To add to the list, there is a torque assisted slipper clutch, hill hold control, USB charging and a lot more. The only gripehere is that electronic suspension could have been offered as an option but Triumph plans to bring the other versions in the family soon so that aspect is covered as well. The Triumph adventure bike Tiger Explorer XCx is priced at Rs.18.75 lakhs (ex-showroom) which may sound expensive for a newbie but considering what all it packs inside is a totally justified proposition.
Max Torque: 101.9 Nm at 7500 RPM
Price: 13.28 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi)
Save for Honda with their Africa Twin, the Japanese companies didn't really invest a lot of their R&D budget towards the Adventure touring motorcycle segment. It wasn't till they noticed the massive interest of the public towards European dual-sport bikes, that they also decided to partake in this segment. Kawasaki launched their venture with the Versys 1000 in 2011. Versys stands for "Versatile System" denoting it's all round nature.
The Versys underwent a full re-design in 2015 with a very Ninja-esque face making it arguably the sharpest looking adventure tourer bike to ever hit the market. Like the Tiger Explorer, the Versys also went unconventional on the engine department with a Z1000 derived 4-cylinder mill giving it a blissful exhaust note. The four-cylinder engine also translates to a one of a kind sublime experience on the highways. It's just smooth as hell to be summed in simple words. The engine of the Versys has a bit of a split character. It's calm and docile when you want it to be, but slam a gear or two down and it transforms into a howling beast like the Z1000 albeit with slightly lesser intensity.
The Versys isn't too technologically over equipped. There is no ride-by-wire but there is a 4 level KTRC traction control system along with 2 selectable power modes and a simple ABS system. The suspension is just superb. No fancy Ohlins or Sachs units with electronic adjustment but Kayaba forks with easy manual adjustment. However, it still excels at what it does and will absorb even the biggest of potholes like they didn't even exist.
Off-road capabilities won't really impress you like the others in the list. It’s a heavy bike with sport oriented tyres and does struggle quite a lot on loose tarmac. Changing tyres can make a difference but the Versys is strongly biasedtowards the Touring side of the Adventure Touring aspect. Nonetheless it can tackle any on road situations without showing even a hint of discomfort and can devour highways while inducing minimal or no levels of fatigue to both rider and pillion.
The Versys 1000 is the most affordable “adventure bike in India”at price of 13.28 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi), on the list. It doesn't really excel at off-roading but can run through any road surface our country can dish at it without a second thoughtand makes for a fantastic and functional long-distance tourer at a lovely price point.
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