ENDURO MOTORCYCLES GUIDE

BEST ENDURO MOTORCYCLES

Lightweight adventure bikes for fast-paced adventures

Best Enduro Motorcycles - Lighweight

Honda XR400R - OVErview

Honda XR400R enduro motorcycle

Honda XR400R - Specs

Production dates: 1994 – 2004                                Price (2nd hand): $3,000 -£2,500

Power: 36 hp                                                              Engine Size: 397 cc

Engine Type: Single Cylinder; Four Stroke; Air Cooled

Dry Weight: 116.5kg (257lbs)                                    Wet Weight: 125kg (256lbs)

Fuelling: Carburetor

Tank Size: 9.5 Litre (2.5 US Gal)

Production dates: 1994 – 2004

Price (2nd HAND): $3,000 -£2,500

Power: 36 hp                 Engine Size: 397 cc

Engine Type: Single Cylinder; Four Stroke; Air Cooled

Dry Weight: 116.5kg (257lbs)                                    

Wet Weight: 125kg (256lbs)

Fuelling: Carburetor

Tank Size: 9.5 Litre (2.5 US Gal)

Honda XR400R - Overview

Lightweight
85%
Power
35%
Offroad Ability
85%
Road Manners
20%

About

Produced by Honda Motor Company over two decades ago the XR400 remains to this day a staple in the offroad adventuring community. The XR400 also faces very little competition in its category, the dual-sport DRZ400 proving heavier,  more complex and not as well suspended and other enduros being more far highly strung and heavy in maintenance.

WHY IS IT GOOD?

A combination of low weight, good suspension and simple mechanics powered by a grunty little engine. The design is bombproof, with no radiators or coolers to damage in a fall and no pumps to fail. For single-day trips or multi-day adventures across tight terrain the XR 400 is perfect, which is why it has earned the moniker “mountain goat” from its riders and is still popular to this day. Accessible prices also make it a perfect starter bike for learning to ride offroad. 

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD?

For long-distance touring this is perhaps not the ideal platform, the small fuel tank, lack of substantial subframe for putting panniers on the back and dirtbike ergonomics make it limited for this purpose. It also lacks an e-start and battery which means kick-starting every time you use it, which may become tiresome.

KTM EXC 500 - Overview

Lightweight
95%
Power
60%
Offroad Ability
95%
Road Manners
30%

About

The 500 series of enduro motorcycle produced by KTM AG  has been existence since 1989 and has grown from strength to strength since. Its latest incarnation the EXC, in production since 2012, has redefined the possibilities of what an enduro motorcycle can do. 

WHY IS IT GOOD?

Despite its offroad heritage EXC 500, comes fully equipped for the road with a speedometer, headlight, taillight and electric start included. All this only adds up to a curb weight of 114 kg/251 lbs fully fuelled, making it one of the lightest road-worthy enduro motorcycles on the market. The engine, derived from KTM 450cc motocross bikes has a longer bore and stroke with a six-speed gearbox to give the KTM extra top and low-end horsepower which allows it to cruise at highway speeds, which is great for a bike this light.

The powerful package is complemented by top-spec fully adjustable WP 48mm forks offering 300 mm travel and a rear shock using a Progressive Damping System (PDS) instead of conventional linkages, which saves weight, increases reliability and improves ground clearance. With only a few concessions, KTM have made the EXC500 into one of the lightest, most powerful enduro motorcycles on the market, whilst still making it fully road legal.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD?

Long-distance touring will be a struggle due to the small 8.5-litre fuel tank, lack of fairing and more importantly the oil changes, which have to be done every 20 or so hours. This may seem excessive to some, but is to be expected on a high-performance motorcycle of this calibre with an oil capacity of only 1.5 litres. KTM prices at purchase and for spares also apply.

These limitations haven’t stopped riders like The Rolling Hobo using the EXC 500 on their long-distance travels. His website also provides a masterclass on how to pack lightly.

ktm EXC 500 - Overview

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“”The KTM 500 EXC is the ultimate tool for adventure enduro. It is light, has a good gear box and great suspension for enduro and a powerful engine that isn’t prone to stalling at low revs. It has completely negated the necessity of any kind of trail.” – Jussi Hyttinen , The Rolling Hobo

Photo and quote used with permission from Hussi Hyttinen.

ktm EXC 500 - Specs

Production dates: 2012 – Present                         Price: $10,500 – £8,600

Power: 58 hp                                                             Engine Size: 510.4 cc

Engine Type: Single Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Dry Weight: 109kg (240.3lbs)                                 Wet Weight: 114kg (251lbs) ]

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 8.5 Litre (2.25 US Gal) 

Production dates: 2012 – Present                         

Price: $10,500 – £8,600

Power: 58 hp                 Engine Size: 510.4 CC

Engine Type: Single Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Dry Weight: 109kg (240.3lbs)                                 

Wet Weight: 114kg (251lbs) ]

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 8.5 Litre (2.25 US Gal) 

Best Enduro Motorcycles - Middleweight

Honda XR650R - Overview

Honda XR650R enduro motorcycle

Honda XR650R - Specs

Production dates: 2000- 2007                        Price (2nd hand): $3,200 – £3,000

Engine Type: Single Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Power: 50 hp                                                      Engine Size: 649 cc

Dry Weight: 132kg (293lbs)                             Wet Weight: 144kg (317lbs)

Fuelling: Carburetor

Tank Size: 9.8 Litre (2.6 US Gal)

Production dates: 2000- 2007                        

Price (2nd hand): $3,200 – £3,000

Engine Type: Single Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Power: 50 hp                             Engine Size: 649 cc

Dry Weight: 132kg (293lbs)                             

Wet Weight: 144kg (317lbs)

Fuelling: Carburetor

Tank Size: 9.8 Litre (2.6 US Gal)

Honda XR650R - Overview

Lightweight
70%
Power
55%
Offroad Ability
80%
Road Manners
30%

About

Not to be confused with the XR650L dual-sport, the XR650R is an altogether different animal which was produced by Honda Motor Company for the purpose of winning races. Having won the Baja 1000 multiple times in the early 2000s, the XR650R is a renowned desert racer, the racehorse in an enduro motorcycle to the likeable donkey that is its cousin the XR650L..

WHY IS IT GOOD?

Its liquid-cooled 649 cc is a powerhouse capable of 60 horsepower with the right modifications and remains exemplary for a design that is nearly two decades old. The frame is constructed of lightweight aluminium rather than steel, which helps keep weight down and its suspension whilst now dated can still soak up whoops and jumps with confidence.

A no-frills design, with simple electronics, liquid cooling and a carburettor, means riders know what to expect when taking the XR65R on the trail. One of the reasons for the XR650R’s success is that you get modern day performance in an old school package with Honda’s legendary reliability baked in.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD?

One drawback to this racing heritage is that the XR650R has no electric start or battery and kickstarting is a requirement, in some countries indicators and licence plate do not come as standard. The weak subframe also prohibits carrying too much luggage and the 1,000-mile service interval is a restriction for longer rides.

However, none of this prevents people from touring on XR650R and the Big Red Pig as it is named by its riders remains a classic with well-maintained models holding their value steady. 

KtM 690 Enduro R - Overview

Lightweight
65%
Power
65%
Offroad Ability
85%
Road Manners
60%

About

Produced by KTM AG, the 690 Enduro R has been in production since 2009, with a hiatus in 2018 due to Euro 4 emissions regulation, it re-appeared again in KTM’s lineup in 2019. Until the KTM 690 Enduro R came along the dual-sport market was dominated by ageing Japanese titans such as the KLR650,  XR650L and other models developed in the 90s. 

WHY IS IT GOOD?

The 699cc mill develops 67 horsepower, almost 30 more than most of its competitors. Small innovations like the trellis frame that uses the engine as a stressed member and the fuel tank which sits at the rear of the motorcycle make the bike very light for its category and brings the centre of gravity even lower, making it easier to use offroad. Quality components such as WP 48mm inverted forks at the front and WP rear shock at the back make the 690R’s suspension truly class-leading, and able to make short work of offroad obstacles..

6,000-mile service intervals and an ample aftermarket which includes pannier racks, rally fairings and long-range tanks allows the KTM 690 to be transformed into a true monster of an adventure machine. The 690 Enduro R is the 21st century’s response to the Suzuki DR650, bringing along better suspension, less weight, more power and modern features. 

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD?

New is not always better. Where the KTM 690 remains stumped by it elders is on reliability and ease of maintenance, where it is known for having some very common issues most notably with the rocker arm bearing which can disintegrate (redesigned in 2013) and the fuel pumps which are known to fail. A jerky throttle and close-ratio gearbox are also some niggles brought up by 690R riders. Again, you also pay KTM prices.

KTM 690 Enduro R - Overview

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“The reason we chose the KTM 690 to travel from Ireland to South Africa, was because we wanted a bike big enough to be able to travel long distances at a higher speed through Europe and the Sahara, but still have something lighter than a twin cylinder that would allow us to explore more offroad riding in the heart of Africa. 

It has great stock suspension which is often the first thing people upgrade for an overland trip like ours, a 10,000km service interval which was important as we travelled 24,000kms, and it is really fun to ride. Even after months in the saddle, we were still excited to ride our 690s.”  Anthony and Richard, NomadikandCo

Photo and quote used with permission from NomadikandCo.

KTM 690 Enduro R - Specs

Production dates: 2009 – Present (except 2018)               Price: $11,900 – £ 9,599

Engine Type: Single Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Power: 67 hp                                                                            Engine Size: 654CC – 699cc

Dry Weight: 143kg (315lbs)                                                   Wet Weight: 154kg (340lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 12 Litre (3.2 US Gal)

Production dates: 2009 – Present (except 2018) 

Price (2nd hand): $10,500 – £ 7,900

Engine Type: Single Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Power: 67 hp             Engine Size: 654CC – 699cc

Dry Weight: 143kg (315lbs)                                         

Wet Weight: 154kg (340lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 12 Litre (3.2 US Gal)

Husqvarna 701 Enduro - Overview

Husqvarna Enduro 701 motorcycle

Husqvarna 701 Enduro - Specs

Production dates: 2015 – Present                         Price: $11,000 – £ 8,600

Engine Type: Single Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Power: 67 hp                                                             Engine Size: 692.7cc

Dry Weight: 145kg (319.7lbs)                                 Wet Weight: 157kg (346lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 13 Litre (3.4 US Gal)

Production dates: 2015 – PResent            

Price: $11,000 – £ 8,600

Engine Type: Single Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Power: 67 hp                 Engine Size: 692.7cc

Dry Weight: 145kg (319.7lbs)       

Wet Weight: 157kg (346lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 13 Litre (3.4 US Gal)

Husqvarna 701 Enduro - Overview

Lightweight
65%
Power
65%
Offroad Ability
80%
Road Manners
65%

About

Husqvarna is best known for two things, chainsaws and motorcycles and the company has had a long and storied history in both. Husqvarna first started producing motorcycles in 1903 in Huskvarna, Sweden,  in 1987 its motorcycle division was purchased by Cagiva and moved to Italy, then in 2007 it was sold to BMW until finally being incorporated in 2013 under the KTM AG umbrella with production moved to Mattighofen in Austria.

If the Husqvarna 701 Enduro motorcycle looks strikingly similar to the KTM 690 it is because they are essentially the same bike, made by the same group.

WHY IS IT GOOD?

The 701 features all the same characteristics as its twin; WP suspension, under-seat tank, trellis frame and powerful single-cylinder liquid-cooled engine. There are however a few differences; the suspension setting, and fuel mapping are slightly softer on the 701 making it more manageable and comfortable to use in day to day life on the road and for travel. Like the KTM 690 and perhaps even more so, it is not uncommon to see 701’s being modified for long-distance touring with rally-style fairing and racks for soft-luggage installed. It also comes with Husqvarna colours, if you don’t like orange..

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD?

Having gone into production half a decade than the KTM 690 on which it is based, the 701 has addressed most of the more common mechanical issues of the model. However, as with all modern motorcycles powered by complex electronics, an electronic failure will leave you stranded. This will most likely require diagnostic tools located at a KTM dealer to sort out. For extreme remote travel, the Husqvarna 701 might, therefore, not be the best choice.

Have a look at some excellent pictures of the 701 going through Africa on Roland Peelen’s Instagram.

Best Enduro Motorcycles - Heavyweight

BMW HP2 Enduro - Overview

Lightweight
40%
Power
100%
Offroad Ability
70%
Road Manners
40%

About

The motorcycle nobody had asked for, perhaps this could sum up what BMW had created when it introduced the HP2 Enduro to the world stage in 2005.  An enduro motorcycle on steroids, the HP2 is a mad crossover between a trail bike and an enduro motorcycle, taking the engine and frame from one and bolting on all the components of the other. 

WHY IS IT GOOD?

The HP2 is based on the venerable BMW 1200 GS with a number of radical modifications made to bring the dry weight down to 175kg, creating a weight saving of 24 kg over the orginal. A tubular trellis frame suspends and holds in place the GS boxer engine to the chassis of the motorcycle, lowering the centre of gravity and saving weight.  The standard BMW GS 1200 telelever unit is replaced with conventional 45mm USD forks and an air shock instead of a spring unit is used in the rear to save more weight. The fairing has also been completely removed and a 13-litre tank replaces the 20-litre original. 

The results are, depending on who you ask, either ludicrous or sublime. Long-range touring is perhaps not what the HP2 is destined for, but sheer exhilaration at racing a 105 horsepower behemoth across the open road, absolutely.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD?

Second-hand HP2s are a rare find and because of their rarity, and carry a hefty premium, many selling for more than what they were originally worth.  A classic no doubt.

BMW HP2 Enduro - Overview

Bmw Hp2 enduro motorcycle

BMW HP2 Enduro - Specs

Production dates: 2005- 2008                    Price (2nd hand): $14,000 – £10,000

Power: 105 hp                                                 Engine Size: 1170 cc

Engine Type:  Boxer Twin Cylinder; Four Stroke;  Air and Oil Cooled

Dry Weight: 175kg (386lbs)                          Wet Weight: 196.5kg (433lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 13 Litre (3.4 US Gal)

Production dates: 2005- 2008                       

Price (2nd hand): $14,000 – £10,000

Power: 105 hp                    Engine Size: 1170 cc

Engine Type:  Boxer Twin Cylinder; Four Stroke;  Air and Oil Cooled

Dry Weight: 175kg (386lbs)                        

Wet Weight: 196.5kg (433lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 13 Litre (3.4 US Gal)

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