Trail Motorcycles Guide

BEST TRAIL MOTORCYCLES

Heavyweight Adventure Bikes For Travelling Far and Fast

Best Trail motorcycles - Tarmac Explorers

Suzuki DL650 V-Strom - Overview

Suzuki V-Strom 650 Trail Motorcycle

Suzuki DL650 V-Strom - Specs

Production dates: 2004 – 2011                  Price (2nd hand): $3,500 – £3,000

Power: 71 hp                                                  Engine Size: 645 cc

Engine Type: 90 Degree V-Twin Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Dry Weight: 194kg (427.6 lbs)                   Wet Weight: 220kg (485 lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 22 Litre (5.8 US Gal)

Production dates: 2004 – 2011                  

Price (2nd hand): $3,500 – £3,000

Power: 71 hp                    Engine Size: 645 cc

Engine Type: 90 Degree V-Twin Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Dry Weight: 194kg (427.6 lbs)   

Wet Weight: 220kg (485 lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 22 Litre (5.8 US Gal)

Suzuki DL650 V-Strom - Overview

Lightweight
30%
Power
70%
Offroad Ability
10%
Road Manners
85%

About

Produced between 2004 and 2011 by Suzuki Motor Corporation the first generation DL650 V-Strom is widely regarded as a brilliant first motorcycle for getting into adventure touring.

With a large 22-litre fuel tank, generous fairing and plush suspensions it comes equipped for long-distance travel. The engaging 90-degree V-Twin engine, whilst not a powerhouse delivers enough grunt to pull away cleanly on the road and put a smile on your face.  Its cast alloy wheels, poor ground clearance and sizeable mass do however preclude it from pushing too far once the road ends. An adventurized V-strom with aftermarket bashplate, handguards and upgraded suspension could remedy this a bit but still prove a handful offroad.

What truly surprises with the V-Strom and makes it so popular is its versatility, it is just at ease travelling across countries, tackling light gravel roads or commuting to work. For most people, if they could have one bike it would be a V-Strom. 

Its affordable price and wide availability also places it in a niche of its own in the adventure bike market. If you’re looking for a budget adventure bike for tackling the everyday adventure, the Suzuki DL650 V-Strom could be for you.

Suzuki DL650 V-Strom XT - Overview

Lightweight
30%
Power
70%
Offroad Ability
30%
Road Manners
85%

About

The 3rd generation V-Strom produced by Suzuki Motor Corporation builds on the success of its predecessor and improves on it in several important ways.

There are two versions of the new V-Strom, the normal version and the XT model. In short, the XT features spoked wheels (better at absorbing impacts), handguards, and a plastic underbelly making it the most suited of the two for light offroad adventures. There are also a number of other improvements, from the motor to chassis and suspension but the V-Strom’s recipe remains largely unchanged, Suzuki following their unofficial motto “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

Styling has been reviewed with inspiration taken from the iconic Suzuki DR Big, as seen by the adventure beak favoured by many trail motorcycle manufacturers. Some nice touches include traction control and ABS as standard, as well as a useful 12-volt socket for charging your phone or GPS.

If you’re looking for a bike to do it all, the V-Strom 650 XT improves on the existing success of the model and takes it even further. If you’re a bit more budget-conscious, the previous generation V-Strom also has an XT model which has many of the same features as its newer sibling, but doesn’t look as sleek.

Suzuki DL650 V-Strom XT - Overview

Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT Trail Motorcycle

Suzuki - DL650 V-Strom XT - Specs

Production dates: 2017 – Present                   Price: $9,299 – £7,899

Power: 71 hp                                                        Engine Size: 645 cc

Engine Type: 90 Degree V-Twin Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Dry Weight: 190kg (418.6lbs)                           Wet Weight: 216kg (476lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 20 Litre (5.2 US Gal)

Production dates: 2017 – Present                      

Price: $9,299 – £7,899

Power: 71 hp                    Engine Size: 645 cc

Engine Type: 90 Degree V-Twin Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Dry Weight: 190kg (418.6lbs)                         

Wet Weight: 216kg (476lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 20 Litre (5.2 US Gal)

Best Trail MotorcyCles - Gravel eaters

BMW F800 GS - Overview

BMW F800GS Trail Motorcycle

BMW F800 GS - Specs

Production dates: 2007- Present                         Price: $13,895 – £10,000

Power: 85 hp                                                            Engine Size: 798 cc

Engine Type: Parallel Twin Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Dry Weight: 178kg (392lbs)                                  Wet Weight: 207kg (455lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 24 Litre (6.3 US Gal)

Production dates: 2007- Present              

Price: $13,895 – £10,000

Power: 85 hp                          Engine Size: 798 cc

Engine Type: Parallel Twin Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Dry Weight: 178kg (392lbs)                              

Wet Weight: 207kg (455lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 24 Litre (6.3 US Gal)

BMW F800 GS - Overview

Lightweight
45%
Power
80%
Offroad Ability
65%
Road Manners
75%

About

The F800 is part of the iconic series of GS adventure motorcycles produced by BMW Motorrad. Designed to breach the gap between single-cylinder enduro motorcycles and BMW’s flagship 1200 GS, the F800 GS is one of the few twin-cylinder middleweights available on the market.

Sporting a sizeable 24-litre fuel tank, 43 mm Marzocchi upside-down forks, and a frugal 85hp engine the F800 has the power, range and ground clearance to deliver on its promise of adventure. An upright seating position, enduro ergonomics and a 21-inch front wheel also add to the package making the F800GS truly offroad worthy.

However despite its status as a middleweight, with nearly twice the mass of modern enduro, the F800 GS still sits on the higher end of the weight spectrum for an offroad machine. Its smooth and linear engine, if reliable as with most BMW’s, does not deliver much in terms of excitement.

However as a less expensive, more offroad orientated alternative to the BMW GS 1200 the F800 GS fills its niche. but for most other uses the bigger, heavier bike is still class-leading.

Triumph Tiger 800 XC - Overview

Lightweight
35%
Power
85%
Offroad Ability
55%
Road Manners
80%

About

Built by British manufacturer Triumph Motorcycles the Tiger 800 is in many regards a direct competitor to the BMW F800GS. Both trail bikes are similar in weight, power output and design. 

There are however a few differences, the Tiger 800 XC sports an inline three-cylinder engine derived off Triumph’s Daytona 675 making it a hybrid between the hard revving inline fours of sportbikes and torquey dual cylinders found on most other adventure bikes. Its curb weight compared to the BMW is also higher and its ergonomics not as well laid out for offroad riding, Where it does gain, is on the road, where its engine and suspension come into play delivering heaps of sensations.

There are two versions of the Tiger 800, the XC model and the XR. The main difference is that the XR has shorter 19-inch cast wheels at the front vs 21-inch spoked ones for the XC, making it better for offroad uses. They also both have slightly different suspension setup and chassis specifications.

If you’re not a BMW fan or want more sensations than the Bavarians can offer, the Triumph 800 delivers its full potential when its engine is let loose on the open road.

In 2012, ICON Motorsports created a short riding movie called the “Raiden Files” featuring the Triumph 800. Worth a watch! – Anton

Triumph Tiger 800 XC - Overview

Triumph Tiger 800 XC Trail Motorcycle

Triumph Tiger 800XC - Specs

Production dates: 2010- Present                  Price: $14,450 – £9,200

Power: 94 hp                                                      Engine Size: 799 cc

Engine Type: In-Line Three Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Dry Weight: 190kg (419lbs)                             Wet Weight: 214.5kg (473lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 19 Litre (5.0 US Gal)

Production dates: 2010- Present               

Price: $14,450 – £9,200

Power: 94 hp                   Engine Size: 799 cc

Engine Type: In-Line Three Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Dry Weight: 190kg (419lbs)                 

Wet Weight: 214.5kg (473lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 19 Litre (5.0 US Gal)

BESt trail Motorcycles - Dirt Shredders

KTM 950/990 Adventure - Overview

KTM 950/990 Adventure Trail Motorcycle

KTM 950/990 Adventure - Specs

Production dates: 2003- 2012                         Price (2nd hand): $6,000 – £5,000

Power: 96- 116 hp                                               Engine Size: 999.8 cc

Engine Type: 75 Degree V-Twin Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Dry Weight: 199kg (439lbs)                              Wet Weight: 230kg (507lbs)

Fuelling: 950 – Carburetor / 990 -Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 22 Litre (5.8 US Gal)

Production dates: 2003- 2012                      

Price (2nd hand): $6,000 – £5,000

Power: 96- 116 hp                   Engine Size: 999.8 cc

Engine Type: 75 Degree V-Twin Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Dry Weight: 199kg (439lbs)                          

Wet Weight: 230kg (507lbs)

Fuelling: 950 – Carburetor / 990 -Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 22 Litre (5.8 US Gal)

KTM 950/990 Adventure - Overview

Lightweight
40%
Power
95%
Offroad Ability
70%
Road Manners
75%

About

Sporting serious credentials the KTM 950 was the bike that in 2003 launched KTM back in the adventure riding market. The KTM 950 is based off the Fabrizio Meoni 2002 Dakar Rally winning motorcycle and is no less capable. 

Designed to be ridden hard and fast over rugged terrain, the 950 exemplifies KTM’s “ready to race” motto in a trail motorcycle. Whilst not designed for competing the 950 ports down its heritage into a well-packaged adventure motorcycle that delivers performance and capability offroad. 

Dirt bike ergonomics, beefy 48 mm WP forks, a low centre of gravity and a body designed to take on scratches and minor falls, showcase KTM’s knowledge of offroad riding. In 2006 the 950 was supplanted by the 990 with some slight engine changes and a move from carburettors to fuel injection. Some riders prefer the 950 over the 990 due to the sometimes snatchy fuel injection. 

Production ended in 2012, however, both models have achieved near-cult status and remain very desirable to this day. Reliability in earlier models is a bit sketchy with water pumps failures and clutch issues being well known, but easily fixable.

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin - Overview

Lightweight
30%
Power
90%
Offroad Ability
65%
Road Manners
80%

About

The CRF 1000L Africa Twin was launched in 2015 by Honda Motor Company to much expectation by Honda followers.

The previous-generation Honda Africa Twin models, the XRV750 and XRV650 built from 1989 to 2003 achieved near-legendary status among adventure riders around the world, praised for their ruggedness, reliability and capability their presence was sorely missed in the ADV market until Honda reprised the famed “Africa Twin” moniker with the release of CRF 1000L.

Despite the shared name, the newest Africa Twin is a brand new platform which has been completely redesigned to bring the CRF1000L into the 21st century, the much-lauded 750cc V-twin has been replaced with a 998cc parallel twin, favouring compactness and weight saving over the grunt and character of the V-twin. The power coming from the new Africa Twin engine is linear but perfectly controllable offroad and able to propel the Africa Twin with conviction despite it being lower on power than its competitors. 

The Africa Twin lost the XRV denomination favouring the CRF moniker this was most likely done by Honda to market their racing heritage ported from their CRF450 Rally platform which marked Honda Racing Team’s return in 2013 to the Dakar after a 23-year hiatus.  The engine did however adopt the four-valve Unicam design from the CRF250R/450R enduro machines to save on weight and space.

Despite the fact that the CRF 1000L weighs almost as much as a BMW 1200 GS it carries its weight well, due to its compact design, low centre of gravity and general balance managed by its stock suspension. 

The bike sports ABS, which can be switched off for offroad situations and an impressive traction control which can be adjusted on the fly to adapt to the terrain. There is also a DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) model available which forgoes the clutch lever in favour of a semi-automatic transmission which has has been developed for use offroad. This options does however come at a slight price and weight increase but has been well received overall.

The CFR100L marks a welcome return by Honda to the adventure market after a long absence, and the Africa Twin is already proving capable of challenging KTM and BMW in their dominance of the large capacity adventure motorcycle segment.

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin - Overview

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Trail Motorcycle

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin - Specs

Production dates: 2015 – Present                      Price: $13,599 – £10,495

Power: 93.9 hp                                                       Engine Size: 998 cc

Engine Type:  Parralel Twin Cylinder; Four Stroke;  Liquid Cooled

Dry Weight: 208kg (458.5lbs)                             Wet Weight: 232kg (511.5lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 20 Litre (5.3 US Gal)

Production dates: 2015 – Present                       

Price: $13,599 – £10,495

Power: 93.9 hp                       Engine Size: 998 cc

Engine Type:  Parralel Twin cylinder; Four Stroke;  Liquid Cooled

Dry Weight: 208kg (458.5lbs)                        

Wet Weight: 232kg (511.5lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 20 Litre (5.3 US Gal)

best trail Motorcycles - Starbucks parking lot

KTM 1190 Adventure R - Overview

KTM 1190 Adventure Trail Motorcycle

KTM 1190 Adventure R - Specs

Production dates: 2013- 2016                      Price (2nd hand): $12,000 -£9,000

Engine Type: 75 Degree V-Twin Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Power: 147 hp                                                  Engine Size: 1195 cc

Dry Weight: 217kg (478lbs)                           Wet Weight: 235kg (518lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 23 Litre (6.1 US Gal)

Production dates: 2013- 2016          

Price (2nd hand): $12,000 -£9,000

Engine Type: 75 Degree V-Twin Cylinder; Four Stroke; Liquid Cooled

Power: 147 hp                      Engine Size: 1195 cc

Dry Weight: 217kg (478lbs)                    

Wet Weight: 235kg (518lbs)

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 23 Litre (6.1 US Gal)

KTM 1190 Adventure R - Overview

Lightweight
25%
Power
100%
Offroad Ability
60%
Road Manners
90%

About

The now-discontinued 1190 Adventure R produced by KTM was the successor to the widely popular 990 Adventure.  At 1195 cc worth of displacement and 217 kg dry weight it gained both in power in power and weight compared to its predecessor. However, what truly makes the 1190 a different machine is the sophisticated riding aids that come as standard with this trail motorcycle.

The KTM 1190 sports both an ABS braking system and an advanced traction control system developed by Bosch. These are well thought out and provide reassurance when grappling with the power of the machine. As an example, the ABS takes into account lean angle of the biked when braking and the rear wheel ABS can be turned off for offroad riding. Additionally squeezing the front brake will engage the rear brake as well for better balance and stopping power in those emergency situations. 

The package is supplemented by 48 mm WP forks, 21-inch front wheels. 18-inch rear and a 23-litre tank. The non “R” model has 19/17 inch wheel distribution make it for suited for road riding with offroad excursions taking second stage. Four rider modes are available on the 1190 “Rain”, Enduro”, “Sport” and “Street” these affecting the traction control and power available on tap.

Production of the KTM 1190 ended in 2016, superseded by the larger, more touring orientated 1290 and the lighter 1090.

BMW 1200 GS - Overview

Lightweight
20%
Power
100%
Offroad Ability
50%
Road Manners
95%

About

Produced by BWM Motorrad the R1200 GS is the most iconic and widely sold adventure motorcycle in the world. 

The success of the 1200 GS dates back to the original BMW R80G/S which pioneered the concept of an adventure motorcycle in the 1980s. The R80G/S was motorcycle you could tour with but also take offroad. This concept has been the driving force behind the R1200 GS in production since 2004.

A number of features mark the uniqueness of the BMW 1200 GS as a trail motorcycle, first, it’s flat-twin boxer engine and shaft drive owe their direct heritage to the BMW R 32 engine created in 1923. The flat-twin configuration in which the cylinders stick out from the motorcycle at a 90-degree angle increases torque and provides additional airflow to cool the cylinders. In addition, the resulting positioning of the engine and crankshaft also allow the use of a cardan drive shaft instead of a traditional chain and sprocket, which reduces maintenance and protects the drivetrain from debris.

Another feature of the GS is the patented BMW Telelever system, the GS uses an additional shock absorber mounted in a wishbone formation between the forks and the frame to take care of dampening and suspension. This greatly improves stability, rigidity and reduces brake dive by separating the functions of wheel alignment and suspension between the forks and the shock absorber.

 In 2013 the 1200 GS became liquid-cooled, increasing its power but also its weight. The latest iterations of the 1200 also include a wide range of electronic rider assistance which includes ABS brakes, Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) and Automatic Stability Control (ASC) traction control system to further increase safety and performance.

A wide range of aftermarket accessories further marks the GS as a tool that can be adapted for any adventure. These components along with the sizeable 20-litre tank and ample wind protection have made the BMW GS a favourite among long-distance tourers and adventurers. 

Since 2006 the 1200 GS range has featured an Adventure model which further increases the offroad worthiness of the BMW with longer travel suspension, a larger tank and spoked wheels. 

In 2007 the 1200 GS attained worldwide recognition when actors Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman embarked journey across Africa in 2007  journey documented in the Long Way Down television documentary. They had previously embarked on a round the world journey on its predecessor the BMW 1150 GS 1200 GS in the critically acclaimed Long Way Round series. – Anton

BMW 1200 GS - Overview

BMW 1200 GS Trail Motorcycle

BMW 1200 GS - Specs

Production dates: 2004 – Present                             Price: $16,695 – £12,400

Power: 105 hp  – 125HP (Liquid Cooled)                     Engine Size: 1170 cc

Engine Type:  Boxer Twin Cylinder; Four Stroke;  Air and Oil Cooled – (Liquid cooled – 2013)

Dry Weight: 205kg (452lbs)                         

Wet Weight: Air Cooled 229kg (505lbs)  /  Liquid Cooled 244KG  (538LBS) 

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 20 Litre (5.3 US Gal)

Production dates: 2004 – Present                         

Price: $16,695 – £12,400

Power: 105 hp  – 125HP (Liquid Cooled)    

Engine Size: 1170 cc

Engine Type:  Boxer Twin Cylinder; Four Stroke;  Air and Oil Cooled – (Liquid cooled – 2013+)

Dry Weight: 205kg (452lbs)                         

Wet Weight: aIR cOOLED 229kg (505lbs)  /  LIQUID COOLED 244KG  (538LBS) 

Fuelling: Fuel Injection

Tank Size: 20 Litre (5.3 US Gal)

YAMAHA - XTZ 12000 Tenere - Specs

Production dates: 1996- Present                       Price: $6,549 (not sold UK)

Engine Type: Single Cylinder; Four Stroke; Oil and Air Cooled

Power: 37 hp                                                      Engine Size: 644cc

Dry Weight: 147kg (324lbs)                    Wet Weight: 166kg (366lbs)

Fuelling: Carburetor

Tank Size: 13 Litre (3.4 US Gal)

yAMAHA - XTZ 1200 TENERE

Lightweight
20%
Power
95%
Offroad Ability
30%
Road Manners
90%

About

Produced by Suzuki Motor Corporation the DR65oSE is a longstanding dual sport classic that gives the XR650L a run for it’s money as king of the dual sports!

Whilst not as aggressive offroad, the DR650 is more comfortable at higher speeds and on road. The suspension is softer and the riding position not as agressive, however in terms of weight, power and sheer simplicity the bikes are very similar.

The Dr650’s main strength is its versatility. The aftermarket is teeming with accessories, from Safari 30 litre fuel tanks, custom racks. lowered footpegs, to LED headlights and engine upgrades.

It’s offroad capability once the suspension has been upgraded is not to be sniffed at and the engine is bullet-proof reliable making it a favourite for overland travel.

 

If you do get one, tighten your NSU screw and if you can, get a 2001-2002 GSXR 1000 exhaust and strap it to the back, you’ll see..

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