We’ve gotten so used to the large capacity adventure motorcycles that these small capacity, lightweight adventure bikes seemed to take the world’s adventure market by storm.
Truth is, lightweight dual-purpose machines have been around for many decades, but they’ve been pretty much off-road biased such as enduros, hence weren’t comfortable for long distance riding nor the daily commute for the majority of riders. Due to this, adventure motorcycles got bigger and bigger in order to carry more fuel, luggage, high-tech suspension systems, and not to mention large seats for long-distance rides.
KTM 1290 Super Adventure R - Courtesy of KTM
However, most seasoned adventure riders will tell you that smaller and less advanced motorcycles are the best for touring in the rough because they are easier to ride due to being lighter, easier to work on, saves fuel, and, you do not have to get a hernia from picking it up if you dropped it. Indeed, it could be argued that the bigger bikes put off many potential adventure riders from taking up the sport due to the cost of the bikes, complexity, weight, and even being intimidating for some riders.
Let’s take a look at these “mini” adventurers.
BMW G 310 GS
BMW R 310 GS - Courtesy of motonline.com.br
BMW Motorrad first got the world’s attention when they launched the G 310 R roadster. Developed in Germany, it was produced by TVS Motor Company in India. Then BMW dropped the bomb on the adventure community with the G 310 GS. You see, when a BMW wears the “GS” moniker, it has to be something special.
The little GS wears many styling cues and shapes of its bigger R 1200 GS brother such as the “braces” beside the headlamp, the high beak, radiator shrouds, fuel tank and seat.
The liquid-cooled 313cc, DOHC, single-cylinder engine is peppy enough for road use with 34 hp on tap but in true BMW fashion it is also economical.
The suspension may be basic, but it has great road manners. Where the bike truly shines is in the dirt where it has a great poise and balance. The suspension never bottomed out, although we threw the bike over jumps.
The G 310 GS is fitted with 19” and 17” cast front and rear wheels for some light off-road stuff. Replace them with wire-spoked wheels shod with knobbies and you will have some of the best fun the dirt.
Honda CRF250 Rally
Honda CRF250 Rally - Courtesy of dirtbikemagazine.com
This is the best-looking lightweight adventure motorcycle by a country mile, styled after the HRC CRF450R Rally Dakar racer. The build quality is also the best among this group, typical of Honda. It is also the most off-road oriented.
The CRF250 Rally has a few big bike features such as LED lighting, a fairing that provides decent wind protection, LCD instrumentation and a lively yet economical engine.
The suspension is on the plusher side – great for comfort but bottoms out if you hammer it over jumps. But it does handle like a bigger motocrosser hence light in the dirt, due in part to the 21” front and 18” rear wire wheels.
Being biased heavily towards off-road riding, the CRF250 Rally is not as well composed as the rest on the road, however, although it is a compromise that one could live with.