Let’s face it. When you first saw Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman take their BMW R1250 GS Adventure motorcycles and make their way from Europe to South Africa in “Long Way Down”, we bet you’ve wondered what it was like to take go where roads end. Their adventures practically solidified BMW’s position in the Adventure touring motorcycle segment with their R1250 GS. Many people would follow suit and soon, adventure bikes came rolling out of the showrooms. However, Adventure tourers tend to be a little pricey and may even be out of reach for would-be adventurers longing for their own “Long Way Down”. Fear not, if you’re still a long way down from buying that P1.775M BMW R1250 GS Adventure, we give you the 5 best ‘smaller’ adventure motorcycles that could get you started to riding where roads end without breaking the bank.
CFMoto 650 MT - P335,000
CFMoto may not ring a bell to many, especially for would-be adventurer tourers. After all, they’re a relatively new brand that just entered the Philippines in 2018, but still, they happen to have a pretty impressive lineup of affordable, yet highly capable motorcycles, including the CFMoto 650 MT. It is powered by a 649 cc 2-cylinder DOHC engine capable of churning out 70 hp and 63 Nm of torque. It’s mated to a 6-speed transmission and capable of reaching speeds of up to 170 km/h. We must confess, it might not be the most affordable from this bunch at P335,000, but it certainly has one of the most powerful engines among them.
Royal Enfield Himalayan - P299,000 to P326,000
The Royal Enfield Himalayan is no stranger to our radar as this Adventure motorcycle has gained a lot of attention and popularity ever since it was launched in the country just a few years ago. It’s been put to the test multiple times when we sent our own representatives to India for the Himalayan Odyssey to ride out the roughest of terrains, and it’s as tough as a tank. It’s powered by a 411 cc air-cooled, SOHC engine that’s capable of producing 25 hp and 32 Nm of torque with a 5-speed transmission. The Himalayan is priced at P299,000 for the standard ABS variant and P326,000 for the Sleet ABS variant.
Honda CRF250 Rally - P284,900
Honda has once again regained its dominance over rally-raid dessert racing after Ricky Brabec bagged the 2020 Dakar Rally Championship after winning two of its stages. While the Honda CRF250 Rally’s powerplant isn’t as close to Brabec’s race-winning CRF450 Rally bike, at least it has a pretty close resemblance. With its bug-eyed headlights and oversized windshield, the motorcycle begs to be ridden for adventure. It’s powered by a liquid-cooled DOHC 250 cc engine that’s capable of power figures reaching 23 hp and 21 Nm of torque. Its meant to be ridden hard and fast through rough roads and unforgiving terrain. Priced at P284,900, you can never go wrong with the number one motorcycle brand in the country.
BMW G 310 GS - P300,000
Many consider the BMW R1250 GS as the ‘grail’ bike. The ultimate adventure motorcycle that would probably still be around in a post-apocalyptic dystopian future. Unfortunately, with its price tag, it’s still quite a stretch for most average folks. Luckily, BMW offers a much more inexpensive alternative. Thanks to its joint collaboration with known Indian motorcycle brand TVS, they have produced the G 310 GS, a more nimble and yet tamer version of an adventure bike, but still having the same BMW build quality and engineering. It’s powered by a 313 cc single-cylinder engine capable of producing 34 hp and 28 Nm of torque, mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. With a price tag of P300,000, it’s a fraction of the price tag of its bigger brother.
Kawasaki Versys-X 300 - P270,000
Kawasaki created the Versys series of motorcycles as high-riding adventure versions of their highly successful Ninja sportbike lineup. The Versys-X 300 has the same aggressive silhouette and fairings that the Ninjas are known for and come structured for a more upright and tall stance, suitable for adventure riding. Powered by a 296 cc DOHC engine capable of churning out 40 hp and 26 Nm of torque, it has the best power-to-weight ratio relative to its engine size from among the motorcycles on the list. With its price tag of P270,000, it serves as an affordable entry-level adventure bike that’s doesn’t require an arm and a leg to buy or finance.
Honorable Mention: KTM 390 Adventure - P309,000
While technically it’s still not yet within the Philippine market, the KTM 390 Adventure is worth mentioning for this list. KTM has always had roots in off-road racing and dominated motocross and rally races with its motorcycles. Considered a smaller sibling of the successful 790 Adventure, the 390 Adventure would sure make an affordable alternative to some other offerings to the market – when it’s available of course.