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What’s the best engine size for adventure bikes?

Let’s take a look at the different sizes of ADVs so we can determine which type is best for you.

What’s the best engine size for adventure bikes?

A big, high-displacement vehicle like the BMW R 1250 GS is likely to spring to mind when you think about adventure bikes, and with good cause. Because of their engines and sheer capability, motorbikes like the GS have become synonymous to two-wheeled adventure. Adventure motorcycles are often associated with long-distance rides, however, do you really need a high-capacity, high-powered engine to get the job done?

Well, it really depends. The BMW R 1250 GS continues to be the most popular adventure bike. There are, however, a slew of smaller, but no less competent, and maybe more adept, adventure bikes on the market. In the Philippines, we would unanimously agree that adventure bikes must have a displacement of at least 400cc in order to be highway legal. That said, let's set 400cc as our baseline displacement when it comes to ADV machines.

Entry-level adventure tourers

RE Himalayan

First time ADV riders need look no further than the Royal Enfield Himalayan for an easy-to-ride, go-anywhere two-wheeler that's about as dependable as a tractor. Meanwhile, the new Honda CB500X is a long-distance tourer that is more road-focused yet has adequate ground clearance to handle dirt roads and rugged terrain. Last but not least, riders searching for a performance-oriented, small-displacement ADV will love the KTM 390 Adventure's torquey single-cylinder engine and lightweight chassis derived from its roadgoing Duke sibling.

Mid-sized adventure bikes

Yamaha Tenere 700

Those trying to get the greatest distance out of their motorcycles may need to kick things up a notch. Premium and budget-friendly options abound in the 650cc and above class, which provide a bit more power and endurance than smaller bikes. Of course, the Kawasaki Versys 650 and even CFMOTO's 650MT are among the street-focused adventure tourers in this category. If you're searching for a sensible and capable all-arounder, the Suzuki V-Strom 650 is a great option. Alternatively, bikes like the Yamaha Tenere 700 and the KTM 790 Adventure are more purpose-built, offering ADV riders with a far more off-road oriented platform.

The heavyweights

KTM 1290 Super Adventure

A high-displacement, heavyweight adventure bike, of course, has its advantages. The Honda Africa Twin, for example, is one of the greatest and most proficient ADVs available, but its size, mass, and power may be too much for rookie and even intermediate riders. Big hitters like the BMW GS and Ducati Multistrada are absolutely worth considering if you're looking for long-distance journeys that last days, if not weeks. These bikes are not only strong and capable of traversing hundreds of kilometers with ease, but they are also equipped with the most up-to-date safety and performance equipment.

In summary...


Lightweight and nimble bikes like the KTM 390 Adventure and Yamaha Tenere 700 have the edge when it comes to truly exploring the outdoors. Meanwhile, machines like Honda's CB500X, which are designed for the road and are beginner-friendly, are an excellent way to break into the major leagues of the two-wheeled lifestyle. Seasoned riders who want to get the most out of their riding experience, regardless of terrain or distance, will be rewarded by the big-bore ADVs that are packed with technology and high-end equipment.

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