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The Best Small Adventure Bikes

best small adventure bikes - The Best Small Adventure Bikes

When you think about an adventure bike, what comes to mind?

Kudos to you if you don’t immediately think of BMW’s big GS Adventure. It is the poster-boy for a mid-life crisis and the go-to adventure motorcycle. BMW just can’t make enough of them and now the new R1250GS is in dealership, no doubt even more people will flock to buy one.

But, as good as they are, the big adventure motorcycles like BMW’s GS aren’t actually all that good for proper adventure riding. Of course, if you’re a seriously capable off-road rider, then you’ll be able to handle anything off-road but if you’re not that experienced at riding on anything but tarmac, then the big GS can be a bit of a handful, even on green lanes.

Luckily though, the growing interest in the Adventure-section has motivated manufacturers like KTM, BMW and Triumph to put some serious effort into their smaller capacity adventure bikes. 

Calling them small is actually an injustice. They’re still fully-capable full-sized motorcycles, they’re just that bit lighter and easier to manage than their bigger siblings. They are however, all A2-licence friendly and the Royal Endifled doesn’t need restricting.

These middleweight adventure bikes barely get a look in as we tend to think bigger is better but ask any proper adventure rider and they’d take the smaller sibling as they’re more manoeuvrable and easier to ride. Plus they offer almost everything the big bikes do but with a less eye-watering price tag.

Just because they’re smaller in engine capacity, doesn’t mean they’re small. Most of these adventure bikes still have tall seat heights. If you’re looking for an adventure bike with a low seat height, check out our article.

With so many great adventure motorcycles on the market, this was a hard review to put together but we got there. These are the best middleweight, smallest adventure bikes that we think are worth your attention.

BikerRated’s best small Adventure bikes

  1. BMW F850GS
  2. KTM 790 Adventure R
  3. Yamaha Tenere 700
  4. Triumph Tiger 800 XRx
  5. Royal Enfield Himalayan

Here’s a full run-down of each of these great bikes:

BMW F850GS

bmw f850gs - The Best Small Adventure Bikes

BMW F850GS Key Specs

  • Engine: Liquid-cooled twin cylinder   
  • Max power output: 93bhp (70kW)
  • Displacement: 853cc
  • Gearbox: 6-speed
  • Seat height: 860mm (835mm with optional lowering kit)
  • Weight: 229kg

While some riders consider the BMW F850GS merely a “newbies” variant of the bigger 1200GS, the truth is this adventure bike packs a punch.

It’s smaller and more manoeuvrable, yet truly powerful. A bike designed to help you overcome your limits and turn obstacles into possibilities.

Dynamic lines transmit the feeling of adventure on any road surface, while the bodywork gives you an elegant yet rugged look both on and off-road. Lots of torque and a decent turn of pace combined with the unmistakable twin-cylinder burble, your soundtrack to adventure.

KTM 790 Adventure R

ktm 790 adventure r uk - The Best Small Adventure Bikes

KTM 790 Adventure R Key Specs

  • Engine: Liquid-cooled parallel twin cylinder   
  • Max power output: 93bhp (70kW)
  • Displacement: 799cc
  • Gearbox: 6-speed
  • Seat height: 880mm 
  • Weight: 189kg

KTM is the adventure bike manufacturer par excellence, and its 790 Adventure R doesn’t disappoint. Equipped for extreme terrain, this is a serious off-road motorcycle designed for the hard-core adventurer.

Agility on challenging terrains and impressive fuel range,  practical ergonomics and clever rider aids make it an excellent choice for experienced riders. 

Yamaha Ténéré 700

2021 Yamaha Tenere 700c - The Best Small Adventure Bikes

 Yamaha Ténéré 700 Key Specs

  • Engine: Liquid-cooled in-line twin-cylinder   
  • Max power output: 72bhp (54kW)
  • Displacement: 689cc
  • Gearbox: 6-speed
  • Seat height: 880mm 
  • Weight: 204kg

One of the newest entries on the market, Yamaha Ténéré 700 is powered by a reliable 689cc parallel twin engine derived from the brilliant MT-07. Its legendary name lives up to expectations; this bike delivers the perfect balance between power and control, and it can quickly adapt to any riding conditions.

Whether you want to cross deserts, mountain trails, or just the highway, rest assured this middleweight adventure bike has what it takes to take you anywhere.

Triumph Tiger 800 XCx

triumph tiger 800 xcx - The Best Small Adventure Bikes

Triumph Tiger 800 XCx Key Specs

  • Engine: Liquid-cooled in-line twin cylinder   
  • Max power output: 93bhp (70kW)
  • Displacement: 800cc
  • Gearbox: 6-speed
  • Seat height: 810-830mm 
  • Weight: 199kg

Triumph Tiger 800 XCx uses a superb three-cylinder engine, bike designed to take your adventures to the next level, whether they’re on or off-road.

Superb performance on the road, plenty of acceleration and a good bike for motorway speeds. Despite its road-going bias it has excellent off-road traction, allowing you to go from trail to trail with no fuss. A punchy character ensures immediate power delivery; six riding modes and optimized ergonomics are just some of the highlights that make this two-wheeler a true do-it-all motorcycle.

Royal Enfield Himalayan

royal enfield himalayan snow white uk - The Best Small Adventure Bikes

Royal Enfield Himalayan Key Specs

  • Engine: Air-cooled single cylinder    
  • Max power output: 25bhp (18kW )
  • Displacement: 411cc
  • Gearbox: 5-speed
  • Seat height: 800mm 
  • Weight: 194kg 

Himalayan’s old-school looks and robust no-nonsense construction can take you from home to the Himalaya base camp in style. It’s by far the cheapest bike here and it really is a no-frills option. Practically the only rider aids it has are a throttle, brakes and a seat. No electrickery here.

Powerful yet convertible to A2-licence friendly, this is a great adventure bike for the starters. Lower-than-average seat height makes it a great motorbike for shorter riders. Its ergonomic footpegs and handlebars will give you a comfortable riding position both on and off the road.

The Best Adventure Motorcycle for You

Adventure bikes may be more challenging to ride, but you shouldn’t let this put you off. Whether you need a more manageable or less expensive two-wheeler, the models above are a great choice for both experienced riders and beginners. 

If you’re a starter, a model like the Himalayan could be a great first adventure bike. Instantly A2-friendly and versatile enough to satisfy most riders, it’s a reliable motorcycle with a back-to-basics riding experience.

Advanced riders also have plenty of options to choose from. Which is the best middleweight adventure bike is ultimately down to you; whichever your pick, it’ll help you embark on the adventure of a lifetime – or just the daily commute.

If you’re a short rider, remember, you can use insoles or buy boots with thicker soles to give you a tiny bit more height. Some manufacturers like Triumph and BMW sell lower seats and you can also get seats re-trimmed to remove some height and width to allow your legs the best possible chance of making contact with terra firma.

The 1-minute insurance estimate

Do you know roughly what you’ll need to budget to insure your adventure bike?

We’ve created a motorcycle insurance estimator that asks no personal questions and takes just 1 minute to fill out. It’ll give you an accurate idea of what it’ll cost to insure your first motorbike.