Adventure motorcycle touring is a popular activity in the global riding community. In Nepal, touring enthusiasts do not have to go far in search of adventure routes and trails. The country’s many hills and mountains are easily accessible within a day of travel. That’s why, most Nepalis wish to own an adventure motorcycle at least once in their lifetime.
Not surprisingly, there are many Nepalis who have conquered popular off-road destinations such as Lo Manthang and Rara, on regular sport bikes. For them, the type of bike they use for their tours doesn’t matter, although they need to account for the beating their vehicle will take. They would do well to opt for adventure bikes–which are built for the sole purpose of touring.
Adventure bikes come with powerful engines, wide bodies with upright seats, large wheels, large fuel tank capacity, and substantial luggage-carrying capacity. And they perform great in extreme off-road conditions–thanks to their long-travel suspensions.
- Royal Enfield Himalayan: The Himalayan was first introduced in 2016 and was one of the first proper adventure bikes in the market. Fast forward to 2022 and the bike is without any significant mechanical updates. The bike is powered by a 411cc single producing 24.3 PS of peak power at 6500 rpm and 32 Nm of peak torque at 4000 rpm. The engine has also got a fairly low rev limiter. Which means that there is good amount of torque early on but not much in the top end. Refinement is not the greatest and the amount of vibrations from the engine is absurd given in this day and age. The Himalayan does get a suspension setup that’s soft and absorbs most of the irregularities of the road and provided good ride quality but since the bike weighs a hefty 199 kg, good handling is probably not what the bike is about. The Himalayan with its upright seating and windscreen allows for comfortable touring. The ground clearance of the Himalayan is 220 Nm which is handy and the bike is capable of handling slight bit of off-roading but that’s about it. Anything more adventurous and the bikes starts bottoming out it’s suspension and it’s own weight compromising it’s maneuverability. There are rumours of a newer version for the year 2022 and the Himalayan can definitely do with some much needed upgrades.
- Hero Xpulse 200 4V: The Hero Xpulse made a name for itself when it was launched because of its versatile nature and how it could be the one bike you needed for travelling anywhere. The recently launched Xpulse 200 4V tries to one up on the older model by packing in a bit more performance as it was evident that the older Xpulse lacked it to make the travel anywhere prospect more fun.
Hence, the Xpulse now has got a 4 valve head instead of the traditional 2 valves on its 200 cc engine that produces 19.1 PS of max power at 8,500 rpm and 17.35 Nm of max torque at 6,500 rpm. The figures haven’t improved significantly but the characteristics of the engine has changed altogether. The increased valves mean the engine now revs much freely. This is felt more on the top end performance, where the Xpulse 4V feels less stressed and even more refined across the rev range.
Hero have had to change the gearing of the motorcycle as well. The final drive is shorter with a rear sprocket that is now 7 teeth larger. Combined with a revised gearing on the gearbox as well, there is enough punch on the 1st gear to have some fun on the dirt trails while cruising on the highways is more effortless.
While there are no changes in the chassis or the suspension components, the Xpulse 4V with its soft suspension offers a comfortable ride on road, without any hesitations on a bit of light off roading that an adventure bike maybe put against. The 21 inch front and 18 inch rear wheel setup help further aid to its off roading prowess. Riding in the city traffic is easy with a tall, relaxed stance and brake discs at the front and rear, with a single channel ABS at the front provide good braking power.
A ground clearance of 220mm is helpful over bumps and a Kerb weight of 158 kg makes the Xpulse 4V easy to manage. The all digital dash on the Xpulse 4V is the same unit from the older bike and the only other notable change include a new seat which is more plush and comfortable. Also, the headlamps are 20% brighter than before with a slightly different DRL design. There are newer paint schemes and color options to indicate the engine changes which gives the bike a fresher look.
The engine and gearbox changes have completely transformed what was already a good motorcycle. The updates have solved one of the biggest downsides of the older Xpulse which is the lack of oomph and power. The Xpulse 4V is a much better adventure bike both in terms of its capability to go offroad as well as munch miles on the highways. It commutes well in the cities and returns excellent efficiency figures as bonus points. Granted it doesn’t get lots of modern features but if you are wanting to go adventuring without breaking your bank or compromising on the machinery, it is an excellent buy.
- KTM Adventure 390: KTMs have always been about making exciting motorcycles and chase that performance factor above anything else. The KTM Adventure 390 which is largely based on the KTM Duke 390 looks to gain some practicality and adventure touring abilities. And the Adventure 390 looks the part with new body panels, tall seat, upright handlebars with hand guards and forward set foot pegs all making for an upright riding posture.
The power and torque figures are similar to the Duke 390 at 44.6 PS at 9000 rpm and 37 Nm at 7000 rpm respectively. Characteristics-wise, the adventure is not far from the lively Duke 390 with little to no change on the gearing and the bike loves to be ridden hard and will gather speeds rather quickly. Very fun on the highways it seems.
The Adventure weighs some 13 odd kilos heavier than the Duke however, the agile and nimble handling has also been inherited as the steel trellis chassis is the same. The Adventure gets bigger 19 inch wheels up front, 17 inch at the rear with dual purpose tyres as well as longer travel suspension front and back.
It gets a whole host of electronic assists like cornering ABS, traction control system and a bi-directional quick shifter, something that the other bikes in the category do not offer. What’s also helpful is the off road ABS which switches off the ABS at the rear wheels allowing skids and locking as necessary while off-roading.
Talking about the ride quality, the suspension setup, even with the longer travel is quite firm and the bike loves the tarmac more than it does the dirt. The engine produces power higher up the rev range and struggles on the bottom end, taking away the initial burst of acceleration while taking on the trails, leaving the rider to modulate the clutch a lot more.
Overall, as KTM have labelled it, the Adventure 390 is a touring adventure bike and allows one to munch miles at ease. While it will do a bit of off-roading should you need, it wont be the happiest motorcycle in the class to take on the dirt trails. The equipment that the bike carries and the highway capabilities however makes it a very exciting prospect.
- BMW G 310 GS: BMW are known for making one of the best adventure bike in the form of the GS R1300 or the F 750 GS. The BMW G 310 GS then is BMW’s shot at the smaller displacement adventure bike and that flavour is quite apparent in the baby GS. The 313 cc liquid cooled single on the bike produces 34 PS of peak power at 9240 rpm and 28 Nm of peak torque at 7500 rpm. The power delivery is linear and rider friendly with a good low/mid range pull, allowing beginner/serious riders an easier time both on and off road. BMW have made further changes to the engine in terms of refinement and the BS6 version is a lot smoother too. The bike has got a crisp gearbox which gets the helping of a slipper clutch as well. This combined with the adventure ergonomics of the tall, upright seating and handlebars, the windscreen and the revised engine enables effortless cruising. Where the GS really shines is the package that the suspension setup and the tires offer to riding experience. The 310 GS is an absolute pleasure to ride on smooth tarmac while off road, the suspension setup works really with the tyres well to keep the balance and the poise of the bike and easily take on the trails as far as adventure riding goes. The fit and finish of the bike is impressive along with top notch quality that we typically expect from a manufacturer as reputed as BMW. The G 310 GS is a very competent motorcycle and BMW have done everything to ensure that.
- Honda CRF 300 Rally: What do we say about the CRF 300 Rally that hasn’t already been said! The bike looks awesome and seems like it’s ready to take on the Dakar Rally. The 300 Rally is an upgraded version of the globally popular 250 Rally with a slight improvements everywhere and the changes work very much in its favour.
The increase in displacement means it gets a 286 cc engine that now makes 27 PS power at 8500 rpm and 26.6 Nm of peak torque at 6500 rpm. The steel perimeter chassis has also been tweaked and the changes in the body panels have made the 300 Rally even lighter, easily making it the lightest bike in this category. What that translates to is super agile handling in the tight and technical dirt trails.
The suspension setup on the 300 Rally like it’s predecessor is soft, but the damping in the suspension isn’t the best. This means, push the bike too hard on the dirt and the suspension will start bottoming out on bigger crests and bumps. But everything else, the 300 rally handles well.
The bike has 21 inch wheel at the front and 18 inch wheel at the rear and comes equipped with tyres that more dirt focused and it really makes a difference. The 300 rally’s body panels and the tall windscreen along with the upright ergonomics protects the rider from windblasts on the highway however the wheels, tyres and the brakes don’t offer much in terms of stability and confidence to push it around the corners like the other adventure bikes here. It gets the job done though and cruising on the highways isn’t much of an issue.
The Honda motor is silky smooth, efficient and reliable for long rides. The addition of a slipper clutch helps with rapid downshifting and light clutch pull. And a button on the dash gives an option to turn off the rear ABS allows some for fun on the dirt.
The seat height is very tall at 285 mm and might be an issue for shorter riders but once one gets going, shouldn’t be much. The 300 Rally really puts the emphasis on the adventure side of adventure touring and is a go anywhere bike with its bulletproof engine, soft suspension and low kerb weight. Whatever the other bikes in the adventure category can do, this will do and then some.