The world’s an adventure – or so, we motorcyclists like to think. Be it surviving our dirt-track resembling roads or exploring places old and new – there’s plenty fun to be had on two wheels. All that we seek is that grin on the face, when out on two wheels. Simple enough on the surface, but not quite so in terms of achievement…
From dreaming of exotic, fully-faired beauties, to growing up on practical, classic/naked motorcycles, I’ve travelled a fair distance. Horizons expanded with experience and so did the travel distances. Mile munching over B-roads occupied my time, with a healthy mix of off-tarmac mis-adventures thrown in for good measure. Got the Himalayan soon after it launched and have been exploring the world a tank-of-fuel at a time ever since.
Back in 2016, the Himalayan was the only one of its kind, in that price-range. Everything else was in higher engine & wallet shock capacity. In the four years since, a few manufacturers woke up to the potential of small/mid-size ADV motorcycles. Accessible and affordable, the small/mid-size ADV offerings have lowered entry levels for potential customers, with cheap to maintain motorcycles. Not only do they have adequate power on tap, but they’re also lighter to hustle and blend in traffic far better than their 800cc + siblings. Here’s a closer look at some of my favourites:
1) Hero XPulse: the most forgiving and easy-to-ride introduction to the excitement of Enduro/Trail bashing. Not quite powerful for the highway, but a goat on trails. Throw the factory rally kit into the mix and you’ve got one of the best small enduro motorcycles you could buy. Cheap to buy, run and fix when broken.
2) Royal Enfield Himalayan is the long legged thumper with a jack-of-all-trades nature. In 2020 guise, it has none of the niggles of the launch variants and just the right amount of tech to keep the purists happy. A true pack-mule in the small-ADV motorcycles segment.
3) BMW G310GS: A nice motorcycle that was launched at an eye-watering price. A competent package that has enough power and tech on tap to keep riders happy. Some quality bits, with terrible QC on the first lot variants. The 2020 version that corrects most of the mistakes from the previous generation makes the deal that much sweeter for potential BMW entrants.
4) KTM ADV390: The tech/performance VFM power-house of the lot, the KTM ADV390 is more than just a Duke 390 on stilts. The tech-to-performance at that price-point is unbeatable up & down the segment. What’s more, this is one motorcycle that doesn’t just keep up with the big boys, but it can also make them weep when piloted by the right set of hands.
5) Kawasaki Versys-X 300: With a high-revving parallel-twin heart, the Versys-X 300 is the exotic Japanese beauty of the lot. High on quality and priciest of the lot, this is a rare one to spot. The lucky few that own & ride them though, swear by the bullet-proof reliability and fuss-free nature of this long-legged one. This one’s reserved for those who appreciate quality and have the wallet to match it up.
The ADV/Enduro segment in India is only starting to warm up. The next few years should see a slew of them being launched. In a subsequent post, I’ll share my small/mid-size ADV/Enduro wish-list, that I’d like to see tearing up the roads and trails around us.
Happy riding till then!