Enduro Travel

Adventure riding has caught on in a big way. People from all over the world traveling all over the world on motorcycles. It's awesome! There are many different styles of motorcycle travelers out there and I have enormous amounts of love and respect for all of them. 

The prevailing style of adventure riding seems to be big bikes and big gear. As such, the larger manufacturers make and market big bikes and big gear. At the time of writing this there isn't a single bike, sub 350lbs, marketed towards advanced adventure riders. Herein lies the problem for me. 

There is a growing population within the adventure riding community that are finding their calling is small bikes, light gear and more challenging routes. We aren't all 6'4", 240lbs of professional riders that can have fun on a 500lb bike in tough conditions. Perhaps we can make it through but regardless of who the rider is and what skill level they are at, I guarantee the guy on the lighter bike is having more fun when the riding gets tough? 

But with the manufactures making only large bikes we are stuck with few choices in bikes and kit. Our choices are either modifying larger enduro motorcycles, making them more suitable for long distances or buying into the entry level adventure bikes. The problem with modifying enduro bikes is that there are design decisions you can't modify around. The problem with entry level adventure bikes is that while they are lighter than their bigger brothers they lack power and high quality suspension and components. 

This is what I want to change. How? Simply by classifying our community separately from the "adventure riding" community. Creating, growing and proving this genre exists is the first step to get manufacturers to take notice. I want to start a new genre called "Enduro Travel". 

Who are Enduro Travelers?

They are the riders looking for the way with the least amount of pavement. The riders with racing in our blood that want to have fun every mile. The riders that wheelie over that obstacle, go off that jump, that ride over that dune, that rip along the beach. The riders that throw their bikes on fishing boats, down stairs and into buildings if need be. The riders that climb that obstacle just to see what's on the other side. Mud, sand, rocks, climbs, descents aren't exhausting prospects but fun instead. Yes they do some of the touristy travel stuff as well but for them the ride is first and everything else is just gravy. 

Who Enduro Travelers aren't?

They aren't the two up riders on GS 1200's hopping city to city to check out every church and market in the 3rd world. They aren't the riders seeing how much of the Panamerican highway they can ride. They aren't the riders that think a comfy seat is first and foremost and rarely sit on it anyway. 1000km highway days are unfathomable.

What do Enduro Travelers want in a bike?

They don't want your "entry level adventure bikes". You can keep your "small" versions of your big bikes that still come in at well over 400 lbs. 

They want a light (sub 350lbs), reliable, 50/50 dirt/street focused bike capable of reasonably long service intervals. With real brakes, real suspension and a decent amount of power (40+hp). A minimal fairing for some wind and rain protection. Room for gear. Passenger pegs...just in case. And a comprehensive toolkit would be nice as well. 

They want a bike they can pick up. If you can't pick up your own bike then there is no way you are riding the roads Enduro Travelers ride. 

The closest example of an actually manufactured motorcycle I can think of is the KTM 640 Adventure. Aprilia and Husqvarna also had models back in the day but sadly they are no more. 

The closest currently available example is a pretty popular custom pairing of the KTM 690 Enduro R with Rally Raid's Baja kit. 

There are rumors of a KTM 390 Adventure but sadly it appears those rumors are unfounded. It would be great to see the other manufacturers compete in this arena.

To Each Their Own

To reiterate...there are lots of ways to enjoy travel on motorcycles and I'm not saying that the big bikes shouldn't be built and that you shouldn't ride them. I just want the adventure riders to share all the cool toys! 

And again, I know many of these big bikes are seriously capable in the right hands. While I consider myself a decent rider there is no way I would consider riding the roads I ride on one of those. I'm a normal sized person, riding alone, if I can't pick up my own bike then I am pretty much guarantying myself a bad time (there's a meme in there somewhere). Even the most badass riders I know I've seen struggle in Baja sand on big bikes while I sailed through on my 690. Those same guys destroy me on little bikes...imagine what they'd be capable of on a small adventure bike if they can do the things they do on a big one.

Let Me Hear You

While this is a bit tongue in cheek there is also a lot of truth to it. Let me know what you think in the comments. 

Would you classify yourself as an Enduro Traveler? 

What kind of riding do you do on what bike?

Are you listening manufacturers? 

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  1. Negative, I am a meat Popsicle.

    1. You still got that XR650R with the starter? Badass Baja machine - http://2-motos.blogspot.com/!

  2. Lew, There are alot of people that would love to see some lightweight adv bikes available, but the manufacturers don't think theres a big enough market for them. The only one ready to go out the box is the CCM GP450. I'll stick with my 690. Thanks for sharing your tracks, I'll be back on my bike in September, although I doubt I have the 'cojones' to head up some of the goat tracks you have been on... ;-)

    1. You'd do fine on them! Maybe you'll catch back up with me before Patagonia?

      The CCM looks awesome but I wonder about finding parts? Good thing about KTM is that they don't have a ton of models so it's not impossible to find parts. I was riding with a guy on a WR250R and because it's a one off bike for Yamaha he said nothing is standard and he can't even find sprockets for it...even in the US he has to special order everything!