What adventure bike can I buy for £5000?


BikeSocial trawls through the motorcycle classifieds adverts so you don't have to. This month, we find our five favourite adventure bikes with a five grand limit in mind.


1 used GS1150 1


1. BMW R1150 GS

Example 1: BMW R1150 GS, 2002, £3800, 44,000 miles, 3+ owners, private sale

Seller says: “Just been serviced top to bottom, all genuine German filters and quality specific Putoline Boxer engine oil, valve clearances, and even the notoriously tricky inner tank fuel filter painstakingly changed! Beautiful bike, it runs like a clock, comes fully loaded with Remus de-cat exhaust, Hepco and Becker crash bars, light guard, TKC80 tyres, fuel gauge, gear position display, heated grips.”

BikeSocial says: Mmmm, nice. This is a clean, good looking early 1150, in blue and white (some older BMW paint schemes looked a bit like Italian police bikes. Add a couple of flashing amber lights on sticks to complete the look). It’s got the right things done to it in terms of servicing, but isn’t loaded with over-the-top accessories, so it’s still original-looking and tasteful. If we were in the market for an 1150 GS – and who wouldn’t be? – this is probably the bike we’d look at first. The 1150 GS has a more solid, tough, industrial look than the 1200 GS and has a reputation for durability (a fettled 1150 GS will run for a long time on servicing alone). And these days it also has a slightly retro vibe which is very cool. And loads of charisma – it’s a very organic riding experience. Yes, it’s clunky and not exactly refined – everything’s a bit laborious, including the indicators. But it’s comfy, spacious and relaxed (you can’t hustle an 1150 GS the way you can a modern 1250 GS) – decked out in luggage, you’d go a long way on one before you felt compelled to stop. The 1150 is lower than you’d imagine for an adventure bike – you sit deep in it, not on it. The two-piece seat is height adjustable too, over the single-seat Adventure model (or you can take the pillion pad off completely for more luggage space).

>> Read our BMW R1150 GS (1999-04): modern classic review


2 used GS1150 2


Example 2: R1150 GS, 2000, £2695, 105,000 miles, 10 owners, private sale

Seller says: “Heated grips, ABS, topbox, custom paint job. A phenomenal machine, rides really well and looks stunning for a very good value GS. No service history, excellent bodywork, 10 owners.”

BikeSocial says: This one’s a bit of a conundrum, on the face of it. The custom-painted retro GS looks great (if the paint is as good in close-up) but the bike has 105,000 miles on it, which is pretty high – it’s reflected in the price, but 10 owners is a lot of bums on the seat too. Maybe it’s a typo. A high mileage is nothing to the 1150 motor (obviously it’ll need a bit of love to keep on the road) but 10 owners is a bit many. The bike’s white engine bars and grey single seat set it off nicely – but there’s some confusion at our end: the advert doesn’t mention it being an Adventure model, but it’s got the Adventure rear end, single seat, two-piece beak etc. And there’s confusion with the motor too – this is a twin spark-plug motor, which wasn’t introduced until 2004; yet the advert says it’s a 2000 model. Bit of explaining to do, but if legit this could be a cheap, cool-looking GS.


3 used GS1150 Adventure 3


Example 3: R1150 GS Adventure, 2002, £3850, 55,000 miles, 5+ owners, private sale

Seller says: “New heated grips, ABS. Good tyres, MOT until 6/09/2022, full OE luggage (keyed), full OE toolkit, OE spotlights, extra spotlights with control through indicator cancel switch, screen extender, handlebar risers, Fat Foot side stand plate, ally bash plate, engine management chip, Pyramid mudguard, front mudguard extender, handguard extenders, CTEK battery tender/charger connector, voltmeter. Also available: Wunderlich handlebar bag with 12v/usb power outlet, brand new Abus chain with two keys and original key code, CTEK charger/tender, extra handlebar risers/extenders, spare hinges for the luggage.”

BikeSocial says: This R1150 GS Adventure, with a 30-litre tank, might look fairly stock but it’s got some good extras: the panniers and top box are enormous (and coded), the bar bag with USB port is handy (save you doing it yourself) and the handguard and hugger extenders speak of someone who cared about the practicalities. If you value the extra size of the tank (another 100 miles on the range), lower first gear (better off-road), longer suspension (makes the Adventure taller than the GS, but some say gives better ride quality on the road) and the higher single seat (some say better for rider, worse for pillion) – then the Adventure is a better bet than the more road-based 1150 GS.


4 white Tiger 800


2. Triumph Tiger 800

Example 1: Tiger 800, 2011, £4200, 38,000 miles, 1 owner, private sale

Seller says: “Family owned from new, cherished bike used for pleasure not commuting, always garaged, taken us all over Europe and the UK without missing a beat. The bike has zero corrosion anywhere, ACF 50 after every wash. New tyres, brake pads, chain and sprockets. Full documented history, full service with oil, filter and plugs (all genuine parts). Triumph tank pad, fender extender, grab rails, Triumph tall touring screen. Full MOT.”

BikeSocial says: Looks like an honest, clean, cared-for early Tiger 800 – when the advert says it’s got zero corrosion, pretty easy to tell if they’re wrong or not. The Tiger’s 799cc motor is based on a stroked-out 675 Daytona, so with around 90bhp it’s well under stressed; they’re mechanically sound and 38,000 miles is nothing. Valve clearances are checked every 12,000 miles, so we’d check the service history covers the 36,000-mile check. Be nice if it came with luggage and a few extras, but it’s a good platform to build your own Tiger around. We’d definitely go and have a look at this one.

>> Read our Triumph Tiger 800 (2015-17) Buying Guide here


5 blue Tiger 800


Example 2: Tiger 800, 2014, £4750, 26,771 miles, 1 owner, private sale

Seller says: “FSH, heated grips, height adjustable seat, adjustable height screen, new rear tyre, battery, fork seals.”

BikeSocial says: Same deal as the previous Tiger – this is a newer bike, with fewer miles and heated grips so that pushes the price up, but the bike looks well-looked after and tidy (although the headers aren’t quite as clean as the white Tiger’s). Again, check the second valve clearance at 24,000 miles – and we’d ask why the forks seals failed (have a look at the tubes for pitting). This bike also has Lust Racing longer tie-bars which lower the seat height – and so do the dropped yokes down the forks (you can see the forks tops protruding). You may prefer a lower seat height and ride height, in which case the owner has saved you a job! But if you’re a taller rider, bear it in mind. Both are reversible mods, but you’ll want the original tie bars.


6 black tiger 900 rally


Example 3: Tiger 800 Rally, 2012, £4795, 14,913 miles, 1 owner, trade sale

Seller says: “Triumph panniers and topbox, Leo Vince slip-on, part service history, average bodywork and tyres.”

BikeSocial says: The Tiger 800 appeared in 2010 as a direct rival to BMW’s F800 GS in the then fairly limited market of mid-capacity adventure bikes (how that would change in the following 12 years!). The original Tiger comes in two specs: standard 800 and the 800 Rally. They differ in much the same way the modern Tiger Rally and GT do: the 800 has a lower seat, shorter travel suspension and a 19in cast front wheel; the Rally is taller with a 21in front spoked wheel. They’re pre-traction control, cruise control and quickshifters; ABS and heated grips were optional. This Rally comes with panniers and topbox (not shown), which is a practical bonus – and the Leo Vince can should add some sonic fun to the ride. Check it’s not too loud (but it’s a slip-on so the bike hasn’t been de-catted; it should be reasonably quiet still and the bike’s engine mapping shouldn’t need altering to suit). The dealer lists the bodywork and tyres as average, which is a negotiating point. The Rally also comes with a centrestand, which the other two Tigers don’t – again, this can be a fairly big issue if you don’t want to muck about with a paddock stand to lube the chain.


7 Grey V-Strom AT 1 price


3. Suzuki V-Strom 650

Example 1: 2017, £4900, 8000 miles, 2 owners, private sale

Seller says: “Excellent, versatile all-rounder, 67-69 mpg. Less than 8000 miles, just serviced at Fowlers, long MOT, full service history.”

BikeSocial says: The V-Strom 650 comes in three flavours; the original bike with boxy styling, the second gen with rounder styling and a smaller tank, and the third gen with more of an adventure-style ‘beak’ and traction control. Both the Gen 2 and 3 bikes are available in an ‘XT’ model with wire spokes (same size) rather than the standard with cast wheels. All models are based around the then current version of the 645cc SV650 V-twin, making around 60bhp. All are popular and rightly so – as a cheap, reliable, durable (corrosion problems aside), frugal and – importantly – funky all-rounder, the V-Strom has a kind of honesty riders appreciate. It is what it is, and it’s bloody good at it. It’s often said the 650 is a better bike than the larger V-Strom 1000 and 1050 – and we’d agree with that. This bike is a Gen 3 V-Strom with barely any miles – it’s got a lifetime of use ahead of it. It comes with a Shad top box and a flip-up screen, but no other accessories we can see (no centrestand, for example) – so it’s a good blank canvas to start making your own.

>> Read our Suzuki V-Strom 650 (2017-current) Review & Buying Guide here


8 mk1 VStrom 650 price


Example 2: 2008, £2850, 46,000 miles, 7 owners, private sale

Seller says: “Very good, clean example. Hand guards, heated grips, second, different-height seat, top box and panniers. New MOT. Sorry to see her go.”

BikeSocial says: For a handy, durable, go-anywhere, cope-with-anything bike on a seriously diminutive budget, you can’t beat a first gen Wee-Strom. This one comes with full Givi luggage, heated grips, mirror extenders (and nicer mirrors), a Remus end can and link pipe, and crash bars. But, importantly, it’s also pretty clean – it’s fair to say first gen V-Strom 650s get ridden in all weathers by all kinds of riders (some less fastidious than others) and corrosion resistance is never a strong point. But this bike seems fairly rot-free; it looks as if there’s some corrosion on the engine covers that may or may not have been rattle-canned, but the fasteners and fixings look to be okay. This example is way too nice to be just a winter bike (and certainly no ‘hack’), but it’d be bloody good for it.


9 KTM 990 Adventure 1  price


4. KTM 990 Adventure

Example 1: 2008, £4650, 32,000 miles, 3 owners, private sale

Seller says: “Recent MOT, upgraded water pump, clutch slave cylinder and front brake master cylinder. Power Commander 3 with custom map by KTM Centre, Rally replica exhaust system with titanium Akrapovič end can. RC8 velocity stacks, performance air filter, secondary radiator fan, headlight protector, LEDs, USB ports, 12v socket, Scottoiler, sidestand relocator, sidestand bypass plug, SAS removal kit, HEED crash Bars, Hepco and Becker Explorer top box and panniers, heated grips and more.”

BikeSocial says: KTM’s off-road DNA and Ready To Race philosophy runs through all their adventure bikes, from the 950 Adventure to the current 1290 SuperAdventure. Back in the mid-2000s, the 990 Adventure was the nearest thing to a road-going adventure bike with genuine off-road capability… if you were big and brave enough to use it. A bored and stroked 950 Adventure with fuel injection, the 75° V-twin 990 (actually 1000cc) makes 90-odd bhp and delivers it with typically raw-edged thumping KTM style – tall, imposing and pretty basic back then – the 990 is pre-electronic rider aids. An R version is even lairier, with less weight, more power and longer suspension travel. This bike is a typical 990 – low mileage for its age and cosmetically sound, it includes the mandatory triple-set of hard luggage – quality Hepco and Becker stuff – with a host of extras, including some welcome durability mods such as the upgraded water pump and clutch slave cylinder, and plenty of performance work with some remapping, a PC III and the secondary air system emissions gubbins removed. If all this – and heated grips – sounds like the things you want on your adventure bike, and it sounds like ours, look no further. It’s not as lardy or smooth as an 1150 GS, but it’s a lot more lively.

10 orange ktm 990 Adventure 2 price


Example 2: 2010, £5000, 23,000 miles, private sale

Seller says: “Recent MOT and full service, very good condition. This 12-year-old bike has been well looked after and am only selling due to a change of my priorities. My plans were to travel through Europe on it as it is a lovely bike to ride with stacks of power.”

BikeSocial says: The opposite of the previous 990 Adventure, this bike is in rare standard condition. That’s good if you want to keep it that way, or if you want to make your own mods. But it also means there’s a chance (it’s hard to tell) that known potential problems with the bike (like the single seal on the clutch slave cylinder or the water pump) will crop up later – although at 23,000 miles, the engine is on the young side for all that. Clean, fresh, ready to race. We mean ‘ride’.

>>Read our KTM 990 Adventure (2003-12): Review & Buying Guide here


11 Yam XT660Z 1 black price


5. Yamaha XT660Z Ténéré

Example 1: 2013, £4795, 22,900 miles, dealer sale

Seller says: “Full service history, in good condition – used but not abused. Fitted with crash bars, LED indicators, Oxford heated grips, touring screen and aluminium panniers and top box.”

BikeSocial says: Phased out before the introduction of the Ténéré 700 twin, the XT660Z Ténéré  single is that rare beast: a single cylinder adventure bike that can pull off a touring role and actually make long distance vibration less than excruciating – as well as hack it half-decently as an actual off-road bike (it’s not exactly a lightweight but a benign power delivery makes up for it). The 23-litre tank and good wind protection make hundreds of miles in one sitting more than possible, although the seat might have other ideas. This bike is loaded with kit – Yamaha topbox with Givi panniers (same as Africa Twin, Triumph Tigers etc), Givi crash bars, Oxford heated grips, digital gear indicator – some of the brackets and fasteners look a bit corroded and one plastics panel has a crack in it – but overall it looks in decent shape. Singles aren’t for everyone, but if you can put up with the thumping and the modest power output, the XT will deliver faithful service.

>> Read our Yamaha XT660Z Tenere (2008-16): Review & Buying Guide here


12 R1200 GS price


6. Also consider…

BMW R1200 GS Adventure

2008, £4995, 44,312 miles, dealer sale.

Bottom end of the 1200 GS price point, but if you must have a 1200, this Adventure has the big tank, the full luggage, heated grips, ESA suspension and a few scrapes. If the gearbox and clutch are sound, the thing ticks over evenly and pulls cleanly and the drivetrain has no undue clunks or thumps – and if there’s no big ticket servicing due – then fill yer boots.

>> Read our BMW R1200 GS (2004-12): Buying Guide here



13 F800 GS price



2008, £4500, 26,000 miles, 8 owners, private sale

Not seen many F800 GSs we’d call visually stimulating, but this one is (from the pics). Loving the red and white colour scheme, with red crash bars, grips and grab rails. Lots of owners for such a low mileage, but come on: wavy discs, Fuel end can, Touratech seat, comes with panniers and topbox included.

>> Read our BMW F800 GS (2013-18): Review & Buying Guide here


14 Transalp price


Honda XL700 Transalp

2008, £4290, 13,000 miles, dealer sale

Squint hard and it’s almost an Africa Twin vibe – the 680cc 52° V-twin Honda isn’t the most inspiring motor, but it’s durable as they come. Engine bars, full luggage, heated grips, low mileage, hand guards and Honda build quality and reliability with only 13,000 miles on it, for around four grand. Don’t take it off road (unless you really want to), but it’ll take you just about anywhere else with no fuss.

>> Read our Honda XL700V Transalp (2008-12) Review & Buying Guide here


Buying Adventure Bikes - In general:

Adventure bikes come in so many shapes and sizes it’s hard to agree what one is – there are plenty of GSX-S750s and NC750Xs listed on the classifieds under ‘adventure bike’ by optimistic sellers. For the sake of argument, we’re going to say an adventure bike must have either a 19 or 21in front wheel, long-travel suspension, high bars, an upright riding position and make an effort to look like it could handle a gravel trail.

We can also buy wide range of adventure bikes for £5000; in terms of engine size, we can go from a V-Strom 250 right up to an R1200 GS. We could pick up a brand-new Royal Enfield Himalayan, or we could go retro and track down an original Africa Twin from the 80s with 80,000 miles and 6 owners on it. We could buy a bike built in China, Japan, Germany or the UK. There’s a lot of choice.

In general, most used adventure bikes don’t often get used for adventures – at least, not the proper off-road kind of adventure. And, as a buyer, it’s easy to spot an adventure bike with an off-road past – scratched hand guards and side panels, dirt collecting in nooks and crannies, dented bash plates, or comes with a box of ‘spares’ including chain, sprockets and knobblies. All pretty conclusive signs of off-road use – but then, riding an adventure bike off-road is likely to be less mechanically stressful than taking a sports bike on a track day (suspension excepted). And when it comes to cosmetic issues, a few off-road bumps and scars look way cooler than a winter’s road salt chewing at the fasteners and engine cases.

Many adventure bikes see more use as medium-to-long range tourers, racking up more miles for their age than a naked bike or sport bike counterpart. As usual, it’s not the engines that wear out so much as bearings, suspension bushes, suspension itself, electronics and things like brake calipers and lines, clutch and throttle cables. But the range of specific issues faced by older adventure bikes is so vast, it’s impossible to describe them all here – most models have dedicated user forums with huge knowledge bases. One advantage of owning a used adventure bike is that whatever’s wrong with it, has already gone wrong for someone else and there’s probably a YouTube video on how to fix it.


We’ve taken actual examples from Facebook, Autotrader, eBay, Gumtree, and from dealers such as Superbikefactory.co.uk – but remember these specific machines are for illustrative use only will probably be sold by the time you read this.