Blog: What makes an adventure Bike

Steve Rose

Excuse me Brian, is this an adventure bike?

I only ask because it worries me that the mud-plugging crazies (and, let’s face it, you have to be crazy to ride a motorcycle off road) are taking over and powersliding, roosters of grit are fast becoming the new knee-down

Generations of clever engineers from the Romans onwards took a lot of trouble making roads that let me escape to some stunning landscape in relative safety, with fuel, food and a gift shop at hand. So why would I abandon said tarmac to tumble down to somewhere no one wants to go. ‘If it’s not worth a gift shop, it’s not worth a visit,’ as some wise, old wag probably said.

Some other wise old wag described an adventure as being ‘A trip without a plan’, which makes sense to me and by that measure pretty much everything I do on a bike is an adventure.

I’m writing this at 30,000 feet on the way to the launch of Honda’s new Gold Wing in Texas. The forecast is for snow, ice and what promises to be an adventurous couple of days doing 500 miles including, it’s rumoured, some camping too. A destination, a sat nav and a collection of journos who definitely won’t be treating it like a race...probably.

Honda’s new Wing is lighter, sharper and faster than before, with clever new front suspension that’ll keep a BMW Duolever in sight on a twisty road. It won’t be nimble like a GS or a sports bike but it will certainly be interesting enough to be an adventure.

And that’s the point, motorcycling...any motorcycling is an adventure. My trip home from work last month in freezing fog on Yamaha’s Tricity scooter was an adventure, yesterday’s late night blast (and half dozen close shaves with traffic plus one clipped wing mirror - sorry) on a Honda VFR Crosstourer was very much an adventure too. Life on half as many wheels as mother wanted is always exciting, we don’t need marketeers to sell us some fake Ad-ven-chewer lifestyle.

Trail bikes are trail bikes. Big trail bikes are Big trail bikes and, 160bhp, 240kg tourers on road tyres, dressed up as Big trail bikes are fine, but it might just be that a Gold Wing is better. Not because it has almost as many gizmos as a small Hyundai hatchback, but because it’s the two-wheeled equivalent of a Jaguar limo and who wouldn’t fancy an adventure in one of those?

Buying an adventure Bike doesn’t make you an ad-ven-chewer in the same way that buying a Kia Sportage doesn’t make you sporty...or French.

Ask me on Saturday, I’ll let you know.