For riders who want to tackle any terrain with comfort, technology and safety, super-sized adventure bikes are hard to beat. Yet all that spec comes at a price. Add on heated seats, cruise control, fog lights and luggage and you’re soon be staring at a bill for thousands.
But you can now pick up pre-owned examples for a fraction of their original price. Here’s our guide to the best top-spec globe busters.
1215cc | 135bhp | 837mm seat height
● Dealer price £6000-£8000
● Private price £4500-£8000
● This one: £7,250, 12,000 miles
Triumph’s attempt at beating BMW at their own game had as little success with adventure bikes in terms of overall sales as it did with super- tourers (Hinckley’s similarly-powered 1200 Trophy was aimed squarely at the BMW R1200RT).
However, prospective customers who were prepared to look over the BMW parapet discovered that Triumph’s offering is nevertheless more powerful, faster, better equipped and comfier than a GS. The Explorer also steers better than the GS and can carry even more load. It’s much cheaper used, too.
In the XC guise the Explorer’s standard issue electronics are complemented by adventure-spec extras such as spoked wheels, aluminium bash plate, engine bars and fog lights.
Early examples of the Explorer had their fair share of issues, including electrics, cam buckets, cylinder heads and engines cutting out (there was a recall for that one), although the GS had its problems too (see below).
Valve adjustment at 20,000 miles is costly. It’s also a big, top-heavy thing so won’t suit smaller riders who ride fully-loaded.
1170cc | 108bhp | 850mm seat height
● Dealer price £7000-£10,000
● Private price £6000-£8000
● This one: £6,699, 23,700 miles
Although the current GS is now partially water-cooled, the earlier revision in 2010 saw the air-cooled motor receive the HP2’s cylinder heads and double overhead cams. An amazing bike that’s at home in a desert or in town (which, as with Range Rovers, is where a lot seem to be found).
With the Dynamic and Premium boxes ticked for Enduro traction control, tyre pressure sensors, fog lights, LED indicators, heated grips and more, the older R1200GS cost over £12,500 new, but can now be picked up for 50% of that price.
Check all the electronics work, and never buy without a service history. There are many instances of driveshaft and rear bevel box failure: water can get into the tunnel and destroy the shaft universal joint which then takes out the swingarm.
1195cc | 160bhp | 860mm seat height
● Dealer price £8500-£11,000
● Private price £8000-£10,000
● This one: £8994, 12,500 miles
This utterly bonkers, off-road missile is far more capable in the dirt than most other giant trail bikes mostly because it’s lighter and uses chain drive. That and the fact it was designed by off-road specialists KTM.
It replaced the 990 and introduced ride-by-wire (and associated electronic rider aids), electronic suspension and more power (resulting in a better power-to-weight ratio than even the Ducati 1200 Multistrada).
At £16,000 fully-loaded the 1290 was costlier than a top-spec BMW R1200GS when new, but worth it if you want ultimate performance combined with genuine dirt ability. The R version has a 21in front wheel and is even crazier.
It was recalled for an ABS fault so check it’s been done. Check the fuel gauge works.Weak starter motors on 2013 and 2014 bikes were later uprated.
1199cc | 109bhp | 845mm seat height
● Dealer price £5500-£8300
● Private price £5000-£8000
● This one: £5,750, 21,300 miles
The parallel-twin, shaft-drive Super Ténéré is heavy, not that powerful or well-equipped and, as it was priced at a whopping £12,800 when originally launched, it was very expensive for what it was.
Yamaha first started giving away panniers in an attempt to lure buyers then cut prices. But despite all that plus the fact that it’s not as accomplished off-road as some rivals, the XTZ is still a good machine and features electronically adjustable suspension, rider modes, ABS and two-level traction control. What’s more, residuals are low making it an excellent bargain.
Windshield mounts worked loose on early bikes, before they were redesigned, and flimsy OE panniers crack easily. Many used examples have had aftermarket parts fitted and the ECU flashed so check fuelling is smooth and glitch-free.
1198cc | 160bhp | 860mm seat height
● Dealer price £13,000-£18,000
● Private price £12,000-£16,000
● This one: £12,995, 7200 miles
The Multistrada Enduro is differentiated by its huge 30-litre tank; bigger off-road wire wheels, proper rear swinging fork and longer, semi-active suspension to smooth out dirt roads; all of which makes the resulting bike massive.
The 1198cc Testastretta engine is unchanged but there’s three more teeth on the rear sprocket. Even so, taking it off-road is courting trouble. Ask yourself how many desert racers you see on Ducatis. That said, it’s loaded with spec and ticking all the extras boxes will leave you with a £21,000 bill. Unless you buy used.
It’s still a slight lottery with used Ducatis. A full service history is essential, check that the fuel gauge works (the sensor fails), major services are very expensive (but intervals are long).