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December 15th, 2016

The Interesting Options in Sub-500cc ADV Motorcycle Segment

The ever changing dynamics of the world’s motorcycling industry are nothing short of a thriller. All you need to do is to look closely and try to decipher what’s happening and what it can truly lead to. We have previously on a number of occasions talked about how the financial crisis of 2008 has led to a paradigm shift in how the world sees its motorcycles. We have talked how, 600’s as we know them are dying and how there has been a race of sorts by each maker to enter into the rebirth of the sub-500cc segment. Now, this sub-500cc segment has been a land of small sportsbikes and nakeds essentially with a little of touring/cruisers thrown into the mix. So it was just a matter of time before the big bad Adventure motorcycles of the world decided to let their off-springs play in the sub-500cc segment.

Interestingly, and much ironically the first blow of sorts in the small Adventure category came from a maker that seemed the most unlikely of them all, Royal Enfield with its Himalayan ADV bike. On the other hand, the world still waits for the mythical KTM 390 Adventure motorcycle that’s just showed up in a faint disguised avatar out in the wild. Here, we have combined some most interesting sub-500cc Adventure Motorcycles that are going to be competing soon on the international stage.

Royal Enfield Himalayan:

The Himalayan was designed to be an out-an-out single cylinder adventure motorcycle that as the company says was 70 years in the making. An Adventure Royal Enfield might look out of place in its portfolio and history, but showcased what the company has learned from its undeniable relation with the Himalayas and its treacherous conditions. Powered by a single cylinder long stroke carburetted 411cc that makes a decent 24.50bhp@6500rpm and a pretty good peak torque of 32Nm@4500rpm mated to a 5 speed gearbox. To say the bike is as basic as you can get would not be wrong, however, this is where the true appeal of such an ADV lies. At 182kg’s it isn’t exactly light but still light enough to make any new entrant into the adventure motorcycles category feel comfortable with it. At INR 1.56 lakhs or roughly USD 2300 (excluding duties and taxes) the bike is absolute bang for your buck. And yes, it does look the part and has to be the most thorough adventure in our list even though quality wise Royal Enfield is yet to make a long journey home. The 2017 Royal Enfield Himalayan would hopefully see an update from the 2016 version where the build quality and reliability niggles have been fixed, alongside a possible fuel-injected version of the company’s only adventure machine.

Royal Enfield Himalayan Adventure Motorcycle


It was pretty surprising to see the BMW G310GS arrive so soon after the G310R naked. Most of the world hasn’t even got the naked and already we have witnessed its GS avatar at this year’s EICMA. The G310GS will be made by BMW-TVS alliance at the TVS facility in India just like the G310R. The bike is unmistakably a GS model with its beak and tank shrouds and overall appearance. However, we aren’t very sure if the bike will be as thorough an Sub-500cc Adventure Motorcycles as the rest of the GS clan. We were especially let down by those alloys that look out of place on a bike that shares GS tag. It is powered by a single-cylinder water-cooled 313cc engine that makes 34bhp@9500rpm and 28Nm@7500rpm mated to a 6-speed gearbox. Only time will tell if the BMW G310GS will be a true Adventure motorcycle or more of a crossover.


Honda CRF250L Rally:

Honda in last couple of years has finally woken up to bring us the hugely awaited Africa Twin. And then only recently, the Honda CRF250L rally arrived on the scene to make us jump in joy. Based on the humble and capable Honda CRF250L, the Rally is here is make you own an authentic Dakar inspired Dual Sport machine. It is a lightweight offering in the Sub-500cc Adventure Motorcycles for the novice in the segment and looks the part with its floating windscreen straight from the Dakar Honda CRF450 Rally machine. The bike is powered by a single cylinder 249.6cc unit and an optional ABS as well. Honda hasn’t disclosed the power and torque figures as yet but does say that the engine has been revised with a new fuel mapping, throttle bodies, airbox, and lightweight exhaust. The bike will retail at USD 5,899 and reach US dealerships in March 2017.

Honda CRF250L Rally Adventure Motorcycles

Kawasaki Versys 300:

We really wonder how it took this long for Kawasaki to figure out that there should be a Versys 300. However, better late than never and it finally did arrive at this year’s EICMA. A combination of the brilliant Ninja 300 engine and the Versys Philosophy the Versys 300 makes a lot of points about its worth. The bike looks like a proper adventure with its all new chassis with a 19-inch front and a 17-inch rear wheel. And then there are those sweet looking wire spokes for more hardcore riding. The bike makes a decent 38.5bhp but at a rather high 11,5000rpm for an adventure. The peak torque arrives at 27Nm that too occurs at a considerably high 10,000rpm. That said, we reckon the bike won’t be exactly a hard core Sub-500cc ADV motorcycle, but something that won’t mind a little excursion of into the broken country roads. You do get a slipper clutch and two variants to choose from, one being Urban and the other being Adventure.

Kawasaki Versys 300 Adventure Motorcycle

Suzuki V-Strom 250:

Suzuki has a habit of taking its own sweet time to bring a change in its portfolio. The company’s quarter litre sportsbike offering, the GSX-250R might have been a couple or so years late in the market but the recently showcased V-Strom 250 Concept is absolutely on schedule. But it’s still a concept, meaning that there’s still some way to go before we see a production version of the V-Storm 250cc that is powered by a parallel twin 248cc engine with SOHC and liquid-cooling mated to 6-Speed gearbox. The engine makes a decent 24.7bhp@8000rpm and 24Nm@6500rpm. The bike wears conventional telescopic fork, cast-alloy wheels, hand guards, hard cases, a single front disk and ABS braking. Thus, proving to be more of an urban jungle dweller rather than a hard core adventure.

Adventure Motorcycles - Suzuki V-Strom 250

Benelli TRK 502:

This was showcased for the first time at EICMA 2015 and we reckon it might just be the dark horse of this rapidly expanding segment. The bike looks stunning and an authentic adventure. In fact the Multistrada-ish appeal to it also does wonder to its presence. The bike is powered by an all new 500c parallel-twin developed by Benelli and thus brings in the biggest capacity unit among the new smaller ADV’s in the segment. This combined with figures of 47bhp@8500rpm and 45Nm@4500rpm, the TRK 502 also promises the most suitable numbers for some real adventure fun out in the wild. One it arrives, you will be able to get it in a more Urban or a dedicate Enduro form in which you will have with a 19″ front wheel, and 6″ of suspension travel.

Benelli TRK502 Adventure Motorcycle

So here you go, these are the very interesting the sub-500cc Adventure Motorcycles that are going to flood that amateur – adventure market very soon. We haven’t taken the KTM 390 Adventure into consideration since there is still some time to go before that thing becomes a reality. Till then, we reckon, the prizefight will be between the Royal Enfield Himalayan, the Benelli TRK502 and the BMW 310GS as more and more manufacturers bring their entry-level ADV into market as a gateway to the bigger and badder offerings in their range. Motorcycling times are surely changing, and they are looking fantastic here onwards no matter how you look at it.

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