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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

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A white BMW R 1250 GD Adventure is shown parked off-road.

When Adventure Calls on Two Wheels: The Top 3 ADV Bikes

There’s a significant difference between riding a motorcycle to work and heading off into parts unknown. While any time in the saddle is well spent, it’s different when you’re pushing your bike to its full potential beyond the constraints of your weekday commute. Part of it is knowing you’re not headed into the office or running errands around town, and part of it is knowing you’re in the saddle of one of the best adventure bikes money can buy.

Chasing the horizon or setting off on a road trip hits differently when you’re riding an ADV bike that knows few limits like the famed BMW R 1250 GS Adventure, Ducati Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak, or KTM 1290 Super Adventure R. These bikes beg you to push the envelope, churning out gobs of horsepower and torque without compromise. Moreover, as they satiate your need for speed, they also accommodate your penchant for adventure and give you the freedom to explore beyond the pavement. It’s the truest sense of adventure you can experience on two wheels.

A dark green BMW R 1250 GS Adventure is shown parked on a road.

#1 – BMW R 1250 GS Adventure

BMW is an industry pioneer because of models like the R 1250 GS Adventure. This adventure-ready powerhouse debuted in 2019, immediately differentiating itself by offering long-distance comfort and exceptional off-road manners. In the motorcycle realm, the R 1250 GS Adventure delivers the best of both worlds and gives you the confidence to explore any terrain.

The 2023 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure continues that legacy, producing 136 hp at 7,750 RPM and 105 lb-ft of torque at 7,550 RPM. Although the GS Adventure is on the heavier side at 591 lbs, its power output makes it agile and responsive. Moreover, BMW lets you harness this power and agility with Ride Modes Pro, a seven-mode system that lets you customize the bike’s performance to your specific riding needs. For example, you can choose between Road, Rain, ECO, Dynamic, Dynamic Pro, Enduro, and Enduro Pro. You also get HSC Pro, which is BMW’s automatic hill start control feature, and Dynamic Brake Control.

While it’s an adventure bike, the BMW R 1250 GS Adventure is also praised for its success in offering on and off-road capability. It’s just as comfortable exploring a winding backroad as navigating a dirt trail, never requiring you to compromise. Instead, BMW ensures your comfort in every condition by equipping the adventurer with handlebar risers and offering various seat heights to accommodate different riding styles and rider heights. In addition, the large 7.9-gallon fuel tank promises more miles between fill-ups, and amenities like the heated seat enhance your comfort and encourage you to ride longer and explore further.

These features and the R 1250 GS Adventure’s potency explain why BMW has one of the most loyal followings in the ADV bike realm. While many adventure bikes require you to compromise or choose between comfort and control, BMW doesn’t dare ask. Instead, riders reap the benefits of these behemoth road warriors that offer exceptional value, impeccable responsiveness, and thrilling possibilities every mile ahead.

A red and white Ducati Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak is shown riding on a racetrack.

#2 – Ducati Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak

The Ducati name alone is enough to elicit sighs of appreciation, and the 2023 Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak is no exception. Building on the best-selling Multistrada lineup, the V4 Pikes Peak is Ducati’s answer to riders looking for extreme capability and handling. It’s the Multistrada but better in every sense of your imagination.

The Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak easily exceeds expectations as the most powerful model in the segment. Its 1,158 cc V4 Granturismo engine roars to life, churning out 170 hp at 10,500 RPM and 92 lb-ft of torque at 8,750 RPM. However, in true Ducati fashion, the manufacturer doesn’t stop there and ensures the V4 Pikes Peak can competently and excitedly answer every call of adventure.

Ducati stretches the bike’s wheelbase to improve stability, increases its rake and trail, and reduces travel in the rear wheel. These updates differentiate the V4 Pikes Peak from the rest of the Multistrada lineup and set the stage for the bike’s most notable feature––the Smart EC 2.0 Öhlins electronic suspension, a first for the Multistrada family. This suspension heightens the bike’s responsiveness because it can be tuned specifically for your riding style and operates as an event-based system. Moreover, it complements the V4 Pikes Peak’s distinct ergonomics that position the rider for optimal control and performance in all conditions.

Ducati takes that performance further by including the Multistrada’s first-ever Race Mode, uniquely calibrating the antilock brake system, adding a quick shifter, and outfitting the powerhouse with wheelie control. These adjustments and the Granturismo engine ensure the V4 Pikes Peak lives up to the Ducati reputation, but the appeal doesn’t stop there. This model is incredibly versatile, not solely shining in one arena. Instead, the V4 Pikes Peak’s on-road manners are just as impressive as its performance off-road, with Ducati equipping it with comfort, technology, and rider-assist features that heighten its versatility as a daily adventurer. With the option to add saddlebags, heated grips, a heated seat, and luggage packs, the V4 Pikes Peak is Ducati’s blank canvas. It’s full of potential because it can effortlessly spend weekdays navigating your commute and weekends discovering roads less traveled.

A blue and white KTM 1290 Super Adventure R is shown riding off-road.

#3 – KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

While Ducati is a household name among high-end adventure bikes, motorcycles like the Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak are investments that lead many riders to look for more affordable options. Fortunately, it’s not a difficult search because of models like the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R. This adventure-ready bike is renowned for its lightweight design and engaging performance on and off the road.

The 1290 Super Adventure R shares many similarities with the 1290 Super Adventure S, with KTM establishing the 1290 Super Adventure R as the more aggressive off-road warrior. The bikes are powered by an exceptional 1,301 cc V-Twin engine that delivers 160 hp, making the KTMs more potent than the luxurious BMW R 1250 GS Adventure and only slightly less aggressive than the Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak. When comparing the $10,000 difference between the Ducati and KTM, a mere ten horsepower doesn’t seem like much.

Like Ducati and BMW, KTM doesn’t cut corners with the Super Adventure’s design and equips it so that rider comfort is a priority in any condition. It’s evident in the Super Adventure’s semi-active suspension that improves ride quality and in the Quickshifter+ that ensures seamless gear shifts across the bike’s broad power band. These performance-oriented features complement the Super Adventure’s ergonomic design. For example, KTM showcases its keen attention to detail by outfitting the bike with handguards for improved stability and aerodynamics at high speeds. Additions like the multi-position footpegs and adjustable seat explain why so many riders are loyal to KTM, arguing that the manufacturer has one of the best adventure lineups ever.

The Thrill of the Ride

Riders that swear by adventure bikes know something many others don’t––the power of versatility. Most people think ADV bikes are rugged off-road warriors destined only to tackle technical terrain. However, models like the Ducati Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak, BMW R 1250 GS Adventure, and KTM 1290 Super Adventure R prove otherwise. They’re three of the best and most capable bikes in the segment, but they’re also excellent investments because they offer exceptional all-around performance. They perfectly embody BMW, Ducati, and KTM’s success at giving riders everything they need and more when chasing the horizon on and off the pavement.

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