KAWASAKI KLR650: $6599
We know several BMW owners who have a Kawasaki
KLR650 in the garage as a spare. Why not? They’re afford-
able, reliable and will fit places a bigger machine won’t go.
The KLR isn’t very fast, but it carries a lot of fuel ( 6.1 gallons) and has space for all kinds of luggage. Before 2008,
the KLR was already a hit as an adventure bike. We just
didn’t call it that. Then it got a new frame-mount fairing
without much increase in price, and it earned an official
identity as the world’s best budget adventurer. This year
there’s a new camo model (shown) for $6899.
HONDA XR650L: $6690
Is this an adventure bike? Absolutely. It might even be
the first adventure bike. There is a timeless perfection to
the Honda 650L. Unchanged since the early ’90s, the XR
long ago reached dirt-icon status with a torquey (but not
especially fast), air-cooled motor. The suspension is still
surprisingly good on the trail. The ergonomics feel dated,
but the bike works well and has electric start. It reminds us
of the Scott Summers years in off-road racing every time
we see it. It’s a little bit of an odd mix on group rides with
bigger bikes. It struggles at higher speeds without wind
protection, but it will run away from them in the dirt.