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2020 Model Adventure bikes for south-of-the-border fun By Mark Kariya The adventure-bike category isn’t new—it arguably began with the 1981 BMW R 80 GS—but it’s undeniably gained steam over the past few years with several new models introduced. If you’re a bit unclear on what an adventure bike is, let’s first clear that up, it’s generally considered a twin-cylinder motorcycle that includes some concessions to dirt-worthiness. (Yes, there are big single-cylinder adventure bikes, but for this story, we’ll stick to the multis.) Their size (usually well over 500cc) makes them heavy compared to the usual dirt-focused bike one often sees in Baja. On the other hand, it makes them eminently more comfortable and capable of eating up lots of miles on pavement, and they’re routinely outfitted with some type of bags (hard or soft) for carrying more than an extra pair of gloves, snacks and a cell phone.  Their combination of attributes gives adventure bikes a unique niche in the market and makes them ideal for the more experienced rider seeking to spend a few days chasing two-wheeled memories unsupported by a chase truck. In other words, they’re perfect for heading south of the border for an extended weekend—or longer—of enjoying the best that Baja has to offer, from curvy coastal roads perched above the Pacific Ocean to serpentine two-track cutting through boojum forests near Catavina. You probably wouldn’t want to tackle the Summit or deep silt beds, but Baja still has plenty for the adventure-bike rider to enjoy. That said, here are some of the models currently available.   BMW F 850 GS Adventure BMW is widely considered to have invented the modern adventure bike when it tapped into the growing European fervor for the Dakar Rally by introducing the R 80 GS in 1981. Though popular in Europe, adventure bikes didn’t catch on beyond a small cult following in the U.S. as most enthusiasts believed them to be too big and heavy for the dirt, and with their oversized tanks and small windscreens, they were too odd-looking for the traditionalist. While there’s still a GS line from BMW, it’s augmented by the more nimble F series like the F 850 GS Adventure highlighted here. Unlike the GS models with their Boxer or opposed-twin engines, the F bikes are parallel twins, the DOHC 850 pumping out a very respectable 95 horsepower. The crankpins are offset by 90 degrees so the resultant 270-/450-degree ignition spacing yields enhanced tractability while sounding great. An optional electronics package allows the rider to plug in different modules for different power characteristics, the Enduro Pro unit most suitable for off-road work with knobbies. Also available as an option is a lowering kit that drops seat height to 32.0 inches, standard height being 34.4 inches. The F 850 GS Adventure is available in matte, red or white starting at $13,345. Ducati Multistrada 950 S A few years ago, concept drawings led to rumors of a Ducati dirt bike. While those never materialized, one thing Ducati brought out was an adventure-bike lineup based on its famous L-Twin engine architecture. Displacing 937cc, the Desmodromic valve-equipped Testastretta 11° mill is renowned for its street prowess—emphasized by its claimed 113 horsepower though ably harnessed by features like Bosch Cornering ABS, Ducati Traction Control (DTC), power modes, riding modes and more. (If you want more power, Ducati offers its Multistrada 1260 Enduro with 158 horsepower.) Another sign of its more street suitability is the 19-inch front wheel. However, the Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) Evo permits the rider to quickly choose up to 400 combinations of suspension parameters to suit the type of riding anticipated. Starting at $17,595, the Multistrada 950 S (for spoked wheels) comes in red or the new-for-2021 GP White with grey. Honda Africa Twin Honda surprised quite a few when it brought out the Africa Twin a few years ago, resurrecting a model name that had a cult following in the U.S. compared to the broader success enjoyed in European markets. The 2020 Africa Twin is available in four trim levels, from the “basic” $14,399 to the top-tier $17,999 Africa Twin Adventure Sports ES DCT with its Showa electronic suspension and exclusive Dual-Clutch Transmission. Common to all four is the 1084cc parallel twin-cylinder engine (stroked 6.4mm for 2020), six-speed transmission, tubeless tires on its 18- and 21-inch spoked wheels, two-position seat height (34.3-inch standard and 33.5-inch low), selectable ABS, throttle-by-wire with multiple riding modes and one-year unlimited-mileage warranty.    KTM 790 Adventure R Rally One of the most anticipated bikes in the sub-1000cc adventure bike category, KTM’s 790 Adventure R Rally is likely the most dirt-worthy of the contenders featured here while retaining comfort for long stretches of asphalt. The limited-edition Rally ($19,499 MSRP and only 500 offered worldwide) is way up-spec compared to its still dirt-competent siblings, the 790 Adventure ($12,699 MSRP) and 790 Adventure R ($13,699 MSRP). Besides a slightly different color scheme (white/orange/blue), what you get for the premium price is premium WP suspension—the Xplor Pro 7548 Cone Valve fork and Xplor Pro 6746 shock for the PDS (non-linkage) rear end. A titanium Akrapovic muffler cuts a claimed 30-40 percent of the standard unit’s weight and helps get the most performance out of this fuel-injected, DOHC 799cc parallel twin. Common across all three versions are dual balance shafts to minimize vibration, a PASC slipper clutch, and advanced electronics including selectable ABS, traction control, four different ride modes, and smartphone-connected KTM My Ride delivering KTM’s Quickshifter+ clutchless up- and downshifts. Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT Adventure One of the original adventure bikes from Japan, the V-Strom was something of a curiosity when it came out. It looked like a street bike with its little quarter fairing (reminiscent of the non-U.S. DR Big), 17-/19-inch wheels with pavement-biased tires, and friendly V-twin engine pirated from the popular SV650. But Suzuki targeted it at the fledgling adventure crowd with a few tweaks and, voila, there are now three V-Strom 650s (as well as three 1050s). The 650 XT Adventure is the top of Suzuki’s middleweight division offerings and is probably still best suited to less rugged off-road terrain, though the aluminum panniers, more upright seating position and that sweet DOHC (with two plugs per head) fuel-injected engine lends it well to commuting and touring as well as light dirt duty—nothing wrong with that. The base MSRP for the blue beauty is $10,399.   Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro Triumph’s Tiger 900 Rally Pro is unique for more than just its three-cylinder DOHC 12-valve engine (which sounds wicked when opened up, by the way). You’d think that a six-speed power plant would make it too heavy to do it in the dirt, but the adjustable Showa fork and shock (9.4 inches of travel for the 21-inch front wheel and 9.0 for the 17-inch rear) help calm things while keeping seat height a reasonable 33.5-34.3 inches. Naturally, that 888cc engine with a claimed 93.9 horsepower makes short work of eating up miles on the highway where you’ll enjoy optimized cornering ABS and traction control. It’s available in white, black, or green starting at $16,700.   Yamaha Ténéré 700 Yamaha drew upon its Dakar Rally heritage to produce the Ténéré 700, a spinoff of its successful MT-07 “naked” street-only model with its 689cc fuel-injected, liquid-cooled parallel twin-cylinder engine, and flexible six-speed gearbox. The Crossplane Crankshaft Concept 270-degree crank (derived from the works XTZ750 rally racers back in the day) provides power delivery well suited to long days on pavement or in the dirt. While not race-spec, its adjustable suspension gives the Ténéré a very manageable 34.4-inch seat height with enough travel for the 18- and 21-inch wheels to navigate typical Baja two-track at a comfortable pace courtesy of selectable ABS. Available in three color combinations, the Ténéré 700 carries a one-year limited warranty for its MSRP of $9999. SJ

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