Adventure tourers, the Swiss army knife of motorcycles

Motorcycles are often designed to do one thing really well take for instance the trials bike. If you want to hop over tree trunks, zoom up the side of boulders and need to be able to turn a bike on the spot then this is the bike for you. Of course the other side of the coin is that there are a whole lot of things that either it can’t do or not do very well. For the trials bike this would include high speed knee sliding track work, long distance touring and free style motocross just to name a few. So are there bikes that are all-rounders? Well, not really, the closest thing I can think of is the dual sport motorcycle.
Duel sport motorcycles also called the adventure tourer are designed to travel both on and off road. They generally have the ability to travel comfortably at highway speeds, luggage for touring, a good ground clearance, low gearing and some protective devices such as hand guards and crash bars for the off road work. Advertising in magazines often show these bikes equally happy on the road and off road but often the reality is a little different.  Duel sport motorcycles are often a compromise. A large capacity duel sport bike with an engine size between 650 and 1200cc such as the BMW F650GS and the 1200GS have got plenty of go on the road but there are trade-offs and it becomes most apparent off road. The F650GS weighs 195kg wet and the same weight for 1200GS dry. Just to put this into perspective the Yamaha WR250F, a bike built for motocross, weighs in at just 116kg wet.
Let’s face it, motorcycles are specialised pieces of machinery but the duel sport bike or at least the motivation for duel sport bikes connects with the idea that it is possible to explore different places on a motorcycle no matter where they are. They are a bike that fits the purpose they were intended for despite the compromises that are made.

Traveling in East Timor on our adventure tours we use a bike that also fits the purpose, the Indonesian built 160cc Honda Mega Pro. They are light, robust, tolerate the local fuel, are easy to fix and parts are reasonably available. The roads are in poor condition across Timor and there are many farm animals wandering the streets so we tend to take it slow and enjoy the wonderful scenery. Under these conditions top speed is not really a consideration and luggage is carried in the support vehicle. The more I ride them in Timor the more I like these bikes. They are the motorcycle Swiss army knife of Timor.

I’d be interested to know what you think. Why not come to Timor and try one out?


  1. Keith says:

    In 1986 we took a group thru’ northern China, North Korea & Mongolia – we used Chinese built Yamaha 125’s brilliant bike for the job – trouble was that they only had 4 stroke oil which caused lots of challenges with the 2-stroke Yammies – I agree with your philosophy regarding smaller easier to handle bikes
    I might do one of your trips – I’ve worked in Timor – fun place