If you’re reading this post, you’re probably one of the following:
- You’re in the UK, are between 19-24 years old, and are legally restricted to an A2 category motorcycle.
- You’re over 24, can technically sit your test for a big bike license, but love the lightweight flickability and economy of a lighter bike.
- You have a full licence but can’t justify the weight and/or cost of a 300kg, £20,000 adventure bike.
And I feel you. Because at some point in my life, I’ve been in all three of those categories.
Now, I’m aware that kits are available to restrict most big adventure bikes. And many manufacturers even put them on their full-fat bikes to make them into somewhat of a ‘diet’ version.
But this article isn’t concerned with those today.
Here are 9 A2-friendly adventure bikes on which you can tour. All of them were born to be in the A2 category, and none of them are restricted.
A who?? What the hell is a Zontes?
I know, I know. It lacks the prestigious badge of a Bavarian propeller or the adornment of a Japanese K in its synonymous green.
But its lack of a familiar badge shouldn’t detract from the fact that the Zontes T310 is an incredibly light, well-rounded A2-friendly adventure bike that provides tons of value for money.
The T310 churns out 33.8 bhp which is similar to that of the BMW G 310 GS (below). And you can ride a new one away for less than 4 grand – a few hundred quid less than the very wallet-friendly Royal Enfield Himalayan.
It will sit at 70mph on the motorway and you should be seeing a frugal return of 80-100mpg depending on the roads you’re on.
Whichever way you look at it, this is a thrifty little machine that should see you get 300 miles from its 15-litre tank.
The T310 is svelt, too, tipping the scales at 149kg. It’s easy to throw around towns and cities, and whilst the seat and suspension may seem a little soft, it’s easily comfortable enough to tour on.
But it’s not a bargain-bin Chinese stereotype, either. The Zontes T310 comes with an electric touring screen, keyless ignition, two riding modes, a USB charge point, electric seat and fuel cap release, illuminated switchgear (nice touch!), and a TFT dash.
What is lacks in heritage, the Zontes T310 makes up for in day-to-day versatility, a lightweight chassis, plenty of techy goodies, and oodles of VFM.
|Tank Size||19 L|
|Seat Height||830 mm|
Voge 500 DS
We’ve been waiting for this offering from Voge for a little while now.
Part of the Chinese company, Loncin, the Voge line aims to put out better spec (and better quality) bikes than the cheap-as-chips reputation we have gotten used to from the East.
In the case of the 500 DS, its 471cc v-twin engine ensures it just about sneaks into the A2 category with an output of 46.2 bhp.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will see that the engine has been unscrupulously based on Honda’s CB500X – which is no bad thing.
And considering the Voge 500 DS doesn’t cut corners when you compare it to Honda’s CB500X, it still comes in at less than 5 grand – a whopping £1,200 cheaper than the Honda.
That said, it’s a touch chubbier than the CB500X and tips the scales at 205kg. But it’s also a touch lighter than some of the others on this list; such as the Benelli TRK 502 at 213kg.
Swings and roundabouts.
In its stock form, the Voge 500 DS rolls out of the showroom on very good Pirelli Angel ST tyres, comes with a 2-year warranty, a TFT dash, gear position indicator, Bluetooth connectivity, and (I kid you not) tyre pressure monitors.
|Tank Size||17 L|
|Seat Height||815 mm|
Royal Enfield Himalayan
If you prefer your two-wheeled stead to come with a lifetime of experience and wisdom rather than fancy gadgets and trinkets, you can’t go far wrong with the Royal Enfield Himalayan.
With 24 bhp, it’s never going to get you across the equator at the speed of sound. But it will get you across it. Eventually.
And where many manufacturers promise the world and fail to deliver on almost all of it, the Himalayan will actually get you through rain forests, across deserts, and over, well, the Himalayas.
It isn’t brimming with technology. But it has everything you need for your expedition; such as a comfortable seat, well-positioned pegs, thoughtful ergonomics, a Google tripper navigation system, panniers, and jerry cans.
Rustic, sums this bike up nicely. But rustic is authentic. And everybody appreciates honest authenticity in a world full of empty promises.
|Tank Size||15 L|
|Seat Height||800 mm|
KTM 390 Adventure
We’re a big fan of this cheeky little 390 from KTM. Based on the 390 Duke, the Adventure model has longer suspension which allows it to travel further than the Duke. It also has taller handlebars and a touring screen.
The single-cylinder engine has enough beans to muster 43 bhp – and whilst that doesn’t sound a lot, the 390 Adventure has a way of using it that makes it a truly fun bike to ride.
Its lightweight, flickable chassis is paired with some nice features in the cockpit, too. You can expect traction control, on-road and off-road cornering ABS, LED lights and a TFT dash.
If you’re not blessed with inches in the height department, this bike may prove to be a little tall on those 17” Continental TKC 70 tyres.
But out on the road or light trails, the KTM 390 Adventure is a lightweight nipper that will give you something to smile about all the way to your next overnight stop.
|Tank Size||14.5 L|
|Seat Height||855 mm|
Sinnis Terrain 380
There are no prizes here for guessing which premium adventure bike Sinnis have drawn their inspiration from with their Terrain 380!
From a few feet back, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a GS.
And like a real GS, the Sinnis Terrain 380 is big, tall, and incredibly poised. Chuck on the panniers and the top box and it has every bit the attitude and presence of a big, chunky adventure bike.
Okay, so with its somewhat wallowy suspension and non-spoked wheels, it’s not the best off-road bike. And if you want to spend the majority of your tour on the gravel, you’d be better off with something else.
But for all-around tourability, the Sinnis Terrain offers the functionalities and comfort of a ‘proper’ adventure bike.
Sinnis have been quite clever with the gearing, too. It’s difficult to get good acceleration and top speed out of any bike. But when you’re playing with 36 bhp in a bike that weighs 200kg, you have to start prioritising.
Thankfully, Sinnis decided to scrap the notion of top speed (which, incidentally, is around 90mph) in favour of gearing the bike towards torquey acceleration instead.
The one drawback for me is the economy. From its 18-litre tank, you should get 200 miles. And that’s fine. But I’d be expecting better than 49/50mpg from a bike of this capacity.
|Tank Size||18 L|
|Seat Height||820 mm|
Benelli TRK 502
If you want to push the displacement and horsepower as far as you can on an A2 licence, the Benelli is right on the limits.
The TRK 502 houses a 499cc liquid-cooled engine that produces 47.6 bhp and torque to the tune of 46 Nm.
As with the Sinnis, the Benelli can handle a full three-piece luggage set up giving you a machine that can cope with touring distances whilst carting all your gear in comfort.
And the good news continues with the goodies, too.
The TRK 502 comes with an illuminated switchgear, ABS, a six-speed gearbox, a tall touring screen, and a 20-litre tank. With an average fuel consumption of 60mpg, you can expect to get around 280 (theoretical) miles to the tank.
In the real world, though, I’d expect more like 225-250.
That said, it’s a bit of a chubber, tipping the scales at around 213kg. Although the weight doesn’t necessarily detract from the quality of the ride.
All-in-all, the Benelli TRK 502 feels torquey, planted, and comfortable to ride all day. The additional creature comforts add to the experience, and it’s an overall package that provides great value for money.
|Tank Size||20 L|
|Seat Height||800 mm|
BMW G 310 GS
If you’re a fan of those blue and white Bavarian propellors that aren’t present on the Zontes 310 above, then maybe the BMW G 310 GS is the one for you.
At 168kg, it’s an easy bike to ride – so that’s half the battle won. And whilst nowhere near as spacious as its 1250cc big brother, it still has a comfortable riding position and plenty of room.
The buttons and controls are predictable and familiar – which makes it an easy bike to live with.
In true adventure style, the bars on the BMW G 310 GS are wide which makes it a doddle to countersteer into the twisties. And whilst the 313cc engine only pumps out 33.5 bhp, it feels way spicier than the specs would suggest.
Yes, the suspension is a little soft which means there are better bikes out there if you want more off-road touring.
But if you don’t plan on straying too far from the tarmac, the soft suspension ensures a comfortable ride.
It’s still good value, too, with a showroom price of £5,320. There are cheaper bikes on this list that have bigger engines and more power. But if you want a foot up on the BMW ladder without paying those heart-stopping BMW prices, the G 310 GS is a good shout.
|Tank Size||11 L|
|Seat Height||820-850 mm|
I’ve harped on about the Honda CB500X numerous times over the years. And for good reason.
First introduced in 2013 (alongside the CBR500R and CB500F), the CB500X is Honda’s nod towards an adventure-style twin that is lightweight and usable in the real world.
In true Honda style, it’s well-built and practical. Also in true Honda style, it doesn’t produce mind-blowing performance, either.
It just works.
The Honda CB500X does exactly what it’s supposed to do – and it does it incredibly well.
Lightweight. Economical. Versatile. Well-built. Excellent value.
In 2019, further updates saw longer suspension and a bigger 19” front wheel. So if you’re a taller rider, you should find the newer models more comfortable for all-day touring.
Whichever model you buy, the CB500X isn’t going to blow your socks off. But it will do everything you ask of it, exactly when you ask it.
Eight years after its release, it’s still an easy-to-ride all-rounder that is just as friendly on the rider as it is on the wallet.
It’ll do some light off-roading, too. I wouldn’t stray too far, mind! If you want something with a little more poise on the TET, perhaps the CRF300Rally below would suit you better.
|Tank Size||17.7 L|
|Seat Height||830 mm|
Honda CRF300 Rally
I decided to include this bike as a more off-road-specific alternative to the CB500X above. If you plan on a tarmac-based tour, take the CB500X.
If you want an off-road tour, take this CRF300 Rally.
The more recent 300 saw a welcome increase in power over its notoriously under-powered predecessor, the CRF250 (up from 23 to 27 bhp.)
And the Rally version gives you a few extra litres in the tank too – 10.1 litres compared to the 7.7-litre tank present on the L model.
It also has a tall touring screen and a touch more leg room over the L model, making it better for touring in general.
If you want a genuine all-rounder, you can’t go wrong with the stylish CRF 300 Rally from Honda.
It’s great around town, economical, is better for touring than the L model and can outperform any of the above bikes off-road.
|Tank Size||12.8 L|
|Seat Height||885 mm|
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Top image via BMW