Best Sub-1,000cc Adventure Motorcycles | Visordown


The middleweight adventure bike class looks filled to bursting point by the end of 2023, with recent additions including the Honda XL750 Transalp, Ducati DesertX and Suzuki V-Strom 800 DE mixing with refreshed versions of more familiar bikes. 

Motivated by the arrival of the lightweight but tough Yamaha Tenere 700, rival firms have been studying the sub-1000cc mid-ADV segment closely for some time, and now they’ve come to play in the mud too.

Indeed, you’re spoiled for choice right now, with everything from the premium Ducati DesertX to the value-oriented CFMoto 800MT, and even to the pioneering all-electric Zero DSR/X entering the pool.

But which get the Visordown seal of approval? Check out our Top 10 Mid-size Adventure Motorcycles of 2023 [up to 1000cc]

10 – CFMoto 800MT Touring

Price Engine BHP Torque Weight Seat H’t Fuel C’p.
£9,199 799cc 90bhp 55lb ft @8000rpm 231kg 825mm 19 L

If the Chinese are indeed coming, then it is CFMoto leading the way as it continues to prove motorcycles from our friends in the East are increasingly competitive options.

The latest example of this is the CFMoto 800MT, a motorcycle that is new for the brand but otherwise very familiar as a reimagined version of the recently revived KTM 790 Adventure.

Not that this is simply a hand-me-down model, though. For a start, we reckon CFMoto has restyled it into a more attractive proposition and, while the 800MT isn’t perhaps the last word in refinement on the road, it does at least benefit from its Austrian donor’s impressive off-road capabilities.

As a buying prospect, though, the 800MT really stands out with this flagship Touring trim offering a heap of kit, plus a class-leading four-year warranty for just over £11k. Additionally, there is the CFMoto 800MT Explorer, which adds spoked wheels, revised traction control, RDS rear radar and an MMI display. They even throw in the pannier cases as standard. 

In short, the 800MT makes a very strong case for itself. Literally (it comes with strong cases).

9 – Zero DSR/X

Price Engine BHP Torque Weight Seat H’t Range
£20,950 17.3kWh 100bhp 169lb ft 247kg 828mm 107 miles

First, we had the Energica Experia, the first proper attempt at a large electric sports tourer, and now we have the Zero DSR/X, an electric adventure motorcycle out to prove you don’t need oily bits to get your boots dirty.

While the American company knows its way around the wilderness, having launched a range of motocross and enduro bikes over the years, the DSR/X is both Zero’s and the segment’s first crack at a premium mid-to-large-size adventure motorcycle that drinks from a plug in the wall.

Kudos to Zero for being the first to take on such a challenge. The firm can pat itself on the back for an encouraging first effort that goes a long way to dispelling myths that linear, transmission-less, electric power is inferior to its ICE-equipped rivals thanks to its superior responsiveness making it fun on the road and eager off it.

On the flip side, it’s not terribly interesting to look at, it’s a tad heavier than its main rivals and – perhaps most significantly – at a whopping £20,950 it’s more expensive than a Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally. 

Visordown Review | Zero DSR/X [2023]

8 – Husqvarna Norden 901

Price Engine BHP Torque Weight Seat H’t Fuel C’p.
£12,899 889cc 103bhp 74lb ft @6500rpm 219kg 854mm 19 L

Fittingly, the aforementioned CFMoto 800MT comes hot on the heels of another manufacturer pushing into the lucrative adventure market with its own KTM-based creation.

This is the Husqvarna Norden 901, the Tesco Finest to CFMoto’s Tesco Value… it makes use of the KTM 890 platform but dresses it in a signature style that marries both premium and rugged aspirations. 

Whether ‘Huskie’ has been successful in this objective we’ll leave up to you, but it’s a similar story on the road, or on the trail for that matter, with the Norden 901 attempting to prove it’s a rough’em, tough’em adventure bike while being a compliant, refined tourer, yet not quite hitting the mark at either.

It’s feedback that appears to have spurred the Swedish firm to up its game with the launch of a new flagship variant, the altogether more rugged Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition [pictured above]. 

Boasting chunky skid plates, a more palatable navy colourway, heated grips, a centre stand, 18-litre side bags and an upgrade to its trick WP Apex suspension, the Expedition wades in with a modest £900 premium over the standard model.

Visordown Review | Husqvarna Norden 901 [2022]

7 – Aprilia Tuareg 660

Price from Engine Power Torque Weight Seat Height Fuel Cap
£10,600 659cc 79bhp  52lb ft @6500rpm 204kg 860mm 18 L

Aprilia has waded back into the adventure segment with the third model to spin-off from its new 660 platform after the RS sportsbike and Tuono naked.

With its boxy, upright appearance very clearly inspired by those rally-raiders we gaze back at so fondly, this – the Aprilia Tuareg 660 – is quite a departure from the slinky lines of its siblings.

It’s quite a different proposition under the skin too, with the revvy, eagerness of the 659cc parallel twin engine being toned down for the Tuareg in favour of gruntier, low-down torque. 

Even so, with 79bhp on tap there is still evidence of Aprilia’s sporting DNA out on the road, and weighing in at 187kg, the Tuareg is lighter than its rivals, too.

On the flip side, compared with the Tenere 700, it is easy to tell it prioritises on-road use over going to extremes off it.

Visordown Review | Aprilia Tuareg 660 [2022]

6 – KTM 890 Adventure

Price from Engine Power Torque Weight Seat H’t Fuel C’p
£11,999 889cc 103bhp 74lb ft @8500rpm 210kg 830mm 20 L

If you put ‘conquers mountains, breaks rocks and never backs down from a challenge’ at the top of your motorcycle wishlist, then the KTM 890 Adventure is the motorcycle for you.

With all of its off-roading experience and know-how distilled into the middle child of KTM’s Adventure line-up, the 890 Adventure and the hardcore Adventure R are the Bear Grylls of motorcycles.

The 2023 update to the 890 Adventure smooths off some of the rougher edges and features new styling plus internal and electronic updates, and it is shaping up to be a bit of a weapon. Further, 2023 saw the KTM 790 Adventure return to the range, coming in with similarly good looks and comparable capabilities to the 890, but from an even more considerable price of £10,499.

Visordown Review | KTM 890 Adventure [2021]

5 – Triumph Tiger 900 Rally

Price from Engine Power Torque Weight Seat H’t Fuel C’p
£12,195 889cc 106bhp 66lb ft @6850rpm 219kg 820-840mm 20 L

The Triumph Tiger 900 Rally was so capable off-road, it was even the motorcycle of choice among baddies in the James Bond flick No Time To Die.

Fortunately, you don’t need to work for an international criminal to enjoy what the new and updated Tiger 900 has to offer. In fact, far from it being ‘baddie’, it’s actually rather good.

On paper, the Tiger 900 update for 2024 looks fairly low-key. But it doesn’t take long to start to feel the extra low and mid-range grunt over the old model, and it’s hard to complain about that. 

It’s also much smoother than the previous generation, and it’s hard to believe that all of that smoothing out has been achieved by only the addition of rubber-damped bars. The vibes through the bars, and the bike in general, have been reduced massively, and that aforementioned power upgrade also comes with what Triumph is claiming as a nine per cent improvement in fuel economy.

Also, if the GT and GT Pro models aren’t quite cutting it for you when it comes to the loose stuff, there’s always the Rally Pro, with longer-travel, fully adjustable suspension from Showa at both ends. You’ll have a reach a bit further into the back pocket for the Rally Pro, though, at £14,495.

Visordown Review | Triumph Tiger 900 [2024]

4 – Suzuki V-Strom 800DE

Price from Engine Power Torque Weight Seat Height Fuel Cap
£10,499 776cc 84bhp 58lb ft @7250rpm 230kg 860mm 20 L

Diving straight into the new metal, the Suzuki V-Strom 800DE burst onto the scene at the beginning of 2023, boasting an all-new engine and chassis platform for the V-Strom range. With heavily re-worked styling compared to the previous V-Strom 650XT, the new 800DE offers riders a fresh-looking take on mid-weight Suzuki adventure touring.

And it isn’t just a new look, engine, and chassis – the new ‘Strom also gains a host of electronic upgrades over the previous 650, with a V-Strom 1050-derived TFT, full riding modes, adjustable traction control, and an off-road specific Gravel mode.

With prices starting from £10,499, the new 800 DE has been worth the extended wait with the new twin proving brisk and refined, while Suzuki put some thought into its most off-road-capable V-Strom yet. 

Unlikely to do much off-roading? You might prefer the more asphalt-oriented Suzuki V-Strom 800 RE.

Visordown Review | Suzuki V-Strom 800DE [2023]

3 – Ducati DesertX

Price from Engine Power Torque Weight Seat Height Fuel Cap
£14,995 937cc 110bhp 68lb ft @6800rpm 223kg 875mm 21 L

Considering the segment’s popularity and the success of its increasingly off-road-inclined Multistrada range, it is surprising it took until 2022 for Ducati to join the adventure mud fight.

So is the Ducati DesertX better late than never… without a doubt. Indeed, Ducati – being Ducati – has taken its proper adventure debut very seriously, going to the lengths of developing an all-new chassis and frame around the well-proven 937cc Testastretta twin.

Far from betraying its novice status in the rough stuff, the DesertX is a convincing first stab at a trail bike, while it is packed to the brim with riding modes for every occasion.

Naturally, Ducati hasn’t abandoned its sporting DNA on the road either with the 110bhp engine feeling frisky, while the DesertX handles with eagerness. We also love the simple, modern-retro design that pays homage to the Ducati-engined, Dakar Rally-winning Cagiva Elefant.

So why doesn’t it win here? Well, it is arguably a better motorcycle in isolation than our winner… but at £14,995, the DesertX commands a hefty premium over similar engined rivals. 

Nevertheless, if you’re willing to pay extra, you won’t be disappointed.

Visordown REVIEW | Ducati DesertX [2023]

2 – Honda XL750 Transalp

Price Engine BHP Torque Weight Seat H’t Fuel C’p
£9,499 755cc 91bhp 55lb ft @7250rpm 208kg 850mm 17 L

Honda returned to the mid-capacity ADV category with the Honda XL750 Transalp in 2023. It is a model that both propels the Japanese giant into the future while harnessing the good names of its past.

Following the trend set by the Honda CB750 Hornet, with which it shares its underpinnings, Honda’s new mud-slinger revives the fondly regarded Transalp moniker, but gives it a new lease of life with a motorcycle that – bravely – forges its own path.

It’s reasonable to assume Honda has crunched the numbers on a model of this ilk and it seems the results show buyers are seeking a road-oriented, excellent value, well-appointed and built motorcycle… because that is exactly what the XL750 Transalp is. 

The asphalt-biassed set-up makes the XL750 Transalp noticeably more involving to ride on the smooth stuff, while the frisky new 755cc twin-cylinder engine punches above its size with a competitive 91bhp. As with all Hondas, fit and finish are second to none, it’s brimming with simple but clever gadgetry, and it’s both comfortable and practical. We even think it’s handsome, if understated.

So why doesn’t it swoop into number one? Well, it actually will for a lot of you reading this because, if you’re not fussed about getting your boots muddy, then the XL750 Transalp is the superior choice. But if you are, then its on-road gains are off-road pains. 

The good news is that that keeps prices down with the Transalp starting at a very competitive £9,499. But in a category literally named ‘adventure’, it has to settle for the runners-up spot.

Visordown REVIEW | Honda XL750 Transalp [2023]

 

1 – Yamaha Tenere 700

Price from Engine Power Torque Weight Seat Height Fuel Cap
£10,100 689cc 72bhp 68Nm @6500rpm 205kg 875mm 16 L

They came for the throne, but the King is still sitting pretty.

Yes, the Yamaha Tenere 700 – now available in six distinct flavours – fends off its rivals for another stint as Visordown’s favourite adventure motorcycle.

There is a lot to like about the Tenere 700, which focuses on doing the basics very well. It’s an excellent companion off-road, proving chuckable and easy to handle, while it gives the KTM 890 Adventure a run for its money in the rough stuff.

It’s a peppy performer on the road, too, with the 689cc crossplane two-cylinder engine feeling brisker than its modest 72bhp might have you believe on paper.

Better still, having been criticised for its limiting 16-litre fuel tank in standard trim, Yamaha has not only listened to its customers, it went to lengths with its response of the Yamaha Tenere 700 World Raid, which comes with a vast 23-litre fuel tank, more sophisticated suspension and multi-functional GPS tech.

If that’s not enough, the Dakar Rally-inspired Yamaha Tenere 700 Rally Edition [pictured above] is targeted at more serious off-road riders with its alloy skid plate, radiator protectors, re-designed seat and torque-aiding Akrapovic slip-on, while the Yamaha Tenere 700 Explore Edition leans into Tracer category with its longer range and luggage kit.

Then there is the Yamaha Tenere 700 Extreme Edition, a stripped-down enduro-style variant that appears to be the lovechild of the Tenere 700 and the YZ450F. 

There are certainly more desirable and cutting-edge options out there but with prices starting at just over £10,000 going up to £13,000 for the bells-and-whistles World Rally, the Yamaha Tenere 700 is the best at a bargain.

Visordown REVIEW | Yamaha Tenere 700 World Raid [2023]

* prices correct at the time of publication [December 2023]

Mid-size Adventure Motorcycles [up to 1000cc] – Key Specifications & Technical Details Comparison

  Price Engine Power Torque Weight Seat Height Fuel Cap
10 CFMoto 800MT Touring £9,199 799cc 90bhp 55lb ft @8000rpm 231kg 825mm 19 L
9 Zero DSR/X £20,950 17.3kWh 100bhp 169lb ft 247kg 828mm N/A
8 Husqvarna 901 Norden £12,899 889cc 103bhp 74lb ft @6500rpm 219kg 854mm 19 L
7 Aprilia Tuareg 660 £10,600 659cc 79bhp 52lb ft @8500rpm 200kg 860mm 18 L
6 KTM 890 Adventure £11,999 889cc 103bhp 74lb ft @6500rpm 210kg 830mm 20 L
5 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally £12,195 888cc 106bhp 66lb ft @6850rpm 210kg 860mm 20 L
4 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE £10,499 776cc 84bhp 58lb ft @6800rpm 230kg 855mm 20 L
3 Ducati DesertX £14,995 937cc 110bhp 68lb ft @6500rpm 223kg 875mm 21 L
2 Honda XL750 Transalp £9,699 755cc 91bhp 55lb ft @7250rpm 208kg 850mm 17 L
1 Yamaha Tenere 700 £10,110 689cc 72bhp 50lb ft @6500rpm 205kg 875mm 16 L



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