Affordable Adventure Bikes Under £5,000
The surge in adventure bike sales over the past few years has produced a very happy byproduct – the availability of adventure bikes under £5,000. We take a look at the pick of the crop.
Adventure bikes are hugely popular in the British market right now, and that doesn’t look likely to change any time soon. The key to their popularity is surely in their enormous versatility. They can commute, tour or – as the name suggests – go adventuring on the green lanes. We’ve even seen them used on track days. On top of that, they deal with the changeable British weather very well indeed.
One of the few downsides to these bikes is the price. Most of these top-spec motorcycles have a lot of technology put into them and this is often reflected in the cost, with popular models like BMW’s R 125O GS starting at £13,415 new.
I recently wrote a blog addressing this, looking at great brand new options for under £10k (check that out here). However, this time we’re going to try and get that down even further by looking at used models.
Looking out for bargains on the used market has never been easier thanks to tools like eBay and Auto Trader available on the internet. However, don’t underestimate the benefits of simply going to local dealerships the old fashioned way and seeing what they have on offer, too. Dealers will often unload non-franchise bikes at a discount to keep their stock lists on-brand.
Of course, it’s worth being aware that finding the perfect bike for your budget will depend on your location and how long you’re willing to wait for the right bike to come along.
With all that said, here are seven top adventure bikes that can be found for less than five grand!
BMW R 1200 GS (2013-2016)
The R1200 GS is BMW’s best-selling bike and has been one of the UK’s top sellers for years, and for good reason, too. It is an excellent all-rounder, probably the best there is. As mentioned earlier, the modern iteration has a hefty price tag, but you can find some earlier models that are still in excellent condition available at around the £5,000 mark.
It may take some searching and a bit of patience, but it is definitely possible to get a used 2013 R1200 GS in this price range. The 2013 model had improvements made in almost every area and will still hold up among most modern bikes in terms of its performance, quality and features. Preload adjustable suspension, Brembo brakes, heated grips and cruise control were all updated for this model, and the 125bhp engine will even give sport bikes a run for their money.
BMW R 1200 GS (2010 – 2013)
If you find the 2013 model is too elusive in your area, you may have an easier time finding the previous version from 2010. Nearly ten years old now, this still represents the first truly modern 1200 GS whose versatility opened the world’s eyes to the advantages and conveniences adventure bikes could offer.
While slightly slower than its newer counterparts, at 110bhp it’s no slouch either and it will soak up the miles on tour with comfort and ease. Another big advantage of buying used is that many of these bikes will have been up-specced with the full host of optional extras offered by BMW. I’ve seen these 2010 models fully-loaded with gadgets including panniers, top box and crash guards still come in at five grand.
Triumph Tiger 800 XC (2010-2014)
Triumph has long been considered “king of the middleweights” with their fantastic triple engines, and here – in their iconic Tiger model – we see the bike in adventure form. You can find one of these on the used market relatively easily for less than £5,000, and it will provide everything you could want in an adventure bike.
The 94 bhp Triumph Tiger 800 XC has been developed with adventuring in mind, from its extended forks and elevated bars to the huge 21″ front wheel. It’s a bike ready to tear up the green lanes, but the smooth acceleration and excellent handling ensure it rides like a treat on the roads, as well.
Honda Africa Twin XRV750 (1992 – 2003)
The Africa Twin rose to fame in the 80s with multiple Dakar Rally wins and has become a bit of a cult favourite in modern times. You can also find one of the 90s versions fairly easily for around the £4,000 mark. The fact so many are still around and going strong in terms of second-hand sales speaks to Honda’s legendary reliability and build quality.
The 90s version features an onboard computer – a pretty wild inclusion for a 30-year-old bike – but lacks some of the other modern gadgetry you find on modern adventure bikes. With a 742cc V-twin and a max 61bhp, it’s also a lot lower on power than the contemporary players. However, what it lacks in refinement it makes up for in pure character. The retro aesthetics are timeless and its off-road prowess is well documented. A real classic!
KTM 990 Adventure (2003-2012)
Being a full-fledged adventure bike with a Super Duke engine inside, the KTM 990 Adventure is a unique machine (doubly so at the time of its release)!
The KTM’s 942cc engine with 97bhp output may be a little smaller on paper than its GS rival. However, the bike is a full 20 kilos lighter, ensuring high performance on the road. Additionally, the 21″ front wheel, switchable ABS and adjustable suspension are all nice features for a bike made in the late 2000s, helping solidify this bike’s powerful off-road capabilities.
The looks might have people divided nowadays. On the other hand, I don’t think there’s another bike quite like it, and I love its boxy retro style hailing from a time before retro was cool.
You can find one of these 2006-2008 models at around the £3,000 to £4,000 mark. At just over ten years old, they’re usually still in great shape.
BMW G 310 GS (2017 – on)
Perhaps you have an A2 licence, or you don’t fancy lugging about a 220-kilo machine, or you would rather look for a bike a bit newer and still under warranty. Well, this bike ticks all those boxes.
It’s worth noting that, even when brand new, the BMW G 310 GS only just makes it over the £5k mark. That means you can find one less than a year old for under £4,000!
The G 310 GS has the classic GS adventure looks but comes in a smaller package, weighing in at just 168kg. Fully A2 compliant, the 310 GS won’t offer the same performance as other bikes on the list, but it is still a more than capable commuter and tourer with some basic off-road functionality as well. It may struggle to deal with more heavy going terrain, but it makes for a great budget introduction to the adventure market.
Ducati Scrambler (2015 – on)
This is our ‘mystery house’ option for the daytime TV viewers among you.
Ducati’s Scrambler has been a huge hit, leading the charge on this current retro revival craze since its introduction in 2015. The good news is that those 2015 models are still in plentiful supply on the second-hand market and can be picked up for less than £5,000.
The Scrambler is based on the off-road bikes of the 60s and 70s. As such, they are a great choice for anyone who loves these modern-meets-retro machines and is looking for something with some added versatility. The Ducati excels at cruising about town and commuting, but it can also adventure confidently off the beaten track, which is why it gets a ranking here.
It doesn’t offer quite the performance of the bigger bikes on this list, but the Scrambler’s milder, more muted character is an excellent option for less experienced full-licence holders. The fact it is only a handful of years old also means you can easily find these in great condition.
Having worked in the Motorcycle Insurance industry for many years, Roger went on to gain his full motorcycle licence in 2015 and currently rides a Kawasaki ZX-6R. Roger now focuses his motorcycle passion on creating motorcycle articles for Lexham.
This article was produced in association with Lexham Insurance.