The Indian motorcycle market has seen significant changes over the years, with demand for different types of motorcycles. One market that has grown over the last year or two and is set to grow quickly is the dual-sport motorcycle category - bikes that can perform on the road as well as when the road ends.
KTM, Hero as well as Benelli are set to launch dual-sport motorcycles soon to capitalise on this ever growing market.
Here, we take a look at 6 bikes that you should buy if you want to go off-roading
1. Royal Enfield Himalayan
The cheapest and easiest way to go off-roading in India is on the Royal Enfield’s Himalayan (Rs. 1,78,833, ex-showroom Mumbai). The Himalayan was a groundbreaking product for the Indian manufacturer as the company moved away from making cruisers to one that can do the duty very well off the road.
Royal Enfields have been traversing the difficult terrains of India for decades but the Himalayan is a purpose-built vehicle which needs few or no modifications to go across the toughest that nature can throw at you.
The bike has Royal Enfield’s all-new 411cc engine which produces just 24.5bhp but ample torque to get you around easily. The bike on/off-road tyres, a long travel front suspension and a monoshock rear suspension to soften your ride and also go over tough obstacles, and several places to mount your luggage racks and bags are some of the features of this bike.
At 182 kgs, the bike can be thrown around easily, while ABS ensures that braking is stable. The simple speedometer console also comes with a digital compass, if you ever get lost!
2. Kawasaki Versys X-300
The cheapest twin-cylinder off-road motorcycle on sale in India (Rs. 4,69,000, ex-showroom Mumbai), the Versys X-300’s underpinnings are similar to Kawasaki’s Ninja 300 bike. The Versys X-300 makes 38.5bhp of power and 27Nm of torque, the latter which is lesser than the Himalayan, which may be an issue in inclines or to get over rocks and tough surfaces.
The X-300 has a long travel suspension in the front and monoshock rear suspension, as well as a tall visor and hand guards to keep muck and stones away from you.
The refined engine and gearbox combination will make it a good companion on long journeys on the road as well.
3. Kawasaki Versys 650
If the Versys X-300 lacks power and performance, you could try out the bigger and much more powerful Versys 650 (Rs. 6,69,000, ex-showroom Mumbai). The Versys 650, like the X-300, is based on the Ninja, with the bigger Versys based on the Ninja 650.
One of the best handling bikes in its price range, the Versys 650 likes the tarmac but can do basic off-road duties as well. The 650 is equipped with road tyres rather than on/off road tyres, which restricts its off-road capabilities.
The smooth revving 650cc engine makes 67.45 bhp of power and 64 Nm of torque, which propels the bike quickly. The 650 also has a tall windscreen, but Kawasaki haven’t provided options to mount your luggage.
4. BMW G310 GS
The newest entrant in the dual-sport category is the BMW G310 GS (Rs. 3,49,000, ex-showroom Mumbai) which is based on the BMW G310 R. The GS shares the same engine and suspension, the GS has an upright riding posture, a beak fender in the front, a windscreen, tank extensions, as well as option to mount a topbox at the rear of the bike.
The G310 GS, like the G310 R, has a 313cc engine which makes 33 bhp and 28 Nm of torque, and offers great refinement. At 170 kg, the GS is a light bike which can be thrown around and get out of difficult situations with ease while the suspension and chassis offers great dynamics on and off the road.
With great fit and finish and BMW’s famed build quality, you can’t go wrong with the GS.
5. BMW F850
The G310 GS is the newest and cheapest GS variant that is on offer by BMW. If you’re looking for a dual-sport BMW bike with more power, BMW offers quite a few options! BMW currently sells the F850 (Rs. 13,70,000) and the F1200 GS (Rs. 15,70,000) in India - two bikes with different power outputs but one goal - go anywhere!
The F850 has an 850cc engine that makes 93 bhp of power and 92 Nm of torque which should get you across the harshest of terrains. If the power of the BMW engine doesn’t, the technology on offer will. The F850 has five different riding modes to suit the terrain that you’re riding in, and also has ABS and traction control.
The BMW looks the part too - tall windscreen, hand guards, spoke wheels, 21 inch front tyre, which makes it one of the most capable on/off road machines that money can buy.
6. Honda Africa Twin
The Honda Africa Twin name has a rich heritage and rallying pedigree, with the original Africa Twin winning the Dakar rally multiple times in the 80s. The latest Africa Twin (Rs. 13,30,997), launched first in 2015, is a motorbike goes one better than the original, offering great ride on and off the tarmac.
The Twin has a 1000cc twin cylinder engine which makes 86.04 bhp and 93.1 Nm of torque, and is mated to a unique dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The Africa Twin has a tall front end with a huge windscreen and LED lights, and a very practical design. The bike is equipped with ABS, traction control and has riding modes for various terrain. The bike’s display shows various functions which can be toggled on the handlebar.