When Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor rode around the world in 2004 on BMW R 1150 GS Adventure bikes we saw how difficult the bigger bikes were in tough terrain.
Since then, BMW has gone to an R 1200 GS and now an even bigger R 1250 GS.
Meanwhile, Ducati from a Multistrada 1200 to 1260 and KTM Super Adventure from 1190 to 1290.
Now Harley-Davidson is promising a 1250cc Pan America adventure bike in the next couple of years.
Do we really need bigger and more powerful adventure bikes?
Sure, the new bikes come with a host of electronics that make them easier to ride in tough terrain.
But even a Harley-Davidson cruiser in the right hands can do some adventure work.
Just check out this video where a BMW R 1200 GS has a hard time keeping up with a female cruiser rider!
But does that mean we should be buying bigger bikes to go adventure riding?
Is bigger better?
No doubt Charley and Ewan played a big part in the popularity of BMW’s 1200cc GS models and the advent of similar-sized models from Ducati, KTM, Yamaha, Triumph and Moto Guzzi.
Most are a tour de force of electronic wizardry that allow riders to adventure further and further off piste.
But if there is one thing any off-road rider will tell you is that they expect to crash.
That’s fine on a small bike, but on a tall and heavy behemoth like this new crop of adventure bikes, even a small crash can have big consequences.
Even if your bike survive the crash, you may not. And there may still be a 230kg+ bike to wrestle back to its vertical position.
But in recent years, adventure riders and adventure bikes are downsizing.
The slightly smaller 998cc Honda Africa Twin quickly became a top-selling adventure bike in Australia. Honda is also rumoured to be making a smaller version.
And Moto Guzzi is replacing its 1150cc Stelvio next year with an 853cc V85 TT.
The new generation of scramblers are now adding more off-road oriented versions to appeal to those wishing to downsize from behemoth adventurers.
There is also now a baby adventure sector for novice adventurers. The include the Kawasaki Versys-X 300, BMW G 310 GS, 400cc Royal Enfield Himalayan, Honda CB500X, Honda 190cc Night Hawk and Suzuki “Baby-Strom” DL250.
While we don’t expect riders to head off into the single trails on their Harleys, we should be seeing more smaller adventure bikes in the outback.