Like the tides, motorcycle model “platforms”—their basic engineering architecture—ebb and flow…or rather, flow and ebb. At launch they’re atop the world, often supported by global marketing or factory racing initiatives and bought by trendy early adopters. That’s the advancing tide, so to speak, of a product’s life span. Then come the peak sales years, upgrades, and improvements, which are akin to high tide. And finally, inevitably and irreversibly, the product becomes outmoded and updates, tweaks, and BNG (bold new graphics) can no longer keep it competitive. You guessed it: That’s low tide. And it’s also where shrewd buyers swoop in, like plovers racing to grab tasty sand crabs exposed by the falling tide.
But which model year to grab? Logically, by the last year of any platform, the kinks are worked out and the product is refined to the best extent possible before the next platform is released—whereupon value sadly plummets. This is tough for the owners of those bikes, but it’s great for buyers. According to this strategy, here is our “Such a Deal!” look at outmoded used (or to use the PC vernacular, “pre-owned”) adventure bikes. Prices shown are courtesy of the online NADA guide, as noted.
2012 BMW R1200GS
BMW invented the “modern” ADV segment in 1980 with the original R80GS, before the globe-trotting boxer began its upward march in displacement to R100GS and R1100GS levels. Next up, the R1200GS represents the last evolution of air-cooled BMW ADVs before the liquid-cooled R1250GS debuted for 2013. If you’re bargain hunting, focus your quest on the R1200GS and leave the “Adventure” model to the purists—they’ll attract a premium on the used market at collectibles.
2017 Ducati Multistrada 1200
With a Multistrada V4 simmering in Ducati’s own hell’s kitchen, it won’t be long before the long-running V-twin models have potent company. And this bodes well for bargain buyers looking for some Italian adventure-touring glam. The “Multi” first revved up in 992cc form for 2003, then expanded to 1,198cc for 2010, and then 1,262cc for 2018. As such, look for a 2017 Multistrada 1200 and enjoy truly high-tech at a used-bike price.
2003 Honda Africa Twin
Honoring the original Paris-Dakar rally that finished in western Africa from the 1970s to early 2000s, the V-twin Africa Twin has grown from its original 650cc XRV650 form to 750cc XRV750T, and then to the current literbike, the CRF1000L. Following our logic to grab the last of the previous generation bikes, the 2003 XRV750T commands attention with its rally styling with dual headlights, a huge skid plate, and fork and brake guards.
2016 KTM 1190 Adventure
KTM has been at the V-twin ADV game since 2003, when the original 950 Adventure debuted. A Dakar-style bike for good reason, it followed the Austrian company’s first win in the world-famous race. In rapid-fire order, various 990, 1090, 1190, and 1290 Adventure, Adventure R, and Super Adventure models followed. The 2017 1090 Adventure R was stellar, winning Cycle World’s Best Adventure Bike honors. For a deal though, train your scope on a 2016 1190 Adventure.
2016 Suzuki V-Strom 650
Following the debut of the big V-Strom 1000 by two years, the V-Strom 650 quickly gained a loyal following due to its lower price point, lighter weight and nimbler handling, lower insurance costs, and better fuel economy. For a lot of riders—including Iron Butt types—it actually became the bike of choice for commuting, touring, and vagabonding. An improved second-gen V-Strom 650 dropped for 2012 and then sunsetted in 2016, making way for the current V-Strom 650 XT. Grab a 2016 model for a song.
2017 Triumph Tiger Explorer XC
The Tiger nameplate has enjoyed a long run at Triumph—more than 80 years. But most recently, the nomenclature defines the company’s ADV bikes, including the impressive three-cylinder Tiger Explorer XR and XC. Three “generations” define this nameplate: 1) 2011–’15; 2) 2016–’17; and 3) 2018–present. The changes are evolutionary rather than revolutionary. In our humble opinion, explore your way to a 2017 Explorer XC, which features off-pavement features such as spoked wheels.
2013 Yamaha Super Ténéré
A mere 30 years (!) after BMW launched its R80GS globe-trotter, Yamaha finally followed with a big ADV of its own, the Super Ténéré. Featuring an 1,199cc parallel twin instead of a boxer or V-twin layout made it unique, and at 575 pounds it was likewise a bit chunky for dirt work—named though it was for a region of the Sahara. The original Super Ténéré came to America as a 2012 model, and the Super Ténéré ES with electrically adjustable suspension followed for 2014. And so, for a “best deal,” look for a 2013 Super Ténéré—the last year before the upscale ES version arrived.