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 the female 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.