Then you found yourself with a desire for an adventure, you have your motorcycle in the garage but for some reason, you think it wasn’t built for the job. When we first started to form Ecuador Bike Rental’s fleet, we wanted to do our best to accommodate the different needs of potential clients. That included the test drive, comprehensive research and lots and lots of reading to see what could benefit riders that are passing by in Ecuador and would like to rent a specific motorcycle for touring around. Needless to say that every person is different, not only in sizes and shapes, strength, gender, and peculiar habits but also their touring circumstances are different. For some its a Han-Solo job, for others the means to share the adventure with their significant others and be more involved as a couple, different ideas on luggage and riding gear, etc. The point is, that based on our research and what usually works for people, we’ve decided to divide this list into 3 categories: small motorcycles, mid-size and the big ones. Also, bear in mind that there are different definitions for this particular kind of motorcycles, such as dual, adventure, and touring. In a nutshell, a dual motorcycle is as Wikipedia states: “A dual-sport motorcycle is a type of street-legal motorcycle that is designed for both on and off-road use.” And yes, it’s basically that. You are riding along with the asphalt and suddenly is in your best’s adventure interests to jump onto the side dirt road 5 meters ahead aware that its suspension, tires, and frame are able to cope with the sudden change. An adventure motorcycle, as defined by many, is a kind of an added marketing name for a wide range of bikes that goes from upright touring asphalt-purposed to dual / Enduro categories, from alloy to wire/spoke rims, tall seat foot controls in middle positions and wide handlebars. And on the other hand, we have touring motorcycles, which are bikes designed to hit the open road, mainly on asphalt. They have big engines as they are meant to cover large distances with luggage and often two riders.
Small size motorcycles
These bikes used very often on off-roads, usually with no passenger and only the essentials to be carried. Its lightweight comes from engines that top around the 400cc, fewer accessories, and light but resistant body structure. There are many stories about people riding around the world with these bikes and also many rental companies on the planet use them as part of their fleet. Here we mention a few good models that have been battled tested by us and our clients. They are cheap to rent and cheap to fix.
Royal Enfield Himalaya
We thought of this motorcycle because hey, they use it in hardcore tours in the Himalayas. It has a 400cc engine based on a carburetor that is extremely easy to fix. Its position is comfortable, it has a lot of parts that can be fitted or adapted in case of an emergency from other bikes until you arrive at your destination and its power around the Andes needless to say, has been proven more than enough. It comes from the factory with some safety features like skid plates, hand guards and a windshield high enough to cover up to the chin guard in your helmet. The ergonomics on this bike are simply well designed. Placed with the right saddlebag mounts, you can carry two 35 lt soft luggage on each side, plus a 40 lt duffel on top. Is so easy to ride it, that I taught my girlfriend to ride on this one. Its the perfect tool for beginners and experienced adventurers alike.
A semi Enduro motorcycle ready to be taken off-road. This one came to replace in the market the hard-to-kill Honda Tornado, with better features like fuel injection system, an electronic dashboard, and a pretty friendly fresh look. Its 27 HP and 28 Nm in torque have been enough to see customers taking off for more than 20 days fully loaded and come back more than happy. Once set with proper damage mitigators like skid plates and handguards the bike has all it needs to throw the worse at it worry-free. No need to mention how maneuverable this motorcycle can be while touring around the city
With a strong off-road focus, the XT250 has been proven also worth its reputation. Despite its road-oriented bias, is the perfect companion for light trails during the weekend and urban traffic. It has what you need to enjoy your time on the bike and is pretty easy to work upon problems it might present.
In this category fall most of the dual-sport models, not a firm rule, but their engine ranges go from anywhere high 400cc to close to 800cc. Depending on the make and model, these bikes are the perfect companion for any adventure as they are the most common in any region for spare parts, they are easy to repair and any motorcycle touring magazine will give you more than one recommendation to look into these for a long term adventure. The ones that make the grade for sure are:
It has what you need, period. Simple to fix, to maintain, to be loved. This motorcycle is the one we use to open routes with, to throw ourselves into the unknown. To know for sure we’ll come out flawless after going into rocky paths, or deep mud. Its engine delivers around 44 HP from factory, but it can be easily tweaked to your likes. We’ve been lucky to house few overlanders like Suzie and Kelvin (check out their website) on their way to Ushuaia and they had some not recent models of these bikes. Still, they made it all the way from Colombia to La Patagonia on not so friendly paths. We have some of these in our fleet, and it has been one of the choices we are so proud of as they also happen to be the popular choice between our customers. Suzuki DL650 XT (Vstrom)
What happens if you add off-road rims, two riding modes directly managed by its central computer and remove some weight of a motorcycle that already has proven its worth in many conditions? well, the answer is one word: epic. When we got the first and second generation of Vstroms in our fleet, these were amazingly comfortable although they didn’t display any signs of being off-roady. Then we bought some Continental TK70 tires and things changed. So when the new XT model arrived, we were anxious to test it, and it didn’t disappoint. Just like its predecessors, we’ve taken this bike everywhere, that include some river crossing and tough Andes conditions and it did deliver. As comfortable as the prior models, its autonomy is enough for a long ride without you worrying about a fuel stop. KTM Enduro 690R For many, this model strives more into the proper off-road category and its engine output could intimidate. This bike lives up to the name of KTM for sure and has electronic aids, like ABS and RBW (ride-by-wire) which allows it to have three riding modes and a slipper clutch ready for action. We don’t have this motorcycle in our fleet yet but is within the radar of this year’s wish list. There are so many routes in Ecuador meant for this motorcycle that is a must-have. BMW F800GS Hardly can be considered a mid-size motorcycle due to its performance, legacy, and outstanding engineering. From the very first year, this motorcycle came out to the market, it became a true opponent to different brands and models already in the market, and with years it just got better. Its 85 Hp and long travel suspension along with its ergonomics made this bike one of the few where two can ride comfortably along with saddlebags and duffels. This is the bike we usually recommend our customers when we have to ride many days in a row, covering long distances and going off-road from time to time.
The big ones
If you have the budget, the size, and the strength to pick up one of these bad boys loaded, then this is a great option for comfort in long distances, having all the perks in hand and usually feeling like the sky is the limit. Its weight is a sign of stability and you can carry by all means a bit of extra while riding the world. Compared to the touring motorcycles, these ones have the advantage to assault off-road at any time and its handling is just superb on the tarmac.
This is our latest toy and we’ve put it to the test in the meanest possible way, in short, one hell of a motorcycle. We got the 30th-anniversary model with all the perks and excels in any possible task we put it through. Honestly, there was nothing to add. We went river crossing, beach, to the hut of Cayambe volcano which most of the year can be quite icy and the bike delivered. Its DCT gearbox makes things so easy that you get will use to it in the first 30 minutes of riding. Long distances can be covered and between all its combinations, you have over 80 riding modes. The bike has an increased suspension which helps a lot when doing off-road with a passenger in the back. Is so stable that you won’t feel you have a companion with you while maneuvering around the road. Strongly suggest this model if your intentions are to be riding across Ecuador for a long period of time.
KTM Super Adventure 1290R
“Versatility without compromise” As part of the KTM family, and title of the undisputed off-road realm it has lots to offer in the off-road department. So much so, that on test drives we’ve placed this monster in very difficult situations and it had come out without a sweat. We are not professional test riders but I think we have our share of expertise on what to look for on a motorcycle and this motorcycle’s limits are way beyond many of common mortals.
Motor Boxter might get you thinking about a too wide motorcycle to take it off-road. However, this is only a sight bias that goes away as soon as you test its performance and fall in love with its low gravity center. With its riding modes and easy access to controls, chassis dynamics and steerability, the bike makes you feel the pleasure for touring around. BMW had to make sure that you won’t need anything aftermarket for this bike as it has it all for you. The swiftness of its power delivery cannot be compared with anything else we’ve tested so far, not even to mention how easy is to pick it up if you happened to fall. This was no expert guide, and all of our comments were based on the experience we had with these motorcycles and we think is worth to share with you for your next motorcycle tour holiday, experience acquired not only in our business but in decades of being riding along. Other models worth to mention and by no means to be left out are the mighty Yamaha Tenere 660 and the old timer Kawasaki KLR650.