2016 Motorcycle Buyer’s Guide

With the North American riding year coming to a close, many people are likely contemplating a new steed for the coming year. While 2015 presented many new offerings and updates across the entire motorcycle landscape, 2016 appears to have but a few new surprises in store. The return of the Honda Africa Twin is the most noteworthy. We did a little poking around to see what the next model year has to offer the new-bike buyer. (Prices quoted are current 2015 values)


2016 BMW R1200GS Triple Black ($18,340)


Mostly unchanged from the current year, the big news for 2016 is the return of the Triple Black color option. For those with a penchant for the dark side, the Triple Black is exactly what you think it is––very black. To quote Spinal Tap, “How much more black can it get? None more black.” The technical advancements are minimal for the coming year but include a new ABS system optimized for better performance in banked turns. For those in need of more adventure aptitude, the GSA is relatively unchanged for 2016. With its 8 gallon tank, extra ground clearance over the non-Adventure model, and a proven reputation for on and off-road performance, the GSA will continue to be a front runner on the adventure scene.


2016 BMW F800GS ($13,695)

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 9.02.13 AM

The F800GS in both standard and Adventure models seem to be a love/hate platform. With the entry of the Africa Twin on the market, the price of the BMW may be an increasing detractor. It is not a cheap ride for what you get in return. The scuttlebutt for 2016 suggests the new F800GS will get cruise control, but there’s not much else to be confirmed. For now, we have to wait to hear what big changes are in store for BMW’s middleweight motorcycle.


2016 KTM 1290 Super Adventure ($20,500)

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 8.51.16 AM

As the old saying goes, too much is never enough. When the giant KTM was announced in 2012, it appeared to be the poster child for gross excess. It had more power than anyone thought necessary at 160 horses, and electronic rider controls so advanced it made the analog KTM fans recoil. However, if we learned anything in 2015, it is that the behemoth KTM is much loved by those who have had a chance to ride it. As one of the most advanced motorcycles to arrive on the market in the last several years, expect to see more people going super-size in 2016.


2016 Kawasaki KLR 650 ($6,600)


Hard as it is to believe, the KLR has gone relatively unchanged in almost three decades. 2015 saw a few modest improvements added to the KLR with better suspension bits, more wind protection, and a slight improvement to the seat. Beyond that, she’s pretty much the same bike we’ve all ridden and enjoyed for ages. The polar opposite of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure, the KLR is bare-bones, but capable of circling the globe. We know because it has done it many times over. For 2016 there are no changes to be had, and judging by the sands of time, probably won’t see another update in the next decade.


2016 Yamaha Super Ténéré ES ($16,190)


Like many motorcycles for 2015, the Super Ténéré ES received a few critical modifications. Most noteworthy was the addition of the electronically adjusted suspension. Although it is a welcomed feature, one required to keep the Super Ténéré current within a competitive market, it added even more weight to an already heavy machine. Known for a balanced ride that defies its heft, the Super Ténéré is also extremely reliable. With excellent aftermarket support and a strong dealer network, Yamaha’s flagship adventure bike has a devout following.


2016 Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 NXT ($15,999)


Italy is not typically known for value priced vehicles, so the low asking price of the 1200cc Stelvio is somewhat of an anomaly. At first blush, it doesn’t seem like an unusually good value until you realize it comes complete with crash bars, auxiliary lights, racks complete with beautiful panniers. It even has a skid plate and one of the most comfortable seats in the industry. After spending half a year on the Guzzi, our team fell in love with it. Guzzi is not prone to make too many changes year to year, so the 2016 model has all of the features and attributes of the current year. The Stelvio was one of our favorite discoveries of 2015, so we hope to spend more time on it in 2016.


2016 Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT ABS ($8,499)


The V-Strom has long been favored as a value-based adventure bike, and having received substantial updates, will hold that position for years to come. As an off-road motorcycle, it has its challenges, but will offer enough rough-road performance for most. On the highway, it is a splendid machine. I know because I rode one from LA to Wyoming and back––the long way––and it was fantastic. Fitted in adventure trim, it is ready to go anywhere right off the showroom floor. With excellent ergonomics and fuel efficiency, the Wee ‘Strom devours miles. There’s a lot to like about this little adventure bike starting with the low entry price.


KTM 1190R ($16,999)


When it arrived on the market a couple of years ago, the 1190R was not just a shot across the bow of the BMW R1200GS, it was a direct hit mid-ship. With trailer-towing torque, a proper off-road sized 21-inch front wheel, fully adjustable WP Suspension, and gobs of ground clearance, the most advanced KTM off-road machine ever built was quick to attract a loyal following. Despite a few technical gremlins in the early models, the latest bikes have shown themselves to be reliable. Unchanged for 2016, these are excellent motorcycles for all types of adventure riding.


Triumph Tiger 800XCx ($12,999)


2015 was a transition year for the Tiger 800 XC with a host of new features introduced into an already popular format. Those additions included Advanced Riding Modes, Selectable Throttle Maps, Cruise Control, and a new trip computer. At only $12,999, those features rival what other motorcycles offer at thousands more. Because the 2015 model was such an improvement over the previous year, no changes were made for 2016.


Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ($12,699)  and V-Strom 1000 Adventure ($13,999)


When it was announce a couple of years ago, everyone was hoping the new 1000 ‘Strom would arrive with more power, more suspension, more “adventure” potential, and at the same value-based price the platform was known for. While it is a substantial improvement over the previous bike, the $14,000 asking price for the Adventure model has proven to be a big ask for many buyers. While I like the 1000, I just can’t swallow the MSRP. This is not to say it isn’t worthy of those dollars, but I think there are better places to spend the cash. The Triumph and new Africa Twin are just two bikes at the same price with perhaps more to offer.


2016 Honda Africa Twin ($12,999)


The lead up to this bike’s arrival has been painfully slow. As a former Africa Twin owner from two decades ago, I was amongst the many eagerly awaiting the new Queen of the Desert. I was over the moon to see the price hadn’t put this new bike out of reach. At 500 pounds, it isn’t as light as many had hoped, but the power and performance numbers are already pleasing the select few to get to throw a leg over it. With a fully kitted GS-Adventure or KTM 1290 Super Adventure pushing well into the mid $20,000 range, a fully farkled Africa Twin in the mid-teens is a refreshing development. With what appears to be a smart blend of on and off-road performance, I see the Africa Twin as becoming the hot new ticket on the adventure front. I can tell you this much: I want one.


2016 Ural Gear Up ($15,999)


We have a well developed love for the plucky Russian Ural Gear Up. We took our long-term test Ural to places few believed possible, and this before we fitted it with a winch. For 2015 the Gear Up was given many upgrades with more power, better steering, more passenger room and disc brakes on every wheel. While it’s easy to dismiss a Ural as a novelty, they are genuine travel platforms capable of protracted journeys. Easy to work on, simple as a hammer, the timeless allure of the Ural is hard to resist.

Recommended books for Overlanding

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, And Why
by Laurence Gonzales
From $9.99
Motorcycle Messengers 2: Tales From The Road By Writer...
by Jeremy Kroeker, Ted Simon, Lois Pryce, Billy Ward,...
From $9.99

Christophe Noel is a journalist from Prescott, Arizona. Born into a family of backcountry enthusiasts, Christophe grew up backpacking the mountains and deserts of the American West. An avid cyclist and bikepacker, he also has a passion for motorcycles, travel, food and overlanding.