If you are an adventure rider, chances are you’ve heard of Noah Horak. For the last two years he has ridden his KTM 690 around the world by way of more than 42 countries covering some of the most challenging terrain imaginable. Putting it lightly, he’s learned a thing or two about what it takes to pilot two motorized wheels in proper adventure style. Below is his open letter to the motorcycle industry and those influencing motorcycle design.
Dear Motorcycle Industry,
With the recent announcement of the KTM 1290 “Adventure” I can not sit quietly anymore and watch the “Adventure” bike grow to obese proportions. I must speak up. Adventure is a word thrown around so freely in the motorcycle industry now, I am not sure you remember what a true adventure actually is.
Who am I? I’m a guy who has spent the last two and a half years riding a KTM 690 around the world. It was not an adventure bike when I bought it, but with some work, it has taken me to hell and back. After 120,000km and 42 countries, she is still going strong. My bike and all my camping gear is about 210 kilo. If you can not pick up your bike fully loaded in any situation, it is not an adventure bike.
Now I see the adventure bike market treading into Harley Davidson territory, which is to say selling and idea or image rather then a capable bike. Sorry to the HD fans out there, but the XR750 is the only HD I drool over. Every year manufacturers pump out more and more street touring bikes and slap an “Adventure” bike name on it. KTM, BMW, Triumph, Suzuki, Aprilia, Ducati, Yamaha, Honda are all doing it. The list of 1-liter behemoths is so long I can not keep up. They sell the image of adventure, but when you try to go off the pavement, you quickly find out the bike was not designed for it. So you search for a smaller bike only to find there is a huge gap in the market that no manufacturer seems to want to cash in on. I’ll call the small adventure bike market what it is, the enduro bike market: 250s, DRZ400, 450 race bikes, and outdated air cooled 650s. 450 race bikes are to high strung for travel. Most of the air cooled 650s are great bikes, but they are all in desperate need of a update. So there is basically the choice between DRZ400 and KTM 690. Both are very capable off-road bikes and have been ridden around the world many times by many people. The gap between these 2 bikes is huge. What gives?
The formula for a proper adventure bike is easy: less then 150 kilos, good tune-able off-road suspension, around 50 hp, fuel injected, liquid cooled, and at least a 7500 km oil change interval. A 500 km fuel range would be icing on the cake. I challenge the manufacturers to build the adventure bike I described above and I will be the first person in line with a fist full of dollars.
Maybe this is asking too much. Take one of your 450 race bikes and give it a reliable engine. The weekend warriors would love it if they didn’t have to change their oil every 10 hours. I would love to travel on a that bike. As stated before, the gap between DRZ400 and KTM 690 is huge. So once again, take a minute to let this sink in. We want a reliable lightweight off-road travel bike. We don’t want another 200 + kilo street bike. Adventure comes from the ride and the bikes you are pushing off onto the public are limiting that adventure.
You can read more about Noah, his amazing adventures, and the possibilities of travel on a non-bohemoth adventure motorcycle on his website at: http://rtwwithnoah.blogspot.com