These are the Best Lightweight Touring Motorcycles for Beginners

Adventure bikes of the past had set a standard of being top-notch with more than 800cc of displacement to traverse through rough terrain and off-road. But, I always questioned: Do I need all that power? 

Can a 300cc adventure motorcycle do the same thing? And, what if I don’t need that much power and weight?

And, the existence of the adventure motorcycles that we are going to feature today answers all my questions, and makes touring off-road with a mid-spec engine a reality and more than that, fun! 

Best Lightweight Touring Motorcycles

Now, if you are ok with some decent highway performance, but like going on an off-road trip on a budget, then you have just landed on the right page. In this article, you will learn about some of the best entry-level adventure motorcycles for touring, and mind you, all of them have some serious capabilities.

If you consider them alone without comparing them to their bigger 800cc and 1200cc siblings. However, these light-weight adventure motorcycles come with some downside which we will see in the reviews of each one of them. 

Read on to know more about each of these machines, and I hope this will help you choose the best one. 

1. BMW G310GS

The first up on the list is the G310GS from BMW. This is the smallest and by far the cheapest GS that you can get from the BMW lineup of motorcycles. 

Powered by a 313cc single-cylinder engine, the G310GS produces 34hp of power and 21 pound-feet of torque, not so great, but enough to go on the highway and some off-road terrain. 

Mated to 7.1-inch suspension, this adventure motorcycle sits on 19 and 17-inch wheels, which makes it good for decent off-roading and handling rocks and potholes with ease. 

Lightweight Touring Motorcycles

The advantage of having a light engine makes it weigh just 372 pounds, which makes it great maneuverability and ease of control. Speaking of control, the rider sits at a 32.9-inch seat which makes the rider approachable to the ground in the middle. 

Now, talking about the quality, you don’t need to worry about that on a BMW. With that being said, the G310GS is no exception, and the fit and finish on this motorcycle are high quality and it looks like a GS. So, if you are into the BMW lineup of motorcycles, this might be a great option for you. 

As per my opinion, the G310GS is a great motorcycle to look for, especially considering the $6,000 price range, which is just a third and less compared to its bigger siblings F 850 GS and the R 1250 GS. 

However, this adventure motorcycle does come with some shortcomings, most of which have to do with the lighter engine and its lightweight chassis. Let’s find that out in the things that I like and the things that I don’t about this motorcycle. 

Things I like 

  1. Build quality is great considering the price at which it comes. Additionally, if you incline a brand status, then the G310GS makes much more sense compared to its rivals. 
  2. Overall features are great in this motorcycle, as from a buyer’s point of view I cannot expect it to be as good as an 800cc adventure motorcycle. Ride height, wheel size, suspension, and lightweight. 

Things I don’t like 

  1. For off-roading, the G310GS is great, especially when you are considering some rocky and surfacial terrain in which you don’t need a hardcore machine. However, in the tarmac, I would have liked a little more power, and for that, the KTM 390 adventure makes for a better deal. 

2. Royal Enfield Himalayan

Named after the Himalayas, a beautiful Indian heritage, the Himalayan is an adventure motorcycle from Royal Enfield. It boasts a large air-cooled 411cc one-cylinder motor, which churns out 24hp and 23.5-pound-feet of torque at 4,000 RPM. 

The Himalayan is a great motorcycle for trekking off-road, owing to the decent 21 and 17-inch wheel size, and a ride height of 31.9 inches, which makes it very convenient for the rider to traverse through stones and gravels. 

There had been some issues with the earlier version of the Himalayan, with parts breaking during off-roading. Thankfully, Royal Enfield has resolved these issues in the present generation of the motorcycle and updated the motorcycle with great fit and finish. 

The seat height of the rider is around 31.9 inches, which makes it a choice for short riders, and also makes it good for city rides and hovering around town. With a 428-pound curb weight, the Himalayan is a little on the heavier side, especially when you compare it to the lighter chassis of the BMW G310GS. 

Overall, I would recommend this motorcycle to anyone who is looking for an entry-level adventure motorcycle. However, there are some things which I like and some that I don’t like about this motorcycle. Let’s get through that to have a final verdict about the Himalayan. 

Things I like

  1. Great for off-roading, the Himalayan will be a great option for anyone going for an adventure tour on a motorcycle, and I would recommend it. 

Things I don’t like

  1. Quality issues have been a downer in the previous models of the motorcycle, and I am a bit skeptical about the same. However, other than that I don’t think that the Himalayan has any problem with what it has to offer. 

3. KTM 390 Adventure

The KTM 390 Adventure is the sport version of the adventure motorcycles that we have on the list here. Coming from a racing heritage, the KTM 390 adventure boast its performance with a 373cc motor from the RC390, it makes 44hp and 23-pound feet of torque, and only weighs 387 pounds wet. 

The 390 Adventure is nice and sturdy and wants the throttle to be wide open on straight roads. And on off-roads and terrain, it serves as a good adventure motorcycle too, with its 19 and 17-inch wheels, along with a high-quality WP suspension which offers 6.7 of travel in the front and 7 inches in the rear. 

Apart from the sportiness of this bike, the 390 Adventure also outshines its rivals in the electronics department. 

The 390 Adventure has a color TFT display, which shows all the essential telemetrics to the rider, and also comes with safety features like rider controllable traction control and cornering ABS, which helps in maintaining great stability in terrain and rocky path. 

From a user’s review, I came to know that the suspension on the 390 Adventure is slightly on the firmer side, and this happens to be one of the downsides of this motorcycle. 

However, it is not a deal-breaker, but compared to its rival, the Royal Enfield Himalayan, the 390 Adventure offers a much stiffer ride, suitable for the highway as compared to a cushioned ride on the Himalayan. 

With all this being said, I have made a list of the things that I like about the 390 Adventure and a few things that I don’t like. Read on to know my final verdict on the motorcycle. 

Things I like 

  1. Great sporty performance: The 390 Adventure is a great adventure motorcycle for anyone who is looking for a powerful and sporty machine along with some decent off-roading capabilities. 

Things I don’t like 

  1. Reliability has been an issue in the previous KTM models, however, there haven’t been any serious complaints from the users. Along with this, the shorter and stiffer suspension hampers the ride quality in off-road conditions.  

4. Honda CB 500X

This is probably the biggest motorcycle on our list with a whopping 471cc parallel-twin engine. This is by far the biggest motor in the list of small adventure bikes, and it produces 47hp and 32-pound feet of torque, which makes it a great mile muncher and relaxed on the highway and touring speeds. 

The CB500X is also one of the heaviest of the lot, with 434 pounds wet, which adds to its great highway and touring capabilities. 

This motorcycle is also comfortable for the rider with a seating height of 32.7 inches, but the 5.3-inch front and 5.9-inch rear suspension travel is one of its drawbacks when you compare its rivals like the Himalayan and the 390 Adventure. 

But, the CB 500X also gets updated 19-inch front wheels compared to the 17 inches in the previous model, which makes it a bit more adventure capable.

 However, in my opinion, the biggest selling point of the CB500X is its powerful engine, and Honda’s engine performance and reliability are undoubtedly great, which makes it fun to drive on the highway and also makes it a capable off-roader. 

The CB500X adventure tourer is a great motorcycle for anyone looking for a powerful and reliable machine, with decent to good off-roading capabilities. 

I have made a list of things that I like and the things that I don’t about the CB500X so that you can decide whether this motorcycle is a good buy for you or not. 

Things I like 

  1. A powerful and punchy engine with great performance makes the CB500X a great dual-sport adventure motorcycle. 

Things I don’t like 

  1. The biggest shortcoming of the Honda CB500X is the low suspension travel, which hampers its off-roading capabilities. 

However, if Honda updates the suspension to anything around the 7-inch mark, then this motorcycle is a no-brainer for anyone looking for an entry-level adventure motorcycle.   

5. Kawasaki Versys X300

Kawasaki is known for its sportbikes, and the Versys X300 retains that DNA by sharing the 296CC liquid-cooled flat winged engine from the last-gen Ninja 300, which gives it a sporty performance. 

The power output of this motor is 40hp with 19-pound feet of torque at 10,000 RPM. The Versys X300 comes with a 17-liter fuel tank and weighs in at around 386 pounds, which makes it light enough for great maneuverability. 

Talking about the ride height, the rider gets a seat height of 32 inches, and the Versys X300 runs on 19 and 17-inch wheels, which makes it a very capable off-roading machine. 

However, in terms of the suspension, the Versys X300 doesn’t have so much to offer, considering the limited suspension travel, and it is a downer when you compare it to the likes of Himalayan and the Adventure 390. 

From a user’s perspective, I would have loved to see a Versys 400, with more power as it would not have been much of a big deal for Kawasaki, which has an amazing lineup of sporty motorcycles. 

Other than that, I also found from a user that the Versys X300 revs pretty high for normal touring situations, which might not be a problem in off-roading, but it might be irritating in a long highway touring at ideal speeds. 

In a nutshell, the Kawasaki Versys X300 is a great motorcycle for anyone wanting an entry-level adventure motorcycle, but it has its set of advantages and disadvantages. 

I have made a verdict for the same in the things I like and things that I don’t like. Read on to figure out whether the Versys X300 fits your liking or not. 

Things I like 

  1. The sporty nature of the Versys X300 makes it a great choice to tread anywhere, and the fact that it is under 400 pounds makes it easier to move around terrain and rough surfaces. 

Things I don’t like 

  1. The fact that the engine on the Versys X300 is shared from the last-gen Ninja 300, makes it a little outdated, however, the performance on this motorcycle is commendable. But, I would have loved to see an updated version of the motorcycle with a 400cc or 500cc motor. 

6. Honda CRF250L Rally

The CRF250L Rally is the entry-level dual-sport and adventure motorcycle from Honda. The Rally sports an additional taller windscreen, extra coverage fairings, side panels, and a slightly larger fuel tank compared to the regular CRF 250. 

Speaking of the engine, the CRF250L Rally sports a 249cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine which produces 24hp and 16.9-pound-feet of torque. 

Not being so powerful amongst the lot, the CRF250L still manages to tread off-road with great ease, but it is mostly suitable for decent off-roading and is pretty stable on highways. 

But, the impressing bit of the CRF250L Rally is the suspension travel of 11 inches in the front and 10.3 inches at the back, and the suspension of soft and plush to give a comfortable and smooth ride off-road. 

With all these tweaks and features, the CRF250L Rally is a great entry-level adventure motorcycle overall, and anyone who is just beginning to explore the world of off-roading and adventure touring can have a look at it. 

It serves all the basic needs of the rider, but don’t expect it to perform like its bigger siblings CB500X and other adventure motorcycles on the list. 

In my opinion, the CRF250L is a decent adventure motorcycle overall, however, there are many things that I like and certain things which I don’t like about the bike. 

Read on to know about my final verdict of the motorcycle, which might help you figure out whether this motorcycle suits your preference or not. 

Things I like 

  1. The CRF250L Rally doesn’t feel underpowered despite being a 250cc motorcycle, and it holds up pretty well amongst the competition. And with great suspension travel, the CRF250L can be a great off-roader, if you are going for a decent off-road journey. 

Things I don’t like 

  1. The CRF250L doesn’t stand up with the features and power of the other adventure motorcycles on the list, and it also feels a little dated when compared to the new generation KTM 390 Adventure and the Royal Enfield Himalayan.

7. Suzuki V-Strom 250

The last adventure motorcycle on our list is the Suzuki V-Strom 250, yet another entry-level 250cc motorcycle. The 248cc parallel-twin engine produces 25hp and 23Nm of torque. Weighing in at around 414 pounds, the V-Strom 250 is not among the lightest but sits in the middle of the spectrum. 

Speaking of the ride height on the V-Strom 250, the rider sits at around 31.9 inches and the motorcycle has a long suspension travel, to easily tread through rough off-road terrains. 

Speaking of the design, the V-Strom 250 is a very good-looking motorcycle with a large circular headlamp along with a tall stance, which gives it a very upright look and makes it feel at par with other higher range motorcycles from the lineup. 

In terms of practicality, the V-Strom 250 has enough space for one rider and a passenger, and there is also an option to fit a luggage box at the rear seat for long-distance adventure touring. 

Other than that, I would always recommend Suzuki motorcycles for their reliability and great engine quality, both of which are present on the V-Strom 250. 

However, no motorcycle is perfect, and the V-Strom 250 is no exception to this rule. There are many things that I like about this entry-level and a few things that I don’t like at the same time. 

Read on to know more about my opinion on this motorcycle, and it might help you to decide the best option for you. 

Things I like 

  1. The Suzuki V-Strom 250 is an overall entry-level adventure motorcycle that fulfills all the basic needs of any rider, and it is suitable for decent off-road terrain. Also, the build quality and the long suspension travel make it a great go-to off-road adventure motorcycle.

Things I don’t like 

  1. The only downer I felt in the Suzuki V-Strom 250 is the slightly lower capacity engine compared to the other adventure motorcycles on the list. Although the engine capacity is not a deal-breaker, if you are into sporty off-road adventure tourers, then you might look for the other options available. 
BMW G310GS$5,945Very Lightweight
Premium fit and finish
Loaded with features
Not built for offroad trails
Small gas tank
Instrument Cluster is an LCD panel that looks old
It has all the bells and whistles that are needed but lacks power on highways. Best for people who love the Big GS.
Royal Enfield Himalayan$4,999Great Low-end torque
Low seat height
Easy to learn and ride on

Low ground clearance
Lacks some high-end features
The brake bite is not so good
Best for shorter and beginner riders, power delivery is friendly, great for highways and offroad.
KTM 390 Adventure$6,199Most Feature loaded touring machine
Great power and torque
Not for beginner riders
Comes with spoke wheels
Very tall seat height not for shorter riders
Sports bike of Touring motorcycle category, it has amazing features and great for off road and highway cruising. 
Honda CB500X$6,699Powerful and reliable engine
Big fuel tank
Very stable & comfortable for long rides
Heavy for off-road trails
Lacks advance features
Great for riders who want to cover more miles and don’t mind the price and lack of features.
Kawasaki Versys X300$5,499Reliable Engine
Great Range
Easy to Maneuver
Comes with a load of accessories
Haven’t been updated from 2017
Design and Looks are OLD
Suspension travel is short and lacks the low-end torque for off road
This motorcycle is best for a person who rarely wants to go offroad, as it lacks torque, but it is a great highway cruiser.
Honda CRF250L Rally$5,199Perfect for offroad
Very reliable engine
Taller Seat Height 
A small Gas tank means a low range
Not comfortable for long rides
Best for riders who mostly ride do off road, you can tour on this, but the range is limited and the seat is a little uncomfortable
Suzuki V-Strom250Planning to release in USAVery Lightweight
Big Fuel Tank
Good fuel economy
Lacks advance features
Alloy Wheels instead of spoke
Great for highway touring but not great for off-road, shorter riders love it.

What should I look for in a touring motorcycle?

Before you choose and buy an entry-level adventure motorcycle, you should consider some of the points that might help you narrow down your choices and figure out the best one that fits your needs. 

I have made a list of the points that I consider for myself and suggest them. 

  1. Budget: The very first reason you clicked on this article is that you want an adventure motorcycle on a budget. This is one of the most important criteria to look for when looking for a motorcycle. 

Although there are numerous motorcycles in every price range, you should always be headstrong enough to pick one particular category and compare motorcycles that fit in that category.

  1. Type: Next up, you need to decide where you want to ride your motorcycle, only on highways or sometimes offroad, and if you are someone who needs both then you can pick a dual-sport or normal touring motorcycle, which will serve you just that. 

However, several other motorcycles fall into certain criteria of either off-roading or touring. 

  1. Seat Height: One of the most important factors of any adventure motorcycle is the seat height that it has to offer. 

Adventure motorcycles come with a range of different ride heights, depending on brand to brand, and you can choose that based on your height and the situations in which you will ride your motorcycle. 

  1. Riding Solo or with a partner: When you are choosing an adventure motorcycle, keep in mind whether you ride solo or with a partner. When you ride solo, you can consider a lightweight and not-so-powerful motorcycle, as it doesn’t need to bear the load of two passengers. 

This aspect is very important as it determines the ride quality and also the fun that you have while you go on a ride. 

  1. Brand: Well, this aspect doesn’t need any clarification. It’s a common notion of every customer to look for any product of a particular brand that he likes. 

But, with that being said, you should always give a try to all the other brands which are not so popular, just to be sure that you have tried and tested every option before you make your decision.

  1. Carrying Capacity: Wherever you go on an adventure trip, you would need to carry a certain amount of luggage with you to cover the ride, and for that, your adventure motorcycle should have a good carrying capacity along with the rider.