2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT, 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS, 2015 Yamaha FJ-09
May 8, 2015
Adventure-styled motorcycles have proliferated in recent years, with many new or extensively updated models introduced by European and Japanese manufacturers. Some are true all-terrain machines, with 19- or 21-inch front wheels to roll over obstacles, sturdy guards and bash plates to protect vital components, and dual-sport tires that cling to virtually any surface.
Others embrace the popular look and creature comforts of adventure bikes but are more style than substance when it comes to off-road prowess. For the vast majority of adventure bike buyers, that’s just fine because they have little to no interest in exploring unpaved roads.
There is a lot to like about each of these crossovers. The Yamaha FJ-09 has the most exciting engine and it is the lightest and least-expensive bike here. But it’s biased toward solo riding, it has fueling issues and its suspension and brakes fall well short of the others. With great low-end torque and neutral handling, the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS is also the most versatile by virtue of its 19-inch front wheel, dual-sport tires and rugged build. It has the highest as-tested price, yet lacks basic items like hand guards and a centerstand. For street-biased adventure touring, especially with a passenger and gear, the Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT is our top choice. It’s fast, smooth and comfortable, it has the best wind protection and saddlebags, it has the most compliant suspension and it offers good value.