“Big bike or small bike – what’s best for adventure?”

Lisa and I get asked variations of this question all the time online and at our presentations, and we’re always in two minds about whether any answer is worthwhile. Motorcycles, adventure, excitement, exploring, pick your adjective, they’re all so subjective that there is no one-size-fits-all.


Lets be honest, the whole argument about whether a big bike is a real adventure bike is a waste of mental resource. In my opinion, there are advantages and disadvantages to both big and small machines. Those virtues will come to the fore based on where and how far the rider rides them.

Asking if a 300kg fully-loaded GS is a ‘proper’ adventure bike is like asking a hardened alcoholic who only drinks 80% proof Vodka whether beer is real alcohol? Of course it is, but then again ‘adventure’ means something different to each of us.


What Lisa and I now consider to be adventurous, we’d have thought to be totally insane at the beginning of our journey. It all depends on your own boundaries and personal comfort levels. What one person thinks of as ‘pushing the boundaries’ another thinks of as a weekend jolly.

There are no real adventure bikes, only adventurous people who ride.

I ride a heavy machine, and so does Lisa, but that doesn’t mean we don’t like or enjoy small bikes.


Emilio Scotto set a world record for riding his bike to every territory of every country in the world over 10 years. His bike was a Honda Goldwing! Does that make his journey a real adventure because of the problems his bike would have offered or a non-adventure because he wasn’t riding a 250 Honda?


Maybe the kind of person who might need to really know the answer to the big bike/small bike adventure question is also the kind of person who isn’t really seeking adventure. If you have all the answers before the journey starts then there’s little chance you’ll recognise the adventure when it’s happening.

Let the adventure begin.

Visit the Overland Junction discussion group on Facebook or our thread on ADVrider if you’d like to share your views on the big bike vs. small bike debate.

You can also take part in the Creating Your Perfect RTW Adventure Motorcycle research survey.


Simon Thomas