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When someone remarked that adventure bikes offer the last real free-riding experience, we knew there was only way to test the theory – a multi-day group ride...

Anyone who has known me for more than five minutes won’t be surprised to learn I’m not a fan of camping, or being wet, cold or away from mod cons. I believe the word to describe this condition is ‘soft’.

I do like a good ride and letting my hair down with friends, however, and I had it on good authority that the best way to combine these joyous things was to embark on an adventure ride. During a moment of temporary insanity

I stuck my hand up to lead the annual AMCN adventure ride into Victoria’s high country, where we would take in the breathtaking scenery that was the backdrop to The Man From Snowy River and enjoy three days of adventure that went beyond just the riding…

The Plan

TAKING THE REINS of the annual AMCN adventure ride meant I got to choose the rider roster, bikes and location. My vision was for a predominantly off-road route, finishing each day’s riding with an animated discussion around a hot fire pit with a cold beer in hand.

The rider roster was the easy bit – a handful of gun riders mixed with a selection of tar babies keen to experience life in the dirt lane.

A recent influx of 2017- model adventure bikes meant we were spoilt for choice, so a mild-to-wild theme was employed. The final roll call consisted of a surprisingly varied selection of bikes, eliminating the possibility of a winner-takes-all shootout. This suited the assembled throng of riders just fine – all they wanted to do was ride, and that’s exactly what we did, for three glorious days.

The theme for the 2017 AMCN adventure special is a scenario many of us find easy to relate to. After too many false starts the planets finally align for a group of friends, and they head off for that much-discussed, but long- overdue two-wheeled getaway.

The term ‘adventure bike’ encompasses an ever-broadening range of motorcycles these days, so the chances of a group of friends all owning similar machinery and possessing a similar level of riding ability would sit somewhere between nil and zero.

The assembled machinery we headed bush on represents a little of everything presently available in the adventure market. It ranged from the soft-road CFMoto 650MT and dual-sport Ducati Multistrada 950 and Royal Enfield Himalayan, through to the big-bore adventure touring Honda Africa Twin and BMW R1200GS Rallye X and on to the 21-inch front wheel adventure sport KTM 1290 Super Adventure R and Triumph Explorer XCA. We even found room for the new dirtbike-oriented Honda CRF250Rally. It’s a selection of bikes as varied as the group I had invited to ride them.

Each rider was allocated a bike and buddied up with a fellow rider for a second opinion. Their reports are a personal view of the machine they were handed, and how it suited their level of experience.

Despite appearing to be an eclectic gathering of riders on very different two-wheeled steeds, our gang quickly formed into a tight-knit herd, travelling as a group and making sure no one was left behind … except when they slipped over – and then we all just pointed and laughed.

The Bikes

KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

Triumph XCA Explorer

BMW R1200GS RallyE X

Honda Africa Twin

Ducati Multistrada 950

CF Moto 650 MT

Royal Enfield Himalayan

Honda CRF 250 Rally

Read the full feature in the current issue of AMCN on sale now!