Why Midweight Motorcycles Will Dominate ADV in 2022?

Why Midweight Motorcycles Will Dominate ADV in 2022?

Written by Ron Lieback | Photos from Manufacturers. Posted in Bikes

If you were on any type of group ride over the past two years, you have likely noticed an uptick in midweight adventure bikes.

Many of the 10+ rider groups I rode with during the 2021 season were an equal mix of middleweights and heavyweights such as the dominating BMW R 1200/1250 GS and KTM 1190/1290 Adventure, with a few thumpers scattered about.

A few OEMs noticed this trend a few years back, which led to some awesome new bikes. The most notable were the Yamaha Ténéré 700, released in 2019 across Europe in the USA in mid-2020, and the KTM 790 Adventure, released in 2019.

Midweights Domination intro

Fast forward to the new releases and heavy marketing pushes for 2022, and the category thickens like 20/50 oil in frigid temperatures. Yamaha updated its Ténéré 700 (and about to release a sexy Raid model!), KTM updated its 890 Adventure, Ducati released DesertX, and Aprilia the Tuareg 660—to name a few.

The race is on for the #1 spot in the adventure motorcycle category. Each bike appears to cater to the unique needs of each rider from the balls-out thrashing style of the DesertX to the do-it-all-well style of the Tuareg 660.

The midweight category bikes are showing zero signs of slowing down—even if they can’t match the superbike-like speeds of the bigger boys.

Following is your guide to why these midweight will dominate the adventure motorcycling scene in 2022.

First, the top three factors that quickly answer this “why” for the most riders.

 1. Lower MSRP.

Midweights cost less. It’s that simple.

The difference in prices varies, but to put this into perspective take the 2022 KTM and Yamaha lineups. The KTM 890 Adventure R costs $14,499, and the KTM 1290 Adventure R $19,499. The 2022 Yamaha Ténéré 700 costs $10,299, and the 2022 Yamaha Super Ténéré ES $16,299 (all MSRP pricing).

Yes, the midweights may arrive with mid-tier suspension and braking components, but with an extra $5 or $6K in your bank, you can choose the upgrades that max sense (and whatever farkles you want!).

2. Lower Insurance

Insurance rates vary from state-to-state, and country to country, but smaller cc bikes will get the better premium.

In basic terms, the bigger the engine, the bigger the premium. And for the younger riders who already have to pay added costs, smaller ccs can save hundreds of dollars over a year’s time.

3. Dissolves the Fear Factor

Besides price points, the other positive factor that builds desire for the midweight class of motorcycles is that they are simply more approachable.

When riders begin in adventure touring, whether a 70-year-old transitioning from 50 years of big American V-twins or a motocross racer looking for some fun both on the street and off-road, there’s fear of riding a larger bike off-road.

From those I helped train to friends just entering the amazing world of ADV, the concerns are always “I’m afraid of dropping it,” or “that’s just too much power for the dirt,” or “that just looks crazy for even a fire road.”

And the larger the bike, the larger the fear. The smaller bikes naturally dissolve some of that fear due to their smaller size, lighter weight, and more manageable horsepower.

Some Cons

With the pros, there are obviously some cons.

Negative factors include less protection from the elements and wind. Ride R 1250 GS back-to-back with Yamaha Ténéré 700 in the rain or dust, and you’ll know exactly what this means.

This, and the typically tighter ergonomics and smaller fuel-tank capacities can deter the worldwide tourers. But those types are far and few between.

The other issues are that sometimes the OEMs don’t provide top suspension or braking components on the midweights, although there’s an aftermarket company for practically every OEM part.

The 2022 Midweight Contenders

A few middle-weight adventure motorcycles are making all the noise across the press, forums, social media feeds, and dealership floors.

Here are the ones sparking some serious interests for 2022 in no particular order.

2022 Yamaha Ténéré 700:

To the Tuareg people of Northern Africa, Ténéré refers to either “solitude” or “desert.” I’m a fan of the former because the Ténéré 700 is all about getting far away from it all without sacrificing “much” on-road comfort.

What’s not to like? The bike weighs just over 450 pounds wet, and its 689cc parallel-twin delivers 72 horsepower and 50 foot-pounds of torque evenly across the rpm range.

And service intervals are every 25,000 miles for valve checks, which drastically decreases maintenance costs.

Drop one. No problem. Gave it too much throttle? No problem.

Having too much fun? Maybe a problem if you need to return to normal life from solitude.

Speaking of the popularity of the bike within the US market since its release after the pandemic began, Gerrad Capley, Street Motorcycle Communications Specialist of Yamaha Motor Corp. USA, says, “Yamaha has experienced an exciting response after introducing this model in June of 2020.

“Dealer orders have outpaced supply since its introduction, and we have enjoyed seeing the very positive reviews from the media and customers. The Ténéré 700 also continues to be one of the top requested machines to ride at our DEMO Tour stops nationwide. So, to say the response has been positive would be an understatement. It has been a very successful, and well-received bike in the US Market.”

Midweights Domination T7

KTM 890 Adventure R:

The wicked younger brother of the 1290 Adventure R, the 890 Adventure R, which replaced the 790 Adventure for 2021, is the ultimate middle-weight adventure tourer for those seeking KTM performance at a lower cost ($5,000 lower than the 1290 Adventure R).

For those who love exploring the off-road, the R model arrives with a beefier 48mm WP front fork and 10.35 inches of ground clearance, up nearly 0.8 inches over the base model. 

The 889cc parallel twin produces a twist-happy 105 horsepower at 8000 rpm, which is more than enough for the 432-pounds Austrian beast, especially since that power is tamed with the latest in KTM electronics.

Service intervals are 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles), which adds some cost to ownership. But for the “Ready to Race” crowds, those added costs are worth every penny for the performance.

Midweights Domination KTM890R

Ducati DesertX:

Following years of teasing, Ducati entered the midweight adventure touring game with its DesertX, a bike that clearly has an aim of dethroning the KTM 890 Adventure R.

Ducati continues offering its time-tested formula of high horsepower and lower weight. The DesertX arrives with a 937cc v-twin borrowed from the Multistrada V2 and Monster, but the desmodromic power plant is tuned for adventure riding, which balances power output for both on- and off-road situations.

Power output is 110 horsepower at 9250 rpm and 68 foot pounds of torque at 6500 rpm, more than enough to propel the Dakar-styled 492-pound bike (wet) to top speed with ease.

Although Ducati has yet to confirm top speed, we know the Multistrada V2 is capable of 145 mph—and this DesertX is much lighter.

Add 9.8 inches of ground clearance and a 21 x 18-inch wheel setup, and true adventure remains closer than ever. But being a Ducati, of course this true adventure arrives at a premium. The MSRP is the most expensive in the middle class of adventure bikes at $16,795. 

Midweights Domination desertX

Husqvarna Norden 901:

When Husqvarna, bought in 2013 by the KTM Group, teased images of its Norden 901, many saw a rebirth of the venerable KTM 990 Adventure, a well-respected bike within the world of adventure motorcycling.

Yes, the bike has some 990 styling. And yes, the bike is built upon the KTM 890 Adventure chassis. But the outcome turned out differently. The Husky Norden 901 is the perfect fit between the base 890 Adventure and 890 Adventure R models.

ADVMoto managing editor discusses this well in his Norden 901 First Ride Review from São Miguel in Portugal.

Pricing is $13,999, $500 cheaper than the KTM Adventure R. For those looking for a bit more comfort and throwback styling, the Norden 901 will be hard to beat.

Midweights Domination norden901

Aprilia Tuareg 660:

Aprilia entered the middle-weight game for 2022 with its Tuareg 660, a direct competitor to the Ténéré 700 in regards to power, size, and price (Tuareg 600 cost $11,999, $1700 more than the Ténéré 700).

This middle-weight out of Noale follows the same styling and setup as the others. It’s 659cc parallel twin produces a manageable 80 horsepower at 9250 rpm, sufficient for the 449-pound wet weight, and the bike arrives with the much-needed 21 x 18-inch spoked wheel setup and 9.5-inches of ground clearance.

The Aprilia was built to offer ideal performance across all riding conditions, which is what many riders are ultimately after. The Tuareg may not keep up to its European counterparts in the dirt, but its overall ability will outweigh the off-road manners for many riders. And the styling is one of the most unique within the midweight adventure segment.

Midweights Domination tuareg

Kawasaki KLR650

Following a three-year hiatus, Kawasaki returned one of its most beloved dual sports back to its lineup.

For 2022, the KLR650 returns better than ever. And although this is the only thumper mentioned amid the others above, it needs mentioning.

The bike that arrived in 1987, which I consider the Swiss Army Knife of motorcycles, arrives fully updated for 2022, and in three styles: Standard, Traveler, and a favorite here, the Adventure.

The biggest change to the 652cc single-cylinder engine? The addition to fuel injection for the first time ever. Gone is the 40mm Keihin carburetor, and in its place is Keihin EFI with a 40mm throttle body.

You still get the five-speed transmission, though slightly revamped for better on-road manners.

And the best part? Pricing. The base comes in at $6,699. But the Adventure may be worth the extra $1,300 premium for a total of $7,999. The Adventure model arrives with ABS, ending guards, side cases, auxiliary lights, tank pad, power outlets, and the super cool Cypher Camo Gray color.

ADVMoto also had a chance to test ride the 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure. Click HERE to read the detailed review.

Midweights Domination KLR650

For many motorcyclists across various disciplines of riding, the middle way is the only way. Unfortunately, in the past adventure motorcycle riders had very few options.

You either were all in riding a large-cc bike while sacrificing serious off-road fun and lighter weight, or you were stuck with limited options, like the venerable Kawasaki KLR650 or the Suzuki V-Strom 650 (both great bikes!).

Over the past few years, the game has changed. More and more midweights are throttling into showrooms, and ultimately the streets and dirt roads/trails around the world.

Take notice of an uptick in the middle-weight segment like the ones listed above when you’re riding throughout 2022. Then take one for a ride, and maybe you’ll understand just why these ADVs will not only dominate 2022, but continue to dominate in the future. Taking the middle route has never been so fun.

Did we leave out your favorite bike?  Let us know in the comments below!

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