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Adventure Motorcycle Demo Rides That Let You Get Dirty

 To properly evaluate your next ride you need to test it both on and off-road.

Published on 05.04.2015
BMW r1200gs riding in sand
Good luck trying to get a motorcycle dealership to let you test their bikes off-road.

Isn’t it strange how motorcycle dealerships expect you to drop $10,000 or more on a brand new Adventure Bike without even a test ride? If you are lucky, you might find a dealer that offers limited motorcycle demo rides, but what can you really tell about a bike from a short trip around the block? And if you want to know how the motorcycle performs off-road, hopping a curb isn’t going to do it.

The problem gets worse if you are considering several bikes from different manufacturers. You can spend days reading bike reviews, forums and comparison articles trying to get a feel for which is the best adventure motorcycle for your needs. But all those opinions are based on individual riding preferences and experiences, which may differ greatly from your own.

In a perfect world, you would line up the current range of top Adventure Bike models from the major manufacturers and perform a back-to-back comparison test. You’d want to spend extended time with each bike and be able to demo them on twisty pavement, long highway stretches and technical off-road trails, just like moto-journalists do in comparison tests.

motorcycle demo rides off-road
How would you like to go for an extended test ride, both on and off-road, with this fleet of top Adventure Bike models?

A New Way To Demo Ride Adventure Bikes

It may sound like just a fantasy, but it’s now a reality in the form of a new motorcycle demo ride program called the “Adventure Demo Experience.” The demo program is run by the off-road training and Adventure Bike tour company, RawHyde Adventures.

The company realized they had a unique position in the market to provide a comprehensive demo program for those thinking about purchasing a new Adventure Motorcycle. Not only does the demo program provide the opportunity to test the latest crop of top-of-the-line adventure bikes both on and off-road, but it also incorporates individualized off-road skills training and lectures on how to get set up for a true off-road adventure.

bmw, ktm, yamaha and triumph test rides
The Adventure Demo Experience allows you to test ride the current crop of top Adventure Bikes in the environment they were designed for.

Recently we had an opportunity to attend a one-day Adventure Demo Experience, held at RawHyde Ranch in Castaic, California. We arrived early in the morning and participants were greeted with coffee and a light breakfast. That’s when we got our first glimpse of all the Adventure Bikes available for demo testing. It looked like a small sea of handlebars and we could make out several examples of some of the top ADV Bikes, all decked out with aftermarket equipment to make them more durable off-road.

Adventure Bikes Available for Demo Rides

  • BMW R1200GS
  • KTM 1190 Adventure R
  • BMW R1200GS Adventure
  • Yamaha Super Ténéré
  • BMW F800GS
  • Triumph Tiger Explorer
  • BMW F700GS
  • BMW G650GS

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The program began with a lecture about the top mistakes riders make off-road and tips on body positioning. Great information for anyone new to getting off the pavement. Up next, it was time to pick a bike. So we each grabbed our first choice and headed down to the off-road training arena for some drills.

A two-hour off-road training session gave us our first opportunity to test the bikes in the dirt. The training covered topics like clutch and throttle control, turning, skidding, hill climbs and descents. Expert riding coaches broke the groups up into different skill levels so they could provide more individualized training. They also assisted with getting ergonomics and electronic settings configured so we could get the most out of the bikes during the day’s testing.

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Soon it was lunch time and everyone was treated to a delicious chef prepared meal followed by a discussion session about outfitting your Adventure Bike for serious off-road adventure travel. It was a great chance for participants to get their questions answered by experts who do this sort of thing all the time.

Next it was time to test the bikes on the pavement. We rode out of the ranch to some local twisty asphalt roads that had us grinning in our helmets. Each bike’s unique characteristics became immediately clear riding through several sets of long sweeping s-turns. A stretch of highway on the way back allowed us to evaluate the comfort of the bikes for long-distance highway travel as well.

Testing KTM, BMW and Yamaha motorcycles
The twisty asphalt we traveled on during the Demo Experience made it easy to recognize the unique road characteristics of each competing Adventure Bike model.

Back at the ranch, we climbed on dirt roads into the hills for more off-road testing. The 120+ acre RawHyde Ranch offers a little of everything an Adventure Rider might encounter out in the wilderness, including whoops, singletrack, sand, rocks, hill climbs and descents.

The tricky off-road obstacles provided the perfect opportunity to test the agility of the bikes and expert riding coaches were there to help advise on proper technique. Riding the different competing Adventure Bike models back-to-back in this environment was extremely useful for understanding the differences between the bikes in maneuverability.

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By the end of the day, we had our fill of testing and a much better sense of how the different bikes compare. It was the ideal way to evaluate competing Adventure Bike models and develop opinions about each bike’s strengths and weaknesses. When it comes down to it, the perfect adventure bike is the one you like and the only way to find that out is to test ride different bikes in the environment they were designed for.

comparing notes on the ride.
The ability to develop your own opinions and make an informed purchasing decision after demo testing these bikes is invaluable.

Not only was the Adventure Demo Experience informative, but it was also a lot of fun. Sure there’s a cost involved, but at $495 for the one-day experience it’s a lot less money than the depreciation on a hastily purchased Adventure Bike. When you consider the price includes off-road training, expert advice, meals and a chance to thoroughly test some of the top adventure bikes both on and off-road, it’s well worth it and it’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else.

Special Rebate Offer

RawHyde has worked out a deal with participating BMW, Yamaha, KTM and Triumph dealerships to provide a $500 rebate toward your next purchase. So if you are planning on buying one of these new Adventure Bikes anyway, the Adventure Demo Experience won’t cost you a dime.

What’s more, if you participate in a two-day Adventure Demo Experience and you end up purchasing a bike from a participating dealer, RawHyde will furnish you with a set of Sava Dual Sport tires for your new ride as an extra bonus, bringing the total rebate value to $900.

The Adventure Demo Experience is available in Southern California and Park County, Colorado. Special demo experience weekends are also offered at the Overland Expo East (Asheville, North Carolina) and West (Flagstaff, Arizona). You can visit RawHyde’s website for more information on the Adventure Demo Experience and rebate program.

Get The Demo Experience
Photos by Bill Lieras

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Author: Rob Dabney

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