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"New vs. Used: Which Adventure Motorcycle Should You Buy?"

There are so many new adventure bikes on the market, so which one did I buy? None of them. I will tell you why: buying a secondhand bike might be the best option if you're getting into adventure riding.

Adventure Bike with luggage
2008 F800GS

Adventure Bike Value

Insurance valuation will tell us we'll lose 20 to 30% of the bike's value in the first few years. And that's for a road bike. So that's a bike that doesn't get dropped in the dirt. However, if you plan to keep the bike for five years or more, that's probably tolerable. But looking at BikeSales, you'll see a whole bunch of Tenere 700s, all the gear on them, and they've only got a couple thousand Ks on the clock. That's probably throwing away $10,000.


If you're after a new bike warranty, grab that 10K and drop it into a separate account. Only draw on it if something breaks, and then that money is sitting there if you want to invest in a new bike later. The warranty is just insurance anyway.

Loss and Gain Threshold

I've seen that the threshold for motorcycle values is around the five-grand mark for secondhand. So, a bike like my 2008 BMW F800GS, which I paid five grand for, was worth five grand a couple of years ago. It'll be worth five grand in another couple of years from now. So, if I buy it at that value, I can sell it a couple of years later for the same amount.

So, if you're getting into adventure riding and you're wondering whether you like it or not, buy something around the 5K mark, and then if you don't like it, you haven't lost any money.

Save on gear

The best thing about buying a secondhand bike is that it already has all the gear. Tyres, exhaust pipes, racks, bar busters, bash plates, crash bars—everything you'd need to spend—are 5K worth of gear already paid for by someone else. 

Suspension Options

Modern bikes will have much better suspension; there's no doubt about that. Everything's adjustable, from an old 2008 GS to a new one with electronically controlled suspension. Dash up here, and you can change whatever you want to change.

How do I look at it? Is that suspension stopping you from getting to the campsite I want to go to? Probably not. My older GS has an elementary suspension, with preload and rebound adjustment only on the rear. At the end of the day, I'm still going to get there.

If you're into suspension and want the best, you'll probably upgrade it anyway. Does it matter whether you buy secondhand or new? 

But if you don't care about having the best suspension, then it doesn't matter anyway.

Older bikes tend to be leaner.

Like cars, motorcycles tend to get bigger as they become more modern. So, when looking at older bikes, they tend to be lighter and leaner, giving you greater agility. 

Any bike up to 1,200cc gets expensive for rego and insurance, particularly 1,200 and above. So, consider that when you're getting an adventure bike. 

Adventurous Mindset

The last key point is that I will only fit with some because everyone's different. However, the number one reason for buying a secondhand bike is probably psychological.

When learning adventure riding, will dropping a $20,000 bike in perfect condition feel different than dropping a $5,000 scratched-up bike? Does the cost and condition of the motorcycle affect your willingness to take specific paths or make you more hesitant or conscious of how you ride? These are essential things to consider.

Some people couldn't give a rat's ass. They'll spend 20 or 30 grand on a bike and happily throw it down the road, but I can't do that personally. I have too much mechanical sympathy.

So having a bike that's already secondhand means it's already been through a few bits of stuff, and I don't have to worry about it so much.

Why I bought a F800GS

I've just come off the Tenere 660 for those interested and following me for a while. Why did I buy this particular bike? I wasn't considering buying a bike for myself. I was looking for a bike for my son. And a friend said he was selling his, and he said, "Why don't you buy this and then your son can ride the Tenere?" So that's where that came about. 

It is a 2008 F800GS, 207 kilos wet, which is lean, typical of a modern bike. 

However, an 85-horsepower Rotex motor is 13 more powerful than a Tenere 700. Rotex is the world's biggest supplier of lightweight petrol-powered engines, and if they're good enough for aeroplanes, they're good enough for me. 

One criticism of this bike is the fuel tank in the back. It's a bad thing when the tank's full. However, as the tank starts to empty, your battery and airbox are forward in a better position. So, as the tank lowers, the weight moves further to the front when you're starting to get into the more challenging stuff. I think it's a great design. The battery and airbox are also up nice and high for river crossings. 

Why BMW?

When you pick a particular brand, you tend to be slightly biased towards it. And we've got a couple of BMWs. I drive my dailies a 330i, and my wife has an X3. When this came up as an opportunity, I was drawn to it. And you know what? Who invented dual sport riding and adventure riding? BMW.

Adventure Bike Experience

I love this bike for its overall experience. The Teneré 660 is better for off-road, but the BMW GS balances on-road and off-road capabilities. Although a more skilled rider could handle the Teneré better, the new bike allows me to maintain the same level of control and ability, so I don't consider it a downgrade in off-road performance.

Trips like Aussie Bike or Hike's Sydney to the Gold Coast, I will have a much better experience on this bike than I would have on the Teneré because I'm going to enjoy every part of the trip, including the trip back, which will be mostly sealed.

That is why I chose a BMW.

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