2010's Best Adventure Bike: BMW R1200GS

Mission possible

Mission Possible
As outrageous as it would have seemed in 1980, BMW's recipe for cooking up the ultimate all-surface adventure bike has been essentially the same for three decades. Start with one Boxer-twin running through shaft drive. Update as necessary. Repeat. The pattern is clearly working. BMW has sold more than 500,000 copies of the Gelände/Straße idea by making it a little bit better at taking more people more places on this third rock from the sun than any-thing else.

For the 2010 edition, subtle tweaks and twin-cam heads, patterned after HP2 Sport architecture, bump midrange just enough to keep things interesting and boost redline to 8500 rpm. The GS muffler makes every handful of throttle sound almost nasty. As usual, the net result is more than the sum of said parts, making this latest Boxer a little more cooperative and a lot more fun to ride anywhere you might conceivably choose to aim it.

Alternative Take
Kawasaki KLR650
Affordable adventure

The big KLR has been proving that a lot of motorcycle doesn't have to cost a lot of money since '87. After its '08 makeover, the 432-lb. single is still cheap to buy this year at $5999. You could buy three for the price of one fully equipped BMW R1200GS.

Best Adventure Bike: BMW R1200GS