On Two Wheels: Adventure Scooters in the Sierra

Think 500-pound, 100-hp adventure bikes are overkill? So do Zack and Ari, which is why they tackled the Sierra Rally on 49cc scooters.

How do you measure the quality of your adventure? At organized events like the ADV Rally it's easy—the success of your day is determined by waypoints visited and points accrued. But while most riders at this year's Rally in the Sierra Nevada were on full-size ADVs like KTM's 1090 Adventure R and Honda's Africa Twin, the On Two Wheels duo opted to saddle up on something a little smaller, cheaper, and significantly less powerful.

49cc scooters from Honda and Yamaha
Ripping through the woods on 49cc scooters from Honda and Yamaha.Motorcyclist Staff

More specifically, they entered the competition on 49cc scooters from Honda and Yamaha. Yup, Zack and Ari were the guys who showed up to a gunfight with butter knives. But after riding retro scramblers through the Rockies and ripping ADVs around Laguna Seca, the boys have learned that it's usually a lot of fun to take a motorcycle out of its element. Plus, they wanted to prove that adventure is in the throttle hand of the beholder, and that you don't need a $20,000 bike to roam off road.

Ari's super-fly headwear: Shark Raw helmet
Zack's SWAT-team lid: Scorpion Covert helmet

Adventure bikes in the scenic Sierra
Soaking in the view from atop Bald Mountain.Motorcyclist Staff

And as it turns out, the scooters killed it. Sure they were slow (so slow!) and their low-slung frame rails touched down regularly, but the scooters' maneuverability, balance, and low weight meant the guys took them everywhere anyone on a “real” ADV went. And even farther, actually, thanks to the fact that Zack and Ari were able to hoist their rides over a downed tree that would have been a definite roadblock for a 600-pound bike.

Turns out the scoots worked pretty well off road. You just have to pick your lines carefully!
Turns out the scoots worked pretty well off road. You just have to pick your lines carefully!Motorcyclist Staff

Does off-road scootering have a future? If this episode of On Two Wheels is any indicator, it certainly does. And Honda seems to think the concept has legs as well, given the fact that it saw fit to mate long-travel suspension and spoke wheels to a CVT transmission and step-through chassis to make the X-ADV adventure scooter.