There’s been a longstanding train of thought, if you want to do any serious overlanding or adventure riding, you need to drop $20,000-plus on a BMW R1200GS. The GS gained legendary status for a reason: it’s incredibly capable. The GS has an engine that performs in every environment and riding situation; you have to experience the bike’s balance to truly understand how otherworldly it is, and no matter where you are it’s just damn comfortable. The downside is the big Beemer’s weight problem. At nearly 600 lbs, only riders with experience are equipped to regularly manhandle this beast and if you lay it down off-roading, that’s a hefty machine to try and right, especially if you’re alone. A well-modified Enduro, on the other hand, will be lighter by a couple hundred pounds, carry plenty of gear and, crucially, can be half or even a third of the price.
I was heading out to Woodward, Pennslyvania for a weekend of camping and trail riding, but just the idea of wrestling a 560 lb motorcycle all day on narrow, rocky trails (interspersed with multiple deadlifts when the bike inevitably landed on its side) was exhausting. The 2018 Husqvarna 701 Enduro stood out as the best alternative. I could throw saddlebags and a duffle bag on the back for my gear and clothes, but then unpack it all at camp and have an unburdened, lightweight performance machine to rip single track trails. This is the gear I built an all-out adventure bike with out of a svelte, nimble enduro.
At $11,799, the 701 Enduro is on the more expensive side for this style of motorcycle, but if you go stat-for-stat alone, the 701’s price makes a case for itself when outfitted as an ADV. The performance on this machine is in a different league compared to segmant stalwarts like the Honda XR650L or Suzuki DR650, regardless of having a price tag double the size.
Once unpacked, the 701 feels more like a big dirtbike on the trails but isn’t nervous or top-heavy when loaded up with gear barreling down the road. Husqvarna offers luggage racks from the factory, which help get your saddlebags off the side of the bike and exhaust. The way the gas tank doubles as a subframe at the back of the bike frees up space for a longer seat and more room for the rider, despite the luggage over the back and an additional tank bag up front. The one downside is that any top bag or duffel will have to be removed everytime you fill up because of the unconventional filler cap placement.
The iO Mounts Nomad isn’t the most advanced phone mount on the market, but its simplicity and strong magnet allow it to stay compact and lightweight. It straps to nearly any handlebar and uses incredibly strong magnets to keep your phone in place, which is a lifesaver if your phone doubles as navigation. And when you get off the bike, taking your phone with you is as easy as rolling it off the magnetic disc, with minimal effort.