There’s no denying we’ve all had a tough last 18 months with the UK lockdown restriction meaning freedom of movement and the ability to go out and enjoy a ride with friends has been limited. Now that restrictions have been lifted (for the most part anyway) and we're allowed to enjoy some of those freedoms again, the first thing that crossed our minds was to plan an adventure tour in the UK and get back out on the open road and our bikes and exploring what’s out there, as we’re sure many of our customers and readers have been too.
Fortunately, in the UK we’re lucky to have some of the world’s best motorcycle adventures routes right on our doorstep, with varying landscapes to enjoy throughout the land. Whether you prefer to be along the coast, in the winding roads of mountains or even through some unspoilt countryside, the UK has so much to offer with different routes which have been forged and discovered by bikers over the years.
But where do you start? Breezing through the coastal towns of the South West? Exploring the valleys of Wales? Snaking through the highlands of Scotland? With so many good challenging and breathtaking routes to choose from, we’ve compiled our Top 5 Motorcycle Adventure Rides in the UK for you to try in 2021 as well as essential products from our own shop for our top 5 best adventure bikes which our team recommend to give you the best possible ride experience this summer.
1. The North Coast 500 (NC500) Motorcycle Adventure Tour
First up on our list is an absolute classic and one which we expect most of you will already be familiar with - the UK’s ‘Route 66’ otherwise known as The North Coast 500 or NC500. Now, we know this route is featured on almost every guide out there but there’s a reason for that - because it’s truly breathtaking.
Starting at Inverness Castle, Scotland, this circular 500 mile route takes you around the northern coast of Scotland and back to your starting point at Inverness Castle. Along the way you’re treated to some real gems which pretty much captures all the perfect scenery you’d want to accompany you on an adventure ride. This includes deadly calm lochs, medieval castles, beautiful beaches and the general scenic treats of the Scottish Highlands. How long the route takes depend on your timeline, it can be done in only a few days, but given all that there is to see and that the route does get busy during the summer months, it’s worth giving yourself anywhere from 5-7 days in order to fully take it all in and really make a tour of it.
2. The South West Coastal Run
From one end of the UK to the next - our next pick takes us to South West England to explore the South West Coastal Run route. The South West Coast Path is a 630 mile long waymarked walking route which runs from Minehead in Somerset, along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall to Poole Harbour in Dorset. Now whilst you can’t officially ride on the coast path itself, there are many roads you can take which run adjacent which take you through some of the most awe-inspiring nature and scenery that the UK has to offer. Along the way you can expect to encounter some of the UK’s best golden sand beaches including Woolacombe, Croyde, Westward Ho! And Widemouth Bay as well as the rolling hills of the Exmoor which join Somerset and Devon. Depending on the time you have and the length of your ride, the route could be done within a day or two but we’d completely recommend booking some time and taking a week to go through and complete this whilst enjoying stops at some of the gems along the way. This is a perfect summer time route and expect the roads to be busier during this time as it’s a popular staycation hotspot.
3. East Coast Discovery Route
Next up on our list is the popular East Coast Discovery Route. Whilst it doesn’t have the same infamy as the NC500, it still offers one of the UK’s most enjoyable adventure rides. This route also has the advantage of being slightly shorter than the others too, so if time is a limiting factor for you this gives an alternative option. It’s a 180-mile route which starts in Skegness, Lincolnshire and finishes at Whitby in Yorkshire. With the North Sea as your company, you’ll be taken through some gems of classic seaside towns along the east coast as well as the Yorkshire moorlands where you’ll be treated to twisty roads, dips and corkscrews as well as tight corners - a biker’s heaven. It also has plenty of places where you can stop off including the incredible Flamborough Head, where you’ll enjoy breathtaking sea views atop of the white cliffs as well as the opportunity to see Puffins there too, depending on the time of year you go. This route is easily doable within a day, but if you want to make a mini-break of it you can push it to 2 with an overnight stop on the way.
4. The Welsh Valleys Route
Wales has some fantastic adventure routes you can choose from, but we’ve decided to choose our favourite for this list - the Welsh Valley Routes. This is another shorter route which can be completed within a day, but it doesn’t take away from the thrill of the ride. It starts in Chepstow in South Wales and will take you through the Brecon Beacons which then finishes on the West Coast in the picturesque town of Aberystwyth. If you have a little bit more time to spend, an absolute must is exploring more of the Brecon Beacons whilst you’re on the ride, it features some really challenging roads like the Black Mountain Pass where you’ll have views and scenery of the most beautiful valleys in the UK, whilst reaching a max altitude of 1,600ft! A little tip from us - look out for roaming sheep along the windy, twisting roads through the mountain.
5. Land’s End to John O’Groats
And last but not least (given it’s the longest route in this guide...) we come to the infamous Land’s End to John O’Groats trek. As it’s one of the most famous road trips in the UK, and not just for bikers either, it’s likely this is already on your bucket list if you’ve not done it yet anyway, but it’s still worth including as it does mean getting the ride the entire length of the UK. You can start at either end, but we’ll recommend starting at Land’s End in South West England which you will then snake your way through all the way up the John O’Groats in the North East of Scotland. One of our favourite things about this route is there is no predefined path - meaning you can choose the roads you want to take, the sights you want to see and the distance you cover. That offers great freedom for you to choose what to soak in or perhaps take on other routes with it, such as the East Coast Discovery route mentioned above. Along the way you could choose to see sights such as the Lake District, Snowdonia, Loch Ness, Brecon Beacons and many more. The route you take will determine the distance and ultimately length of time. The shortest route is just over 800 miles which in theory you could complete within a day, but with it being such a journey we’d recommend booking a few days to a week so you can really enjoy everything that you have to take in on this route.
Motorcycle Performance Products to Enhance Your Adventure Tour in 2021
Now that we’ve covered our 5 top UK motorcycle adventure tours, we’ve put together a list, which in our opinion are the best adventure and touring bikes currently out there for routes like the ones we’ve suggested along with products available which will help enhance your ride experience and generally offer you better performance or safety when out on the road.
Triumph Tiger 900 2020-2021
First up on our list for the Triumph Tiger is the Puig Touring Screen. This innovatively designed screen is perfect for adventure touring, aerodynamically protecting the rider without affecting your vision. Given that all these tours are long journeys on open roads it should provide you with a little more protection from debris or bugs flying through. They’re available in different colours to suit your bike and they have UV protection too. The assembly is painless too, without the need for a mechanic thanks to it’s simple and intuitive adaption. A must have touring accessory - see it in more detail here.
Next up is another essential touring accessory from Puig, the rear hugger for the Triumph Tiger. These rear fenders are highly resistant to impact and offer great aerodynamic capacity. They’re the perfect complement to cover one of the empty parts of the bike as well as offering you protection against splashes and object impacts, making them a perfect touring accessory. With a couple of different colour options available and easy installation, make this a must for your Triumph Tiger 900. Check it out here.
Finally, it’s another one from Puig - the upper deflectors suitable for all Triumph Tiger models 2020-21. The defectors will offer increased protection against air whilst on board your Tiger, notably against large gusts of wind or other adverse weather conditions. The main protection is offered to your shoulders and upper torso and it’s also designed with simple and elegant lines to respect the aesthetics of your bike. Currently available in 2 colours and it comes with mounting instructions for easy installation. Get prepared for your tour on your Triumph with these deflectors, you won’t regret it. Learn more about them here.
KTM 790 Adventure 2019-2021
We have another Puig touring screen as our first pick for the KTM 790 Adventure / R / R Rally. This screen will protect you from any impact or object you may encounter on the roads which is essential during a long ADV tour. It’s highest height is the differential point with the rest of the screens and it offers easy installation in 15 minutes. It offers an additional 11cm of cover over the stock 790 Adventure screen and 21cm over the stock 790 Adventure R screen. Safety is always worth investing in and this should be a top pick for any rider. Get more information or purchase it here.
Our next pick for the KTM 790 Adventure / R is the manual elevation mechanism from Puig - a gear which will allow you to adjust the position of your screen without having to stop - a huge time saver when out on a tour. It will improve the performance of the motorcycle and provides aerodynamic protection adaptable to each moment and situation of your riding. The design of the mechanism when combined with the OEM Touring windshield, adapts itself depending on the route. This means that if you leave the system unlocked (the tabs not fixed) the screen will go up as your speed goes higher and will go down in the case that you are reducing your speed. For a longer trip, we’d recommend setting it to its highest position to achieve better wind protection. See it in more detail here.
This DNA High performance air filter is a high quality, next generation, multi-layer cotton gauze, oil impregnated air filter that NEVER needs replacing. As a result the customer receives the best high performance air filter money can buy, which is why it should be a must on your next tour. Installation is also simple; just follow the information that can be found in the KTM workshop manual. The filtering efficiency is extremely high as well, at 98-99% filtering efficiency, with 4 layers of DNA Cotton too. Learn more about the performance specs here.
Yamaha Tenere 700 2019-2021
You can probably tell that Puig touring screens are an important part of any journey and it’s no different for the Yamaha Tenere either. The benefits are similar as with the other two bikes, in that it will offer greater protection against any impact or object that you might encounter on your journey. It comes with a mounting kit and fitting tools for easy installation to get you on your way. Take a closer look at it here.
Our second pick for the Yamaha Tenere 700 / Rally is the Termignoni Titanium Silencer, designed specially for the 2020 model (contact us here for alternatives for other models). First things first, it’s road legal and it will also considerably improve your performance on your tour, offering +2.7 at 9,750rpm and a torque gain of +1.8Nm at 6,500rpm. It bears the historic Termignoni logo and is effortlessly designed to complement the original bike. Check out further specs and purchase it here.
We’ve chosen the DNA performance air filter again but this time for the Yamaha. As with the KTM 90, the DNA performance air filter never needs replacing, meaning it’s the best possible value for money and offers the highest performance specs too. Installation is also kept simplistic meaning you can follow the instructions in the Yamaha workshop manual for quick fitting. See more about what it could do for the Yamaha Tenere 700 / Rally and pricing here.
BMW R1250GS Adventure 2018-2021
That’s right, the top pick is another Puig touring screen for the BMW R1250GS / Adventure 2018-21. As with the others, it will provide increased protection against windblast against the rider. These screens raise the windblast by several centimeters allowing the rider to keep a more comfortable position riding the motorcycle. It will increase by 150 mm higher than the original R1200GS Screen and 110 mm higher than the original R1200GS Adventure Screen. Check out the full specs for it here.
We’ve got the new Termignoni homologated silencer for the BMW R1250GS / Adventure 2018-21 up next, offering you improved performance when on your adventure. It’s design is the perfect addition to the motorcycle and it offers a weight saving of 1KG from the stock exhaust. Get more details and prices here.
As with the other DNA performance air filters, this one also offers increased efficiency at 98-99% filtering efficiency, with 4 layers of DNA Cotton. In terms of improvements, the flow of this new DNA FCD filter is very high, + 15.00 % more than the BMW stock paper filter, so some serious gains to be made and it’s designed for road and off road use, so if you’re tempted to green laning on your route, this filter is still suitable. Find more about the full specs here.
Honda Africa Twin 2020 - 21 / Adventure Sports 2020
The Puig touring screen makes the grade once again and similarly with the other products, it will protect you on the roads from any impact or object you might encounter on your tour. At its lowest position, the screen is 125 mm higher than the stock screen and at its highest point, the screen is 150 mm higher than the stock screen. It comes with mounting instructions and aerodynamic studies so you can have confidence in the screen you’re buying. It’s worth noting that this screen is not suitable for the Adventure Sports models. Learn more about it here.
This next Puig Touring Screen is for the Honda Africa Twin CRF1100L Adventure Sports 2020 so incorporating the adventure sports model. It offers the same benefit of impact and object protection whilst you’re out on the road. The screen has a rounded contour in 2mm, complying with the regulations of the German TÜV. It sits at 70mm lower than the stock screen and in typical fashion comes with mounting instructions and a fitting kit so you can attach it yourself without the need for a mechanic. Get more details and purchase it here.
We’ve selected another DNA performance air filter to increase efficiency and improve performance on your journey. This set consists of two filters and features DNA’s advanced Full Contour design. The filtering efficiency is again extremely high at 98-99% with 4 layers of DNA Cotton. As with the other DNA performance air filters installation info is included and they’re suitable for off road and on road use. Get the full specs here.
Motorcycle Performance Accessories and Advice for Adventures Tours
Thanks for reading and we hope you’ve found our guide useful, especially if you’re planning to take one of these routes this summer. This is not an exhaustive list, there are plenty of shorter routes you can look at if you don’t have the time available for a longer haul that can be just as much fun and give you that thrill of the open road.
No matter what journey you’re taking this year, Motorcycle Performance Store can help you prepare for the tour and ensure your riding experience will be as smooth as possible that offers you the most enjoyment. Browse our online shop here and look through some of the other products which improve your journey, not just the ones we’ve recommended.
If you’d like to talk to one of our expert team about any of the products we’ve recommended or just to ask what we stock that would be useful for an adventure tour, please contact us here and we’d be happy to chat.