Travelers are planning to take more adventurous trips in 2024. “Travelers are exhibiting behavior consistent with a mounting desire for immersive experiences,” said Dan Richards, CEO of the Global Rescue Companies and a member of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“Travel rebound demand initially contributed to the growing adventure travel boom. We anticipate increasing interest in adventure travel like African safaris, hiking trips, camping excursions and motorcycle tours,” he said.

Adventure motorcycling tours are surging, and the pandemic had a big impact on the growth of the sport, according to Dan Quick, director of communications for Zero Motorcycles. “People were faced with new limitations on traditional travel, so they began to look on the near horizon for adventure. That was great for a lot of outdoor activities, and adventure motorcycling was one of them.”

The release of a popular adventure motorcycling program during the pandemic added widespread exposure to the activity.

Scottish actor, Ewan McGregor, and Charley Boorman, a writer and television presenter, starred in the British television series, Long Way Round, depicting their 19,000-mile motorcycling journey from London east through Europe, Asia, Alaska and then to New York. Quick believes the show’s release in 2020 by Apple TV, along with its sequels, resurged interest in the adventure motorcycling segment at the same time people were looking for alternatives and socially distanced ways to travel during the pandemic.

McGregor explained the joy of life comes from encounters with new experiences. “There is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”


Three motorcyclists ride off-road through a red canyon.


Focus on Adventure Motorcycling

Adventure motorcycling has been around for decades, but now more people are experiencing many of the same joys long-time riders have favored. Some love the freedom to explore diverse landscapes and travel at their own pace. Others come for the challenge of riding through various terrains such as mountains, deserts and forests as well as the escape from the digital world in favor of immersion in nature and the open road. Nearly all come for the community to ride with friends, family and colleagues who share a passion for travel off the beaten path.

Whatever the reason, adventure motorcycling may be the fastest-growing segment on the two-wheel market, according to Oleg Satanovsky, communications manager for BMW of North America.

JH Leale, president of Ricky Carmichael Racing, agreed. Leale and athlete Ricky Carmichael, the winningest motocross racer of all time, have formed a professional partnership with a major motorcycle manufacturer to develop and grow in the competitive off-road market.

“The sport has more than doubled over the last 10 years,” Leale said. But he added that the growth isn’t just from the increasing amountnumber of riders but also the number of options that riders have.

“The manufacturers are investing heavily. The category was traditionally dominated by BMW motorcycles but now Ducati, Triumph, Honda and Yamaha each have added multiple models to compete in the category,” he said.

Many motorcycle riders enjoy more than one type of riding, whether that’s street cruising, off-roading, touring or racing. Buying separate bikes suited to each of these categories gets pricey, according to Motorcycle Powersports News. The solution? Dual-sport adventure bikes capable of meeting all these riding needs in one package.

“Adventure motorcycles have become the one do-it-all machine that can replace off-road, long-distance touring, commuting and sport-riding bikes,” Satanovsky said.


Three motorcyclists ride in the high desert, off-road among green plants and trees and red plateaus.


Motorcycle Touring Destinations

Adventure motorcycle tours are springing up in more places than ever. From Mongolia and Europe to North America, Africa and Oceania. Leale identified Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as a fantastic area and beautiful to ride. “The best rides are called ‘color rides’ that begin in late spring and continue through the fall. It’s a very popular ride with North Americans but also a huge number coming in from Europe,” he said.

Morocco, Alaska and Patagonia are popular tours for adventurous bikers, according to Ben Firsby, Tour Specialist with UK-based Magellan Motorcycle Tours. “Patagonia is new for us and has already proved incredibly popular. We get asked where we’re going to add new tours. Japan, Türkiye, and Iceland are in our plans for new tours,” he said.

Rides in Australia and New Zealand are incredibly popular as well, especially for U.S. residents. Popular motorcycle adventure tours in Asia include Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Laos, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam, according to Travel + Leisure.

Mike Thomsen, the rider-in-chief at MotoDreamer, began pioneering motorcycle tours in Colombia 15 years ago and is proud to call it the number one destination in the world. He ranks Peru as the runner-up for its incredible roads and cuisine. In third place is Tibet. “Reaching Mount Everest Basecamp crossing the highest Himalayan peaks is exhilarating,” he said.


A touring motorcyclist lifts his bike's front-wheel off the desert ground, off-road in a rocky, red canyon.


Shifting Demographics

The riders joining the adventure motorcycling wave are coming from several areas. The people who ride Baggers – motorcycles with touring accessories like saddlebags and a top box – are one group. “Those riders tend to be a little bit older, but they’re attracted to the chance to go beyond the road without worrying about jumps, drop-offs and steep climbs on sand, gravel, mud and rivers,” Leale said.

Younger riders are connecting, too. They’re jumping on the adventure touring bandwagon because they’re at a stage in life where they have the means to ride on motorcycles that are less costly than fully dressed baggers and go on international trips that have a lower risk of injury.

Women are getting into motorcycling in huge numbers. “Women don’t dominate the numbers, but they’re definitely a larger proportion than in the past,” Leale said.

A popular ride among women is in the Indian Himalayas. “We ride the Royal Enfield Himalayans out there, which are generally less intimidating to motorcycles to ride than the bigger adventure bikes like the enduro bikes we ride on most of our other trips,” said Anna Jacobs, co-founder of Ride Expeditions.

Finally, some riders joining in are former competitive racers who are aging out of closed-course and off-road riding. “They don’t want to risk injury but they’re finding safer riding adventures off of closed courses,” Leale said.


Motorcycle Mindset

Motorcycling for most riders is embedded in their lifestyle and a big part is the group dynamic that is built into an adventure. “Motorcycle touring trips typically comprise six to eight friends who love riding off-road, to go and see things that they wouldn’t be able to see in the car,” Leale said.

Since COVID, people are perceiving their lives differently. Leale believes riders have adopted the YOLO – you only live once – attitude and want to make sure they get their chances to do the things they want to do. “They want to get as much adventure travel as possible before they no longer can,” he said.


Two motorcyclists ride through deep, red mud in an attempt to cross a canyon river.


Adventure Touring Risks

Adventure motorcycling comes with risks, each of which can be minimized with planning and preparation.

Choosing an adventure that is too challenging is one of the biggest mistakes an adventure rider can make, according to Jacobs. “New riders want to experience the best of an adventure ride. But we advise them to take it slow, start with shorter and easier trips until you really know your abilities, and get some proper training.”

Thomsen agrees. “People sign up for tours above their skill level and ask for off-road routes when they are clearly not prepared and experienced enough to tackle the conditions. For this reason, we offer a weeklong International Travel training bootcamp.”

Road conditions predictably include gravel, mud, sand and potholes which can increase the risk of accidents. Extreme weather conditions like rain, snow or high winds can make riding on these surfaces more challenging and dangerous.

Traveling in remote areas can lead to limited access to help in case of mechanical breakdowns or medical emergencies. While infrequent, encounters with wildlife can be dangerous, especially in certain regions where animals may pose a threat to riders. Additionally, some regions may have elevated security concerns like civil unrest, political instability, theft or robbery.

Preparation for adventure motorcycling must include training to handle long hours of riding and exposure to extreme weather which can affect concentration and reaction times.

Leale knows that the style of riding takes people off the grid quite a bit. “We take a lot of safety precautions and at the end of the day, it makes things a lot safer. But the risk element is always there so we run Bivy sticks with Global Rescue so we’re always in communication and in touch with emergency response and support,” he said.


Adventure Travel With Peace of Mind

Smart adventure motorcycle touring riders will bring along a Global Rescue medical evacuation and travel risk membership for peace of mind. A Global Rescue membership pays for the expense of an emergency field rescue or medical evacuation. Rescue and medevac costs can reach $300,000 but for Global Rescue members the cost is $0. Discover how a Global Rescue travel membership can provide you with peace of mind on every journey. Explore the 10 Reasons Why You Need Global Rescue Travel Protection.