If you’ve ever been on a long adventure bike trip you’ll know how tiring it can become on those long days in the saddle. While it is easy to stretch out your legs and left hand, your right hand needs to stray on the throttle. Cruise control is a neat feature to keep the accelerate on while you give your right hand a rest.
Many larger road touring bikes have had cruise control for ages, but until more recently riders of adventure bikes had to let go of the gas to shake out their numb right hand. While after-market cruise control systems have been available for years, adventure bike makers have join the party and started adding factory cruise control systems in their top models.
Adventure bike manufacturers keep adding more electronic features with each new model and it is becoming hard to keep up. I did some research to find the top adventure bikes that feature cruise control from the factory.
Here’s a list of adventure bikes with cruise control from the factory:
#1. BMW R1250 GS Adventure
On both the GS and GS Adventure cruise control is included in the optional extra Premium Package at an additional $3 350. The system can be activated from 30 kph. With cruise control activated, you can open the throttle to speed up. Relax the throttle and it goes back to the set speed. If you close the throttle abruptly, it disengages the cruise control. Tapping the brakes or pulling the clutch also disengage the system.
The Premium Package is not cheap, but in addition to cruise control, you get GPS Preparation, Ride Modes Pro, Gear Shift Assist Pro, Saddle Bag Mounts for Aluminium Cases, ABS Pro, LED Aux Lights, Dynamic Traction Control, Tire Pressure Monitor, Keyless Ride, Dynamic ESA, and Heated Grips.
#2. Ducati Multistrada 950S and 1260
In Ducati’s Multistrada adventure bike range, it is only one of the eight models that does not feature cruise control as standard from the factory. The entry level 950.
Ducati and KTM are apparently in advanced stages of developing adaptive cruise control (ACC). Radar will be used to scan the road ahead and warn the rider of potential hazards. It may even be able to intervene via the ECU to close the throttle and apply the brakes automatically. It is yet to be seen who comes out with the first production model featuring ACC.
#3. Honda Africa Twin CRF 1100 L
Both of the 2020 Africa Twin models are all equipped with cruise control as standard, just like the Honda Gold Wings. That means you can get a great long distance adventure bike with cruise control for $14 399. That is 32% cheaper than a BMW R 1250 GS with cruise control. The controls are on the right-hand grip.
#4. Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
The Kawa looks more like a tall touring bike than an adventure bike and it is packed with electronic wizardry. Apart from cruise control, standard equipment includes a slipper clutch, dual electronic throttle valves, Kawasaki Cornering Management Function (KCMF), Kawasaki Electronic Control Suspension (KECS), Kawasaki Intelligent ABS (KIBS), a quick shifter, traction control and a super charger.
#5. KTM 790 Adventure Rally
Cruise control is standard equipment on the KTM 790 Rally, but can be added as an optional extra on the KTM 790 R and S. You will need to purchase the separate combination switch from KTM. You will also need to have the cruise control software enabled by a KTM dealership.
#6. KTM 1290 Super Adventure
The Super Adventure has standard cruise control as one would expect, being one of the most popular adventure bikes. An interesting development, however, is that KTM is in a battle (with the Ducati Multistada 1260 S GT) to be the first adventure bike with adaptive cruise control.
Radar housed in the front between the headlights will scan the road ahead. The signal will then we processed by the module hidden further back. The rider can select the desired speed and distance from the vehicle in front and the computer does the rest. The video from KTM below explains it in more detail.
If the car in front slows down, the bike automatically slows down to keep the set following distance. If the car accelerates or changes lane, the bike will apply the accelerator and smoothly increase the speed until the set cruising speed is reached. The system can also apply the brakes if required in an emergency situation.
#7. Triumph Tiger
There are so many models of Triumph Tigers, 20 to be exact, that is was quite a mission to find out which ones have cruise control as standard. If you buy a 1200 (starting at $16 500) you will get cruise control. On the 800’s, the XRX (starting at $13 800) and XRT models has cruise control as standard, while the 900 GT and GT Rally models will allow your right hand a rest from $14 300.
The controls are on the left-hand switch cube and the +/- buttons vary the speed by 1 mph increments.
#8. Yamaha Super Ténéré ES
The Super Ténéré comes standard with cruise control and a range of other electronic aids. These include adjustable suspension, ride modes and linking the front and rear brakes when grabbing a handful.
How does cruise control work on an adventure bike?
For decades is has been possible to install a manual cruise control on almost any bike. It is essentially a device attached to the right-hand side handlebar that locks the throttle in the open position. This keeps the bike going while you give your right hand a break.
The problem with the throttle lock is that is simply locks the throttle at a specific throttle opening. It does not control the engine or road speed. It is still very convenient if you want to rest your right wrist for a moment.
Factory cruise control like the systems from the bikes in our list work the same as cruise control in a car. It uses the bike’s engine management system to keep the engine speed (rpm) constant. On an incline, it will open the throttle and it will close again on a downhill.
The rider can open the throttle and once it is released, the bike will settle at the set speed. The speed can usually also be adjusted in small increments by pressing a + or – button on the handlebar. Most systems cancel when the brakes or clutch are used, or if the throttle is closed abruptly. The rider will still have to intervene in case the traffic slows down. But that is about to change with adaptive cruise control. Who will be first, KTM or Ducati?
Why would you need it?
So why would you want an adventure bike with cruise control?
On long rides it helps to shake out your right-hand wrist once in a while, especially when it is cold. Setting the cruise control means the bike won’t lose speed when you let go of the throttle.
Freeing up both hands for a moment is sometimes useful, for example to adjust your gloves or zip up your jacket.
On long open roads, it might be more fuel efficient to cruise at a constant speed instead of accelerating each time you lose concentration and slow down inadvertently.
Some roads are just known for speed trapping, and by setting your bike to the speed limit, there’s no way of getting caught by accident. It is so easy on a big, powerful adventure bike to go faster than you think.
While cruise surely is a luxury and definitely not required on a long trip, much less an off-road adventure bike trip, it is a nice touch to add some comfort on those long highway stretches back home.