Technically, a horse is the most off-road-capable mode of transportation outside your own feet. And while horses are relatively quick, have loads of traction thanks to four contact patches always hooked to the ground, and are far more cuddly than your average automobile, your average automobile won’t buck, bite, or require a rest period for brushing, feeding, and pooping.
Since the “invention” of the horse, off-road capable machines have come a long way. There now exists a car, truck, or motorcycle to fit any budget, terrain, or wanton desert destruction your pretty little heart could desire. Everything from an electric mountain bike to race-ready, near-million-dollar trophy truck can be had for the discerning off-roader.
That said, because of the ubiquity of off-road-ready machines, it can be intimidating when one starts to look for the perfect off-road vehicle. To make matters much easier, we’ve created an in-depth list of our favorite off-road vehicles, starting at the low-end of the price spectrum and slowly reaching toward Rupert Murdoch’s bank account — if only — to help find you your next dirt weapon of choice.
Let’s get dirty.
Trek Bikes Powerfly 5 – $3,499
Face it, sometimes you just don’t want to pedal. The same is true in that sometimes you do. Trek’s Powerfly offers the best of both worlds. Coming complete with Bosch’s e-MTB system, the mountain bike gives owners the ability to ride it up to speeds of 20 mph.
Bosch’s system is based around a 250-watt electric motor coupled to a 500wH battery pack. And although the system adds some weight, the Powerfly still offers riders four-inches of suspension travel through its RockShox Judy Silver TK fork.
Cake Kalk Electric Dirt Bike – $14,000
Built in Sweden, the Cake Kalk wants to be the answer to the question, “What happens to dirt bikes when gasoline is gone?” Weighing just 155 pounds, the dirt bike uses a 2.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack generating 20 horsepower, or plenty to run rings around any of the other featherweight gasoline-powered bikes.
Cake claims that the top speed is 50 miles per hour and it will only run out of juice after a healthy 50 miles. For those naysayers talking about capability, the designers tested the Kalk at one of Sweden’s premiere dirt bike locations that includes jumps, curves, banks, and rollers. One issue: Cake is only going to build 50 for the time being, so you might want to put down your deposit now.
Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L – $13,299
There are few motorcycles that can do what the Honda Africa Twin can. Point the front wheel in any direction of travel and all you have to do is twist the throttle for the Africa Twin to conquer whatever lays in front of you. Key to this success is the Africa Twin’s long-travel suspension and penchant for adventure.
Built around the notion that people would buy an almost Dakar-ready off-road-racer, the Africa Twin could be the only vehicle you’ll ever need. Not only can it run around town, completing normal errands with all the comfort of a Rolls-Royce, but if there was ever a zombie apocalypse, you could head out into the wilds of your respective country and escape. It’s near-perfect.
BMW F800 GS Adventure – $13,895
While the Africa Twin will just about conquer everything you put in front of it, BMW’s F800 GS Adventure will conquer nearly the same amount of terrain with your hands and butt warmed and yourself in complete comfort.
Marketed as a luxury adventure motorcycle, the F800 GS Adventure comes equipped with knobby tires, heated grips and saddle, and enough storage space to fit a small canine or two. Add a long-range fuel tank, and a healthy spirit for getting out into the world, and you have one of the best adventure motorcycles on the market.
Polaris RZR XP Turbo S – $27,499
There are few machines in the world that can do what the Polaris RZR XP Turbo S can do. The XP Turbo S is Polaris’ latest RZR iteration, and based on its spec sheet, the XP Turbo S will lick just about everything this side of a full-on SCORE International Trophy Truck with 1,100 horsepower and 30-inches of suspension travel.
Riding on an all-new strengthened chassis, and using Polaris’ voodoo-like Dynamix adaptive suspension technology, the XP Turbo S features nearly 25-inches of usable suspension travel. And although the engine generates just 168 horsepower, nearly ten-times less than the aforementioned trophy truck, it weighs just a fraction of the trophy truck’s gross weight. It is the king of the desert. That is until you drop a quarter million for a real race truck.
Indian Motorcycle Scout FTR750 Super Hooligan – $50,000
Leaving adventure motorcycles, the Indian Scout FTR750 Super Hooligan is an actual race-ready motorcycle that the average consumer can purchase directly through Indian. The Scout FTR750 is the same race motorcycle Indian’s Wrecking Crew team competes with on dirt ovals around the country in the American Flat Track series.
The Scout FTR750 is a motorcycle devoid of creature comforts. There’s barely any suspension travel, the seat is rock-solid, and the front wheel is devoid of a certain safety system found in 99-percent of all motorcycles. The front brake. Yet, for the flat track fan, and for a fan devoted to the divine oval dirt and mud, there’s nothing better than the Scout FTR750.
Renner Racing Development Subaru Impreza 22B Reproduction – $40,000-$100,000
“Blah, blah, blah. Accelerate!” one rally instructor once told me. And in Renner Racing Development’s Subaru Impreza 22B reproduction, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing: accelerating like a rocket across gravel, snow, and dirt.
The Subaru Impreza 22B is one of the most highly sought after rally homologation specials in existence thanks in large part to its race sibling’s dominance and a certain rally driver named Colin McRae. Renner begins with a stock Impreza from the early ’90s, replaces the drivetrain with a slightly modified more recent WRX STI drivetrain, and can add suspension, interior, and other components to make your very own 22B replica ready to take on Monte Carlo or a trip to the shops.
Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6 – $515,000
That $515,000 price tag was when it was new. Now, you’d likely find out that Mercedes-Benz’s six-wheeled monstrosity nearly costs a cool million dollars. Why exactly is the G63 6×6, a vehicle based on a 40-year-old military design, setting you back the price of a small yacht? Rarity and capability.
The beast is powered by a 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine generating 544 horsepower. That turbo powered is then sent to all six wheels via six individual portal axles — tech borrowed from the Mercedes-Benz Unimog — allowing the G63 6×6 to power through just about anything, including sand dunes, deserts, trees, a barn door, and according to one video easily found on the internet, through a water park’s pool. It’s also one of the most luxurious off-roaders you could ever ask for. What’s not to love?
Brenthel Industries 6100 Trophy Truck – $500,000-$1,000,000
This baby is the big bad of this list. It’s the king. There’s nothing it can’t conquer. No terrain it can’t cross. No race it can’t win. A trophy truck is the automotive world’s Godzilla, a straight-up kaiju meant to terrorize anything that isn’t tarmac and in that world, Brenthel Industries’ 6100 Trophy Truck is one of the best available.
While completely customizable based on the client’s wants and needs, the “standard” 6100 Trophy Truck features an 1,100 horsepower engine coupled to a Culhane Turbo 400 transmission. Suspension travel equates to 26-inches in the front, and 32-inches of travel at the rear. That’s increased by the 40-inch BFGoodrich tires meant to pound all terrain into submission.
Besides the price tag, you’ll also need a sizable bank account when fueling the 105-gallon, long-distance race tank.
Leopard 1A5 Tank – $248,000 (Pre-Owned)
When nothing else strikes your fancy, or you need something that could be used to defend your secure position in the case of an enemy siege, why not buy a decommissioned tank? This specific tank is a Leopard 1A5 and is presently located in Germany – you’ll have to make travel arrangements.
Built in West Germany, the Leopard 1A5 is actually what you’d call a self-propelled gun as it once featured a 105mm artillery canon. This Leopard also comes equipped with a MTU V-10 engine good for 818 horsepower and weighs a total of nearly 42 tons. It has space for four individuals, although likely quite cramped, and maintains the original paint.