Have you ever wondered what would it be like if the world was coming to an end? How would we survive if the aliens invaded and started wiping us out or a zombie apocalypse was underway?
With shortages of food, water, electricity, gasoline, and medical supplies; no more paved roads but only rugged terrain, mass transport either wiped out or too vulnerable, air transport impossible – how would we effectively bug-out for a long time and what would be a good idea for a bug-out vehicle and escape?
I think, of all the survival vehicles out there, a durable, time-tested, efficient, simple to run & fix motorcycle would perhaps be our best option. The best bug-out bike would no doubt be an agile bike with the characteristics of dirt bikes and adventure bikes, great for long distances, dirt roads, rough terrain and with excellent gas mileage, easy to fix mechanical parts and as hybrid as possible in terms of variety of fuel.
Let’s first look at what would be essential characteristics of these survival bikes:
- Type of bike: Surely an adventure bike or a dirt bike since we expect to ride through rough terrain and damaged or destroyed roads. Sports bikes, track bikes, and cruisers would be bad options given that their off-roading capabilities are minimal, and ground clearance is pretty bad too.
And don’t even get me started on their fuel efficiency. Also, the tech on some of these motorcycles can be super advanced and hard to fix without a ton of proper tools should something go wrong.
Gone are the days of air-cooled, carbureted engines. It’s all about computers running the show now!
- Fuel efficiency: High gas mileage or miles per charge. Both gas stations and charging stations would be few, and far away is what we would assume in such a situation. We would be aiming for less fuel consumption as much as possible.
- Gas-only bike: A gas engine bike would do well if it could run on diesel and petrol. However, the ideal scenario would be to have a motorcycle that runs on diesel, petrol, kerosene, cooking oil etc.
- Electric-only bike: We should assume that charging stations will mostly be destroyed, and those that survive would possibly be far-flung. An ideal scenario in such a situation would be motorcycles that also have solar panels so they can be charged directly from the sun.
- The durability of engines and overall build: Regular maintenance and service would be a luxury in a survival situation. We, therefore, need motorcycles whose engines would run hundreds of thousands of kilometres and could go for long periods without service.
Based on my experience with Japanese and European bikes, I would be highly inclined to have a Japanese bike in such a situation. Japanese motorcycles are legendary for their durability and dependability.
- Carrying capacity: it’s not hard to imagine that in an apocalyptic situation, one might have to take a pillion along with rations, fuel etc. Versatility in the carrying department would be a must-have.
- Weight: Making a quick escape from a zombie attack might require a lean, mean machine such as a dirt bike. Overall, the heavier the motorcycle, the less it can manoeuvre quickly.
Now let’s look at 10 of the best survival motorcycle options:
Motoped Survival Bike: This bug-out motorcycle is arguably one of the best among others. It is very purpose-built and has basic survival features. It has a universal rack which allows you to mount multiple gas tanks (one on each side for fuel, or you could also carry gallons of water).
It also allows for a slew of harnesses, fitments and mounts, thereby increasing storage capacity and versatility. The primary and ancillary tanks combined can take you 250 – 300 miles! We think that this is the best survival bike out there and gets a 10/10 from us.
Christini AWD 450 Military Edition: Next on our list of best survival motorcycles is a two-wheel-drive motorcycle. Yes, you heard that correctly — it’s not just the rear wheel but also the front wheel. All-Wheel-Drive is such a rarity among motorcycle riders that it almost sounds too good to be true. United States Navy seals and special forces deployed overseas have used this motorcycle.
That goes to show that it is tough, durable and tactical. This motorcycle is likely an excellent option for any dangerous situation. It’s important to note that Steve Christini, the man behind the Christini AWD system, can apply the AWD option to various bikes such as those from KTM, Kawasaki, Honda and Yamaha. These would, of course, be from adventure motorcycles and dirt bikes categories.
Kawasaki KLR650: Finally, we have one from the Japanese manufacturers. Believe me when I say that a Japan-made motorcycle is always a good option regardless of the type of motorcycle. I say that from experience, having owned two Japanese superbikes for years. My buddies that own Kawasakis, Hondas, Suzukis and Yamahas have very similar stories. Japanese bikes last forever!
Talking about the Kawasaki KLR650, if the USMC can bet on it for their operations, so can you. The KLR650 used for the United States Marine Core has been fitted for running on Diesel, Biodiesel, Kerosene and JP8 aviation fuel. It was also modified to cover 400miles on a full tank of fuel.
Zero FX Stealthfighter: This is an electric bike. But it has interchangeable battery packs, so you can easily swap those out to cover long distances. The ~70miles per battery charge is a bit lacking, honestly. However, what it lacks in range, it makes up in being lightweight and with decent torque (70 ft-lbs) and power (44bhp) figures.
Those are great reasons to make this a fantastic bug-out bike overall. One could argue that looks aren’t the most important criteria in survival bike. But why not look good doing it anyway! Yes, the Zero FX does look badass. I’d feel a bit like Mad Max on it, honestly. I can totally picture myself riding one of these rad looking machines!
KTM 990 Adventure Baja Edition: They say that if a bike can make it through the Baja rally or the Dakar rally, it is truly a bike to count on. KTM have proven their metal in both those races over the years! This bike is a delight over any terrain — be it bad roads, caved pavements, tricky trails, the desert, or your regular off-roading.
It has a relatively larger fuel tank, robust suspension, and a 115 bhp producing engine (which is a solid amount of power — my Kawasaki Z900 does 123bhp, and that’s a lot). The KTM 990 Adventure Baja Edition is the sort of bike you could ride for hundreds of miles, and it would be ready for the next couple hundred after a 5-minute break!
Kawasaki Versys 300/650/1000: I have personally ridden the Kawasaki Versys 1000 a decent number of miles. It is a competent and incredibly reliable bike. In an end-of-day disaster scenario, this bike (any of the three engine capacity versions) would a great option to rely upon. It has a large gas tank and does excellent on a paved road because of the superb suspension setup.
The Versys also has some off-road capability and comes with traction control. However, that is not something I would necessarily be looking for in a bug-out motorcycle. This motorcycle has excellent capacity to haul a ton of stuff over long distances in general. The smaller engine Versys not be left behind benefits from the lighter weight while maintaining the same level of durability as its more powerful siblings.
Honda Cub: They say legends never die. It can be the only way to describe the Honda Cub! It is not only the most sold motorcycle ever; it is also the one bike that, worse come to worst, can run even on cooking oil.
That should, of course, be what you do in an emergency and not the norm. The Honda Super Cub reportedly has never had a significant problem in more than 60years of its presence. This motorcycle performs beyond its limits all the time.
Yamaha TW 200: How can any motorcycle list be justified without at least two Japanese motorcycle manufacturers making it! So here comes Yamaha! The TW 200 is not a very exciting bike. It’s not exactly a looker, it’s not crazy powerful or excellent torque figures, but it sure is durable!
And that’s what we need! It can go thousands of miles and thousands more and still keep going. This bike can do almost anything, even if it doesn’t exactly do it exceedingly well. All TW 200 owners agree that this is a heck of a durable bike, even though it may be dull as hell.
Honda XR: The R series that came with the knobby tires were/are ultra-reliable and have been passed down generations because they never die! While the R series was the off-road version that Honda produced, the L series was the street bike version of the XR and came with different tires.
Honda produces them from 100 to 650cc in engine capacity. Their simple air-cooled 4-stroke engines are legendary to have never failed their owners.
BMW 1200 GS Adventure, Triumph Tiger 900, Honda Africa Twin, and the Yamaha Ténéré 700 are some very serious bikes from the adventure bike segment.
Awesome suspension, massive range on a single gas tank fill, tons of extra weight carrying capacity, a comfortable ride, for the most part, substantial amounts of power and torque, loaded with tech, and various creature comfort options!
And that’s precisely why you would be double-minded — if they break, they aren’t easy to fix.
Sure they can haul a ton of luggage across demanding terrain and for long distances. Still, they are only part motorcycle — they are computers to a significant part as well, and that’s where the problem is! If the tech goes bad, that might be the end of it. Imagine the nightmare a Ducati Multistrada would be if the tech went bad!
Final thoughts on what motorcycle would serve you the best in a survival, end-of-days, apocalyptic situation
A rugged, durable and fuel-efficient motorcycle would make an excellent survival bike. It must also be multi-utility, easy to fix, time-tested, and capable of running on various fuels. And it wouldn’t hurt if it had the versatility to create extra space using panniers or soft luggage bags.
All of those combined would make an excellent survival bike.
That said, there may not be one motorcycle that does it all! And in a survival situation, having more than one motorcycle might be a better idea. The more, the better. No one motorcycle has all of the attributes, so we might do well to consider having two or more motorcycles!