For the 2016 Dual-Sport Bike Buyer’s Guide, click here.
Remember the days when Scott Summers amazed everyone by dominating the GNCC series on a gigantic four-stroke? His secret was that it was this gigantic four-stroke. The XR650L of today is a near twin to the bike that Summers used, and to this day, it’s a good dirt bike. The ergonomics feel old-school by modern standards, but the suspension is surprisingly good.
For a review of the 650s listed, click here.
This bike is a phenomenon that is currently experiencing a comeback. Back in the days before the adventure bike movement, it was considered too heavy in weight and too lightweight in performance. Now, with its frame-mount fairing, solid luggage rack and fuel-sipping motor, it’s enjoying a second childhood among budget-minded adventurers.
For a test of the 2015 KLR650, click here.
This bike hasn’t changed in years, which allows Suzuki to offer it at a very good price. It has a devoted following in the bare-bones adventure bike world. It still has a torquey, air-cooled motor and suspension that isn’t half bad. It’s most commonly compared to the Kawasaki KLR650, which trumps the Suzuki with its fairing but has slightly less power.
In the small world of hard-core dual-sport bikes, Beta is the only player that compares well to the Austrian hardware from the KTM factory. Both the 500 (actually 478cc) and the 430 (431cc, with a 5mm smaller bore) are as good or better in the dirt than most dedicated off-road machines. The pricing is appropriate for such specialty motorcycles and still lower than KTM’s.
For a look at the newly announced 2016 Beta motorcycles, click here.
If you want a dual-sport Husky, you better have a deposit down soon. Almost everyone wants one—and with good reason. The FE501S and FE350S are almost indistinguishable from their dirt-only counterparts, aside from obvious street equipment. They are similar to KTM models but have suspension linkage and a composite subframe. For a review of this bike, click here.
For a look at the newly announced 2016 Husqvarna motorcycles, click here.
This model is based on the KTM 500XC-W, which is the dirt-going flagship of the KTM line. For street duty, it gets the necessary lighting and meets slightly tighter emission standards. It has an incredible SOHC, fuel-injected motor and an open-bath WP fork. The rear suspension is the no-linkage PDS design with a new shock for 2015.
For a look at the newly announced KTM line, click here.
The knee-jerk instinct in the dual-sport world is to go big. But, the lightweight KTM 350EXC might be the best bike of all the hard-core dual-sport bikes currently available. It has plenty of power for even extended road trips, but is still light and agile enough for tight trails. The motor is the biggest success story in the KTM line, accounting for most of the company’s U.S. sales.
Honda let the CRF250L’s price go up slightly this year, but it’s still a phenomenally good deal. For under $5000, you get a fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, DOHC, dual-sport bike with dual disc brakes and all the latest technology. It’s no race bike, but the CRF250L is a solid motorcycle with a reasonable seat height and is easy to own and maintain.
This is a high-tech marvel that outperforms anything else in its class. The WR250R is fuel injected and has titanium valves and an aluminum frame. It gets an estimated 71 mpg on the highway to make the commuting crowd happy and is much more dirt-worthy than the less-expensive XT250. Yamaha offers a number of performance parts that can give the WR a little more punch too.
Yamaha brought this bike back into the line specifically to compete with the Honda XR250L. It offers similar performance with a much simpler air-cooled motor. The XT250 bears the same name as a much earlier model, but actually is more modern than you might think, with fuel injection, dual disc brakes and electric start.
Suzuki finally gave its 200cc dual-sport bike an overdue face lift for 2015. It has new bodywork, and along the way it got a much sleeker fuel tank than the oddly bulbous unit it had. The fuel capacity is still 3.3 gallons, which means you can ride it until the tires wear out before refueling. The air-cooled motor still has electric start and a front disc brake.
This remains the best beginner bike in the street-legal world. It has a super-reliable motor with electric start, and the small-diameter, wide tires give it a combination of good traction in the dirt, plus a low seat height. The TW has been around long enough that it’s almost a mandatory feature on the rear bumper of high-end motor homes.
The Suzuki DR-Z is back! After a brief hiatus, the iconic DOHC dual-sport bike is available once more. It hasn’t changed, but in the era before $10,000 extreme dual-sport bikes, it ruled the roost. Also back in the line for 2015 is the DR-Z400SM, which is more street-oriented and has an inverted fork, wide rims, street tires and a massive front disc brake. o
For the 10 Best Used Dual-Sport Bikes, click here.