If you are in the market exploring your options for the a new dual sport motorcycle, this buyer’s guide will be a great resource for your to narrow your search. Chaparral Motorsports is one of the largest dual sport motorcycle dealerships in the country. Our knowledgeable sales team offered their top selections for the best dual purpose bikes and motorcycle tires.
Best Dual Sport Motorcycles
One of the most popular dual sport motorcycles has to be the Kawasaki KLR650. Well suited for the highways, deserts, mountains or the big city, the KLR650 is a smart reliable choice for riders seeking the versatility of a tour-ready dual-sport motorcycle. The KLR650 has a look and feel like a middleweight adventure motorcycle, and in this role the versatile Kawasaki is finding its real niche.
Kawasaki has added many features to the already rugged off road capabilities of the KLR that enhance its use on the street, highways and city traffic. Kawasaki has improved the throttle response with revised ignition mapping, and revised cam timing contributes to improved high RPM highway travel. A redesigned cylinder head with new intake porting for greater low-end torque and quicker throttle response in heavier city traffic.
Kawasaki has taken a new direction with the KLR recognizing that many are looking for a scaled down adventure bike with an emphasis on street travel and the ability of traveling country dirt roads, fire breaks and simple trails when the journey calls for it. The KLR can easily handle this type of travel and is ideal for the long distance moto-camping excursion. The KLR650 has a 6.1gallon fuel tank and fantastic gas mileage so it is able to range far before needing to stop.
The KLR650 is ideally suited for 80 percent on road 20 percent off-road travel as it favors street riding. The fairing works extremely well in blocking wind and is a must have for long distance cool weather travel and the large luggage rack allows you plenty of room to strap on bags, tents and other adventure necessities. The KLR650 is one of the larger dual sport motorcycles on the list, however despite the longer and heavier feel the KLR650 is super smooth and handles surprisingly well. This bike is quite a motorcycle for an economical price.
The Suzuki DR-Z400S looks like a dirt bike because it is. Like the Honda XR650L, Suzuki has built a dual-sport motorcycle that is very much at home on the trail. The Suzuki is based around off road riding but is legal, capable and very competent on the street. A very sharp looking dual sport, the DR-Z400S is an excellent blend and compromise making it an excellent dual-sport mount.
The DR-Z400S has very quick throttle response, strong torque across the power band and is more than adequate for zipping around town, in and out of city traffic and then heading straight out to the hills. If serious off road riding with a little street action is what you crave the Suzuki DR-Z400S fits the bill quite nicely. Suzuki uses regular telescopic oil-damped, adjustable compression and rebound damping for the front suspension,. For the rear suspension Suzuki selected a mono-shock swingarm with link type fully adjustable spring preload with adjustable compression and rebound damping. By featuring remarkably smooth performance, complemented by conveniences such as electric starting and a compact, easy-to-read instrument cluster, the Suzuki DR-Z400S is a tough to beat dual-sport motorcycle whether on the trail or commuting across town.
Bulletproof reliability is what the Honda XR series of dual sport motorcycles have always been about. The Honda XR650L has remained relatively unchanged since 1992 except for some different colors and graphics. Solid design and engineering has given the popular Honda a lifespan that requires little change.
The XR650L is for those who refuse to stop at the pavements end and prefer to add lots of dirt roads, trails and forgotten byways into their motorcycle adventure. With a heavy emphasis on off road capabilities and the ability to run the streets legally the XR650L is the perfect platform for riders who are in the opposite 80/20 crowd then those of the KLR650. The XR650L is 80% off road and 20% on road in its configuration.
The XR650L features convenient electric starting excellent power and torque that is ideally suited for both on and off road riding, but the ergonomics favor an off road stance as the XR650L is taller with greater travel then most dual-purpose motorcycles. The seat height is 37” making the XR650L quite tall in the saddle and a chore for anyone smaller in stature to balance while waiting at a red light. The Honda’s height and suspension travel make the XR650L quite capable in the dirt, yet still handling unexpectedly well on the street. For extended high speed road travel the Honda does not compete with the creature comforts offered by the KLR650’s windscreen and better asphalt orientation, but its rugged reliability, excellent off road characteristics and competent road handling make the XR650L a serious dual-sport contender.
BMW 650 Xchallenge
BMW is not the first bike that comes to mind when you think of a lighter single cylinder dual sport motorcycle. Sure they make some fantastic adventure motorcycles, but whippy isn’t how you would describe the off road performance characteristics of their larger twin cylinder mounts. If you are a fan of the Bavarian company and dreaming of whoops, ruts, sand washes and gnarly singletracks don’t fret. BMW has an off-road bike that can slalom around tree roots, and rocks without getting hung up and zip around town with equal confidence. The new G 650 Xchallenge boasts a 53 bhp single cylinder engine with plenty of pulling power. This is an enduro that’s lightweight in terms of heft, but certainly not in its ability. Front mudguards, an asymmetric headlight, a cast aluminum rear swing arm, and a lightweight front brake disc complete the package. The BMW G 650 Xchallenge – a single cylinder enduro that can’t wait to tear it up is also the biggest investment on our list retailing at $8500.00
The Yamaha WR250R is for riders who ride off road more than on, yet street accessible. The WR250R is directly descended from Yamaha’s highly successful YZ motocrossers so it is without a doubt an off road oriented machine. The WR250R is Yamaha’s first fuel injected on/off road motorcycle that relays input from a crank sensor, intake air pressure sensor and throttle position sensor to a compact ECU to provide optimum combustion. The ECU controlled exhaust valve, along with the electronic intake control valve, helps to broaden the powerband making the WR250R a very rider friendly motorcycle.
The WR250R is lightweight and narrow just like a motocrosser giving the motorcycle a very capable and agile feel off road. The electric start and quiet muffler make the motorcycle more manageable and less obtrusive when on road and its street legality allows you to run into town out of the hills for lunch, or to access another riding area without having to load the bike onto a trailer.
The Yamaha WR250R is not a motorcycle you would even remotely consider using extensively on the road. It lacks the size necessary to make it a longer distance dual-sport, but it is ideal for fire roads and trails that require a license to travel and for brief excursions into town.