Known as the do-it-all bikes of the motorcycle world, dual sport bikes are the great equalizers of the consistent off-road vs. on-road debate. Through this compromise of sorts, they’re positioned to perform as commuter bikes for work or cruising around town, or as off-road weekend companions meant to tackle the trails with ease. Simply put, they’re street legal off-road friendly machines complete with the necessary commuting equipment such as your standard headlights, speedometer, mirrors, etc. so they can be registered and licensed in your state.
However, whether you’re looking for your first dual sport bike or to step things up a notch, the variety out there can be a bit daunting thanks to more than a handful of manufacturers looking to grab their fair share of the market. However, there are several legacy brands that have been doing things the right way for a while now – building dual sport motorcycles that are both reliable and look the part while cruising through the city. So if you’re interested in scooping up one of these versatile rides outfitted for any terrain, have a peek at the handful of options below that surely won’t let you down – no matter what your intended use may be.
At the end of the day, motorcycles are meant to be fun and enjoyable ways of experiencing the world around you. And with this Honda CRF250L, this is your one-stop-shop for getting hands-on with both our paved and unpaved roads and the trails helping you to experience it all. Their newest model, however, comes with a handful of new updates for a more user-friendly experience. Standouts include a larger throttle, new muffler design, revised airbox, and a larger diameter exhaust header. A larger fuel tank was also affixed to the 2017 model along with new Dakar-style bodywork, hand guards, and increased suspension travel.
Engine: 4-Stroke, single cylinder, liquid-cooled
Fuel Tank: 2.1 gallons
Outfitted as a perfect dual purpose commuter bike for hucking it around the city during the week and your local backcountry trails on the weekend, this punchy little XT250 is positioned for some serious fun no matter what the occasion. The ride comes complete with a long-travel suspension and more than 11.2 inches of ground clearance under a lowered seat that’s only 31.9 inches from the ground. A modern fuel injection for smooth throttle response, electric starter, and dual disc brakes also ensure a user-friendly and safe experience each and every time you decide to take her for a spin.
Engine: 4 stroke, single cylinder, SOHC air-cooled,
Fuel Tank: 2.6 gallons
When it comes to just any bike variation out there, Suzuki is a timeless manufacturer that also boasts the quality and reliability of a trusted brand to back it up. And with a formidable 650cc engine at the helm here, it’s hard to suggest otherwise. Combine that power with a cartridge-style fork and link-style rear suspension to tackling those off-road trails, and the DR650S surely delivers. Additionally, this dual sport beauty hosts aluminum spoke rims wrapped in tires built for excellent on and off-road traction and is built upon a lightweight and compact semi-double cradle frame chassis resulting is agile handling no matter what’s beneath your feet.
Engine: 4-stroke, single cylinder, OHC, air-cooled
Fuel Tank: 3.4 gallons
Kawasaki KLR 650
Built out for adventure both in and out of the city, the Kawasaki KLR 650 is the total package when it comes to dual sport motorcycles. We’re talking substantial juice for an adrenaline-fueled ride, and all the features one would come to expect from an off-road friendly bike. These include a long-travel 41mm telescopic fork, adjustable Uni-Trak rear suspension, a rear cargo rack, 6.1-gallon fuel tank for those extended adventures, and even a larger windshield to reduce wind buffeting while on the road. Combine those features with a highly reasonable starting price, and this is a tough option to pass up.
Engine: 4-stroke, single cylinder, DOHC water-cooled
Fuel Tank: 6.1 gallons
KTM 500 EXC-F
Self-proclaimed as one of the strongest dual sport bikes in the world, the KTM 500 EXC-F is a lean and civilized enough motorcycle for the daily urban assault as well as the nitty gritty outdoor trails. The new model features an all-new 4-stroke engine and a redesigned chassis to handle just about any terrain. Also, thanks to the somewhat minimal design here, a wide variety of modifications are available through a handful of aftermarket companies to help you customize the KTM to your preference. However, with a stock displacement of 510cc, hydraulic disc brakes, an inverted fork front suspension, and Maxxis front and rear tires, this ride is set to perform just fine right off the lot.
Engine: 4-stroke, single cylinder, SOHC, liquid-cooled
Fuel Tank: 2.5 gallons
Husqvarna FE 450
Husqvarna has been around for some time now. And for good reason, their two-wheeled power sleds make for some serious fun thanks to a reliable construction along with a substantial power plant. Their new 2017 FE 450, however, takes things to the next level. Thanks to increased performance from the previous engine and more torque to boot. The bike is also substantially lighter, and comes equipped with traction control, an electric starter, and is fitted with a Li-Ion battery. And for enhanced stopping power, the FE 450 also comes stock with Brembo brakes to round things out.
Engine: 4-stroke, single cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled
Fuel Tank: 2.2 gallons
Ducati Desert Sled
What’s a dual purpose list without at least one scrambler on the list? And while just about every aftermarket custom workshop is releasing their versions of the scrambler, we felt Ducati offers a great production model for those looking for a dual purpose bike that’s a bit more “in style” at the moment. This option, in particular, hosts a reputable 803cc engine, a reinforced tubular frame, high front mudguard, and rides atop Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires for some serious off-road traction. The Desert Sled also features a new aluminum double-sided swingarm, a homologate grill and new color scheme for added aesthetics.
Engine: L-Twin, Desmodromic distribution, air cooled
Fuel Tank: 3.5 gallons
BMW R 1200 GS
Novice and seasoned rider alike, meet the one bike that’s sure to deliver breathtaking adrenaline whether touring through winding mountain roads or harsh desert terrain. It’s the BMW’s R 1200 GS, the model that actually founded the dual-sport motorcycle segment and boasts a series lifespan thus far of over 36 years. Here, we have a twin-cylinder boxer engine pushing out 125 horses combined with superb reliability and longevity thanks to precision German engineering. The GS also comes equipped with both Rain and Road riding modes, automatic stability control, and Enduro and Dynamic modes depending on your type of riding. Safety, power, and durability – it’s what BMW is all about.
Engine: 4-stroke, flat-twin, air/liquid cooled
Fuel Tank: 5.3 gallons
Got The Bike? Now Get The Gear.
No matter what bike you pick as your chosen saddle for the day, you’re going to need the right gear for the ride. In this case, be sure to have a look at our picks for the best motorcycle gear for every rider.
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