Dual sport motorcycles are your friend whether you’re on pavement or off-road!
Motorcyclists have long faced the dilemma of not having the perfect bike for off-road use. It’s noticeable that most motorcycles are made for the highway or the streets. Meanwhile, dirt-oriented motorcycles have become a genre of their own that going from off-road to the pavement is nearly impossible.
Lucky for us, motorcycle manufacturers now have a genre for street and trail-savvy riders. Introducing: dual-sport. This effortlessly marries the idea of riding on the pavement with the right components to handle off-road trails.
If you’re an avid motorcyclist like myself, you’ll know the struggle of going from the city to the mountains and vice versa. Not to mention, picky riders have certain standards when it comes to performance, especially if it’s for a daily commute. The great thing is that companies now know how to make a bike that’s off-road-ready as well as street-ready.
In this list, we put together the best dual-sport motorcycles you can buy today. These will let you off easy as your traverse roads less traveled to saturated highways.
1. Yamaha WR250R
Yamaha has always been on top of its game regarding motorcycles. The Yamaha WR250R is just one of the many examples of the brand’s unrelenting dedication to putting out great products for riders to enjoy. This motorcycle marries the idea of a WR0 off-road and YZ motocross platforms. That said, you can only expect the best from this powerhouse bike.
The dimensions of this bike are perfect for the off-road adventure you need. It’s about 85.6 inches long with 48.4 inches in height. The width of the bike sits around 31.9 inches. The wet weight of this bike can go up to about 295 lbs.
Right off the bat, you’ll notice that its design is race-oriented. It can handle off-road qualities such as a linkage-mounted shock to the brand’s chassis. Moreover, it comes with a fully adjustable front fork and 10.6 inches of travel. With such architecture, you get to enjoy Yamaha’s semi-double-cradle frame.
The Yamaha WR250R is the perfect bike not only for pros but also for beginners, especially with its components that are truly made for the trail. The bike has a liquid-cooled four-stroke DOHC engine and a displacement of 250cc. You can load it up with up to 2 gallons of fuel. At an estimate, it goes for about 71 miles per gallon. It also comes with a bore of 77.0mm and a stroke of 53.6mm. Finally, the compression ratio of this motorcycle is 11.8:1.
2. BETA 500RR-S
Beta has been working hard by putting out great offers for the market to enjoy. The Italian company proves itself a worthy competitor of the entries on our list. Today, we’re taking a look at the Beta 500RR-S. This motorcycle has the biggest displacement among the company’s four cycles.
This top-notch bike implements the use of Sachs ZF forks, six-speed transmission, as well as fuel injection. As an added feature, it also features the innovative Trail Tech Voyager GPS. This technology will keep you right on track wherever you are. It’s, perhaps, your best friend when it comes to traversing the most challenging of terrains.
Beta also claims that the 500RR-S is one of the lightest dual-sport motorcycles in the market. It only weighs around 247 lbs. As for its features, you can expect a liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke engine for this bike. It also has a displacement of 478 ccs and a fuel capacity of 2 gallons.
3. Kawasaki KLX250
Every beginner needs a great bike that can learn with them. Kawasaki, being one of the leading manufacturers in the market, came up with one of the best beginner’s dual-sport motorcycles today. This well-rounded bike may not have the biggest displacement, but it sure can perform well, especially for budding dual-sport riders.
We all know that Kawasaki dedicated itself to only well-designed bikes. The Kawasaki KLX250 carries exactly that, plus a ton of features that you will thank for, especially if you’re a rookie rider. One of those features is a suspension system that accumulates up to 10 inches of travel in the anterior of the bike. Meanwhile, in the rear, you’ll have a gracious 9.1 inches of travel. These numbers undoubtedly complement the bike’s 11.2-inch overall clearance.
That said, compared to the brand’s other dual-sport offers, the KLX250 is, perhaps, the best. It’s easily becoming a favorite among the fans of the manufacturer. Moreover, this motorcycle is on the more affordable side of the scale. All these combined make the ultimate beginner’s dual-sport motorcycle.
You can expect a single-cylinder, four-stroke, twin-cam engine from this bike with a 249cc displacement. The fuel capacity of this motorcycle sits at around 1.9 gallons. The bore and stroke of this bike measure 72.0 by 61.2 mm. Meanwhile, it has a compression ratio of 11.0:1. Moreover, it has a 6-speed transmission. As for its wheelbase, it measures around 56.3 inches with a seat height of 35 inches. Its ground clearance is also 11.2 inches, just the perfect height for a dual-sport bike.
4. Zero FX ZF3.6
Every rider has different concerns. Some want their engine to be powerful enough to handle trails. Others want something that’s going to be friendly for the environment. If you’re looking to switch to a greener option for bikes, the Zero FX ZF3.6 is for you.
The Zero FX ZF3.6 is an electric dual-sport motorcycle cycle. Despite it being electric, however, you can’t undermine its power. It still carries the same aggressive styling, bold body panels as well as a killer suspension. It’s such a powerhouse that people still rave about it to this day since its release.
To give you a peek at the power of the Zero FX ZF3.6, let’s just say that it works just as well as 450cc bikes. This is thanks to the modular battery system that’s small enough so you can swap it on the go. That said, it’s also a pretty smart motorcycle where you can choose the riding mode you prefer. You can choose between commute, performance, or off-road power dispersal. Picking the right mode will let you ride around easily.
Without any engine, you can expect it to power through at 20 kW per 27 HP. It also has a 3.6 kWh battery capacity. Since it’s an electric motorcycle, it features a clutchless direct-drive transmission. According to Zero, you can drive this motorcycle for up to 74 km in the city or 45 km on a highway going at about 55 miles per hour.
5. Suzuki DR-Z400S
You probably already know about the Suzuki DR-Z400S. We’re talking about a 15-year-old model out here. This is a time-tested model that’s perfect for backtrails and city streets. This is the ideal dual-sport motorcycle. No wonder it’s a favorite among today’s riders.
There are not a lot of things that have changed about the Suzuki DR-Z400S since it launched. You can still enjoy the same chassis, heightened suspension, and the 398cc carbureted engine. Aside from that, you get the Suzuki Composite Electrochemical Materials (SCEM) cylinder, which is incredibly durable and lightweight. This provides superior heat transfer.
This bike has an overall length of 90.9 inches and an overall height of 48.4 inches. Meanwhile, it measures around 34.4 inches in width with a ground clearance of 11.8 inches. The compression ratio of this motorcycle is 11.3:1. Moreover, it has an electric starter for ease of use.
The bike also features a digitally-mapped DC-CDI system that efficiently monitors throttle position or engine rpm. It adjusts ignition timing to keep dynamic combustion. The bike also features a magnesium-alloy clutch, magneto, and a cylinder head cover that contributes to the bike’s lightweight design. Finally, purchasing this motorcycle should entitle you to a 12-month unlimited mileage limited warranty. You can buy a longer coverage period with Suzuki Extended Protection or SEP.
6. Honda CRF300L
A balanced motorcycle is a good motorcycle. We’re not only talking about balancing on two wheels but also regarding size, weight, power, and handling. The Honda CRF300L comes with a larger engine than the previous CRF250L.
This motorcycle also boasts better handling with refinements made on its suspension. Plus, with more torque and a whole host of chassis, it’s genuinely a powerhouse bike. This is the perfect on and off-road motorcycle for every type of rider. If you’re one who constantly goes between the urban and trail, this is the motorcycle you need.
The bore and stroke of this motorcycle measure around 76 mm by 63 mm. It also uses a Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) induction with a 38 mm throttle body. The ignition, on the other hand, is computer-controlled digital transistorized with an electronic advance. Finally, it has a compression ratio of 10.7:1.
If you liked the CRF250L, you’ll like this even more. It has 15% more displacement and is 11 lbs less heavy as well. The motorcycle comes in ABS and non-ABS options. It functions with a liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke engine with a 286cc displacement. It has a fuel capacity of 2.1 gallons plus a reserve that measures around half a gallon.
Best Dual Sport Motorcycles Guide & FAQs
What Makes Dual Sport Motorcycles Great
Are you evaluating whether or not you want a dual-sport motorcycle? Here are a few things you need to consider.
You can take dual-sport motorcycles anywhere
Dual-sport is exactly what you think it is. It works well for both the streets and a trail. If you typically go between urban settings to trails, you would need something like this. Some of the dual-sport motorcycles, such as the Zero FX ZF3.6, have different modes depending on what road you’re on. Most bikes, however, have great suspension to support off-road rides as much as it does paved roads.
Dual-sport motorcycles are affordable
There are extremely expensive motorcycles in the market and some of them are even dual-sport. However, there are also some models that may even cost you less than 10,000 USD. So, if you’re working on a budget, this is an excellent starting type of motorcycle. You can expect sub-200 cc single-cylinder engines on the most affordable ones. However, manufacturers are slowly changing this by improving engines while keeping the price low.
You’ll surely have a lot of fun with it
Riding a motorcycle is already fun as it is. However, if you do decide to take the road less taken from the streets, you need a bike that can go well with you. This is where dual-sport motorcycles come in. They’re lightweight but come with the right amount of power to work through trails. Not to mention, they’re easy to handle with amazing suspension.
What’s the Difference Between Dual Sport and Enduro Motorcycles
You’ll typically hear people call dual-sport motorcycles enduro bikes. That’s not all wrong. Generally, a dual-sport bike is the younger sibling of an enduro bike. Enduro motorcycles are also dirt or motocross bikes. That means that while they have headlights and taillights, they don’t have brake lights. They also usually have wide ratio tranny.
Enduro bikes are exactly what you think they are — made for endurance competitions. However, they’re not street-legal. You can get serious violations driving it on-road. You can ride them on trails or the mountains, but without brake lights, turn signals, or even a horn, it’s not safe for the street. There are some modifications you can make to an enduro bike to make it street-friendly. That’s when dual-sport motorcycles came to be.
This type of motorcycle lets you ride on and off-road without getting a ticket. Once customization became prominent among riders, manufacturers took it to themselves to mass-produce dual-sport bikes.
In the early days of dual-sport motorcycles, they were just enduro bikes with gauges, a quiet muffler, and license plates. Making it legal for the streets allowed more people to enjoy enduro bikes. Today, dual-sport motorcycles carry the same lightweight agility as enduros with street-ready features that let them easily take off.
The Difference Between Dual Sport Bikes and Adventure Bikes
Many people also mistake dual-sport motorcycles for adventure bikes. Some people prefer on-pavement riding to off-road. This divided the riding community. The part of people who want a bike that can go the distance on pavements but also perform well on off-roads.
Adventure bikes are the reverse of dual-sport bikes. They excel more on-road than on trails. Adventure bikes also have the ability to load gear and a passenger, something missing from dual-sport bikes.
General Characteristics of a Dual Sport Bike
All that said, here are the features you should be looking for when it comes to dual-sport motorcycles.
- A dual-sport motorcycle should have a single-cylinder engine with a 250cc to 650cc displacement.
- It also comes with a small gas tank that can reach around 100 miles.
- Dual-sport motorcycles don’t have a lot of body parts as well. You won’t get to have any windscreen since the parts are limited only to functions and necessities.
- The front wheel of dual-sport bikes typically measures around 21 inches. Moreover, since you can drive it over off-road trails at low speeds, it has spoked wheels.
- For easy access, they have high handlebars. The ground clearance for this bike should also be high.
- Finally, they should have crash protectors because it’s a bigger risk to drive both on and off-road.
Dual Sport And Adventure Motorcycle Buying Tips
Make sure that you’re buying a motorcycle that you can easily handle both on and off-road. If you’re carrying a bike that weighs around 600 lbs, it would feel different on the pavement and on a trail. So, figuring out whether you actually want a dual-sport bike depends on how long you spend on the road and off the road. If anything, you can decide against buying a dual-sport motorcycle and getting an adventure motorcycle instead.
Moreover, you should know how far your journey will be. Dual-sport motorcycles are not for long-distance rides. There are specific bikes for that. For instance, you can get an adventure motorcycle and, if possible, a cruiser biker. However, if it’s a short-distance ride, a dual-sport bike should work for you just fine.
Aside from this, your experience as a rider is a must-know as well. Do you have experience riding in the dirt, or are you used to paved roads? While there are dual-sport bikes perfect for beginners, there’s no shame in taking baby steps first. Take your time in learning the ropes of off-road riding as well as the know-how of it. With this, you should know how to tip over a motorcycle when it gets stuck in the mud.
A dual-sport bike is definitely a good learning curve if you’re headed for a full-on off-road adventure. However, safety must always come first. Make sure that you’re ready for this type of experience before getting on one!
Dual-sport motorcycles are basically the all-arounder of motorcycles. They’re made for the trails as much as they’re made for the streets. Getting a dual-sport bike shouldn’t be that hard. If anything, this is your gateway to even more challenging terrains in the future. When the pavement runs out, the trail is all we have and this is where dual-sports motorcycles become our friend. Read on to figure out what motorcycle size should you get for your height.
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