The dual-sport genre of motorcycles is the brainchild of manufacturers trying to bridge the gap between road riding and dirt adventure riding. Street bikes perform their best on the pavement but will fail miserably as soon as you hit the dirt. Dirt bikes are perfect for going off road with their knobby tires and generous ground clearance but may not be street legal.
Dual-sport bikes combine the best of both worlds by taking elements of both and putting them into one bike that can take you from the city street to the trail. If this sounds like the ideal type of ride, then check out this list of the best dual-purpose motorcycles.
KTM 690 Enduro R
We’re starting off with a bit of a controversial bike. The 690 Enduro may not belong on this list for some people. It doesn’t have the same body and styling as other adventure bikes. It also has much stronger performance specs than other off-road bikes on this list. While it’s a 690cc engine with 67 horsepower, it can put out a lot more performance power than other 600cc engines.
The KTM is for the aggressive rider that isn’t looking for amenities and a cushy ride. It doesn’t have a cushioned seat or saddlebags. But it will tear it up in the dirt and expertly handle tight corners.
While this KTM may seem like more of a dirt bike, it has quite a few features that make it perfect for the street. It has ABS brakes standard, a slipper clutch, and three ride modes. Plus it has some pretty bold styling with bright neon orange highlighting the plastics and frame.
This is one aggressive and mean-looking bike, which makes it perfect for owning those city streets. Even though it has been on the market for 15-plus years, it still looks fresh and modern. This is thanks to Suzuki’s commitment to innovation and development.
Suzuki was smart enough to not mess with what works, though. As a result, the heightened suspension, dependable chassis, and 398cc carbureted engine have remained the same since the bike’s introduction in the early 2000s. There’s a certain brilliance in the minimalist approach and more nuanced details.
The stance of the DR-Z400S is a bit more dirt bike than a street bike. It has a seat height of 36.8 inches and a total weight of 317 pounds.
This is the one brand that everyone expects to see on this list. Husqvarna’s off-road motorcycles are legendary in this category. The FE450 is a standout because it’s the perfect middle ground bike that’s packed with features.
There are Magura brakes, hydraulic components, and a composite subframe. One element that makes this bike stand out among its peers is the specialized linkage in the chassis and shock. Husky stays true to its reputation by including a larger bore and stroke and a dependable WP fork and shock. This makes it a force to be reckoned with on the trail.
Powering the performance of this bike is a 449cc one-cylinder four-stroke engine. It’s paired with a six-speed transmission. When it comes to looks, this is one of the sportier and more dirt bike looking rides on this list. You’ll find plenty of plastics, knobby tires, and guards, but no windscreen.
The WR250R is a development from Yamaha’s motocross line of bikes. One standout of the Yamaha dual-sport lineup is the high-quality build. High spec components make this bike a piece of machinery that you rarely see in this segment.
This bike is meant for the rider that wants to spend more time trail riding than on the road but also wants the option of cruising down the street if the whim strikes. The WR250R is ready to tame the trails right off the showroom floor. Powering your adventure is a high-performance fuel-injected engine. Just twist the throttle and experience Yamaha’s track-tested winning performance.
The specs for the WR250R are quite impressive with an ergonomic slim steel gas tank. There’s also a three-way adjustable suspension in the front and rear. This helps address the seat height of 36 inches.
This list wouldn’t be complete without one of the most well-rounded dual-sport bikes on the market. Honda fans will agree that the CRF450L is a street-legal dirt bike that comes with enhanced features to make it more comfortable for the road. It has an enhanced suspension system, powerful architecture, and some bold red looks.
What makes this bike stand out is the ability to adapt it to your needs and riding style. The Showa suspension is fully adjustable, and there are 12.4 inches for ground clearance. That adjustability is vital because the seat comes stock at a height of 37.1 inches, one of the tallest on the market.
Powering your adventures is a 449cc single-cylinder four-stroke liquid-cooled engine. Considering that the total weight is only 289 pounds, get ready for some serious performance.
One thing to keep in mind is that this is more of a street-legal dirt bike than a true dual-sport. This may make it less desirable for city commuting. From its trail-ready looks to its large knobby tires, it may look a bit out of place in the city.
Most people are more familiar with Kawasaki’s street bike lineup. This isn’t surprising considering 2020 brings us 14 street bikes in the Ninja family. But what most people don’t realize is that Kawasaki has an impressive dual-sport and motocross lineup as well. The KLR/KLX dual-sport family includes the 230, 250, and 650 models.
The 250 is a perfect beginner bike. It comes in two color options, a classic Kawasaki scheme of white, black and green, or an all-blacked-out color scheme. The black version is called “Camo”. Both bikes have the same engine. It’s a liquid-cooled four-stroke single-cylinder engine that’s 249cc.
The seat height is 35 inches, which makes it quite tall. This will make it a bit uncomfortable for city riding for shorter riders. The good news is that it only weighs 304 pounds, so the bike is super lightweight.
If you’re looking for a dual-sport that’s more road than dirt, then this is the bike for you. This Kawasaki is perfect for using as your daily commuter and then tackling the trails on the occasional weekend.
Leave it to BMW to create the perfect refined balance between rough and tumble off-road and luxury back-road cruising. The F800GS blows past many of the other bikes on this list with its parallel-twin engine. The features, comfortable styling, and ride quality make this the perfect bike for commuting to work, month-long cross-country tours, or traversing the wild trails.
Fans of BMW won’t be let down by the styling of this bike. There are three color schemes to choose from: the classic BMW branding of white, red, and blue; black and red; or metallic hunter green and black. But it isn’t all about looks. Powering your adventure is an 853cc engine that produces 90 horsepower. Then there are the small touches that include an engine guard, aluminum handlebar, and Enduro tire equipment.
What really takes the BMW above and beyond is the innovative full-color LED instrument display panel. It enables smartphone-integrated navigation and easy access to your music.
ZERO FX ZF3.6
The Zero is the future of motorcycles with its electric motor. Despite its innovative engine, it blends right into this list with its aggressive styling, sturdy suspension, and motocross-inspired body panels. A fair comparison of the ZF3.6 is a 450cc bike. The modular battery system is small yet powerful and can easily get swapped out while on the go.
Choose from three different riding modes: commute, performance, and off-road. This ensures that no matter where you decide to ride, you have a bike under you that’s ready for the challenge.
Let’s talk about specs for the FX. You’ll have a range of 46 miles in the city. This is plenty for the average commute. It only has 85 horsepower, but it’ll get you going up to 85 miles per hour. When you run the battery down to nothing it’ll cost you about 40 cents to fully recharge it.
Shorter riders will appreciate the lower seat height for a dual sport at 34 inches and a total weight of 247 pounds.
Only Ride the Best
When it comes to excelling at both the street and dirt, it’s important to ride the best. Otherwise, you risk a decline in performance and enjoyment. Before you choose your next bike, check out these dual sports. Sit on them, give them a test ride, and choose the one that feels comfortable.
You might find that you prefer performance over flash, and the Suzuki is your dream bike. Or perhaps you want a touch of luxury and technology with the BMW. You could always go with a classic brand in the market with a Husqvarna or KTM.
Either way, you’ll own the street and the road with your new dual-sport motorcycle.