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Best Dual Sport Motorcycle Based On Your Needs [2022]

Looking for the best dual sport motorcycle but not sure where to start? There are many different models available, but I want to show you the simple process to narrow down which bike will be best for you based on your specific needs.

In this article, I’m going to show you why a dual sport bike may or may not be good for you, the difference between types of motorcycles, and how to pick the right bike for you.

What exactly is a dual sport motorcycle?

It’s essentially a street legal dirt bike that can be ridden on and off-road. So, if you want to legally commute, go on long distance adventures, and still be able to ride in the dirt, a dual sport motorcycle is the best type of bike for you.

Are dual sport bikes good off-road?

First, you have to come in with the right expectations – some dual sport bikes are better than others when riding off-road.

For example, a 250cc dual sport bike is good for riding off-road comparing to a big 650cc dual sport. But, that same 250 is not as good riding off-road as a 250cc trail bike that’s purpose-built for riding in the dirt.

So, as a general rule, the lighter weight dual sport bikes are easier to ride off-road on trails. Choosing the right bike setup makes a huge difference as well, such as tires, gearing, and suspension.

Dual sport vs enduro bikes – what’s the difference?

The biggest difference is that a dual sport bike is street legal and weighs more because it has accessories for being legal on the road, while a modern enduro bike is more of a high performance trail bike.

Back in the 70s, an enduro meant the same type of bike as a dual sport, but now they’re different types of dirt bikes. This is because there are so many new dirt bikes available to better suit your needs based on what kind of riding you want to do most.

How to know if a dual sport motorcycle is right for you

This may be a hard question to answer, especially if you can only own one dirt bike, whether it’s due to financial or storage room reasons.

The top reasons why a dual sport motorcycle is right for you:

  • You need a street legal dirt bike to ride on and off-road
  • You can only have one bike
  • You aren’t able or willing to convert a dirt bike to be street legal

Can you make a dirt bike street legal?

Depending on where you live, you may be able to convert your off-road dirt bike to make it street legal. For example, it’s fairly easy to get a dirt bike registered for the road and plated in Minnesota and North Dakota in the USA due to regulations.

Obviously, you’ll need the minimum required parts to make it street legal, such as:

  • DOT tires
  • Mirror
  • Horn
  • Headlight
  • Taillight/brake light

Best Dirt Bike For Dual Sport

If you want a dirt bike that’s good for dual sport riding, these are the best dirt bikes to get plated:

  • *Yamaha WR450F
  • *Honda CRF450X
  • *KTM 300 XCW
  • KTM 350 EXC-F
  • KTM 500 EXC-F

*Not street legal from the factory.
These are hardcore dirt bikes and not adventure bikes. So if you’re doing mostly trail riding and just need to legally ride on the road to connect trailheads and whatnot, these are some of the best ones I’d pick.

They’re all very reliable, most of them make good power throughout the RPM range, and they can be good at riding single-track to cruising at 55 mph on the road.

Which dual purpose motorcycle is best?

The best dual purpose motorcycle is the one that is made for the type of riding you’re doing most. For example, you don’t want a big and heavy adventure bike if you’re going to do mostly trail riding with some light road riding. 

You also don’t want a small, lightweight dual sport if you’re a bigger rider that wants to do long-distance adventure riding that’s primarily on the pavement. 

I’m going to show you what each dirt bike brand has to offer, and then help you narrow down the categories for each type of dual sport motorcycle to make it easier for you to pick the right bike to start on. 

Best dual sport motorcycles of 2022

Now we’ll look at all of the available models from each of the popular motorcycle companies so that you can choose the right size that’s built for the type of riding you enjoy most.

Honda dual sport

Honda has one of the most versatile lineups of dual sport and adventure bikes. They range from a 125cc beginner dual sport town bike to a 1000cc adventure bike for long-distance riding.

These are Honda’s current dual sport/adventure bike lineup:

  • Trail 125
  • CRF300L
  • CRF300L Rally
  • CRF450RL
  • XR650L
  • Africa Twin 1000
The Honda CRF450L is the best dual sport motorcycle if you're an experienced rider that wants a lot of power for riding off-road in lightweight package.

Yamaha dual sport

Yamaha’s dual sport lineup isn’t quite as extensive as Honda’s, as they have a couple of beginner bikes and a couple of larger adventure motorcycles that can be ridden off-road.

These are Yamaha’s current dual sport/adventure bike lineup:

  • TW200
  • XT250
  • Tenere 700
  • Super Tenere
2019 Yamaha TW200 Best Dual Sport Motorcycle Based On Your Needs [2022]
The TW200 is the budget beginner dual sport

Kawasaki dual sport

Kawasaki recently updated their dirt bike and dual sport bike lineup with a wider range. The 230 and 300 are good street legal dirt bikes and the Versys models are more for long-distance adventure bikes because they’re heavier and harder to handle off-road – especially if you’re a beginner.

These are Kawasaki’s current dual sport/adventure bike lineup:

  • KLX230 S
  • KLX300 S
  • KLR650
  • Versys-X 250 Tourer
  • Versys 650
  • Versys 1000
2011 KLR650 Best Dual Sport Motorcycle Based On Your Needs [2022]
The KLR650 is the budget adventure bike that just keeps going

Suzuki dual sport

Suzuki is the one brand that hasn’t changed their dual sport motorcycle lineup much in the past 10-20 years. It’s simple, affordable, but pretty effective. Don’t expect high performance, but you will get reliability and functionality.

Simply meaning, if you’re on a budget and want a dual sport bike that’s easy to ride, they have 3 options from lightweight, to midweight and larger for adventure riding.

These are Suzuki’s current dual sport/adventure bike lineup:

KTM dual sport

KTM continues to revolutionnize their dual sport models that it’s hard to keep up. They sell what people keep buying and throw out models that aren’t popular enough.

Most of them are high-performance compared to a dual sport for beginners, so I wouldn’t recommend a KTM (except maybe the 390 Adventure) unless you have some confidence riding off-road.

These are KTM’s current dual sport/adventure bike lineup:

  • 350 EXC-F
  • 500 EXC-F
  • 450 Rally
  • 390 Adventure
  • 690 Enduro R
  • 890 Adventure
  • 1290 Super Adventure
2017 350 EXC F Best Dual Sport Motorcycle Based On Your Needs [2022]
A lightweight dual sport for trail riding is the KTM 350 EXC-F

Husqvarna dual sport

For the “white KTM” models, Husqvarna’s lineup is very narrow and basically for you hardcore riders that know what you want in a dual sport motorcycle

These are Husqvarna’s current dual sport/adventure bike lineup:

  • FE 350s
  • FE 501s
  • FE 701s

Beta Dual sport

Beta has been around for a while and they’ve been making dual sport bikes for years as well. Similar to KTM and Husky, their dual-purpose machines are limited in sizes and design. 

Beta might not be to the same degree of performance as KTM, but they’re good if you want a quality street legal dirt bike.

These are Beta’s current dual sport/adventure bike lineup:

  • 350 RR-S
  • 390 RR-S
  • 430 RR-S
  • 500 RR-S

Best used dual sport motorcycle 2022

Maybe you can’t afford a brand new motorcycle, so it’s time to look at what’s available in the used market. There are many dual-purpose motorcycles out there, but I’ll narrow down the best ones you can buy based on reliability, performance, cost, and overall value.

These are the best used dual sport motorcycles in 2022:

  • Honda CRF250L (beginner/lightweight adventure)
  • Yamaha WR250R (beginner/midweight off-road/adventure)
  • Honda XR650L (midweight adventure/off-road)
  • Suzuki DR650 (midweight adventure/off-road)
  • Kawasaki KLR650 (long-distance adventure/heavyweight off-road)
Stock Honda CRF250L Best Dual Sport Motorcycle Based On Your Needs [2022]

What’s the best dual sport of all time?

It’s tough to pick one out because there are so many different models and they haven’t always been around for the same amount of time. 

Just for practical dual sport riding the best dual sport motorcycles of all time are the Suzuki DRZ400 and Kawasaki KLR650. Neither of them is great at anything, but they’re good at so many things, and they’ve always been popular for multiple decades. 

The DRZ400 is much lighter, making it much more capable of off-road trail riding. The KLR650 is just rock solid and is the quintessential budget adventure bike that can be ridden around the world because it’s so reliable. 

Best dual sport for beginners

If you’re a new rider to dirt biking or riding off-road, then it’s easy to get caught up in all the new and cool models. But if you want to start outright, then you want a bike that will be easy to ride to build your confidence.

They might not be the fastest, but you will learn how to ride off-road more easily, as well as what you do or don’t like in a dual sport bike.

The best dual sport bikes are beginners are:

  • Suzuki DR200S
  • Yamaha TW200
  • Kawasaki KLX230 S
  • Yamaha XT250
  • Honda CRF300L

Best dual sport bike for trail riding

Just need a street legal dirt bike that’s good for trail riding? Unfortunately, there aren’t many good lightweight dual sport bikes that are great for trail riding, but I put together a list of your top choices.

The best dual sport bikes for trail riding are:

  • Kawasaki KLX230S (short rider beginner)
  • Honda CRF300L (beginner)
  • Kawasaki KLX300 S (bigger rider beginner)
  • KTM 350 EXC-F (experienced rider)
  • Honda CRF450RL (experienced rider)
  • KTM 500 EXC-F (experienced rider)

Best mid-size dual sport motorcycle

Moving up to the best dual sport bikes that are more stable riding at higher speed – maybe you need more weight and power 

The best mid-size dual sport motorcycles are:

  • Honda CRF450RL
  • KTM 500 EXC-F
  • Suzuki DR650
  • Yamaha Tenere 700

Best dual sport motorcycle for highway riding

Just need a motorcycle for riding on the road that is still capable of hitting the gravel road or dirty every once in a while? These bikes are heavier and more stable, making it easier and more comfortable to cruise on the highway without feeling cramped.

The best dual sport motorcycles for highway riding are:

  • Kawasaki KLR650
  • Kawasaki Versys-X 250 Tourer
  • Kawasaki Versys 650
  • Kawasaki Versys 1000
  • Yamaha Tenere 700
  • Yamaha Super Tenere
  • Honda Africa Twin 1000
  • KTM 390 Adventure
  • KTM 690 Enduro R
  • KTM 890 Adventure
  • KTM 1290 Super Adventure

Most comfortable dual sport motorcycle for long distance riding

And last, but not least, this list is similar to the previous list, but I just weeded out some bikes that aren’t as comfortable for riding all day.

The most comfortable dual sport bikes for long distance riding are:

  • Kawasaki KLR650
  • Kawasaki Versys 650
  • Kawasaki Versys 1000
  • Yamaha Tenere 700
  • Yamaha Super Tenere
  • Honda Africa Twin 1000
  • KTM 890 Adventure
  • KTM 1290 Super Adventure

What’s the fastest dual sport dirt bike

For being considered a dirt bike, the Husqvarna 701 Enduro is the fastest dual sport dirt bike in production. It may not have the most power, but it has the best power-to-weight ratio for dual sport motorcycles.

With that said, it’s still fairly heavy for off-road riding – I wouldn’t recommend it for hardcore single-track riding because you’ll get exhausted very quickly.

How fast is a 250cc dual sport bike?

There aren’t many options for 250cc dual sport bikes in 2022, but lets look at the recently discontinued CRF250L and WR250R. They’re very close in power and target user, so it’s a good comparison.

The Honda CRF250L has a top speed of about 80 mph in stock form, while the Yamaha WR250R top speed is almost 90 mph. You can change the gearing to make them accelerate faster or increase the top speed within reason.

Is a 250 enough for dual sport riding?

If you’re a smaller guy or girl or power isn’t an issue (you don’t need a lot), then a 250cc dual sport is just fine. It’s plenty of power if you’re a beginner.

Even if you want to do some light adventure riding, these smaller lightweight dual sports can handle some luggage and even do some casual trail riding.

Best tires for a dual-sport motorcycle

I don’t have a lot of experience with different dual sport tires on a dirt bike or motorcycle, but I know that Jimmy Lewis does. He always recommends the Kenda Big Blocks (Amazon) as the best dual sport motorcycle tire.

How to enjoy riding & stay safe

Being able to explore the country on two wheels is an amazing thing, but if you’re struggling to handle your bike, it kills a lot of the fun, especially if you fear getting hurt.

That’s why I want to help you out by giving you a free basic technique guide that shows you a quick and practical list of riding techniques that many beginners make the mistake of not learning. Once you master the fundamentals, then you will have more control and confidence, allowing you to ride better and stay on the bike. Click here to get your free basic techniques.