Dual-sport motorcycles offer riders the best of both worlds; they’re designed to be comfortable both on and off road, ensuring that there is nowhere a rider can’t go.
In short, dual-sport motorcycles are street legal off-road bikes. Their key features include off-road tires, long-travel suspension, and usually a punchy motor with bags of torque.
We’ve gathered the best of the best dual sports. Let’s get into it.
Honda XR650L Dual Sport
- Max power: 40 horsepower
- Max torque: 50 Nm
- Seat height: 37”
- Curb weight: 346 lbs.
- MSRP: $6,999
Honda’s XR650L was released back in 1992, and since then, it has remained largely unchanged.
While over the years it has achieved many Baja race victories, in 2023, it isn’t the most competitive option on the market. It is, however, arguably the most straightforward and honest.
The XR650L is a simple machine with a thumping, air-cooled single-cylinder engine, a strong steel frame, and long-travel suspension.
It’s the perfect commuter but can also be turned into your favorite weekend ride. Heading to the canyons, hitting a light trail, or riding to the next state over, the XR650L has your back.
An electric starter is about as technologically advanced as the bike gets, and with a tame 40 horsepower and 50 Nm of torque, it isn’t going to set the world on fire.
However, this is the bike for riders who want a no-nonsense dual sport that can do it all well and reliably. Sometimes simplicity is best, especially in an ever-changing, tech-focused world.
Honda CRF300L Rally
- Max power: 27 horsepower
- Max torque: 26.6 Nm
- Seat height: 34.6”
- Curb weight: 313 lbs.
- MSRP: $6,149
The Honda CRF300L and CRF300L Rally replaced the CRF250s, but Honda built on the foundation of the 250s, with most improvements in the engine department, leading to a 20% increase in power.
I can honestly say the CRF300L Rally is one of my favorite motorcycles. It is the epitome of what a dual sport truly is.
It can do it all. The Rally has a larger fuel tank and more bodywork than the standard CRF300L, as well as a rally windscreen, all of which make it better equipped for longer distances and all sorts of weather.
The Rally has enough power for most riding needs and certainly enough for you to race through dirt trails.
Honda has also included an ABS version, which has an MSRP of $6,449. This is best suited to those who are on the road more than they are off it.
- Max power: 22 horsepower
- Max torque: 19.5 Nm
- Seat height: 31.9”
- Curb weight: 291 lbs.
- MSRP: $5,399
The Yamaha XT250 is another simple option, fairly stripped back but equipped with all the necessities.
The long-travel suspension provides more than 11.2” of ground clearance, and yet the seat height is still a reasonable 31.9”, making this dual sport a good option for shorter riders.
Yamaha has focused on the XT250 as an off-road bike first and foremost. Its key features include an enduro-style bright headlight, a comfortable long saddle, a 2.6-gallon fuel tank, flex-mounted indicators, durable fork boots, and a low-maintenance battery.
The bike is trail ready but also street legal, so you can ride to the trail, have your fun, and then ride right back home.
The air-cooled four-stroke engine provides strong performance for a 249cc motor. You won’t be wanting anything more out on the dirt.
It may lack power for faster roads, but that’s the sacrifice for impressive off-road performance.
Husqvarna FE 350S
- Max power: 45 horsepower
- Max torque: 29.5 Nm
- Seat height: 37.4”
- Curb weight: 259 lbs.
- MSRP: $12,599
The Husqvarna FE 350S pairs the power-to-weight ratio of a 450cc with the agility and compact nature of a 250cc, making it a formidable force to be reckoned with.
WP suspension, paired with comfortable ergonomics and a long-padded saddle, ensures you can ride for longer in comfort and control.
The frame has been designed for excellent rigidity as well as absorbing energy. The FE 350S is truly designed to be put through its paces — it is an enduro, first and foremost.
While it’s one of our more expensive picks, the quality of the production and components are well worth the investment.
This bike is one of the more aggressively enduro-styled dual sports on our list. It has everything you need to be street legal, but everything about this bike screams hardcore off-roading.
KTM 350 EXC-F
- Max power: 49 horsepower
- Max torque: 33.9 Nm
- Seat height: 37.7”
- Curb weight: 228.8 lbs.
- MSRP: $12,149
The KTM 350 EXC-F is pretty much a whole new bike, with 95% of the model a completely new design and components. It is a ferocious addition to the dual-sport market, with power and agility running through its veins.
WP suspension is all new and is now a completely tool-free system to adjust to your needs. There is an all-new, more efficient air filter box, fuel tank, and easy start/stop switch.
The engine is lightweight and compact, and its high-revving power provides the most fun possible out on the trail.
KTM has used an all-new Off-Road Control Unit (OCU), which replaces all fuses and relays to make diagnosing any issues super easy, with a simple LED light display.
The lightweight frame has been designed specifically for longitudinal rigidity. It provides excellent rider feedback, energy absorption, and stability at high speed.
Much like the Husqvarna, the KTM is an enduro before it is anything else, so this is another for the more dirt-focused rider who wants to be able to ride to the trail and back.
Kawasaki KLX 300
- Max power: 23 horsepower
- Max torque: 20.6 Nm
- Seat height: 35.2”
- Curb weight: 302.1 lbs.
- MSRP: $6,199
The Kawasaki KLX 300 is most comparable to the Honda CRF300L. This model is a more traditional dual sport with a few modern touches to make it approachable for new and modern riders.
Long travel suspension, a lightweight frame, 21” front and 18” rear wheels, powerful brakes and comfortable ergonomics make the KLX 300 a great dual-sport option.
Power from the motor is modest and won’t overwhelm the novice rider. It’s smooth throughout the rev range, with plenty of low-mid torque and a punchy top end. It is an engine suited to a wide range of riding situations.
The lightweight nature of the bike makes it easy to maneuver despite the relatively high 35.2” seat height.
The KLX 300 is comfortable to ride both on and off road. The ergonomics are neutral and allow for movement if you’re going through the paces off-road in tight bends.
Kawasaki KLR 650
- Max power: 41.7 horsepower
- Max torque: 53 Nm
- Seat height: 34.3”
- Curb weight: Non-ABS: 456.2 lbs., ABS: 460.6 lbs.
- MSRP: Non-ABS $6,899, ABS $7,199
Kawasaki’s KLR 650 is a dual sport that’s more of a lightweight adventure bike than anything else. It’s been designed for the adventurer who wants to explore the world both on and off road.
The KLR 650 includes plenty of comfort features, like the windscreen and friendly riding position paired with long-travel suspension and traditional off-road tires.
There are several KLR models: the base model, the KLR 650S, KLR 650 Traveler, and the KLR 650 Adventure.
Kawasaki has also produced an ABS version of the KLR, which is available on all the different models. The Traveler is the only version on which ABS is standard and the only option.
The multiple versions allow the rider to tailor the KLR to their requirements. The base and S models are the most stripped back, for example, whereas the Traveler and Adventure are more equipped for longer rides and adventures.
- Max power: 43 horsepower
- Max torque: 54 Nm
- Seat height: 34.8”
- Curb weight: 366 lbs.
- MSRP: $7,099
The Suzuki DR650S is a staple in the world of dual-sport motorcycles. Much like Honda’s XR650L, the Suzuki has stood the test of time and little has been done to change it since its original release.
The oil-cooled, four-stroke single-cylinder 644cc engine is rock solid, beefy, and provides reliable performance in all conditions.
To make the DR650S as accessible as possible, there is a short seat option that reduces the seat height to 33.2”.
The semi-double cradle steel frame is dependable, strong, rigid, and the backbone of a chassis that is really ready for anything you can throw at it.
The DR650S offers excellent value for a no-frills, straight-to-the-point dual sport. It is another bike that keeps things simple!
- Max power: 33.4 horsepower
- Max torque: 34.7 Nm
- Seat height: 36.8”
- Curb weight: 317 lbs.
- MSRP: $7,199
The DR-Z400S takes after the bigger DR650S in that it is a straightforward, solid dual sport and isn’t trying to be anything more than that.
It’s constructed with a narrow frame using chrome-moly tubes, which reduce weight but provide excellent torsional rigidity. The aluminum subframe bolts on to make maintenance easier and keep the weight low.
The 398cc single-cylinder produces strong low-rpm power. The grunt is exactly where you need it, especially off road, but it’s equally useful in town, battling traffic and tearing away from stoplights.
Fully adjustable long-travel suspension, as well as standard dual-sport wheels and tires, means the bike is ready for some hard riding. The stainless-steel spokes are set up to accept rim locks if you want to switch to more serious off-road tires.
The DR-Z400S is certainly a bit more hardcore than the bigger 650. Its reduced weight and set up mean it’s easier to ride off-road, and also make it more accessible to new riders regardless of terrain.
- Max power: 70 horsepower
- Max torque: 157 Nm
- Seat height: 33.2”
- Curb weight: 419 lbs.
- MSRP: $17,995
The most expensive and most powerful addition to our list is the Zero DSR, an electric option from one of the leaders in electric motorcycles.
The DSR comes with two power modes: Eco and Sport. Using the accompanying Zero Motorcycles App you can fully customize the ride modes, check your ride stats, and change performance details to suit your needs.
This means you can seamlessly switch between a standard road set up and off-road set up as easily as you can scroll through social media.
The main questions that come up with electric motorcycles are speed, range, and charge time. Well, the DSR has a top speed of 102 mph, a city range of 163 miles, and optimal charge time of just 2.3 hours.
With a mix of on- and off-road riding, including some high speed stuff, you’d be looking at a range of somewhere between 100–120 miles — but of course this all depends on the usual suspects — weight, load, speed, and terrain.
The DSR proves that a shift toward electric motorcycles doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice performance. It is a competent trail rider and equally can operate at highway speeds.