Top 10 Best Dual Sport Motorcycles

January 2, 2024
By Spencer Padway
Top 10 Best Dual Sport Motorcycles

Where you do most of your riding — whether it be city streets or back-country trails — typically dictates the type of motorcycle you own. But what about a segment of the motorcycling community that wants to do both? If that sounds like you, then maybe it’s time to get a motorcycle capable of giving you the versatility to commute to work or school and letting you explore a dirt trail on the way home.

Dual-sport motorcycles offer a combination of being street-legal while possessing the off-road capabilities of adventure or dirt bikes. Manufacturers accomplish this with a lighter motorcycle and more ground clearance than a road bike. Some dual-sport bike models have off-road tires and a suspension more reminiscent of a dirt bike than a road bike. In contrast, other models are built to accommodate off-road riding without sacrificing rider comfort and control on paved surfaces.

Makers of dual-sport motorcycles give you options to consider when shopping for one, which is where this article comes in handy. As you continue reading, you’ll learn about the best dual-sport motorcycles from our team of enthusiasts. Each dual-sport motorcycle includes specifications, pricing, and shopping tips to help you find the bike that perfectly fits you and the terrain you ride on.

Best Dual Sport Motorcycles in 2023

The first thing to know before shopping for the best dual sport motorcycle: It’s not one-size-fits-all. There are dual-sport motorcycles built for riders who spend more time on dirt trails than on paved streets and other bikes designed primarily for highway use with the occasional detour onto gravel or dirt roads. 

Our recommendations are divided into categories to make finding the best dual-sport motorcycle for your riding needs easier. We’ve even included a separate section if you’re looking for the best Chinese dual-sport motorcycle.

Best Dual Sport Motorcycle For Highway

Kawasaki KLR 650

The KLR 650 can handle rough terrains. However, its heftier weight and suspension make it ideal for touring with the occasional venture onto rougher road surfaces. A soft suspension featuring a telescopic fork up front, a single shock in the rear, a five-speed transmission, and a 652cc four-stroke engine offer enough power and control without sacrificing rider comfort.

Other features include:
  • Fuel injection delivery system.
  • Powerful single-cylinder DOHC engine.
  • Available with or without ABS brakes.

Prices range from $6,899 to $7,500 (MSRP) as of publishing.

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Honda CRF 450RL

The CRF 450 RL uses the XR650R and adds a 450cc liquid-cooled engine (what else would you expect from Honda), a six-speed wide-ratio transmission, and fuel injection. A softer suspension than on bikes built specifically for off-road riding makes for a comfortable riding experience. The perfect dual sport bike to take you to and from the trails and on them.

Other features include:
  • Inverted coil-spring front fork and a single rear shock, both made by Showna.
  • Suspension travel is 12.4 inches.
  • Tall seat height lets you know it’s a dual sport bike.

Prices range from $10,099 to $10,800 (MSRP) as of publishing.

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New for 2024, the KTM 350 EXC-F offers outstanding dual-sport versatility, making it as at home on the street as it is off-road. It looks more like a dirt or trail bike than something you’d take on the road, but it has been designed to comply with state laws for use on public streets.

Other features include:
  • 350cc single-cylinder, four-stroke engine.
  • Six-speed transmission.
  • Tool-free adjustable front and rear suspensions.

Prices range from $12,149 to $12,800 (MSRP) as of the writing of this article.

Husqvarna FE 501S

If you want a dual-sport motorcycle built primarily with the off-road racer in mind, you should seriously consider the FE 501S. Although it minimally meets state requirements to be street legal, this bike is for riders who primarily stick to the trails and single tracks.

Other features include:
  • A powerful 510.9cc single-cylinder, four-stroke engine.
  • Six-speed transmission.
  • Electronic fuel injection.
  • Hydraulic brakes and clutch.
  • Lightweight, tool-free, adjustable WP XACT rear shock.

Price ranges from $12,449 to $12,900 (MSRP) as of publishing.

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Yamaha XT250

Built for riding on and off-road, the XT250 features a long-travel suspension, giving it 11.2 inches of ground clearance. The impressive ground clearance still leaves the rider only 31.0 inches above the ground. Its compact frame means improved stability and improved handling regardless of the terrain. The XT 250 has been a part of the Yamaha lineup since 1980, and it’s proven to be a popular bike for riders of all experience levels and may be one of the best dual-sport motorcycles for beginners.

Other features include:
  • 249cc fuel-injected, one-cylinder engine.
  • An impressive 76 mpg and 2.6-gallon tank helps on those long rides.
  • Front and rear disc brakes.
  • Digital LCD instrumentation makes it easier to see day or night while reducing overall weight.
  • Five-speed transmission with multi-plate wet clutch.

Price range was $5,399 to $6,100 (MSRP) as of publishing.

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Honda XR650L

If affordable and versatile top the list of features you expect in the best dual sport motorcycle 2023, the XR650L may check off those boxes. Street-legal features make it an outstanding bike for commuting to work and school or for a weekend ride on a country road. Powered by a 644cc four-stroke, single-cylinder air-cooled engine with a long-travel suspension and a steel frame, this dual sport is ready to take on any terrain you ride on. It’s been a mainstay of the Honda lineup of bikes for over 30 years

Other features include:
  • Street-legal features an electric starter.
  • Ground clearance is an impressive 13 inches, with 11 inches of travel in the suspension.
  • 37-inch seat height
  • Five-speed transmission

Price range was $6,999 to $7,600 (MSRP) as of publishing.

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Kawasaki KLX300

Kawasaki took an enduro dirt bike and made it street-legal. The 2024 model includes newly designed side covers, radiator shrouds and seat covers. A suspension with 11.2 inches of travel and 12-inch ground clearance and dual-purpose tires make it the perfect choice for off-road rides, or you can opt for the road tires mounted on 17-inch wheels.

Other features include:
  • 292cc four-stroke, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine.
  • Six-speed transmission with a wet, multi-disc clutch.
  • 85 mph top speed.
  • Front and rear suspension have 11.2 inches of travel with 12 inches of ground clearance.

Price range of $6,199 to $7,000 (MSRP) as of publishing.

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Suzuki DR Z400S

Whether you ride on a paved street or a trail deep in the woods, the DR Z400S is built to deliver the performance you expect from a dual-sport motorcycle. Its 398cc liquid-cooled engine delivers all the torque you need. An adjustable suspension with 11.6 inches of travel and a narrow frame makes maneuvering the DR Z400S on any terrain easy.

Other features include:
  • 21- and 18-inch aluminum rims.
  • Five-speed transmission with cable-operated clutch.
  • Road-legal features, including H4 halogen headlight, tail/stoplights, turn signals, and horn.
  • Digital instrumentation.
  • Low-profile seat and cargo rack.

The price range is $7,199 to $8,000 (MSRP) as of publishing.

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Best Dual Sport Motorcycle For Beginners

Suzuki DR650S

If you’re shorter than average, you may agree with Suzuki that its 2023 DR650S is the best dual-sport motorcycle. An optional adjustment kit allows shorter riders to reduce seat height to accommodate them better. Its 644cc four-stroke, oil-cooled engine efficiently delivers the power and torque you need to ride on streets or trails. A lightweight, compact frame with an adjustable front fork is accompanied by front and rear suspensions that provide 10.2 inches of wheel travel for enhanced performance when riding on even the most challenging terrain. Other features that make this a top choice as the best dual sport motorcycle for beginners

Other features include:
  • Five-speed transmission with the sealed O-ring drive chain.
  • 40mm Mikuni carburetor for enhanced throttle response.
  • Precise rack-and-pinion activated clutch. 
  • Front and rear dual-sport tires mounted on aluminum rims with steel spokes.
  • Equipped to meet state requirements for street operation, including halogen headlight.

The price is $6,099 (MSRP) as of publishing.

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Yamaha TW200

This dual-sport motorcycle from Yamaha certainly can conquer even the roughest terrain, with its fat tires providing traction and rider comfort. Equipped to take you from the street to the trail with a 196cc air-cooled, four-stroke engine, five-speed, multi-plate wet clutch, and a Mikuni 28mm carburetor, the TW200 is an excellent all-around bike. A lower seat height than you might expect on a dual sport and a wet weight of 278 pounds puts it high on the list of best dual-sport motorcycles.

Other features include:
  • The 33 mm front fork provides 6.3 inches of travel for a smoother ride on even the roughest trails.
  • 130/80 -18 front and 180/80-14 rear tires give riders traction and control.
  • The large seat and passenger footpegs make it perfect for riding with a companion.

Price range is $4,999 to $5,600 (MSRP) as of publishing.

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Bonus pick: X-PRO Hawk 250

Not to be confused with the Hawk motorcycle made by Honda, the X-PRO Hawk 250 qualifies as the best Chinese dual-sport motorcycle. Yes, it’s made in China, which is a rarity in the motorcycle world. The Hawk 250 is a dual-sport bike that beginners should add to their shopping list if for no other reason than its low price range. It’s street-legal with a 229cc four-stroke, single-cylinder air-cooled engine and five-speed transmission. It does not have an extensive dealer network like Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha, leaving owners to do repairs and maintenance themselves or rely on local mechanics.

Other features include:
  • Front and rear hydraulic disc brakes.
  • Double front and single rear shocks.
  • Steel frame.

Price range is $1,700 to $2,100 (MSRP) as of publishing.

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If you’re tired of trailering a motorcycle to where you ride off-road, consider buying a dual-sport motorcycle. Dual-sport bikes provide the convenience of using the motorcycle you ride on paved streets to commute to work during the week to explore the back-country trails on the weekend. 

Just remember to shop around because a dual-sport bike is not one-size-fits-all, as you know from the information you got from this article. Check out the top picks based on your needs, riding experience, and other preferences before committing to a dual-sport motorcycle. 

FAQ Dual-Sport Motorcycles

What is a dual-sport motorcycle?

The best way to describe a dual-sport motorcycle is a dirt bike modified and equipped to comply with state laws and legally ridden on public streets.

What is the best dual-sport motorcycle in 2023?

The best way to describe a dual-sport motorcycle is a dirt bike modified and equipped to comply with state laws and legally ridden on public streets.

Are dual-sport motorcycles worth it?

If you have the money to afford two motorcycles, one to ride on streets and the other for off-road adventures, and don’t mind trailering an off-road bike to get to a trail, then dual-sport motorcycles may not appeal to you. However, dual-sport motorcycles offer versatility and convenience that could make them a worthwhile investment, especially for riders who split their time between riding on paved roads and off-road terrain.

Can two people ride a dual-sport motorcycle?

A dual-sport bike can be equipped with a seat and foot pegs to accommodate a passenger.

Spencer Padway

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