Guide to Dual Sport & Adventure Motorcycles

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If you’ve watched documentaries like “The Long Way Round,” you’ve probably felt the adventure motorcycle itch at one time or another.

This page will provide you an overview of the adventure motorcycle, what to look for in an adventure bike, and whether or not it’s the right motorcycle for you.

What is an Adventure Motorcycle?

The basic definition of an adventure bike is a type of motorcycle that’s designed to travel on both paved and dirt road as well as long distance rides.

However, the range of adventure motorcycles runs the full spectrum from something closer to a touring bike to stripped-down street-legal enduros.

That said, there are some shared features among most types of adventure motorcycles, this typically includes:

  • Better suspension that can withstand uneven roads and off-road conditions.
  • Large fuel capacity and efficient gas mileage.
  • Reliable and easy to maintain or repair on the road.
  • Durable to be able to withstand rough conditions or being dropped.
  • Luggage and storage for long-distance trips.

Dual Sport vs. Enduro

Within each motorcycle class and style, there can be a lot of overlap between variations.

Adventure bikes, dual-spots, and enduros are no exception.

Here are some of the main differences as to where you can draw the lines between these styles of motorcycles:

  • Adventure motorcycle: Adventure motorcycles are often the largest of the group, and are designed for on and off-road riding over long distances. These tend to feature the most comfortable ergonomics and high-end features.
  • Dual-sport: A dual sport is typically a scaled up and street-legal enduro. It has everything you need to register it and operate it on public roads, and it’s designed to handle better on pavement than a full off-road bike.
  • Enduro: These bikes are typically designed for off-road use only. They’re rugged, durable, and have excellent suspension for handling in the roughest of terrain.

Types of Adventure Motorcycles

The spectrum of adventure bikes can be reliably plotted against where the motorcycle will be driven the most – on road or off road.

Adventure bikes that are better suited for on-road use will typically feature:

  • Larger, more powerful engines.
  • Heavier over-all weight.
  • Larger fairings and more luggage options.
  • Tires designed for the pavement.

Adventure bikes, or dual sports, more geared for dirt-use typically feature:

  • Lighter construction.
  • Smaller engines.
  • Scaled down features and add-ons.
  • Wire rims and knobby tires.

Best Adventure Bikes

Some of the best adventure motorcycles to check out include:

  • BMW GS models
  • Honda Africa Twin (XRV750)
  • Kawasaki KLR 650
  • KTM Adventure models
  • Royal Enfield Himalayan
  • Suzuki DR650

What to look for in an adventure motorcycle?

The best adventure bike for you is going to depend on how you’re going to be using it.

You’ll need to consider whether you’re primarily going to be riding on the pavement or you’ll be riding off-road a lot.

If you’re covering long distances with a lot of gear, something further towards the adventure-touring side of the spectrum probably makes more sense.

However, if you’re planning on spending most of your time in the dirt, a bike with good off-road suspension, light-weight, and only the essential features may be a better choice.

Is an Adventure Motorcycle Good for New Riders?

If you choose the right one, an adventure bike can be a great choice for beginner motorcycle riders.

Here’s why:

  • Adventure bikes typically feature an upright, or neutral, riding position that can help beginners form good technique and riding skills.
  • These bikes offer plenty of options in the small to mid-sized motorcycle range – a great option for new riders.
  • They’re built to be durable and withstand a beating. If you drop it while you’re practicing your riding skills, it will probably be okay.
  • It will allow you to fully explore the type of riding you enjoy the most.

Looking for more bike recommendations, check out some of the best beginner motorcycles – these are more-street oriented bikes.

Best Beginner Dual Sport Motorcycles

If you’re looking for a dual sport as a new rider, some models to check out include:

  1. Honda CRF230L
  2. Kawasaki KLX250S
  3. Yamaha WR250R

As a beginner, looks for an affordable, used adventure bike that’s on the lighter side. The examples above are great places to start your search.