2016 - 2020 Yamaha TW200
The Yamaha TW200, brought forward for 2020 with its scrappy little 196 cc engine, is a nice learning bike, fully street legal but with that distinctive motocross-style swale seat that says you’re going off-road. On the move, the bike has nice low-end torque and you’ll feel the front end trying to come up when you get even a little twisty. Dual sport, yes, but so much about this bike just begs to be in the dirt.
2015 - 2019 Yamaha WR250R
Essentially a carry-over from 2008 when the WR250R was added as a street-legal offering in the Yamaha WR lineup, the 2020 model carries-on carrying-on dual-sport fun. It’s not really a street-legal version of the WR250F, though the model designation tends to make it seem so. “WR” indicates it’s a wide-ratio gear box, and beyond that, the sky’s the limit. The wide-ratio gives an acceptable balance of highway capability and off-road responsiveness, both desirable in the dual-sport market
2015 - 2020 Honda XR650L
Honda carries its venerable XR650L line into 2020, but to be honest, it’s almost completely unchanged from the original version unleashed on the world back in 1993. Before you scoff, I would point out that sharks haven’t changed in millions of years, having evolved long ago into creatures perfectly suited to their environments, and apparently, so it is with the XR650L. The Red Riders got it right out of the gate with this one, and popular support keeps the bike on Honda’s showroom floors even after nearly a quarter-century.
2016 - 2020 Suzuki DR-Z400S / DR-Z400SM
Pitting the fuel-injection fans against the carburetor fans, we score a point for the latter with the DR-Z400S and DR-Z400SM from Suzuki. Fuel injection hasn’t yet made an appearance in Suzuki’s dual-sport lineup, which was a good thing or a bad thing, depending on which side of the fence you’re on. For 2020, the DR-Z siblings haven’t yet been touched by the FI update. Sharing the same engine as the 500EXC from KTM, the DR-Zs come on a different chassis with progressive-link rear suspension. The “SM” — the SuperMoto of the family — and the “S” feature a six-liter air box with quick-release fasteners trouble-free access to the air filter and special low profile mirrors that rotate hoping to avoid damage, both are pluses when you’re playing in the dirt.
2019 - 2020 Honda CRF450L
If you’re all about that trail-life, but aren’t necessarily feeling the trailer-life aspect of it, then Honda’s new CRF450L was built with you in mind. The “L” is based on the CRF450R, and was designed as a sister-bike to the 450X of the same family. It’s a street-legal machine with mirrors and lights that’ll let you connect the dots between your favorite trails via blacktop. As for the brown top, a 449 cc plant generates the power with a light-pull clutch and knobbies to keep it under control.
2015 - 2018 Yamaha XT250
It seems like when God said “Let there be light,” Yamaha was already making the XT250. Okay, maybe not that long ago, but it has been since 1980 and I’ll bet a lot of folks reading this weren’t born yet. In 1982, Rambo rode one inFirst Blood. If it was mean enough to carry Sylvester Stallone, you know it was pretty awesome. With a wide-ratio five-speed and an air-cooled 250 cc engine, the XT250 is a proper little dual-sport machine and with a little more attention to two-up riding than you might expect in an off-road-capable bike.
1988 - 1999 Suzuki DR Big
Suzuki arguably launched the adventure-bike genre all the way back in 1988 with its DR750S “Big” model. Also called the “Desert Express,” it delivered long range off-road performance and comfort superior to that which you could expect from the enduro-style bikes of the day. The factory boosted the displacement ahead of the 1990 model year to set up a decade-long reign as the grand-daddy of dual-sports.
2018 - 2019 Kawasaki KLX250
Kawasaki pulled the KLX250 out of the mothballs, updated it and released back into the domestic market in 2018. That came on the heels of a three-year break, over which the KLX250 became kind of like the Loch Ness Monster, much discussed but rarely seen. Among the improvements are updated looks, revised suspension components and electronic fuel-injection that replaces the old Keihin carb from the previous generation. So, better looks, better ride and better performance in a market that hasn’t been glutted with KLX250 models for a few years.
2019 Zero Motorcycles DS / DSR
For years now, Zero Motorcycles has pushed the EV-bike envelope in an attempt to show how viable/flexible battery-bikes can actually be, and the factory just took another important developmental step with a fresh set of updates for its DS and DSR. These dual-sport rides toe the genre line with their overall design, but of course, the real magic is under the hood with an all-electric drivetrain the factory graced with both a power boost and a range increase in an effort to expand the factory’s footprint within this rapidly burgeoning market segment. Street-electrics generally stay in relatively civilized areas, but dual-sport rides are just as happy off the beaten path and that brings its own set of variables and issues to be resolved, so today I want to take a look at this pair to see what all the factory has done to address those concerns.
2015 - 2019 Suzuki DR200S
Suzuki brings dual-sport capabilities to the entry-level sector with its DR200S. A heavy emphasis on offroad performance defines the overall look of the thing, and a 199 cc engine drives it over hill and dale as well as down the road with all the appropriate lighting for safety and legalities. The end result seems to be a functional, if plain, bike that provides a stable ride and moderate power with a humble overall bearing. A carry-over for the last few years, it hasn’t changed much, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki DR200S.
2015 - 2019 Suzuki DR650S
It’s not the most attractive bike in the dual sport stable, though it’s small and scrappy with its 644 cc engine and so much fun to ride. With a glance at the DR650S from Suzuki and you might just dismiss it as an enduro bike. That would be doing it an injustice. It’s really a basic adventure bike that will get you off the pavement and into the woods with perhaps more gumption than a real adventure bike. Priced affordably, it isn’t a tragic to drop it as it would be otherwise and it is lightweight enough that you can pick it up and keep going.
Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki DR650S.
2017 - 2018 Zero Motorcycles FX / FXS
The EV sector is booming, and as it’s grown it has expanded into more and more genres. Zero Motorcycles is all about the electrics, and has pushed beyond the straight-up street and adventure categories into dual-sport and supermoto territory. The off-road capable FX enters the 2018 MY off an update last year alongside its urban-jungle sibling, the FXS, for a dynamic duo of EV fun with more torque and more horsepower than previous model years, plus other upgrades to the drivetrain to include a wider final-drive belt and improvements to the power packs.
Continue reading for my review of the Zero FX and FXS.
2016 - 2018 KYMCO Super 8
The Super 8 in both the 50 cc and 150 cc models have been around for a bit, and while some folks discount KYMCO as a serious manufacturer, it’s worth a look. KYMCO maintains a prominent presence in the Grand National Cross Country Series, a grueling off-road racing circuit that hosts long courses over a variety of rugged terrains, and serves as a sort of trial-by-fire for both rider and machine. If that isn’t a testament to quality, I don’t know what is. We lost the Super 8 "R" siblings going into last year, but let’s take a look and see how well KYMCO’s race prowess transitions to the scooter sector with its 2018 Super 8 “X” model duo.
Continue reading for more information on the KYMCO Super 8.
2015 - 2018 Kawasaki KLR 650
Equipped with a 651 cc thumper and what looks like a beefy front end, the KLR 650 from Kawasaki is a capable middleweight dual-purpose ride. Big enough to be an adventure bike, but not really intended as such, the KLR 650 has an ample-size fuel tank, frame, rims and suspension that show true off-road roots, yet has enough straight-line stability to handle the pavement. If not-quite-adventure, but more than dirtbike is what you need, the KLR 650 might be your Huckleberry.
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki KLR 650.
2018 AJP Motorcycles PR7
Portugese off-road heavyweight AJP is looking to expand its influence in the U.S. market with a street-legal version of its popular PR7 adventure bike for 2018. The factory is keeping power figures close to the vest for the time being, but it’s fairly forthcoming with all the other metrics, and I know the 600 cc SWM engine that powers it puts out something in the neighborhood of 50 horsepower. That said, I’d like to take a look at this latest and final version of the PR7, but first I’d like to take a look at the builder.
Continue reading for my first look at the AJP Motorcycles PR7.
2017 CSC Motorcycles TT250
CSC Motorcycles — a west-coast importer for Chongqing Zongshen — brings us a dandy dual-sport bike in the TT250. With a 230 cc engine that offers manageable torque and horsepower, the TT250 gives us Enduro styling in a street-legal dual sport for off-road fun or economical commutes at an amazingly affordable price. It’s a gutsy little Chinese bike that is easy to start and runs quite well, so if your preconceived notion of Chinese bikes is that they’re crap, you might want to take another look.
Continue reading for my review of the CSC Motorcycles TT250.
Honda’s CRF series has been around since MY13, and 2017 sees the first major update for the family. Among the changes, the factory added another 1.6 horsepower over the previous generation, and it added the “Rally” to the lineup for even more capacity for fun when the blacktop turns to brown. These rides are built for people who take their fun seriously, according to the factory, but just how serious you can get with one depends on your definition of the word. Is it a machine that will suit your purposes? Let’s take a look and find out.
Continue reading for my look at the Honda CRF250L and CRF250L Rally.
I can’t say enough good things about these Rokons, and quite frankly, neither can their owners. They have a frame that can withstand the punishment of wilderness riding and an enormous ground clearance. They’re lightweight, have hydraulic brakes; and they have an engine you can’t kill. They pull, they tow and they climb like a mountain goat. If you have business out in the woods, these babies are your huckleberry.
New in 2016, Rokon introduced the Ranger to add to the stable alongside the Scout and its siblings, the Trail-Breaker and the Rokon for Hunters.
Continue reading for my review of the Rokon Scout and Ranger.
Add the Street Legal package to Christini’s AWD 450 Military Edition bike and you have the AWD 450 Explorer. Based in Philadelphia, Christini has been pursuing AWD for two wheels since 1995. What started as AWD mountain bikes turned to AWD motorcycles in 2002.
It was in 2008 when a Christini-upgraded KTM bike took second place in the inaugural Extreme Enduro Race that AWD was established as competitively viable technology. Considering that folks have raced Christini AWD bikes in every EnduroCross event since 2006 speaks to their capability as competition rides. In fact, Christini bikes are race-tested and proved reliable in World Enduro, GNCC, Endurocross, Red Bull Last Man Standing, and Hare scrambles.
Continue reading for my review of the Christini AWD 450 Explorer.
KTM continues to expand and refine its adventure bike line with its 2017 1090 Adventure R and the 1290 duo, the Super Adventure R and Super Adventure T. Revealed to the world at the 2016 INTERMOT show in Cologne, Germany, these bikes benefit from KTM’s not-inconsiderable experience with off-road bikes and its more recent foray into the world of naked street/superbikes. The engines punch above their weight, and the electronic magic really shows the genius of Austrian engineering, which is a lot like German engineering. (...just with a sense of humor?).
Continue reading for my review of the KTM 1090 Adventure R, 1290 Super Adventure R and 1290 Super Adventure T.
Rokon expands a little bit out of its pure off-road niche with the Ranger model that brings the traditional look and function associated with the Rokon brand to the street-legal, dual-sport sector. As with the rest of the Rokon inventory, a small Kohler engine powers a hydraulic system that enables the full time, front- and rear-wheel drive. Yeah, these bikes don’t exactly fit anyone else’s mold, but they aren’t meant to be, and they are very good at what they are built for. Today I’m going to check out the lineup, and see what Rokon has done with its newest addition to the family, the Mototractor.
Continue reading my review for the Rokon Ranger, Trail-Breaker, and Rokon for Hunters.