2015 - 2021 Honda XR650L
Honda carries its venerable XR650L line into 2021, 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.
2021 - 2022 Kawasaki KLX300
Kawasaki put together its KLX300 model with dual-sport riders in mind and a definite bias for the off-road work. Suspension stroke and ground clearance point to a capacity for fairly rugged terrain, while the mirrors and full all-around lighting make it street legal. Whether you plan on proper adventure riding, or just want to forego the trailer action every time you want to hit your favorite trails, the KLX300 has you covered.
2016 - 2019 Ducati Scrambler Sixty2
The scrambler market is booming, and so far, Ducati is ahead of the curve with a full range of purpose-built Scrambler models. It added to the lineup in 2016 with its Scrambler Sixty2, a model that reflects what the factory calls modern pop culture, with a liberal dose of sixties, mid-size standard cruiser flavor blended in. Powered with a 399 cc L-twin, the Sixty2 isn’t a poser in a scrambler costume; it’s ready to rock and roll.
2021 KTM 450 SMR
MY2021 brings with it the return of the KTM 450 SuperMoto to the paddock after a seven-year hiatus, and it looks like just what the doctor ordered if power-drifting, racing, and stunt riding – or any combination thereof – is your thing. It sports the proven 450 engine that comes with a smattering of rider-aid electronics so you can dial in the bike’s personality as you like. Additionally, the frame is adjustable, and the suspension comes off the top shelf to finish off the package.
2016 - 2021 Yamaha TW200
The Yamaha TW200, brought forward for 2021 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 - 2020 Suzuki DR200S
Suzuki brings dual-sport capabilities to the entry-level sector with its DR200S. A heavy emphasis on off-road performance defines the overall look; 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 is 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.
2015 - 2019 Suzuki DR650S
It’s not the most attractive bike in the dual sport stable, though it’s small and scrappy with a 644 cc engine and so much fun to ride. With a glance at the DR650S from Suzuki 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 tragic to drop it as it would be otherwise and it is lightweight enough that you can pick it up and keep going.
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.
2015 - 2020 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
2019 KTM 450 Rally Replica
For almost two decades, KTM has been a fixture at the top of the field in the Paris-to-Dakar Rally, and the 450 Rally Factory Replica is meant to pay homage to the bike that carried Sam Sunderland to victory in the 2019 Silk Way Rally. That’s right sports fans, the actual factory rally bike just dominated a race that traverses the Gobi Desert and crosses the borders of Russia, Mongolia, and China, and this is the public model made in its image. It’s not a machine for the casual off-road rider, but rather, it’s built with would-be rally racers in mind, and toward that end, the “Rally FR” doesn’t waste any weight on superfluous equipment.
2015 - 2018 BMW F 800 GS / F 800 GS Adventure
BMW carries on the F 800 GS and F 800 GS Adventure in 2018 with their 800 cc engine and capable onroad/offroad features. The former is more of a casual commuter / funbike, while the “Adventure” is geared toward touring and long-range work, and naturally, both come with the top-notch engineering one expects from BMW.
Continue reading for my review of the BMW F 800 GS and F 800 GS Adventure.
2017 Yamaha SCR950
The retro war heats up as more manufacturers jump into the fray, and Yamaha finally took the plunge with its new-in-2017 SCR950 scrambler. Based on the Star Bolt, this bike runs the same proven 942 cc mill with a decidedly classic overall flavor dating back to the original scramblers of the ’60s and ’70s. I must confess that I have an affinity for scramblers, and I already know the Bolt is a heck of a bike, even if it is, shall we say, very ’flattering’ to a certain Sportster currently on the market, so it is with high expectations that I approach The Tuning Fork Company’s new foray into scrambler territory.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha SCR950.
2018 First Look: Indian Motorcycle Scout FTR1200 Custom
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or are in denial about your team getting completely owned by Indian Motorcycle’s flat-track racing team, the Wrecking Crew, chances are you’re aware of the recent leap from obscurity to the pinnacle of FT racing prowess under the Polaris umbrella. In honor of this recent success, and in an effort to ride the current wave of popularity and interest in this storied American brand, Indian has put together a street-legal ride fit for the masses; the Scout FTR1200 Custom. As the cleverly-ingenious name suggests, it’s based on the Scout platform, but any resemblance to the actual Scout seems to be solely in name and the general engine layout. In fact, let’s just shine on the whole Scout thing for the moment, and focus on what this bike actually is, shall we?
Continue reading for my look at the Indian Motorcycle Scout FTR1200 Custom.