Market Snapshot: Dual Sport Motorcycles
By Guido Ebert
The motorcycle segments most impacted during the sales downturn caused by the Great Recession included Off-Road models, Mid-Size Cruisers and Sport models. However, despite continuing woes for some of those more popular motorcycle segments, Dual Sport sales have actually grown roughly 22.5% from 2010 through 2012.
While still representing only about 10% of the total two-wheeler market (less than Scooters) the Dual Sport market has held its own by attracting new and experienced riders of multiple age groups who seek an on/off-road bike that harbors a wide range of prices and offers a standard operator position and utility effectiveness.
The term “Dual Sport” originally referred to “Enduro” bikes, or off-road bikes that were made street-legal. Nowadays, Dual Sport models range in style from small & light to large & heavy. While true Dual Sports can tackle mountain trails and roads with equal vigor, standing out in the market are sales of new models labeled as “Adventure Touring” bikes but more reminiscent of utility-oriented large displacement standard models (BMW 1200GS, Moto Guzzi Stelvio, Suzuki DL V-Strom 1000 Adventure, Triumph Tiger Explorer and Yamaha Super Ténéré).
Small-Size Dual, Up to 300cc: Representing approximately 25-30% of the total Dual Sport market, small-sized models are marked by the Honda CRF230M & CRF230L, Kawasaki KLX250S & KLX250SF and Yamaha TW200, WR250R & XT250 – attractively priced units that often are preferred by novice riders, commuters and even travelers capable of carrying a two-wheeler piggyback on a larger vehicle like an RV or boat.
Medium-Size Dual, 301-650cc: Now representing just under 50% of the total Dual-Sport market, medium-sized models include the ever-present Kawasaki KLR650, Honda XR650L, Suzuki DR650SE, Suzuki V-Strom 650 Adventure and BMW 650 GS models. Like Small-size Dual Sports, this category appears significantly impacted by relatively low purchase prices, fluctuations in gas prices, and purchases by both novice and experienced riders.
Large-Size Dual, Over 650cc: The large-size Dual Sport category – the SUVs of the market – represented about 25% of the total Dual Sport market in 2012. Marked by the BMW F 800 GS & R 1200 GS, KTM 990 Adventure, and Suzuki V-Strom
1000 Adventure, Yamaha Super Ténéré and Triumph 800XC & Tiger Explorer, the large displacement Dual Sport category splits riders like an amoeba – with one group of consumers gravitating toward the off-road style product and the second group gravitating toward the more roadworthy product.
My Dual Sport is the Perfect Urban Assault Vehicle
By Mark Descartes
I learned to ride on street bikes a few years ago and had never ventured off-road until I started reading Dual Sport adventures in MMM. I bought a cheap Japanese Dual Sport and went exploring. I instantly fell in love with this new kind of riding and have now ridden it off-road in seven states. Even though my Dual Sport is fully street-legal, it wasn’t until my V-twin was in the shop that it occurred to me that I could ride my “off-road” bike in town.
What a revelation! Many of the attributes that make a Dual Sport good off road transfer to street riding. While the taller seat height is different than most cruisers, it is great in traffic. You have a commanding view over the roof of most cars and even many trucks. This is a great advantage for spotting driving blunders and openings in traffic. Dual Sports are narrow, too. Compared to my bike and other cruisers, it feels like a bicycle. You can squeak through any traffic opening. Simply point and add throttle. Tedious commutes become adventure rides through a rolling minefield of other vehicles. Parking is also a breeze. You can slide into many impromptu spots. I sometimes park on concrete pads outside stores. No one has complained yet. My Dual Sport has become my go-to mount for errand running.
Dual Sports are, by design, rugged, durable and easy to service. In the time I’ve ridden them, service has been limited to oil and filter changes, brake pads, a cable or two, a couple levers and tires … lots of tires. What you give up in chrome and shiny, you get back in near-zero maintenance. I have settled into a routine where I can ride for the whole season and do any maintenance over the winter. With the exception of tire changes, I have had no downtime.
As for those tires: While knobbies are great off-road, they can be unnerving in town until you get the feel for them. Some riders will change rubber and run full-on street tires in town, swapping to knobbies for their trail rides. I am lazy and run knobbies year round.
The long-travel suspensions on these bikes are just the ticket for the decaying pavement of our cities. Road irregularities that cause wheel hop on my Bagger aren’t even felt through the handlebars of my Dual Sport. Cracks, potholes and even curbs are negotiated with a smile and bravado.
Dual Sports are cheap to buy, own, run and insure. All of the Japanese companies make solid offerings. You can easily find a clean, low-mile, Japanese dual-sport for less than $2,000. If you are patient and can live with a 200-225cc model, examples can be had for a little over $1,000. Larger, 650cc models command more money, but are still a cheap buy-in. For those who insist on European panache, there are a variety of offerings by BMW, Husaberg, Husqvarna and the orange 800-lb. orangutan, KTM. The aftermarket offers a variety of crash bars, case guards and bash plates to protect your baby from tip-overs, potholes and car door Ninjas. Luggage options include tank panniers, rear racks and tail bags, and several versions of hard or soft rear panniers. It is ridiculously easy to outfit your new bike for urban commuting and errand running.
If you already have a Dual Sport, consider riding it on your next commute or trip to the store. If you have never sampled a Dual Sport bike, check in with your friendly dealer and try one on for size. Don’t be surprised if your street bike starts to collect dust.
Dial In A Dual Sport to Fit Your Size (and Wallet)
By Guido Ebert
Whether you’re short or tall, or your bank account is small or large, there likely is a Dual Sport motorcycle to fit you and your needs. Take a look at what some of the major manufacturers are offering in 2013.
BMW this year offers seven Dual Sport models, including the G 650 GS ($7,850), G 650 GS Sertao ($8,650), F 700 GS ($9,990) and F 800 GS/Adventure ($12,090/TBA), as well as the R 1200 GS/Adventure ($15,800/$18,350).
The R 1200 GS Adventure was BMW’s best-selling Dual Sport in the U.S. in 2012, followed by the base R 1200 GS, F 800 GS and year-old F 700 GS.
Honda offers two dedicated Dual Sport models, including the CRF250L ($4,699) and XR650L ($6,690). Or, you could choose to transform a CRF250X ($7,410) or CRF450X (TBA) trail bike into something street-legal.
The CRF250L in 2012 was responsible for one-third more sales than the XR650L.
Husqvarna in 2013 offers three of what it labels “Dual Sport” models, the TE310R ($8,399), TE449 ($8,599) and TE511 ($8,999), and two models of what it calls “Dual Purpose” bikes, the new TR650 Terra ($6,999) and TR650 Strada ($7,499).
The TE310 easily serves as Husqvarna’s bestseller of the bunch.
Kawasaki’s Dual Sport line features the KLX205S ($5,099) and stalwart KLR650 ($6,499). Of course, perhaps you may be more interested in seeing whether you could transform a KX250F ($7,599) or KX450F ($8,699) into something street-able.
The long-offered KLR650 last year sold nearly triple the number of KLX250S.
KTM in 2013 offers two dedicated Dual Sport bikes in the 990 SM-T Supermoto ($13,999) and limited edition 990 Adventure Baja ($14,999) that was built especially for the North American market as a swan song to the model that’s giving way to the 2014 1190 Adventure (TBA). Prefer something a bit lighter? Try the 690 Enduro R ($10,299) or one of the EXC or XC-F models.
Introduced as a 950cc model in 2004 and a 990cc model in 2007, the Adventure remains KTM’s top-selling Dual Sport in 2012. Up next: Look for the 1190 Adventure R to make it stateside in 2014.
You’ll be hard-pressed to run into another one of these, which is a shame, because Moto Guzzi’s tough Stelvio 1200 NTX ($15,990) comes standard with ABS, traction control, aluminum side bags and hand guards, plus an adjustable windscreen and adjustable saddle height, handlebar, clutch levers and foot pegs.
Suzuki offers six motorcycles that could be deemed Dual Sport models, including the DR200SE ($4,199), DR-Z400S/SM ($6,499/$6,999), DR650SE ($6,399), DL V-Strom 650 Adventure ($9,999) and DL V-Strom 1000 Adventure ($10,999). Like your ride capable of a bit more roost? Check out the RM-Z250 ($7,599) or RM-Z450 ($8,699).
The top three sellers last year were the DL V-Strom 650 Adventure, DR-Z400S and DR650SE.
Triumph offers four dedicated Dual Sport models for 2013, including the three-cylinder Tiger 800 ($10,999), more outfitted Tiger 800 XC ($11,999), the 1215cc three-cylinder Tiger Explorer ($15,699) and the Tiger Explorer XC ($17,199).
The Tiger 800 XC served as the most popular of the four, followed by the base Tiger 800, Tiger Explorer and Tiger Explorer XC.
Yamaha’s four-model Dual Sport range includes the diminutive TW200 ($4,590), XT250 ($5,190), WR205R ($6,690) and the big XTZ12 Super Tenere ($14,790). Spend more time on dirt than asphalt? Try modding a WR250F ($6,990) or WR450F ($8,290).
The XT250 was Yamaha’s best-selling Dual Sport in 2012, trumping (in order) the Super Tenere, TW200 and WR250R.
Dual Sports Are 2-Wheel Transformers
By Guido Ebert
So you have always dreamed of riding your off-road bike on the street … to brap from stoplight to stoplight, loft a wheel over potholes, extend your riding season without worrying about the elements on your still sparkling road bike. Well, thankfully you live in Minnesota.
Here, an off-road motorcycle registered for off-road use may also be licensed for on-road use if properly equipped. That’s right: You can turn your Motocross bike into a Dual Sport. Basic equipment requirements include at least one and not more than two headlamps, at least one tail/stop lamp exhibiting a red light plainly visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear, a license plate light, at least one rear view mirror attached and adjusted so as to reflect a view of the roadway for a distance of at least 200 feet, a horn audible at a distance of at least 200 feet, DOT tires, a DOT compliant muffler, appropriate reflectors and other modifications.
Remember, though: An off-road motorcycle licensed for highway use that is also used off-road must have both the regular motorcycle license and the DNR OHM registration. The cost of registering a new vehicle is $38.50 and the cost of a renewal is $36. Both are valid for three years. Persons under age 16 must complete appropriate safety training before operating an off-road bike on public lands.
Contact the Department of Public Safety (dvs.dps.mn.gov) for further details and application procedures.