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What happened to all the dual sport bikes?

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Hello gents. Let me start by saying that I am by no means a motorcycle expert. Basically, I have only ridden older (late 70's, early 80's) dual sport motorcycles and never really been interested in MX. When I was younger, Honda had a full line of dual sport XL models, I believe ranging from 75cc to 600cc. I am currently looking at buying my girlfriend a conservatively powered dual sport, and obviously Honda was at the top of my list. To my dismay, I found that the only dual sport bike currently offered by Honda is the monstrous XR650L.

What happened to the XL line? Why was it scrapped? It seems there would be great interest by the general public in dual sport motorcycles for tooling around town and riding down dirt trails. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Honda also offered XR250L and XR400L dual sport bikes. I can't imagine there not being adequate demand for nice, mid sized dual sports such as these.

Like I stated previously, I am by no means an expert in this field, and haven't followed the motorcycle industry too much over the last 10-15 years. I just find it a shame that a company such as Honda, who used to offer an extensive dual sport lineup, has seen it dwindle down to just one. And the one they offer is so big and heavy, novice and female riders have no current dual sport bikes to purchase.

What a shame...

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There are a few around.

Get the DRZ250 if you want a 250 and DRZ400 is you want a 400.

Honda hasn't had a dual-sport based on the XR400 in the USA, only the older XR350L and XL350.

I have an XR400 that was converted to be a dual-sport. Unfortunately, that is a lot tougher to do these days. Personally, I'd rather have a dirt bike with the dual-sport gear added than a factory dual-sport.

Kevin

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If a motorcycle company stops making a bike, it's cause they don't sell well.

No full grown man wants to ride a 75cc dual sport. And a 75 dual sport wouldnt be any good for a beginner cause all the DOT equipment would make it weight too much for a beginner. I personally don't know why anyone would want a bike any smaller than a 400 for dual sport riding. Also, ive found dual sports can be difficult to ride off road. The DOT tires dont do very well in dirt or off road. My dad has a dual sport, and it was always squirrely with the DOT tires, we threw them out and got some full knobbies. A bike smaller than a 400 isnt really desirable for riding on the road, because of their low top speeds, and low torque and horsepower.

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You cant get a 'big brown round' in a thong on the back of a dual-sport which is why they wont be in show rooms. On a brighter side it does make them cheaper.

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It could be something to do with your location in the world...I don't think small dual sports are common in North America,and even bigger ones are a resticted market from what I can see.We are a tiny segment of the market here,but can get anything ever produced.Source a small dual sport as a used domestic from Japan - I have a DT230,an electric start 2 stroke...40HP,low seat height,does 165kph (100mph),I also have an XT400E,I don't think either went to North America.

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Depending on the area you live in, you may be able to convert an off road bike to "dual sport". That gives you several more alternatives to the limited number of "factory" dual sport choices.

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DRZ250 or the KLR250 would make nice Dual sports in my opinion....I"m looking at the DRZ400 for myself!

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I personally don't know why anyone would want a bike any smaller than a 400 for dual sport riding. Also, ive found dual sports can be difficult to ride off road. The DOT tires dont do very well in dirt or off road. My dad has a dual sport, and it was always squirrely with the DOT tires, we threw them out and got some full knobbies. A bike smaller than a 400 isnt really desirable for riding on the road, because of their low top speeds, and low torque and horsepower.

I disagree with you. My KLR 250 is a wonderful trail bike and holds it's own on the street as well. I have even ridden on the turnpike with it :naughty: , though I will try not to do that again (windy on tall 250 lb. bike = scary) Of course its not real powerful, but it does everything I need it to do, and was great for me to learn on.

Stock DOTs do suck, but Pirelli MT21's, Dunlop 606's, Kenda Trackmasters, and a few others all work well and are DOT approved.

I wish there were more choices out there too, but unfortunately nobody wants a factory DS anymore due to their weight and general lack of power.

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Jenz is correct. While not for the interstate, these bikes do plenty good for

jetting around town and offroad. Few modifications, such as the tires she mentioned,

and these things will do fine out in the woods. Real good even if the woods are

tight windy singletrack stuff with lots of trees.

I am very sure there are a bunch of trail sections I regularly ride, where I can get

thru quite a bit quicker with the little 250 thumper than the 650.

I have been riding pretty much nothing but dualsport thumpers since the 70's.

If I had to choose 1 bike, it would be the 250. Unless I lived next to a desert and/or

was going to be doing a lot of highway riding.

It is a shame there are so few options available currently. None of the

models I own are still sold new in the US, although you can get them in Canada

and other places of course.

People always seem to look down on the 250 thumpers, but with a few tweaks

they can go damn near anyplace offroad, unless you are a fatass, then you may

need a 400. I am about 6'1" and 145lb, so the 250 does feel a bit like a minibike,

but minibikes are FUN!

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I owned 3 of those Honda XL's you're talking about (100, 125 and 175) and from my experience, the reason they're no longer in production is because they were JUNK. Underpowered gutless beasts that left ya walkin more often than not, I never rode them farther than I was willing to push them back lol.

For a current smaller dual sport I'd highly recommend a Kawasaki KLR250 (or the super sherpa if electric start is your thing) My wife has one that I ride around town occasionally. Suprisingly good lil bikes, on or off road, plenty of power for around town or back roads... they dont care for highway speeds over 65mph or so though.

The Yamaha XT's are good bikes too just kinda funny looking :naughty:

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Get her a TW200, they kick ass... but the forks bend easier and you run out of gear quickly

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if you owned three Hondas, ANY Hondas, that had a habit of breaking down, and not making it back .... then you weren't giving them even the slightest maintenance, ... nothing more dependable on the planet

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if you owned three Hondas, ANY Hondas, that had a habit of breaking down, and not making it back .... then you weren't giving them even the slightest maintenance, ... nothing more dependable on the planet

lol, funny, the yamaha I had before those hondas (GT80) and the one I have now are both way more reliable than those XL's were. It wasnt for lack of maintenance, I worked on those bikes more than I rode them.

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I've always thought that they were only useful for places like Arizona where terrain is dry or Alaska where there are a lot of gravel roads. My buddy had one here in Ohio and if it was even a little wet, the bike sucked complete a$$.

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What happened to the XL line? Why was it scrapped? It seems there would be great interest by the general public in dual sport motorcycles for tooling around town and riding down dirt trails. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Honda also offered XR250L and XR400L dual sport bikes. I can't imagine there not being adequate demand for nice, mid sized dual sports such as these.

There are a lot of reasons.

In other countries enduro bikes have turn signals and are licensable. If you look around the world, there are enduro versions of the CRF230 (street legal), CR125, CR250, etc! Actually they might all be street legal over there... just like the first enduro bikes were. Just yank the turn signals off for competition.

Other countries are also bigger fans of eduros. In Europe it has a huge following and always has. Many riders have national hero status. Here it's almost impossible to find an enduro on TV outside of one or two days a year on Speed Tv. No... we ge supercross. So what do kids want? MotoX bikes.

Here it's more difficult to make a bike road legal.

While it's ok to have a plastic tank in other parts of the world, here you need steel and a steel gas cap. Then there's all sorts of sound and pollution emissions tests that are very expensive.

The extra tooling for the tank costs money and the makes it less attractive for off road due to the weight. Then the testing and preparations in engineering for the tests carries a certain dollar amount. Add up those costs and it takes a lot of bike sales to make up for the expense. Presto, models get the axe from the bean counters even though the sales might not be that bad. The markup just isn't enough for some exec at American Honda to want to import them. :naughty:

As for falling sales... the USA has a bit of a bigger is better ego problem. Most dual sport bikes were smaller displacement and therefore "wimpy".

Just read these forums. Someone asks for advice on what bike is good for a newby and some people are guaranteed to recommend a 400 or more cc displacement bike to them with at least a foot of suspension... etc. Back in the day it would have been a 125 or 175 and nobody talked about a bike being to small in size.

Honda also dropped the ball, leaving the bikes alone for too long and didn't improve the power to match the demand. If they had done that, sales might not have dropped. Guess what? They come out with the CRFX line and sales are great. So much so that it makes the old XR line sales look pale by comparison and the XRs are near extinction.

I also remember various dual sport bikes that Honda tried at the end of the 80s - start of the 90s that were totally out of place for the US market at the time. The Transalp came too soon for the adventure bike craze and there was some dual sport model aimed more at the street than previous models. The US is a big country with lots of trails, why buy a bike that you can barely ride on them? Now a modern Transalp would sell and a supermoto (they have several models overseas) would probably have decent sales here but poor sales in the past left a bad taste in their mouths.

If Honda would have given people what they want the dual sports would probably still be around.

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I owned 3 of those Honda XL's you're talking about (100, 125 and 175) and from my experience, the reason they're no longer in production is because they were JUNK. Underpowered gutless beasts that left ya walkin more often than not, I never rode them farther than I was willing to push them back lol.

Funny, most of the ones I knew never died... which is more than I can say for all the Yamahas I knew with siezed pistons, broken cranks... you name it.. :naughty:

Underpowered and gutless maybe... but unreliable? No. There's a reason Honda gained a reputation as being bulletproff (read a motorcycle magazine and you'll see phrases like "Honda reliable", "it's a Honda" etc when talking about reliability)

Why is it I constantly see Yamaha owners ripping on Hondas for reliability?

:naughty:

Hmmm....

lol, funny, the yamaha I had before those hondas (GT80) and the one I have now are both way more reliable than those XL's were. It wasnt for lack of maintenance, I worked on those bikes more than I rode them.

Maybe that's why they weren't reliable. You worked on them. :D

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I've always thought that they were only useful for places like Arizona where terrain is dry or Alaska where there are a lot of gravel roads. My buddy had one here in Ohio and if it was even a little wet, the bike sucked complete a$$.

Stock tires suck a$$. They don't offer enough tracktion for dirt and we always replaced them with knobbies. Few OEM tires are worth anything in the rain on the street.

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Why is it I constantly see Yamaha owners ripping on Hondas for reliability?

:naughty:

Maybe because they've seen what real reliability is? :naughty:

Even back then I heard all the honda guys saying yamaha is junk and honda's are gods gift to dirtbikers... but sorry, thats not my personal experience. MY Yamaha's have been MUCH more reliable than MY Honda's, thats a fact. Your mileage may very. :D

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I've had a few Honda dualsports and still keep one around. I always loved the XL250s and would probably still use one as my primary bike except I do ride on the highway frequently so the DRZ400 fits my needs better now. I never really found the 250s underpowered (for a 250). As for reliability, Honda is where it's at.

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