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What is a dual sport bike?

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First off (I am new around here and don't want anybody thinking I am getting off on the wrong foot) I am not in any way trying to insult anybody for asking this question. A couple months ago I picked up a new Yamaha XT250 to do some hunting with and thought the street legal part of it was very cool. It had been years since I had a bike. I got kind of addicted to reading up on these forums and sucked up tons of information. I grew up with the term "enduro", but untill I looked into getting a new bike I had never heard the term "dual sport". As I spent way to many hours surfing the net I found the term "dual sport" seemed to be pretty broad. It seemed bikes I would call touring bikes that might be OK to drive down a gravel road were called this. And motocross cross bikes that had aftermarket lights were called this as well.

So is there a point of off road capability or on road capability that makes a bike a duel sport? I am really wondering what you guys that know bikes think a dul sport is?

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To me a dual sport bike, is a bike that you can ride to your trails area instead of trucking/trailering/towing it up there.

Its a bike that you can ride on the street, freeway, and then ride it off road as well, like on fire roads, trails, mud, rocky spots, where you cannot ride a regular harley type motorcycle or a regualr sedan type car.

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Back in the day (way back in the '70's) we called these bikes "street/trail" bikes or "enduros" after the popular Yamaha enduro line (the street legal DT-1 etc.)

In modern times, we've coined the phrase "dual sport"..and it means just that ..it can be ridden street and trail. Same thing..different decade.

Edited by holeshot

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Back in the day (way back in the '70's) we called these bikes "street/trail" bikes or "enduros" after the popular Yamaha enduro line (the street legal DT-1 etc.)

In modern times, we've coined the phrase "dual sport"..and it means just that ..it can be ridden street and trail. Same thing..different decade.

Not sure where you grew up in California ... but in the 60's and early 70's we called Dual Sport's (and even some dirt bikes) "Scramblers" and some events were called "Scrambles". For us, Moto Cross was still new. Back then we had Desert Scrambles, Flat Track and then Moto Cross, which was brought in by the Europeans.

I first heard the Scrambles term hangin out at Bud Eakin's shop in the SF Valley. "Trail bike" or "Enduro" would also do I guess. After that, chronologically, in the early 80's came the term "Dual Purpose". By the mid to late 80's came the current term most use today; "Dual Sport". The term "Enduro" was more a term used more in the UK, Austrailia and New Zealand, but also was not unheard of in the USA.

The latest iteration in this class is the term "Adventure bike", or "Giant Trailie" in Europe. BMW, Suzuki V-Strom, Triumph Tiger 800, KTM 990, Moto Guzzi Stelvio and others fall into this category. These are generally larger, heavier bikes suited for round the world touring. They can do dirt roads but nothing very technical. There exists lots of cross over with bikes that can cover various genres and are generally very versatile. Some folks refer to these as "Multi-Surface" bikes or ALL ROAD bikes.

To the OP: If you hang around a while and start reading the relevant web sites or MC travel sites you'll soon be fluent in all this. It's very simple really.

Edited by 54321

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I used to hear them called on/off's as in on-road/off-road, my grandma actually introduced me to this concept. she had a Honda Elsinore 250, converted of course, actually learned the motorcycle basics on that bike, great memories.

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My Grandmother rode an Indian motorcycle back in twenties in San Francisco. Since most of the roads were dirt was it a dual sport?

Grandma was damn cool. good thing she had big old German legs to kick that sucker.

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The actual name Dual Sport was coined by Bob Sackett I believe, he was one of the early DS ride promoters.

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Not sure where you grew up in California ... but in the 60's and early 70's we called Dual Sport's (and even some dirt bikes) "Scramblers" and some events were called "Scrambles". For us, Moto Cross was still new. Back then we had Desert Scrambles, Flat Track and then Moto Cross, which was brought in by the Europeans.

I first heard the Scrambles term hangin out at Bud Eakin's shop in the SF Valley. "Trail bike" or "Enduro" would also do I guess. After that, chronologically, in the early 80's came the term "Dual Purpose". By the mid to late 80's came the current term most use today; "Dual Sport". The term "Enduro" was more a term used more in the UK, Austrailia and New Zealand, but also was not unheard of in the USA.

The latest iteration in this class is the term "Adventure bike", or "Giant Trailie" in Europe. BMW, Suzuki V-Strom, Triumph Tiger 800, KTM 990, Moto Guzzi Stelvio and others fall into this category. These are generally larger, heavier bikes suited for round the world touring. They can do dirt roads but nothing very technical. There exists lots of cross over with bikes that can cover various genres and are generally very versatile. Some folks refer to these as "Multi-Surface" bikes or ALL ROAD bikes.

To the OP: If you hang around a while and start reading the relevant web sites or MC travel sites you'll soon be fluent in all this. It's very simple really.

Don't forget the Kawasaki Tri Sport. The name didn't stick but the KLR 650 is still with us.

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you have no idea what you just started

+1

First off (I am new around here and don't want anybody thinking I am getting off on the wrong foot) I am not in any way trying to insult anybody for asking this question. A couple months ago I picked up a new Yamaha XT250 to do some hunting with and thought the street legal part of it was very cool. It had been years since I had a bike. I got kind of addicted to reading up on these forums and sucked up tons of information. I grew up with the term "enduro", but untill I looked into getting a new bike I had never heard the term "dual sport". As I spent way to many hours surfing the net I found the term "dual sport" seemed to be pretty broad. It seemed bikes I would call touring bikes that might be OK to drive down a gravel road were called this. And motocross cross bikes that had aftermarket lights were called this as well.

So is there a point of off road capability or on road capability that makes a bike a duel sport? I am really wondering what you guys that know bikes think a dul sport is?

Well.....

I am just going to break it down as I see it.

Starting with smaller DS they are more minimalist for dual sporters, The bikes(150cc to 250cc) are like CRF-S 230, TT 250. Capable and light but more for trails rather than long hwy miles. Not to say that some people haven't done some serious miles on hwys with these bikes, just go on ADVrider and read some trips they have done!

Medium-light sized(350cc to 530cc) like my KTM EXC 450 are for more aggresive trails and a little more hwy than the light bikes. The exc has a race engine, so it is not condusive to long hwy miles. The reason for this is because they require more periodic maintenance than air cooled engines and don't have large oil capacities like medium-heavy dualsports. These bikes can be modified for longer hwy miles with gearing and add on oil coolers.

Medium-heavy DS (650cc)XR, KLR and DR 650's have the displacement and oil capacity to do continental hwy miles. They can also handle fairly technical trails in the hands of an experienced rider.

Heavy DS(800cc and up) BMW's and the like vary on how much dirt they can handle but are very capable for continental adventures.

Disclaimer: I know I didn't list every bike for it's category. This is just my brief overview of dual sports.

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Technically Suzuki has a copyright on the term "dual sport". That's why the DR's and DRZ's say it on the tank. The others call them dual purpose etc.

It is a vague term(like sports car) meaning on and off road bike.

I have one big one and one little one and wouldn't say either is very good at what the other is good for.

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The dual sport bike is the SUV of motorcycles. They range from very capable off road and barely street legal (i.e. the new european street legal enduros), to the other end of the spectrum with very streetworthy bikes that you wouldn't want to wander off a gravel road with. I've owned a quite a few in my quest to find the perfect dual sport for me and I've settled on...2 bikes actually. A KLR650 for longer hauls with a lot of pavement and dirt roads, and a DRZ400S with knobbies for everything dirtier than that. If I had to pick just one bike that could scratch all my itches it would be a honda XR650L or suzuki DR650. Those two are just about as close to a 50/50 bike as you'll find, inexpensive to buy and maintain, with tons of extras available to tailor it to you needs. Read up and I'm sure you'll find one that works for you.

Edited by xrflogger

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Dual sport equals compromise. In my opinion for a bike to be a dual sport it must be capable of doing what a pure dirt bike can do and also a pure street bike. knowing ahead of time that it will do neither well. The KLR is a perfect example, It can go anywhere a xr 400 could go, and also go any where a honda goldwing could go, and be equaly uncomfortable. Most people buy the wrong bike becasue life gets in the way of the riding they thought they would be doing. I bought a XR 650 L, because i wanted a dirtbike with a license plate that i could afford to run with out much cost. A xr 400 would have been a better choice for the riding i do most offten ( organized dual sport rides hosted by old enduro riders ). But i have what i have and it gets the jobe done and i get satifaction getting through areas faster then people on bikes which cost twice as musch and weigh 100lbs less. I like my bike, but as soon as i have $10,000 grand burning a hole in my pocket i am off to the KTM dealer.

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The actual name Dual Sport was coined by Bob Sackett I believe, he was one of the early DS ride promoters.

Sackett has been around desert racing for a long time but I believe Jim Pilon first used the term "Dual Sport" for the name of an event (LA-B-V) not for the "Dual Purpose" bikes that people used in it at the time.

54321 obviously was riding them long before that, back in the day when high pipes and folding pegs on an otherwise British street bike was a "scrambler". Then like mentioned above, Yamaha came out with street legal off road "Enduro" and Honda with XL 250 followed by the same models with all the lights removed like Suzuki "Pure Enduro" (PE), Yamaha IT, and Honda XR. Then they put the lights back on and called them "Dual Purpose".

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Sackett has been around desert racing for a long time but I believe Jim Pilon first used the term "Dual Sport" for the name of an event (LA-B-V) not for the "Dual Purpose" bikes that people used in it at the time.

54321 obviously was riding them long before that, back in the day when high pipes and folding pegs on an otherwise British street bike was a "scrambler". Then like mentioned above, Yamaha came out with street legal off road "Enduro" and Honda with XL 250 followed by the same models with all the lights removed like Suzuki "Pure Enduro" (PE), Yamaha IT, and Honda XR. Then they put the lights back on and called them "Dual Purpose".

Honda actually started making dual sport bikes as early as the late 60's with the SL's and others. By the early 70's they had several models of SL and XL in the 125, 175, 200 and 250 sizes. Yamaha was there too. When I bought my brand new 1967 Bultaco Matador ($750) from a Yamaha dealer they tried to talk me into the Yamaha DT250 instead. But guys were racing Bultaco's at Ascot Park at that time so as a really dumb 15 year old ... I had to have the Bultaco. I actually raced two heat races at Ascot and scared myself silly. Done with that!

Before this my buddy and I did Surf trips into Baja (Circa 1964). We took our boards in his van, and our Honda 50's, both of which were stripped of street equipment and fitted with knobbies. After Surfing we would jump on the Honda's and go looking for new Surf spots. We'd go 20 or 30 miles up and down the coast exploring. Great times, flat tires were biggest problem. (thorns) You could not kill those Honda 50's, even riding them through salt water. Tough!

My buddy and I later built a TR-6 Desert Sled (basically an upgraded "Scrambler") with help from some old Desert rats. We didn't have the funds or skills to make it very trick. My buddy rode it in a Hopetown Desert race, got a DNF. A few years later (Bultaco's long gone) I bought a Rickman Metisse. (650 Triumph motor in hand made Nickel frame and BRG painted fiberglass body work). Selling it was the biggest mistake I ever made, as Rickman Triumph's are now worth upwards of $20,000. THE collectible pre-Japanese British dirt bike.

The Muppets over on ADV Rider think BMW invented "Adventure Riding". Bullshit. There were hundreds of guys in SoCal (and elsewhere) riding deep into Mexico and all over the Mojave Desert on street legal trail bikes since the early to mid 60's. Hundreds more were doing the same on their BSA's and Triumph's long before that, going on and off road, camping out and generally raising Hell. Races like the Catalina Scrambles (see On Any Sunday ll) gave birth to all this in the late 1950's. The Oakland Motorcycle club started the AMA District 36 Jackhammer Enduro in the late 1940's and ran their H-D's and Indians on all the knarly trails in the Stoneyford area. (Mendecino National Forest) That enduro is still run today.

THERE IS NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN. Someone has always been there before you ... :bonk:

Edited by 54321
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they say dual sport because you cant call a bmw 1200gs an enduro. its so that all the snobs on their huge fancy "adventure" bikes can make themselves feel cool like they are hard core dirt bikers.

now mind you I really want a nice big bmw f800, but I wouldnt think of it as anything more than a capable road bike, aka "adventure" bike

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I thought this was cut & dried but apparently not. Regardless of what the history of the names are...

A dual sport bike is a street legal dirt bike.

What I grew up calling an enduro bike, but now being referred to as a trail bike or offroad bike (go figure) is a dirt bike with a headlight & running tail light; usually a wide ratio transmission, and not street legal.

Adventure bikes vary from being the same as a dual sport but with a windshield, and street bikes with long travel suspension...basically.

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I have a problem with the " dual sport " name the more i think about it.

"Sport" implies some level of above average performance. So you can buy a standarded bike or you can buy a sport bike. The sport bike ussally being faster and better handling, same with cars/ sports cars, atv/ sport atv's ect... With dirt bikes we have trail bikes for normal off road use and we have the sport version for MX or enduro. So to me a dual sport should mean that it is above average in performance and handling in both off road and street use. In real life this is the exact opposite.

In order to have "performance" you must focus on doing a limited number of things very well, the more things you try to do the less performance you will have at each. THe more correct names should be dual use bike or all surface bike or trail capalble road bike or road capable trail bike or road legal performance bike.

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Dual sport equals compromise. In my opinion for a bike to be a dual sport it must be capable of doing what a pure dirt bike can do and also a pure street bike. knowing ahead of time that it will do neither well. The KLR is a perfect example, It can go anywhere a xr 400 could go, and also go any where a honda goldwing could go, and be equaly uncomfortable. Most people buy the wrong bike becasue life gets in the way of the riding they thought they would be doing. I bought a XR 650 L, because i wanted a dirtbike with a license plate that i could afford to run with out much cost. A xr 400 would have been a better choice for the riding i do most offten ( organized dual sport rides hosted by old enduro riders ). But i have what i have and it gets the jobe done and i get satifaction getting through areas faster then people on bikes which cost twice as musch and weigh 100lbs less. I like my bike, but as soon as i have $10,000 grand burning a hole in my pocket i am off to the KTM dealer.

I skipped the XR 650l and went right to the KTM! I did love my xr400 but Honda just wouldn't make a street legal version!(A-holes)

In Cali you have:

Street bike= only street capable with license plate

Dirt bike / trail bike = racing on track or off-road only (green sticker/ red sticker licensing)

Dual Sport = A bike capable of going off-road with a street license plate

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