Dual-purpose motorcycles: love ’em or hate ’em, but they serve a place in the grand scheme of our motorcycle universe. In an old issue of Rider Magazine (March 2007), Clement Salvadori writes a fine article entitled, “The Great Compromise” that compares a few of the prime contenders for dual purpose dominance.
Clement’s comparison of the Honda XR650L, Kawasaki KLR650 and Suzuki DR650S features a quote that elucidates the best type of playground for the dual purpose enthusiast: “There are probably a million miles of dirt roads in this country [USA] — most of which require a license plate to ride.”
Although I have bounced my sports touring motorcycles around many a mile amongst the dirt and gravel roads of our North American continent, I would have been better served by any of these dual-purpose steeds.
However, the good and bad of these bikes comprise both side of the dual purpose double-edged sword: None excel in either the dirt or road, compared to a pure dirt or road bike. On the other hand, no other single class of bike does as well simultaneously in both environments.
If you want to play in the dirt, a dirt bike is best, but most riders will need a truck or trailer to get their bikes to the best places for dirt heaven worship. Of course if you want to play on the street, well, you’ve got lots of darn good options, but outside of a dual-purpose property, you are mostly limited to staying solely on the pavement.
Which dual-purpose machine is the best? There is not a simple answer. In a nutshell, all three are great bikes, but there are some significant differences. Click for details…