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10 Great Dual Sport Motorcycles For Experienced Riders

May 05, 2023May 05, 2023

The exciting world of dual sports was never this big! Here's our list of the most powerful bikes in this segment

The world of dual-sport motorcycling has never been bigger. It is a discipline that garners a lot of interest from all kinds of riders, and why wouldn't it? When the motorcycles that offer such a vivid riding experience offer so much more than just knobby tires and a lean, light body, one is bound to explore the intricacies that dual-sport riding offers. For this very endeavor, manufacturers from all across the world end up competing for the eyeballs in a market that is growing rapidly.

From the Austrian giants KTM and their sub-brands Husqvarna and Gas Gas to the Japanese wizards like Suzuki, Yamaha and Honda, every brand has a machine that is worthy of being among the most powerful dual-sport motorcycles on the market.

Related: Check Out This Harley-Davidson Enduro Motorcycle From The 70s

Yamaha's most capable dual-sport offering makes for a great project bike, thanks to all the scope it already has. You get a fully adjustable suspension setup for both the front and rear end, and that makes for light and nimble handling that can take on any kind of challenging terrain. It houses Yamaha's 250cc liquid-cooled motor, that is mated to a 6-speed.

Mechanically, the bike has not changed much through the years, with the brand opting to keep the regular updates minimal. In all fairness, the WR250R is not the greatest dual-sport out there, but if you are a beginner who wants to get started with an off-road-focused street-legal motorcycle, the Yamaha can handle many things decently to give you a good start.

The FE 450 is perhaps the most track-ready dual sport motorcycle on this list. That is the way Husqvarna has intended to keep it. The chassis and engine of the 2023 FE450 come from the FC 450 motocross racer. However, the brand has tuned the suspension and engine for better off-road performance. It also gets a host of new components in the form of hydraulics, tires, and a bigger fuel tank.

Powering the motorcycle is a four-stroke single-cylinder 449cc engine that produces around 53 horses with 33 lb-ft of peak torque. It comes with a SOHC four-valve setup mated with a 6-speed gearbox. FE 450 is a high-tech off-roading machine that provides the perfect blend of power and performance, after all, it has got the credentials of Husqvarna on it.

Another brilliant motorcycle by the Austrian giant, the KTM 450 EXC-F has long been a benchmark in the dual-sport motorcycle segment. The bike is both efficient and powerful enough to impress the usual DS rider out there. The lightweight chassis, race-inspired bodywork, and well-designed ergonomics make it one of the most capable machines in the segment.

The 450 EXC-F is a perfect combination of crackling power coming in a compact offering. Transmission duty is taken care of by a 6-speed from PANKL racing systems, while the lightweight Steel frame offers just perfect stiffness and feedback for playful handling characteristics. The motor is a 449cc SOHC unit that delivers 54.6 hp and 33 lb-ft - numbers identical to its Husky twin brother.

Related: Most Powerful Enduro Bikes Under 450cc

Next up, we have a Honda CRF - the 450RL on this list of the most powerful dual-sport motorcycles on the market. Having recently received significant updates, it comes across as the flagship offering in Honda's 2023 lineup. The motorbike comes powered by a 449cc mill that offers 41.7 horsepower and 23.6 lb-ft of peak torque. To make certain that the 450RL is equally capable on the highway just as it is off-road, Honda has added a wide ratio six-speed gearbox.

You get to experience the class-leading ergonomics just as other CRF variants with some added comfort, thanks to fully adjustable Showa suspensions on both ends. Braking duties on the motorbike are taken care of by 260 mm twin-piston calipers at the front and a single 240 mm disc at the rear.

Climbing up from the 450cc segment, we look at the Beta 500 RR-S next. With its rugged build quality, all-terrain Metzeler knobbies and a potent engine, the bike can easily ride through any kind of terrain. Powering the dual-sport is a 477.5cc 4-stroke single-cylinder mill mated to a 6-speed transmission. A quick-release front axle is a special feature which allows you to save precious time when changing rubber on trails.

With the round of updates this year, in comes the Kayaba rear shock that offers an even better ride quality than its predecessor. The Italian company sure knows what it is doing, and the 500 RR-S makes for a solid dual sport worthy of your consideration.

Onto the top 5 motorcycles on this list. The 500 EXC-F is actually KTM's biggest trim among all their enduro and motocross offerings. It houses a 510.9cc single-cylinder motor with a SOHC setup that puts out 62 ponies and 44.2 lb-ft of peak torque. This is the lightest half-liter mill you’ll find on a dual-sport. Now those are pretty serious numbers, but this bike is more than just that.

A new 2023 paint scheme helps keep things fresh, while the bike comes loaded with all standard electronics one can come to expect on a premium bike of this segment. If you are in the market looking for a potent enduro motorcycle, the KTM 500 EXC-F might fit your bill perfectly.

From the biggest engine in KTM's DS lineup, we jump to the biggest in Husqvarna's. The FE 501 is what gets the tag of being the most versatile dual sport in our eyes. The bike offers nimble lightweight handling because of its carbon fiber frame and well-calibrated center of mass.

Featuring a 501.9cc single-cylinder, the bike is capable of grunting out producing 43 horsepower and 32 lb-ft of torque. The motor is paired with a slick 6-speed gearbox and with what is a DDS clutch. WP suspension setup at the front and back and hydraulic brakes courtesy of BRAKTEC are all on offer. It feels like the epitome of a standard Husky enduro offering and with all the new graphics to choose from, your choice couldn't be simpler.

Related: 10 Best Husqvarna Motorcycles of All Time

The XR650L is one of the oldest models that still exist in Honda's portfolio. If you’re someone who likes their dual-sport to look retro, this should be your pick. The slim lightweight profile makes this as road-friendly as it is home off-road. In the American market, there is just the one trim to choose from.

A 644cc air-cooled engine that produces 40 horsepower and 47.2 lb-ft of torque. On the suspension front, you get about 11.6 inches of travel at the front whereas the rear provides 11 inches. It is a nimble machine weighing just 346 pounds with a seat height of 37 inches, which means it suits most riders. Honda calls it an honest, straightforward motorcycle - and it's tough to argue that it is anything else.

The DR650S is Suzuki's response to Honda's XR650L. So much so that to the novice eye, both of these motorcycles look eerily identical. It is perhaps the most capable dual-sport motorcycle that you can buy today for under $7,000. First introduced in 1990, the DR650S remains effective even today simply because of its performance and on-road agility.

The beautiful 644cc 4-stroke is at the heart of the frame producing 43 hp and 47 lb-ft of torque. The bike has had bare minimum upgrades over the years (halogen headlights, tch, tch), which means the maintenance cost will bring a smile to your face. If an all-rounder is what you are prioritizing, it is the Suzuki that wins it.

The top of the pie belongs to another Pierer Mobility sub-brand, Gas Gas. The Austrian company acquired the Spanish manufacturer in 2019 and the ES 700 is a purpose-built enduro by the brand that is based on the KTM 690 platform.

The most powerful dual sport is a 693cc liquid-cooled SOHC that boasts of 74 horses at 8,000 revs with 54 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm. The suspension setup is a fully adjustable WP Xplor with a Pro-lever linkage and 9.8 inches of travel. You get provisions for both low and high-speed compression with rebound damping. In terms of electronics, it features switchable ABS, riding modes, lean-sensitive traction control, and all that you expect in a top-level dual sport, making this one of the easiest buying decisions in our opinion.

Utkarsh has over a decade of experience traveling and documenting his adventures through photographs and films.He has a YouTube channel where he shows his motorcycle adventures through India. On days when he is not writing about motorcycles, he's riding one.