Dual-Sport Motorcycle Choices

Well, this is kind of a stretch, but what the heck…

I’m looking at buying one of 3 dual-sport motorcycles:

Honda XR650L
Suzuki DR650SE
Kawasaki KLR650

It turns out that I’m in a part of the country where stock is low/inconsistent, and test rides are not readily available. And, they’re often only on the floor for a day or two until they go out the door. So, sometimes it’s hard to even get a close inspection of fit and finish.

I’m a very experienced rider - mostly road, some dirt (but it’s been a long time). I owned a BMW 1150GS for about 18 months but decided to sell before I moved here because I felt that it was basically a pig and wouldn’t handle the sugar sand and mud in these parts. I now believe that was a smart move. :wink:

So now I’m looking at these 3 bikes. BMW is not an option for now. I’d like a bike that I can ride on pavement for a casual 300 miles a day, or hop on dirt/logging roads and some smaller trails for play. Not looking for hardcore motocross action with this bike. I need more of a compromise bike that is pretty good at both road and offroad, and that’s gonna let me tackle the very occasional technical section. Probably the breakdown will be:

35% pavement (but when it’s pavement, it might be 1000 miles in 3 days)
60% dirt roads/logging roads (some sand, mud, mostly good surface)
5% somewhat technical single-track trails, nothing too hardcore

I’m 210 pounds, if that helps, and pretty athletic.

I’ve got the specs on these bikes, but sometimes the specs don’t tell the story.

If you have opinions and/or experience on these bikes. please send them over. VERY much appreciated!

This question probably belongs in the “In My Humble Opinion” forum instead of “General Questions.” I don’t have experience with these bikes, but I will say that everyone I know who has bought a dual-sport bike wishes they had bought a street bike instead. Most people end up on pavement more than dirt, in reality, and they’re just not that great on the road. Can’t you just rent a dirt bike when you need it?

The Kawasaki and Honda have been around forever, largely unchanged. The Kwak is decidedly more street-oriented, and the Honda more dirt-oriented. The Suzuki is kind of in-between, and I believe got some good write-ups.

Personnally, I would get a Honda XR650R (the liquid-cooled 650 which makes better power than the XR650L with the air-cooled motor) and put on a dual-sport kit (maybe $300, maybe less). You can always swap out the sprockets and tires to adjust the bias between street and dirt use. Then you’d have an awesome dirt bike that can also be used on the street. I’ve thought hard about doing just that very thing.

Yeah, I should have done that.

The mix of pavement to dirt here where I live is probably 20% pavement, 80% dirt roads/logging roads/trails. I’ve had lotsa street bikes, and no doubt, I prefer them. But there just aren’t that many streets here compared with all the dirt roads, and the idea of exploring areas that have no pavement at all is appealing. Plus, these bikes are relatively cheap, and their resale around here is very good. Thanks for the suggestions though.

My first bikes were Yamaha Enduros. I never wished I had a street bike.

I lived in the desert and riding was for fun more than transportation. Besides, I was too young for a license for the first several years.