The Brain Bucket

Top 5 Dual Sport Motorcycles of 2020

Dec 28, 2020 7:01:39 PM / by Kelly Kawasaki

In our modern world in which specialization is the norm, dual sport motorcycles resist the urge to commit to any one specialty. Equally capable both on- and off-road, dual sport bikes excel in neither realm, yet they are the most practical motorcycle segment in existence. Sandwiched between off-road only enduro bike and obscenely heavy adventure bikes, dual sports are still your best bet to explore the world with road riding or far from the beaten path.

Remarkably, the dual sport class offers an array of options that span four decades of technology. In fact, dual sports cling to the 1980s with fervor like no other class of motorcycles, and those bikes are still highly competitive for buyers’ attention and wallets. On the other end of the spectrum are advanced machines that give supersports a run for their money.

With aftermarket support that goes well beyond all other motorcycle segments, dual sport bikes are the ideal blank canvas. Their multipurpose capabilities allow owners to customize their dual sport with an array of parts and accessories. If you’re the kind of person who charts your own path, then a dual sport might be right for you. Read on to learn the top five best dual sport bikes of 2020.


Yamaha TW200

Yamaha TW200

Motorcyclists new to the scene should look to the longest-tenured Yamaha dual sport bike, the tried-and-true TW200. For 2020, the Yamaha TW200 brings nothing new to the scene – and that’s perfectly acceptable. In a race between a tortoise and a hare, the spunky little T-Dub is the slow and steady tortoise. TW isn’t shorthand for ‘tractor wheels’, but it may as well be because the oversized tires on this little bike are anything but a novelty. The ATV balloon tires tractor over and through the roughest terrain imaginable, and the ultra-low seat height make the TW200 an ideal entry-level motorcycle.

As one of the holdovers from the ‘80s, the T-Dub putts along with a carbureted, air-cooled engine that ekes out 70+ mpg while the rear drum brake provides laughable stopping power. Nevertheless, when less experienced riders exclaim ‘bigger is better’, the old man on the little TW200 will be the first to cross the finish line. This 196-cc steed is the most reliable horse a rancher could own, and it’s surprisingly capable when the path less taken leads you off the pavement.


Kawasaki KLX®250
kawasaki KLX®250

Buyers looking for something more capable than the TW200 will appreciate Kawasaki’s entry into the small-displacement dual sport market. The 2020 Kawasaki KLX®250 is an ideal platform for beginner and intermediate riders who want something more modern as well as advanced riders looking to simplify their stable of bikes. In 2018, the KLX® brand was reborn when Kawi’s 250-class dual sport received fuel injection and a few other updated components.

The KLX®250 perfectly splits the difference between Honda’s CRF250L and Yamaha’s WR250R in terms of off-road performance. Most notably, the KLX’s® MSRP is only $200 more than the CRF while coming in a whopping $1300 less than the WR. It won’t knock your socks off, but the KLX® is all you’ll ever need to get from point A to point B without breaking the bank. The bike is beginner-friendly and handles well while the shape and styling bring it into the 21st century. All said, the KLX®250 is an incredible value for the number of features it offers, and the proven KLX® name assures you won’t be left stranded when your travels take you into no man’s land.


Suzuki DR-Z400S

Suzuki DR-Z400S

Riders looking for something more versatile than a 250-class bike should look to the reigning middleweight dual sport champion. Like the TW200, the 2020 Suzuki DR-Z400S clings to a more simplistic era. Originally released as a 2000 model year, the DR-Z is still a terrific option when balancing performance, manageable service intervals, and affordability.

Seeing as it’s a middleweight bike, the 398cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine, with an electric start, has enough displacement to give it the ‘tractor factor’ dual sport riders laud in off-road settings. Sure, the DR-Z is carbureted, but its biggest limiting factor is the 5-speed transmission. However, a simple swap of the sprockets will help riders excel on their preferred roadways. Speaking of roadways, the dirt bike-like suspension and 11.8 inches of ground clearance mean the DR-Z will traverse the roughest terrain with ease. Put simply, if the dictionary showed a picture for ‘dual sport’, it’d show a Suzuki DR-Z400S.


KTM 690 Enduro R
2020 KTM 690 Enduro

Of course, not all dual sport motorcycles have war stories from decades past. Some have an eye toward the future with a fresh perspective on dual sport design. Enter the 2020 KTM 690 Enduro R. True to KTM’s Ready to Race slogan, the 690 Enduro R is equipped with the latest and greatest components for an off-road focus with street bike functionality.

The tried-and-true LC4 engine delivers lively torque and exceptional horsepower, and the WP Xplor suspension sets the standard for off-road performance. Top of the line features include ride-by-wire fuel injection, a quick shifter, and an assortment of rider aids. The lightweight trellis frame ties the entire package together and is further enhanced by making the rear-mounted 3.6-gallon fuel tank a load-bearing foundation for the subframe. In that tortoise vs. hare contest mentioned earlier, the Austrian 690 Enduro R is the hare and it’s clearly Ready to Race.


Husqvarna 701 Enduro
Husqvarna 701 Enduro

Of course, not all dual sport motorcycles have war stories from decades past. Some have an eye toward the future with a fresh perspective on dual sport design. Enter the 2020 KTM 690 Enduro R. True to KTM’s Ready to Race slogan, the 690 Enduro R is equipped with the latest and greatest components for an off-road focus with street bike functionality.

The tried-and-true LC4 engine delivers lively torque and exceptional horsepower, and the WP Xplor suspension sets the standard for off-road performance. Top of the line features include ride-by-wire fuel injection, a quick shifter, and an assortment of rider aids. The lightweight trellis frame ties the entire package together and is further enhanced by making the rear-mounted 3.6-gallon fuel tank a load-bearing foundation for the subframe. In that tortoise vs. hare contest mentioned earlier, the Austrian 690 Enduro R is the hare and it’s clearly Ready to Race.


Specs comparisons rarely tell the whole truth when it comes to motorcycles. In fact, this notion is most accentuated in the dual sport segment. A motorcycle tasked with navigating gnarly single tracks one minute and eating highway miles the next minute can’t be effectively assessed behind a computer screen. That is why bikes with carburetors and drum brakes still make our list for the top dual sport motorcycles.

Still, dual sports continue to evolve with upgrades that enhance on- and off-road performance, yet their mild-mannered, forgiving nature makes them great beginner bikes as well. In summary, dual sport motorcycles are good at everything, great at nothing. A proper do-all, dual sport motorcycle is exactly what you need if you can only have one motorcycle. When the world turns belly up, and all hope seems lost, it’ll be a single-cylinder thumper that carries mankind back to normalcy. Long live the do-all sport.

In the hotly debated world of dual sport motorcycles, it’s hard to identify which bikes truly are the best. On the other hand, it’s hard to go wrong with any one of them. Let us know in the comments below if we missed the mark in our list for 2020’s best do-all, dual sport motorcycles.


In the hotly debated world of dual sport motorcycles, it’s hard to identify which bikes truly are the best. On the other hand, it’s hard to go wrong with any one of them. Let us know in the comments below if we missed the mark in our list for 2020’s best do-all, dual sport motorcycles.

Topics: Ultimate Lists, ATV and Off-Road, Reviews

Kelly Kawasaki

Written by Kelly Kawasaki

Bringing you all things motorcycles.

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