What is "Dual Sport?"

The next issue of MMM is going to be focused on “dual sport” motorcycles. Turns out, I have no idea what that designation means any more. Among the bikes the editor considers “dual sport” are:

  • BMW F 800 GS/Adventure
  • BMW R 1200 GS/Adventure
  • KTM 990 SM-T Supermoto
  • KTM 990 Adventure Baja
  • KTM 1190 Adventure
  • Moto Guzzi’s Stelvio 1200 NTX
  • Suzuki DL V-Strom 650 Adventure
  • Suzuki DL V-Strom 1000 Adventure
  • Triumph Tiger 800
  • Triumph Tiger 800 XC
  • Triumph Tiger Explorer
  • Yamaha’s XTZ12 Super Tenere

I admit that I’m confused. For one, why isn’t the Honda NC700X in this group? It’s at least as off-road worthy as everything up there except, maybe, the KTMs. I don’t think I’ve seen a single picture of Scott Jarrett’s Honda on New Mexico pavement, so I know it is gravel-capable.  As far as I can see, this whole group of motorcycles is as off-road worthy as modern SUVs. In other words, it’s possible but generally a bad idea.

I’m fine with the “adventure touring” genre. Just as SUV is another word for “station wagon,” adventure touring means “standard motorcycle with tough looking bags, a plain paint job, and a buttload of farkles.” But if the above list is dual purpose, what is the second purpose? Obviously, the main purpose is highway touring with some off-pavement roads. That’s only one purpose. Just being able to ride the same roads everyone else can take on their family sedan is not a second purpose. I’m here to tell you that the V-Strom is not a capable single-track motorcycle and it is all but worthless in a hill climb. It is at least as capable as the rest of this list, though.

These guys discovered that four of these hippos were less than nimble off-road:

So, if these bikes are dual sport, what is a Yamaha XT250, WR250R, the Honda CRF250L or XL650L, anything Husky makes, Kawasaki’s KLR and KLX bikes, KTM’s 690 Enduro, or Suzuki’s DRs? Seriously, I’m confused (as usual). I think we may have lost something important in the chase for marketing bullshit.

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