With motorcycles gaining in popularity, one small sector of the market is experiencing notable growth. Dual sport motorcycles have always been considered a smaller specialty interest sector of the motorcycle lifestyle. But their demand is growing at a staggering rate of 9%.
These unique dual sport motorcycles have the features and qualities needed to go both on the road and the dirt. If you are looking to get started in this adventure style of riding, there are a few things you need to know before you get started.
Use this guide to help you find the right dual sport motorcycle for you.
1. Look for the Right Fit
Before you commit to buying a bike, you need to sit on it and make sure you fit the bike. Sit on the bike and ask yourself a few questions.
- Do I feel comfortable?
- Do my feet reach the ground?
- Am I flat footed?
If you find a bike that is just slightly too tall, but you are comfortable on, this isn’t a deal breaker. Many aftermarket kits can lower your dream bike, so it fits you perfectly.
You can also look for a lower aftermarket seat. This can help you get your feet flat on the ground.
This is a small detail that is essential for making your dual sport bike comfortable. If you are a newer rider, being able to have your feet on the ground will help you feel more secure and confident.
2. Start Low with Engine Size
If you are new to riding, this is vital information. One of the biggest mistakes new riders make is to buy a bike that is bigger than their skill level. When we refer to the bike being “big”, we are not referring to the physical size of the bike like in the last suggestion.
Here, the term big refers to the size of the engine. Bigger means more power.
As a new rider, stick with something that has less power. An engine sized in the range of 200 to 650 cc is ideal. Bikes that have motors in this range are powerful enough to get you up and going, but not too overpowering.
One primary argument for buying bigger than this that you will here is that you will quickly outgrow this bike. That’s ok, that is supposed to happen.
The nature of the motorcycle industry is that you will buy and sell many bikes throughout your life. So it is highly likely that this won’t be your last bike, no matter what you buy.
With more and more people starting to ride every day, you won’t have any problem finding another newbie to take this bike off your hands when it is time for you to upgrade.
It is more vital that you develop a solid foundation for your skills than to have a “cool” powerful bike.
3. Look for a Bargain
We get it; there is a certain amount of allure to buying a brand spanking new bike. You get a machine that is free of blemishes and problems. No one has ridden your new bike around before you.
However, why spend more money than you have to? When you buy used, you can find a quality bike for an affordable price. Even $2,500 will get you a quality machine that is perfect for learning on.
You also need to acknowledge that you are learning. You will probably drop your bike at some point. Do you want to do that with a brand new bike that you invested in, or a used bike you got a good deal on?
This is especially true if you plan to take your dual sport off-roading. Even a seemingly innocent low-speed tip over can leave you and the biked scarred.
The trick to buying used is to look for a bike that someone has taken care of. This will get you the most value you for your cash.
Ask the current owner about regular maintenance. You can even ask to see receipts and service records. Just keep in mind that many motorcycle owners perform their own maintenance and won’t have records.
Look at how the bike is kept, the more immaculate the motorcycle, the better you can assume they took care of the bike.
4. Type of Riding
Be honest with yourself about what kind of off-roading you will really be doing. This is where fantasy and reality will go in separate directions.
Sure, we all imagine conquering some twisting and grueling backwoods trail that is wider than your handlebars. But in reality, most people will be on a sandy wide horse trail.
Think about how much off-road riding you will do and where you will do it. Then buy a bike that will work well for this type of riding.
For instance, if you are lucky enough to have access to those tight wooded trails, you’ll want something smaller and more dirt oriented. These bikes will be easier to maneuver through the trails.
5. Consider Your Budget
We touched on this briefly, but let’s go into your budget a bit more. When it comes to buying a dual-sport, you will find options that range from $500 to $20,000.
Now, a $500 bike is going to look rough, have been ridden hard, and probably have twine holding it together. Unless you are looking for a project bike, this is not the bike to buy.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll find a tricked out BMW GS Adventure Model. If you can afford and want this bike, then, by all means, get it.
However, for most people, this will be more than they want to spend. The bike itself will have more bells and whistles than most people need.
If you are at the lower end of this spectrum, keep your focus on reliability and safety. Instead of looking for the cheapest bike, look for one that you can afford that can satisfy these two requirements.
You can then save up for your next bike while you develop your skills on this one.
6. Do You Plan to Travel?
Many riders of dual sport motorcycles dream of doing a Globe Riders Tour. If this is what you plan to do, then consider where you want to go while buying your bike.
If you want to traverse the Russian countryside, then a Kawasaki, Suzuki, or Yamaha may not be a smart choice. Things break while you are on these rides.
The last thing you want is to be stuck in some small town looking for Japanese motorcycle parts in the middle of Russia. This won’t work out well for you.
You will end up resorting to jerry-rigging something. Now your bike’s performance is compromised, and you can expect more breakdowns.
If your plan is to rider internationally, your best course of action is to talk with people who have already done it. They can advise you on what motorcycle brands the most reliable.
One brand you will probably hear a lot with this crowd is BMW. Many tend to agree that these bikes are both durable and easy to find parts for all over the world.
7. Become an Ad Interpreter
So we’ve convinced you that a used bike is the way to go. Now comes the task of sifting through the many used ads you’ll find online.
There is a special kind of language that enthusiasts use when describing their motorcycles that are for sale. Learning to spot red flags will save you a lot of time and headaches
Don’t get nit-picky here, but the seller should be able to spell basic words and form a coherent sentence. They should also have the forethought to include things like maintenance history, upgrades added, or condition of the title. If these things are lacking in the ad, prepare yourself for a difficult time.
If you see outlandish claims of performance or claims of extreme mods, these are both red flags. You should be skeptical of anything this person tells you. Don’t buy a bike from someone who you can’t trust; you will have no idea what you’re handing your hard earned money over for.
Skip over any ad that doesn’t have pictures. It is that simple, no images; it’s not worth your time. Now pay attention to the images that people do post with their ads.
Look at the rest of the image. Is the bike sitting symmetrically on a service stand in front of a perfectly manicured lawn? Then the chances are that is the level of care the bike received.
If the bike is leaning up against a tree with a broken down and rusting care in the background, then there’s a good chance the bike wasn’t well cared for. This sounds harsh, but now is the time to judge the person selling the bike.
Another red flag is if the seller doesn’t show you the entire bike. Automatically ask yourself what the seller is trying to hide. Quality ads will have clear, well-centered images.
Start Shopping Dual Sport Motorcycles
You should now feel confident to go out and start browsing ads for dual sport motorcycles. Remember, go into your venture prepared by knowing what you want, need, and can afford.
This will help you narrow down your options. Then use common sense when looking at ads to find a bike that is worth your time and money to consider.
Prepare for your new dual sport bike by checking out this article on preparing for long distance motorcycle riding.