DUALIES IN SA: 'Many dualies, such as the Kawasaki KLR 650, are popular as commuter bikes because they are light, have torquey engines and offer a high seating position,' says Dries Van Der Walt.Image: Wheels24 / Instagram
Johannesburg - In a previous article we looked at the main categories into which most road bikes fall, but the division goes further than the six categories we mentioned - each of those can be subdivided further.
In this article we look at the dual-sport category and examine its subdivisions.
Dual-sport motorcycles are street-legal bikes that are designed for both on and off-road use. These bikes are equipped with street-legal equipment such as lights, indicators, a speedometer, mirrors and a numberplate mounting so that they can be registered and licensed for road use.
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In the early days of motorcycling tar roads were few and between, so in essence all early bikes were dualies. Since the 1940s tar roads have become more common, and bikes gradually became heavier and faster to take advantage of the better road surfaces.
Today’s dualies have come full-circle by being equally adept on highways and dirt roads.
4 main categories
However, the bike industry is effectively a game of one-upmanship and in an attempt to offer something different from what the competition sells, manufacturers have evolved dualies into several sub-categories.
Let’s look at the four main sub-categories:
1 Dual-purpose bikes - off-road-capable bikes with some on-road prowess
2 Adventure bikes - long-distance bikes that are an even mix of on and off-road capability
3 Adventure tourers - bikes that emphasise long-distance comfort
4 Adventure sport bikes - bikes that combine superbike-esque performance with high ground clearance and rugged looks.
This sub-category has evolved from what used to be called “scramblers” back in the day. The emphasis is on off-road capability, with minimal concessions made for on-road use.
Many dualies, such as the Kawasaki KLR 650, are popular as commuter bikes because they are light, have torquey engines and offer a high seating position.
Usually equipped with long-distance-specific features such as bigger fuel tanks, extensive luggage options and sometimes cruise control, these bikes are ruggedised versions of adventure tourers as they often also sport off-road equipment such as crash bars, hand protectors and spoked steel wheels.
The BMW R 1200 GS Adventure is a good example of an adventure bike.
Adventure tourers are bikes with an emphasis on long-distance comfort, and often offer luxury options such as GPS navigation and heated grips and seats. However, they are still true to the “adventure” moniker with high ground clearance, sturdy frames and dual-purpose tyres. Yamaha’s Super Ténéré is an excellent example of an adventure tourer.
Adventure sport bikes
This category is captured well in BMW’s S 1000 XR – a combination of the German manufacturer’s S 1000 RR superbike engine and an adventure bike frame. Adventure sport bikes are usually better suited to soft (untarred) roads than off-road tracks, but on the road they can hold their own against dedicated road bikes in terms of handling and performance.
So what should YOU buy?
To answer than question, here’s a quick dual-sport buying guide. If you spend your weekends doing off-road riding but need to commute on your bike during the week, look for a dual-purpose bike.
If you need a bike with which you can cross the continent without being fazed by bad or even non-existent roads, an adventure bike will do the trick.
If you want to tour comfortably mostly on tar roads but be able to explore the odd dirt road or cattle track, consider an adventure tourer.
And finally, if you like the macho look of adventure bikes but don’t want to sacrifice too much in terms of performance and handling, go straight to the adventure sport department at the dealership.
As you can see, your intended use is the best guide when deciding on which bike to buy. Dualies are true multi-purpose machines - regardless of what you settle on, you are likely to find that your bike will be able to handle almost anything you throw at it.