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Our List Of Best 650 Dual Sport Bikes

For a motorcycle for off-road use, you want it to be a light as possible. Lightweight means it'll be nimble and easy to handle on uneven and often rough off-road terrain. This is why the 650 class of dual sport bikes is a little strange.

They're too heavy to be considered ideal dirt bikes. Not practical at all for maneuvering around dirt ditches and wooded trails. But what they do have is enough power for speed, enough durability for frequent use, and enough comfort for distance - not to mention a slew of motorcycle parts you can purchase online to dial-in your bike for exactly what you need it for.

In fact, many consider them to be like small, budget adventure bikes (and we know how expensive those can be).  So these bikes perfectly bridge that gap and fit the demand for cheaper, durable "go anywhere, do anything" bikes. And compared to real adventure bikes, they're small and light.

Kawasaki KLR650

Established a few decades ago, the KLR650 has undergone several major changes to finally find its place as a small adventure bike. Nowadays, it's got plentiful options for replacement parts for customization and modifications.

The KLR650 has a 651cc four-stroke single cylinder engine. It's not the fastest dual-sport, but it manages well with what it has. It may still seem a bit big when trying to maneuver it off-road. At 400 pounds, it's certainly not going to be a nimble kitten. But the larger size also means that it's durable and quite comfortable for riding longer distances.

It has a large 6.1 gallon tank and runs an average of about 38 mpg. You can expect to get around 200 or more miles of riding out of a KLR650 before needing to refuel it. Here's some good news for the cheapskates (ahem... budget-conscious) out there, the KLR650 can also make use of lower grade fuel and still perform at adequate levels.

The KLR650 doesn't use fuel injection and may need choke to wake up during times where it's gotten cold. Although this might be considered a negative, having easy-to-work-on parts on a bike that may be taking you to far away lands is not a bad thing. Simple is better, we think, in this case. While its handling is nothing to write home about, the KLR650 does its job of navigating terrain well enough and it gets you where you need to be.

At MSRP starting from just $6,599, you can see how this is a great alternative to the $12k+ adventure bikes. There are plenty of great deals available for used KLR's as well.

Suzuki DR650S

Another classic, the DR650S is a simple no-frills dual-sport. It has no fancy technology or accessories. In fact, the design has been largely unchanged since it was introduced. Many motorcycle enthusiasts are attracted to the DR650S for its powerful engine and great handling. 

Suzuki's DR650S comes with ad digitized DC-CDI ignition that gives it a more precise spark timing during combustion. It also comes equipped with a powerful 644cc four-stroke single-cylinder engine and 5 transmission speeds. The DR650S's carburetor is a Mikuni BST40 single, which was developed to achieve peak power in larger engines. According to Mikuni, it flows 26% more air than previous versions.

At about 366 lbs, we think the bike is pretty lightweight for its class. To reduce weight, it has hollow wheel axles and an aluminum beam-style swingarm. The suspension provides 10.2 inches of travel and has a height-adjustable shock that can be tuned for your individual weight and riding conditions. Overall, it's a basic, but well performing, bike for off-road as well as the street.

MSRP starting from $6,499, and even lower if you're considering a used bike.

Honda XR650L

The Honda XR650L is yet another timeless old-schooler that?s been around long enough to establish a (well earned) lofty reputation. The style and design of the XR650L has remained mostly unchanged since its 1993 inception... meaning it's not as swanky looking as newer bikes. But hey, if it ain't broke... 

Originally debuting in 1993, since its reveal, the XR650L was regarded as a top tier dual-sport bike. Being derived from the championship winning XR600R, Honda especially took care to ensure that this bike would be worthy of its dirt-only version's fame. Weighing in at around 350 lbs, the XR650L came with an added 50 lbs, but it was due to additions to make it worthy of the street too.

Today, the XR650L features push-button electric starting and a durable 5-speed transmission to allow for riding on any kind of terrain. It has a steel fuel tank, steel semi-double-cradle frame, horns, and blinkers. The suspension is tuned for off-roading, featuring a 43mm fork with 16 positions of compression damping adjustability.

Since Honda?s XR650L has been around long enough to become a classic, there are loads of aftermarket mods and accessories for riders to tinker with. The XR650L handles as one would expect, but is larger and a bit slower in responsiveness than other, more nimble, machines. However, the kick-start is a cinch to use, and actually works slightly better than many other contemporary dual sports.

MSRP starting at $6,690 with plenty of used options at even lower prices.

Do you have another 650 class dual sport that should be on this list? Let us know!

P.S. Check out our other list of our favorite dual sport bikes.

*all photos courtesy of Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Honda
By Daniel Relich

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