10 Most Underrated Dirt Bikes And Dual Sports


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May 22, 2023

10 Most Underrated Dirt Bikes And Dual Sports

The top choices from the off-road world that deserve way more attention Dual sports and dirt bikes are the prime choices for the kind of rider that values rugged utility, performance, and capability

The top choices from the off-road world that deserve way more attention

Dual sports and dirt bikes are the prime choices for the kind of rider that values rugged utility, performance, and capability over all else, and there are a ton of highly capable, all-terrain conquering vehicles on the market. While we often cover the best off-road motorcycles, this list is all about the underdogs that are often forgotten or overlooked.

Seeking a unique bike for both on-and-off-road adventures? Crave the adrenaline rush of leaping through beautiful wilderness trails while being able to retain the ability to lane-split through traffic on your daily commute? This list looks at a lineup of hidden gems that pack great value, with some of the best power-to-price ratios.

Related: Best Enduro Bikes Under $15,000

Considered by many veteran riders as an ideal entry-level beginner bike, the Honda CRF 300L sports a 286cc engine that delivers 27 horsepower and 20 pound-feet of torque. Reliable in all weather conditions and temperatures, and capable across all terrain, this bike, like most other Honda motorcycles, is also well known for its reliability and ease of maintenance.

The CRF300L has a longer service interval than most dirt bikes and was designed for increased power output in low to mid-rev range, which are ideal for both the city riding and off-roading. While impressive on dirt and gravel, the bike's less-than-flagship-level dirt capabilities are only really noticed by experienced off-road riders.

A lightweight and versatile powerhouse, the KTM 500 EXC-F is propelled by a 510cc water-cooled single-cylinder 4-stroke engine that offers a power-to-weight ratio quite typical of KTM machines. Hosting a lightweight, high-strength, chrome-molybdenum steel section chassis, this bike has a lot of bells and whistles that are made from advanced polymers and composite materials, tightly woven together to drive down weight without sacrificing high-speed stability.

Along with its suspension and handling, the EXC-F, like most KTM bikes, features Brembo brakes paired with lightweight wave discs. By all accounts, the KTM 500 EXC-F is an asset for off-roading that also serves well enough for most riders on the tarmac. Equipped with both kickstart and electric starter options, you're always going to be ready to hit the trails.

Related: Best Dual Sport Motorcycles Money Can Buy

Summoning all dual sport enthusiasts, the Kawasaki KLX300 is a lot about a fun. Revamped in 2021, and again this year, the Kawasaki KLX300 packs a 292cc quick-revving engine with good low-end torque and 26 horsepower, good enough for both on-or-off-road riding.

Priced competitively at $6,199 in 2023, the KLX300 has an adjustable suspension that provides a comfortable ride with 10.1 inches of travel at the front and 9.1 inches at the rear. Equipped with Dunlop D605 tires as stock on 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels, the KLX300 induces a feeling of comfort and security even on rough terrain. It is fuel efficient too, offering 50 to 70 MPG. Like the previous option on this list, the KLX300 features no rider aids, so you'll need to be confident in your riding ability.

An OG hooligan bike in its supermoto form, the Suzuki DRZ 400 effortlessly transitions the rider between dirt, street, and highways. Some may consider its 2.6-gallon tank a limitation for long-distance travel, which may be the case, but the DRZ 400 also delivers an on-road fuel efficiency of between 44 and 53 miles per gallon. This bike is both simple to operate and simple to maintain but demands strong foundational riding skills to ride it to its full potential without any rider aids.

One of the best choices in the segment for unpredictable terrain, the Husqvarna 701 Enduro steals the spotlight. Delivering 74 horsepower via a liquid-cooled 693cc engine in an agile package, this bike excels in wet mud, gravel, and grassy hill climbs. Its lightweight throttle, power-assist slipper clutch, and low center of gravity inspire confidence.

Featuring a redesigned headlight, a rally-style flyscreen, and two-channel Bosch ABS that can be disengaged, the 701 Enduro puts you in full control of your adventure. The 2021 rendition brings heightened performance, updated electronics, and Euro-5 emissions compliance.

With a light frame constructed from aluminum, the bike feels nimble and responsive like any good Yamaha. Equipped with a KYB suspension that provides an incredible 12 inches of travel, the YZ250FX handles rough trails effortlessly. Its 21-inch and 18-inch rims wrapped in Dunlop AT81 tires offer appreciable traction and control. From the woods to the track, the YZ250FX demonstrates its competence on every ride and helps riders traverse any terrain with ease.

Related: 10 Things You Need To Know About The 2023 Yamaha YZ450F

For those who crave a snappy two-stroke enduro bike high on torque, and great suspension, the GASGAS EC 300 is the one. Its featherweight clutch is always appreciated, especially when tackling steep mountain twisties. With a price that won't break the bank, the GASGAS EC 300 proves that you don't need a hefty budget for a true enduro experience.

Beta's 300RR has a 2-stroke engine that's been developed in Tuscany and tested to various technology and performance benchmarks over the years. With its BPV system, PWK 36 Keihin carburetor, and 6-speed gearbox, the Beta 300RR hosts lightweight die-cast crankcases and magnesium covers that contribute to the bike's renowned agility.

Designed for casual off-road riding, and delivering something akin to a race bike performance to regular riders, the Beta 300RR is a lot of fun in a decently affordable package, but it isn't a show-stopper or everyday long-distance cross-country vehicle by any means, which is why it remains underrated today.

An ideal choice for heavy-duty multi-terrain commuting, the Kawasaki KLR 650 is thought to be near indestructible by its fans. Revamped in 2022 with a 651cc single-cylinder engine and a 6.1-gallon fuel tank, this bike can climb most inclines with ease. The bike carries a legacy, and even its 15-year-old models are highly rated and are considered prized commodities on the used market. After all, we did term this bike "The Ultimate Dual-Sport Motorcycle". The KLR 650 was a bike that faced high expectations after the success of its older versions, and in 2022, Kawasaki delivered. The bike's suspension has 7.9 inches of travel at the front and 7.3 at the rear, and delivers a smooth and stable ride on rough terrain.

The KTM 250 XC-W takes center stage with power-to-weight ratio and high-performance capabilities. Its electric starter and the critically acclaimed two-stroke power unit make it a top contender in the cross-country category. The reason this bike is underrated is that it often gets passed over for larger displacement 4 strokes, in favor of greater performance.

Thanks to the redesigned reed valve housing, six-speed transmission, and DDS clutch, the KTM 250 XC-W delivers an enduro-specific price-to-performance and power-to-weight ratio. With its Brembo brakes, lightweight Galfer Wave discs, and Dunlop tires, this bike is quite the sight on extreme cross-country rides, despite its smaller engine displacement.

Shantanu is a passionate motorcycle writer who brings together his versatile expertise in various forms of creative expression and experience writing for Electric Vehicle ecosystem stakeholders to TopSpeed. He has a preference for the most nimble & agile of sports and naked motorcycles over cruisers and tourers. A motorcycle enthusiast in real life too, Shantanu has owned and ridden bikes from various critically-acclaimed Asian motorcycle brands over a decade, and aspires to own a retro Honda Fireblade from the 90's someday because it reminds him of the game 'Road Rash'. Shantanu's hobbies include MMA & martial arts, video games, writing books, plotting for world peace, and animals. He fathers three cats- King Sunrise(Ginger), Saint Crystal (Black), and Sir Onyx (Grey).