Welcome to our ultimate guide to the best street legal dirt bike of 2021. Already we have set up a controversial situation.
The term Dirt Bike means so many things, to so many people. To you and I, a dirt bike is most likely a motocross or enduro style bike ranging from 80cc to anywhere in the 350cc bracket. Its key characteristics will be lightweight construction, long-travel suspension, knobbly off-road tyres, and a power band which is suited to quick acceleration. The torque of the engine will vary, but the ability to pull out of the sticky stuff in low gears will be consistent across most bikes.
If you talk about dirt bikes to the more general biking community, then the term can cover a much broader range of motorcycles. If you are new to the idea of dirt biking, you may actually be considering buying a bike that will go off-road, and that can also be used for road riding too. You may plan to ride trails at the weekend and commute during the week.
You may be planning a trip which includes mountain trails, and green lanes, as well as sections of gravel and tarmac roads. A more traditional ‘Dirt Bike’ would not be suitable for that type of use, or at least would provide you with many challenges including; comfort, handling, fuel-range, and potential reliability issues when dealing with significant mileage.
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Marketing departments from big manufacturers use terms like Enduro and Cross to describe products that dirt bike riders may rightly dispute.
The KTM Enduro 690 is a perfect example of this situation. When you analyse the bike and its power, enthusiasts would clearly see that the KTM 690 would be far more suited to a mix of road and off-road use rather than pure enduro riding. Most competitive Enduro riders would baulk at riding anything over 350cc to 400cc. KTM is an undisputed market leader, and so it is easy to see why marketing terms can start to mislead potential buyers.
We will discuss the typical build and equipment required for a street legal dirt bike, and share with you a broad range of motorcycles with off-road capabilities.
Finally, we will share our top Dual Sport bikes and the top Adventure bikes available in 2021.
Read on to discover answers to the following questions:
- What is a Dual Sport motorcycle?
- What is an Adventure motorcycle?
- What is required for a dirt bike to be street legal?
- What are adventure bikes used for?
- What are dual sport bikes used for?
- How do I choose between a dirt bike, a dual-sport bike and an adventure bike?
To help you get a clear picture of the market place, we can classify off-road bikes into three distinct groups:
Which include Motocross and Enduro machines.
These are designed for medium to long-distance riders, wanting to mix off-road and road riding.
These are heavyweight, robust motorcycles designed for riders seeking extreme distance touring, which includes both off-road and road-based rides, as well as a high degree of luggage carrying capability.
An introduction to Street Legal Dirt Bikes
In almost all US States, insurance and license are not required for riding purely off the road as an adult. Most states have age restrictions, especially for younger riders ensuring they are assisted and safe. Some states also require a training certification for minors (for young riders I recommend to read this guide to the TOP 3 dirt bikes for kids).
But, if anyone intends to take a dirt bike on any made-up road, car park, or alleyway (even between tracks and trails), it is illegal to do so without proper licensing and insurance, among many other things. This is intended not only to protect you as a rider but other road users, too.
So what is a street legal dirt bike? Well, it is a bike that has been modified for road use but still has the capacity, weight, and other factors meaning it could technically be raced.
This category of dirt bikes could still easily be entered into enduro competitions, for example, or scrambled on the trails. But the bikes will have a minimum amount of kit fitted, making them road legal. It is possible to make a full-on motocross bike road legal, we have seen it done.
A conversion can also be a new exciting project, akin to upgrading new plastics or graphics. Or it may be down to practicality; you may simply require a dirt bike that will be good for both on and off-road biking.
If you are considering conversion as a worthy option, then read on for some tips.
How to convert a dirt bike to make it road legal
Before you get started, remember laws are continually changing in the US, Europe and the UK. You should always check with the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) and the DOT (Department of Transport) for the latest legalities. (DVLA for the UK).
It is worth noting that in California, a street-legal conversion is currently not allowed. You may wish to research your State or area to check minimum requirements, try searching for ‘Federal Minimum Requirements.’ Read all you can around the subject to see whether it is worth the time and investment in even beginning to convert your current dirt bike.
Your bike then has to pass requirements on paper when converted, so be ready to make a good deal of calls. There may be services in your area that will charge a premium to do the legwork for you if you are short on time.
Once happy you can meet the requirements, your shopping list should include a headlight, taillight, turn signals, and mirrors. Got a horn? Well, you should have, this will also make a dirt bike street legal.
Exhausts come with many caveats ranging from noise, shape, and emissions. In fact, one of the main factors affecting on or off-road use is emissions. This may explain why conversions are not currently legal in California. Again, as with all the modifications, different laws govern each US state or whatever area in which you reside. In our opinion, all these items are necessary for safety on the road regardless of the law.
The next items for you to cross off are DOT approved street legal dirt bike tires, and a clock to gauge speed and RPM. All of your bike’s electrics will require proper wiring and assembly that will stand the test of time.
A side stand can be a problem and get in the way for real off-road or MX enthusiasts, but for on the road, kickstands are essential and avoid your bike being towed away!
A license plate holder will be essential. And lastly, your gearing may need consideration as different ratios will be better suited to off and on-road use. Even the fuel tanks are meant to be DOT approved steel tanks, so all of the above will require some further intensive reading.
So, while it is possible to convert your current off-road dirt bike, it’s easy to see why buying a dedicated street legal dirt bike may a far better option. Later in this article, we highlight some buying options, which will serve you on and off the road, off the shelf.
Before converting a dirt bike consider:
- An excellent option for those who can’t afford two bikes, and need a commuter as well as a dirt bike.
- Lighter and more comfortable to manoeuvre than heavier counterparts.
- Conversion can be an exciting project.
- Mostly DIY conversions as manufacturers rarely rate this as a profitable market place.
- Many things to consider when converting dirt bikes to road legal.
- Once conversions complete, dirt bikes may not also handle like a real off-road bike.
- A lot of reading, admin, and legal hoops to jump through with laws changing constantly.
- Consider if you want extra kit such as indicators and brake lights on your dirt bike.
In all honesty, all other things considered, we would suggest that you have a dedicated dirt bike and then buy a scooter for commuting, if that is your need. You can always wear a full-face helmet so that no one recognizes you! Joking aside, you might find that converting a dirt bike to a road-legal condition leaves you with a compromised bike.
It may be unsuitable for extended road riding. At the same time, it may develop annoying traits off-road, like reduced handling due to incorrect tyres, and increased weight. In actual practice, you may have far more fun riding to work on a scooter, and keeping your dirt bike pure.
Some manufacturers sell purist dirt bikes, with road-legal capabilities. These include KTM, Beta, GasGas, Husqvarna and some of the Japanese ‘big four’. If you have the budget, then a late model or brand new bike from this class could be a right choice. We will come back to this later.
A tiny number of Custom Bike manufacturers build legal road bikes with dirt bike DNA, like these bikes from UK Custom Shop Kevils Speed Shop.
Should I buy a street legal dirt bike?
This is a good question, and possibly the only question you should begin with. If you have a dirt bike and a hitch carrier or a trailer, is there any need to compromise?
The answer is down to your personal choice and circumstance. If you are not going to race or are going to ride more on the road than off – maybe a bike that can do both is a good idea.
Road legal bikes are naturally heavier than pure off-road dirt bikes with extra instruments and kit. Larger fuel tanks can increase that weight even further. With Dual Sport and Adventure bikes, the engine cc rises respectively. This means engine size, the volume of components, and the total weight of the bike are increased. With extra moving parts and electrical parts, it can, of course, mean further costs when servicing your motorcycle.
Sometimes keeping it simple is best, depending on your riding style and intentions.
Dual Sport and Adventure bikes with larger cc engines and fuel tanks mean their range is longer. This can be great for adventuring to far off locations but can also give you flexibility in planning weekend rides. An example would be when you spot a dirt track to a mountaintop, and you wish to take in some sweeping views. With Dual Sport and Adventure bikes, you can attempt this type of ride with confidence.
Your belongings can go with you, thanks to on-bike storage. But while riding up mountains can be fun, with Dual Sport and especially Adventure dirt bikes weighing more it won’t be as easy to manoeuvre if you run into trouble or have a tip over. Jumps and obstacle can be negotiated to a certain degree, but require advanced riding skills, and strength.
True motorcycle enthusiasts will often have multiple bikes for multiple jobs. In Motocross Advice’s ideal garage, we would own a dedicated motocross dirt bike, plus a Dual Sport or Adventure bike for mixed terrain and Adventure touring.
An excellent place to start would be to log how often you intend to ride on the road. If it is a good percentage of your time, this may well warrant ownership of a Dual Sport or Adventure, instead of buying or converting a dirt bike.
We are going to be controversial here. If you want a dirt bike, buy a dirt bike – MX or Enduro – and keep it pure.
If you need to use a bike on the road and also have some fun at the weekends, why not consider a Dual Sport or Adventure dirt bike? You may end up having a lot more fun than riding a dirt bike on the road. Read on for more information…
What is a Dual-Sport or Adventure bike for?
Just because there are street legal dirt bikes, or kits to convert your existing dirt bike; that doesn’t mean that Dual Sport or Adventure bikes are not relevant. They certainly have a very defined place in the market. Their role is to provide you with a capable motorcycle that can eat up the miles, deal with commuting if needed, and get out on the trails too!
With such a vast market that is growing year on year, with brands like Husqvarna bringing in their new Norden 901 and the BMW R1200GS growing in popularity, you may feel the same.
Remember that brands and manufacturers use phrases to sell bikes.
This article aims to signpost the bikes we would like in our garage if we were buying for a mix of off-road and on-road riding.
What are the differences between Dual Sport and Adventure Dirt Bikes?
When it comes to identifying the differences between Dual Sport, and Adventure Dirt Bikes, there are definite ways to distinguish and determine which category a bike should fall into. Read on to learn more, and discover some pros and cons for each group.
Dual Sport Dirt Bikes
Suzuki introduced a DR350 in 1990, which was marketed as a Dual Sports dirt bike. Following this, enthusiasts and the media began to use the term Dual Sport more commonly.
Whereas a Street Legal dirt bike can be considered a dirt bike spoiled, a Dual Sports dirt bike serves a purpose. For example, riders who live rurally may have a genuine need to regularly ride off the road during their working day or commute, and a Dual Sports dirt bike can solve that problem.
This category is likely to appeal to short distance adventurers or motocross dirt bike riders looking for a second bike with more road capability.
There are many design features of Dual Sport which benefit road riding, short touring, and mixed-surface adventures.
A key identifier of Dual Sport dirt bikes is their middleweight (from 250lbs / 113kgs to over 350lbs / 160kgs), and cc range of up to 700cc. The larger cc’s would be too much weight and power for motocross, scrambling and some would say for pure Enduro.
Dual Sport can also be a marketing term. Before you buy, ensure a bike suits you and your intended use.
A Dual Sport bike ships with all of the necessary kit and accessories in place including head and taillights, turn signals, and the essential electronics, as well a horn, road-legal tires, and that all-important exhaust system to meet emissions standards.
The tires provided on lighter weight Dual Sports models may be more trail-ready, known as ‘knobblies’. A Dual Sports bike will have this kit at point of purchase, ensuring it is ready to hit the streets or forest trails.
The Dual Sport dirt bikes may also have fairings and windshields and luggage carrying capability. Heavier bikes will have larger capacity fuel tanks for longer journeys on the tarmac.
It’s worth noting that newer Dual Sport bikes are becoming significantly harder to maintain yourself. Of course, anything is modifiable if you know what you’re doing, but more modern bikes especially are harder to fettle.
If buying a used Dual Sports bike, be aware of the exhaust system. If previous owners have fitted competition exhausts, and other aftermarket accessories it may contravene local by-laws.
In summary, the Dual Sports category is for on-road use, and suitable for off-road use whenever the mood takes you. How appropriate a model is for your intentions depends on the bike, the trail, and your riding style.
- Can be a more functional and practical bike, with a real niche for lightweight off-road/Rallye style competitions/on the road short to mid-distance tours.
- Fun for those who ride on the road, with the ability to hit trails whenever they want.
- Far more sensible than a motocross dirt bike converted to be road legal, which can be a fish out of water.
- More extensive engine choice is available.
- Road legal and ready to go (in most areas of the world).
- You are trading manoeuvrability and lightweight, for the road performance, and distance ability.
- Can be very expensive when new.
- Fussier about aftermarket items.
Best Dual Sport Dirt Bikes
Across the cc ranges. Review & Spec for each.
1. KTM 450 Rally Replica
KTM has dominated the Dakar for almost 20 years, and the 450 Rally Replica is a nod to the competition-winning bike of 2019 Silk Way Rally. This is a bike for an out and out off-road and rally enthusiast. With weight-saving features and premium KTM design and build, it leaves off all unnecessary instruments.
This bike is built to deal with everything you can throw at it. An extra lightweight carbon fibre navigation column sits behind the new design fairing to keep wind, debris from the instruments and off your visor when venturing through dust and sand.
A narrow-body design means it is agile, and the fuel tank, which is part of the subframe, sits at the rear with 4.2 gallons (16 litres) of capacity. A more comfortable profile seat comes as part of the package.
KTM is continuously seeking feedback from riders, and this bike is designed for the rider seeking flexibility, durability and Adventure.
Carbon engine protection, and high WP front forks with special triple clamps for high speeds. A lightweight but durable titanium Akrapovic exhaust with noise silencer. A competition-ready Hinson clutch. The Hinson is the best for the job when you are asking for multiple gear changes under harsh conditions like desert riding.
Industry-standard Michelin tires will keep you firmly on, (and off) track. Stoping is no issue either, with Brembo 300mm brakes to the front, and 240mm to the rear.
Rubber mounts for vibrations and soft grips for the comfort of hands also help. Full wrap handguards also protect from trees and foliage.
High mount front fender and fork guards protect from debris, branches and intrusive scenery, while wide footpegs add comfort on longer journeys.
With such an impressive list of specific parts, you can appreciate why a Dual Sport bike may be more suited to those looking for mixed-terrain riding.
Electronic features such as traction control, speed limiter, and navigation all add to the road and touring experience.
The KTM 450 Rally Replica is a limited edition bike, designed for long distances, the roughest terrain possible, and ready for Dakar style rallying. Sure, it sits at the premium end of the market, but if you are looking for a slice of pure Dual Sports heaven, you will be willing to pay the investment.
306lbs / 139kg
2. Honda CRF 250 Rally
A great entry-level Dual Sports bike, the Honda CRF 250 Rally should not be overlooked. Don’t be put off by the 250cc label, this dirt bike is more than capable of working hard on and off the road.
If you’re looking for a relatively lightweight dirt bike within the Dual Sports category, that’s great for a commute, local trip, or heading into the woods and deserts on the weekends, this is a worthy consideration.
While the power might be under 25hp, it’s still an exciting model. Rather than a power band, there is a more linear distribution of power meaning low-end grunt, and reliable all-round capability.
The Honda CRF250 is not designed for high speed riding. Speed wobble over 65mph, can be an issue depending on tires used. We doubt you would be smashing too many long distance weekends on it either.
This bike is more for off the road days, with some street-legal use.
The power isn’t phenomenal but more than enough for first-time riders and for those who want to learn how to ride trails.
The CRF 250 Rally edition
Honda has developed a pimped-up big brother to the CRF250L and differences include a taller windscreen and extra fairings protecting you and the instruments from debris, wind, and rain.
The Rally Edition comes with a larger fuel tank, at 2.7 gallons (10.2 liters) as opposed to 2.1 gallons (8 liters) for the CRF250L.
At around 340lbs, it can be heavier to pick up on the trails and worth thinking about if you are of slight build.
The CRF 250 Rally is comfortable and ergonomically designed to be ridden for long distances without feeling fatigued. An engine counterbalance helps keep things level and is more than welcome on the open road as it noticeably dampens vibrations.
For the price, this bike has a lot of toys, including a trip computer, bright LED headlights which make night riding home or on the trails, not just practical but a pleasure. Luggage can be attached to the rear of the bike, for everyday use and light touring.
For those limited on budget, we recommend this as a very worthy consideration for your garage, and Honda’s levels of build and reliability would make this an excellent buy for anyone considering an all-round off-road bike, or light dual-sport machine.
341lbs / 155kg
3. Yamaha Tenere 700
With a new edition due in 2021, the Yamaha Tenere is a long term favourite with Dual Sports fans. A heavyweight and sturdy beast, the Tenere sits at the top end of the Dual Sports category. The Tenere has always been a simple machine, with Yamaha’s stripped-back approach adding only ABS in the electronics department. This is a purists riders bike. While certain other manufacturers continue to add more and more gadgets, Yamaha has opted for less is best.
Featuring a 689cc parallel-twin from the 2014 Yamaha MT-07, the new Tenere generates 74hp. The engine is comfortable at lower revs around 2500rpm but has plenty on the top end too. It delivers a thrilling ride both on and off the road. If you like simple, riding with no bells and whistles, with reliable Japanese engineering and a solid build, all at a very competitive mid-market price, the Tenere 700 could be for you.
Being an heirloom development of their original 1980s machine, Yamaha needed to deliver a great package. The build quality is proven, and the engine is reliable. Early reviews all seem favourable.
For road riding, the Tenere returns around 55mpg on fuel economy, with a 4.2 gallon (16-liter) tank to travel distance range of up to around 190 miles, depending on how hard you ride it of course.
With the stripping back of electronics, don’t expect traction control or navigation.
One point to note is that if you break a clutch or brake lever, you need to replace the whole unit. If you intend on riding demanding Dual Sports tours where dropping the bike is likely, we would suggest having spares in your support kit. Finding a dealer in the middle of the jungle could be a challenge.
Suspension reportedly a bit firm out of the box, but there is enough adjustment to find a setting for you.
Fewer gadgets can mean there is less to go wrong when it comes to servicing and maintenance. A high seat position means visibility is excellent.
Overall, a good value Dual Sports dirt bike which may prove to deliver years of fun and reliable mixed terrain thrills.
452lbs / 205kg
4. Suzuki DRZ400S
The DRZ400 has been around for 20 years in various guises. The latest version is the development of a model considered by many to be the very foundation for Dual Sports dirt biking. It all began with the DR350S in 1990, then came the DRZ400 before the now road DRZ400S.
Suzuki’s aim remains the same; fun and reliability at an affordable price. The DRZ400S encapsulates mantra, delivering an entry-level bike which stacks up against the more serious competition. This is especially true for those who are not looking for thoroughbred race pedigree.
With a liquid-cooled 398cc engine delivering impressive torque at 26lb-feet, the DRZ400S excels at low revs and provides excellent handling and feel thanks to the capable adjustable suspension. With 11.6″ of travel on the front and rear there is plenty of room for fun off the road.
A five-speed transmission and balanced gearing will get you up to illegal speeds.
It has an electric start and a simple but clear display on the dash. The range is more limited than rivals, with the comparatively smaller fuel tank of 2.6 gallons (10 liters). This makes it more suited to trails and short commutes rather than longer distance rallying. That said, a handy pouch on the rear fender, plus capacity for adding panniers and other attachments mean you can make it into a practical all-round bike. The stock seat is hard, so this might limit the number of hours you want to stay in the saddle.
Suzuki ship the DZR with Dunlop D208, so it is worth investing in a more all-round tire if regular off-roading is your intention.
As a base model, you have the perfect starting point for adding accessories like handguards, radiator guards and other dirt bike style parts.
The 2021 DEZ400S also looks excellent, has all the resemblance of a dirt bike and feels like one, with the added advantage of being completely street legal.
The DRZ400S has been described as a motorcyclist’s motorcycle. It just works. In it, you will find a workhorse at home on the road and trails. It is agile enough to throw it around a bit, and could well be the ultimate bike for those needing a dirt bike for the road.
317lbs / 144kg
Adventure/Super Adventure Motorcycles
The Adventure and Super Adventure class of bike is a different beast altogether. On and off-road capability, yes, but this is strictly a heavyweight, long-distance category. Adventure dirt bikes are capable of thousands of miles both on and off road, with heavy luggage loads and are built to withstand harshest conditions.
These dirt bikes are used for hardcore adventure touring; think TV shows “The Long Way Round” & “The Long Way Down” featuring Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman. This category of bikes is also most commonly used in The Dakar and many other extreme adventures.
Enthusiasts will know the weapon of choice of McGregor and Boorman was the BWM R1150GS, There are many models from many manufacturers available for purchase, and this is one of the fastest-growing areas in motorcycling. Are they dirt bikes? Yes. Not in the purist motocross and enduro-style, but they will go almost anywhere that doesn’t involve trials style maneuvers.
The extra technology, durability, and range requirements for adventure riding translate into more equipment. This inevitably means a lot of extra weight. But, while Adventure dirt bikes are undoubtedly heavy and bulky, you can still have a lot of fun off the road, plus the ability to reach the worlds most inhospitable locations.
The design is often considered bulletproof. When you think of the miles covered in Long Way Round as just one example (19,000 miles / 31,500km) it’s clear to see that these bikes are built for real endurance.
If you are considering an intercontinental tour, these bikes ship with all the necessary specs and kit to ensure everything is in place before your travel. The bikes are at home on the road or the trails and can flip between a nice smooth road surface and the harshest trail with ease.
It’s worth noting that due to weight and bulk, the bikes are only really suitable for those strong enough to handle that weight. They are suited to capable riders rather than beginners. If you are new to dirt bikes then have a look at our guide to best beginner dirt bikes.
Riders of a smaller frame may struggle too. These bikes won’t be suitable for extreme terrain trails, rocks, Enduro or motocross style riding. Keep the latter for your pure dirt bikes. Anywhere that requires you to climb or jump extreme distances, physically drag your machine, or deal with delicate, clutch control manoeuvres such as seen in trials riding is best avoided.
Heavy luggage capability is another critical feature of adventure bikes, with panniers and attachments for lots of bags, essential for those longer trips. The main differences between Adventure and Dual Sport bikes are weight, cc’s, and overall horsepower. The weight of an Adventure bike generally ranges between over 350lbs (180kgs) to over 600lbs (275kg) at the heavier end. Engine sizes are 700cc plus. The Yamaha Tenere mentioned earlier, sits on the line between the two categories.
High ground clearance allows for off-road riding, while under-stressed engines mean extra resilience and a large fuel tank increases range.
Big means comfortable; two-up riding is a breeze even on long journeys and you will feel more stability at speed. With technology improving all the time, it means Adventure bikes are extremely stable in the dirt, despite all that extra weight.
Enhanced GPS navigation computers will help you when finding your way to those far off locations. Wire-spoke wheels with optional “knobblie” tires, skid plates, and rigid metal panniers also have you covered you for off-road abuse.
If buying new, expect to be presented with a comprehensive range of optional extras available from dealers. Gadget lovers: be mindful of your budget in advance to showroom visits and be prepared to stick to it, it can be a case of holding back before you are oversold. Balance your intended use against potential additional purchases.
In summary, the Adventure or Super Adventure bike is an excellent bike for avid explorers that intend on venturing long distances to far off lands where dirt tracks, sand, and loose material will be expected. Just don’t expect to climb very steep inclines or anything too crazy with all that extra weight.
- Virtually indestructible, super-tough design and build.
- Massive mileage capability with extended service intervals.
- Comfortable for both rider and passenger.
- The range of comfort extras can make it feel like a car on two wheels.
- Heavy, tall, and cumbersome.
- Not for the rider who struggles with bigger bikes. The dual sports are a better choice here.
- An expensive option, not really for every day commuting but specific adventures.
Best Adventure/Super Adventure Dirt Bikes
1. KTM 790 Adventure R rally
With 500 units of the Rally edition planned, this is a limited edition Adventure bike in the premium range.
The KTM 790 Adventure R Rally, is anticipated to be one machine worth owning if you can afford it. It is reportedly aimed at riders who demand the most hardcore performance and very best suspension available.
When you look at the specs, it is clear to see thought and prestige have gone into this Adventure bike. For current owners of the R non-rally, the parts are similar and readily available, while you might not own a collectors edition that this promises to be.
This limited Rally edition has the same chassis and power with 98 horses, from a parallel-twin engine and 799cc.
The suspension is upgraded on the Rally edition, with race capable XPLOR Pro suspension (30milimeters more travel) as opposed to the more standard WP forks on the non-rally R edition. The seat height of the limited edition has been raised to 910mm, which is worth considering and testing out in showrooms for smaller riders. The clear windshield on the Rally model.
The huge 5.3 gallon (20 liter) fuel tank on the R, should feature on the rally.
XPLOR Pro 7548 front forks promise enhanced comfort, plus excellent damping and when riding, and bottom-out prevention when riding hard off-road. The rear shocks – XPLOR Pro 6746 – with PDS (Progressive Damping System), will mean a capable all-round package.
Mix all of this KTM premium technology with lighter, stronger Akrapovic exhaust system, carbon fiber trims, and upgraded graphics and this should be a beast of a bike worth owning if you can afford the premium price tag.
If the standard KTM 790 Adventure R is the benchmark, then the Rallye will be of exceptional build quality and design, and definitely on your adventure bike. shortlist
2. Husqvarna Norden 901
From KTM subsidiary Husqvarna, another bike to look for is the Norden 901. Unveiled as a concept 2019, the Norden 901 is set for development in 2021.
Considering previous successes such as the retro-looking Vitpilen and Svartpilen road bikes, plus the quality look of the concept, this Husky will no doubt sit at the premium end of the market.
Many are already using the term anti-mainstream to describe the Norden 901 Adventure dirt bike, and we at Motocross Advice agree. There’s a unique look to the Norden 901.
The aggressive, angular design will certainly stand out on the road or the trails. Upfront there is a large, round LED headlight (as is a trademark look borrowed from Vitpilen and Svartpilen bikes) and yellow LED fog lights either side. The bold, protective bars give the Norden an extra-tough look too. A sizeable double screen TFT display up front, and long visor to protect from the elements, dirt, and sand compliment the Rallye potential.
Upside down WP front forks on the front, Monoshock WP on the rear, and Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires all add up to a desirable package. Marketing pictures show plenty of luggage capacity at the rear, though it remains to be seen if these are standard or optional extras. The Husky s likely to be slim and lightweight for its class. A 21″ front wheel and 18″ rear, are perfect for touring.
Front and read brake disc guards, are an indication of off-road capability.
Are there any differences between this and the KTM 790 Adventure R Rally? Well, it could be considered the basic design is a KTM Adventure R underneath, and no doubt there will be many similarities.
Power in the Norden 900 comes from an 889cc 2 cylinder parallel twin reputedly giving 119hp, that’s a full 20hp more than the KTM 790 Adventure R.
Overall, we are very excited about this bike at Motocross Advice, and at the end of 2019, Husqvarna confirmed it would go into production, with an expected release in 2021.
3. Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports
Honda says the new 2021 Twin Adventure Sports is lighter, more powerful and with more features than ever. It certainly has an excellent heritage as a super adventure bike.
The Africa Twin now comes with cruise control, large touch screen panel, and Apple Carplay™ compatibility. The ES model comes with electronic suspension, adjustable windscreen, and even heated handgrips.
Even with the standard model as soon the bike fires up, there’s a grunt from the powerful 1084cc parallel-twin engine, which is 84cc higher than the older model in case you were wondering. Power will more than enough for most riders, especially those who love a Honda. The sound of the bike is something Honda has thought about, and that engine sounds incredible on the road.
Once onboard, you can’t help but notice the 6.5″ inch screen with computer and everything you’ll need for that long Adventure including six-axis IMU, and a Showa Electronically Equipped Ride Adjustment (EERA), some tech that was notably lacking in previous models. It comes with optional quickshifter too.
New wheel designs and stainless steel spokes mean that rusty wheels, reported in previous models, should thankfully be a thing of the past. The 21″ front wheel means it is excellent for off-road use. Some riders might feel that it should ship with a 19″, offering a larger 21″ as an optional extra.
Lower ride position and slimmer build mean ergonomics have also been improved.
At 4 kilos lighter than its predecessor, the Africa Twin is still no lightweight, but then this is super adventure riding.
This is a beautiful Adventure bike to ride, with Honda taking a lot of time and thought to get things perfect such as the engine mapping making for a smoother all-around ride. While it won’t be as quick as some competitors, the Honda Africa Twin is a real contender in the adventure bike market, especially if compared to the BMW GS.
501lbs / 227kgs
4. BMW R1200GS Adventure
True enthusiasts reading this article will already know that the BMW R1200GS is The Daddy, the benchmark status that all other Adventure bikes set out to achieve.
There is a reason behind its legend and its hefty price tag, and that is it gets the job done in an incredibly efficient manner. 7.9 gallons (30 liters), fuel tank, will get you where you need to be without so many stops.
BMW is an unashamedly premium product. Most riders feel it is justified and still good value.
Fans of the R1200GS will be glad to know that much of the bike has gone unchanged, including styling and chassis. But when you dig a little deeper, there is plenty that is new. The engine for example now has ‘Shift Cam’ variable valve timing meaning more power. Shaft drive, as opposed to a chain, is another unique feature, which means lower maintenance than a chain.
Comfy seats and riding position, easily adjustable windshield, and years of development have helped BMW to provide an airflow that places you in a comfortable zone, with minimal buffeting. When riding on prolonged adventures, comfort is king.
BMW has added automatic Dynamic ESA, which builds on the already intuitive suspension by adding a new layer of responsiveness for added comfort. Although there are front forks, there’s also a front-mounted mono-shock that is electronically controlled and continuously adjusting as you ride. One of the benefits here, especially when offroad, is that when you grab for the brake, the front end does not nosedive, but adapts smoothly, helping you maintain control. This also aids cornering on twisty roads.
A unique feature of the legendary flat-twin is the low centre of gravity, meaning the bike handles like a dream. You may wish to invest in the optional engine casing protection if heading off-road.
Torque is delivered throughout the range of RPM, meaning the engine has bags of performance from low grunt to the top end.
The BMW R1250GS/adventure is a reliable beast. On top of that, the bikes have strong residual value for future resale.
With the weight of this bike at 549lbs, it is one of the heaviest adventure bikes available. This weight means you may struggle with certain single-track trails and trickier technical cross-country riding. For pretty much everything else in terms of Adventure biking, the BMW R1250GS has you covered.
549lbs / 249kgs
5. Yamaha Super Tenere Raid Edition
Yamaha has been improving the Tenere since 2010. The Raid edition is a culmination of all that research and development.
The Super Tenere Raid Edition has a 2-cylinder parallel-twin liquid-cooled 1199cc engine, giving 111 horses. The engine is ultra-reliable, breakdowns are rare with this bike, and a 270º crank layout gives incredible torque and power response.
Like the BMW R1250GS, this bike also has shaft drive meaning less maintenance and more direct power, with clutch and shaft dampers. A whopping 6 gallon (23 liter) fuel tank means plenty of miles before stopping to refuel.
The Raid edition also with electrically adjustable suspension, which gives 190mm of travel. It also boasts side panniers that increase luggage capacity to a total of 74 liters. There is also a further capacity for strapping on top of these panniers.
LED fog lamps to add to the front end and help light your way at night, while carbon fiber side panels save weight but also look stylish with enhanced graphics. A skid plate with side extensions keeps the engine safe underneath especially over rough and rockier terrain. The Raid Edition has a taller and adjustable windshield, keeping the wind and debris away and adding to overall comfort. The display is a simple but effective LCD with a gear position indicator.
The Raid model also now has a unified brake system, advanced electronics such as a traction control system, cruise control, and drive mode function. Drive mode (or D-Mode) offers three rider settings: standard for general riding, A for sportier engine response, and B for when sensitive throttle operation is required.
This higher specification model is fully prepared for some long-distance severe adventure biking. Even in its standard form, the Yamaha Super Tenere was an under-appreciated marvel with many positives, so this bike should be a worthy consideration.
584lbs / 265kgs
Street Legal Dirt Bikes In Conclusion
There is way more than meets the eye when we use the phrase street legal dirt bike. The truth of the matter is that most people who want a ‘street legal dirt bike’ may actually mean a dual-sport bike or even an adventure bike.
This diverse collection of bikes answer all briefs. Think about what you really want out of your bike. If you are a motocrosser or enduro rider at heart, keep your dirt bike pure The cost of converting it to a legal road bike will be more than a commuter, and may ruin your off-road fun.
If you want to balance off-road riding with regular local use, and the occasional weekend trip or tour, a dual-sport could be for you.
If you intend on getting adventurous, hitting long tours, and harsh, remote environments, go for the big guns! A super/adventure bike is what you will need.
Whatever you do, don’t ruin a good dirt bike just so you can legally pop to the shops!
Have fun out there.