Adventure or dual sport motorcycles can be great bikes for beginner riders. They can allow a new rider to experience riding in an open field, or trail, as well a get a feel for the bike on asphalt too. If a new rider falls over during the learning phase this is not such a big deal on a dual sport bike. Many of these bikes have protection on them and can withstand a drop which can be common when someone is riding for the first time. I recommend getting a reliable quality used bike, many people buy a new motorcycle to learn to ride and then want to move up to a bigger faster bike, or they realize that motorcycle riding is not their cup of tea and end up selling the bike in great shape with very low milage. So quality adventure or dual sport bikes can usually be found pretty easily on craigslist, cycletrader, etc.
The smaller cc bikes, like the 200, 20 or 300’s are great bikes for learning as they are light and nimble. The big Japanese motorcycle manufacturers all have these entry level bikes.
Honda has the CRF250 i standard version and Rally Version. Standard is top pic and the cool rally version is to the right.
Kawasaki has the Versys 300 now, which is more of adventure bike than a dual -sport, but they had the KLX 250 for a while, which was a great light dual sport bike, but they discontinued that bike. they can still be found around and are good bang for the buck.
Suzuki’s 200 is the DR200, a great reliable starter bike at a price point that is affordable.
Yamaha has the WR250 which is pretty much a dirt bike, and probably the most advanced one, which may make not as much of a learner bike as the others.
Now two of my favorite beginner bikes are the fat tired Yamaha TW200 and the Suzuki VanVan200, these are great for the sugar sand here in New Jersey, but they are fun and easy to ride anywhere and on many types of surfaces. They also have a low seat height and the power is not abrupt and easy to learn how to release the clutch in smooth manner, which can sometimes be a challenge for people who never used a clutch before. These two 200 cc fat tired bikes are a blast to ride and have ton of character too.
So, in short, look for a bike that has low seat height, can be dropped, can ride on mixed surfaces, and doesn’t hurt your wallet to bad if you do break a part on it or scratch it up.
It is always good to take a class, the state motor vehicle center usually run motorcycle classes here is the US, as well there are a number of business that train riders of all different skill levels.
Honda CRF 250 Rally
Kawasaki Versys X 300
Kawasaki KLX 250
Two adventure bikers take on the journey of a lifetime travelling through Morocco, North Africa, on the trail of the ultimate biking challenge, the Dakar Rally. One rider, Christophe Barriere-Varju, has competed in the Dakar Rally four times. The other, Laura Csortan, has never set a wheel off road before. Starting in Marrakech, Morocco, they must make their way through mountains, gorges, rivers and deserts to reach the Moroccan Sahara. Christophe will be sharing his knowledge of what it takes to be an off road adventurer whilst Laura will be pushing her biking skills to the limits and experiencing a journey like never before. Will they make it to their final destination of the Sahara Desert or will the journey of a lifetime be too much for an off road novice?
Check it out here on NatGeo TV.
Great Ride. Great Views.
The PA Grand Canyon is an incredible location to ride your motorcycle– no matter what type of bike you ride. On a nice day riders are everywhere, because the roads, trails and scenery in this area of Pennsylvania are awesome for motorcycles. Whether a dual sport, big adventure bikes or even sport bikes and cruisers. I recently rode a ADV bike up there. It was a full day of riding to get there from my house in New Jersey and when I arrived you could hardly find a spot in either of the two relatively large designated motorcycle parking areas. Both areas were packed full of bikes– all types. There must have been 75 bikes there if not more. The majority were cruisers but there were also adventure motorcycles, dual sports and the one that really caught my eye was a cool traveling scooter with traveling soft bags and the whole package. Looked like they were doing some serious cross country travel on the scooter. It is called the PA Grand Canyon by all and the souvenirs and shirts, all tout “PA Grand Canyon” as well, but technically it is the Pine Creek Gorge. And it is beautiful. There are two sides to the Gorge and each is a separate Pennsylvania State Park and, if you are into hiking like I am, the Turkey Trail connects the two parks together. Please note, if hiking the Turkey trail, you will need to cross the Pine creek to hike the whole Turkey trail from one side/park to the other, there is not a bridge and depending on the water table it can be an obstacle.
One side of the gorge is the Leonard Harrison State Park and the other is the Colton Point State Park. The Leonard Harrison side is more popular, as it has a visitor center, food truck, camping, bathhouse, ranger station, running water, and some other signs of a popular destination. The Colton Point side is much more subdued, it offers primitive camping and much more remote, although amenities do include pit toilets. ; ) So it depends on what you are after in your visit to the Pine Creek Gorge.
ADV Motorcycle Camping in Pennsylvania.
I camped on the Leonard Harrison side and it was a great spot, nice trees to hang my hammock tent, and only about a quarter mile from the trail entrance, lookout point and visitor center into the Gorge, campsites were clean and spacious, and the staff was so nice and friendly, for that matter so was everyone up there, visitors I met, as well as a local neighbor who sold me some wood for great price. It was a clear night and the stars were amazing up there, so bright and so many, I forgot how unbelievable the night sky can look when you are nowhere near a city and up in that higher altitude. There is cool phone app called Skyview that lets you identify stars, galaxies and constellations. See Skyview App.
The roads are amazing, twisty, and some steep hills that were like roller coasters on the bike. I advise planning a few days there, one for hiking, one for dual sporting and one for riding the wild PA Grand Canyon roads!
There are so many great roads and trails , but one great road in PA Route 6, also 414, and a cool water crossing at (41.573041, -77.335406), and there are just tons of great dual sport dirt roads and trails to ride around all day on. In short, the great roads and awesome tracks all around the area, make it an overall awesome adventure/dual sport location that you should put on your list to ride.
Awesome Photo courtesy of
Awesome Photo courtesy of
Awesome Photo courtesy of
I forgot to take picture of the onslaught of bikes parked up there at the PA Grand Canyon overlook, so if anyone happens to have a pic of all the bikes that are there on a nice day, please be so kind as to send one along for me to post. (feedback)
Thanks for reading and, as always, ride safe and have fun!
Two brothers face an incredible adventure off-road across America as they seek to understand each other and connect with their father, on the ‘Road Less Traveled.’
Kawasaki KLR 650 – A Fan favorite!
A small dual-sport bike like a 200 or 250cc would will make an all around great learning bike. They are light, nimble and easy to ride, as well as, the smaller displacement bikes are great for riding single track trails and/or rough terrain where a light nimble bike is key. Read more here about some great adventure bikes to learn on. But it appears most ADV riders are looking for an “Adventure” bike that is a little bigger than a 200cc and have plans for more dual purpose exploration in mind, not simply a bike to learn to ride on, but a bike tthat can handle the asphalt and the dirt roads well, a adv bike they can grow into and enjoy for many years to come.
After watching Long Way Down or being slapped by big manufacturers marketing departments, many people conjure up and an image of a big adventure bike, like a BMW GS1200 Adventure motorcycle with hard panniers and a bunch of luggage strapped to it, traversing the jungle or world as an image of what they want in their mind. Now these are incredible machines that have a place, but budget and practicality usually kick in and some realize a 600 pound beast is not the best all around bike, nor the cheapest for them. Again, the big adventure bikes have their place, don’t get me wrong, they are not always the best bet for the masses, especially when first getting into adventure riding and looking for entry level adventure bike.
Riding a 250cc on and extended long tarmac stretch is not ideal and riders will quickly require a little more power and getting your feet wet with a big 600 pound 1200cc expensive bike is not always practical either. But don’t worry there are many bikes right in that sweet spot, that will let you ride trails, dirt roads and also cruise some asphalt comfortably. So that leaves us with the masses, Mid-sized Adventure Bikes and Dual-Sport motorcycles that are relatively affordable and are also are great bikes to learn how to adventure ride and travel on. So that’s what we are looking for in this Entry Level Adventure Motorcycle post, a versatile all-around entry level adventure bike, something in between the light 250 and the heavy 1200 and also reasonably priced.
Here is a list of bikes we feel are great choices for the entry level beginner adventure rider, who have been bitten by the adventure motorcycle bug. So in short, we are leaving our 250cc and 1200cc class adventure bikes out of this post. We will evaluate those classes of ADV bikes down the road.
The best ADV or dual sport bike for you may be different than for another person, depending on your size, type of riding you want to do, as well as price, comfort and other personal variable. It is best to throw a leg over one you think fits your needs and test ride it and see what feels right for you.
Prices stated are MSRP “starting at” price for a new bike.
So without further ado:
Honda CB500x Adventure – Starting at $6299
The CB500x Adventure is new but he CB500 has been around since the 70’s, a 500 is a good size bike, the seat height is a good for new riders.
Here are specs for CB500X Adventure.
Suzuki DR-Z400S – Starting at $6599
Suzuki DRZ 400
Another great Suzuki, a little lighter and more dirt oriented then the DR650, it is a little taller, so higher center of gravity, but a great bike that is light and fun and easy to ride.
Here are specs for DR400.
Kawasaki KLR 650 – Starting at $6149
The KLR has one of the biggest fan-followings and there is a reason why, it is an overall great bike. it doesn’t do any one thing spectacular, but what is does do – it is a lot of everything very very well. It is a a bit of a tank and an overall great bike in general and perfect for new adventure riders.
Here are specs for KLR650.
Honda NC700X – Starting at $7499
This bike is more geared toward the asphalt and it is a Honda so you know it will be a great reliable scoot. It is simple to ride – it comes as an automatic or Honda calls it DCT – (dual clutch transmission) It is a great all around motorcycle and you will be happy to throw a leg over this Honda.
Here are specs for NC700X.
BMW G650GS or BMW Sertão – Starting at $7895
We really couldn’t discuss Adventure bikes without having BMW in the mix, these are both great beginner bikes, they have a low center of gravity and just ride very smooth and make riding seam so comfortable. Although you do pay a little extra for the BMW bragging rights. Here are specs for BMW 650.
Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT – Starting at $10399
Suzuki V-Strom 650
Suzuki really makes a great bikes for a great prices and their bikes are great mechanically as well. The V-strom is no different – it is geared more toward asphalt and gravel roads, compared to it’s DR650 cousin, this bike also has low seat height and ride really really nice. Here are specs for V-Strom 650.
Kawasaki Versys 650 – Starting at $7,999
Kawasaki Versys 650
This Kawasaki is often overlooked and not given enough credit, it is an all around great entry level bike and I highly recommend it, take one for a test ride and you will realize a great bike. Easy to ride and lot of band for the buck.
Here are specs for Versys 650.
Honda XR650L – Starting at $6690
This Honda XR650 has not changed in close to 20 years, but it is a simple but good motorcycle, it will do well in the dirt on gravel roads and even some dirt riding. It is more dirt oriented than the Suzuki DR650. Simply great entry level Adventure/ dual sport motorcycle, especially for taller riders.
Here are specs for XR650L
Suzuki DR650SE – Starting at $6499
This is one of my favorite motorcycles, it is reliable, good power, rides well, does great on dual sport rides and also can cruise down the road at a good speed. If you are doing more asphalt put a windscreen on it, it doing more dirt put some knobbies on it. This bike has a relatively low seat height and is easy to ride and a great affordable place to start adventure riding.
Here are specs for DR650.
Well there you have it a good list of 9 entry level dual-sport / adventure bikes for the newer dual-sport adventure rider to consider. I recommend hitting your local dealer and throwing a leg over some of these bikes and see for yourself what feels most comfortable for your unique height, weight, comfort and posture. And remember it is very important to be comfortable on your new bike. Here is few thing you can do to get the optimal fit.
- Adjust your handlebars. You can get bar risers that not only move the bars up so better for when you are standing on your footpegs, but also they move bars forward for better comfort as well.
- Possibly lower your bike dropping the center of gravity (which makes riding easier) keeps smaller riders comfortable.
- Comfortable seat, many rider swap out standard seat for something a little more comfy.
Remember, new riders, please ride within your comfort level when you are getting used to your new adventure or dual sport motorcycle, don’t take chances, be safe and, of course, have fun!!!