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2010 250 Dual Sport Motorcycle Shootout

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Meet the contenders in the 2010 250 Dual Sport Shootout.
If you could only ride one type of motorcycle for the rest of your years what would it be? Would you choose the comfort and convenience of a touring bike? Perhaps the fuel efficiency and simplicity of a small standard street bike is what’s needed? Or maybe the off-road prowess and agility of a dirt bike would be ideal? What if I told you that there was a category of machine capable of combining many of these characteristics. Motorcycles capable of traversing any surface, from asphalt highways to rocky single track, while still achieving upwards of 60 miles-per-gallon. Bikes that are simple to operate, reliable as an axe and carry a reasonable price tag. They are called quarter-liter dual sports and we have four of them to compare against one another in this 2010 250 Dual Sport Shootout.

Up first is Suzuki’s DR200SE. This tried-and-true air-cooled dual sport machine has the distinction of being the veteran motorcycle in this quartet. It’s been around for over a decade in its current configuration, and besides the colors of the plastics it’s basically unchanged since being released in the mid-90s, something that helps to keep its price tag in check. This year Suzuki decided not to import any ’10 machines into the U.S. in order to help clear their dealers’ existing inventory, hence this is the reason we’re testing an ’09 machine.

Next up is Honda’s CRF230L. Released as a new model in 2008, the 230L is Honda’s solution for the would-be dual sport rider. It’s designed around their entry-level air-cooled off-road bike, the CRF230F, but incorporates the necessary equipment (headlight, taillight, etc.) to be legally operated on the road. Similar to Suzuki, Honda also isn’t importing any ’10 models in order to clear the 2009 stock, meaning the CRF competes at a favorable price. 

Kawasaki entered this contest with its recently-upgraded KLX250S. As opposed to the Honda and Suzuki, Team Green’s motorcycling Swiss Army knife is powered by a liquid-cooled engine and comes to our shores as a 2010 model.

The final bike in this comparison is the Yamaha WR250R. Like the Honda, the WR saw its most recent update in ’08. With its liquid-cooled engine and premium components, this bike is designed for those riders seeking an upscale dual sport offering and aren’t as concerned with price. Like the Kawi, the Yamaha is also available as a ’10 model.

For the test we wedged all four bikes in the back of our van and drove to Northern California’s Mammoth Mountain for the annual Mammoth Motocross race (see sidebar). During the course of our multi-day adventure we traversed every kind of surface imaginable in order to discover the individual intricacies of each bike. Testing duties were handled by an equally diverse sizing of riders, allowing us to really hone in on the strengths and weakness of each bike. Every aspect of the motorcycle was rated based on rider opinion and scored via our hybrid Formula One points scale. We also factored in objective data, including horsepower, weight, price, etc., to help you decide which of these bikes might be the right fit for you.

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2010 250 Dual Sport Shootout Video
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Mammoth Dual-Sport and MX Adventure
Despite what you may think Mammoth Mountain is just as epic during the summer months as it is in winter.
There are places on our planet so stunning it can be difficult to discern whether what you’re seeing is real or imaginary. Landscapes so grand you can’t help but feel beset by Mother Nature’s magnificence. It’s here where colossal formations of stone, over time too great for any of us to truly comprehend, have been whittled into jagged peaks blanketed with mounds of white powder extending into the sky...

Read the full story in the Mammoth Dual-Sport and Motocross Adventure
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todd -good job.  August 24, 2010 08:45 PM
Ok, I read it and I think you did a good detailed job. Despite not having all the smaller dual sports available for the test. I like the looks of the kawi better. I rode both the yamaha xt250 & wr250 I was really impressed by the xt. I thought is was gonna be a turd, but it wasn't. Honestly for what I'd use this bike for the xt would be ok for me. I didn't feel there was much difference in the power between the two. I agree with the others though, need the other bikes in the test. I also feel that a 300 or 325cc 260lb machine is the way to go. To silverstreak: The vstrom is not in the same category as the other bikes. To heavy, bulky etc: I really like the vstrom, but I feel it has an identity crisis but thats another story. Thats what makes the world go around. Having said that, if I found one cheap I'd own it. I've talked enough thanks for reading Todd.
todd -where are the other bikes?  August 24, 2010 07:58 PM
I know there are logistic problems sometimes. Couldnt you get any other bikes to throw into the mix? I'm writing this before reading the article. I think the order will be suzi, honda, kawi, yamaha. I think yamaha's xt250 & tw200, kawasaki's super sherpa should have been in this test. Most in your test will get you where you need to go. Only the yamaha will get you there for 25,000 miles without adjusting the valves. Yeah it costs more, but longevity & better off-road ability make it the one I want. Todd.
SilverStreak -V-Strom 650 Alternate  August 21, 2010 10:45 AM
For only $1109 more than the WR250R you can move up to the bigger V-Strom with touring capability and comfort. It's a trade-off, but if you want a do-it-all kind of bike with a low price, it's worth a look.
oh husky -what year?  August 20, 2010 07:51 PM
No problem getting parts for my '06 TE510 & '07 TE450? Regardless, they're really plated dirtbikes more than dual-sports.
X Husky Owner -Iduho - Husqvarna - No Parts Man  August 19, 2010 09:50 AM
If its like the Husky 450 we just parted ways with, we simply could not get parts for months on end. Husky; geat looks, good performance; but dealer support and spare parts are simply a joke from our experience. To the point; who would ever own a bike that takes 7 months (or more) to get parts.
Iduho -Husqvarna?  August 19, 2010 04:56 AM
How come no Husky TE250?