Rock Camp, WV- After many years of riding all kinds of motorcycles through the mountains of West Virginia and abroad, Mt Motorcycles Operator Travis Jackson is very optimistic about the future of Dual Sporting.
Similar to many other long standing and traditional disciplines of motorcycling, the dual sport segment has become much more refined and specialized in recent years. “Dual Sporting has really changed in the last few years”, says Jackson. “We still see the utilitarian staples of dual sporting going strong, like the KLR650, XL650, DR650, and others…and these models have been largely unchanged over the years. The old adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ applies when referring to these great machines.”
The big bikes have achieved a cult following, with extremely active social media pages, clubs, and websites dedicated to each respective model. And rightfully so. But now, with the increasing popularity of lighter, more powerful dual sport models like the KTM450EXC, and street legal conversions available for bikes like the Yamaha WR450, we are seeing a new form of dual sporting altogether. Jackson stated that “What we have here, folks, are plated (street legal) race bikes with the latest enduro technology. The can go anywhere a race bike can go, because that is what they are.”
Jackson added that the newer sport-oriented dual sport models have not only created a new niche for themselves, but have also pushed the traditional utilitarian models into a new niche of their own. “Lots of guys are looking to the bigger bikes as playing less of a traditional dual sport role, and it seems that they are settling into more of a light-ADV role. They are certainly capable of going A to B in some really rough terrain, but they don’t do it nearly as gracefully as a 450EXC. A big bike on technical stuff is more about survival than going out and ripping, and some guys still want to rip. Other guys don’t. Some just want a bike that can get them and their luggage through the rough bits and be comfortable out on the road. The high performance dual sports fall a bit short in that scenario. They simply don’t perform well on 250 mile days where they have to stretch their legs on the asphalt. Especially if there is luggage and gear involved. I’m just happy that dual sport has evolved the way it has. Riders have more options, and a better chance of choosing a bike that best suits their needs. Dual sporting got kind of stale for a while, but now it’s on fire.”
The folks up at Mt. Motorcycles all agree that the versatility of the dual sport segment offers the best of both worlds…as they can ride through the same terrain as their friends with off-road models. But like any other street legal machine, they can go out and enjoy the National Forest and other public roads responsibly and with peace of mind. The general consensus on the mountain is that the street and trail riders at Mt. Moto will get the biggest bang for the buck, as they can enjoy all the resort has to offer. Guests on other bikes simply won’t be able to, due to certain limitations.
When Jackson was asked to name a few specific perks about owning a dual sport bike, he didn’t hesitate. “I feel so free on it. It’s a great feeling to just hit my turn signal and take off on a trail up through the woods. Ride for a while, work on trail, whatever…then come back to the pavement and take off down the road. It’s just so convenient and versatile. Sometimes when my buddies are loading their dirt bikes up in the truck and changing their clothes after a ride, I just beep at them and keep on gettin’ it. Let’s me squeeze a few extra miles in and wait to change clothes at the house. I take it trout fishing, or to swim at the river. I’ve been known to ride it to my girl’s house, 50 miles away. It’s fun to take camping, or ride over to check out a race somewhere. If I need a few groceries from town, it makes the trip so much better. What’s not to love about a dual sport bike?”