Comparing KLR, DR, R100GS,
The best dual-sport has to:
A. Carry you and your kit comfortably for long distances.
B. Go fast enough to keep up with city and highway traffic.
C. Have close to 300 mile range before running empty.
D. Be able to handle dirt/uneven roads without too much difficulty.
E. Be reliable, or easy to fix or limp home from in the wilds.
Note: I don't include single-tracks or off-road ability.
There is a reason KLR's are so popular and not just because it is cheap. In stock form, it can most easily accomplish most of the above if on a basic experiential level. No luxuries here but it will get you there and back.
The GS is an excellent and comfortable road bike and takes the cake for long distance days: full of torque, good range, and excellent seats and wind protection (with a Parabellum shield). Most BMW's have weight against them. Regardless of rider ability (and that does count for alot for where you can and cannot go) sand and mud will always do you in quicker on a heavier bike. BMW's are more difficult to repair and are not as reliable in the wilds.
The DR has an excellent motor, good suspension for dirt and street, but not enough wind protection. Even if you add an IMS tank, Corbin seat and some windshield, it is still tiring to ride long distances. Excellent and fun city bike because of the responsive motor however.
The KLR with a tall shield and Corbin seat is actually more comfortable than the DR riding long distances at highway speeds as the placement its headlight assembly and tank somehow gives you better wind protection so you are less tired at the end of the day. The engine vibrates which causes its own kind of fatigue.
Both the DR and KLR seem to hold up better on rough & loose surfaces, possibly because they are lighter weight so hard bumps don't stress the frame, suspension, or drive-train assemblies as much. If something does break, it is usually easier to get at and fix. Moto-mechanics in most countries are usually more familiar with Japanese designs even if they commonly work on smaller displacement versions.
This is my personal assessment based on 10 years of ownership of the bikes above, riding solo on the AZ highways, exploring the 4-Corners, to Baja and Copper Canyon, and much of Mexico & Central America.
Consider that the best all around anything is always striking a balance between requirements so what you get is by definition a compromise and not the best riding experience. In fact, possibly quite the opposite. This may be heresy but if part of Adventure Motorcycling also includes getting to and appreciating the destination, then maybe some sacrifice of the riding experience can be made...
ergo the KLR.
"It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence. There is hope for a violent man to become non-violent. There is no such hope for the impotent." -Gandhi
Ed~ screwed with this post 09-09-2010 at 12:44 AM