So, here we are.... January of 2013. The motorcycle show circuit is winding around the US. All of the big shows like EICMA and Tokyo where the manufacturers show off their new models are well in the rear view mirror. All of the new models are in or well on their way to dealer showrooms. No mid- size, mass market dualsport. What gets me is that I was sitting here in January of 2008 shaking my head over the very same thing.
I'm not currently looking to buy a new bike, but my family and I have bought several thumpers (3 WR250Xs, 1 WR250R, a 690 SMC and a 690 Enduro R) over the past 4 years that ALL would have been this bike had it existed. OK, maybe not the SMC.
The Suzuki DR-Z400S is the only mass market, mid size dual sport currently on the market. It is now 14 model years old. It's a really good bike - no doubt, but it is long in the tooth and has limitations for quite a few applications. Years ago, I bought a DR-Z and set it up for long-haul travel out west. Overall, I was pretty impressed with most aspects of the bike, but it came up short in a few. It really needed a 6th gear as it was pretty wound up at highway speeds. The electrical system was not capable of handling heated gear. I had several rides where I was frozen to my bones because of this. The one limitation that eventually triggered the sale of that bike was the carb and limited jetting. The bike ran fine up to 7000 feet. By 8500 feet it ran noticeably rough and by 11000 feet, I could barely ride it no matter how I adjusted the mixture. There are few tasks as sucky as having to re-jet your bike in the middle of a trip in a motel or diner parking lot just to be able to ride in high altitudes - and then having to do it again when riding below 5000 feet. I sold it with just 7000 miles on the odo.
One of the posters on this thread argued that there is a pretty limited market for dualsport bikes and the bean counters at the "big 4" can't justify the R&D to create such a bike. I would argue that the reason for a soft market is because the bikes they are offering are long ago obsolete - especially if you include the mass market 650 class dualsports they are currently offering. I would also argue that there is not only a demand for a modern, mid size dualsport, there is a big void. If a bike like this came on the market, there would not only be a strong demand for it, it would fill what is really a vacuum in the market place.
mtntrails screwed with this post 01-21-2013 at 09:34 AM
Reason: Added a line