SWM SUPERDUAL 650: $8995
This bike is the reincarnation of the original Husqvarna
510 four-stroke that was developed in Sweden back in
1984. The motor can be traced back that far, although
every part has been redesigned many times over. Today,
it’s manufactured in the same Italian factory that once
produced Husqvarnas, and the bike is now aimed more
towards adventure riders.
SWM RS500: $7795
Five years after the KTM buyout of Husqvarna, the former
Husky factory in Italy is now producing motorcycles under
the SWM name. The RS500 is based on the 2007–2010
Husqvarna TE500. That bike gets the credit for being the
first of today’s hard-core dual-sports. Regulations are tighter
now, but the RS is still very capable at a price that’s thousands less than a KTM.
BETA 500RR: $9999
This small Italian company is going up against the KTM
group for ownership of the hard-core dual-sport world. Of
Beta’s four dual-sport bikes, the 500 is the largest. All of
them are based on the same chassis and motor, but they
have very distinctive personalities. All have lost weight this
year and are electric start only.
HONDA XR650L (2017): $6899
Of the three Japanese 650cc dual-sport bikes, the Honda
is by far the most dirt-worthy. The air-cooled, electric-start
five-speed has gone almost unchanged since its introduction 27 years ago, and the bike has a very old-school layout.
Its suspension is still very good off-road, although the XR is
very heavy and somewhat underpowered by modern standards.
KTM 500EXC-F: $10,999
The KTM dual-sport flagship received a new motor last
year with a number of measures to make it whisper quiet
with very little loss in performance. Among them are a reed
valve in the intake boot and Continental TKC 80 tires. The
EXC is so dirt-oriented that KTM doesn’t bother offering a
500cc off-road bike of any kind.
HUSQVARNA FE501: $11,099
In the old days, Husqvarna was so small its dual-sport
line could fly under the EPA’s radar in America. Not anymore. The new Husky 501 meets or surpasses every standard the U.S. government could throw at it, and it’s still an
outstanding off-road bike. The FE501 is very similar to the
KTM 500EXC-F but has linkage rear suspension among