The Dual Sport Motorcycle – Rugged, Gas-Sipping Bug Out Transportation

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Editor’s Note: This post has been generously contributed by A.B. Vanover and he lays out the argument for a two-wheeled bug out option that preppers should consider. In some situations this makes more sense than your traditional bug out vehicle. Could a Dual Sport Motorcycle be better for your bug out plans?

You’ve stockpiled canned food, medical supplies and other necessities. You’ve even outfitted your home with solar heating and electricity. You’ve done everything you can possibly think of to be ready for whatever the future holds. But have you considered what you’re going to do for transportation if a true national or world emergency arises?

A large-scale emergency situation could result in mass power outages and closures of most, if not all, gas stations. Those who plan on relying on 4×4 trucks, used military vehicles and other off-road vehicles will quickly use up all of the fuel in their tanks. Considering this, the dual sport motorcycle presents an excellent form of alternative transportation that should be considered.

What is a dual sport motorcycle?

The dual sport motorcycle is a type of motorcycle that is designed to operate on both paved roads and unimproved surfaces. It is essentially a dirt bike that has been made street legal with the addition of rear view mirrors, turn signals, a headlight and a license plate. Dual sport motorcycles are equipped with special tires that allow them to ride on both paved surfaces as well as on mud, dirt, gravels, sand and other rough terrain. The tires are not the typical knobby tires that dirt bikes are usually equipped with, nor are they the slick tires found on your average road cruiser. They are tires that have not been optimized either for roads or trails. Rather, they are a compromise that gives riders the best of both worlds.

The primary advantage of having one of these bikes is that they can go just about anywhere. You don’t have to worry about road conditions with one of these bikes, as they can traverse just about anything. And because they have two wheels instead of four, they can go many places that would be impossible for even the most rugged 4×4. Imagine if you will that the mayor of your city just issued evacuation orders for all residents. Now imagine all of the people in a major city all trying to leave at once. Total chaos. There will be accidents blocking the roads, cars left sitting idle, and people even walking on foot to flee. With a dual sport motorcycle you can easily maneuver around wrecked or abandoned cars, even going off-road to avoid blocked roads. With a dual sport motorcycle you will have the ability to go places that others could only dream of. Short of having your own personal airplane or helicopter, it’s about the closest thing to personal travel freedom there is.


Another great advantage of owning a dual sport motorcycle is that they get incredible gas mileage. If you resist the urge to purchase a bike with a large engine and get one with an engine of about 600cc, it is not uncommon to realize up to 75 mpg. With such incredible fuel economy, you could very easily ride your bike for a long time on a modest fuel reserve you keep at home.

One of the best and most affordable dual-sport motorcycles on the market today is the Honda XR650L. The Honda name is well-known for its longevity and reliability. A new XR650L will cost just under $7,000, but you can get a nice one that’s just a few years old for about half as much. Other motorcycle manufacturers make quality dual sport bikes, too, including Yamaha, KTM, BMW and others.

A dual sport motorcycle is not without its disadvantages, of course. Cargo capacity is very limited, although you can purchase side bags or hard cases, and you can also carry some items in a backpack while you are riding. But as a means of conserving precious fuel when supplies are limited or become prohibitively expensive, it’s hard to beat the rugged utility of this form of two-wheeled transportation.


Cargo capacity is very limited, although you can purchase side bags or hard cases.

An additional negative aspect of the dual sport motorcycle that you should consider is the limited ability to carry passengers. At best, you can only carry one passenger on a motorcycle. And don’t forget about the noise. Motorcycles are not known for being the quietest modes of transportation. If your intention is to travel from point A to point B as discretely as possible, the loud motorcycle exhaust noise could give you away. Nevertheless, the noise level on most four-stroke motorcycles these days is not too much more than your typical car or truck, and therefore should not be an issue for most riders.

Some may question the need for a dual sport motorcycle at all. Why not just go with a good quality mountain bike and pedal your way to wherever you need to go? Yes, this is certainly an option that many can pursue. In fact, it really isn’t a bad idea to have a good quality mountain bike in your stable in addition to a dual sport motorcycle. There are, however, two significant problems with relying on bicycles as a primary means of transportation. First, they don’t go very fast. A bicycle can only go as fast as its rider can pedal, which leads us to the second problem: They require constant pedaling. Unless you are already in great physical condition, you may have some degree of difficulty adapting to riding a bicycle everywhere you need to go since the engine that makes it go is the person riding it. It can really be exhausting work after a while. This is especially true if you live in an area with a lot of hills to traverse. Even the most experienced bicycle rider can tell you how difficult it is to peddle uphill. A good dual sport motorcycle, on the other hand, will easily take you to your destination without the need to break a sweat.

Lastly, let’s not forget that a good dual sport motorcycle is not something that has to sit in your garage in preparation for something bad to happen. These bikes are a lot of fun and there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy owning and riding one often.

About the author: A.B. Vanover is an avid motorcycle enthusiast and has been riding for almost 17 years. Alex is also the owner of the popular ad listing website Motorcycle Trading Post. When he is not riding he can be found hiking or riding his mountain bike throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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Dual sport bike – Kawasaki KLR-650 was rated dead center in a comparison of 22 hour Interstate Cruisers and Big Air Grabbing Baja Bikes. Immediately next to it on the Baja Side – the Suziki Dual Sport and the Honda Dual Sport on the cruiser side.

Makes a good street bike with street tires. Makes a good off road bike with hard core dirt tires. Middle of the road with supplied tires.

Lots of mods available to improve on already legendary durability and performance.

northern raider

Oh if only Kawasaki had stuck with making a civilian DIESEL version of the KLR 650 !!!

Scott Rutledge

I’m a motorcyclist that owns and actively rides a cruiser, a sport touring bike and an off road bike for the last 40 years. I love motorcycles, but I don’t automatically look at a problem and see a motorcycle shaped solution. This article and its premise is just silliness. A dual sport as a bug out device – really?!? Guess you’re content to leave all of your food and water stockpile, most of your clothing and gear, and most all of your firearms and ammo behind – right?!? Because there’s no room on a motorcycle for any of that! And… Read more »


As an avid rider and racer of off-road motorcycles, I agree that a moto setup could provide big returns to the user in a disaster situation…but with limitations. Due to the inability to carry more than one passenger, and limited carrying capacity, I can envision a bike, whether an off-road or dual-sport bike as an escape plan type asset. Getting away from trouble and to your BOL quickly, and as a limited use mode of transportation. It can also work well as a get-around vehicle at either the fort, or the BOL. Personally, I’m saving my lunch money for a… Read more »


I always like to put other people’s ideas into a context that relates to what I have prepared for, my local geography, route options and the circumstances that I might need to defend against, etc. If I had to get the hell out of Dodge in a hurry, an off road bike would certainly do the job; provided that my destination was pre-stocked and within the range of the gas tank’s capacity. In other words, I would not be depending on the meager quantity of fuel and supplies I could load onto the bike. So, in that context an off… Read more »

Mike Lashewitz

Somebody help me pay for one? With a sidecar!

northern raider

Good article, but for me needing both rural and urban two wheel transport for prepping I would choose a Super Motard type of motorcycle especially when you realise they were actually developed and designed with urban survival mobility in mind, they tend to be slimmer than Trail type bikes better balanced and share other common features such as decent sized wheels but shed with road tyres, sit up and beg driving position etc. Anyway both these classes of bike are vastly superior to the Harley roadster type bikes for prepping, the smaller models can often give way over 70 MPG… Read more »

northern raider

Some good comments on this thread guys, one point in bikes favour over 4x4s is if it is used primarily for getting you either HOME from work or to the City Limits, no matter how capable your big 4×4 truck is, its useless in many circumstances as seen during and after H Andrew and H Katrina or after the larger quakes that hit CA. We have all seen the images of miles of 6 lane highway totally static and gridlocked during these disasters, we all saw how difficult it was to get out of NYC during the 911 attack. it… Read more »


It seems to me that far too many feel there is a big box built around the idea of preparation. I suppose its there, in the form of ‘universally recognized’ concepts and approaches. The idea that a BOV must be some big-ass 3/4-Ton truck is limiting. What happens when everyone in your city gridlocks up while you are still trying to get home from work? Are you really going to go Mad Max on day 2, driving through yards, fields, and forests to get out? Ram your way through the pileup? Survival in any serious situation is largely predicated on… Read more »

northern raider

Ideally if TSHTF I would have a small modified motorcycle of around 125cc to 200 cc to let me GET HOME from work to pick up the BOV, I would then take the bike with the BOV to the retreat and use the bike for patrolling and local travel around the retreat. If I knew a disaster was coming IE approaching Hurricane I would store my BOV outside the city limits and use the motorcycle to get passed the inevitable traffic chaos to get to the BOV when the time arrives to flee.


That brings up an interesting idea. I know cost is always a concern, but what about renting a small storage space close to work, and putting a cheap dirtbike or scooter in it with a GHB along side? I don’t know how it would all work, but I know that most don’t want to ride a dirt bike to work just to have it in case of badness. What about storing it up against the wall in the back of your work buddies condo near the office?

Just a few thoughts to expand on your idea.


Forgive me for not knowing what kind of motorcycles they have where you live, but if you are in the states, there are tons of good used 250, 400, 600, and 650 dual-sport bikes available. These are all 4-stroke bikes, with lower sound signatures than any 2-stroke bike. Many vendors sell long gun holsters for hunting that can easily be mounted running down the front forks. Even if its just a ‘chete in there, it gives you access to a classic Mad Max ‘bike warrior’ action. Check on saddle bag options. Many of the DS bikes have options available.

northern raider

Good point Bob and you guys also have that skeletonised scooter from Honda that I have seen pictures of converted into an urban prepper bike, I believe you call it the Honda Ruckus Zoomer. And lets not forget those wonderful little Honda Monkey bikes that can be stored in small lockers


I am 60, and I’ve NEVER operated a motorcycle, scooters, yes, actual motorcycle,no. At the risk of all the loud guffaws, will I need training wheels? Or, are there legitimate training classes for “old dogs” who think THIS concept is a good one, and, WHERE should I look for these training classes? (OR, should I stick with getting us ATVs instead?)

northern raider

Don’t know the US motorcycle laws but Egbert there are some superb semi automatic modern Scooter motorcycles out there these days, literally either full twist and go, or clutchless gear change types. ATVs over here in the UK are often called Quads and you can but road legal versions


Egg, Check the Motorcycle Safety Foundation ( to see about finding a “Basic Riders Course” in your area. The courses are set on small, easy to maneuver 250cc bikes of varying desing. Typically a 2-1/2 day course over the weekend. Friday night ‘ground school’ where you read and discuss riding laws for your area. Saturday and Sunday were all riding. Clutching, braking, turning, etc. As to the idea of a scooter in lieu of a dual sport ride, I would strongly discourage it. With a ground clearance of about 3″, if you have to take a scooter off the pavement,… Read more »


Would these bike be a good hedge against EMP, since they can be push started? Are the newer one more at risk from EMP than older ones?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x