Multi-Surface Motorcycling Reaffirmed

When I coined the phrase Multi-Surface Motorcycles years ago, I didn’t expect it to catch on like “dual purpose” or “dual sport.” I created the term for expert all-around riders like Rod Morris, Garry Wright, Ron Jensen, Joe Carpenter, Bruce “88”, Sam Jones and others who understood the limits imposed on motorcycles intended for use on all types of surfaces, from sand washes to steep rocky uphills and all that lies in between.

The terms dual sport and dual purpose implied use for both on and off road surfaces, but – to what degree? Since a majority of (so called) dual sport and dual purpose motorcycle owners don’t go off-road at all, the terms seemed unnecessary. The term Adventure Touring or ADV riding has further muddied the terminology waters. The idea that a 500 pound 1,000 cc twin cylindered motorcycle can be used effectively and safely for anything other than paved highways or graded hard packed dirt roads is ridiculous. Such motorcycles are better called Sports Tourers as they once were. The term multi-surface motorcycle was intended to describe street legal bikes weighing no more than 400 pounds with a half tank of fuel on board and capable of traversing a variety of road surfaces from smooth pavement to rocky water crossings and sand washes.

I purchased my first multi-surface motorcycle, a slightly used 1989 Kawasaki KL650A3 in the spring of 1990 and began developing it into what became the best all-around motorcycle I have ever owned since I began riding 63 years and more than a million miles ago. In fact, the KLR and its 1993, 2004 and 2005 successors , with some three dozen improvements, were so good that in our 60’s and 70’s, my wife Pauline and I rode two-up all over Baja and the San Juan Mountains in the company of some of the solo expert riders mentioned in the first paragraph.

In 2011 Pauline and I proved that the overall weight of a multi-surface motorcycle does matter, especially when used in more difficult off-road terrain by a couple still riding tandem in their seventies and eighties. In 2012 we moved from our 400 pound KL650A to our 355 pound Suzuki DR650SE after making all the necessary (30 or so) improvements, including a Stig Pettersson P.P.S./Ohlins custom rear shock, I.M.S. 4.9 gallon gas tank, Buchanan spokes and wheels and a custom two-up seat. I had already invented a reliable upper drive chain control wheel and bracket to replace the fragile, breakage prone factory unit. I also designed rear foot peg lowering brackets to improve Pauline’s leg comfort.

Our move from the heavyweight (400 lb.) KL650A to the light heavyweight (355 lb.) DR650S has proven that lightweight is better and that terms do matter. If you want proof, take a look at “Pauline’s 89th Birthday Ride to Cabo” on this website. The three minute video chronicles our 1,209 mile on and off-road journey down the length of the Baja peninsula on our DR650SE.