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Road Test: F650 v TE610 v DR-Z400S v XT660R

Can the latest crop of dual-purpose on/off-roaders really hack it in the rough stuff? Team Visordown dons its goggles and has a trail of a time finding out. Let's soft road!




Summer's here and once more a motorcycling man's mind turns to thoughts of fun and frolics. Obviously not all of these thoughts will be about motorcycles, and may encompass other sunny distractions like foaming pints of ale in leafy beer gardens and the way women suddenly become much more beautiful and far less dressed almost overnight. Tempting though these other distractions are however, this is a motorcycle magazine not a real ale guide or a gentleman's rhythm pamphlet, and so it is the two-wheeled frolics with which we will concern ourselves.

Most particularly in this case the kind of machines which can not only provide you with monster kicks on the road at speeds far kinder to your licence than the latest bevy of 1000cc supersonic bruisers, but which can also turn their hand to muddy shenanigans, should you fancy.

Yup, we're talking soft roaders, road legal bikes with a splosh of off-road ability thrown in for good measure. In the car world these bikes - well, three of them - would be the equivalent of the ridiculous four-by-fours favoured by posh mums for taking little Tarquin to prep school. After all, the three-mile run into Primrose Hill is terribly tough these days and an 18-geared, armour-plated gas guzzling tank with 'roo bars really is the only way to get the poor dear there in one piece.

The difference with these bikes is that you genuinely can take them off-road and, in the biggest difference to their four-wheeled counterparts, many owners actually do. Of the four bikes here the Husky and the Suzuki would seem the most obvious choices for anyone fancying more dirty action than a quick lap of the garden after one too many at the family barbecue, but the other two come with genuine off-road pedigree as well.

The BMW F650GS Dakar takes its monicker from the annual Dakar Rally, well renowned as the toughest race in the world and one which takes place across some of the planet's least hospitable places. This is the bike upon which BMW pin their Dakar hopes, and although the race bikes are rather different to the machine you see here, it's still an F650GS which lies within. So, she may look least likely to last more than five minutes before slithering upside down into the nearest puddle at the first sign of a tree root, but in the right hands this bike has the power to surprise.

And it's a similar story with the Yamaha. At a glance it's a styling exercise, a road bike in rufty-tufty clothing which surely packs all the muddy poise of a drunk on a tightrope as soon as you point it anywhere other than the hard stuff. But look behind the faade and you'll find Yamaha's XT range has a long and chequered history, winning no fewer than nine Dakar rallies in various guises since 1979. Maybe there's more to the XT than meets the eye.

As for the Husky, before the test began this was showing its fickle competition-based nature. "This'll win the test if we can ever get it to start," yelped Daryll from beneath the 610 in snapper Oli's front garden while the rest of us tucked into tea and biscuits. You see, having fried a spark plug after one short run too many, the Husky was refusing to fire despite Daryll's best efforts. Lesson learned: this is not a 'use and forget' motorcycle.

Grabbing the mantle of responsibility I leapt aboard the BMW, setting off for a motorcycle shop in search of a new plug for the stricken Husky. When the kind folks at Haslemere Motorcycles had stifled their giggles at my vastly (and brilliantly) over-the-top Travis Pastrana rep motocross kit, they took one look at the plug in my hand and shook their heads. Another parts counter did just the same (the laughing and the shaking of the head that is) and it became obvious the Husky came with a spark plug not found in any other vehicle on the road.

Pottering back plugless on the Dakar I had time to appreciate its super-soft seat - which "feels like it's got a puncture," according to Tim - heated grips and soft, friendly motor with its reassuring thrum. As with almost any BMW this is a bike that makes you feel like you could head off into the wide blue yonder at any point and you just know it'll look after you. That said, I wasn't convinced that wide blue yonder should really include the kind of trails we'd be introducing it to. I made a mental note to keep as far away from it as possible once we hit the dirt.

Still plugless, we called Husky Sport, the UK Husqvarna importers and, being only 20 miles away, the kind fellows vanned it over to us. Thank you very much.

Finally ready for the off, fate did me up a kipper as the morning's tea made its presence felt and I headed off to water the nearest flowerbed. This minor distraction was all it took for everyone else to grab a bike, leaving me with the BMW. It appeared they'd all rapidly come to the same conclusion I had.

A seasoned road test hand, Daryll swiftly planted himself aboard the Husky - no mean feet given it's approximately eight feet tall while he's only just tipping half that. Still, this didn't seem to bother him as he hared off into the distance wheelying, slithering across grass verges and generally having a great time.

Plodding along behind on the BMW, which suddenly felt rather docile and dull in light of these antics, I pulled up next to him at the first set of lights we came to and said it looked like he was having far too much fun. "I am," he babbled, before wheelying away. I could almost see the grin stretching around to the back of his head it was that wide.

Stopping at the start of our trail a few miles later, I managed to successfully distract Oli by pointing into the distance and muttering about ramblers, and was able to steal the Suzuki from him. And a good job it was too otherwise I may have made it to the end of this test having hardly mentioned the poor thing at all.

But then that's rather the way with DR-Zs. Having been around since the ark, and never having really excelled at anything in that time, they're a motorcycle it's easy to forget. Which is exactly the way it shouldn't be as the little DR-Z is one of the best all-purpose bikes on the planet.

Off-road aficionados will tell you the DR's too heavy to really cut it when you want to turn the wick up, but for anyone starting out on the trails it's plenty. I even spent three days tearing up an endless array of Spanish trails on a bevy of DRs a couple of years ago and, despite half the company I was with being regular trailies, no one found the Suzukis lacking. We even spent a morning on a motocross track and they still cut it. So while there may be better competition bikes out there, for a road legal bike that can still walk the walk in the dirt and which also comes at a knockdown price, the DR's hard to beat.

But how does it handle being at least 200ccs down on the competition here, especially on the road? "Much faster than I expected," said off-road virgin Tim after an earlier stint on the DR. "After finding the BMW gutless on the way here, I was expecting this to be even worse given its lack of cubes, but really it's almost as fast and even feels perkier as it revs harder," he added sagely.

It's all relative, but he was right. The Suzuki plays a neat trick of never feeling slower than the competition while also being a lot lighter than all of them.

Of the pack it's the Husky which packs the meanest punch here, barking like a true enduro racer and firing its 53 horses to the back tyre in a well-controlled rage. And on the dirt it's also top of the pile.

Put simply it ironed the trails flat, letting you all but ignore picking a path through anything. Regardless of how wet, rutted or rough the ground ahead was, all you needed to do was point the Husqvarna in the direction you wanted and magically you'd be through it and out the other side in a whopping roost of mud and water, laughing your socks off. Short of running directly into an oak tree, there's little on the average trail that could stop one of these going exactly where it wanted.

The BMW was the opposite. "This never feels like it wants to be here," said a worried Oli after experiencing the BMW down a particularly filthy section of trail.

The bike's weight and road-biased knobblies all conspire to make it a total handful off-road, leaving you with very little control anywhere, while the sheer width of the fuel tank makes for limited control whenever you stand up as you John Wayne your legs around it. The final killer blow is the rubber-coated footpegs because as soon as they're wet, standing on them is like trying to balance on an ice rink. Wearing roller skates.

On paper, the Yamaha should be exactly the same but somehow it's not. "You can actually choose where you're going on this," mused Daryll of the XT. "It looks far too big for this caper, and the tyres are useless on dirt but the geometry must be just right because there's a surprising amount of balance once you get moving".

Good points well made from the little fella, and although as an off-roader it would never be top of the tree, the hefty XT was the surprise package on this test. A new set of tyres and ridding it of the rubber peg covers, which were just as awful as the BM's when wet, would actually make this a passable trail bike. That said, you'd want to know what you were doing because it's still a heavy old lump.

Which leaves the Suzuki. Not in the Husky's league, it was still streets ahead of the Yamaha and BMW off-road by virtue of less weight, a more responsive motor and a chassis which actually lets you tackle trails rather than simply survive them if you're lucky. This is the perfect bike for the rider who wants to paddle in the muddy waters of off-roading, but doesn't want to have to give up his road bike into the bargain. With one of these you've got the perfect starter bike for the rough stuff, and a useful everyday bike.

Not something you could ever say of the Husky. For all its off-road prowess this is never going to be a bike you could rely on as a daily ride. Not only does it need oodles of love and attention to keep it in fine fettle, it's also bloody uncomfortable on the road. Here, the hard competition-based suspension, vibey motor and wafer-thin seat make it a pile-producing punisher of a package as soon as you spend more than 10 minutes on Tarmac.

For the serious trail rider it'll make an excellent tool, packing enough road ability to get to and from trails on any ride outs, and once it does get stuck into the mud it's quite a force to be reckoned with. But for those wanting a genuine dual-purpose bike? Forget it. It was surprisingly unintimidating on the trail though, with first time off-roader Tim saying he'd "gladly take the Husky's extra power over the Yamaha or BMW's excess weight". Admittedly he's been riding long enough to know when not to hold a throttle wide open, but for any starters out there fancying a dedicated trail basher, don't be afraid to check out the big Husqvarna.

The BMW, despite its Dakar heritage, turned out to be the bike no one wanted to ride until we had to turn for home. On the earlier road sections, high spirits meant the BM was never quite exciting enough, while off-road it was simply an insurance claim looking for a hedge to happen in. Quite how we managed not to drop it all day I don't know.

But, as the sun began to sink and the rain came in before our homeward road ride, the BMW suddenly became much more attractive. Heated grips could warm fingers frozen from a day in soaking gloves, the super-soft seat could cosset backsides bruised from too many tree roots and the soft and steady motor could happily do the work, chugging home at a brisk pace without demanding too much.

All in all, the BMW's a docile and unintimidating road bike with a great riding position and it'll make the best asphalt all-rounder here in terms of managing everything from back lanes to motorways as well as the urban sprawl. Trouble is, it'll never be all that exciting doing it, although if you want excitement of all the wrong sorts (near-death experiences, life flashing before your eyes and so on) just take it off-road.

Which leaves us with the Yamaha. It's not got the looks of the Husqvarna or the DR, leading Tim, in one unkind moment, to lash out wondering "how can Yamaha make this look so dull when the XT660X looks so good?" It's a harsh point, but a fair one because, while its supermoto-styled cousin pulls off a dose of urban chic, the 660R here rather looks like it's been dressed by George at Asda.

Behind these so-so looks, though, lurks a fabulously solid machine. This is a bike which will eat rush hour traffic for breakfast, handle the odd motorway stint - it'll hold 90-odd without fuss - and, with some decent road rubber on it, will make a demon scratching tool. But then if you want an XT purely as a road bike, you'd do far better stretching to another £500 for the XT660X which comes with the wider wheels and better rubber as standard.

As a pure off-roader the Yamaha's pedigree means it works a lot better than it has any right to, but there are a lot of other bikes you'd still buy before settling on this one as a trail iron, which is a bit of a shame for a bike with such a legendary muddy history.

So the Husky wins as the pure off-roader's nutter machine, while the DR-Z quietly gets on with (still) being the best introduction to off-roading you could wish for, as well as coming with the added benefits of reliability and decent on-road capabilities. As for the other two, despite their heritage and previous form for off-road excellence, they're really road bikes dolled up to look the part.

And with that settled, I'm off to the pub.

DARYLL'S SECOND OPINION - HUSQVARNA

The real deal. A purpose built trail bike that will cope with almost anything you can throw it at. The Husky has heaps of power, awesome brakes and proper suspension, which is why it will kick the arses of the other three down any green lane. On the road I found myself wheel spinning

off verges, sliding up to junctions and wheelying everywhere else - perfect!

DARYLL'S SECOND OPINION - BMW

Hats off to BMW's Dakar riders Si Pavey and Nick Plumb - this is a handful. Okay, they get far better suspension and tyres, but they still have to cope with all that weight. Slippery footrests and side panels that force your legs out when standing make the F650 my least favourite for even the lightest off-road duties. At least heated grips are handy for drying your gloves.

DARYLL'S SECOND OPINION - SUZUKI

The DR-Z is a dependable tool. By far the easiest bike here to go trail riding on and even better with decent tyres. Enough power to keep you plugging through the mud all day, but not enough to scare the living daylights out of you. A tad dull compared to proper off-roaders, but if your commute isn't too long and you want to some fun at the weekends the DR-Z will do it all.

DARYLL'S SECOND OPINION - YAMAHA

On the heavy side for tight, woody trails but with decent tyres you could have a lot of fun. But it's a road bike, and even the gentlest of tip-offs can cause hundreds of pounds of damage. That said, if you're not bothered about picking up the odd scuff or dent the XT is capable of raising a smile in the dirt. Comfy, powerful enough for commuting and nimble enough for razzing across town.

SPECS - BMW

TYPE - OFF-ROAD

PRODUCTION DATE - 2006

PRICE NEW - £5695

ENGINE CAPACITY - 652cc

POWER - 50bhp

TORQUE - 44lb.ft

WEIGHT - 202kg

SEAT HEIGHT - 870mm

FUEL CAPACITY - 17.3L

TOP SPEED - N/A

0-60 - n/a

TANK RANGE - N/A

SPECS - HUSQVARNA

TYPE - OFF-ROAD

PRODUCTION DATE - 2006

PRICE NEW - £5299

ENGINE CAPACITY - 576cc

POWER - 53bhp

TORQUE - n/a

WEIGHT - 153kg

SEAT HEIGHT - 940mm

FUEL CAPACITY - 12L

TOP SPEED - n/a

0-60 - n/a

TANK RANGE - N/A

SPECS - SUZUKI

TYPE - OFF-ROAD

PRODUCTION DATE - 2006

PRICE NEW - £4199

ENGINE CAPACITY - 398cc

POWER - 39bhp@

TORQUE - 29lb.ft

WEIGHT - 133kg

SEAT HEIGHT - 935mm

FUEL CAPACITY - 10L

TOP SPEED - n/a

0-60 - n/a

TANK RANGE - N/A

SPECS - YAMAHA

TYPE - OFF-ROAD

PRODUCTION DATE - 2006

PRICE NEW - £4599

ENGINE CAPACITY - 660cc

POWER - 48bhp

TORQUE - 43lb.ft

WEIGHT - 188kg

SEAT HEIGHT - 865mm

FUEL CAPACITY - 15L

TOP SPEED - n/a

0-60 - n/a

TANK RANGE - N/A

Summer's here and once more a motorcycling man's mind turns to thoughts of fun and frolics.

Obviously not all of these thoughts will be about motorcycles, and may encompass other sunny distractions like foaming pints of ale in leafy beer gardens and the way women suddenly become much more beautiful and far less dressed almost overnight. Tempting though these other distractions are however, this is a motorcycle magazine not a real ale guide or a gentleman's rhythm pamphlet, and so it  is the two-wheeled frolics with which we will concern ourselves.

Most particularly in this case the kind of machines which can not only provide you with monster kicks on the road at speeds far kinder to your licence than the latest bevy of 1000cc supersonic bruisers, but which can also turn their hand to muddy shenanigans, should you fancy.

Yup, we're talking soft roaders, road legal bikes with a splosh of off-road ability thrown in for good measure. In the car world these bikes - well, three of them - would be the equivalent of the ridiculous four-by-fours favoured by posh mums for taking little Tarquin to prep school. After all, the three-mile run into Primrose Hill is terribly tough these days and an 18-geared, armour-plated gas guzzling tank with 'roo bars really is the only way to get the poor dear there in one piece.

The difference with these bikes is that you genuinely can take them off-road and, in the biggest difference to their four-wheeled counterparts, many owners actually do. Of the four bikes here the Husky and the Suzuki would seem the most obvious choices for anyone fancying more dirty action than a quick lap of the garden after one too many at the family barbecue, but the other two come with genuine off-road pedigree as well. 

The BMW F650GS Dakar takes its monicker from the annual Dakar Rally, well renowned as the toughest race in the world and one which takes place across some of the planet's least hospitable places. This is the bike upon which BMW pin their Dakar hopes, and although the race bikes are rather different to the machine you see here, it's still an F650GS which lies within. So, she may look least likely to last more than five minutes before slithering upside down into the nearest puddle at the first sign of a tree root, but in the right hands this bike has the power to surprise. 

And it's a similar story with the Yamaha. At a glance it's a styling exercise, a road bike in rufty-tufty clothing which surely packs all the muddy poise of a drunk on a tightrope as soon as you point it anywhere other than the hard stuff. But look behind the façade and you'll find Yamaha's XT range has a long and chequered history, winning no fewer than nine Dakar rallies in various guises since 1979. Maybe there's more to the XT than meets the eye.

As for the Husky, before the test began this was showing its fickle competition-based nature. "This'll win the test if we can ever get it to start," yelped Daryll from beneath the 610 in snapper Oli's front garden while the rest of us tucked into tea and biscuits. You see, having fried a spark plug after one short run too many, the Husky was refusing to fire despite Daryll's best efforts. Lesson learned: this is not a 'use and forget' motorcycle.

Grabbing the mantle of responsibility I leapt aboard the BMW, setting off for a motorcycle shop in search of a new plug for the stricken Husky. When the kind folks at Haslemere Motorcycles had stifled their giggles at my vastly (and brilliantly) over-the-top Travis Pastrana rep motocross kit, they took one look at the plug in my hand and shook their heads. Another parts counter did just the same (the laughing and the shaking of the head that is) and it became obvious the Husky came with a spark plug not found in any other vehicle on the road.

Pottering back plugless on the Dakar I had time to appreciate its super-soft seat - which "feels like it's got a puncture," according to Tim - heated grips and soft, friendly motor with its reassuring thrum. As with almost any BMW this is a bike that makes you feel like you could head off into the wide blue yonder at any point and you just know it'll look after you. That said, I wasn't convinced that wide blue yonder should really include the kind of trails we'd be introducing it to. I made a mental note to keep as far away from it as
possible once we hit the dirt.

Still plugless, we called Husky Sport, the UK Husqvarna importers and, being only 20 miles away, the kind fellows vanned it over to us. Thank you very much.

Finally ready for the off, fate did me up a kipper as the morning's tea made its presence felt and I headed off to water the nearest flowerbed. This minor distraction was all it took for everyone else to grab a bike, leaving me with the BMW. It appeared they'd all rapidly come to the same conclusion I had.

A seasoned road test hand, Daryll swiftly planted himself aboard the Husky - no mean feet given it's approximately eight feet tall while he's only just tipping half that. Still, this didn't seem to bother him as he hared off into the distance wheelying, slithering across grass verges and generally having a great time.
Plodding along behind on the BMW, which suddenly felt rather docile and dull in light of these antics, I pulled up next to him at the first set of lights we came to and said it looked like he was having far too much fun. "I am," he babbled, before wheelying away. I could almost see the grin stretching around to the back of his head it was that wide.

Stopping at the start of our trail a few miles later, I managed to successfully distract Oli by pointing into the distance and muttering about ramblers, and was able to steal the Suzuki from him. And a good job it was too otherwise I may have made it to the end of this test having hardly mentioned the poor thing at all.
But then that's rather the way with DR-Zs. Having been around since the ark, and never having really excelled at anything in that time, they're a motorcycle it's easy to forget. Which is exactly the way it shouldn't be as the little DR-Z is one of the best all-purpose bikes on the planet.

Off-road aficionados will tell you the DR's too heavy to really cut it when you want to turn the wick up, but for anyone starting out on the trails it's plenty. I even spent three days tearing up an endless array of Spanish trails on a bevy of DRs a couple of years ago and, despite half the company I was with being regular trailies, no one found the Suzukis lacking. We even spent a morning on a motocross track and they still cut it. So while there may be better competition bikes out there, for a road legal bike that can still walk the walk in the dirt and which also comes at a knockdown price, the DR's hard to beat.

But how does it handle being at least 200ccs down on the competition here, especially on the road?
"Much faster than I expected," said off-road virgin Tim after an earlier stint on the DR. "After finding the BMW gutless on the way here, I was expecting this to be even worse given its lack of cubes, but really it's almost as fast and even feels perkier as it revs harder," he added sagely.

Good points well made from the little fella, and although as an off-roader it would never be top of the tree, the hefty XT was the surprise package on this test. A new set of tyres and ridding it of the rubber peg covers, which were just as awful as the BM's when wet, would actually make this a passable trail bike. That said, you'd want to know what you were doing because it's still a heavy old lump.

Which leaves the Suzuki. Not in the Husky's league, it was still streets ahead of the Yamaha and BMW off-road by virtue of less weight, a more responsive motor and a chassis which actually lets you tackle trails rather than simply survive them if you're lucky. This is the perfect bike for the rider who wants to paddle in the muddy waters of off-roading, but doesn't want to have to give up his road bike into the bargain. With one of these you've got the perfect starter bike for the rough stuff, and a useful everyday bike.

Not something you could ever say of the Husky. For all its off-road prowess this is never going to be a bike you could rely on as a daily ride. Not only does it need oodles of love and attention to keep it in fine fettle, it's also bloody uncomfortable on the road. Here, the hard competition-based suspension, vibey motor and wafer-thin seat make it a pile-producing punisher of a package as soon as you spend more than 10 minutes on Tarmac.

For the serious trail rider it'll make an excellent tool, packing enough road ability to get to and from trails on any ride outs, and once it does get stuck into the mud it's quite a force to be reckoned with. But for those wanting a genuine dual-purpose bike? Forget it. It was surprisingly unintimidating on the trail though, with first time off-roader Tim saying he'd "gladly take the Husky's extra power over the Yamaha or BMW's excess weight". Admittedly he's been riding long enough to know when not to hold a throttle wide open, but for any starters out there fancying a dedicated trail basher, don't be afraid to check out the big Husqvarna.

It's all relative, but he was right. The Suzuki plays a neat trick of never feeling slower than the competition while also being a lot lighter than all of them.

Of the pack it's the Husky which packs the meanest punch here, barking like a true enduro racer and firing its 53 horses to the back tyre in a well-controlled rage. And on the dirt it's also top of the pile.
Put simply it ironed the trails flat, letting you all but ignore picking a path through anything. Regardless of how wet, rutted or rough the ground ahead was, all you needed to do was point the Husqvarna in the direction you wanted and magically you'd be through it and out the other side in a whopping roost of mud and water, laughing your socks off. Short of running directly into an oak tree, there's little on the average trail that could stop one of these going exactly where it wanted.

The BMW was the opposite. "This never feels like it wants to be here," said a worried Oli after experiencing the BMW down a particularly filthy section of trail. The bike's weight and road-biased knobblies all conspire to make it a total handful off-road, leaving you with very little control anywhere, while the sheer width of the fuel tank makes for limited control whenever you stand up as you John Wayne your legs around it. The final killer blow is the rubber-coated footpegs because as soon as they're wet, standing on them is like trying to balance on an ice rink. Wearing roller skates.

On paper, the Yamaha should be exactly the same but somehow it's not. "You can actually choose where you're going on this," mused Daryll of the XT. "It looks far too big for this caper, and the tyres are useless on dirt but the geometry must be just right because there's a surprising amount of balance once you get moving".

The BMW, despite its Dakar heritage, turned out to be the bike no one wanted to ride until we had to turn for home. On the earlier road sections, high spirits meant the BM was never quite exciting enough, while off-road it was simply an insurance claim looking for a hedge to happen in. Quite how we managed not to drop it all day I don't know.

But, as the sun began to sink and the rain came in before our homeward road ride, the BMW suddenly became much more attractive. Heated grips could warm fingers frozen from a day in soaking gloves, the super-soft seat could cosset backsides bruised from too many tree roots and the soft and steady motor could happily do the work, chugging home at a brisk pace without demanding too much.

All in all, the BMW's a docile and unintimidating road bike with a great riding position and it'll make the best asphalt all-rounder here in terms of managing everything from back lanes to motorways as well as the urban sprawl. Trouble is, it'll never be all that exciting doing it, although if you want excitement of all the wrong sorts (near-death experiences, life flashing before your eyes and so on) just take it off-road.

Which leaves us with the Yamaha. It's not got the looks of the Husqvarna or the DR, leading Tim, in one unkind moment, to lash out wondering "how can Yamaha make this look so dull when the XT660X looks so good?" It's a harsh point, but a fair one because, while its supermoto-styled cousin pulls off a dose of urban chic, the 660R here rather looks like it's been dressed by George at Asda.

Behind these so-so looks, though, lurks a fabulously solid machine. This is a bike which will eat rush hour traffic for breakfast, handle the odd motorway stint - it'll hold 90-odd without fuss - and, with some decent road rubber on it, will make a demon scratching tool. But then if you want an XT purely as a road bike, you'd do far better stretching to another £500 for the XT660X which comes with the wider wheels and better rubber as standard.

As a pure off-roader the Yamaha's pedigree means it works a lot better than it has any right to, but there are a lot of other bikes you'd still buy before settling on this one as a trail iron, which is a bit of a shame for a bike with such a legendary muddy history.

So the Husky wins as the pure off-roader's nutter machine, while the DR-Z quietly gets on with (still) being the best introduction to off-roading you could wish for, as well as coming with the added benefits of reliability and decent on-road capabilities. As for the other two, despite their heritage and previous form for
off-road excellence, they're really road bikes dolled up to look the part. 

And with that settled, I'm off to the pub. 

DARYLL'S SECOND OPINION - HUSQVARNA
The real deal. A purpose built trail bike that will cope with almost anything you can throw it at. The Husky has heaps of power, awesome brakes and proper suspension, which is why it will kick the arses of the other three down any green lane. On the road I found myself wheel spinning
off verges, sliding up to junctions and wheelying everywhere else - perfect!

DARYLL'S SECOND OPINION - BMW
Hats off to BMW's Dakar riders Si Pavey and Nick Plumb - this is  a handful. Okay, they get far better suspension and tyres, but they still have to cope with all that weight. Slippery footrests and side panels that force your legs out when standing make the F650 my least favourite for even the lightest off-road duties. At least heated grips are handy for drying your gloves.

DARYLL'S SECOND OPINION - SUZUKI
The DR-Z is a dependable tool. By far the easiest bike here to go trail riding on and even better with decent tyres. Enough power to keep you plugging through the mud all day, but not enough to scare the living
daylights out of you. A tad dull compared to proper off-roaders, but if your commute isn't too long and you want to some fun at the weekends the DR-Z will do it all.

DARYLL'S SECOND OPINION - YAMAHA
On the heavy side for tight, woody trails but with decent tyres you could have a lot of fun. But it's a road bike, and even the gentlest of tip-offs can cause hundreds of pounds of damage. That said, if you're not bothered about picking up the odd scuff or dent the XT is capable of raising a smile in the dirt. Comfy, powerful enough for commuting and nimble enough for razzing across town.

SPECS - BMW F650
TYPE - OFF-ROAD
PRODUCTION DATE - 2006
PRICE NEW - £5695
ENGINE CAPACITY - 652cc
POWER - 50bhp
TORQUE - 44lb.ft   
WEIGHT - 202kg
SEAT HEIGHT - 870mm   
FUEL CAPACITY - 17.3L   
TOP SPEED - N/A   
0-60     - n/a
TANK RANGE - N/A

SPECS - HUSQVARNA TE610

TYPE - OFF-ROAD
PRODUCTION DATE - 2006
PRICE NEW - £5299
ENGINE CAPACITY - 576cc
POWER - 53bhp
TORQUE - n/a   
WEIGHT - 153kg
SEAT HEIGHT - 940mm   
FUEL CAPACITY - 12L   
TOP SPEED - n/a   
0-60     - n/a
TANK RANGE - N/A

SPECS - SUZUKI DRZ-400S
TYPE - OFF-ROAD
PRODUCTION DATE - 2006
PRICE NEW - £4199
ENGINE CAPACITY - 398cc
POWER - 39bhp@
TORQUE - 29lb.ft   
WEIGHT - 133kg
SEAT HEIGHT - 935mm   
FUEL CAPACITY - 10L   
TOP SPEED - n/a   
0-60     - n/a
TANK RANGE - N/A

SPECS - YAMAHA XT660R
TYPE - OFF-ROAD
PRODUCTION DATE - 2006
PRICE NEW - £4599
ENGINE CAPACITY - 660cc
POWER - 48bhp
TORQUE - 43lb.ft   
WEIGHT - 188kg
SEAT HEIGHT - 865mm   
FUEL CAPACITY - 15L   
TOP SPEED - n/a
0-60     - n/a
TANK RANGE - N/A