In the first two parts of this series we have compared the DRZ 400 to the KTM 500 EXC and the Honda XR650L to the Husqvarna 701. Our conclusion has been that the European bikes are far superior to anything from Japan and that only you can decide if the increased performance and capabilities of a European bike are worth the premium price.
Which brings us to our final point.
Why are the Japanese dual sports so much less expensive than the Euro bikes?
If one (or more) of the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers released a modern dual sport bike, say a comparable bike to the Husqvarna 701, how much do you think they would sell it for? Would they sell it for about $7000 – the price similar to what they are selling their 25 year old models – or would they sell if for about what the Euros bike sell for – say $11,000.
Or, put another way, how much does it cost to build a modern dual sport bike? Are modern bikes more expensive to build than 25 year old models whose tooling has long since been paid for?
And therein lies your answer – the reason the Japanese bikes are so much less expensive is that their cost to build a 25 year old model is much less than the cost of building a modern bike. Most of those costs are centered around tooling costs (basically the cost of setting up a factory to build a particular bike). For evidence of this, look at the price of modern Japanese motocross motorcycles versus the same types of European bikes. A KTM 450 motocross bike sells for $9,399 while one from Japan lists for $9,199, a much smaller difference than the variance in pricing of dual sport bikes. They sell for about the same because the cost of building a competitive motocross bike are the same, whether they are built by Japanese manufacturers or European ones. And it wouldn’t be any different if the Japanese built modern dual sport motorcycles.
(Please don’t take my comments about Japanese dual sport bikes negatively – they aren’t meant to criticize the Japanese models. Instead the purpose is to explain why Euro dual sport bikes are more expensive than those from Japan Inc.)
Now we know why the Euros sell for more than the Japanese bikes – the bikes are better and, as a result, cost more to build. Are the Euro bikes worth the premium? A lot of riders think so (including me) but ultimately only you can make that decision for you.