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Discussion Starter #1
Hey Folks, I’d like some advice...

I’ve always wanted to do a little dirt riding. Not serious off road MX... but just some unpaved, gravel & maybe fire trail kind of stuff... and I’m trying to decide what to get.

It has to be street legal because I definitely want to be able to ride it to & from the trails... but also because I want to use it on the street in the winter (instead of subjecting my V to all the sand & salt on the roads).

It has to be light enough for someone with NO off road experience (that’d be me) to handle... and to lift off me when I’m lying under it on the side of the trail. :eek:

It has to be quick enough to ride on the street (50 MPH back roads) and be able to get around and/or out of the way of the IIPs (Incredible Incompetent People) in their cars.

Low and/or easy maintenance.

I’m currently looking at a very clean 2003 KLR 250 with 3000 miles on it that I can get for $1800.

And thoughts or suggestions?

Thanks!
.
 

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DRZ400S. Prep it for dirt, tires, jetting, etc. Good hop-up information on thumpertalk.com for that model.

The little klr is a dog, even worse than the bigger one.

If you don't mind spending some money, then a Husky TE630 or a KTM 690 Enduro. But it sounds like you want to do this on a budget.

If you don't mind a slower machine then the Yamaha WR250R. Heavy and under-powered, but the guys that own them tend to like them. At least they handle okay and can also be hopped up to be somewhat decent.

If I had the money today I would sell my KTM 250 (no plate) and replace it with a 450EXC. Street legal offroad racer. They aren't any good for road though, they are a dirt machine with a plate.
 

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drz400 and it's already dirt road ready unless your a heavy riders or you want more tire.
IMO
KLR is not a DOG it's a Mule
 

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Xt 225

Check out used Yamaha XT 225s. They are light, enough power for the pavement speed you describe, and are easy to maintain.

Grease zerks in the swingarm pivots, jam nut valve adjustments, air-cooled (so no water pump or radiator to worry about). Aftermarket goodies are well represented.
 

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For a new rider the DRZ is a good bike. I have had two of them and they get boring but my other bikes are normally MX type so can't really comare them.

I had the big KLR and it was the worst bike I've had. If you are big you might look at the 650L or 650R if you can get a plate for it.

The 250 bikes are dogs but if you are just heading out for some seat time they are kind of fun. Easy to throw around and will go anywhere just not very fast.
 

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why not a DR650? seems like it would be a better daily driver than the 400, more versatile, and still good enough for trail work.
 

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Check out used Yamaha XT 225s. They are light, enough power for the pavement speed you describe, and are easy to maintain.

Grease zerks in the swingarm pivots, jam nut valve adjustments, air-cooled (so no water pump or radiator to worry about). Aftermarket goodies are well represented.
And so low powered you can't even loft the front wheel. :yeahsmile:
It's a girls bike.

The old air cooled motors just don't wind up. Even the venerable XR400 honda is almost doggy. The 650 is better but I can stand on the kickstarter and it doesn't even move. And if it fell over on me I couldn't lift it back up!
 

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I have an 04 xr250 that I made street legal,and ride several ama dualsport rides every year with it....Light,fun to ride,and almost zilch maintenance....You can put that thing in second gear and go anywhere.....Not too crazy about most of the factory dual purpose bikes...Too much stuff cramed on them that gets brken off on the trails....Get a trail bike,and add just enough to make it street legal....
Hoodlum
 

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The two competing 250s that Kawasaki and Yamaha brought out a few years ago (2009?). They each have about 30 hp with EFI and weigh just under 300 pounds, so you can ACTUALLY pick them up if they fall down.

I used to race a Yamaha TT500. It weighed 285 and made 30 hp. I NEVER felt that it wouldn't "keep up"! :goodluck:

My KLR650 has been "down" a few times. It's a PIG to get up!
 

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Hardware,

The DRZ400S might be what you are looking for. They have been produced since 2000 and pop up on the used market, at least in my area anyway. It's not the lightest d/s, but what "real" factory street worthy d/s is? The DRZ has a ton of after market and support. If budget is a factor then it bears looking into. I had a DRZ and enjoyed it, the only down side for me was the close ratio 5 speed tranny. Even that was not a deal breaker. It will meet your 50 mph backroad requirements with ease.

I just sold my plated 05 KTM450exc (purchased new) and that bike was sweet with a wide ratio 6 speed, light, quick, and awesome. Did I enjoy it on the street? NO! It was designed as a woods race bike. Of course there were other reasons like securing it in a parking lot. It was just too easy to steal and I never felt comfortable leaving it out of sight while running errands and such.

There are a lot of nice bike suggestions in your thread, good luck and go get one!;)
 

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I had a '95 XR250L, and it was a pretty good bike. However, since I'm a fairly hefty guy (240lbs or so), the engine was ... err ... challenged in keeping up with highway speeds (95km/h was as fast as she'd go).

I also rode a friend's XT350, and that was a good bike...decent power for off-road, and it could keep up with traffic.

If a used XT350 or DR350 was available for a cheap price, I'd take a hard look at themt. A DRZ400 or a DR650 would be a good choice, though.

Dave C
 

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Klr 250

I'm not sure if the KLR250 has the same engine as the KLX250S, but they just need to be gently messaged to bring out the performance everyone is saying they lack. They are one of the most popular bikes on Maui and contrary to what everyone is saying, they work great on the road and trail with a few simple mods! On my buddy's bike we stuck a new pipe on, jetted the carb, stuck a bigger sprocket on and spooned a set of Pirelli knobbies on. It went from a sucky bike to a wheelie machine. It would easily do 85, though I wouldn't recommend it! Totally changed it to the point that I contimplated trading my DR650 for one.
 

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KLX250 or DRZ400.

I have two Drz's and can give you all the info on them that you could ever want. If it is an option for you, shoot me a PM and I'll give you some input.

I'd be inclined to include a DR650 in the list, but the DRZ is lighter, makes more power, and is a newer/water cooled design. I am a little biased, but not overly so......I will share what I know if you are interested. :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter #15
All who replied,

Thanks and excuse my delayed response... It’s been a hectic couple of weeks.

I’m not really looking for something that has particularly high performance. My primary concern is that it be light enough so that I might compensate with muscle for what I currently lack in skill, and therein lies the other reason that I want it, that is, while I do want to do some dirt riding for the simple pleasure of doing so, it’s also very much about improving my riding ability...

After a 30 year hiatus, I’ve been back in the saddle for a little over 3 years now. In that time I’ve put on over 70,000 miles, almost all of it spirited riding on back roads. When I ride it’s kinda a constant state of practice for me, i.e., I’m always trying to throw every shift & take every corner, etc., just right, a little better than the last... The result is, I’ve gotten fairly good IMHO — but I’m still not entirely comfortable sliding in a corner! I mean, I don’t soil my underwear anymore and I’ve stopped throwing up in my helmet... but my blood still runs a bit cold until I’m out of it — and I figure that the only way I will ever get more comfortable with it, is to do it more, a lot more! The thing is, that almost all of the roads near me are too unforgiving to chance losing it (guardrails & oncoming traffic just don’t support the likelihood of a do-over).

So, I figure that off-road dirt is the answer, in fact I don’t even plan on using knobbies because I want to be sliding all over the place and (at least initially) at lower speeds.

And to preemptively answer the obvious... Yes, I am considering bike school and I would love to practice on pavement with a bike & tires similar to the V with a set of outriggers attached... but I also get a certain pleasure & special satisfaction out of `figuring it out’ for myself... and again, I really do want to play in the dirt too :yeahsmile:


DRZ400S. ...
The little klr is a dog,...
If you don't mind spending some money... But it sounds like you want to do this on a budget....
If you don't mind a slower machine then the Yamaha WR250R. ...
Chris,

I do want to keep this one cheap because I’m sure I’m going to be dropping it... a LOT!

I think I’m gonna stay in the lighter 250 range at least initially. As my skill improves — and assuming I can still ride & walk :) — I’ll consider moving up to something bigger.


Check out used Yamaha XT 225s. They are light, enough power for the pavement speed you describe, and are easy to maintain...
PegRider,
Sounds like what I’m looking for. Thanks, I’ll check them out


... The 250 bikes are dogs but if you are just heading out for some seat time they are kind of fun. Easy to throw around and will go anywhere just not very fast.
Ken,
Yup, that’s exactly what I want. Seat time & easy to throw around...


Hey hardware how about this, saw it posted here on the forum.
http://www.kawasakiversys.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13829
Glowcat,
I might’ve considered that one but (besides being a bit bigger than what I think want) it’s a long haul from where I am.


why not a DR650? ...
C’mon Kev. I’m only 170 Lbs and I’ll need to be able to pick it up when I’m lying under it :eek:


The two competing 250s that Kawasaki and Yamaha brought out a few years ago (2009?). They each have about 30 hp with EFI and weigh just under 300 pounds, so you can ACTUALLY pick them up if they fall down.
Fast Eddie,
Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!


Thanks all!
 

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And so low powered you can't even loft the front wheel. :yeahsmile:
It's a girls bike.
No offense from the Amazon. Cough.
 

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I've been studying this dilemma in depth myself as I am on a hunt for a plated dirtbike. I love my 250, it's a fantastic trailbike (231lbs), state of the art suspension, outstanding handling, but I cannot plate it in CA. A new KTM 450EXC is just under ten grand out the door - YIKES!!

The Yamaha WR250R would be ideal for you, it's just under 300lbs and fuel injected. They came out in 2008. You should be able to find a decent one for at or under four grand. They are well liked, make good power, handle well, and can carry some cargo for adventure riding/dual sporting. For a 250 size they are arguably the top pick for what's out there.

The Kawi version of that bike (KLX250) is a decendent of the KLR which was one of the all time greatest trailbikes. But it has a CV carb and performance is pretty meager. Not nearly what the Yamaha offers. It can be hopped up but takes some serious dollars so one is really just better off to get something better in the first place.

The DRZ400S is about the same weight as the WR250R, just over 300lbs for the 'S' model which is street legal. It's a popular dualsport because it too can be modified for much better performance. It has the same suspension as the DRZ400E which is the offroad version. If you can find one of those with a plate they are an excellent dualsport. The DRZ in general is one of the most popular for good reason, it can be made into whatever you want out of a dualsport. You should be able to find one of these for at or under about three grand that is in good shape.

The problem with all of these bikes is that they are still way heavy for serious trail riding. You talk about dropping one, which you will, the more gnarly the trail gets the less fun they are. I found a 02 KTM400EXC which is 250lbs and has all the offroad racing prowess of my 250, but it's plated and geared for some connecting roads between trails. They too are at about three grand. To me this is the ultimate lightweight trail machine that you can still get down the road on. The 400 is a milder version of the 450/525, it doesn't come on like a switch, is torquey and easy to maneuver on those tight trails. With little offroad experience it would more than likely be considered a move-up. Once you get some time in you'll be looking for what these offer.

If you're looking to dualsport for cheaper yet, see if you can find a KDX0200/220 or a KLX300 with a plate. They are lightweight, about 230lbs (220 for the KDX) and handle great. They are older technology though but that should be okay for what you want to do. You'll find these in the under two grand range.

Whatever you get I recommend buying so you can resell easy as undoubtedly whatever you get you will want to replace within a year or so. The skills come quickly and soon you want more, more power, better suspension, better handling, etc.

Let us know what you find.
 

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You've recieved some good advice but here's my comments;

- dual sports are about COMPROMISE; there is no one best dual sport it depends what type of riding you are doing

- Anything smaller than a 400 isn't really up for highway travel (i.e. 50+ mph)

- A plated dirtbike won't last long at continuous hiway speeds

At one end of the spectrum, you have a plated dirt bike which is very offroad capable and at the other you have a bike that is decent for riding an hour on the highway (like a BMW GS1200 or KTM 990 Adventure) .......and there are lots of bikes in between depending on where you put your on/off road bias and what exactly your on AND off road useage is likely to be.

I routinely dualsport with a group that includes a KTM990 adventure, KTM 640, DRZ400 and DR350 and me on my KLR which sports full knobbies and some modifications. For what we do, which is a mix of dirt roads, highway, and some reasonably challenging trails, I prefer my KLR. The DRZ is much nicer in the rough stuff and the 990 is much better on the road, but if I had to chose one......well the KLR is still here.

For what you are describing, I would think a DRZ would be a good choice. The new KTM 690 is a better bike if you have the $$$$ to spend. The TTR and KLR250 are really weak, still heavy and are limited in both on and offroad capabilities, unless you are small, not that strong or very short, I'd pick something else.

Oh, and do yourself a favor and go straight to a decent 50/50 tire (or one even more dirt oriented) if you are going to go riding offroad.

Cheers,
Dave
 

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This is a great thread. Thanks to all who have contributed. Lots of good info here.
 

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I'm a little late on this topic but I love my KLX 250S! About 250 lbs so I can carry it on a hitch rack if needed and it's a fun bike to have for off-roading. I keep mine up in the mountains and spend hours combing through the trails and dirt roads of unfinished developments. I've never been on a DRZ however I find the KLX tough to beat for basic dual sporting. With that said, I'm about to get another one for my son.
 
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