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Old 09-13-2014, 10:33 AM   #1
justinope OP
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Couple looking to get into ADV riding, but which bikes are we looking for?

So, I have awesome news- my girlfriend decided she'd rather ride her own bike on our adventure trips! What I need to figure out now is what bikes we should buy.

I am 5'10" with a 28" inseam 230ish pounds and she is 5'8" with a 30" inseam 180ish pounds. Needless to say, we both need bikes that are short-ish or can be made short-ish. We both are pretty good riders I'd say, with me having more experience than her at the moment, but mostly on pavement, very little dirt. For that reason I think we should stick to the 650cc range, but I'm open to suggestions of course.

We want bikes that we can tackle off road with, in a kind of "I wonder whats down there" type of way. Although I feel that a lot of our riding will be pavement, figure 60% road 40% off-road ability for both, approaching 70/30 more often than not. I have big dreams of taking a trip from here in Tucson, AZ to Alaska one of these upcoming years with my vacation time from work, so I'd love something that would also suit that trip or be able to made to do so.

Worth mentioning is that I am by no means a skilled mechanic and have never fixed a single problem with any car or motorcycle I've ever had on my own. I'm willing to learn but if its in anyway complicated to fix (aka more complicated than a step by step), or has frequent maintenance intervals, it isn't going to work out for me.

It needs to be able to hold gear via aftermarket racks or factory, and must have a fuel range of 200+ miles. I also love things like ABS and fuel injection, hopefully those aren't too counter-intuitive to the easy maintenance requirements? They aren't required if so, its just a "it'd be nice to have.." kind of thing.

From what I've read this puts me looking at the BMW F650GS, KLR650 or DR650. Is that right or is there anything I may be missing? I am trying to keep the cost down since I'll be buying bikes for 2 people now as opposed to one. Although, I have a feeling it'll still workout to being cheaper than the 990 and 1190 Adventures I was looking at before to support us both haha
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Old 09-13-2014, 11:34 AM   #2
DirtDabber
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I have had three KLR's, they all sucked and by the time you pour money into them to fix the stuff to make them a decent adventure bike you could buy the BMW 650. That said I rode the heck out of all three of them and put over 75K miles on them without a single issue. The KLR has fantastic aftermarket and a near cult following, I just always wanted something more.






The DR650 has a lower seat and is easy to lower more, and is probably a better all around bike than the KLR. Lighter, better suspension, etc. It is air cooled so that could be a positive or a negative depending on who you ask..... It will also be the cheapest bike to get into. I haven't had the DR650 but have had 3 DRZ400's and have always had a soft spot for Suzuki's. It will be a little harder to find than the KLR though.

The BMW is a better bike. I have the F650 Dakar and it gets better mileage and is a more comfortable bike on the road. I bought it used with an Ohlins suspension already installed so I can't say what a stocker is like but it has always handled everything I have thrown at it. I will say that the faring, front beak, and tank shroud are made up of a whole bunch of plastic pieces so in a get off it could easily resemble a yard sale, whereas the DR and KLR would fare better. The GS comes with a 19" front wheel and the Dakar has the 21"



Last year I was offered the opportunity to ride my friends KTM990 with a lowered superplush suspension from Colorado to Georgia. I took the scenic route across Colorado, down to Moab, over to the Grand Canyon, Phoenix, Tuscon, and then home to Georgia. 3200 miles total. I figured that was the most expensive trip I have ever taken because I bought a 990 within a month of returning.

http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=937645





So, in a nutshell. It really depends on what your personal idea of budget, maintenance, travel and "offroad" is.

If you can pick up a well set up used bike you can sell it a year later for within $1000 of what you paid for it. If you buy new and have to add all the accessories then you are going to be out quite a bit if you need to sell if you don't like it.

The advantage of something like a DR or KLR is it is easier to work on while traveling. Every town has a bad mechanic that can do basic stuff. With the BMW you need more specialized service and with the 990 you need not only a KTM shop but one that specializes in the big road bikes. You will also eat rear tires and get worse fuel economy with the KTM because of the grin enhancer located on the right side of the handlebar.

I kept my Dakar for commuting and errands for work, but the KTM is my go to bike for fun and travel.

Just remember that travel is what you make of it.... Plenty of people adventure travel on the little Ninja 250's. If you lean toward backpacking gear as motorcycle gear you can get size and weight way down which makes a huge difference off pavement. Last year I started replacing my old camping gear with some of the newer lightweight stuff and now I am always feeling like I am forgetting something since there is so much room in the boxes....

Hope that helps.
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Old 09-13-2014, 01:35 PM   #3
justinope OP
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Wow, thanks for your reply, I got caught up reading your KTM ride report and it confirmed my fears- I may never be truly happy with my bike unless I just get the damn KTM lol

We'll see if it can make the budget
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Old 09-13-2014, 02:20 PM   #4
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don't get me wrong, cause i'm definitely a KTM'er..... i gotta dirty-fied 450 SMR that is wicked....

and i'm sure that 990 is totally sweet.... but it's a 450lb bike and then you put all you gear on it... it's a bike for somebody that's a pretty good dirt rider and wants to be able to do some serious miles, and still be able to handle some dirt.... but not CRAZY dirt.... unless you're really CRAZY, which some people are....

lighter is always better for dirt bikes.... it's not IF you're gonna get off, it's WHEN.... so you're gonna have to pick it up if you're gonna get dirty.... and lighter is much easier handling in the dirt, performance wise.... serious dirtbikers are all pretty much weight-weenies....

i gotta buddy that's really fast on a XR650L... i mean in the woods w/KTMs fast.... those are nice bikes.... and you can get them pretty cheap.....

y'all need to find a couple bikes and try them....
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Old 09-14-2014, 09:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinope View Post
Wow, thanks for your reply, I got caught up reading your KTM ride report and it confirmed my fears- I may never be truly happy with my bike unless I just get the damn KTM lol

We'll see if it can make the budget
. Oh dear........

Well, not trying to change your mind but......ask yourself this, how much tinkering do you want to do with a bike and how many times do you want to change the oil. I say all this because if you truely do your homework and your not going to motorcross your bike........a KTM is the worst choice PERIOD!!!! Yes great bikes IF you're coming from a motorcross background or been doing this awhile and know what you want. For what you described IMHO I'd say stay clear of KTM, stay clear of BMW.......both those camps want to convince you they are the best choice until you sink way too much money into the bike that your realize you could have bought a WAY more reliable, cheaper, less maintenance intrusive bike! Now, by all means if you have the resources don't listen to me but if your around this passion long enough you'll realize all this ADV crap is broken down by oil change dirt bikes on one side and 600lbs waterbuffalos on the other. Honestly look for second hand DRZ400, DR650, WR250R, XT250 (2013 or newer).......all those bikes you can buy under $4000 second hand, probably with popular mods like big gas tanks etc and they can all be lowered plus they don't require changing the oil every OTHER ride. As a perspective, these are lighter more off road bikes but if you want something bigger, then a smaller V-strom
(my ride leader at the 2014 Touratech Rally had and was incredible off road with), used BMW 650GS, TR650 Husky, XR650 (kinda tall), KLR (no power, heavy but very reliable), some others but my old brain can't think of them. Anyway, all these bikes have pluses and minuses and none are perfect......the couple I mentioned will draw A LOT of criticism but it's just my 2c .

One final thought, a friend's neighbor 70 year old just did what he called a ride of his lifetime......(bought two new bikes) rode from California all over. NV, AZ, UT, CO, ID, spent over a month on the road, they didn't want to deal with unreliable bikes neither deal with having to change oil on they're trip, just wanted to ride and explore. One guy hated the bike his buddy asked him go on the trip with the other guy loved it. They never had one issue with either bike, a few thousand miles. In the end one sold his bike because he wanted more, got a nnewer KTM because he wanted a motorcross bike the other kept it but both agreed they picked the right bike for they're adventure.......a WR250R.

Enjoy the ride here, no one agrees on anything.....hope to see you at a campsite.
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Old 09-14-2014, 10:09 AM   #6
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the BMW is better on the highway by a lot. on the other hand, the 650GS I had (not a Dakar) was no where near as good in the dirt as my klr. the DR is lighter, and a good choice. the DRZ is lighter yet and if it had another gear it would be king. KTM... they are a cut above as far as performance is concerned.

btw... the Dakar is TALL

and, if you aren't going on the superslab hiways the WR is pretty good for light touring.way better off road than any 650
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Old 09-14-2014, 11:01 AM   #7
PlatedDirtBike
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinope View Post

We want bikes that we can tackle off road with, in a kind of "I wonder whats down there" type of way. Although I feel that a lot of our riding will be pavement, figure 60% road 40% off-road ability for both, approaching 70/30 more often than not. I have big dreams of taking a trip from here in Tucson, AZ to Alaska one of these upcoming years with my vacation time from work, so I'd love something that would also suit that trip or be able to made to do so.

From what I've read this puts me looking at the BMW F650GS, KLR650 or DR650. Is that right or is there anything I may be missing? I am trying to keep the cost down since I'll be buying bikes for 2 people now as opposed to one. Although, I have a feeling it'll still workout to being cheaper than the 990 and 1190 Adventures I was looking at before to support us both haha

You narrowed it down pretty well. The BMW G650GS Sertao, KLR650, Honda XR650L, Suzy DR650 and KTM 690 are all worthy contenders. The F650GS is more street oriented and is the most expensive in your group. The 70 30 offroad percentages throws it all out of sync with the road riding comfort.

Anything bigger than a 650 is tough off road due to the weight. I mean a real beast, and hard to handle. Not a lot of fun.

El cheapo is the KLR. Huge aftermarket and stone reliable. But if you ride any of the other jap contenders; You'll see that its gutless and difficult offroad compared to the other jap 650 dual sport bikes.

IMO. For what you describe I would suggest the BMW Sertao, (if you can deal with the chinese motor in a german bike issue). Or the KTM 690.

Go sit on all the bikes in question. Ride them if you can. Them decide.
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Old 09-14-2014, 02:04 PM   #8
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Sounds to me like a DR would suit what your looking for as they can be lowered pretty easy and are fairly bullet proof. If your not an experienced off road rider then its lame suspension wont worry you too much as your not likely to be hammering it too hard. Most folks replace the awful seat and stock tank off the bat but that's pretty much it.


My advice whatever bike you end up on is to start getting some grease on your fingers and learn a bit about basic bike mechanics - chain maintenance & repairs, fixing a flat, oil changes etc and what tools to carry. All bikes are vulnerable to basic failures out in the boonies no matter how reliable their pedigree.

As others have said there is no substitute for a little seat time if you can get it to help make up your mind. A word or caution though....if you don't really want a KTM690 DONT take one for a test ride
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Old 09-14-2014, 02:09 PM   #9
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Well there are so many allround bikes for less then 1000 Dollars out there.

Start with Suzuku GS 500, Honda CB 500, Yamaha XJ 600/900, xj6 (best bike at the list of a German motorcycle magazine, Suzuki Bandit 600, Honda NTV 650 (with kardan) and the thumpers such as Suzuku DR 650, Yamaha Tenere, Honda Dominator or Transalp. All those Japanese bikes are known to be super relyable but I would stay away from BMW (same engine in F650, F700 and F800): http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...620023&page=21

I had a Transalp, used it to ride to University with it and one day took it around Africa. Now it has done 200.000 km but still runing fine. Perfect for everything: http://afrikamotorrad.de/?report=en_transafrika
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Old 09-14-2014, 02:17 PM   #10
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Having owned every one of these bikes in the 650 class (except the 690 KTM) I'd say you'll be most pleased with the dr650 or the BMW f650 GS Dakar for the type of riding you've described. When it comes to taking a long trip to Alaska on a 650 the BMW would be my choice because of the comfort and fuel mileage. Having said that I just put my order in yesterday for the first 2015 KTM 690 that comes in to my local dealer's inventory... My desires are different than those you've described.
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Old 09-14-2014, 02:34 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Night Falcon View Post
Sounds to me like a DR would suit what your looking for as they can be lowered pretty easy and are fairly bullet proof. If your not an experienced off road rider then its lame suspension wont worry you too much as your not likely to be hammering it too hard. Most folks replace the awful seat and stock tank off the bat but that's pretty much it.


My advice whatever bike you end up on is to start getting some grease on your fingers and learn a bit about basic bike mechanics - chain maintenance & repairs, fixing a flat, oil changes etc and what tools to carry. All bikes are vulnerable to basic failures out in the boonies no matter how reliable their pedigree.

As others have said there is no substitute for a little seat time if you can get it to help make up your mind. A word or caution though....if you don't really want a KTM690 DONT take one for a test ride


Lots of good ideas and thoughts here. One thing that keeps coming back to me is wanting to travel and the lack of knowing how to work on a bike. They really are at odds with each other. If you are going to travel you have to be able to work on a bike at least to a basic level or else you are going to spend a lot of time driving a U-Haul back home...

Things will happen on the road.

http://advrider.com/forums/showpost....5&postcount=65


You really need a tool kit for the bike and be comfortable changing tires, adjusting chains, changing oil, troubleshooting basic wiring issues, dealing with bad fuel, changing brakes.... It really all goes together and will become part of the trip. Read some of the Trans America Trail ride reports and notice how many times people deal with flat tires. It is going to happen when you ride off road.


The 990 is a great bike but you have to pull it apart to change the oil. It can be intimidating to work on.

The fuel injected bikes work by magic, take the magic away and you are stuck unless you have the means to figure it out.

The DR is easy to work on. It is a carbureted, air cooled, single cylinder motor. It doesn't get any more basic than that.

There is no perfect bike. There is a perfect bike for a given situation, but sometimes it is not the one you are riding at the time. There are plenty of good all around bikes that work well on many levels. The Wee Strom is a great example. Good for one or two up. Can do easy fire roads, dependable, cheap. However once you experience riding the KTM's all the shortcomings you hear about them become worth it.
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Old 09-14-2014, 02:48 PM   #12
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Wink adv bike

without having to read all the traffic that went before, where are you located? how tall are you, what is your combined weight?

I have a 2004 BMW GS 1150 Adv with less than 40,000 miles located in the southeastern U.S. I might consider selling to the right party.

ping me here, or silversurfer1939@yahoo.com, or georgetown1939@yahoo.com
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Old 09-14-2014, 02:53 PM   #13
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I mean this in the kindest, but most honest way possible.

The best thing you could both do to help yourselves enjoy dual sporting is to lose weight. If you both drop about 10% (more is better, but let's go with this) your level of exertion on the trail will be SIGNIFICANTLY diminished. You'll be amazed at how tired you'll get, and how quickly, if you keep your weight up. I have learned that the hard way myself.

As for bikes, the DR650 is just fine.

Oh, one more thing... you MUST become mechanically savvy.
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Old 09-14-2014, 03:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinope View Post
So, I have awesome news- my girlfriend decided she'd rather ride her own bike on our adventure trips! What I need to figure out now is what bikes we should buy.

I am 5'10" with a 28" inseam 230ish pounds and she is 5'8" with a 30" inseam 180ish pounds. Needless to say, we both need bikes that are short-ish or can be made short-ish. We both are pretty good riders I'd say, with me having more experience than her at the moment, but mostly on pavement, very little dirt. For that reason I think we should stick to the 650cc range, but I'm open to suggestions of course.

We want bikes that we can tackle off road with, in a kind of "I wonder whats down there" type of way. Although I feel that a lot of our riding will be pavement, figure 60% road 40% off-road ability for both, approaching 70/30 more often than not. I have big dreams of taking a trip from here in Tucson, AZ to Alaska one of these upcoming years with my vacation time from work, so I'd love something that would also suit that trip or be able to made to do so.

Worth mentioning is that I am by no means a skilled mechanic and have never fixed a single problem with any car or motorcycle I've ever had on my own. I'm willing to learn but if its in anyway complicated to fix (aka more complicated than a step by step), or has frequent maintenance intervals, it isn't going to work out for me.

It needs to be able to hold gear via aftermarket racks or factory, and must have a fuel range of 200+ miles. I also love things like ABS and fuel injection, hopefully those aren't too counter-intuitive to the easy maintenance requirements? They aren't required if so, its just a "it'd be nice to have.." kind of thing.

From what I've read this puts me looking at the BMW F650GS, KLR650 or DR650. Is that right or is there anything I may be missing? I am trying to keep the cost down since I'll be buying bikes for 2 people now as opposed to one. Although, I have a feeling it'll still workout to being cheaper than the 990 and 1190 Adventures I was looking at before to support us both haha
I'm a big fan of the DR650SE. I currently have 2. My 2003 has over 30K miles on it, much of which was accrued in sand and mud over the last 3 yrs after I bought it with 8K miles on it. I've also burned 1100 miles of slab on it in one day...several times. This 2003 has 2" shaved out of the seat. I also did the factory lowering and installed some Soupy's adjustable lowering links from Ebay. The forks can also be slid up in the clamps, and the seat height can be taken down to below 30".

My 2013 gets used for commuting and dirtbiking, but I haven't had the chance to do any long trips with it yet. I bought it at the end of December and it now has over 9K miles on it. Both bikes have the snorkel removed and carbing richened which is pretty simple. They both wheely in 1st and 2nd, which makes it easier to clear obstacles offroad, as well as making it a bit of a hooligan bike when I want to goof around.

These bikes are not air-cooed like the XR650L or water-cooled like the KLR650. They use SACS air/oil-cooling, which works pretty darn well in an application like the 35-40WHP DR. The oil cooler can even be bypassed if damaged, and the bike will still run fine on hot days.

The DR is around 367lb curb, which is lighter than the KLR650, 650GS, TR650, or XT660. It can use a better set of tires and some suspension upgrades for serious offroad riding, as well as a skid and a set of real handguards, but www.procycle.us and several other vendors can help you out for your DR upgrades. Procycle can even turn your DR into a 790cc beast with an aggressive cam and head. I also buy a lot of used parts and accessories for my DRs, and these are typically easy to come by. The DR hasn't really changed much since 1996, so there's an 18yr supply of used parts available out there. Also check out the DR650 wikia webpage for common mods, the comon DR issues, and their solutions.

Test-riding several different models before you buy, and learning to work on your own bikes...this is good advice.
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Old 09-15-2014, 07:35 AM   #15
Ed M
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The one thing you failed to mention is how much street and off road riding experience you and your girlfriend have. Typically the less experience you have the more crashing will happen. Save money buying used bikes, spend extra money buying quality riding gear.
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