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Old 03-14-2013, 03:05 PM   #1
B1 OP
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myth of the "do everything" light weight adventure bike for dirt and adv riding?

myth of the "do everything" light weight adventure bike for dirt and adv riding?

i've spent quite a few years trying out different bikes as a "do-everything" bike. a guy i know is just starting out on his journey for a light weight adv bike he can dirt ride as well. i've emailed him my thoughts on it, figured i may as well post it here too and see what others think. please note this discussion involves bikes you can dirt ride AND adventure ride, so just looks at bikes that come in at around 145kg dry or less. obviously owning two or more bikes is the ideal option, but this discussion assumes:
- you only have the budget for one bike
- you only have the garage space for one bike
- your missus will kill you if you have more than one bike.

first, you can adventure ride anything if wanted. i know guys who ride honda CT90 postie bikes across the desert, and others who strap jerry cans to the back of their old two stroke dirt bikes and disappear for a few weeks...

but if you choose just one bike for dirt and adv, you inevitably face compromises, the trick is how much you want to compromise.

for both dirt and adv riding, i'd recommend the following, starting with the lightest enduro bikes and moving through to the solid reliable heavy plodders. i'd budget up to $1000 for a cush hub rear wheel if you do adventure riding on a dirt bike and thus a fair amount of bitumen.

there's ongoing debate about how much damage bitumen riding will do to a gearbox, but worth fitting to dirt bike for a much smoother ride alone. probably not for a DRZ400 though, it will rev so much it won't be an issue.

you should find panniers etc easily for bikes like the DRZ400 and DR650. other bikes you can jerry rig up something like a budget dry bags setup, or get the coyote giant loop bag or other soft luggage options.

IF ONE BIKE HAS TO DO IT ALL

husaberg FE570 (possibly the FE450 if no 570s available) 115kg, 50+hp at rear wheel. obviously i'll sound very biased here but if you think you'll enjoy dirt riding then these can match any 450 dirt bike in gnarly stuff, but have smooth power and heaps of grunt to cruise on the highway for hours if needed. incredible engine longevity, valves almost never move, guys get comparatively huge km before any work needed (see this thread). i think fluked the engine design in this regard, better than a klx450, crf450, ktms, rmz450 etc for maintenance and longevity.
good sized oil capacity 1.3L so my dealer said 1000km oil changes with dirt riding, 1500 to 2000km easy adv rides.
check the thread here for known issues. finished making them in 2012, no new ones left but you might just find a 450 or 390 out there.
main issue is probably they are so light and designed for dirt that they are twitchy at speed. guys who desert race them put on steering dampers but they are expensive. aftermarket tanks cost a fortune, i just carry a jerry can for adv rides. at least they are very economical, you'll get 120 miles or 200km with easy adv riding on the 8.5L tank.

ktm 501 or husaberg fe501 113kg, 50+hp at rear wheel. this is what replaced the 2009-2012 70 degree engined husabergs model this year, it's basically just the ktm rebadged in berg plastics. smaller engine, 570 down to 510cc but still has more grunt than 450s. guys are raving about them but only time will tell if it has the same reliability, longevity and low maintenance of the FE570, FE450 and FE390. main thing is the extra 60cc capacity over a 450 makes a big difference for cruising at high speeds.

yamaha WR450: 115kg, close to 50hp rear wheel. a high performance enduro bike that comes fairly close to low maintenance and longevity of the husabergs. quite a few guys adv ride these as a result (this thread). worth considering if there was a discount on a 2012 run out model. 5 speed box is limiting though. i did the rekluse auto clutch and high gearing on mine which worked well. i posted the mods i did on mine here. you might be able to get a 2012 runout model cheaply. there's a persistent rumour around about the WR gearbox not liking road use without a cush hub, hard to verify or not. but be good to play it safe and get one. i found it much much nicer on the bitumen once the cush hub was fitted. plenty of larger tanks around, but make sure they fit your year model. i found it quite easy to add an extra liter of oil capacity for longer trips, see this thread.

japanese 250 dual sport bikes: surprisingly quite a few guys are adventurizing 250s. usually around the same weight as a DRZ400, power in the high 20s. very popular in the usa for some reason, a lot of guys adv ride the TTR250 and similar jap bikes. they have six speed boxes so can be geared to cruise ok on the highway but still go dirt ok. personally i think the DRZ would have to be better, much more grunt, same weight and main drawback is one less gear.

DRZ400 around 125kg, 34 hp rear wheel. a popular light adv bike, very cheap to buy new and heaps of aftermarket parts and nearly indestructable. see this drz adv thread.
if you don't mind revving the 5 speed gearbox might be okay. personally i found it quite limiting to do dirt and adv. you could pick up a second rear wheel and have one geared higher for adv rides, work out the chain length carefully and you could just swap the wheels to suit and keep the same chain. other option? like i've done with the berg, gear it high but put a rekluse auto clutch in ($450). the clutch will slip at slow speeds and high gearing works fine in gnarly stuff then. makes tackling any gnarly stuff so much easier too.

husqvarna TE610 136kg, not sure on hp but getting close to 50 at the rear wheel i think. very grunty engines, perfect if you short shift as they don't go any faster if you rev past 7000, just make more noise. i posted a review here. you won't get any new ones. it also went to a TE630 the final year or two. more power but heavier... guys converted the new dual pipes to single to get rid of the extra weight. very much an in-between bike between something like a DR650 and an FE570 in terms of weight, performance, maintenance. surprisingly they don't come with a cush drive hub. but they have nice beefy gearboxes and hardly anyone has blown their gearbox up. there is some kind of dampener in the clutch that seems to make them quite smooth on the road.0h

ktm 690r: 142kg, around 70hp (!!!) an interesting bike, i hated it and sold it within three months and noted that quite a few riders feel the same way about them. yet a friend of mine got his at the same time and after spending a few thousand dollars extra on it says its his near perfect adventure bike. i listed these negative and positive aspects of the 690r here. it is a bike that seems to polarize attitudes. i didn't like the close ratio gearbox, false neutrals, turning circle of an oil tanker, snappy jerky response at low revs, harsh suspension, ergonomics and exhaust pipe for starters. it was a bloody expensive bike to start with and i wasn't impressed with the need to spend so much more money getting it right... at least with most of their models ktm responds to rider feedback and irons out issues each year. having said that, plenty of guys love their 690s to bits so it's only my opinion...

DR650 i think about 145kg dry, 34 hp at rear wheel. very capable offroad compared to the KLR, still good on the highway. heaps of aftermarket gear. at this weight, i'd suggest it's only a contender if you mainly do adventure riding, and occasionally some easy dirt riding. and you'd really want to get the suspension done properly for dirt riding. huge array of aftermarket parts, very bulletproof although a small percentage have third gear failures.
i've posted a pile of pros, cons, mods and tips here.

other bikes to consider? i haven't owned these so cant really comment, but a lot of guys like the old KTM LC4 640s and the more recent 625 models, they sound similar in reliability, weight and performance to a TE610.
others adventurize the old KTM 520EXC, 525EXC and 530EXC. i did have a 525EXC once that had 25000km up and still hadn't had any engine work done so it looks like they can last a while.

honda also has the old XR650R and XR650L. the L model is going to be pretty similar to a DR650. the discontinued XR650R was a brilliant bike in its day, and could be worth looking at if you are on a budget and don't mind having the kick start the mother. good write up on the XR650R here.


TWO BIKE OPTION
personally i've settled on this now myself, i found the compromise too much with one bike doing it all, although i felt the FE570 was the closest i got. i'm now getting a DR650 for the adventure riding. what i like about this setup is they still overlap. i know the FE570 copes well with adv riding (just back from a one week trip!) but i've dirt ridden the DR650 and its quite capable as long as the track doesn't get too gnarly, and you have the usual suspension mods.

good luck with the hunt!

OTHER USEFUL ADVRIDER LINKS ON THE TOPIC

Whats a good lightweight ADV bike?
Need some help finding the right mid-sized ADV bikes‎
Need a light go-fast adventure bike!
KTM 690 R or TE 630 for "do everything" bike?



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B1 screwed with this post 12-16-2013 at 12:33 PM Reason: links
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Old 03-14-2013, 03:36 PM   #2
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Have you read any of Colebatch's ride reports? He has probably built one the best true adventure bikes around and has done some of the most extreme adventure riding I have read about. Here's a link to his latest report: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=834987

The topic of what it takes to build a good off road adventure bike is extensively discussed.

Warning: don't start reading this report unless you have nothing important to do the next few days.

BTW, one guy did start this ride on a DR650 but only lasted a few days. All of the rest of the bikes were BMW's or KTM's
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Old 03-14-2013, 03:55 PM   #3
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Might be different for you downunda folks but here in the states most "adventures" will involve long stretches on pavement/highway. I personally am willing to trade outright offroad capability for a little highway/highspeed comfort.


Do not know if you read the CW article or not but they voted the KLR650 the best choice for the Zombie Apocalypse.
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Old 03-14-2013, 06:04 PM   #4
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Do not know if you read the CW article or not but they voted the KLR650 the best choice for the Zombie Apocalypse.
Best or most boring?
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Old 03-14-2013, 08:08 PM   #5
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Interesting the DR650 is high on my list for a do it all bike. I was hoping the KTM 950 Adventure was going to be it but it is still too heavy. I am going to keep the R12GS for long touring, keep the Scrambler just because it has lots of soul and sell the KTM and DR 350 to fund a sweet build up of a DR 650.
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Old 03-15-2013, 04:23 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by triplenickel View Post
Best or most boring?
A KLR650 is only boring if the rider rides it that way.
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Old 03-15-2013, 05:05 AM   #7
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I never venture too far from home, since I live in the mountains where the trails are. I haven't had the pleasure of trying all the bikes mentioned, but have an 08' WR450 and an 02 XT225, and had an 06 DRZ400S.

I'd have to say that the XT225 is probably better than the other 2 on pavement, but doesn't have the dirt performance of the WR450. The 400 really wasn't great on the trails, just seemed too top heavy for me.

They all have subframes and mine have rear racks, which I find important. Some folks have upgraded the WR450 clutch basket with one from a YFZ450 (quad) which fits fine and has some cushioning springs that should help the tranny some on pavement, and is only about $50 on ebay.

I one advantage the XT225 has on-road is its lower center of gravity. The wind whips the taller bikes around more at highway speeds, which gets tiring.

My buddy has an 11' FE570 and it's nimble, powerful, and gets great mpg, but it has no subframe for a rack. It also suffers on the road at speed because of the wind.

You didn't mention the KTM690R, but it's a lot more streetable than the enduro bikes mentioned. If 300lbs is ok, it would definitely be one to consider. Plenty of power there.

Choosing the "right" tires is very important IMO. DOT front tires suck off-road from my experience. I gave up on them, and now just run off-road knobbies front & rear. That's another reason I don't ride too far from home, they don't like hours of asphalt. "Big desision" on choosing tires.... I guess I'd go with a non-DOT front and a DOT knobby rear if I did the adventure thing. I guess they'd probably wear at about the same rate, since fronts normally last about twice as long as rears. (Btw, I never tried a non-DOT front on the DRZ400. I'm sure it would have made a huge improvement off-road.)

I agree with multiple bikes. Why be monogamous?
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Old 03-15-2013, 11:38 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
You didn't mention the KTM690R, but it's a lot more streetable than the enduro bikes mentioned. If 300lbs is ok, it would definitely be one to consider. Plenty of power there.
doh! good point, i had mentioned the ktm 690r but lost everything i typed before hitting the post button then forgot about it when i retyped it all. it's pretty biased, but here were my thoughts on the orange beast....

ktm 690r: 142kg, around 70hp (!!!) an interesting bike, i hated it and sold it within three months and noted that quite a few riders feel the same way about them. yet a friend of mine got his at the same time and after spending a few thousand dollars extra on it says its his near perfect adventure bike.

i listed these negative and positive aspects of the 690r here. it is a bike that seems to polarize attitudes. i didn't like the close ratio gearbox, false neutrals, turning circle of an oil tanker, snappy jerky response at low revs, harsh suspension, ergonomics and exhaust pipe for starters.

it was a bloody expensive bike to start with and i wasn't impressed with the need to spend so much more money getting it right... at least with most of their models ktm responds to rider feedback and irons out issues each year. having said that, plenty of guys love their 690s to bits so it's only my opinion...
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Old 03-15-2013, 12:46 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
I agree with multiple bikes. Why be monogamous?
Because I now live in a condo with no place to work on a bike.

One bike does it all for me, the drz from Canada to Baja a dependable do it all machine.

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Old 03-15-2013, 01:33 PM   #10
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Great write up. I'm on my second DR, which is about to become SWMBO's whip, so I'm once again checking options.
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Old 03-15-2013, 02:17 PM   #11
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Sad thing about this topic is that there are so many bikes that are "almost" right, but just have one or two shortcomings.

Either they need a sixth gear, or a rear subframe, or need to lose about 25 lbs, or need just a few more cc's, etc...

You'd think that the factories would listen to riders and tweak the bikes just a little more.
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Old 03-15-2013, 04:13 PM   #12
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Do everything lighter adventure bike

Have a tale to tell about what I consider to be the best bike I've owned,my 2002 KTM 640 LC4.Bought it new in Ohio at KRW cycles.Having always riding smaller pure enduro bikes I was intimidated by it's size,tires,etc. After break in I put Karoos on and rode it all over New Mexico,Utah,Colorado,Arizona(trailered it out!)I was impressed by it's power and handling,reliability,larger gas tank,comfort,ability in the dirt and on the road.It will fly along on the desert and mountain roads with pretty much complete confidence,although I was very impressed at the speed I could attain on my Buddy's Yamaha 450WR,easier to fling around,scary fast but didn't like the other trade offs.I had been doing some vintage road racing with AHRMA on other bikes, and got supermoto 17" wheels,Michelin DOT race rubber,opened up the airbox,titanium Akropovic pipe and rejetted.What a hoot!I finished 3rd overall in Production Singles,3rd overall a few years later in Motard against some really fast guys,couldn't match the all out 660 Yamaha singles or the agility of the 450 MX Motards but I always finished and was consistent.What a hoot at Daytona,113mph on the banking with higher gearing on 12" travel suspension in the wind!Decided to put it out to pasture and did a lot of dual sport riding with my buddies out west.Never put me down,used backpack and tank bag,got me by.(Hotels)Never shit on me!Had to get a 990,now I'm really intimidated! I'm 64 with bad joints but really looking forward to riding to Colorado and back! Bob Merkel #484
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Old 03-15-2013, 06:25 PM   #13
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I have a 2009 Honda XR650L and would like to hear some other peoples thoughts on it. It seems a little under powered to me but overall I really like the bike. I bought it with the smog pump, carb jets, FMF exhaust/head pipe, and air box mods already done (bike must have been borderline unridable before these were done). Suspension definitely needs some work before any hard core off road stuff and def needs a rear cush-hub to help on long stretches of asphalt.
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Old 03-15-2013, 06:33 PM   #14
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Old 03-15-2013, 06:59 PM   #15
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... and again, the world demands the WR450R, but Yamaha cannot hear the cry...

6 speed wide ratio tranny, racks, guards, 4 gallon fuel tank...

NFE
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