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Old 06-15-2013, 09:42 AM   #1
teddy_kgb OP
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Struggling with DS Decision: KLR250 vs DR350 vs XR250 vs YYT250

I've been searching and researching for a month and just when I thought I knew what I wanted another bike enters the mix. I'm 6'1" 175 and need a dual sport for commuting on a dry gravely dirt road and also on a paved road. On the paved road traffic flows at 60-65 mph so I want to be able to keep up. I was set to buy the KLR but was turned off by the low seat height. I need to stay at a price no more than $2000. Fuel economy is hugely important so would like to stay at a 250. I don't care about kick start, not sure why that is such a big deal for people, I guess if you're racing...?

Here is the list of bikes I'm looking at with pros and cons:

KLR 250 - Good reputation, good on dirt, can cruise at 65 without trouble, good mpg. Cons: low seat height, suspension too soft for real dirt riding. Is is possible to modify the seat height on these?

DR 350 - Reliable, good price relative to the other bikes in list, good low end power. Cons: poor mpg, shaky at 65 mph, poor dirt bike.

XR 250 - Good price, easy to mod. Cons: older model, low seat height, ?

TTR 250 street legal version - Good reputation overall, good seat height, holds up at higher speeds. Cons: Highest price.

If I could get a KLX 250 for $2k I would buy that in a second, but they are more expensive. I've seen a couple WR250F made street legal, but with only a 5-speed would not be good on highway.

Need to find something soon and cannot decide.

Currently looking at:

02 KLR 250 - $2000
91 DR 350 - $1900
94 XR 250 - $1600
00 TTR 250 - $2400 (hoping to get them down to 2k)

I guess my biggest question is should I be so concerned about the low seat height of the KLR? Can I modify that? If so that seems like my best option between that and the DR and XR. I would go for the TTR if the price was not so high.

Thanks.
Any help is appreciated.
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Old 06-15-2013, 09:58 AM   #2
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Just to clarify, are you referring to an XR250L or "R" model...assuming an "L". I'd also throw in a KLX250 to that mix, as you can occasionally find a good used one at the 2K mark. Sounds like you won't be doing any serious off road, so just about any of those bikes would work. I'd lean more toward a water-cooled model, but it wouldn't really be a deal killer for me either way.
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Old 06-15-2013, 11:17 AM   #3
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The Dr 350 came in two version for most of its 9 year run, street and dirt.

They have a reputation of being very reliable and there is a still a ton of aftermarket. I don't know where you hear about poor fuel consumption or shaky at 65+mph. My 1997 model did not have those issues. At 30hp at the crank, not the fastest bike around, but the 6 speed trans gear ratios are a good match for the engine. A good trail bike that will do 65 mph all day and have a little passing power left.

If you want the electric start, the best years are 98,99 350se's, as they have the dirt version suspension.
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Old 06-15-2013, 12:33 PM   #4
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65-70+ mpg regularly street and dirt road riding. DR350. Cruise 60+mph without workin too hard.
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Old 06-15-2013, 01:02 PM   #5
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The DR350 is way better than a KLR250 in dirt and on the road at 65. The DR350s got my vote, however that guy is asking way too much for a 91' kicker. If its in great shape, $1500 is much more reasonable.
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Old 06-15-2013, 04:51 PM   #6
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Wow, a lot of DR fans. The comments I made about the DR (shaky at 65, poor dirt bike cuz of weight, poor mpg) were based on forum reading and not my own experience, so I guess I need to find out for myself.
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Old 06-15-2013, 05:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TNC View Post
Just to clarify, are you referring to an XR250L or "R" model...assuming an "L".
Good question, the more I think about it the more I would like the XR250R that had been converted to street legal, particularly the 96 and newer models. My understanding is it is a better dirt bike (lighter and better suspension) than the L but still with 6 speed tranny. The XR250R seems like it is in the same league as the TTR250 but cheaper, so if I could find one of those in my price range I would buy it. Though I have seen a few of those in the past month they are few and far between.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TNC View Post
I'd also throw in a KLX250 to that mix
Cannot easily be found for less than 2500.

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Old 06-15-2013, 06:40 PM   #8
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I second the DR350 vote. Its the best bike in your group for highway use and very good in the dirt.
Its wide ratio 6 speed means you have a gear for everything. They will pull 80+mph in stock form.
Try to find an e-start model, especially a 1998 or 1999 as they have the improved cartridge forks and fully adjustable shock just like the dirt-only models had.
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Old 06-15-2013, 06:47 PM   #9
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I had 4 XR250R's from '84 through 90. They are not a good platform for a dual sport bike where any decent pavement speeds for commuting will be required. I had 4 of these bikes, so you can see that I loved them. However, they eat through a top end somewhat quickly...a really short piston skirt...and vibrate pretty good at speed. A really tough off road bike, but I'd hate most commutes I would have done over the years on any of mine.
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Old 06-15-2013, 07:15 PM   #10
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I would definitely go for the 350 over any of the 250's. You will want the CC's on the road and it gets about 60-65mpg, at least my 1990 model did. I went from a 250 dual sport to the 350 and it was a huge difference on highway.
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Old 06-16-2013, 08:16 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcalis View Post
I second the DR350 vote. Its the best bike in your group for highway use and very good in the dirt.
Its wide ratio 6 speed means you have a gear for everything. They will pull 80+mph in stock form.
Try to find an e-start model, especially a 1998 or 1999 as they have the improved cartridge forks and fully adjustable shock just like the dirt-only models had.
I have no direct experience with the XR250 or the KLR250 or the Yammie, so I won't comment on those bikes.

I also agree with the DR350 suggestions. The 1998 or newer, either street model or dirt had the MUCH improved suspension and IIRC better brakes too. Also, if you get the dirt version it came with a pumper carb vs. the stock CV carb for much improved performance.

I've owned 2 KLX's, a first generation 250 and a 300, and also a 1998 DR350 with a street plate. I liked all 3 of them for different reasons. The biggest drawback to the Kawasakis is they are hard to start and have a finicky starting drill. Get it right, one kick, get it wrong, ugh. The Suzuki is much easier to kick over. The biggest drawback to the Suzuki is it has been out of production for so long there is little support for it and most part are special order items, whereas the Kawi is a current production model with only minor changes since it was introduced in 1994 (IIRC).

If you can find a post 1998 DR vs a kick only KLX in the same condition and for the same money, get the DR. Under the same parameters, if it's a pre-98 DR, get the KLX.
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Old 06-16-2013, 09:27 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by itsatdm View Post
The Dr 350 came in two version for most of its 9 year run, street and dirt.
So the "dirt version" is all DRs 98 and newer? Can I buy a 91 and add the 98 suspension making it essentially a dirt version?
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Old 06-17-2013, 08:30 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teddy_kgb View Post
So the "dirt version" is all DRs 98 and newer? Can I buy a 91 and add the 98 suspension making it essentially a dirt version?
NO, he means it was available in off-road and on-road versions for the full run. DR350S is street version and DR350 is off-road only. Early models had different frame colors-yellow for off-road and blue for on-road. Not sure if that changed in the later model years.

Yes I think you can swap suspension parts to a 1991 model.
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:26 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teddy_kgb View Post
So the "dirt version" is all DRs 98 and newer? Can I buy a 91 and add the 98 suspension making it essentially a dirt version?
The 91 would have been a dirt version. I am not sure if there were separate models in the early years. In 1994 they added an electric start to what they called the DR 350SE. It was a dual sport. The dirt version continued. It had the better suspension, lighter, pumper carb.

In 1998-99 the SE model got the dirt suspension.

You can mix and match except for the starter.

I disagree about lack of parts. This guy has been around since the first bike.http://www.kientech.com/. You want more power? http://www.procycle.us/info/question...00/engine.html , http://www.jcmotors.com/p-33447-wise...x#.Ub9ONz7n-AI My view on pumper carbs is that they can add better throttle response, because they inject some raw gas which make more power temporarily. They don't adjust to altitude like a CV carb. They don't make more absolute power either. The diameter of the carb dictates how much air get drawn through it. The CV's are pretty simple and they can be modded
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Old 06-17-2013, 11:11 AM   #15
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The only bike in that group I've owned is a 2001 KLR250. You must be fairly tall to say it has a low seat height. I'm 5'9"m or 5'10", and it was great for me. I bought the KLR250 new in 2001 as it was the only dual sport back then with a kick starter. Mine started so easily, that I never missed not have electric start. If I did the short easy procedure mine would fire off with one kick even if it had been sitting for a few months. It was a fine off road bike for me. Light, decent power and good running engine. I also used it for commuting into Seattle, Wa. and back. It was a 65 mile commute. I would take a backroad route to work, as it was always dark when I went to work, and take I-5 home. No problems on the freeway, the bike handles it well. It got good gas mileage too. One thing that surprised me is how ell it handled on curvy paved roads. Ands the stock tires (can't remember the brand) allowed that thing to be leaned way far in the corners and held great. Made me want to out some really sticky street tires on it and do some super moto riding.
I did have a couple of warranty issues that were both fixed for free. It was a SOHC engine with screw type valve adjusters. It was a bit of work getting access for valve adjusting and checking due to it being a water cooled engine. Nothing too bad, just took a little time.
I later traded it in on a 2005 KLR650. Wish I had that KLR250 today. It would make a perfect island bike.
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