Advice on a lightweight alternative to my R1200GSA

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by lhendrik, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. lhendrik

    lhendrik Truffle Rustler

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,530
    Location:
    New York
    Looking for advice. I have an 09 GSA for long haul touring, pavement. It's great for heavy loads over long paved rides. Now I keep reading about guys like Colebach, etc who ride gravel and dirt and sand and off road, places where the big pig is a handful, like all the way to Magadan and Mongolia I want to explore the rougher ride, and wanted advice on what bike might work, maybe with soft luggage for some real adventure riding, including lots of fire roads, gravel and dirt, while still carrying lightweight camping gear.

    I have seen some pics of the BMW 650X Challenge and its looks good. Is this a good place to start my off pavement exploration, or do I need to go lighter.

    I have zero off road time, and don't mind taking some training programs.

    All information appreciated.
    #1
  2. milo

    milo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2001
    Oddometer:
    490
    Location:
    Clifton Mills, Almost Heaven.
    Get a DR650, add a IMS 5 gallon tank, skid plate, Corbin flat saddle, and stiffer fork springs. Dead reliable and fun as heck.

    http://youtu.be/0t2IopH1AG0

    (They're cheap, air cooled, plus higher quality and 60# less than a KLR.)
    #2
  3. Gillus

    Gillus High Desert Rat

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,271
    Location:
    Alamogordo, NM
    +1 and rebuilt/new rear shock sprung for your weight, then a pumper carb from Jesse and find a titanium GSXR Can and it will still be dead reliable, fun as heck and you will have to hang on :evil
    #3
  4. L21

    L21 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2006
    Oddometer:
    222
    Location:
    PA, usa
    KTM 950 works for me:evil
    #4
  5. vtbob

    vtbob wanderer

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    654
    Location:
    Western Vermont
    guys have been doing on the cheap with KLRs for years. stone simple too
    #5
  6. WoodButcher

    WoodButcher Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,228
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    +1 and inexpensive on the used market.
    #6
  7. AviatorTroy

    AviatorTroy Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,695
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH/Stuart FL
    WR250? Seriously if you have no off road experience at all then you probably should log some time on a light 250 dual sport.
    #7
  8. guns&coffee

    guns&coffee Gnarly!

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,368
    Location:
    Bozeman, MT
    KTM 950/990 ADVENTURE. Traded my 1150GS a couple of years ago. This is a great all round bike. Either single or two-up. Fire roads to interstate..... it can do it all. I prefer the 950 as I'm anti EFI/ABS.
    #8
  9. BigDave75

    BigDave75 Will Work for Food!

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,772
    Location:
    God's Country
    I really enjoyed my KTM 530 EXC it did everything you are looking for, although a bit more expensive than a DR or KLR.
    #9
  10. pcwirepro

    pcwirepro Aspiring Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2012
    Oddometer:
    282
    Location:
    State of confusion
    Unless you're a big boy that DR650 will still kick your ass in the rough stuff. Service roads, jeep trails, no problem.
    #10
  11. a.c.s.

    a.c.s. Complaining less

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    244
    Location:
    South Lyon Mi
    Having owned a KLR 650, I'd consider it just as heavy an cumbersome as the GSA, but still just as manageable. I've ridden in plenty of places the GSA had no business going while following some experienced dirt riders on KLR's and KTM 950s. I can't comment on the DL650, but consider it in the same class.

    Having ridden a KTM 450 EXC this summer, I'm left with lust in my heart.. Excellent on the dirt and capable of taking you 250 miles on back roads to where the action is. $3500 will buy you one, and you don't have to feel like a fool when you're following your friends riding a disposable motorcycle (KLR 650) when the SHTF in the sand...

    If you're really looking to go on the cheap, take a look at the Honda XR600 or XR400. $1500 will fetch you a fine specimen.

    Good luck!
    -acs
    #11
  12. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,506
    Location:
    Fresno, CA
    This is where you should start. Serious off road riding ain't for everybody, and for anything that can be called a "road" the GSA will be fine, but you still want real training. Trial and error is fine, and having friends show you the ropes can be helpful, but real hard-core training will get you a lot of know-how in a short time. It will also give you a better idea of the size of bike you are wiling to wrastle in what enviornment.
    #12
  13. Mad Kaw

    Mad Kaw purveyor of fine BS

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    42
    Location:
    The OK state ;)
    The DRz 400 or even KLX400/450 would be ideal. When I started out dual sport a few years ago I had never done it. Been 400,000 miles pavement but no dirt touring to that point. I had some dirt experience as a teen racing MX...but not 3000 mile cross country trips on a dirt bike.

    I bought a KLX400 (drz400) and first ride out was 1500 miles on the TAT from Oklahoma across the Rockies to Moab, UT. We r
    #13
  14. lhendrik

    lhendrik Truffle Rustler

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,530
    Location:
    New York
    Thanks guys, lots of good information. My budget is OK, I can go $5-8,000 on this project. I don't like to buy junk, tend to spend the $$$ once rather than a little many times. Not against the KLR DR route, but from my looking at pictures they look like big lumps and not too maneuverable to me, maybe I'm mistaken. KTM mid weights (450?) look like my path now, not the big 900+ cc versions, too heavy for me off pavement. I plan to fall over a lot and need to be able to lift it myself.

    Looking at this sort of makes me drool.... http://www.ktm.com/enduro/450-exc-eu/highlights.html#.ULVtkoWGh1I

    Thanks all.
    #14
  15. fastgpfred

    fastgpfred Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Northern Calif
    Ditto....you need a friend or two to do this with & log some off road time on a bike that is lighter. A Honda XR250 is a great choice too. Buy used and sell in a year or two for around what you paid for it. (or you may decide to keep it)
    #15
  16. Mad Kaw

    Mad Kaw purveyor of fine BS

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    42
    Location:
    The OK state ;)
    The KTM is a great bike. I've ridden a KTM LC4 quite a bit. Personally the DRz (IMO) is a better bike for a variety of reasons. But that's just opinion. I have had 35 bikes in my career. 12 were dirt bikes....numerous BMW's. I can tell you the DRz/KLX platform is as good as it gets. But Far be it from me to try to steer you away from a KTM. If you drink the orange kool aid...you'll be hooked. I know...I've riden em! Good luck!
    #16
  17. GSAragazzi

    GSAragazzi Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,963
    Location:
    The Purgatory of Suburbia
    I guess it's fate that the GSA pic is upsidown given the fact that you are looking for a fun toy. I'm with you, very little offroad experience but wanting to play. I went safe and cheap with a DR 350 which I then bored out to 385 (easy kit). Plenty of fun and lite as a bicycle. Not as fast and well suspended as a KTM or anything of that caliber but it works for me as a learner and it's great for quick trips to HomeDepot and the like.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #17
  18. CanadianX

    CanadianX Oh!? That is deep.

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,579
    Location:
    New Brunswick
    I used to take my GSA pretty far off the beaten track but started to feel bad - actually realized after a ride on a friends KTM that I wasn't fast and I was working hard to get the speeds I was getting. The KTM was so much more suited to ripping along on dirt trails, jumping ditches and digging through the mud. I ended up buying a KTM 690 for the off road fun while still having all the road going capability. At 310lbs it's pretty light. Not a woods weapon but depending on what you mean by off road it might be a good option, though the price point may be north of your planned budget to get a new one. Lots of good options out there from the slate of 250cc offerings to the bigger thumpers. Where and how do you plan to use the bike, are you a experienced road rider, how big of guy are you. Biggest point will be to look for opportunities to get saddle time on a variety of bikes. Anything lighter than the GSA and with the bigger front wheel will certainly feel more at home on the dirt.
    #18
  19. BigDave75

    BigDave75 Will Work for Food!

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,772
    Location:
    God's Country
    My 505 EXC was one of my all time favorites but wasn't plated so it went away! :cry:cry:cry:cry:cry

    [​IMG]
    #19
  20. lhendrik

    lhendrik Truffle Rustler

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,530
    Location:
    New York
    The more I read, the less I think the KTM is anything I would ever be able to ride on the street, while heading to the dirt. The DR-Z 400 seems like it will do the street very well, and hang in there in the dirt. I was particularly troubled to read about the maintenance requirements of the KTM, it almost seemed like you need to rebuild the motor frequently, but maybe I am misreading.....:eek1
    #20