DR-Z400S vs. SM - a different thread (long)

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by Thorgrim, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. Thorgrim

    Thorgrim Used'ta could

    Joined:
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    Well here's another screed, I'll try to shorten it as much as I can - but if I don't give enough information, the advice I get won't be as good.

    As I've said on other threads, I got moto fever (tm) in late spring and you know the only cure. I was waiting on my house to sell but who knows when in this market, so I went ahead and took advantage of Honda's spiffy low-rate financing and bought a CB500F. It's a nice bike, and I've enjoyed it, but I discovered that I really don't like street bikes. Back in the day when 55 was the max speed limit everywhere and I lived in an area where traffic was extremely light, a naked bike was a lot of fun. Now, without some weight to cancel out the buffeting from traffic on the slab and with the higher speed limits, I just don't enjoy it. I also don't ride it as naturally as I did a dirt(ish) bike.

    The house sold, the closing's next Wednesday, and now I have bike money ... and a newish bike with around 800 miles on it that just doesn't suit me well but is in fairly high demand locally. I'd like something better suited to my tastes, at 61 it's easier to change the bike than to change my habits. I can afford any of the more common bikes, but I'm slanted toward Japanese bikes as I know little about 4-strokes, and I live in an apartment and have no place to wrench on one. I've had Triumph Tiger XC fever since before I bought the Honda, but now I'm thinking that may not be the best bike for me.

    I like the little CRF250L, I rode one in the MSF school I took. I'd like a bit more power (my last dirt bikes were a 250CR Husky and two 400 CZs), but it's a nifty little bike. There's just no way I can trade for one, it would be like trading nickles and me adding a nickel to boot, my bikes worth more than the sticker on the CRF. If I don't get at least into the $7k range I'm going to take a terrible bath on the 500F. I don't want to sell it on Craigslist and deal with the crap I know I'll get, if the dealer will be reasonable (and I believe he will), a trade works out better for me. I knew when I bought it that I'd lose money on it, I just don't want to lose tons. Simplest solution is trade for a more expensive bike.

    What I'm really considering (and here's where I finally get to the point) is the DR-Z400-SM. My dirt riding is mostly going to be a little exploring of some decent forest service and similar roads, I mostly use my bike to run errands and just bop around back roads and back streets. I live in a small city with growing pains as to traffic, and being quick works a lot better than the textbook "establish your lane presence and act like a car". That last one will get your ass run over in this day of cellphones glued to ears and texting. It's a college town, too, so that latter problem is worse than other places I've been.

    I read the other post on SM bikes where the guy was trying to decide between the KTM and the Suzuki, but my dilemma is different, as I'll use the bike differently than him. I've been pondering this for a couple of weeks now, and what I think I'd like best is a street bike (90/10, anyway) that handles like a dirt bike. Looks like an SM fits my needs, and it's enough more expensive than my bike that I might be able to cut a deal without bringing my own lube. I'm not talking about Bel-ray. Besides, my favorite dealer has an SM and he's likely to have to sit on it all winter. If I see I'm riding more dirt and packed gravel than I planned, a set of more dirt-y 17" tires should be enough of a correction. Worse comes to worse, if I stay away from Triumph and BMW I'll have enough bike money left to buy a spare front hub and rotor and have it laced to a 19" rim, so I have a fallback plan.

    Flaws in this thinking? I mean, there's always flaws in my thinking, I just don't see them as clearly as others might.
    #1
  2. Starchamp

    Starchamp Rebel Scum

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    Your thinking is pretty solid, IMHO, much the same route that I took. The DR-Z is practically bullet-proof, requires little maintenance, and is a very forgiving and adaptive platform. Be advised, finding a spare front hub is like finding hen's teeth; you're much more likely to come across a used 21/18 S/E set-up, and probably more cost-effective that way too. (I recently got an S wheelset, with SM rotors and a 44t sprocket, for $300 plus S&H.)
    #2
  3. Thorgrim

    Thorgrim Used'ta could

    Joined:
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    Thanks, that's comforting. And, the lace-to-a-19" is just a fall-back position, for the roads I'll ride in the 10% of my biking simply changing to a more dirt/gravel aggressive tire should be enough. I'm not talking loose gravel, anyway, I have no idea of what constitutes a good setup for that. The only thing that's worked for me in the past is a hot MX bike and a big rooster tail to keep the front light. Puckering seems to help a little, too. Anyway, I'll be avoiding that shit, my version of Adventure Biking is a lot more tame than that of most here. :eek1
    #3
  4. greer

    greer Long timer

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    Glasgow, Kentucky
    Sounds like a plan to me. At 50lbs lighter, I've wondered if I could replace my DR with a DR-Z. Everything you'd ever want to know about the bike is over on thumpertalk.com. And if the dealer won't deal, I'll bet your F would sell well; that particular model seems to be fairly scarce.

    Sarah
    #4
  5. Thorgrim

    Thorgrim Used'ta could

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2013
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Upper East Tennessee
    It would be about a hundred pounds lighter than the CB500F I'm riding. I dropped mine again yesterday at a stop. It was a difficult place (downhill, turning a city 90 degree right at a 4-way stop onto another descending road, but frankly I bobbled it), but I finally figured out that sticky-soled adventure boots and stock sticky rubber street pegs don't go well together when the bike gets heeled over at a stop and that's at least some of the problem that keeps biting me wherever it wishes. My right knee was injured in a mining accident and sometimes it buckles for no reason, and with no warning. Still, I love the handling of a dirt bike but mostly ride in city traffic, and an SM seems to me like all the right things for me in one place.
    #5