DR650 To start learning dirt riding?

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by clange95, Oct 6, 2017.

  1. clange95

    clange95 n00b

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2017
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Gainesville, FL
    I'm a longtime lurker here and had some questions for the DR650 owners out there. First things first, I've been riding for about ~3 years (first an ancient Shadow that only ran twice, then a slightly less antiquated Rebel, then my SV), and have zero dirt experience. Actually, that's not entirely true...I ate shit last year on my SV in Alabama on a gravel road at ~5 mph when my front wheel locked up going downhill. I've had my SV for about a year and a half, and love it. However, I'm really gravitating towards the realm of dirt/ADV riding, and am seriously looking at a DR650 as my next bike. My question is, how manageable is it for someone with no dirt experience? I live in North Central FL, so there aren't any crazy BDR type roads around here, just some rural dirt/sand and gravel. I'm not looking or expecting to jump on and become a pro at sliding around corners, I just want to get my feet wet before I try going on an epic trip and get destroyed because I don't have a clue how to ride it.
    #1
    Bucho and The_Precious_Juice like this.
  2. WYO George

    WYO George Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,722
    Location:
    left of nowhere, WY
    It's heavy to pick up, but the power delivery is mild, torquey and great for learning dirt. Everyone is different, but I think it's a lot better than a tall bike with power that comes on strong at high rpm.
    #2
    clange95 likes this.
  3. William Wolfen

    William Wolfen Dirt Seeker

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,104
    Location:
    Cypress, TX
    That's an accurate description.

    With a 14 tooth front sprocket to gear it down a little it's better that you'd expect off road. I pefer mine even to proper dirt bikes due to the torque and power delivery. As long as you keep it moving, the weight isn't an issue (dropping it notwithstanding) .

    For dirt and gravel back roads, it's one of the best bikes available. It's light compared to the big adventure bikes many others ride in these conditions and does well even when the roads get rough. Gearing is fine stock, but I still prefer it geared down a little myself.

    I'd highly recommend a more comfortable seat and some tires appropriate for the type of riding you plan on doing. I like an IRC TR8 (road friendly DOT knobby) front with a Shinko 244 (semi knobby 50/50) rear. This combo works good on all roads I've encountered and does fairly well off road when aired down.

    Suspension is also a great upgrade, but isn't cheap. Best money I've spent on my DR. I'd decide if you really like the bike and want to keep it before investing in suspension though.

    Can't go wrong with a DR!
    #3
    lnewqban, clange95 and WYO George like this.
  4. TomAZ1983

    TomAZ1983 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Oddometer:
    98
    I think you’d be better off with a 250 class four stroke like a wr250 or even a drz400.

    That being said, no reason that you couldn’t get a dr650 and learn on that.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #4
  5. LexLeroy

    LexLeroy Nerds Rule

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Oddometer:
    7,974
    Location:
    Lexington, KY
    How tall are you & what's your inseam? I'm short-legged and have owned both the DR650SE and the XR650L, and the DR is a better fit for the vertically challenged. The DR was my first dual sport and it was fine in N. Indiana where the dirt & gravel roads are straight and flat w/ few exceptions. Now that I'm in Kentucky I find the XR650L a better tool for the job, particularly in more technical situations, but I had to lower it.

    Either bike will suit you just fine and won't break the bank.
    #5
  6. phreakingeek

    phreakingeek adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,413
    Location:
    VA
    As stated, my experience on the DR is probably nothing like anyone elses experience. That said, even though I've had a lot of other bikes, the DR is still my all time favorite. Other bikes seem to do really well in one or two aspects...the DR does above average in just about all aspects that I care about. It is heavy and has old 1970's technology...but with some mods, it is a very capable bike on the road/gravel/dirt. I'd say go for it...worst case scenario, if you hate it, you can probably sell it for what you have in it.
    #6
    Bucho likes this.
  7. clange95

    clange95 n00b

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2017
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Gainesville, FL
    From what I've read, this seems to be the general consensus. Put a bit of $$$ into it to fix the few real issues and it's a pretty good all-around bike.
    #7
    Bucho likes this.
  8. clange95

    clange95 n00b

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2017
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Gainesville, FL
    I'm 6'2" and have about a 33" inseam. Honestly, anything with more legroom than my current bike would be preferable. My knees ached for a few days after the last long day I spent on the SV, so virtually anything is an upgrade.
    #8
    The_Precious_Juice likes this.
  9. LexLeroy

    LexLeroy Nerds Rule

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Oddometer:
    7,974
    Location:
    Lexington, KY
    Go to Cycle-ergo.com to get an idea of how you'll fit on the bikes that you're looking at. Then head down to the dealership(s) and sit on the bikes. The cockpit is cramped on the XRL because the bars are in your lap, but different bars and 2" ROX risers put me into a pretty good "attack" position for getting up on the pegs.

    People used to ask an MSF instructor friend of mine "Which bike is best" all of the time and he'd invariably reply "The one that fits you best."
    #9
  10. The_Precious_Juice

    The_Precious_Juice 2013 DR650

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2013
    Oddometer:
    6,058
    Location:
    Abingdon, Virginia
    Thanks for the feedback.

    You can drop the pegs some with a farkle.

    You can also have a seat cushion set up for the tarmac sections and take it off when you get to the dirt section.
    Check out the first two pics
    https://imgur.com/gallery/04zYd

    -----
    I had no dirt experience either, and took the bike off road in Mississippi in single track dirt and grass and the bike is fairly well balanced. No wheels or jumps or spinning of the tyres. Just slow manuvers and working on clutch play.
    The bars need to be raised for your height. 2 " rox risors do not require any more cables.

    The torque will be good for the sand.
    #10
  11. clange95

    clange95 n00b

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2017
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Gainesville, FL
    I took a look at that website and it looks like the stock ergos would be a tad cramped, but nothing some risers/mods couldn't fix. I've been meaning to head to the local dealership. The guys at the local Suzuki place will probably hate me before too long - I never buy anything there, but love to window shop. It's such a rip off. Anyways, I digress. Nothing beats a test ride, so that's probably the best place to go next.
    #11
  12. LexLeroy

    LexLeroy Nerds Rule

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Oddometer:
    7,974
    Location:
    Lexington, KY
    You'll be changing out lotsa' stuff regardless of what you buy. My DR650SE ended up sporting a Corbin seat and an IMS tank. The stock seat was a torture device.

    Nowadays if I were built like you I'd look at the Seat Concepts tall seat foam & cover for the DR650SE. I've got a Seat Concepts low cover and foam on my XR650L and it's all-day comfortable.
    #12
  13. gunnerbuck

    gunnerbuck Island Hopper

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,708
    Location:
    N.V.I, B.C.
    Have a look at the DR 400 as well, it has better suspension, is taller, is lighter, better off road and has almost as much power as the DR 650...
    #13
    davesupreme likes this.
  14. davesupreme

    davesupreme grand poobah

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Oddometer:
    4,364
    Location:
    palm harbor, fla
    i used to ride w/a guy that was fast as shixzit on a DR400.... the 650 is heavy, and light is always right in the dirt... :deal
    #14
    The_Precious_Juice likes this.
  15. The_Precious_Juice

    The_Precious_Juice 2013 DR650

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2013
    Oddometer:
    6,058
    Location:
    Abingdon, Virginia
    It's hard to believe the DRZ is just 320lbs.

    The Royal Enfield Himalayan BS4 is just over 400lbs. That is 410cc.

    The CRF250L is also 320lbs or so.

    :scratch
    #15
  16. davesupreme

    davesupreme grand poobah

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Oddometer:
    4,364
    Location:
    palm harbor, fla
    the '17 250 XC is 218lbs dry..... :deal .... just sayin'.....
    #16
  17. REALGRAVEROBBER

    REALGRAVEROBBER LEAVING GRAVES EMPTY

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2008
    Oddometer:
    580
    Location:
    Billings, Montana
    Do yourself a favor and buy a 96-on Dr650. It's a bike that can grow with you. Nice smooth power delivery, and as your skills sharpen you will find that it's a remarkably capable bike on and off road.

    People poo poo bikes like the dr650 and say you need to spend $18k on an orange euro bike but that's just lack of imagination, riding ability, or self esteem. Use www.searchtempest.com and lots of combinations dr, dr650, dr650se etc to snag a deal.
    #17
  18. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    25,512
    Location:
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    Buy a light bike. XT225 or Super Sherpa
    #18
  19. Dr. Zombo

    Dr. Zombo I need a bike ...

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    Oddometer:
    216
    Location:
    Holt, MI
    I'm with you - I tried cutting my teeth on a too-tall-for-me DRZ-400, now thinking in the 250cc and under range; wouldn't mind an XT250 or a CSC TT250 (really a 230cc) to re-learn riding skills.
    #19
  20. davesupreme

    davesupreme grand poobah

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Oddometer:
    4,364
    Location:
    palm harbor, fla
    LEARNING to ride in the dirt w/a heavy bike is gonna be 1. hard, 2. frustrating, 3. painful, 4. probably injurious, 5. and some other things i can't think of right now..... 6. and he's gonna not be HAPPY.... happy is good .... 7. and it ain't gonna be FUN... FUN is good....
    #20