DR650 vs. DRZ400S

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by GregX999, Aug 8, 2006.

  1. GregX999

    GregX999 Nomad

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    Okay, so I'm 95% sure that I'll be getting one of these two bikes. I currently have a 1200GS, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be selling it. I want a bike that's more nimble on the dirt roads and trails here in Colorado. (I'm 5'8", 30" inseam, 155lbs and find the GS is just TOO big and heavy for me to feel like I'm having any fun while off-road - also, I'm an off-road newbie). I'm also pretty sure I'd end up getting a pure street bike of some kind to do the longer on-road-only tours.

    The typical ride I can envision wanting to do with one of these bikes would entail anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours on pavement getting to and coming back from spending anywhere from 1 to 6 hours riding dirt. However, I can also see myself occasionally doing 2-3 day camping trips with mixed road and dirt and even, a couple times a year, a week or two long mixed road and dirt tour off in some other state or even into Mexico.

    It seems like the DR650 would be better for the longer trips, but I'm a bit worried about giving up too much of the nimbleness I'm seeking vs. the DRZ. I think I'm leaning towards the DRZ, but wonder if anyone has any experience that they could share that's similar to what I want to do.

    (BTW: I want the DRZ-S as opposed the the E because of the rear-subframe and the ability to run regular gas)

    Thanks,
    Greg
    #1
  2. cam_roger

    cam_roger Adventurer

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    good luck figuring this one out, no matter what there will be times you will wish you had purchased the other one. I've had a dr650 (old, thrashed when I got it). I purchased the KLR because of all the things I didn't like about the DR. But there are days when I wish I had a DR650, DRZ400, and a KLX250.


    I'd say DRZ, but that's just because I'm looking to add one this fall.
    #2
  3. markjenn

    markjenn Long timer

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    You're doing enough pavement and distance that it would tip the balance towards the DR. The DRZ is a great bike (I own one), but you're asking a lot of it to do 200 miles on the pavement, load it up with camping gear, etc. It can be done on the DRZ, but the DR will shoulder the load more comfortably, cruise a lot less frantically on the highway, and still make you think you've died and gone to heaven in the dirt compared to the GS.

    - Mark
    #3
  4. Navaho

    Navaho Long timer

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    My reply to this same ? on ThumperTalk.com:

    [​IMG]
    <!-- / icon and title --><!-- message -->It depends on how aggressive you want to ride offroad, and how fast you want to go on the highway.

    There were two problems with the DRZ400S I owned. The bike was unstable on and offroad, and the top speed was too slow. I tried everthing I could to fix the instability problem - tires, suspension, fork position, seating position etc. I tried everything except a steering stabilizer, which I think would only help moderately. The top speed of my DRZ with the Dynojet kit was 85 mph (with stock or smaller sprocket the difference is 2 mph). At that speed the DRZ sounded like it was about to explode, and was annoyingly "buzzy". Even at 65 mph the DRZ felt buzzy, and unstable. Worst of all, on the gravel, the DRZ felt DANGEROUS. The front and rear wheels tracked like they were connected by a wet noodle. I let other people ride the DRZ, and they all had the same complaints. Maybe a DRZ400E or supermotard version is a little different. I haven't ridden either so I can't comment. On a positive note, the DRZ400S will put the DR650 to shame on a dirt trail when the going gets tough. The DRZ's suspension is pretty good and the lighter weight makes it a lot more manageable off road.

    Basically, the DRZ is a very heavy dirt bike that can take on any trail and is suitable for short runs on the street. Catch some air on the DRZ, and its weight becomes very noticeable (290 dry). It just does not want to come off the ground, and when it does, it's not all that exciting. Fortunately, it handles the landings suprisingly well for such a heavy bike.

    The DR650 on the other hand is a 'lightweight' street bike that can take on most trails if taken at a slower pace. Suspension upgrades are a must for any serious offroad use. I've ridden a couple of DR650's over the last 6 months, and also some KLR's. The DR is wonderfully stable at any speed on the road, in the dirt or on gravel. The top speed is in the high 90's, maybe even over 100 (I never tried past 95). Cruising at 75 - 85 mph is easy for the DR's engine and it feels comfortable, stable and smooth. In the slow twisties, a DR (with minor modifications) will hang with, and in some cases embarrass a sport bike (as will a KLR). I've seen it many times. Of course the sportbikes will smoke the DR on a straight.
    <!-- / message --><!-- sig -->
    The link to the thread:
    http://www.thumpertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=400718&highlight=DR650
    #4
  5. soboy

    soboy Long timer

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    I have a DR and my riding buddy has a DRZ. They are both great bikes, the DR is better on pavement and the DRZ is better off road. However, I go everywhere my DRZ friend goes off road, and he goes everywhere I go on pavement. At your height and inseam, you'll find the DR to be a better fit. I am the same height and inseam as you and I was not comfortable on the DRZ.
    #5
  6. dirtypumpkin

    dirtypumpkin "Monster Truck Bike"

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    37,000 miles on my KLX400, the green DRZ, no stability issues here.
    I have 2 sets of rims & tires, slicks & agressive knobs. 2 bikes in one.

    I put about 1000 a month on it, 800 street, 200 dirt, give or take.
    Some freeway, but mostly surface and twisties with the slicks.
    Perfect city bike one day, and ready for the dirt with a quick rim swap.

    If you want the better dirt bike get the 400, more adventure travel
    & freeway the DR is probably better suited. Having said that Ive taken
    my 400 for 80-90mph 200 mile freeway trips without any problems.
    I feel comfortable doing multi day trips with that mileage.

    Do a search for this question, it comes up a lot. There are a ton of these replies already.
    Look up BurrenRider, he has owned and modified them both extensively, good reviews with pics.

    It is a tall bike, but there are links and seat options to fit you, or come close.
    #6
  7. Pantah

    Pantah PJ Fan from Boston

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    Gee... that was a very good comparo! Bottom line... the DR is a lot better streetbike then the DRZ is a dirtbike, right? That is a fairly defining summation if I am understanding you. Based on your obsevations, if I were living on front range somewhere, I'd select a DR so I could actually enjoy getting to whatever trail complex I was headed. That way I might actually ride there. If I was willing to trailer, I'd get something lighter then the DRZ.
    #7
  8. atgreg

    atgreg Africatwinarama

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    After the GS, the DR will feel tiny and very flickable, you'd only think the DR650 was heavy if you came to it from the other direction, coming from a GS it will feel like an MX'er
    #8
  9. brad21

    brad21 We have a pool... and a pond.

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    FWIW, a buddy of mine and I do a lot of dual-sporting here in Oregon. He's not too awfully tall, he's really old :lol3 and just sold off his DR650 and purchased a DRZ kicker model and couldn't be happier for the kind of riding we do. With a little taller gearing from stock the DRZ is just fine (I'm at 15/47) on both the trail and highway. Good luck.
    #9
  10. jrs200

    jrs200 Been here awhile

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    The DR will go all day on the interstate 80mph. At 75 there is really very little vibration. I have hit 110 on mine and could of went faster. I have a friend who did 120 on his and said he could of got more out of it.
    It does great on the trail. I have been riding dirt bikes for over 30 years. I only had one other on/off road machine. A 1974 KE 175. Never had a pure street ride. But after trying to deside myself between the XRL DRZ and DR. I could not be happier with my pick. I was really impressed with the way it handles. It has enough torque to get you out of bad situations. But believe me I wouldn't want to do any serious jumping with it. But I am impressed with how good it does in tight stuff, given the weight factor. The bike really handles good for the weight, at least till you try to pick it up. Get rid of the deathwing tires. They really are bad.
    I don't think after all the post I have read about the DR, hearing anyone say they hated their DR.
    I would rather have a dirt bike than a DR, but then again I would rather have a DR than a street bike. That is why I have a DR.
    #10
  11. Navaho

    Navaho Long timer

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    I think the best advice anyone could give you is this - Ride both bikes!!!!!

    I didn't before I made the decision to get the DRZ400S. It was a big dissapointment, and I paid a "price" when I sold it 6 months later. It left a $2000 hole in my wallet.

    I have the DR650 now, and I'm lovin' it. Like someone else said, I've never heard a DR650 owner complain. That should tell you something but don't let anyone else decide. Catch a ride.
    #11
  12. quietrider

    quietrider singletrack seeker

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    I was a dirt noob this past winter and now I can't get enough. I had the same options everyone else has and went with the DRZ because I wanted to ride true single track. Muddy, sandy, rocky singletrack where you can barely fit your bars between the trees. I've ridden with guys on bigger bikes that were faster than me, but being a noob with modest upper body strength (improtant when repeatedly picking up a 300-400 pound bike) I went with the DRZ. With a better seat I'd be fine riding over 2 hours on the highway or several hours on back roads (I believe Navaho's experience with instability is rare). If you're new and want to ride real trails I'd go with the DRZ. If your focus is anything less than tight single track, I'd get the DR. If you haven't picked up on it yet, I think the most important variable is the single track. If you're talking wider trails and dirt roads you could go even heavier than the DR and be fine. Please take all this with exactly one grain of salt, maybe two.
    #12
  13. GregX999

    GregX999 Nomad

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    Wow, thanks for all the responses. There's certainly a lot of information here, maybe too much... :)

    To address some people's comments/questions:

    1. Singletrack - I've never ridden it. The narrowest trails I've ridden on my GS were ATV trails. It certainly looks fun. I imagine that I'd enjoy it, but certainly at a slower pace - no hare-scramble speeds or anything. (I'd love to try Rampart Range - which I've never been to, but heard it's all single-track)

    2. Jumping - Maybe catching a foot of air - two at the most. But probably very rarely.

    3. Sand - Very definate possibilty. I HATE my GS in sand.

    4. Lower seat height of DR - sounds good to me. However I do realize it comes at the expense of suspension travel.

    5. I'd prefer to stay off of freeways as much as possible, but the occasional 55-65mph road is inevitable for at least short stretches.

    6. I think my overall interests are about 50/50 split between trail riding and adventure traveling.

    Damn! It seems like such splitting of hair between the two bikes. I'm sure whichever I get I'll be at times happy and at times wishing I got the other... Maybe I should just hang up a picture of each and throw a dart. :D

    Greg
    #13
  14. StartledPancake

    StartledPancake Monkey Wrangler

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    Well Ive got a DRZ so Ill chip in. It replaced a Aprilla Pegaso (very similar to a BMW F650) and I had considered the DR650 at the time. Personally Im well chuffed with my purchase, it handles very well off road, the motor feels light years more modern than the 'peg (and therefore eons more than the DR650), they have incredible reliability and it sips fuel. It has more power than the DR and allied to the lighter weight its in a different class performance wise. Unfortunatly with a seat height of 37 inches, low speed spills are inevitable when you hit the dirt.

    On the road Ive ridden about 100 miles which was enough without a decent break, it cruises at 70mph with no effort but your going to have to be perpared for a serious buffeting. I commute 60 miles everyday and generally arrive home with a grin on my face, although I suspect that will change once winter gets here.

    Right now Im prepping mine to go to the Sahara, something I wouldnt have even considered doing on the 'peg. Im fairly convinced that the DRZ is the right answer for 90% of peoples dual sport quandries.
    #14
  15. SScratch

    SScratch Somewhat Tolerable

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    I chose the DRZ over the DR because I wanted the more dirtworthy bike. I have an F650 Dakar for the longer road rides like going out west but have done up to 600 miles/day on the DRZ here in the east. You don't need much street ability if you're talking about staying inside CO, so why give up dirt ability? I just change sprockets and tires to suit the occasion.

    [​IMG]

    The only place I'm not happy with the DRZ is in the whoops. It's just too heavy to keep the front end up to skim the tops for any length of time.
    [​IMG]
    Photo by B. Thebert

    That said, I've never ridden the DR650. I know lots of people like it and it may suit you better. Only you can decide.
    #15
  16. Thinc2

    Thinc2 Paciugo

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    Greg, you are welcome to come and test ride my DRZ anytime (I'm in Broomfield). Or we can meet up on the Switzerland trail sometime.

    I know most of the rocky, loose, steep (ish) trails on the Switzerland Trail are immensely more manageable (for my skill level) on the DRZ than the DR. However mine is the Kicker, which means it's only about 245lbs...

    On the flip side, with the gearing I have it's OK up to about 65mph on the highway, then gets a bit iffy - vibrations increase.

    A lot of people seem to use their DRZ's for camping trips. I think it's doable, and I intend to use it that way, but a DR or KLR is definately better for camping. For longer trips, I still stick with the GS. I like having heated gear and ABS when out on my own in the mountains.

    Personally, i think if you're going to get a DRZ, you should get the E model and plate it. Otherwise maybe a DR makes more sense.

    From what you described so far, i think the DR seems like a better fit.

    I sometimes wish the DRZ was more roadworthy in order to get out to the Divide. I figure it's a great learning bike for me for this year and next, and then i will hopefully trade up to something like the TE610 (which is the bike you should really get). right now the DRZ is perfect and has me doing all kinds of stuff i would never have tackled on a heavier bike with less suspension.

    Also, Murgatroid42 just sold his DR and traded to a KLX because he wanted easier handling offroad - so it might be worth PM'ing him.
    #16
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  17. wmccs

    wmccs Adventurer

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    I have a DRZ400s and a R1200GS. I use my GS for sport touring and the DRZ for trail riding. It's a great combo. I haul my DRZ to the trails in the back of my truck. My drz has been modified and is very dirt worthy. I have also owned a dr650 and klr650. Both are great bikes but to heavy for anything more than fire trails.

    just my two cents.
    #17
  18. murgatroid42

    murgatroid42 Great Adventurer

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    I had the Honda XR650L, not a DR. My KLX400SR (green DRZ-S) is far better in the dirt than the Honda. I have the street version, which is spec'ed at 291 lbs, but it feels much lighter than the 324 lb. XRL. The difference in feel is far greater than the (relatively) small weight difference. An XR650R weighs less than the KLX, but to me it feels heavier. :confused The XRL is far more topheavy, less nimble, and the suspension is not as good on rocks as the KLX. The KLX shifts better, and is geared much better for dirt. I don't avoid large rocks anymore, I just aim for them and ride over them.

    As Thinc2 said, I sold my XRL after dumping it in the sand, and went with the KLX/DRZ. The downside is that the XRL was a far better road bike. I could do 400 mile days without any discomfort, but the KLX is painful at 200 miles - and my seat has extra padding and a sheepskin cover - and is running very high revs at 70 mph. It really should have a 6th gear for the highway.

    I rode a DR on a 2 mile test ride on pavement. That ride was not long enought to judge, but it felt smaller than either the XRL or DRZ. This may be a good thing. Everyone says the XRL is better than the DR on dirt, but I have no experience to verify this. If it is true, the DRZ would be much better on dirt than the DR. :dunno

    Ah, the quest for the perfect do-all dualsport. Tell me when you find it, I want one too. :lol3 All these comparisons are relative. My KLX feels like a bicycle compared to the XRL, but it probably feels like a pig compared to a KTM 525. If you are coming from a GS, anything will feel like a lightweight. Maybe you should take up Thinc2's offer to ride his bike and test it yourself. :deal
    #18
  19. Garry

    Garry Old and In The Way

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    I'm considering the same question. Had a 2001 DRZ400S last season and solid it like a dumb ass over the winter. Now I'm considering dual-sports again as lightweight adventure bikes (mostly roads not necessarily paved, some easy trails). I'm thinking a 650 would be a better fit given the mostly road usage. My 400S did OK on faster two-lane highways (at an indicated 70-ish), but really wasn't in it's element. Nasty twisty beat up roads were huge fun.

    So my question for the DR experts is, has the DR650SE changed aside from colors since 1996? It appears from my limited research to be pretty much the same bike. Is there a web page somewhere with a detailed model history? I might have a line on a '96 DR650 and the new owner of my 400S hasn't used it much and may be willing to sell it back...
    #19
  20. jrs200

    jrs200 Been here awhile

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    I think if I was you. I would just keep the gs for the road and buy a dirt bike. The DR or the DRZ is not a really good dirt bike. they are however dependable because they are not setup for full race power. Remember when you opt for more power, especially out of a smaller cc motor you loose lots of dependability.
    That's why a stock 125cc 2 stroke mxer has to be rebuilt after every few races. The more power you get out of that 125 the more reliability you give up and the sooner you need to ring it.
    But a good off road enduro bike would suite your needs just fine. They have lots of power and weigh much less than the z. I had a KDX200. Did a few little mods and road the pi$$ outa the thing for 10 years. Never rebuilt it, and never had a problem, outside of brakes tires chain sprockets. I never had a problem keeping up with any bike out there, some situations they had problems keeping up with me :D
    I would say I think the KDX would be a real close race (through the gears on level ground) with my DR.
    It is one of the easiest bikes out there to ride. And it will be great with your weight also.
    Anywho, just an option.
    #20