DR650SE vs. KLX250S.....how different offroad?

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by LCubanaso, Oct 12, 2010.

  1. LCubanaso

    LCubanaso Adventure Crasher

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    Need some opinions from those with more knowledge than me (presumably you all).

    Background and important stats:

    Noob.....especially offroad (have the scratches to prove it)
    5'8" with 30" inseam....weigh 240, I'm in my early 40's

    I have a 2009 DR650SE. I like the on-road capabilities of the DR just fine. I've also been offroad with it somewhat, but to be honest, I feel like I have a very hard time controlling the bike offroad. The following sums up my problems with it:

    • I can barely flat-foot the DR650 in the std height configuration
    • The stock Trailwings feel horrible on gravel (like riding on marbles) and light mud.
    • The gearing seems a bit tall.....gotta pull in the clutch often during technical stuff or when I need to creep along slowly
    I just recently (yesterday) replaced the Trailwings with MEFO Explorers. We'll see if those help.

    My main question is this: Would I feel tremendous benefits/differences from going with a lighter bike for offroad use? I'm still talking dual-sport (need plates for some areas I can get to). Also, no crazy MX type stuff like catching air or anything like that (too old for that).

    I'm considering the KLX250s primarily because it is lighter, and still has a reasonable seat height. I would primarily throw the KLX on the back of my pickup truck and drive it to trails.

    Would the KLX250 be much better than the DR650 offroad, or should I just concentrate on improving my offroad skills with the DR650?

    Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Also, any feedback from someone who has experience with both a DR650 and a KLX250 would be welcomed.

    Thanks,
    Ed
    #1
  2. LILBIT

    LILBIT Ride you must.

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    If your going to haul it in the truck why not get an even lighter "real" offroad bike?
    #2
  3. LCubanaso

    LCubanaso Adventure Crasher

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    Ummm - "My main question is this: Would I feel tremendous benefits/differences from going with a lighter bike for offroad use? I'm still talking dual-sport (need plates for some areas I can get to). Also, no crazy MX type stuff like catching air or anything like that (too old for that)."
    #3
  4. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

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    I'd go older for your first dedicated offroad bike. You're gonna dump it...repeatedly. Look at little Honda XL250s, DR250/350s, XT225s, KLR250s, and KL250 Super Sherpas.
    #4
  5. 243Win

    243Win Been here awhile

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    Staying within the parameters of the OP's question, I've got a lowered 2006 DR650 and a 2007 XT225. Yes, some days it is just easier to ride the XT225 especially when practicing new skills. Whole lot easier to pick up repeatedly.

    Also makes a great loaner bike for riding buddies that might have a street bike, but lack a dualsport for the time being.

    If you can afford it, go for it.
    #5
  6. Bucho

    Bucho Long timer

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    You can lower the DR w/ the stock rear shock, and for less then $20 put a smaller sprocket on the front. Go down to a 14 tooth (or even a 13 tooth).
    You might try that before you go buying a completely new bike.
    #6
  7. TheMightyQuinn

    TheMightyQuinn Adventurer

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    Ed,

    I have the DR650 and had an older XL350. Three things in particular have transformed my DR to a much better off road machine. Knobbier tires at lower pressure (12-16psi), lower gearing (one tooth down on the front and three teeth up on the back), and a little carb tuning (Jet kit, cut airbox, idle screw adj.) I've read that suspension work makes a big difference as well. The old XL was still easier to throw around off road at speed and easier to muscle around in the really technical single track as well. If it were not for the fact that I use my DR to ride two up regularly and also for long haul dual sport rides I would probably consider something like the KLX250 as well, not because I can't handle the DR off road but because the lighter bike would be a little more fun off road.
    #7
  8. tbirdsp

    tbirdsp REMF

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    I don't have a DR650, but do have a KLR650 and until earlier this year has a '07 KLX250S. I have also owned a '86 XL600R, '02 DR-Z400S, and a '06 Husky TE250.

    I'm close to your size (inch taller and 20 lbs lighter) and age (late 40's).

    Tires and gearing will make a huge difference on *either* bike. I geared my KLX250S down from stock 14/42 to 13/45 and ran Dunlop D952 non-DOT knobbies.
    I have run various tires on my KLR and usually use 14/43 gearing (stock 15/43).

    Now - in addition to the tires and gearing mentioned above, my KLX had a pumper carb, FMF Q4, and WER steering damper. Honestly though the tires and gearing made the biggest difference IMHO.

    The KLX is WAY better off road than the KLR, huge difference. Not even a fair comparison. And with the nice wide ratio 6-speed you still have decent top end even geared way down. The KLX is no lightweight, but compared to the KLR it's a feather.

    IMHO - it would be worth it to get the KLX250S too.

    (The Husky TE250/310 are awesome machines, but pricy and too hard edged for what you want in my opinion. Seat height (38") and close ratio tranny killed it for me. KLX was easier to ride at my moderate trail pace.)

    I was wishing I had the KLX250S here (Black Hills, Centennial Trail, May '09, my KLR on left)

    [​IMG]

    And was glad I had it here, except the KLR's big gas tank would have been nice (Moab, White Rim, Apr '10)

    Attached Files:

    #8
  9. Gobius

    Gobius Been here awhile

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    I had a DR650 and traded it in on a KLX250S last year. The tire and gearing issues are easy fixes, and you will have to do them for either bike for offroad riding. I geared down my DR and added better tires, then I bought the KLX and geared it down and added better tires.

    However, what you cannot fix with the DR is the weight. I think the weight difference between the 2 bikes is about 50 pounds (I may be off on that), but more importantly you feel each and every one of those pounds when you have to pick it up. The first time I was offroad and had to pick up the DR more than once on the same day was the day I decided to get rid of it.

    Oh, and the KLX does handle much better off road as well. Mine was lowered by Devol Suspension (I also have a 30 inch inseam, but about 75 lbs. less compression), and it is very good. Crashes well, too.

    In short, yes, you will definitely see a noticeable difference off road between the DR and the KLX.
    #9
  10. Gobius

    Gobius Been here awhile

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    You WILL miss the power of the DR, though :(:
    #10
  11. DirtDad

    DirtDad Green Chile Guru

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    I had both the DR650 and an 06 KLX250. Yes, the KLX will be much better offroad than the DR. Mainly because the KLX has much better suspension, and it is lighter. I could actually hit the whoops pretty good on the KLX.
    Would not even think about it on the DR. I did alot of stuff to the KLX, but
    I just did not like the lack of power. This coming from an experienced off road rider. For a beginner, the KLX would be good.

    The DR however was one of my favorite bikes. I loved its reliability, and comfort for long D/S rides. If you could keep your DR, and get the KLX
    as well, that would be a good setup. Now if the DR only had much needed
    upgraded suspension, and a tad bit lighter, with 6 speeds, it would be one of the best D/S bikes available. :deal
    #11
  12. LCubanaso

    LCubanaso Adventure Crasher

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    Thanks folks. This is exactly the type of information I was looking for. :clap

    I won't miss the power of the DR because its not going anywhere. Basically, I want to keep the DR for adventure riding. I love the DR.

    I'm thinking of adding a lighter weight, more single-track capable bike for the gnarly stuff. Also, perhaps a smaller/lighter bike will inspire a little more offroad confidence and help me to become a better rider.

    Ed
    #12
  13. gplassm

    gplassm Been here awhile

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    I currently own a DR650, and I used to own a dual sported '94 KLX250. The KLX 250 was a *great* off road, tight trail machine! The biggest issue I had with it was that the foot peg brackets hang fairly low. I also had full Race-Tech suspension, a TM-33 pumper carb., and on oversized head pipe.
    IMO- The KDX200 and the KLX250/300 were two of the best trail bikes ever made.
    The DR650 is not even close in trail capability.
    You might want to look for a KLX300, and plate it.
    #13
  14. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    Tires really make a BIG difference.
    Maybe you wont be picking it up much with good tires on the DR.

    I have had a bunch of older 250 size bikes, and wanted more power, so looked for a DR350, rare, so got the 650. It had street tires (80-20) on it and I was picking the bike up a LOT.
    Put some kenda k270 tires on the bike and have not crashed yet (500 miles).

    Little light bikes are much easier to ride, but riding big bikes will get you or keep you in shape!

    I would still love a dr350 tho....

    Brett
    #14
  15. gplassm

    gplassm Been here awhile

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    "My main question is this: Would I feel tremendous benefits/differences from going with a lighter bike for offroad use?"

    The short answer: YES!
    #15
  16. rmax

    rmax Been here awhile

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    My experience is from a KLR650 to a WR250R and will confirm that less weight and better suspension made a huge difference. I also bought the most aggressive DOT knobbies I could find (Mitas C-16 / C17). <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I am faster and more comfident off-road now. I can ride over and through stuff that would have had me slowing down. While more speed also means that the inevitable crash is at higher speed; this bike (about the same weight as the KLX250) is easy to pick up (again compared to the KLR650 - light as a feather) and the additional investment in protective gear was needed anyway. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>

    Go with the lighter bike and have more fun with less work!<o:p></o:p>
    #16
  17. Flatulator

    Flatulator Banned

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    Well ... first of all ... virtually any bike feels like riding on marbles on gravel
    ... same with mud ... but full knobbies (and/or a lighter bike) ... will make that situation feel much better ... but then the knobs will wear fast on pave.

    ... and ... putting one tooth smaller F sprocket on the DR is pretty common - for the same reasons you mention

    So ... full knobs and 1 tooth smaller sprkt and slip the lowering bolt to the 'lowered' position ... and you may find the DR acceptable ?

    I'd do that (cheap/easy) ... then decide if you need "more"?

    The Mefo's may not be "enough better" ?
    #17
  18. Crashy

    Crashy n00b

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    I would say yes. I had a DR650 and now have a DR350. I would love both but the 350 is a huge improvement off road. If you can keep the DR650 I would also look at WR250, might be a bit overkill but they dont need any upgrades, except maybe lowering.
    #18
  19. gplassm

    gplassm Been here awhile

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    The WR250R has a great motor, and is a short stroke, high revving item compared to the KLX's longer stroke design. The biggest issue I have with the WR250R is the super tall seat height, like a DRZ400 (which I recently sold). The KLX is much friendlier in tight trails (for me) because of the lower seat height and the gruntier power delivery.
    #19
  20. LCubanaso

    LCubanaso Adventure Crasher

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    Based on everyone's feedback (thank you), looks like I'll be keeping my eye out for a good deal on a light, 250 for more technical trail terrain.

    I mentioned the KLX250s because the research I've done to date suggests that it would best suit my needs. Here is the lineup of potential bikes and why I think the KLX is my first choice. Let me know if the thinking seems right.

    KLX250s - average seat height, better suspension than most other 250's (except the Yammi WR250), good engine/power, a bit heavier than I'd like, water cooled
    CRF230L - very low ground clearance, seriously undersprung suspension, underpowered engine (although well-geared for creeping along technical terrain), low seat height.
    XT225/XT250 - decent power, low seat height, seriously undersprung suspension
    WR250 - best engine/power on a 250, great suspension, too tall seat height (for me), best dirt bike of the dual sport 250's, pricey $$$$.

    Did I miss any of them worth considering?

    Whichever one I end up with, I will outfit it with a total dirt bias....full knobbies, lowered gearing, etc.

    Ed
    #20