Let me start by saying my dirt riding skills really suck. I'm getting better, but I still suck. So my experiences may not be comparable to yours. I had an XR650L. The slow, heavy pig, far different than the XR650R. I crashed in sand, and decided to replace it. I asked neduro if an XR650R would be easier to ride, since it weighs 50 lbs. less. He told me that the XR650R would still be a handful for me (6' 0", 165 lb. nerd who was never athletic). He recommended the DRZ instead, knowing that the S version actually weighs more than the XR650R. I test rode an XR650R, and it still felt topheavy. I now have a KLX400SR (green DRZ, street version), and it is great, for MY riding skills. It is far more nimble than the XR650R, even though it weighs more, and I am more confident on it. Why? Balance, weigh distribution, power curves, whatever. It just works for me. neduro (who is a local demigod) was correct. What do you want from the bike? A 105 mph enduro? Get the XR650R, the DRZ won't go that fast. A trail bike for the woods? The XR650R will do it, but it is heavy. Bikes all feel different. It is more than comparing weight and HP stats. Get one that you personally like, one that feels good for you. If you make the wrong decision, then sell it and get another. Regarding "if electric start is removed from the equation?". A friend has an XR650R. He loves it. But he was riding slow trails in Oregon, and the bike got hot enough to start boiling the fuel in the tank. He stopped for a short rest. He then spent the next half hour :eek1 trying to kick start the beast. Yes, he did all the mods to reduce overheating, but still... I like my magic button. Esteban (another local demigod) loves to make fun of kicker dualsports. YMMV.