Learn on a Dirt Bike or throw caution to the wind and just get a Big Adventure bike?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Elusion, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. Elusion

    Elusion Adventurer

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    I'm coming from road bikes so the Dirt is new to me.

    I ultimately want a good Adventure bike to ride across the country (US) next year when I move to the east coast, so I can take more scenic routes and some of the TAT.

    I've heard that learning on a small Dirt bike is a good idea. So, should I get a Dirt Bike for the next year and get used to the Dirt or just go all out and get an Adventure bike right off the bat and learn on that for a year?

    I've fallen for the KTM 1190 but sadly it's not available in the US yet, so if I DID get an adventure bike now it'd probably be the 990.

    As for a dirt bike; it would need to be road legal. I'm not too keen on a used one though.

    So what's the consensus: learn or just go for it and get used to a big Adventure bike?
    #1
  2. SkiFastBadly

    SkiFastBadly A beer? Yes, please

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    Uh, I would have said go with the Big ADV until you brought up the TAT.

    Here's what I would do. I'd go buy a used Buell Ulysses. They're big adventure bikes and you can pick one up pretty easily for about 5 grand.

    I was riding an HD Heritage Softail when I got a Uly and it was fine, I ripped all over gravel roads on it with no issues.

    After a year you can sell it for what you paid for it...if you really want that KTM.

    But the TAT, as I understand it, is not a thing for the big bikes.

    I'll now sit back and watch the rest of the comments. Should be interesting. It always is.
    #2
  3. jules083

    jules083 Long timer

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    Since you want new, I'm going to say KLX250S or CRF250L. They can both be had for under $5000 out the door with enough shopping around, and are probably cheaper than the damage you'll do to a big adventure bike off-road.

    Either way a new rider going off road on a KTM 990 is a terrible idea. I've been riding dirt for 15 years and I'm quite confident I couldn't go off-road on one. Other, more skilled, riders do quite well on the bigger bikes. I will guarantee that nearly all riders that can go off-road on bigger bikes have many thousands of miles on smaller bikes.
    #3
  4. SandHogSC

    SandHogSC Adventurer

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    Everyone should have a small (250 or less) dirt bike to play on. Buy it at a good price such as < $2000, take care of it and if you get tired of it you should be able to get most of your money back.
    #4
  5. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    I agree. Even a 400 lb bike is at or near my limit. Get a large dual sport, such as a DR650 or XRL650, and add a very strong rack. Either bike will take you across the country, and work much better off road. After completing that trip, trade up for the 1190.
    #5
  6. Tucson Jim

    Tucson Jim Been here awhile

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    Tenere
    #6
  7. Swashbuckler

    Swashbuckler Been here awhile

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    I just came off street bikes and jumped on a F800GS last month with no problems. Of course there's a big difference once you get off road, but just going out and riding is working for me.

    I also ride mountain bikes and treat the 800 no different. The biggest difference i've found against street bikes is that I use the rear brakes off road, and have gotten used to the rear sliding around.

    I would say that if you're confident in your throttle control, situational awareness, line picking, and brake control, you'd be fine to jump on a big bike.
    #7
  8. eatpasta

    eatpasta Lawnmower Target

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    DO NOT "just go for it" - get a small bike to actually learn how to ride in the dirt. A massive component to riding dirt is confidence. Build it up before making the investment on a big bike.... and just remember, a small bike in the dirt is like an F-16 and a big bike in the dirt is like a 747 and if you try to ride a big bike like an F16, you're going to get into a lot of trouble real quick
    #8
  9. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    Big heavy bikes are really no fun in the dirt at all.
    Besides broken bones, its just not a lot of fun fighting a big heavy pig in sand for miles, or dragging it out of a mud pit.
    A wr250 will do what you want.
    350 pounds is ok for a big strong guy with strong bones, but add gear and luggage and you are up to 400 pounds quickly.
    #9
  10. blk-betty

    blk-betty bam-a-lam

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    Have never ridden the TAT so I can't comment specifcally on that, but be really honest with yourself. If your off pavement riding is going to be 90% forest service type, hard pack dirt/gravel dual track I say get the big bike. It will be a hell of lot more comfortable on the highway getting back and forth to your off pavement trails and will do fine on those surfaces.

    However if you plan on single track or loose sand, absolutely get a small "light" dirt bike.

    I have a DR650, grew up riding dirt bikes as a kid so I have some off-road experience, and the DR is a bear in loose sand and it's not very comfortable running 75-80 mph on the interstate for more than 1 hour while getting to and fro the local forest service roads near me. <!-- / message --><!-- sig -->
    #10
  11. KoolBreeze

    KoolBreeze Been here awhile

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    I have to say... I agree for the moment. "for the moment" = until I "may" eventually get more comfortable on my pig. the reason I say for the moment is I see videos of people that are uber capable of having a blast riding their pigs in deep sand etc... something I feel is basically a miserable experience on my current bike, yet I used to have a blast on using lighter MX bikes. perhaps, maybe, I will get good enough to have a similar feeling and outlook on a large ADV bike. just not at the moment.



    I am coming from the opposite spectrum. when I was younger I used to ride dirt bikes... to the point where if I didn't dump a bike once or twice a day I felt I wasn't riding hard enough. but dumping a 250 in my 20's compared to dumping a 1200 now is a HUGE difference. loved playing with the bikes back in the day... as I am playing with my current bike now ON THE STREET. I expect I would still enjoy playing off road with a lightweight bike... it's just not the same as riding my pig on even a dirt road. it's just "too much" and my skills aren't matched well enough yet.

    I would love to say get your ADV bike of choice then head over to a school like Rawhide and learn the nuances... heck this might actually work for you. the difference cash wise between bothering buying a smaller bike to "learn" off roading then selling it to buy your larger ADV bike etc.. I just don't know for sure.

    I honestly can't say learning to ride off road using a smaller dirt bike would be all that worthy either for future ADV bike use since the riding styles of pure "off road" vs large ADV come across different enough for me to feel they are substantial. read my comments above... a lot of my previous experience riding off road on a lighter off road bike is close to irrelevant now on the monster I currently ride.

    yep, "to me" it seems there are almost three different worlds of riding being discussed here... pure street. pure off road. then ADV combining some of both while adding yet a new dimension unique to itself.

    I feel I should add: I have ridden my current large ADV bike on single track, dirt roads, gravel roads, sand, fairly deep sand and majorly rocky roads/trails. and while I haven't taken any courses at Rawhide, I have toured their facilities on my bike. I can see a course or so at such a facility being very worthy.

    imho the worst is the sand... (haven't any experience with mud yet) aired down to the bare minimum or not... it's extremely squirely. large ADV biking consists of standing on your pegs for mile after mile at times... (ok so I have riddent similar in my off road days but add a couple hundred pounds and things are different) gravel "to me" is the second worse. I don't have all that much of a crappy time on single track and dirt roads, super rocky you know is going to be slow going and it's not all that bad unless you have mile after mile to handle when it can get tiring. basically riding a pig off road IS tiring. (and stressful, at least at the moment for me)
    #11
  12. viverrid

    viverrid not dead yet

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    If you just want it to learn on for a year, what's the problem with a used one? Get one cheap that's already been dropped & scuffed, then sell a year later for close to what you paid for it. Jeez why get a new one so you can mess up a new bike.
    #12
  13. Celtic Curmudgeon

    Celtic Curmudgeon Indiana Jones wanabe

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    After 20+ years of street bikes, I bought an Aprilia Caponord. I've ventured into some dirt, sand and a little mud, but find myself avoiding technical places that even a semi-skilled dirt rider wouldn't hesitate to go. I really wish I'd gotten some basic skills down on a 250, or even a beater KLR first. A dirt noob on a 500lb, 100hp bike on loose ground is a recipe for a trip to the emergency room. If budget allows, go ahead and get the big ADV bike, but pick up a 'throwdown' 250 you can thrash.
    #13
  14. GlennR

    GlennR Playin' in the Fire

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    Well, you can buy a brand new big fancy expensive adventure bike to "learn" on. But, it would not be a "wise" choice.

    As said above, buy a small used dual sport. You can learn on it and resell it for what you paid, but there's a good chance you'll decide to keep it. Small dual sports are so much fun.
    #14
  15. KoolBreeze

    KoolBreeze Been here awhile

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    I think a variety of people are saying similar things... different tools for the different jobs at hand, and I'm adding that each tool and job has it's own nuances.

    to the OP, I have decided that my opinion is: if you are going to ride full blown ADV, get the right tool for the job and learn how to use that tool how it is to be used. grab you ADV bike of choice and possibly take some courses from the experts in its best use.
    #15
  16. KoolBreeze

    KoolBreeze Been here awhile

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    oops. sort of missed this one particular. hey, if you want to wait for the bike you really dig... do what the consensus is saying "grab a used smaller dual purpose and sell it later for basically what you paid for it"

    surely can't hurt and in the long run you will own the bike you REALLY wanted all along.

    (in the long run, why settle for a bike other than the one you really want?)
    #16
  17. stoke

    stoke ocean minded

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    Because of space/use considerations, I could only get one bike. I also commute 30 miles a day plus use my bike for work all over San Diego County, much of it freeway.

    So I got the DL650 Vstrom. Used, of course.

    I also wanted to ride dirt, but nothing crazy, just hard pack, fire roads, dual track and the like. California has so much to offer.

    But, I was new to riding a motorcycle off road and quite frankly, my first 2-3 times out in dirt really sucked on a 490 lb bike. White knuckles the whole time.

    One of the guys here, Shooby, tipped me off to Motoventures off road motorcycle training here in SD county. I did a big bike day and trials day.

    What an eye opener, and I'll be damned if these bike do work in the dirt. Yes a smaller bike makes more sense, is more fun and easier to pick up. But the big bikes do work ok and do everything else you want too.

    We did single track, steep hills with loose dirt, forced front brake locking, DEEP sand, everything. I went down three times and came out ok. Riding dirt after these courses was so much less tense for me.

    Sand:

    <a href="http://s1296.photobucket.com/user/stoke3/media/deepsand13_zps323394b1.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1296.photobucket.com/albums/ag4/stoke3/deepsand13_zps323394b1.jpg" border="0" alt="Sand photo deepsand13_zps323394b1.jpg"/></a>

    Not stoked right before going down this:

    <a href="http://s1296.photobucket.com/user/stoke3/media/descent4_zps7c4dcc52.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1296.photobucket.com/albums/ag4/stoke3/descent4_zps7c4dcc52.jpg" border="0" alt="Really Unhappy Here photo descent4_zps7c4dcc52.jpg"/></a>

    How to handle your bike if it stalls on a hill:

    <a href="http://s1296.photobucket.com/user/stoke3/media/steephillstall2_zpsec359307.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1296.photobucket.com/albums/ag4/stoke3/steephillstall2_zpsec359307.jpg" border="0" alt="Hill Stall Training photo steephillstall2_zpsec359307.jpg"/></a>

    The bottom line is, if you have access to training, do it. It really works and makes riding off road so much more enjoyable.
    #17
  18. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

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    Do you have good health insurance?

    What kind of physicality do you have? Tall, strong, athletic, good reflexes, tough as leather, and long insean?

    Otherwise, I'd suggest a used thumper DS that you can man-handle for a year or longer
    #18
  19. KoolBreeze

    KoolBreeze Been here awhile

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    nice pics, nice bike. love cali.

    and to the OP: I fully expect you already know that new or used, if you're going to really ride the bike off road it's not a matter of if it's going to get dumped, but more "how often". I just looked up your preference and that's a hell of a bike... more capable off road than mine for sure. don't get me wrong, I really like my bike... surprises me at times how rugged it is.

    I purchased my bike used, but still almost a thousand miles under 5k... and it makes me cringe at times when I lay it over. spotless when I got it, now sporting banged up side cases, head guards and missing front left turn signal. (1am and another dump for the day... no broken bones, pick it up, inspect it, thank heavens it appears reasonably functional... realize it's time to find a spot to make camp and get some sleep for the night, close to another thousand miles to ride to make it home...)

    I did pick up a big ADV bike as my first street bike... and it's been an eye opening experience. almost entirely in very good way. you have the street bike back ground... I think whichever method you choose will be a blast and I can only hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
    #19
  20. KoolBreeze

    KoolBreeze Been here awhile

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    :rofl

    :clap
    #20