My first dual sport...

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by redelvis, Jun 16, 2013.

  1. redelvis

    redelvis Adventurer

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    Looking at getting a dual sport. Here's the scoop on me...

    I am 5'6", 150 lbs., and in pretty good shape. I've been riding bicycles my whole life so I'm comfortable on two wheels and got my first motorcycle spring of 2009, a Kawasaki Ninja ex500. I've ridden the ex500 for 15,000 miles in the past 4 years and now feel very, very confident riding it. I live in the mountains of Wyoming so I generally only get about 4.5 months per year to ride so I feel that I have taken pretty good advantage of my riding opportunities.

    Anyhow, we have a lot of forest service roads and I feel that I really should get a bike that will allow me to take advantage of that blessing (although I have zero desire to get into catching air, ledge crawling, gnarly off road). Having said that, I love cruising on the open road for a few hundred miles on days I don't have to work... and I have a lot of those! I am fortunate to live extremely close to 2 national parks and that is where I do most of my riding. Not gonna find me trying to push the limits of cornering, busting out wheelies, or ripping the highways at 100mph.

    Moving along here, I like the idea of a thumper as the lower price fits my lifestyle/career choice. I would be very appreciative of any recommendations or suggestions for choosing my bike! One last kicker to throw into the mix... there is a very realistic possibility that in the fall of 2014 I will be quitting my job and heading south on a long adventure south to Mexico and beyond. Thanks again for any help and guidance you can send my way!
    #1
  2. kubiak

    kubiak Long timer

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    sounds like a suzuki drz400 would be good for you. super reliable and not too tall.
    #2
  3. jpk1080

    jpk1080 Adventurer

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    I want your job!
    #3
  4. MattR302

    MattR302 Awesomeness, Inc.

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    My first bike was an EX500 too. Had that for about 4 years and 16k. My first dualsport was/is my DR350. I considered the DRZ400 too, but the simplicity of the 350 appealed to me, as well as the lower seat height (I'm 5'8" with a short inseam). It'll do 70-75 mph no problem, and for those occasions I do go off-road, I'm glad I didn't get anything bigger.
    #4
  5. Birdmove

    Birdmove Long timer

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    I've had an EX500 too. Great street bike. No offense, but your limiting factor is going to be your height. The DRZ400S is a great bike, but you better try one on for size. I'd love to have a Honda XR650L some day, but the 37" seat height is too high. I'll be 60 in November and throwing my leg over a tall dual sport is getting tougher, and I think I've shrunk some too. If a DRZ fits you then great. Maybe try on a Suzuki DR650 also. There's some nice 250s out there. Yamaha XT250, Kawasaki KLX250, the new Honda CRL250F. A used XT225? I loved mine. I rode a KLR250 and a KLR650 for some years. The 650 is pretty tall also. For a traveler, the KLR650 has some big pluses. 6.2 gallon tank. Nice rear rack. Good fairing. And this stuff is all stock. Most any other bike you buy you'll pat extra for this.

    Good luck, and let's see what others say here.
    #5
  6. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

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    A used 300lb jap thumper with lowered seat, 6spd, and adjustable suspension damping. Throw on a big-bore and other power goodies.

    This could be anything from a '98-'99 DR350SE to a turbo'd WR250R. Just shop for a deal and see what suits you.
    #6
  7. RandoCommando

    RandoCommando Wannabe

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    I don't know abut the DRZ400 for your height, it's a pretty tall bike. Best way to find out is to go try one on.
    I heard good things about the Terra 650, however seat height may also be an issue with that bike.
    Maybe a DR650 would be good for you.
    I'm 5'7" with a 29" inseam and my Gen I KLR has a high seat height. The Gen II KLR has a higher seat height.
    Weight will be an issue with the DR and KLR. Both are pretty heavy.
    KTM is light weight with great power, but the maintenance on them can be a pain. Again, seat height may be an issue.
    #7
  8. Night Falcon

    Night Falcon Tiger Tamer

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    BMW GS 650 ....low, slow, comfy and reliable. Look no further :D
    #8
  9. Possu

    Possu de-nOObed!

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    You forgot the heavy part..

    At 5'6" tall with plenty of trails to ride, I think the OP should be looking at something a lot lighter, especially if he's planning on riding alone. A WR250 of some sort might fit the bill, the light weight would make the seat height less of an issue but they can also be lowered.
    #9
  10. perterra

    perterra -. --- .--. .

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    Not really doing single track stuff I would look at one of the earlier BMW singles and see whats out there. If that doesnt do it, then maybe one of the DR 350 years might do it for you
    #10
  11. FirstPath

    FirstPath Long timer

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    I'm 5'7" and about 170 and have a DR650. Fits me quite well with tips of toes or shift your weight to one side for a flat foot on the ground.

    DR650 is a good choice but you'll need to spend a bit on farkles to make it 100 mile + comfortable (i.e. new seat).

    A BMW F650/GS650 would be a good choice as well. Perhaps a well taken care of Funduro? If it's mostly dirt and fire roads a Triumph Scrambler may work too. Basically has the tires for dirt but everything else is set for street. It would fit your stature well however.

    Good luck...
    #11
  12. byron555

    byron555 Lame Duck Adventurer

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    I'm about 5'10" but an inseam of about 29". I ride a WR250r and with the stock adjustments lowered to the lowest point (no linkages).

    I cannot flat foot my bike with both feet down, you do get used to it. The WR250r is arguably the best dual sport from the Japanese MFGs in the under 650cc category. The DRZ has more CC power, but the reliability, transmission ratios, and suspension are not as good. The WR250r beats the rest in stock form in all categories. The one caveat is price, for the money for a new bike, the CRF250l is the best value.

    Weight is another often overstated factor in bike comparisons. It is important, but often COG and bike balance are often more important if the weight difference is 20ish pounds or less....

    My WRr will do nearly 90 mph (GPS) with my 220lb carcass on it, it will certainly do that with your "bantam" 150lbs That is stock power, with 14/49 gearing
    #12
  13. redelvis

    redelvis Adventurer

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    Thanks for the responses everyone!

    I realize that my height isn't ideal for a dual purpose and that is what lead me to getting the ex500 as my first bike. I wanted to be sure that I got used to riding on something that fit me perfectly before I ventured into the taller bike arena. Regardless of my choice I will get a new seat which will alleviate some of the height issue.

    DRZ400- fairly lightweight and narrow which is good. Tall and I understand that it is kinda working hard at interstate speeds which is bad.

    WR250r- reliable, lightweight, fuel injected and narrow which is good. Expensive for a 250cc and quite tall for me which is bad.

    DR650- reliable, fairly low seat height, interstate power, huge aftermarket support, cheapest of these 3 bikes, and time tested design/technology which is good. Heavier which is bad.

    So I am planning on buying new, and with Suzuki currently having a nice financing deal I believe they are the front runner. I have the mindset of an old man when I ride so I obey the speed limit and don't desire crazy off road challenges. I just like cruising and clearing my mind!

    Between the DR650 and DRZ400 it is a tough choice for me.... 400 will be lighter and better off road and the 650 will be heavier and better on road. Then there is my personal height and weight to consider. Decisions, decisions! I think what tugs at my mind the most is that I will almost certainly be still a primary road rider.

    Anyhow, feel free to chime in with more ideas, comments, concerns, etc. I wish the dealers were closer than 2 hours away so I could try these bikes on a few times while I feel it all out. Thanks so much for your help!
    #13
  14. kubiak

    kubiak Long timer

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    i think there is a lowering kit for the drz400, a lowering link for the rear and slide the forks up in the clamps? i did this on my bmw f650gs and got the seat level down to 34 inches or 32 inch with a low seat.
    #14
  15. FirstPath

    FirstPath Long timer

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    Just to throw another idea is looking at the Honda 250CRF L. It'll run 60 mph all day on hwy, good size for off road and reliable. Issue may be finding one since they are new. Thought about that ride too but went with the DR650.
    #15
  16. GR0NK

    GR0NK Got some screws loose!

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    +1 Got a short buddy with one. Between the FMF powerbomb exhaust, somekind of aftermarket EFI controller and an opened up airbox the thing keeps up well on the road and does pretty good off-road with decent tires. It's a bit porky (claimed 320lbs) but it doesn't really feel that way when you ride it.


    Sean :bmwrider
    #16
  17. bangtheory

    bangtheory Adventurer

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    I have an 06 DRZ400 I'm 6'0 33 inseam and I can stand over the bike with roughly 2 inches of clearance. There is a lowering kit you can get but before you go and do that just try it on stock. Plus keep in mind when you sit on it, it will depress a good bit even if you weight just 150lbs. I'm 230lbs when I sit on it I got a low rider :ricky

    I love the bike it'll do anything you want it too and it'll keep up with a KTM with a rider about 285lbs on it. DRZ400 is durable as all hell I am rough on my bikes and you just can't kill it.

    I had a YZ125 before but it was too small for me.

    With the DRZ400's you can do just about anything to them, they are a heavier bike and they got a lot of gucci gear, sensors, kill switches.. cooling fans so on hot days when your friends have to shut their bikes off to pull them out of the mud you can just sit there and laugh at them.
    #17
  18. beantop

    beantop Remember, Safty Forced

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    R1200GS.....


    It will make you a better rider..

    after you drop it a few dozen tymes you'll learn how to keep it right side up at all costs....:deal:evil:D
    #18
  19. redleger

    redleger Horrible Mechanic

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    If you have narrowed it down to buying new through suzuki ( I am a suzuki fan myself) then either the DR650 or DRZ400 will be awesome. For back roads, and mountain sides, I would lean toward the DRZ400 as I have seen people do amazing things on those. for such a heavy bike, I have seen riders take them on the gnarliest of trails, ride it like a CRFX or WR and then continue on back home on it.

    the DR650 is a great powerhouse, good for back country roads, but from what I have seen, you are not going to maneuver it around like the DRZ. suspension is more street oriented IMO

    Both have great aftermarket support. http://www.procycle.us/ has everything you could want for the DR or DRZ.

    I ride gnarly, and street between my two bikes, and if I had it all to do over again, I would get rid of both of them and go with the DRZ400. For a slow riding style, with back roads in mind, but the power to get it done, it is a great choice.

    Here is a video of a KLX, WR and DRZ(one with the camera mounted) the DRZ is pretty much capable of everything IMO except straight up motocross/Supercros type sports.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2c2PPd84n0

    Good luck to you in your decision. no matter what, get a bike, and ride it like you stole it!
    #19
  20. redelvis

    redelvis Adventurer

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    I appreciate all the info/suggestions. It seems that my best option will be either DR650 or a DRZ400. I'm leaning a little more toward the 650 due to the fact that I will always enjoy going for long road rides no matter how much fun I have off of them. Now just gotta get this ex500 sold so I can have a down payment!
    #20