Old to bikes, new to Adventure Riding. I need help. Beta 500/DR650

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by danmcph, Jun 3, 2017.

  1. danmcph

    danmcph Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    28
    Okay guys heres the background. I grew up in Moab Utah. I love tight nasty rocky vertical stupid trails. I love the type of terrain Moab offers. I currently live in Idaho and have access to mountain riding and I love it. Currently I ride a 2008 300XC and a 2017 Beta 300 Evo. (I am just now learning trials bikes) I owned a Ducati Monster for the two months it took me to realize I was going to kill myself. I am a good dirt rider and feel confident on the dirt.

    So, here is the situation. I had a friend talk to me about Adventure Riding and it seems awesome. He has a 1000cc KTM adventure bike (I can't remember the model). He rides with two Honda Africa Twins, a 1200 BMW and a guy on a DR650. I spent a lot of time learning and I have ruled out the big twins. I don't like the idea of riding that big of a bike. Honestly, if there was too much road involved I would rather trailer the interstate portions. I like the idea of camping off my bike and staying on gravel roads and twin track predominantly with the asphalt just being used to connect it.

    My friend on the DR says to get a bike like everyone else because they aren't going to go where I can if I get a more dirt oriented bike and I would hate trying to ride with them on long stretches of gravel. I could see myself easily doing a long long trip that is all gravel and never getting off it.. I just don't see myself doing some huge asphalt slog.

    From a budget standpoint I have the green light to get what I want, new, used etc is fine. The wife said just get what I want. Just because I can sink 15K into this project doesn't mean I don't like the idea of being thrifty if it gets me what I want.

    I have looked at 3 bikes. KTM 690. DR650. Beta 500. The Beta and KTM would be purchased new. The DR would be used and of course save me a ton of money.

    So, if I got the Beta how much would I lag behind on the gravel and short sections of asphalt compared to if I got a 690 or DR650? Can the Beta hang on gravel and asphalt for long periods of time with the DR? In other words, does the DR do the slabbing better than the Beta? The reason I ask is because if the Beta is as good at slabbing as the DR but lots better off road than I am not giving anything up to get the Beta and will have no problem on the slab as the group has a bunch of DR's in it. If the DR is a better slabber then I would be the weakest link on those sections.

    I am not sure what to do. I like the idea of a bike that is light and great on trails, I just don't know how much I am going to lose on the asphalt and gravel as I have no experience to even compare to.
    #1
  2. Grreatdog

    Grreatdog Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    22,859
    Location:
    Annapolis, MD
    Unless your friends are riding autobahn speeds, on a Beta 500 if you lag behind on the pavement it is you not the bike. I routinely do long pavement slogs with a pair of 690's on my EXC525. It isn't a big deal. That 525 will do the better part of 100 mph. The reason I sold my 640 after getting the 525 is that it does pavement well and flat tears up dirt and gravel roads.

    That said, with what you already have, I would probably get a 690. It is one hell of a fun bike and doesn't give up that much on trails. It is a workout on stupid hard trails. But most people don't ride the stupid hard stuff when weighted down for ADV type rides. A DR650 is very versatile and cheap. They will do hard trails - the damn things climb like mountain goats.

    But a 690 is just plain fun.
    #2
    Bitingdog, pratered and Navin like this.
  3. renogeorge

    renogeorge Let's ride!!

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,480
    Location:
    Reno
    Unless your riding buddies are super human, you won't be disadvantaged off road with the 500, 650 or 690. The 500 will run down the road gravel or paved. It just won't be as happy doing it as the 650 or the 690. The 500 is roughly 100 pounds lighter than the 690. I'm not sure about about the 650. But I'd guess is heavier than the 690. A consideration for more serious dirt. But maybe not so much if you are riding with guys on big, heavy twins. Think I'd go with the 650 or the 690.
    #3
  4. danmcph

    danmcph Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    28
    So if most everyone I ride with is on a twin or a 650 I would be better off getting a 690? Is the onroad difference between a 690 and Beta 500 that huge?
    #4
  5. renogeorge

    renogeorge Let's ride!!

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,480
    Location:
    Reno
    Yes, IMO. But it depends how far, how fast, how long. A 500 will run 70 on an interstate. But it won't be what I call fun.
    #5
  6. NJDualsporter

    NJDualsporter Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    161
    Location:
    Howell, NJ
    I have a DR thats set up for the longer haul but it does see it's fair share of east coast rocks and single track, I also have a Beta 390, for what it's worth, get the DR. Spend some money on the suspension and never look back.. Reliable as a rock, it will go dam near anywhere you point it and if you add a Pro-Cycle seat on it you can ride it all day, every day.
    No my Beta's not the 500 but it is a dam good street legal "dirt bike", will it do long road distances, sure, but it's not as happy doing it as the DR is and no I would not give up my Beta.
    #6
  7. danmcph

    danmcph Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    28
    So if a 500 and a 650 are geared the same at the bottom then at top speed the 650 is significantly faster? For some reason I thought that with the wide spaced gears and 6 of them to boot that the 500 could do high speeds and also grunt along at low speed. How would the vibrations etc compare?
    #7
  8. Grreatdog

    Grreatdog Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    22,859
    Location:
    Annapolis, MD
    I don't know about the Beta or the new EXC 500, but my EXC 525 doesn't vibrate as much as either a 690 or a DR650. I ride with new versions of both. Highway is just no big deal on my 525 when I ride with a pair of 690's and a new DR650.

    But, my EXC525 has a Renazco seat, Fastway pegs, better lighting and bigger tank. So, it took a little work to make it into a decent dual sport. Stock seats on plated enduros are simply brutal. Otherwise, I don't see the big deal. My 525 is still just loafing at highway speeds.

    Drag racing the new 690 last Christmas, my 525 gives up a couple bike lengths up to about 90 mph. Once we get to the ton the 690's leave me. Otherwise my 525 hangs surprisingly pretty tough. And I just don't see a huge difference in how they ride when we switch off.

    But, I am a dual sport guy not a street or ADV guy. I have never even ridden a street bike or big ADV bike in forty years of riding. So, I am decidedly dirt oriented. I like riding dirt bikes on the street. But, I would still get the 690 with other enduros in the stable just because they are so smoking fast.
    #8
  9. CFH6604

    CFH6604 That's what she said.

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2015
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Hamilton, MT
    Consider a TE610 or TE630 as well.

    To quote another inmate about the TE610:

    Haven't had mine for very long, but it's by far the best dual sport I have ever ridden.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    #9
    Bitingdog likes this.
  10. Navin

    Navin Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    15,543
    The 610 is almost literally a heavier EXC520/525. Ive raced, motarded and Adv-ed 620/640/520/525/530/570/610EXCs and had a TE610. Set up with the same rubber and seat, they ae all pretty much equal on the street. The 500/501 is supposed to be even better. Im sure the Beta is fine as well. Id choose any of the big EXCs over the 690/701.

    You will be more limited in performance by tire choice than by the machine.

    Only time my Adv or SE950 pulled away from any dirt bikes was because I got a jump and showered roost so thick they couldnt pass. Braking the big bikes on dirt takes much longer, so they float by when your trying to slow down anyway.
    #10
    mylsmkj and Grreatdog like this.
  11. danmcph

    danmcph Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    28
    I have seen trip reports where guys on DR650s do some pretty incredible long range trips in S America and Africa. Would the Beta have the reliability for that type of trip?

    I know a DR650 can do it all and I am wondering if the Beta is the modern day equivalent of the DR650.
    #11
  12. TigerTanker

    TigerTanker Husqurducycle

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    Oddometer:
    7,584
    Location:
    Tacoma WA
    I had a triumph 800 xcx. I read your post. Riding with that group isn't going to work for you, and you know it. Your a mostly dirt guy, me too.

    I have a dual sport equipped husky fe450. The bike is great off road and like a street bike on pavement. It is awesome, can do and go anywhere. Only shortcoming is luggage rack options. The Ktm 500 sounds like your best choice. The 690 is gonna be too big and klunky.
    IMG_1260.JPG
    #12
    Dolly Sod and Bitingdog like this.
  13. pratered

    pratered Jackpiner

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    Oddometer:
    219
    Location:
    Wyoming
    Lots of great insights here.
    I too come to ADV riding from an almost pure dirt background,albeit, a generation or so older than you.
    Two years ago I bought a 2015 690, I am still not 100% positive a 500 would not have been a better choice but, I have learned they serve different purposes. Even though I have stripped the 690 down and ridden the same single track I ride on my 380 two stroke, the 'fun' factor was not as high. Conversely, a 380 two stroke would not be near as fun when I have to ride pavement. I would contend that a 500 is not near as comfortable as the 690 doing 70mph either, especially with 60-70 lbs of gear and some wind protection.
    One additional thing I might say, as a dirt biker, a DR 650 may be bomb proof but may not be the thrill a 690 (or 500) would be!
    #13
    Grreatdog likes this.
  14. Cuttlefish

    Cuttlefish Riding to disappear.

    Joined:
    May 31, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1,215
    Location:
    Sunshine coast Qld Australia
    Since you've got your dirt bikes covered why not buy a KTM 1090 for the adv rides? More comfortable on the slab than the smaller, lighter bikes and closer to what your mates are riding. Could leave you less frustrated than if you're on a bike that screams "take me up that root infested, rock strewn and rutted out muddy, crazy hill and we'll be as one," that your mates have decided to pass on with their bikes.
    Videos just for fun...
    #14
    Beezer likes this.
  15. danmcph

    danmcph Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    28
    I am pretty much decided on the DR650 or the Beta 500. My question is still this:

    I know a DR650 can do it all and I am wondering if the Beta is the modern day equivalent of the DR650?

    I know off road the Beta is much better but does it give up anything to the DR650 onroad and if so, what?
    #15
  16. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer

    Joined:
    May 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    3,649
    Location:
    Star Tannery, VA
    Having owned and ridden a 525, 690, 1190R, and 800xc heres my opinion...

    The big bikes have it all over the little bikes on both pavement and easy going gravel and dirt when long distances are involved. Why? Because they go every bit as fast and haul more gear in better comfort and for me i get bored and uncomfortable slogging miles on easy stuff on a small bike.

    Imho the big bikes rock right up until things get challenging enough that their weight starts to intimidate. Given a big enough trail they can charge through rough stuff very well. Their weakness is in situations where gravity plays a significant role or one loses momentum. A light bike will start moving up a hill from a dead stop a LOT better than one twice its weight will. A light bike is also a lot less tiring to wrestle.

    In the end it depends on what you're going to do with it. If riding long distance with other big bikes will be a primary role I'd opt for bigger over smalller. The 690 is my current pick for a good compromise on weight, fun, and distance. But everyone is different.
    #16
    pratered and Beezer like this.
  17. danmcph

    danmcph Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    28
    And the ultimate bike is......Two bikes. Damn. I knew it was going to head that direction. :-)
    #17
    pratered, CFH6604 and windblown101 like this.
  18. TigerTanker

    TigerTanker Husqurducycle

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    Oddometer:
    7,584
    Location:
    Tacoma WA
    I took my fe450 and 300 on a 23 day road trip of west USA, including Moab. The 450 set up as dual sport had many 150 mile plus days. On pavement it cruises awesome, comfort seat a must.

    The Beta 500 likely will be an awesome off road bike, but also very nice on road if you set it up for that kind of ride.
    #18
  19. lvscrvs

    lvscrvs Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,171
    Location:
    norcal
    Yup....

    I have a DR650 and KTM690 in the garage currently (probably going to sell or trade the 690 since money is tight and I really want a 350 for trail riding).

    Just did 1300 miles around the Grand Canyon with a group of KTM 990 & 1190, BMW R1200GS, and Africa Twins. Those bigger bike riders were all riding more comfortably on the highway stretches where me and my 650 were getting blown around more in the gusty winds. It wasn't a problem, just more of a comfort thing. I'm not a big guy and not as stout as I used to be so the little (370lbs wet) DR650 fits me pretty well as an adventure bike.

    I haven't ridden a Beta 500, but I would put it at about 100lbs less than the DR650. Definite plus on the trails. Maybe not as good on the open roads where more weight provides a much more planted feel. If you could get a ride on these bikes that's such a great help. There is a ton of aftermarket for the DR, and it needs $$$ thrown at it if you want it to perform decently.
    #19
    Beezer likes this.
  20. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    7,884
    Location:
    Anchorage, formerly Spenard (hub of the universe)
    here: "My friend on the DR says to get a bike like everyone else because they aren't going to go where I can if I get a more dirt oriented bike and I would hate trying to ride with them on long stretches of gravel. I could see myself easily doing a long long trip that is all gravel and never getting off it.. I just don't see myself doing some huge asphalt slog."

    ADV riding is a different thing from dirt riding, it's also NOT dual sporting. there is typically going to be a bunch of asphalt, at least until you get where you are going to "start" your adventure.... its the nature of the beast. and 300 - 400 mile days are a mainstay... maybe throw in the occasional 500. the BMW GS on a gravel road is a flying couch... there is no better gravel runner. the KTM LC8s are a giant dirtbike. for speed, power, comfort, and stability these bikes rock on a long haul. there is a limit to how much single track this group will do.... its not D/S. you should try riding some examples of the ADV liter bikes just to be sure... ask you friends for a demo ride
    #20