Seeking advice on what best fits me

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by viseGrip, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. viseGrip

    viseGrip Adventurer

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    hi all!

    i want to take some time to travel around the U.S. on back roads, dirt roads and trails, picking up the odd-job here and there to keep me going - sort of a 'bike hobo' i guess :)

    haven't ridden in many years, so i'm out of touch with recent technology and would like some input from you fine folks about what kind of ride i might be looking for. i'm looking for a used bike and my budget is about $3500 max, so i'm hoping that's enough to get me in the very late 90's to early 2000's model year range.

    here's the specs i have in mind...

    * good reliability with long times between maintenance (valves and such)
    * fuel efficient
    * needs to be comfortable at 65 or so, possibly for extended periods when necessary
    * close to a 50/50 mix of on/off road capability ('off' being mostly dirt roads, but trails also)
    * will obviously need to carry some extra weight, so no slouchy suspension

    i'm a pretty average build at 5'11" and ~185lbs. and my riding experience consists of both road and dirt (mostly trail riding).

    with that in mind, i think i'm ideally looking for something in the 350 to 450 cc range, though i may consider up to a 650. i sat on an XR650R recently and, as i thought, it's awful tall. the weight wasn't as bad as i was expecting, but i didn't get a chance to actually ride it. the DR's and the DRZ are looking attractive, but i'm all ears...
    #1
  2. Bump Stop

    Bump Stop 2 Wheeled Drifter

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    DR 650. Your welcome.:1drink
    #2
  3. rotten

    rotten LOST AGAIN

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    DR650 - DR650se Great all around DS low seat height.
    F650gs if you can find one on your budget now and then you will find ~$3500
    I'd stay away from the 350 - 450 tend to be light weight and narrow making for a harsh seat and lower carrying capacity.
    My XR650L has treated me well however its tall.

    If you plan to do a lot more slab than dirt take a good look at an older f650gs fine for service and fire roads.

    Good Luck
    #3
  4. n16ht5

    n16ht5 ride the night

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    dr650
    #4
  5. viseGrip

    viseGrip Adventurer

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    thanks for the replies

    1) for the DR650, are there particulars year models to stay away from in, say, the 1990 to present range?

    2) or are there particularly good years?

    3) i've read about a potential problem with a bolt in the clutch basket coming loose in the DR's - does this affect the 650?

    4) are there any mandatory mods that need to be done?

    i've been doing allot of reading here, but there's so much to go through!
    #5
  6. Tsotsie

    Tsotsie Semi-reformed Tsotsi

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    DR 650 - air/oil cooled. Medium sized gas tank.
    KLR 650- water cooled. Large sized gas tank.

    Both are capable, plentiful, cheap and can be adapted. Each has advantages and dis-advantages.

    Both are ugly, but lovable.

    As to what fits you? Cant help there.
    #6
  7. marksbonneville

    marksbonneville Been here awhile

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    Well if you are going to be a hobo don't get a DR650 as you'll need to spend money on a seat, suspension and maybe a motor when 3rd gear blows up. Forget the KLR also (doohicky, lousy brakes and too heavy to pick up) If you want to just bum around stick with a 400cc or less, you're in no hurry to get anywhere. Keep it under $2k and put the rest of the money in the bank. :1drink
    #7
  8. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    dr650.
    The only thing you need to spend money on is gas and oil, you adjust the valves yourself (screw and locknut).

    If you stick to the back roads, a dr350 would be even better.

    Or, you could put dual sport tires on a TU250 if you want 80 mpg and a comfortable bike, thicker fork oil and its fine on dirt roads and smoother trails....

    And before people dis this idea, there is a picture of a guy on an overloaded one in the middle of siberia in RTW Dougs road of bones thread....
    #8
  9. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

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    If you shop around you should be able to find a well equiped late model KLR650 in that price range. Dealers in various parts of the country were pushing the 09' models out the door for $3900.00.
    That's probably the best motorcycle value out there.
    The stock seat, tank, brake and suspension are more than adequate. Its a very tough,durable machine, which gets good fuel economy on the cheapest and crappiest of fuel.
    Its not so big that a good sized fellow cant pick up. I'm 5'10" 190 and I can pick it up no problem.

    The other option would be to go minimalist with an 250cc or less bike. Check out the minimalist touring thread here in thumpers. There I'd shop around for a little dr200, which is super tough, economical and keep you well within budget.
    Both the KLR and the dr200 make very good reliable RTW travel bikes.

    I've got over 65k miles on my 06' KLR650 travel bike and it has at least another 65k miles left in it.
    #9
  10. XDragRacer

    XDragRacer Long timer

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    #10
  11. viseGrip

    viseGrip Adventurer

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    thanks for the replies!

    i think the KLR650 is out simply because of weight, despite it's reliability and my experience with Kaw, which was very good (+ i used to work for a dealer). i'm not a great driver and i don't think i want to be muscling around 400+lbs. off road.

    the relatively few problems i'm reading about with the DR650's don't seem too concerning to me since most seem to be avoidable with minor mods (such as the neutral switch bolts) and sticking with something newer than a '99, which i had planned on anyway. the simplicity of the bike is also attractive, as well as it's popularity and options.

    still, i'd like to explore options in the 350/450cc range. i'm kind of a minimalist and not interested as much anymore with power/speed as i am with fun and reliability, though i think anything smaller than a 350 is out.

    the DRZ400 owners seem to be very a enthusiastic bunch - any thoughts on this?

    would also like to hear from any KTM owners about their experiences
    #11
  12. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    klr would fit best
    drz woul be best in dirt not so on hiway
    dr would split the diff just lower the pegs
    #12
  13. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    2004 on
    just tighten the nsu
    seat , skid plate
    #13
  14. Skinner

    Skinner Mr.KTM

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    KTM Rocks!!! I've rideen mine, abused them, kicked, dropped them off cliffs, stuck them in swamps, never really broke anything, never ever blew a motor or replaced rings or anything, replaced rear bearings a few times, but i am always under water and in sand and mud swamps.
    Holds less oil, than most but who cares???? I change mine once a year if it needs it or not :lol3, modern oil last a long time if buy good stuff and keep your gas and air clean!
    #14
  15. dolphins13

    dolphins13 orange rules

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    +1 never breaks down? i hear im lucky?
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  16. viseGrip

    viseGrip Adventurer

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    i just sat on a 2012 DR-Z400S at the local dealer - wow - i don't know if it was a typical setup or not, but it seemed every bit as tall as an XL650R! the front fork tube diameter also caught my attention - bloody HUGE!

    nice looking bike though - hopefully i can find a used one to test ride.
    #16
  17. jon_l

    jon_l Long timer

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    Wouldn't we all? A light-weight, mid-size, dual-sport with a 6 speed wide ratio transmission and LONG service intervals is the holy grail. Doesn't exist, unless you want to mess with an older machine; the DR350 was pretty good, but most will need some love, since they were discontinued in 1999.

    Closest bikes out there for you, if single-track trails are in the mix, the WR250R (yes, it can do highway despite being a 250cc), and DR 650. The WR250R is a capable bike. If you want more road than dirt, KLR650 and G650GS are good, reliable machines capable of some off-road, despite being heavy.
    #17
  18. jon_l

    jon_l Long timer

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    Yep, they're tall. Not ideal on highway, but reliable and not too heavy.
    #18
  19. jon_l

    jon_l Long timer

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    Undoubtedly the best brand for off-road performance, but hardly the gold standard for low maintenance, low-budget, travelling machines. I don't think the OP intends oil changes and valve checks every 15 or 20 hours. Yes, I know, if not raced, one can extend the intervals, but still, a far cry from valve-checks at 26,000 like the WR250R.

    I so want one (make mine a 200 XC-W), but I would not choose one for long-term, long distance, low-budget travel.
    #19
  20. viseGrip

    viseGrip Adventurer

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    i'm actually keeping the WR250 in the back of my mind.
    did some reading on it, including a really cool thread where a guy took his for a 6000 mi. road trip. the only weak point i'm aware of is the fuel pump and that's easy enough to deal with, but it is a small bike and i get the impression it's not gonna be so hot on the highway for extended runs.

    yeah, the height doesn't bother me and i'm sure it could be lowered if it becomes a problem. my biggest problem is trying to find anything within a reasonable distance of where i live!
    #20