The ideal deep woods play bike

Discussion in '2 smokers' started by Bud Tugly, Jul 16, 2012.

  1. Bud Tugly

    Bud Tugly Gnarly old curmudgeon

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    274
    Location:
    Formerly Ishpeming, MI now Eugene, OR
    I live in the deep Michigan woods and would like to discuss the ideal play bike for these conditions, which are similar for many others in the northern Midwest, the north-east, much of eastern Canada, and the Appalachian area. The off-road riding offers a wealth of logging roads, power lines, twisty gravel back roads, and pure single track trails. There are lots of hills, mud,, sand, and fallen logs to contend with but relatively few wide open areas where you can wind a big powerful bike out to its potential. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    First of all, light weight and great handling are going to trump raw power. A heavy and powerful bike is just too much of a handful under these conditions and you'll miss out on some of the most interesting trails, where you may have to lift over fallen logs or traverse deep muddy bogs to be able to get through. Even on the gravel sections speeds much more than 45 mph aren't going to be sustained for very long. While there are definitely hills, most of them are puny compared to the big mountains out west. So what's the ideal play bike for these conditions?<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    In my experience I'd put an absolute upper limit of 300 lbs. (including gear) for the bike and even less would be better. Secondly, any bike putting out 15-30 hp with good ground clearance will be adequate for the terrain and more than that just cause you to dig big ruts in the softer going.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    IMO a 2 stroke in the 125-250 cc fits the criteria just about perfectly. A few 4 strokes come close as well but their extra weight makes most of them marginal at best. Once upon a time the big 4 Japanese brands plus other companies like Bultaco, Ossa, Montesa, Penton, Hodaka, and others marketed many street legal 2 stroke models in this category but most have disappeared. If you can get your hands on one of these old gems you might just have the perfect deep woods play bike.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    #1
  2. Biebs

    Biebs BMW Airhead

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2012
    Oddometer:
    608
    Location:
    Cave Creek AZ
    KDX200 or 220 that's all you need to know!!!!!:cry:eek1
    #2
  3. Bud Tugly

    Bud Tugly Gnarly old curmudgeon

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    274
    Location:
    Formerly Ishpeming, MI now Eugene, OR
    Perfect fit except street legal would be nice for connecting trails.
    #3
  4. Unstable Rider

    Unstable Rider Moto Fartografist

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2010
    Oddometer:
    3,363
    Location:
    Twin Cities, Minnesota USA
    The WR250 R yammie if you have lots of money, or the 250 Kawi if you want cheaper, or the little Yammie TW200 looks like fun. Or something in the 250 family from Suzuki as well.

    I think 250 the recipe. The 400cc and 650cc family starts to get heavy, bulky, and spendy. Sure, there are exceptions, I just dont think the kind of boonie riding you are talking about requires lots of CC's. I have the same quest as a second bike. My KLR too piggish for some terrain.

    Just the three that pop into my distorted mind. A KTM or Husky certainly great choices too, but... $$$

    it's largely "ride what ya got".... but constantly picking up a bigger bike gets old..
    #4
  5. Bud Tugly

    Bud Tugly Gnarly old curmudgeon

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    274
    Location:
    Formerly Ishpeming, MI now Eugene, OR
    Back in my early days of riding I had a 175cc Bultaco Campera and a 125cc Kawasaki KS 125. Both were terrific bikes for the deep woods. They barely weighed 200 ;bs so were easy to pick up and manuever plus had enough power to do the job, although their suspension was primitive by today's standard.

    . There are some small 4 strokes on the market these days in the 250cc and under range will work but most of them are pushing 300 lbs without any gear on them. I miss the small street legal 2 strokes.
    #5
  6. PJay

    PJay Any bike, anywhere

    Joined:
    May 24, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,029
    Location:
    Russell, New Zealand
    I think you're talking about my 1974 OSSA Explorer 250. It's the trials bike (I also have an MAR 250, made 2 months before the Explorer), but with a bigger fuel tank and a more substantial seat. Headlight, tail/brakelight, and speedometer down on the front fork leg.

    For really gnarly deep woods, you'd probably want one of the 90/100 Jappers such as the little Kawasaki 100 - you can carry these out of trouble, but they take you forever to get to the woods. My Explorer will do +/-130kph flat out - uncomfortably and scarily, but it'll do it.
    #6
  7. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    6,835
    Location:
    Back in Seattle, FINALLY
    I'm a huge fan of DR350s. For anything. Maybe a little heavier than you're looking for, but definitely unkillable.
    #7
  8. Shocktower

    Shocktower Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    9,535
    Location:
    Oregon City Orygun
    KTM 300 EXC :evil, they can be plated here :D
    #8
  9. JeffS77

    JeffS77 cheap bastard

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,378
    Location:
    Riverside , CA
    [​IMG]
    #9
  10. Ever Onward

    Ever Onward Older,Wiser, Smarter

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,276
    Location:
    The open road towards the sun !
    Go ride a 200 EXC, you will see the light ! :wink:

    The 300 and 380 are overkill for deep woods. The 200 has enough grunt for sand yet is very light and nimble for the tight stuff. You see them titled and plated on a regular basis.


    [​IMG]
    #10
  11. PJay

    PJay Any bike, anywhere

    Joined:
    May 24, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,029
    Location:
    Russell, New Zealand
    I guess, since we're in "Old's Cool", how old has it gotta be before it's cool enough for the OP?
    #11
  12. Rokoneer

    Rokoneer Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    552
    Location:
    Upstate, You Nork
    GasGas Pampera, MK 3 version
    #12
  13. stainlesscycle

    stainlesscycle Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,330
    Location:
    morgantown, wv
    lots of choices with your restrictions. just about any trials bike, it200, it175 (81-83), kdx, pe175, etc. i'm assuming a reed motor would be much more efficient for your use than a piston port..you didn't really specify an era, but if it's in old's cool, i would assume pre-1985...
    #13
  14. JeffS77

    JeffS77 cheap bastard

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,378
    Location:
    Riverside , CA
    I know off topic...but....

    BBR CR80 aluminum frame with worked over XR200 in it..owner says 183lbs full of fluids


    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. dtysdalx2

    dtysdalx2 PITA but useful

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Oddometer:
    14,810
    Location:
    Moneyapolis, MN
    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. Ever Onward

    Ever Onward Older,Wiser, Smarter

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,276
    Location:
    The open road towards the sun !
    Completely agree !

    If we had to stay air cooled vintage, that IT 200 would be great in the deep woods of Da Yoop ! :clap
    #16
  17. GarageRat

    GarageRat Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    187
    Location:
    Western NY
    I think some consideration should be given to an Alpina, either a 250 or 350 would work great.
    #17
  18. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    772
    Location:
    Château d'If
    Yes, even though a KTM 300 will give you wood, it might not be the best choice for dealing with it.

    So rather than beating about the bush, ride through it with a KTM 200.:thumb

    2nd street legal choice would be a CRM250 if you are lucky enough to find one in your neck of the woods. Any mark will do: Mk1, Mk2, Mk3, or the AR.

    3rd, a 1990's Yamaha 230cc Lanza or a KDX220.
    #18
  19. pman13

    pman13 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2007
    Oddometer:
    172
    Location:
    Lake Orion, MI
    It depends on what trails you like to ride in Michigan. I just picked up a YZ125 because I wanted something light and flickable to ride the abundant single track. My XR650R is a little heavy, but I ride 2-track and ORV trails with it all day long. I tried to find a KTM200 but they were out of my very small price range.
    #19
  20. JeffS77

    JeffS77 cheap bastard

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,378
    Location:
    Riverside , CA

    YZ125 geared low with some flywheel weight has always been something I have thought about doing
    #20