Trading a Street Bike for a Thumper Dual Sport

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by mikem9, Sep 15, 2013.

  1. mikem9

    mikem9 Wanderer

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    Thinking about trading my 03 Bandit 1200s for a somewhat newer DR 650. They are valued at similar levels. I have an EXC 400 for dirt oriented dual sporting. Have been thinking of getting a large dual sport bike for a while. Based on your own experiences will I be disappointed trying to follow my buddies on 2 - 4 day trips through the mountains. They ride a range of bigger street and adventure bikes (GS 1200, KTM 990's, Kawasaki Concourse, Ducati Hypermotard, 80's BMW air head touring bike, vintage honda CB 750 etc).

    I enjoy the Bandit - Good torque, smooth motor, Incredibly dependable. Comfortable on medium length trips. Handles as well as I need. Easy to pass cars. Can stay up with any bike in our group. Feels just fine if I need to go on the highway.

    But, something about cruising around in "thumper mode" just enjoying the scenery, being able to go on more dirt roads and not feel like I'm tearing my streetbike up etc. Has me thinking.

    Thanks for any thoughts!
    #1
  2. viverrid

    viverrid not dead yet

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    You're going to need three bikes. A DR-650 isn't going to run highway like that. I ride with guys who have DR-650s. As with most 650 singles they are a compromise if you are trying to do it all with one bike. The DR-650 guys can't do the woods like a 400-450 can, and they can't do the roads like the 2-cyl (or more) bikes.

    What a DR-650 can do is ride there on the highway and then go off on a trail. But doesn't sound like that's what your friends want to do on those 2 - 4 day trips. I have a DRZ and a KTM 990. The DR-650 can't do the nasty stuff like the DRZ can, and it can't run on the road like the 990. But it can do road better than the DRZ and tight woods better than the 990.
    #2
  3. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

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    A properly set up DR650 is one of the best true Dual Sport bikes out there.
    Yes it is a pig on the tight trails... No it isn't the best highway mile eater... But put a good seat and a larger gas tank on one and you pretty much can do it all.

    I have several 500 to 600 mile days on mine. Four trips to Montana, one to California and I have lost count of the 500+ mile day rides here in Oregon and Washington.

    They get down the highway at 70 to 85 mph just fine. :D
    #3
  4. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

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    Or there is always this option:

    [​IMG]


    :lol3
    #4
  5. Bronco638

    Bronco638 Nobody Home

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    As the former owner of a DR650, I immediately thought that the DR6 would be a good choice. However, you mentioned your KTM EXC 400 for "dirt oriented dual sporting". This leads me to believe that you're looking for something more pavement oriented and yet capable of maintained gravel/dirt roads. While DAKEZ is right, you might also consider the DL650 Wee-Strom. I encountered a guy riding the CDT, while I was doing the TAT, in Salida CO. He seemed to be having no trouble keeping up with his buddy on a KLR. Just my $0.02.
    #5
  6. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    I have a KLR650. It is a little more street oriented than the DR650 and a more comfortable touring bike. I have ridden on street rides with guys on sport and adventure bikes. On tight and twisty roads a big thumper does really well. I could usually outrun the guys on sportbikes in the tight stuff. When the roads open up, it's a different story. The DR650 is a better offroad bike than the KLR and performs at least as well if not better on the street, but needs mods to be comfortable enough for longer rides.

    Personally I'm considering selling the KLR and getting a Versys. Something like a Versys or Wee strom can easily handle most of the forest service roads in your area although you will need to slow down. Both will also probably handle the paved twisties better than your Bandit. I think you will be amazed how much easier it is to ride a lighter bike in the twisties.
    #6
  7. ddavidv

    ddavidv Thrifty not cheap

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    Had a KLR. Nice machine, same approach as the DR. But...it will wear on you getting to the dirty stuff.

    After much soul searching, I swapped it for a WeeStrom. With a decent set of dirt tires, it is capable of doing the same improved fire roads as the 'dirt bike' style DS's but without the finger/foot/tush numbing vibration of a one lunger.
    #7
  8. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    I thought my dr650 was incredibly smooth.....

    For me and dirt riding, low weight is king, and the lower in the frame the better, as tall heavy bikes falling on you hurts.

    Its not hard for me to ride a heavy bike in the dirt, even quite fast over some rough stuff, its a good way to get in shape, but when a 400 pound bike drills you into the dirt, you had better have very good medical insurance!



    #8
  9. boingk

    boingk Been here awhile

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    Try your hand at an XR600R - I'll give a writeup of a DRZ-400E / DR650 / XR600R compare I did on another site for a similar question:

    I would not recommend the DR650 for offroad - they're a pig. They're a great combo for onroad/offroad where you'll realistically be riding dirt roads.... but throw them at a berm and some tight dirt tracks and you'll quickly be looking for another ride. Trumped solidly in most regards by the younger DRZ-400E stablemate. For long distance though (or even just the ability to pillion) they are hard to beat...

    ...but are beaten in most regards by the XR600R. These things are monsters. Lighter, better suspension, and more powerful than a DR650 with an aftermarket that's equal if not larger, and that's saying something! They were on top of the enduro world (Australian Safari, Baja 1000 etc) for about 15 years before they finally stopped making them in 2000. I had one and am soon buying it back. 5L/100km efficiency at worst, huge speed potential with the right gears and pretty good both on and offroad. Services are a breeze; allow 30min for a valve adjustment / oil change / filter clean session once you get used to them. Some getting a bit long in the tooth by now but still a remarkable ride.

    Suzuki DRZ-400E's are good bikes, I had one as my first Learner weapon. Highway cruising isn't as good due to less torque (sit happy on 100kmh but 110 maybe a bit strung) and shortish gearing but overall the package is very hard to beat. Lighter than both above by a large margin and probably more usable then either for the average rider. Better through tight sections due to less weight (than XR and DR) and improved ergos (over the DR). Great fuel economy as per both above, good road manners and plentiful on the secondhand market.

    All three above are very reliable stock and will last a good deal of time doing almost anything. My XR600R had a disgusting life beforeI got it; flogged chain/sprockets/oil/filters and valves which were looooong overdue for a change. Spent an hour going servicing it and it was like a new bike again; smooth mountains of torque everywhere and way better noises from the valvetrain. The DRZ-400E was a great, easy handling bike and had few faults other than a reluctance to cruise over 100km/h with stock gearing.

    I haven't owned a DR650 but rode one of a mates a fair bit. The feeling compared to the DRZ was that it was heavier, slower to accelerate but more comfortable onroad while being less capable off. Freeway manners were miles ahead. Compared to the XR it had similar road manners but nothing in the go department and would have been fairly trounced offroad. A battle between the DR and XR onroad would see the XR win easily due to more power and better ergos.

    I'd go any of the three that catch your fancy, but would steer away from the DR if you're any more serious about riding offroad than a country dirt road once in a while (be honest with yourself here). If you really want offroad ability in tight sections and with mates who own motorcross bikes then go the DRZ-400E, but forget long distances at speed on it while keeping relatively sane offroad gearing. It doesn't have the flexibility. If you want a great combo of offroad and onroad, plus the reassurance of Honda reliability and race-winning prowess... go the XR600R.

    I know that's a lot of text right there but you honestly would be well served reading through it. They might not be the most modern options but they are certainly the ones I would suggest people look at, the DRZ and XR in particular.

    Cheers - boingk
    #9
  10. mikem9

    mikem9 Wanderer

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    Thanks for the replies all. I'm mostly interested in how it will do on the street especially since I often ride with guys who have big street bikes. For the dirt, I just want dirt road capability with this bike. I have my tagged EXC 400 for the serious dirt riding.
    #10
  11. boingk

    boingk Been here awhile

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    Dirtroad capability would be good with either the XR or DR, and onroad staying power with fellows with bigger bikes would be alright on the DR but better on the XR.

    The DR may be more comfortable and has longer service intervals but I would prefer the brute power of the XR and only marginally shorter service intervals. Both are easy to work on at home with screw/locknut valves and SOHC.

    Try your hand at both and see which one you prefer, they're both about as different as you can get for a big, roadable air-cooled thumper.

    - boingk
    #11
  12. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    For what you want, something like a DL650 or Versys will work much better that a thumper. Something like an F800GS or Tiger 800 would be even better but now you're talkng $$$
    #12
  13. iyaoyas98

    iyaoyas98 Bored Silly

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    The dr650 ain't what you're looking for. Not if your group wicks it up now and then......

    I agree on a wee or a versys for a road bike with the gravel / two track option.
    #13
  14. Seventy One

    Seventy One Been here awhile

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    If possible, try to own both. The DR650 sure won't break you on maintenance costs.

    I think you'll miss the power of the Bandit if the DR was your only bike.
    #14
  15. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    I agree. I had an XL600R, and my friends on big street bikes were always waiting for me. A big thumper like the DR650 will be closer to the EXC 400 than to your buddies bikes. I had no trouble tackling technical stuff on it, but It doesn't sound like you need 2 thumpers.

    The Weestrom, Versys, or even a Triumph Scrambler would be good choices. You could even get something like my Aprilia Dorsoduro 750 (direct competitor to the Hypermotard). It is about 410 lbs, so fun and flickable in the twisties, yet has more suspension travel than the Hyper. It isn't a dual sport, but I use like one.
    #15
  16. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    I have a buddy who had a DR650 and still has a DL650. In the paved twisties he was actually faster on the DR. However, the DL does have more power and is much better on higher speed roads. If your talking 60, 180 or 129 over Blood Mountain, a thunper will work great. On something like the Skyway or any long ride, you'll be better off on a twin, or triple. Horsepower is overated in the twisty stuff but on a longer or high speed ride, the bigger bikes will be more comfortable and you won't feel like you are abusing the the motor.

    A note on the Dursoduro 750. Talked to someone recently who rented one for a day from Riders hill. He said it was the best handling bike he had ever ridden.
    #16
  17. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    That is cool. I looked them up, and they have some Moto Guzzis, too. If I was close, I would love to take the Grizo 8V SE for a spin. The Stelvio 1200 would fit the bill for the OP, but cost about 4X as much as the bike he's asking about.

    Just for kicks, check out what inmate Bobmiller90 did to his Dorsoduro. I added a skid plate to mine, but don't have the skills to add spokes like he did.

    [​IMG]
    #17
  18. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Riders Hill is the best motorcycle dealer I have dealt with. They sell Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, and MV Augusta. They also have a cafe and lots of rocking chairs to hang out. I went there for lunch and ended up buying an Aprilia:D
    #18
  19. mikem9

    mikem9 Wanderer

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    That bike looks sweet! Like a "dirt bike on steroids"!

    Thanks for the replies all. Really enjoying the discussion. How are you doing Mr. Klaviator? Haven't seen you in the hills for a while. We must be riding on different days!
    #19
  20. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    I moved to Huntsville. I haven't been back to N GA in the last few months. I'll try to make it back on an occasional weekend trip but I've been busy lately. I've been riding in Alabama and just got back from riding the Ozarks.
    #20