Trying to pick out my first dual purpose bike. This is hard.

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by Johnny Tarr, Oct 4, 2012.

  1. Hurricane Bob

    Hurricane Bob Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,949
    Location:
    Rhode Island

    Then you need to get out more....


    http://swampscooters.net/wp/


    :freaky
    #61
  2. itrack

    itrack Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    115
    Location:
    South Texas
    Now that I know your budget I would get a DRZ400S and adv farkle the crap out of it. If you put a scott dampner, small wind screen, racks, luggage, etc on there than you would have the best of both worlds. I wouldn't want to take a KLR on some of the trails I go on. Like others have posted if your doing a ton of road riding you already have the Ninja for that. Don't get so concerned with the slab that you choose a turd for the dirt.
    #62
  3. SlowRide13

    SlowRide13 Veteran n00b

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,336
    Location:
    Lakemont, Georgia, USA
    Sig line material right there :deal
    #63
  4. AeroEngineer

    AeroEngineer Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    231
    Location:
    Tampa, FL

    The KLR didn't feel topheavy because it didn't have any fuel in it.
    #64
  5. nukemm

    nukemm Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    114
    Location:
    Mukilteo, WA
    At 6'2" how are you having troubles with the height of the KLR? I'm 6' with a 34" inseam and am able to rest comfortable on the balls of my feet, darn near flat-footed.

    If your requirements didn't involve so much highway or two-up I would recommend the DRZ400S. At right around 300lbs it isn't much of a challenge to throw around on a trail and won't throw out you back when you have to pick it up. The downside is that it is taller than the KLR by at least an inch.

    I've ridden a DR650 on and off road, and while it is better than the KLR on the trails it is no better than the DRZ400S on the highway, and the DRZ will easily outperform either the DR or the KLR when the pavement runs out.

    If I had to choose all over again I would still go with the KLR650 modified to be better for dirt riding. Any shock/fork work you would do to a KLR would still need to be done to a DR650.
    #65
  6. jon_l

    jon_l Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,669
    Location:
    Collingwood, Ontario
    I think 98% of riders would agree with your first assertion, very few with your 2nd, and everyone would agree with the 3rd.

    I bet you are in the very small minority who thinks the DR-Z400 is as highway capable as the DR650.

    That said, it is a nuanced distinction. Leaning a little more dirt, def. prefer the DR-Z, a little more street, the DR. Both are cheap, reliable, and good tools for their niche.

    I think the DR650 is one of the best, all-rounders out there; if I could have only 1, it would make the short list along with the KTM690R. Fortunately, I have a street bike, so I downsized the DR650 to a WR250R.

    I wonder if the OP should consider the WRR too. Smaller than the others being discussed, but surprising, for 250cc
    #66
  7. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,507
    Location:
    Spacecoaster FL
    Nah. I'd get a DR or a DR-Z and dirtify it a little. You already have a streetbike. Get dirty. Put on a skid, handguards, and sidecase armor. Put on some decent turn signals and mirrors that won't bust off in the first fall. (My stock signals lasted until this past weekend before getting busted, BTW.:D) Spring it for your weight and find tires that work for YOUR usage...I use a front Shinko 244 and a custom-grooved rear Kenda K761 for all-around use. For serious dirt, I swap on a front knobby. Some people also gear their DR down to 14/42 from the stock 15/42. Most of these mods have no real downside on the pavement, other than maybe the dirt-biased tires and gearing. You can always swap tires/rims/sprockets, but some people don't need to. Many people run long-wearing knobbies/semi-knobbies everywhere, and the DR's gearspread is wide enough to be pretty versatile. I run 16/46, and it seems ok for slab AND trails around here. YMMV.

    I was OK on the stock DR seat...1up. I put on a Seat Concepts seat though ($160), and it's better, especially for 2up.

    Stock, the KLR. It's more spacious. The DR can be made more spacious though, and I prefer it's gearspread, power delivery, smoothness, simplicity, and lack of oil-burning at high RPMs when on a varied-terrain long-haul. If you're going to leave the ergos fairly stock, the DR can be a bit tight for 2up. I'm 5'8"/200lb/30"inseam, and my passenger is 5'4"/petite/30"inseam. There isn't much room for us to move around on my stock-length DR seat.

    Not really. The DR subframe is pretty stout, for carrying panniers and a topbox/bag. The bike will also handle a front fenderpack, tank panniers, above-headlight rack, handlebar bag, tooltubes, and a tankbag well enough.

    That depends on you and your terrain. I started off last September, gradually, on easy terrain. I'm working up to harder and harder stuff. Powdery sugarsand is nothing for me now, when I put on a decent front knobby. Uneven ground and short legs makes it tough to hold up the unlowered DR if it gets leaned too far on slippery ground. I had issues riding on damp clay and loose rocks in hilly terrain with street-biased tires this past weekend, but I have no trouble picking it up repeatedly, so things worked out OK. I should have swapped on at least a front knobby though. The front end on something this heavy typically likes to plow in turns unless it has better lateral traction than the rear.

    Some people can't handle a bike this size/weight on anything more technical than a gravel road. Some people can ride an R1200GS through mud and sand. Again, YMMV.


    Once armored, either bike will take a LOT of punishment, compared to a streetbike. The KLR would want for a bit more, and sturdy armor typically adds weight.

    I can't think of ANY downside to the air/oil-cooling on the DR. It just plain works. It works GOOD. The oil-cooler can even be bypassed if something busts, to run the DR as just an air-cooled bike. It's not known for overheating unless something else is seriously wrong, in which case, you wouldn't want to run an air-cooled or water-cooled bike either.
    #67
  8. nukemm

    nukemm Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    114
    Location:
    Mukilteo, WA

    Perhaps I should clarify my second point. The gearing on the 650 is a bit better for highway, but the seat is still seemingly made of plywood. I wouldn't want to sit on the DR650 or DRZ400S for more than an hour going down the road, but even with the stock seat I can manage 2+ hours without too much discomfort on my KLR.

    Maybe a Gen1 KLR would be the best compromise? Still better road manners than a DR650, not as much plastic to break, more robust than the Gen2 KLR in the off road category, lighter weight, and still KLR simple.
    #68
  9. TOzman

    TOzman Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2002
    Oddometer:
    48
    Location:
    Petersburg, VA
    .......and if I slide to the front I can damn near flat foot.....again, at 5'8" and 30" inseam. I just don't see the problem here.....but again, I haven't yet taken it off road. :huh
    #69
  10. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,507
    Location:
    Spacecoaster FL
    'Definitely better than a new one for getting thrown around off-pavement.

    Please explain. I read this a lot on this site, but also see many KLR complaints of buzziness/vibes, needing to keep the revs below 5K to conserve oil, needing to keep the speed down because they're over-revving/working at 70MPH+, getting blown around by large vehicles, buffeting with the stock screen, etc. These complaints don't seem to be nearly as common among DR riders.

    A good seat for the Zooks can be had for $160 or less though, and some people are fine on the stockers. I did many days over 200 miles on it, with a few over 1000 miles. Aftermarket options add even more comfort. YMMV.

    There are wide-ratio gearsets available for the DR-Z now as well. I've really enjoyed my DR650, as well as a few other peoples' DR650s :lol3, but if I can have a dirtier DR-Z with the same or better gearspread for dual duty, I'm likely adding one to the garage sooner or later.

    With a durable and lightweight 220-mile+ tank, and a comfy aftermarket seat (maybe a windscreen for some people too), long-distance travel capability is no longer an issue on a DR or a wide-ratio DR-Z. DIRT capability still is though, and there's already a streetbike in the stable, hence my lean towards the dirtier Zooks.
    #70
  11. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,507
    Location:
    Spacecoaster FL
    :huh

    How can you resist the urge? The dirt is calling to you.:evil
    #71
  12. nukemm

    nukemm Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    114
    Location:
    Mukilteo, WA
    My experience with a 2004 DR650 compared to my 2009 KLR650 was that the DR transmitted more vibrations to the rider and I felt I got blown around more (no real wind protection). That said, a STOCK KLR650 is not that much better - I do have to admit that my response is based on my KLR (2009 with Happy-Trails rally windscreen, KTM SM fender mod, H-T fork brace) so perhaps it is skewed. My comparisons to a DRZ400S are less skewed, however as my DRZ compared equally to the DR in all areas except vibration, and for that the DR would win, but personally I would take back roads instead of the interstate to get to the dirt for the added fun of the smaller bike.


    That is exactly why I have both. I bought the KLR thinking it would do everything just fine, but found that when the going gets rough I still prefer the DRZ. I use the KLR for commuting and for anything more than ~3 hours one way just because the DRZ is downright abusive for long distances, but if I'm within ~120 miles of the fun I will choose the DRZ every time.

    :1drink

    For the OP I still feel that the decision is between the DR650 or a Gen1 KLR650. Both are good bikes with enough aftermarket support to make them whatever you want them to be.
    #72
  13. lobolator

    lobolator Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    284
    Location:
    Corner of Kanc and Bear Notch
    If your goal is to travel a day, then ride trails for a couple of days...well, I'd rather have fun off-road and suffer a little to get there. Any 250/350 will travel highway speed for a day (it might be screaming, but it'll do it), then when it comes time to turn onto a trail...you have a manageable sized bike to throw around.
    There are used bikes showing up all the time. Patience will pay off.
    I ride a KLX250, bought it to commute, but ride the snot out of it in the dirt. No matter how good a rider I become in the dirt, I will never try and muscle a KLR on a trail, it'll never be as fun as a little bike. Maybe the KLX650 but not a KLR.
    Almost bought a DR350 a couple of times. Good bikes.
    Fun on the trails is where you should be focusing your bike search.
    As someone else said - a 125 will get you there. CC's in the dirt are not as important to the fun factor as on the road. And bigger is definitely not better as a beginner in the dirt. I ride a 900 racebike on the street if I feel the need to go fast. My 250 goes plenty fast in the dirt. And is way too heavy after a long trail day with multiple dirt naps.
    My KLX650 will be interesting to try in the dirt(if I get it running before the snow).
    If it can have a kick start, you have a million used options.
    Cruise all the bike specific threads, look at the flea market.
    All of this is flavored with the belief that a KLR is not a DS bike, nor is any BMW. Round the world, while carrying the kitchen sink, you bet. Can you ride them like a DS, you bet. Singletrack, sure. Fun in the woods, not as much.
    And I know nothing about the DRZ, but that seems the best bet from your list.
    Weight on the trails is only a penalty when you drop it, not if, when. If I had to, I could haul my bike out of almost any situation I might get it into. A KLR, not w/o a winch. I look forward to being confident enough to take the 650 instead of the 250 onto singletrack, but will I? Only if I start hitting the weights.
    #73
  14. Sierra Thumper

    Sierra Thumper Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    641
    I agree completely there :thumb I'm a bigger guy tho, so the 250 just isn't enough for me as a dual-sport. But I don't see the need to have a street bike with aggressive tires and call it a dual sport. I bought my ds to ride in the dirt, and it has more power than I can use for that purpose. If I need to go fast on pavement I'll jump on my 270rwhp turbo zx14, or my busa, or even the drag gixxer 1100 :D
    Each machine has its purpose......for me, when I'm in the dirt I want a dirt bike, when I'm strictly street I want a street bike. My ds does an awesome job of comfortably getting me to the dirt, then acts like a real dirt bike when I get there :clap :evil:D
    #74
  15. bkoz

    bkoz Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2008
    Oddometer:
    335
    Location:
    The Great White North

    Trust your instincts. The KLR is exactly as you found it, huge and heavy. Be aware of anybody claiming the KLR is as good as a DR or DRZ off road . Its not. I owned and '08 KLR and traded up to a DR650.

    As a noob off road rider the DR650 and DRZ400 will be much more forgiving and 3 times as crash worthy. The DR and DRZ are also easier to work on than the 08+ KLR.

    Look at it this way. If you are looking at Hiway and gravel roads the KLR is fine.

    If you are planning on any offroad trails at all go DR650 or smaller. Maybe just look for a good used 250 dual purpose or DRZ400 and flog it for a year. You will know right away if you are an offroad guy or not.
    #75
  16. itrack

    itrack Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    115
    Location:
    South Texas
    Bingo again
    #76
  17. ER70S-2

    ER70S-2 Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    7,973
    Location:
    SE Denver-ish
    :nod
    #77
  18. Sierra Thumper

    Sierra Thumper Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    641
    I hope you don't mind me stealing your awesome advice as my sig comment.....as you can see below I gave you full credit.....I just couldn't help it, it's so on the money :thumb

    Why thank you Sir :beer
    #78
  19. Sierra Thumper

    Sierra Thumper Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    641
    If he's a dirt newbie starting out on a KLR as his first dirt bike, the first time he hits real dirt, and has to spend the rest of the ride fighting the weight and struggling to stay up, he most likely won't be an off-road guy for long :eek1
    #79
  20. xaman

    xaman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    623
    Man, I'd be looking at the WR250R. I had one, as my only steed, for quite some time. Many many 300 mile days, and over 500 miles on one occasion (Seat Concepts seat helped a lot). 70 mph was cake.

    I sold it because for two up it was completely incompetent. Since selling it, my wife has ridden with me exactly twice, so I'm looking for another WR now :D


    However, it might be worth mentioning this --- ditch the slab altogether and invest in a little hitch carrier or trailer. Drive your car/truck in comfort, then unload your dirt worthy small dual sport for some real fun off road. Then, when your exhausted, drive home in comfort in the vehicle again. Just a thought :)
    #80