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Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by Akhenaten, Feb 23, 2013.
I shudder every time this question is asked. You will get 20 recommendations all at odds with one another. Many don't even fit within your parameters. Noob + Single track + 100 miles of highway = compromise.
Being able to flatfoot is important for some just learning. If nothing else it installs some confidence when you make a mistake. Most of these single track recommendation are tall bikes. You can search the webb for the specifications of any bike. Most include wet weight and seat height.
Mine are: Honda CRF250L. Here is a comparison with a DRZ400. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jx1rlj2x0U8. Tells you more than I can about the Honda.
Another choice is the the Suzuki Dr650. It is reasonably priced, physically smaller than a KLR, BMW XL and lighter than all but the XL. A low seat height that is easily lowered more. At 366lb fueled it won't meet most definition of single track bike, but maybe your definition is different.
It will easily meet your highway needs.
You can learn on that bike. Start with pavement and work into dirt mode.
What's the budget?
I just read a CW test comparison on the 250 DS bikes and the Honda being the heaviest weighed in at 308 LBS dry which I don't think is any lighter than the DRZ... It does look like a great bike at a low price point if your going to buy new..
Really, a KTM or Husqvarna 450 is a much better tool for your intended purpose. They have plenty of torque, definitely a lower wet weight than the dry weight of Japanese 250-650 dual sports and top shelf components.
They can handle moderate commute mileage.
Typically they run in the 3-4k price range.
I have seen many new riders think starting on a 650 off road is OK ... after all, it's a relatively small bike. Mostly Men. So many of this "Macho" crowd QUIT off road riding once they realize how miserable a Noob is on such a heavy bike. Small and Light Rule!
Greer so far has the best suggestion here, IMHO:
Take this in TWO STEPS. Start on a USED 250, get some training (both ON and OFF road) ride for a year ... then re-evaluate your needs at that time.
The WR250R is a good bike but even used ones are EXPENSIVE. The KLX250 is a reasonable choice. The Euro bikes are expensive and delicate.
Having just totally upgraded a CRF230 Honda ... it's my new favorite Noob bike. Having a low bike instills confidence, critical to for a novice off road rider ...
AND HAVING FUN ... off road. FUN is the key. If you're miserable ... you'll quit after a few rides.
You're first bike will get beat up ... that is a fact. So buy used and cheap and don't worry if it tips over. Get some training help and get out there.
And for riding on the street ... you better grow some Eyes in the Back of your Head. Defensive Driving will keep you alive.
You are right, they weigh about the same. The DRZ has more motor. It is also 2" taller and $2,000 more new.
People recommending some of these lighter bikes with powerful high rpm engines, must have started as experts.
When I re entered dirt riding, even though the DRZ400 was availble, my choice was a DR 350. I chose it for the 6 speed trans and lower seat. It wasn't as good as a 400 but neither was I. I made the right choice.
I still make noob mistakes, like stopping on an off camber position and putting the wrong foot down. Even worse is getting the correct foot on the ground, only discovering it is on the gear shift side and I am in 4th gear.
Then there is the issue of single track. Not sure what that means to you. If you are are a noob what difference does it make? It will be a while before you are capable of riding it and then a lighter, taller, better suspended bike makes some sense.
BTW I did not see anything in the video that could not be done with a DR650.
I'm going to suggest you also take a look at the Yamaha TW200 and XT250. They are capable commuters but also loads of fun. I know you want something to cruise down the highways on - if higher than speed-limit speeds are vital then I would also consider the V-strom- which leaves the thumper category.
I'm 6ft and own a TW200, I do also own a big heavy 1200cc street bike for speed but I get the most comfort and fun out of the little Yamaha.
Shop around and have fun. Good Luck!
For riding on the street, offensive riding is safer than being fixated on your mirrors.
Having enough power to get tf out of the way is safer than braking/swerving in most scenarios as well.
I'm not suggesting a 450 KTM as a perfect woods bike for a n00b. I'm suggesting it for the fact that you want/need a bike that will do many things well.
A light 450 plated dirt bike will do many things well. They weigh about 260-280 pounds depending on how much fuel is in the tank. That's about 40 pounds lighter than some of the "small and lighter" bikes above.
OP, please forget this was written.
The WR250R may be a bit of a stretch initially, but it will hang there with you as your skills grow. The KLR250 might be a bit more noob friendly and cheaper to aquire.
The CRF230 would be easiest to start on, but you sound like you are a bit of an aggressive person who would like a bike with some coolness factor. The CRF would be limiting if you take in really tough terrain, but good on typical trails. They have a nice easy but torquey powerband that signs off early. The stone simple CRF is also the next best thing to indestructible and it is nice and low, no worries about handing it, but you might get bored with it. Could be a good intro bike that you sell after a season.
The DRZ is cheap to aquire as well, does not weigh that much more than the 250s and it's suspension would probably be about perfect for your weight. The DRZ has good quality fully adjustable stock suspension, but needs springs for the typical 200 pound (or more) rider. DRZ power is midrange oriented and easy to handle. As a former owner (fond memories) of a DRZ, I can say they are pigs in the mud. In fairness, real mud is some of the most challenging terrain we ride and pretty much any non racing bike is a pig in the mud The DRZ is an excellent nasty gnarly trail rock bike though. Very plush in that stuff. A visual aid for you. DRZs shine in this stuff, amazingly so for a non racing oriented bike. Was not crawling though this stuff either - 2nd gear, midrange rpm, 20 - 25 mph or so :)
I think that the guys who are suggesting the Yamaha product are hitting the nail on the head.
But instead of a WR250. You might want to check into weather or not you can get a WR450 plated.
Well you seem strong enough to handle a 450. You want the speed and the highway miles. Thumpers last longer if you don't have to ride them full throttle. And if you don't want the full hit of a 450 you can get a device called a throttle cam. This device slows down the throttle response at the low end and makes it a little faster near full throttle. The stock throttle is pretty linear all the way.
The KTM and 09 and newer Husaberg and Husky product are all really good product. Some are might be better off road. But none are quite as maintenance free as the WR product.
Good luck to you in what ever you choose.
HONDA CRF250L. I would almost say a DRZ400 but they are tall and top heavy. The Honda would be new, fuel injected and comes with a warranty and they are cheap to buy.
I agree with most who are pushing the 250cc class bikes. Yamaha WR250R or Honda CRF250L would be best to start with. Both are light enough to take off-road (and pick up when you crash). Both have wide ratio transmissions and will do highway speeds. DRZ400S is a top heavy beast with a narrow range 5-speed transmission (fail), and the 650 class bikes will be too heavy for a 140lb rider to handle in wet, slippery Pac NW trails.
I would look for a good used Yam WR250R to save a few bucks. It is the best all around bike for your size and needs.
Even used ... the WR250R is quite expensive. Also ... The new Honda CRF250L is quite a bit HEAVIER than the CRF230. When re-jetted and suspension up graded the old CRF230 is about twice as good as stock.
I know, just did this. I rode the transformed CRF230 back to back with my '07 WR250F (Race bike). In very slow, tough single track the little CRF did very well. At high speeds, taking massive hits, the WR was better. But the nice low seat seat and with bar risers my 70 year old buddy did fantastic on his CRF230. Jetting and suspension cost about $350 in total. (including rebuilt shock, Race Tech emulators, jetting) I did the work except the shock, which was $200.
I'd also recommend a used 250 non-race bike, but make sure it's not super tall at the seat, or running a close-ratio transmission.
The KLX250S has adjustable suspension, 6spd, and a simple carb. Beef up the subframe if you want to haul cargo on it. It's not quite as tall or heavy as the WR250R. It also tends to be less expensive. Beef up the power with aftermarket parts as your abilities grow. A 351 big-bore and a pumper carb with exhaust can give it some grunt.
Simpler bikes to consider would be the XT225/250, KL250 Super Sherpa, KLR250, and CRF230L.
The DR-Z has a close-ratio 5spd and weighs a bit more. The WRR is tall, expensive, and heavy for a 250. The CRF250L is heavy for a 250, and may not be available in large numbers used just yet. At a strong 33" inseam, you might have the leg to hold/lift them all without issue though.
Having ridden nearly 50 years on many bikes, started three children and several grand children in this wonderful sport. I would suggest starting no larger than a 250cc bike. No matter what you buy you will either hate it and quit riding or love it and want a better steed within a year. So a used 250cc dirt bike should get you going, if you go to big you will be done riding in a year. Pops
The advice to start out small and go from there, or play it safe with a 250 and upgrade later, should be taken with a grain of salt. If you're a moron who is going to hop on a bike with reckless abandon and gun the thing without feeling out the clutch/gas and get to know the actual power of the bike before flying down the road, then by all means you should start with a 250 and work your way up. Any responsible rider just starting out would be more than fine on a 650. This is coming from someone who learned on a 250 and was brow-beaten into thinking a 650 was "waaaaaay too much bike" for a first bike, and then got on a 650, rode responsibly, and realized that advice just didn't apply at all.
Umm...not if they can't pick up a 650...repeatedly...in the dirt, or get it to handle over rough ground and through trees, rocks, mud, sand, and the like. One may be able to start out on a 600lb+ 1200 on the street. Many do, but a 320lb+ 650cc dirtybike is typically a bit much for anyone not pretty darn big and/or strong to start out with in singletrack. A tall and heavy dirtybike with big/hard power and huge momentum is typically not as forgiving of noob mistakes as a mellow 250 that's under 300lb and a 35" seat. A DR650 is relatively light and mellow compared to most 600cc streetbikes, yet it has enough torque and weight to easily pound somebody into the ground if they get careless in the dirt.
True. I mean, if all she wants to do is ride single track through dirt, mud, sand, etc., then yes, a 250 would be ideal; a 650 probably too much for a beginner. But if you look at OP's post, she's clearly going to be using this thing as a commuter more than off-road (BTW, OP, if you're going to and from work, around town, and driving 100 MILES to get to off road driving; there's no way you're driving 60% offroad and 40% on the slab. Those numbers just don't add up). I think OP has grand dreams of offroading that much, which is great; but realistically, this thing is probably going to be more like 70% on, 30% off. Therefore, I suggest a 650. 100 miles every weekend on a 250 to get to more rev-inducing, off-road riding, is going to burn that bike up quick.