What small 250-400cc Bike to Get?

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by dirtysouthjacket, Dec 22, 2012.

  1. dirtysouthjacket

    dirtysouthjacket Been here awhile

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    I struggled with where to place this post, so if it needs to be moved somewhere else. Someone do the magic incantation to put it in the right place.

    So I'm looking at getting something a little smaller to play on. Specifically with the mindset to get into some Dual Sport races in the Southeast and see if its something I like. (I'm sure I will, but just nervous about injuries.) I've previously owned a KLR650 and am now on a F800GS. I had a 82 DR250 for a brief stint, but got rid of it before I got too crazy on it. Didn't think that there were enough parts around for it. Also been on my friends 93 DR350, but only on the street.

    Right now, I'm mostly limited due to funds (aren't we all). I dropped a pretty penny on the F800GS and haven't had a lot of extra cash because of it. So I'm slowly saving up some money and promised myself I won't buy anything until I am able to pay cash without dipping into my monthly budget. I've got about a grand saved in my little piggie bank so far. I'm also 6' and 170lbs.

    Ok, way too much backstory there, but just wanted to give my angle.

    So my dilemma is... What bike to buy for the money. My constraints are between 250-450cc. Easy to work on (as in not something super rare to find parts for). I'm not too worried about the titling since I'm in SC. Lastly, don't think I can go over a 2k budget if I want to do any racing this year.

    1. 90s DR250/350 - <$1000 for a good one with basic farkles, Can purchase now . This would give me ample time this winter and spring to do some trail riding in anticipation of doing the Long Cane DS in June. I would also be able to sort my safety gear situation out nicely,

    2. 90s XR250R - - $1200-$1500, have to wait a few 2-3 more months of saving, I feel like this would be a better bike than the DR?? Not sure

    3. Early 2000s KLX300 - $1200-$1500, again know very little about these bikes, would have to wait 2-3 more months of saving.

    4. Early 2000s WR450R - I've seen some of these on craigslist for around 2k, I'd have to save up til late April, May and it would be a stretch. But this things seem awesome.

    Of course there are also many other bikes in this range. There are also I'm sure bikes that are better than these (most are probably out of my price range). This just happens to be what I see for sale mostly. I guess maybe I am looking for some comparison from people that have ridden these... as well as experience with them in races. I'm not trying to ultra competitive first try, but want to make an informed decision. I know that perfect scenario would be me to jump on one of each, but doubt that is going to happen. Comments, suggestions, teasing... bring it on! And thanks in advance! :D
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  2. dirtysouthjacket

    dirtysouthjacket Been here awhile

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    I've also seen early 2000s XR400 in the $1500-2000 ranges.
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  3. zokalr13

    zokalr13 Been here awhile

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    Im in the same boat as you but since im in canada, I have to pay double for the same thing... im looking at 2000 and newer CR250s,KX250s-CR500, KX500- WR250f ,anything that does not have black plastic on it [bad sign] never cleaned air filters, trashed suspension bearings, etc..no luck so far and ive been looking for 2 solid months..I looked at a kx250 recently that was left outside for years and needed a total overhaul and they wanted 2k fer it!!oh,and try reading thumpertalk about different bikes [it gives me a headache]...I dont like two strokes much anymore but thats all thats in my price range...anyway,good luck- at least you'll get a better deal than me and will you post up pics so I can compare what I end up with as my winter project bike....:D
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  4. Ogre_fl

    Ogre_fl Long timer

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    What do you mean by dual sport racing?
    Enduro or hare scramble or something like the sand blast rally type racing?
    #4
  5. dirtysouthjacket

    dirtysouthjacket Been here awhile

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    Enduro... I think. You can see I know a lot about this already. :D But its good cause you are forcing me to do more and more research.

    Originally, I'm was thinking of the Long Cane Dual Sport Ride, which I thought was a race. It looks more and more like it is a ride instead of a race. Not that I won't do it, but it may not be what I was originally thinking.

    http://www.longcanema.com/Flyers/LCMA-2012-3rdAnnual.pdf

    I've read a few forum posts on the difference between HS and Enduros. Sounds like Enduro might be the way to go for a beginner like me. HS seem a little more like "racing" and a lot of competition. I think as my superpowers get better I could try a HS and compare. Right now, just trying to have a blast and not have to lay out of work on disability my first race.

    The Sandhills Rally looks interesting. My Grandmother also lives in Chesterfield and I just drove through the Sandhills visiting her last night. I checked their website but didn't get much information. I'm assuming this is a rally that has limited classes and its a bring whatever you want, first to finish thing?
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  6. dirtysouthjacket

    dirtysouthjacket Been here awhile

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    Good luck to you too Zokalr12! Sorry to hear about the price up there. At least if you are going the project route, you will have a good knowledge of the bike inside and out come riding time!
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  7. Grreatdog

    Grreatdog Long timer

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    Street title, plate, almost 40 hp, barely breaks 200 pounds with turn signals and mirrors, about a million sold, maybe $500 for a total rebuild, one of the best trail bikes ever and mine was about $2000.


    [​IMG]
    #7
  8. dirtysouthjacket

    dirtysouthjacket Been here awhile

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    I found this thread.

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=777357

    It basically says the same thing. KTM 2 stroke or a Husky. The cheapest I've seen is around $1600 and none are around me. I need to find some local forums or race forums to start looking on. If I go this route, I'll have to wait til early spring or summer to buy. :cry

    The KDX200 is recommended for low cost. I've read it requires a little more suspension work. I've found one in great shape listed for $1300 that needs nothing.

    So my dilemma is wait for a early 2000s KTM 200 in May or June, or get a KDX200 from an inmate now and start riding in a couple weeks. :D I could always trade up in the summer sometime.


    #8
  9. Grreatdog

    Grreatdog Long timer

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    Buy the KDX. It isn't as smoking fast as the KTM and the stock suspension is softer. But it is still a grin machine in the woods and probably a smarter choice for a plate.. My MXC is kind of hairy on the street when it opens the power valve.
    #9
  10. novaboy

    novaboy Been here awhile

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    I'm on the east coast of Canada, last spring I picked up a mint 2003 XR250R for $2500, still had the original tires on it, valves were in spec, air filter was clean and it started cold after 3-5 kicks. I wanted a cheap, reliable woods bike and the XR fit the bill, it's easy to ride and work on. I know the same bike in the US would have been under $2K. That being said there is a really nice overhauled 2002 CR250R that just popped up on Kijiji for $2800 that has my interest. Wouldn't take much to turn it into a woods bike.

    Enduros are fun, I did one last June, the old guy beginner class was the last to go, so I wasn't worried about being passed, and it was the best 2hrs of fun I've had in a long time. The hare scrambles seem a little more intense. I've ridden the local HS course and its fun, but I don't have the skills to go at a race pace in the woods just yet.

    Good luck in the search, a smaller dirt bike was the best purchase I've made since I was a kid.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #10
  11. Canuman

    Canuman Crusty & Unobliging

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    I have to concur on the KDX. It may not have the "hit" that the KTM does, and is about 18 lbs heavier, but compared to a four-stroke, it's still outrageously snappy. It allows a lot of grin time and is plenty powerful for hare scrambles and enduros without the associated trouser-wetting. Compared to a KLR, it feels like a feather on the trails. Firming up the suspension can be done reasonably. I found heavier springs for both ends of mine for under $100 on Ebay. From the factory, the KDX is set up for about a 150 lb rider, which is not sufficient for many of us.

    Good examples can be had for $1500 or less. There is still very strong aftermarket support.
    #11
  12. Ogre_fl

    Ogre_fl Long timer

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    Get the KDX and start having fun.

    If after a year you think you need to move up, sell the KDX for what you paid.
    If you plate it, call me 1st. :deal
    #12
  13. Pantah

    Pantah Red Sox Nation

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    We had a 1993 KDX and a 2001 KDX. The later model was a most excellent motorcycle with much more advanced suspension and lots of off the bottom power. It was excellent in woods or rock gardens. Very friendly and forgiving. Same son rides a new KTM 200 now, which is lighter, more powerful and better suspended. But the KDX was comparable for learning.

    Like others have posted, the KTM 200 is probably the best trail bike ever invented. But they are more expensive and can be hard to find in good condition.
    #13
  14. Canuman

    Canuman Crusty & Unobliging

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  15. dirtysouthjacket

    dirtysouthjacket Been here awhile

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    Awesome, thanks so much everyone for the input. Hopefully the KDX owner gets back to me. He has a local person looking at it, so we'll see. But the KDX is definitely on my radar screen as a bike to get to start.

    Novaboy, I found the two threads you started VERY informative in helping out with learning about enduro's and hare scrambles as well as good beginner bikes. I feel the same way you did when you started the thread of... "Ok, I want to do some races... what do I do first?" :rofl
    #15
  16. tjanson

    tjanson Adventurer

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    If you go for a KDX just be ready for a less street friendly dual-sport. I feel like this thread may have gone to the dark side too soon :).

    The KLX300 is basically a KDX chassis with a big heavy 4 stroke engine. Weighs about 30 lbs more than a KDX (250 vs 220). The weight is carried higher up, with the cylinder head and all that 4 stroke stuff, so it makes a pretty good difference in handling. The transmission has a wider spread than the KDX, so it'll be more comfortable if you are riding 55 mph + for extended periods on the road. Also, it'll get 50-60 mpg while the KDX will get 20-30 and needs 2t oil mixed in.

    A 2 stroke will be the better bike on the trails, be faster, start easier, and will make that cool 2 stroke sound. A 4 stroke will more practical if you are riding on the road a good amount. That's how I see it.
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  17. scottmac

    scottmac Long timer

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    Something like a WR250R might be the ticket. You can pare it down and race it in a Hare Scramble - I've raced
    mine a couple of times. It's street legal so you can put racks on it and do a long DS ride. It would be a lot more
    fun than your KLR for the job.
    #17
  18. Canuman

    Canuman Crusty & Unobliging

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    It's often better to start off on a forgiving bike and work your way up if need be. There are plenty of hot bikes sitting in garages because they scared the crap out of their riders. Jeff Fredette made a heck of a name for himself on the KDX in the enduro world. It's an iconic bike, yet is easy enough to ride. Don't expect mild four-stroke manners. Two-strokes are a very different game. They shit and get.

    Sounds as if you're on the right track.
    #18
  19. dirtysouthjacket

    dirtysouthjacket Been here awhile

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    I've got a sale pending on a nice looking titled KDX with farkles, just working on pickup details since its about 500 miles away. I really narrowed it down to the KDX or a KTM 200 like many suggested. Its going to be a trail, enduro bike first. I needed it titled since I will be riding it to and from my playgrounds. I've got the F800GS as my main DS steed. So the fuel mileage and comfort doesn't matter very much for this bike. The KDX sounds like it is a great learner and is a good bit cheaper than the KTMs. Hopefully it is as forgiving as people suggest. I'm definitely up for the challenge of learning to ride this type of bike, but will make plenty of mistakes I'm sure. :D

    Once I pick her up, I'll make sure to post some bike porn and what my initial thoughts are. Thanks again everyone!

    Novaboy, I'll be posting up in your thread once I get some skills under my belt and give the thread another data point of what its like to go from riding a DS to trying out a race. Thanks again!
    #19
  20. Hockeygod

    Hockeygod Been here awhile

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    Looking forward to seeing pics and reading about the details. What year did you get?

    Like many have said, still lots of support for KDX's out there. I bought springs from Fredette several years ago and after doing an Internet search last night, he is definitely still in business (competed in his 32nd ISDE!)... Plus tons of other KDX support out there. This knowledge helps support my decision to keep mine for a few more years! :clap
    #20