Which 4-strokes are not so maintenance intensive?

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by Twinner, Apr 7, 2013.

  1. Twinner

    Twinner Been here awhile

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    Hi all,

    As posted before, I am looking for a bike to learn the ropes of off-road riding.
    I do not want to open a debate on the topic, but although I would really like a two-stroke, a four-stroke would be more practical for me, for several reasons.

    I know that ''traditionally'', four-strokes engines were very reliable, low-maintenance and low-cost to own/operate (ie: XR's, etc.).

    Despite the different opinions on the topic, it seems that this has somewhat disappeared with the arrival of the ultra-high performance 4-stroke thumpers (ie: CFR450 and the likes).

    When I say ''it has disappeared'', it refers to the low maintenance and cost of ownership. From what I hear/read, it is really costly to rebuild a 4-stroke engine, compared to a 2-stroke, and the requirement to do so may happen quite frequently (Most used HP 4 stroke ads indicate that the engine has been rebuilt, which is scary to me given the cost to do so).

    Anyway, long story short, I could used your input and direction towards models that are not dinosaurs but rather modern, and that would be really fun to ride without the worry that a costly re-built is to come.

    As an example, I guess the YZ450F would be considered one of the ultra-high performance (and potentially maintenance/cost intensive) models. Does the same apply to the WR450F?

    Same with Honda. CRF250 = HP 4-stroke, does the same apply to the CRF250L?

    Thanking you in advance.
    #1
  2. Blue&Yellow

    Blue&Yellow but orange inside...

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    I would recommend either the Honda CRF250L or Yamaha WR250R - I could not imagine a better "modern" and less maintenance free place to learn the basics of offroad riding.

    Forget the 450 models if you're a beginner.

    Word from the wise - buy the best and most protective boots you can find, they are worth their weight in gold.
    #2
  3. Twinner

    Twinner Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the quick reply.
    Would a 250 still be fun (suspension and power) given that I am 200lbs (without equipment)?
    I know it's completely different to ride off-road but I've been riding street bikes for 16 years.
    Thank again for your feedback! :-)
    Oh! I bought Alpinestars Tech8 boots! :-)
    #3
  4. Rob.G

    Rob.G Mostly Harmless

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    How tall are you? If you're decently tall (5'10 or better), the WR is a good bike to consider. If not, then the CRF250L or the KLX250S would be a better choice.

    The WR makes I think 22 hp or thereabouts. The CRF and KLX both make around 15-18. The 250's are NOT fast on the street. It's not a bike you will want to ride long distances. For that, a DRZ400 would be a better choice. In fact, if you're 5'10 or taller, look at the DRZ400, as it may fit you better and will be a better road bike than the 250's, while still doing very well off-road, as it weighs about the same as the 250's (300 lbs or so wet). The CRF is the heaviest at 320 wet.

    The KLX and CRF have big bore options available for when you want more power. The KLX has a 351cc available, the CRF is up to around 280 I think. Both are made by Bill Blue (B&B Cycle Restorations -- Google it).

    Rob
    #4
  5. Blue&Yellow

    Blue&Yellow but orange inside...

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    Good on you with the boots! :clap

    A 250 will absolutely be fun and more than enough! If you have the money or can find a lightly used example the WR250R is an absolutely outstanding bike - it has adjustable suspension and close to 30bhp so it's by no means a slouch.

    Trust me - when you get out into the dirt you will find that 20-30 bhp is more than adequate. It can be quite a workout too so don't be surprised if you drop down to 180lbs or so with a couple of months of riding.
    #5
  6. brianjonesphoto

    brianjonesphoto Single Track Noob

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    Don't be afraid of going air cooled. If you want low entry price and the reliability of a framing hammer checkout XR250 and 400s or DR350 if you want estart look for a later model dr350. Good bikes can be had for around $2000 and they will run for ever if taken care of. They may not have the latest and greatest but as a new dirt rider those things won't really mean all that much anyway. I think I have all of $3000 into my dr350 and that's after custom suspension tuning both ends and adding a pumper carb. It's been nothing but new tires, and oil changes since I bought it 2 years and 6000 miles ago.

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=335536
    #6
  7. JDUBinCO

    JDUBinCO Mass Centralized

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    What do you want to ride? Trail, dirt bike dual sport, competitive enduros, mx?

    A 450, even a wr450 is a lot of bike with a lot of punch. For a modern 450 though they are the most reliable. A drz400 is a good mount, very reliable with more than enough power to get you into and out of trouble.
    The crf250l just doesn't seem to have true off road in its blood.
    The wr250r would be pretty awesome if you strip it of a bunch of the extra weight.
    I have a xr400 and love it. It just never needs work, is easy on tires, cheap on gas(even likes 85 octane), not competitive but plenty fast to keep up and it is very very tough. A beginner will drop his/her bike a lot and radiators are expensive.

    Get a "beginner" bike. Beat it up. Learn dirt bike maintenance on it. Ride the p!ss out of it and pass it onto the next beginner when you are ready for a really good bike. You'll be a better rider and money ahead.:clap
    #7
  8. viverrid

    viverrid not dead yet

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    People want lightest weight and highest power, they end up with a racing or near-racing engine that has the short maintenance intervals that go along with that.

    A milder engine ridden mildly will go longer between service intervals. Get one of the more old fashioned, milder bikes, don't abuse it, and it will last a long time with little maintenance. But it will be heavier and less powerful than a race bike.

    A newbie riding motorcycles on dirt has one thing in common with a duffer hacking his way around a golf course: The golf newbie wants a bigger and bigger headed and longer and longer shafted driver. So that he can hit farther off the tee. Even though he'll just hit it further into the woods, and his real problem isn't lack of distance but lack of ACCURACY and a poor short game. And the newbie dirt rider will want more power for that 1% of the time where he hits a smooth level stretch and can crank it wide open, even though 99% of the time he can't even use the power he already has.

    In the tight New England trails in my area, the "key pace" for enduros is usually 18 MPH, sometimes 12 or 24. And only an "A" level rider can keep up that pace for a day's ride. How much HP does it take to go 18 MPH? Even a DRZ, which some people belittle as not having enough power, in the woods often has more power than can be put to the ground due to traction limitations, and more power than can be used because the "C" level rider can't ride through the terrain any faster.

    I don't care how long you have been street riding, when you begin in the dirt, your limiting factor in the woods will not be horsepower, it will be your own lack of skill to go faster. An experienced mid-level (not even expert) rider on a mild 250 would kick your ass even if you were on the hottest 450 race bike around. And that wouldn't be just for the first 2 weeks but more likely for the first two YEARS.

    Get any mild 250 to 400 and LEARN TO RIDE IT. Dirt is SO different from street that some people who try to go street-to-dirt don't succeed and quit. And it is guaranteed that the reason they didn't succeeed was NOT because they didn't have enough horsepower.
    #8
  9. Twinner

    Twinner Been here awhile

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    I am 5'10 and about 32'' inseam. I am not planning to ride on the street with it. I mentionned I was a street rider to give an indication of my riding experience (16 years). I guess a person who never rode a bike before would likely be better of on a different model than an experienced motorcyclist.
    That being said, I am aware that I will probably look like a noob when I start drifting from both ends at the same time! :lol3
    What do you guys think of the CRF250X? Would it be more reliable (or require less preventative maintenance) than its CRF250R counterpart?
    #9
  10. Twinner

    Twinner Been here awhile

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    Oh! I know that! :lol3
    I am actually signing-up for off-road lessons to learn the proper way right off the gate. :deal
    I had done the same when I started riding (took sport-riding school lessons and did quite a few track days, it really made a huge difference). I hope the same will be achieved, without broken anything!
    #10
  11. brianjonesphoto

    brianjonesphoto Single Track Noob

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    All very good points. I made the transition from street to dirt a few years ago. I came from a v-storm and had the common delusion that it was a gravel road/dirt worthy bike. The more I rode it of pavement he more I learned I was flat out wrong. I progress into a Dr350 to get a more dirt worthy bike and was happy with it until I made an honest attempt at trail riding it. I'm in the pacific northwest and our riding is very tight and technical as well. That first trail ride illustrated exactly what viverrid was saying.

    My next step was a trials bike. Not big on power or speed, but it will teach you how to trails. I see people out on the trail and they usually comment about the lack of a seat. My response is always the same. Have you ever complained about your bike being too light? My goal with the trials bike was to have something that was light enough to allow me to ride solo in my local orv area without having to worry about getting stuck or hurt by the mass of the bike. The unintended consequence was I'm now a pretty good trail rider. I'm still not fast, but I can put either dirt bike where I want it and rarely have to put a foot down to help control things.

    I guess this doesn't really help answer your question, but keep in mind slow is often the way to get fast especially when taking on something new.
    #11
  12. fuel-cycle

    fuel-cycle 3 wheels or less 49CFR571

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    Some early model year versions of both had valve issues that were $$$ to repair.



    My XR400 only needed gas, oil changes and occasional air filter cleaning.

    Best value i ever spent (i.e. fun/dollar and riding time/wrenching time).

    :nod:
    #12
  13. tdrrally

    tdrrally Long timer

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    dr/drz bikes are great trail bikes. ok on the single track, not great
    i live in the north east with lots of undergrowth , and wet ground.

    never cared much for most single track, its a great way to destroy a good bike
    i like trails about handle bar width and love my drz250 and drz400 for the task:D
    #13
  14. rufus

    rufus We're burning daylight...

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    Former national champion Motocrosser Guy Cooper entered the alligator enduro in daytona against the top riders in the country. He was on a stock Suzuki dr 250. He "borrowed" it from the factories test ride area. Completely totally stock, even the shitty tires that come on them . He finished 6th overall.

    I am an A level rider, been riding and racing for nearly 40 years. I can say that without a doubt 90% of the riders at a local race would go faster with a smoother less powerful motor. Buy a 250, when you can outride the capabilities of the bike THEN get something more powerful. Honda Xrs are super reliable. An xr 250 would be an excellent bike to start with. Occasionally change the oil and air filter and ride it.
    #14
  15. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

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    I don't think your 32" inseam is gonna like a bike with a 38" seat height. :deal
    #15
  16. Twinner

    Twinner Been here awhile

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    Good point. I can't seem to find decent used XR250's in my area. A couple of XR400's but that's maybe a little too much?
    #16
  17. fuel-cycle

    fuel-cycle 3 wheels or less 49CFR571

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    for ~ $100 you can pick up a 'lowering link' and drop seat height ~ 1.5" if necessary
    #17
  18. Blue&Yellow

    Blue&Yellow but orange inside...

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    Don't worry - his 200lbs will take the seat height down to 32" in no time! :lol3

    I'm serious here! I'm only 180lbs and a WR250R compresses at least 3 inches when I sit on it. I can pretty much flatfoot it!
    #18
  19. Schlug

    Schlug JockeyfullofBourbon

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    put something on and stay in that position.
    I had a spot of trouble with an old DR 350 and was offered my buddy's XR250 (with an A-line tank kit and some upgrades) for the day. I reluctantly took him up on the offer. Nothing like having a group of people waiting for you while you kick your bike 50 times. In any case, it was a total blast. I threw that thing around and had a blast. Sure, I had to go nearly wide open out of the turns to keep up with the boys, but seriously, I had a hoot.

    I have an XR400 and it is an anvil but is dead reliable and easy to start. Any of those old, air cooled lumps will suit you so much better than a new, de-tuned motocross version of an F-1 motor. A DR-Z 400 or a DR 350, you'll have a great time while you learn.

    I'm happy you have a good set of boots.
    #19
  20. Twinner

    Twinner Been here awhile

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    It's true that despite my 32", my 200lbs seem to help once I sit on the bike.
    On most dirtbikes I have sat on (including KTM's 250s and 300's), despite having an intimidating seat height, I was able to touch the ground quite comfortably.
    I have never played with my bikes' geometry and I would start doing this either.
    I guess several of my questions will be answered when I take the riding lessons (they provide the bikes).
    Thanks a lot for the great input, folks! :-)
    #20