Why such big bikes on gravel/ dirt routes?

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by ADVNCW, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. ADVNCW

    ADVNCW Banned

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    Why such big bikes on gravel/ dirt routes? Serious question, no disrespect to anyone and the ride that they enjoy.

    My next goal is the Continental Divide Ride. I have been reading a lot of TRs etc. There is a lot of difficulty related to both lack of riding skill, and riding a big heavy loaded motorcycle on rough, slick, rutted dirt routes. I read about a lot of folks quitting, and a few also quit the WABDR per TRs on 'difficult' sections. I read time and again about riders on big motorcycles skipping sections that would just be fun on my little ride, even with a camp load. My little dual purpose motorcycle, from what I see, travels the gravel/ dirt routes as fast and probably faster than most- and with ease in riding it loaded. And riding my little moto is easy and fun.

    In fact my ride with camp load weighs about as much as the liquid-cooled 250 dual sports.Those who have seen my posts know that I travel on a rig considered ridiculous (or other descriptor) by some. My ride is my '08 Honda CRF230L Adventure:D

    [​IMG]

    Clearly I am very secure in myself and satisfied with what I ride:1drink Truthfully, my 230L earns it reputation as a 'dog' at least over 50 MPH. But on tight and gnarly, one may be surprised at the capability of my short little lightweight motorcycle.

    So I have been also pretty interested to buy a WR250R for the CD- with the big gas tank added. I worry that my little 230L will be even a worse 'dog' in the Rockies:cry The WR250R would handle great- my 230L suspension is limited, one does not want to mistake that they are on a real dirt bike and push it fast on the rough and jumping it is a horrible experience sometimes. Anyway, now I read about fuel pump failures on the WR250R, apparently now not the case on late models. But that is a much more complex machine than my much-criticized 230L. My 230L just runs and runs, not fast or powerful, but not much maintenance required, and pretty dependable and not subject to some of the damage in modern more complex bikes. And I got 73MPG on the 230L loaded on the WABDR! So, I am thinking, and realize the WR250R is not that much bigger than my 230L, WR250R would be more comfortable over 50MPH (++), better real suspension. But I know, after the WABDR, and the Naches Pass jeep trail loaded x 4 trips, my 230L would do the CD nearly as fast as a WR250, and probably faster and easier, and including the tough sections, than on a big moto. So, I ask myself, do I really need to spend $8k for the WR250R plus setup and etc when I can just haul my 230L to the CD and ride the CDR just fine, then ship it home?

    OK, here is a chance for comments and catcalls. Interested in others ideas and perspectives. Thanks!

    Oh, Edit to add- I rode a 1975 two-stroke GT750 Suzuki up the AK HWY when it was mostly gravel, on street tires with my frame backpack strapped on. Hauled ass, had fun. And I had two open class race bikes. So I understand but also know that my 230L privides just enough and no extra to smoothly travel gravel and dirt- actually safer than a quicker larger bike...
    #1
  2. Tooltech

    Tooltech Been here awhile

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    I used to ride the KTM 990 ADV-R which is the best bike in its class ( IMO ). One day I was riding a dirt road alone and decided to pull over and take a break. The bike tipped over due to soft footing for the kick stand. I could not pick it up so I had to wait for help. 4 hours I waited...finally a hunter came by and helped me out. The following day the bike went up for sale. I replaced it with two bikes. A 2012 KTM 990 SMT which is perfect for pavement. I also got a 2013 KTM 500 EXC which is a total joy in the dirt. I can easily pick up the 250 pound 500 EXC. I have figured out a simple effective pack system for the 500 and will install the 19L KTM tank when it shows up at the dealer. The bike will weigh less than 300 pounds ready to adventure tour. The 500 has plenty of power and is very rugged so it should be reliable.
    #2
  3. hubb255

    hubb255 Adventurer

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    Go for it man! Sounds like fun. If thats what you like to ride thats great. I love my 640 but the beauty of us is we can all be so different and respect what the other guys ride.
    #3
  4. Pantah

    Pantah Red Sox Nation

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    I rode a KTM 950 for the last several years and it was really great if I had a riding partner. I found it pretty heavy for me to pick up when riding solo, so I bought a Yam wrr 250 to ride the CDR last year. I put the big tank, flyscreen, power outlets and luggage system on it for the trip. The bike was great. Probably as comfy as my 950. Rides the superslabs well too. I left it in Phoenix to visit.

    I was going to buy a new 990 to replace my 950, but my son suggested I get the new softer version of the KTM690R. Brilliant! About the same weight as my Yam, but with almost 70hp!

    So far so good, but I sort of miss a smooth running twin for the highway.
    #4
  5. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    i was solo on the CDR from Salida north last season with a relatively heavy 650, and there were many times i was wishing for the WR250R i had in the shop back home.

    i met two guys in Montana that had come all the way up from Antelope Wells on XT225s without any issues. piece of cake on the WR or equal, zip right through, no ride arounds, fuel it up and ride.
    #5
  6. mslow

    mslow Faccia Brutta

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    I used to ride a DR650 and went smaller to a WR450, the 650 was very easy to pick up when I dropped it off road, the WR in comparison feels like a mountain bike though.
    I have to say though, as quick, nimble and fun as the 450 is, the 650 was much easier to do long trips on because of the maintenance intervals.

    Also, FWIW, a few guys I ride with ride 950's and have ridden them down some extremely steep goat paths that would rattle most people and have done it without incident, it's all about what you feel most confident on.
    #6
  7. ADVNCW

    ADVNCW Banned

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    KTM motorcycles clearly lead as far as weight and performance! Nice!
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  8. ADVNCW

    ADVNCW Banned

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    Great. Sounds like what I am thinking of doing.
    #8
  9. ADVNCW

    ADVNCW Banned

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    Know what you mean. My 230L is short and 267 lbs wet. Other than the KTMs or Huskies few bikes are below 290lbs!

    I rode my GT750 easily back a skid trail one time and ended up getting 3 guys to push the pig up the easiest little hill- traction was lacking! But it was fun on the slab, that thing would wheelie!
    #9
  10. ADVNCW

    ADVNCW Banned

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    Thanks!
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  11. Twilight Error

    Twilight Error Going nowhere slowly

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    1. My 1150GS is the only transportation I've got, so if I want to go somewhere, I've got no other option.

    2. I live in the Northeast, not exactly handy for the TAT or CDT - getting to and from the trailhead with gear for a week is a long day on a 650. Its a much longer day on a 250... The 1150 makes the ride to and from a genuine pleasure. And trailering isn't an option without first buying a car/truck/trailer setup... Yeah. I've got too many other projects going to waste money on a vehicle just to transport a vehicle and then be forced into riding a loop just to get home.

    3. Its not about the bike. I'm amazed at how many people don't realize the machine is only one variable in the math. I don't have a dirt bike background, I came across from DH and XC mountain bike riding, so I don't really know any better... Yeah, I've been in some pretty ugly situations, but of the dozens of times I've gotten to a place where I'm shaking my head and wondering how I'm going to get out of it, I've had to call for help exactly twice.
    #11
  12. dirtydeeds

    dirtydeeds I'm alive.

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    I went out last year with a few guys - experienced riders/enduro racers. (On KTMs and a Husky.) And one more - a guy that just bought a CRF230L after 25 years of being off bikes. And street bikes nonetheless. We convinced him to come with us. We new the bike would make it and this guy had enough character that we knew he would make it too. A few hours later we came out of the bush. He was the slow one but he went everywhere we did. Just as we expected.

    Scooters have done RTW trips, ninja 250s rip up roads in a bunch of countries and 13 Hp dirt bikes bring people up mountains across the Rockies and the Andes.

    It's never about the bike.
    #12
  13. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    As long as your on a dirt road,it isnt off road. Guys have done the haul road in AK on Gold Wings and RT's.
    They probably know how to ride gravel though. It really depends on a guy's experience as to how good a Big Twin ADV bike works out in the dirt. There is no stage presence involved in riding a simple 650/400 down a gnarly jeep trail.

    Doing the same road on a fully loaded 1200GS with slick Tourance style tires is much more of a challenge,I dont know how people pick em up off the ground but they do.
    #13
  14. Bultaco206

    Bultaco206 Back-to-back motos suck

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    This may be THE most logical, truthful, spot-on post in the history of this website. ^

    We can hide behind the bikes...too big...too small...but at the end of the day it's how we ride what we ride, and the enjoyment, that matters most.

    I've raced old bikes against new, new against old, against kids, and against those older than I. And I've ridden things in places that had no business being there...on both ends of the spectrum. Each time I've enjoyed the experience.

    Our poster seems to be looking for justification. He needn't try so hard. He already has my respect because he posts here and I enjoy reading about it, and the postings of others.

    The bikes are simply the tools of our trade.
    #14
  15. Twilight Error

    Twilight Error Going nowhere slowly

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    I get *lots* of practice. My crashbars and fuel tank are pretty well scarred...
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  16. dirtydeeds

    dirtydeeds I'm alive.

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    Bultaco:
    "Back to Back motos suck"
    hahaha
    Yes. Especially hung over with a mouth full of dirt from the first one. :rofl
    #16
  17. CodyY

    CodyY ADVenture Capitalist

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    a dirt bike/racing background helps
    [​IMG]

    so does being tall
    [​IMG]

    so does being dumb and strong-ish (yes I picked it up by myself fully loaded in the mud)
    [​IMG]



    but mainly I just really like having a LOT of horsepower.
    [​IMG]
    #17
  18. Twilight Error

    Twilight Error Going nowhere slowly

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    [​IMG]

    Loaded for a weekend, Anakee II tires. Made it up on the first go, but it was a close run thing.
    #18
  19. itrack

    itrack Been here awhile

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    I agree that its not about the bike. I road race a miata, I specifically hunt out newbs in Vettes and Porsches to make them cry. A skilled rider will spank my butt anywhere with a big touring bike. That being said, if your a smaller guy or newb you should look heavily at a 250cc or less dual sport. Those small bikes have many advantages for a lower skilled rider. I picked my CRF250L up six times Sunday, the last time after I was tired out was almost a no go.
    #19
  20. crypto666

    crypto666 Long timer

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    250's ain't just for newbs. I know plenty of old relic pros who love 250's for tight stuff, there is no shame in riding a small bike. In fact, my wife needs a new 250, wink wink.

    The biggest thing for me is if the suspension is setup half way correct. I have a 650 (680) that will take me more places faster than the newer lighter 450 simply because it has better suspension.
    #20