Yamaha WR250R vs Honda XR650L vs Suzuki DR650

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by bigalsmith101, Jul 30, 2010.

  1. bigalsmith101

    bigalsmith101 Long timer

    Sep 21, 2009
    Everett, WA
  2. ping

    ping Been here awhile

    Mar 9, 2008
    For your travels I would go with the dr-650.
    If you add larger gas tanks on the bike, it puts more weight on top, which makes it harder to control off road. It may be better to have spare gas in a
    container. If there is trouble you could easily give the gas to one rider to get help.
  3. Echo1

    Echo1 Been here awhile

    Jan 7, 2006
    Of the three bikes posed, I think the DR is the best one for your trip. However, I also think the DR isn't the best choice. You're 6'6" and your buddy is 6'2". The DR is a great bike but is pretty smalI and you'll be very cramped (where is the bear riding a tricycle emoticon? :lol3) . For a 2+ year trip, comfort ought to have major consideration. Will you be able to ride two-up if the need arises?

    The KLR has been suggested and you have concerns over liquid cooling and weight. I think active liquid cooling is much better than passive air cooling and adds to the long term reliability of the bike. In particular, the KLR with 9.5-9.8 compression ratio and liquid cooling is overdesigned. Most liquid cooled bikes have much higher compression. Regarding weight, 2007s and earlier weigh 410lbs curb weight and 2008+ weigh 432lbs. By the time you update a DR (seat, big tank, rack, skid plate, and wind protection) what is the curb weight for comparison?

    Just something to consider...
  4. xymotic

    xymotic Long timer

    Jun 20, 2008
    Federal Way, WA
    I would seriously think about the super sherpa. Not as much 'fun' as the others, but stone cold reliable. It has a lot going for it, WRT range, MPG, carrying ability, weight and simplicity.

    And I mean, in all honesty, is this a 70 MPH drive around the world tour of the interstates/autobahns, or is this a 30mph lackadaisical tour of back roads?

    And if you wanted to go nutso, the X challenge is a contender too, I'd call it a 'proven' design after this RR It could be done under 6k, but it would be tough. Nearly impossible to find three good deals on that one though.

    Maybe even a husky 610, but I'd be hard to find a used one that's not racked out, new the 630 is out of the price range (but not by much)

    Since there are three of you, I'd be tempted to have a heavier bike like a KLR, but definitely not a KLR. I'd pick a f650 and two Dakars over that in half a heartbeat.
  5. bigalsmith101

    bigalsmith101 Long timer

    Sep 21, 2009
    Everett, WA
    I thought I would take some valid advice and rate some issues of importance. They are valued on a scale of 0-1 with 0 being a non issue, and 1 being of high importance. I'll start with some that were provided for me.

    Reliability of operation, first and foremost -- 1

    Starts with dead battery by bump starting -- 1

    Runs on bad\low octane fuel -- 1

    Local availability of parts (how common the bike is worldwide) -- 1

    Ease of flat tire repair -- .8

    Frame can be Welded with electric or gas -- .75

    Simplicity of mechanics -- .75

    Comfort -- .75

    No special tools required -- .5

    Overall weight -- .5

    Given these priorities, there are a few easy deductions to make. The motorcycle needs to be ubiquitous, everywhere around the world. I don't have any urge to ride a KTM, nor a Husaburg, or a Husqavarna. The Kawasaki Super Sherpa is a good bike when traveling light, but is it going to hold up under 270 pounds of man and gear, 65,000 miles, and a 6'6" frame squandered over it?
  6. YnotJP?

    YnotJP? Long timer

    Dec 26, 2007
    Philippines and Seattle
    Al, If you have not already, you should read "Short Way Round". It has a lot of good imformation on not only a round the world trip, but also on bike prep. He started out on a BMW, has switched to a DR650. He is well into his trip and seems to have a pretty good handle on what he is doing.

    Your Dad gave you some good advise if you are the type of person to ride a motorcycle around the world. Not everyone is, but he probably knows you as well as anyone. As Mark Twain said it is better to regret the things you did than the things you didn't do.

    I feel that for someone on a limited budget, the DR650 is the only one to consider. If you don't change to a 520 chain, include tools and spares, but with all 3 bikes being the same that should not be too big a deal, and is something you would want to do no matter what chain. A lot of people have gone with the 17 inch rear tire, make take a little more planning, and again this is where the same bikes helps.

    Enjoy you trip.
  7. bigalsmith101

    bigalsmith101 Long timer

    Sep 21, 2009
    Everett, WA
    I read the entirety of "Short Way Around," as I found that reading as much as I can about everything I want to know about is one of the best ways of learning (at least for me) I had not yet much considered the Dr650 at that point and was biased towards the XR650L as I hosted a a guy riding around the world on one. (Gabe Bolton aka baronbolton)

    I've got even more reading to do, and I just reread "Short Way Around"

    The more I read, the more subtleties surface that suggest that the DR650 is the bike of choice. Africa Twins aren't readily available in the States, I'm not geared towards buying a newish BMW, KTM, or other big player either.

    Does anyone have a suggestion on rising the seat height of the DR650 other than building up the seat? Can suspensions be "lifted" or adjusted taller? Also, on second thought, and previously mentioned, is the DRZ400 not a good choice only due to it's size or due to it's carrying capacity? I recently saw one, fully farkled, and it looked like quite the machine! The DRZ400 is also has a 2" taller seat height, a bonus to myself at 6'6"

    I've begun my shopping experience along with my friend Tom, and gf Kristi. We're on the hunt for fantastic bike with low miles, and undervalued price tags. Where are they? :freaky

  8. Butters

    Butters Kwyjibo

    Oct 10, 2008
    I think your height will be the biggest issue with a DR650. DRZ may be a bit better, but it isn't very good above 60. Many tall riders complain about the DR650 - not so much seat height as seat to peg length. At 6'6", there's only so much you can do.

    The three of you on the same bike would probably be ideal, but it might not be feasible. I think the XRL may be the ticket for you guys and the DR for her.

    Dare I say it as I am a HUGE DR fan, but a KLR may be the better choice for bigger riders. An older F650 would probably fit into your price range as well.
  9. rufus

    rufus We're burning daylight...

    Sep 26, 2004
    Coweta Oklahoma

    DRZ 400 would be a fine choice. Excellent bike. And you can put a kickstarter on it. -------Go to Craiglook.com
  10. SuperBonBon

    SuperBonBon Been here awhile

    May 25, 2006
    I owned the DR650 for about 40,000 miles, and rode the Trans-America Trail with it, alongside a friend on the XR650L. I've only test-ridden the WR250R, but have been following it's progress very intently here and on other forums. I've crossed North America several times, Mexico a couple times, and rode from Canada to South America and back - those experiences lead me to these conclusions:

    I'd take a WR250R in a heartbeat, but ONLY if I packed very light (which I now do). My gear, including weight of the soft luggage, is about 40-45 pounds (with no camping gear), and includes tools, spare tubes, and everything I'd ever need. Much more weight and it would cancel the 250's positive's and fun factor - it's light weight, handling, and fuel economy.

    The XR650L the friend rode is a very solid machine. He shipped it from the U.K. to Toronto, and rode it to the start of the Trans-America Trail in Tenessee. He said that hiway ride was very uncomfortable and he hated it. I have some experience riding the Honda, and found it adequate for hiways of any kind, but was not nearly as enjoyable as the WR250R or the DR650R. He also had issues with the subframe and battery compartment as listed earlier in this thread - as well as the mounts for his big Acerbis tank which seemed weak. All in all though, I wouldn't hesitate to take that bike around the world. It's comfortable enough, reliable enough, and fun to ride. It'll handle any rough roads you want to throw at it for sure, but it DOES feel signifigantly more top heavy than the other two, which could be a big factor for the smallest member of your group.

    My first choice would definitely be the DR650. Much has been said about the KLR650 being a better hiway bike, but after riding a 2006 (older generation) and then a 2008 (new generation) KLR650 back to back with the DR650 on several occasions, I find the DR650 to be superior in almost every way on the hiway and absolutely superior offroad. The new KLR is a closer match (on the hiway only) to be honest, but just felt like such a BIG bike (and I'm 6'4" and 230 pounds). I rode my DR650 from Edmonton, Alberta to the start of the Trans-America trail via Chicago, New York City, and Washington D.C.. It was smooth and comfortable all day long - I did the 2500 miles to New York in 5 days, averaging just below 50mpg. For me, the DR650 would be the best "do it all comfortably" bike of the three you've chosen, regardless of how you pack it or what terrain you use it on. It's also VERY easy to service and get spare parts for, and is extremely reliable.

    Going through your chart, here are my comments/experience on some points:

    WEIGHT - If you're able to pack VERY light like I do, the WR250R would be extremely enjoyable to me on a trip like you're doing.

    TANK SIZE/RANGE - only on one portion of the Trans-America Trail is a range of 175 miles needed. Everywhere else I've ever traveled to in North, Central, and South America a 200 mile overall range has been more than sufficient. However, more range is always a plus for peace of mind and those "what if" situations.

    FUEL ECONOMY - the 3 XR650L's that I've been around got closer to 40mpg average. My DR and two others from close experience got 50mpg or better on the highway and 45-ish offroad (mid to high 30's if you were pushing it VERY hard). The WR250R will get better mileage UNLESS it's loaded up or being pushed, then it will suffer.

    SUB FRAME: The DR's subframe will be adequate for whatever you load it with. The XR's, from what I've seen and heard are not quite as robust but will do fine if you keep the weights moderate - other's with more immediate experience may tell you more. The WR's appears to be as strong as the XR's if not better, but again, it's not a bike you want to load up to begin with.

    COMP RATIO: This is actually a major factor. The WR uses high octane gas. I wouldn't hesitate to put a tank of low grade in it on occasion, but sometimes for long-ish stretches low grade is all you'll find. You can carry octane boost, which is readily available in Central and South America, but I have no experience with finding it in other parts of the world. Something you'll want to research.

    FUEL SYSTEM: A fuel injected system, to me, is a plus, simply because you'll get the best possible settings for any altitude automatically. On long trips with frequent altitude changes, it's a huge blessings. Fuel Injection is not as dead-simple reliable as a carburetor of course, but I'd trust one anywhere. Any new (or new to me) bike that I purchase WILL have fuel injection or I won't buy it - I've had enough of trying to sort out carburetor settings.

    COOLING SYSTEM: Radiators are more fragile, obviously. The cooling system can be a factor in several areas of the world. A lot of cities in Central and South America have slow moving or stop-and-go traffic, and you'll see a lot of those traffic conditions and hot, slow riding in Africa and South-East Asia. Both 650's will be just fine as long as you're moving. Keep an eye on temperatures in difficult situations (especially stop-and-go traffic in hot weather at high altitude....like Mexico City).

    REAR WHEEL: This is a weak point of the DR650. 17" tires are not as readily available. I've never had problem finding a 17" in general - you just might not get the model/type you prefer. You can check ahead at destinations you'll arrive in when you've estimated your tires will need replacing.

    GROUND CLEARANCE: In my opinion, not an issue on any of the bikes. The DR650, with the lowest of the three, handled the Trans-America Trail with absolutely no issues.

    Every bike has it's issues or compromises. You can either choose a bike based on what "moves you" and deal with those issues, or choose a bike based on what has the least amount of issues for your riding intentions. The DR650, according to both my experiences and research, is the bike that has the LEAST amount of issues (or has issues that are are easily/cheaply fixable). I've also found it to be incredibly reliable, plenty powerful yet cheap to run, fun and easy to ride, inexpensive to purchase and maintain, easy to maintain, light and maneuverable offroad but very smooth and comfortable on road - which to me make it the best choice for a RTW bike.

    So, for your needs:

    First Place = DR650

    Second Place = XR650L

    Third Place = WR250R

    Good luck, and enjoy every moment. :)

  11. edteamslr

    edteamslr Been here awhile

    Jul 22, 2008
    Abridged. This post is a breath of fresh air. It speaks of someone who challenges the received wisdom that so many others quote without thinking. The advantage of the WR really is in it's packing light, fun handling, hi-tech (but DEPENDABLE!!!!). It's predictable that the DR would come first and that XR would be next and I don't mind that my bike comes 3rd because it's an honest appraisal that doesn't detract from the qualities that make WR's so good at what they do.
  12. djchan

    djchan Long timer

    Dec 9, 2004
    on the border
    Properly setup KLR won't be beat for this application. No, I don't own one but used to. I've owned or ridden all of these and more including the KTM and Husky as well. No doubt about what I'd take around the world. KLR.

    90 percent of your ride will be paved/dirt road miles where the KLR excels over any of the other bikes. Your offroading won't be technical so the bike just needs to haul a lot and be passable here. The KLR is.
  13. AKoffroader

    AKoffroader Adventurer

    Jun 20, 2008
    Chugiak Alaska
    Go half way down the page to "Controls" and look at lowered foot pegs if you're trying to unfold your legs a little. I also added some "highway" pegs out in front of the skid plate to stretch out on. That's really what is needed in my opinion.


    There is NO PERFECT bike for what we do. The good news is most of the cures have already been done for us. We just have to buy and bolt them on.

    Take care,

    AK Greg
  14. bigalsmith101

    bigalsmith101 Long timer

    Sep 21, 2009
    Everett, WA
    AK Greg, I recently saw that page a couple days ago when researching the necessary accessories for an adventure such as the one we have planned. It blew my mind. I was flabbergasted at such an immense quantity of products available for the DR650 specifically. And in one location nonetheless!

    What do you guys think about the Scottoiler? It seems to be a pretty well engineered, simplistic piece of equipment. Does it really work as well as they say it does?:deal

  15. Austinite

    Austinite Did you see that?

    May 29, 2006
    Austin, Texas YALL!
    Just saw this thread and can't help but appreciate the life experiences you'll surely have, good and bad, but experiences you'll relish the rest of your days.

    The bikes you picked are obviously great choices, but I'm thinking it wouldn't be a bad idea to keep the three bikes within the same family of manufacturer, if not even the same model. By doing this, you'll be able to address problems AND get scheduled maintenance done on all three bikes throughout the course of your adventure, as opposed to jumping around a city to get work done on each bike. You'll probably be pinpointing dealers/repair centers along your route, so keeping that aspect simple will probably be a blessing. The bikes, except for the 250, are venerable bikes that haven't changed much in over 10 to 15 years, so you know those parts will be far more widely available in just about every locale you pass through, worldwide. When gearing these bikes up, don't neglect the fact that aftermarket seats will be a much appreciated expenditure!

    While I've never made a road trip and haven't seen EU, Africa, nor Asia, I've been to many places in Latin/South America. As I'm sure you've experienced from your other travels, watch yourselves after you head south of the U.S. border. Besides all of the troubles going on predominantly in Northern Mexico, you'll find that the trip from Latin to South America is going to be questionable as to whether you'll lean towards a safe trip, or an adventurous one. There is a stretch known as the Darien Gap that seperates Panama and Columbia that is essentially unpassable to most motor vehicles but motorcycles. It's obvious you know people who have experience to lean on in planning this trip and you seem to be very thorough in your preparation, just err on the side of safety/caution to see this wonderful trip through from beginning to end.

    Cheers, and here's to hoping you guys will blog your trip and allow the rest of us dreamers to live vicariously through your experiences. I wish you all good luck and good health!!!
  16. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

    Nov 28, 2006
    By the Great Lakes
    I'd go DR650. Why?

    - It's been around, essentially unchanged, for years...and it's proven. Ebay parts abound too.
    - Smooth onroad...day after day...after day.
    - Not known for burning oil, even on the slab.
    - Can haul gear with just some simple add-ons.
    - Can haul ass, even uphill, with just some simple add-ons.
    - Will carry 2 ok in a pinch, if 1 of the other bikes go down. The others? At your sizes? With luggage? Hell, it even has the torque to tow another DR if you have to.
    - Spacious enough with lowered pegs and touring pegs below a built-up seat. Taller bars and/or bar-risers may be good too.
    - Low enough to get everybody's feet down easily, even offroad.
    - Simple. Screw and locknut valve adjustments. Rebuild it on the side of the road with basic tools. Weld it with a stick welder or JB.
    - Reliable. Do the fixes and it'll probably run your whole trip without major issues.
    - Durable. It'll fall and tumble with the best of them.
    - Swapping parts from other bikes or aftermarket is generally easy. The DR350 is an easy 18" rear wheel swap. RM or DR-Z suspension swaps are not beyond a decent wrencher's ability either. This may be handy when DR-originated parts are hard to come by.
    - Put in a fuel filter and run it on 85 octane.
    - Versatile. Tape up the 3x3d airbox at sea-level, or run it wide open at high altitude.
    - Cheap. Buy a fairly new DR in good shape for $2500 or less.
    - Aftermarket abounds for setting up a DR with inexpensive RTW parts. Most of the parts needed will be similar for all the bikes.
    - SACS. The air/oil cooling is better than the XRL's air cooling, and simpler than the WR's liquid cooling.
    - Weight. The DR has enough weight for highway load carrying, but is lighter than a 1200cc BMW when you have to muscle it out of sand or mud. You can also shave almost 25lb off a DR without spending a fortune. Some of this weight is just in the course of the usual upgrades. (GSX-R muff, fenderectomy, removing the safety switches, better mirrors, etc.)
    - Most issues the DR has or could have are easily and inexpensively addressed. (NSU screws, lack of grease, plastic oilpump gear, carbing, etc.)
    - Cheap enough to throw away. Worst case, you might be forced to abandon it. Why buy new or expensive bikes?

    The Safari tank for the DR also holds around 8 gallons, much of the extra down low.

    Put a big lockable hardcase on the tailrack.(Givi sells 40-55L cases that will fit 2 FF helmets and then some.) Soft panniers, though, are less dangerous to your legs in a fall. PacSafe can help you lock up your soft bags with their stainless mesh.
  17. bigalsmith101

    bigalsmith101 Long timer

    Sep 21, 2009
    Everett, WA
    What do you think about this as the starting platform for my RTW bike? Found it on Craigslist, 500 miles from home.

    2006 DR650SE $3300

    Accessories included in the price:

    4.9 gal IMS tank + OEM tank
    Corbin seat + modified OEM seat for dirt & trail
    Acerbis Front Fender + OEM Fender
    Moose skid plate
    Acerbis hand guards
    Large rear rack
    Large removable rear case, lockable w/break light. (Holds 2 helmets)
    Handlebar risers 2"
    Lowered foot peg brackets
    14 & 15 tooth front sprockets
    Wolfman fender bag
    Tank bag
    PIAA high intensity low watt headlight bulb
    Moose air filter
    Shinko 244 Dual Sport tires installed last summer
    Magnetic drain plug
    Wired for battery tender
    GSXR 600 muffler (not installed)
    Original tool kit
    Parts & Service manual
    + extras, oil/air filters ect.

    Deal or No deal?

    As I am working in Juneau Alaska currently (been here 7 weeks, with 4 more to go), my friend Tom is headed out with my other friend (who owns a pickup and also rides a DRZ400SM) to take a look at the bike. If all goes well, I could be the new (third) owner of this bike. The current owner bought it in 2008 with 500'ish miles on it.

    Any thought's or inputs. Here's a few picture of it.




  18. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    May 29, 2002
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    great deal! do it.

  19. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

    Jan 18, 2010
    Passing ADV Stalkers in California
    I responded to your same query on HUBB. As I said there ... and will repeat ... YES ... you can raise the bike up by changing the linkage arms (Aka Dog bones) different bones allow you to go UP or Down on the bike. Don't go too far as you can only lower the fork tubes a slight amount and its a good idea to more or less match the two, although not critical.

    A custom seat is also a good idea. Many tall dirt bike riders do this.
    Ask on the Big DR thread here for sources for Dog bones to raise your DR up some. (don't go more than an inch)
  20. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

    Jul 5, 2005
    I think that DR650 looks like a good start.

    Another bike you might consider is the DR350SE. About the same power and weight as the WR250R, but the simple air cooled, low rpm engine design of the 650s. Also steel subframe etc. Biggest aftermarket tank is 4.25 gal, though I've read on here that the 6.6 gal XR600R tank fits without much work.