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Confused choosing a motorcycle - any advice out there?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by kitkat, Sep 20, 2018.

  1. kitkat

    kitkat Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2003
    Oddometer:
    20
    Location:
    california
    Hi guys, my kids are getting a little older and I'm starting to feel that I might be able to get a motorcycle again, however, there are a lot of options out there and that's part of the confusion.

    Can I have your help?

    Some details:
    - haven't ridden in 10 years
    - 6'2" ~ 185lbs
    - thinking dual sport, lighter weight
    - inexpensive (kids tuition comes first so I'm left with little for myself!)
    - low maintenance/high reliability
    - I like the look of aluminum panniers!
    - don't like riding a motorcycle on the freeway and would avoid it when ever possible.


    The motorcycles I have looked at but no test rides,
    - WR250R
    - DRZ400
    - KLR650
    And while at the shop last weekend I sat on a Versys 650 and v-strom and thought wow, those feel really comfortable!
    - Versys 650
    - V-strom 650

    Before last weekend I was trying to narrow it down to one of the three and was tied between the WR250R and DRZ400, but now I'm really confused after sitting on those two other bikes.

    What do you guys think, can you offer some advice?

    Thanks!!
    #1
    Hi-De-Ho likes this.
  2. kitkat

    kitkat Adventurer

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    california
    Funny, I checked my past posts and it was one topic posted in 2003! The bike I bought shortly after that discussion was a BMW R850R and I kept it until I just didn't have time for it. Kids became the priority!
    #2
  3. CCitis

    CCitis Been here awhile

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    Hi Kit Kat. A few questions. Budget? What kind of riding do you want to do? Street? Dirt?... Did you like your R850? I am assuming based on your post that it would be for weekend rides, not longer touring? Can you turn a wrench?

    Budget is a big question, but the Strom 650 is a very good bet. It wears its weight a bit higher, but you are tall and could manage it fine. I think it is a good all arounder to get back on a bike. It would allow for some trail riding as well, where the Versys is street. I had a Strom, and enjoyed the V twin as opposed to parallel twin as well. If the Strom is out of reach I would say the KLR/DR/XL 650s would be good to look at. Both the Strom and those three bikes will be easy to get back on(Strom could have ABS, which is nice to have), will be inexpensive to run and maintain and could take Aluminum boxes. The DRZ is fine but personally, I think if you are not riding extensively offroad a 650 is a good bet. My 2 cents, may change once you answer the questions.
    #3
    Hi-De-Ho likes this.
  4. CaptCapsize

    CaptCapsize Been here awhile

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    I own a Vstrom 650 and have owned a DRZ. CCtis advice it right on. The good news with bikes like the DRZ, WR, and maybe even the KLR; is if you buy one used and ride it for a few years, you can sell it for almost what you paid for it. I did!
    #4
    CCitis likes this.
  5. kitkat

    kitkat Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2003
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    california
    Thanks for the replies.

    Budget - little as possible! I'd buy new this fall if loan rate was attractive, otherwise would need to save up. Kids tuition comes first!

    Dream of riding off-road adventures, motorcycle camping, and could trailer it if needed, but definitely want a street legal, licensing bike.

    Yes, weekends only, and I don't like the freeway.

    I didn't feel comfortable on the R850R. It felt like it was for different size rider. I'm not heavy, just a bit taller.

    I can turn the wrench, and do the maintenance on mine and wife's cars. I have rebuilt engines, and can build or repair a lot of things. However, I would prefer to not have to do much maintenance on this bike. For this reason a new bike is more attractive.

    I would only buy something that had a reliable track record.

    Another consideration, its a bit dark but it is on my mind. My location had a major mud slide last January. All roads were blocked. My friend with an old dirt bike got around it and picked up his son who was on the other side of the slide. I guess knobby tires can go places cars or trucks can't. I like the idea of that capability but realize its not a normal use for a bike.

    The more I look the more I realize I should take my time and ask.

    Thanks,
    #5
  6. davidji

    davidji bike curious

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    The Versys 650 is a street bike. It's awesome for that, but that doesn't sound like what you want--though if you install TKC80s, maybe it's part way there. If I had your list of wants, I'd consider a used DR650. The Versys is much better at higher speeds (e.g. 65-90MPH), but it doesn't sound like you'll be doing much of that?

    Since you're tall, maybe an XR650L would be a good choice as well. Better in some ways, worse in others, but I don't think they're as reliable. Though if you buy new, and install an oil cooler, maybe it's the same.

    The Versys 300X might be worth a look too.
    If the first really matters, I don't think a new bike is the correct choice to meet the second one. For example look for good (properly maintained) used DR650 bikes nearby. Compare vs what you'd pay new. Think about that college tuition. And think about how much extra work that older DR is likely to actually need. If it were better setup for your use it might need less (e.g. comfy seat, larger tank etc.). And think about that college tuition.
    #6
  7. jhat

    jhat n00b

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    Dec 12, 2017
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    Location:
    Wisconsin, USA
    I have both the 650 V Strom and the DRZ. I am happy to have a conversation off line regarding the bikes.
    #7
  8. ddavidv

    ddavidv So money, but doesn't know it.

    Joined:
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    I've owned a few of the bikes on your list. My first bike was a KLR650.
    Opinions will be like...well, you know.
    I always argue that proper 'fit' is paramount and from there you pick performance, value, etc. You can use http://cycle-ergo.com/ to get an idea of what may work for you but it will still require you sit on several brands and models to find a good fit. Some bikes I've sold myself on via research simply did NOT work after throwing a leg over...and I'm a 'normal' height/inseam person. Though you will be tempted by the awesomeness of larger dual sport bikes a light, nimble machine with adequate power will likely me more pleasant to live with for your situation.

    Staying off highways is a noble goal but you will need to transit on occasion to get to the 'good stuff' so at least being capable of 70 mph should be factored in.

    The KLR is a good all-round bike that is master of nothing. It's been around since dirt was invented and is reliable aside from the 2008 oil burning year and the 'doohickey' tensioner springs that fail. The latter is correctable but does require a one-time slightly involved repair. My main issues with the KLR are it's excessive height--it is really tall--and it's top-heavy-ness. If you can tolerate those negatives it is a stellar bike and why it has remained in production for over two decades.

    The DR650 is an air-cooled competitor to the KLR and is arguably a better bike. Only reason I didn't get one is they usually cost more on the used market where I shop.

    The DL650 WeeStrom is a great road machine but I found it ponderous on gravel. It is like a KLR in how it carries it's weight but has the benefits of yee-haw power delivery, tubeless tires and far fewer vibrations. It is also harder to pick up when you drop it. I don't think this is probably what you need. I'd say the Versys is similar but it carries it's weight better IMO but is even more pavement oriented.

    The other bikes you mention are much more 'dirt bikes'. The better they are on the dirt the more annoying they are on the road. The light weight and smaller size are attributes but depending on how much riding you will do to get to dirt they may be an uncomfortable compromise.

    Other bikes I'd suggest looking at would be the Honda CB500X and the mini Versys 300. I haven't ridden either but have sat on both and the Versys 300 fits me like a glove. It is capable of highway speeds thanks to it's Ninja derived engine that will rev out without exploding. The Honda has a lot of followers and a good aftermarket but some will tell you it needs a $3000 Rally Raid upgrade to be a decent off-road bike.
    #8
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  9. jfauerba

    jfauerba Been here awhile

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    DRZ400 could be priced a little high compare to the others.
    WR250R could be a little bit of and issues from home to get to where you want to ride if you have to jump on raods doing +60mph. Also around here there are not too many for sale.
    I would look at craigslist and find out what is avaiable in your area and that may help you decide what way to go.
    Air cooled normally don't last as long (>20,000 miles) as water cooled but they are lighter.
    #9
  10. kitkat

    kitkat Adventurer

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    california
    There are no used bikes that I listed in my area.

    There’s one 2012 Versys with 25k for $4000 at a dealer.

    Theres a new 2017 WR250R that still at the dealer and it’s marked down to $5650.
    #10
  11. Jarrett2

    Jarrett2 Been here awhile

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    DFW
    I just went down this rabbit hole and ended up on a 2018 KLR with 0% financing. Went new because it was only about $1000 more expensive than used, 0% financing and liked the yellow color.

    I wanted something that was 60/40% street oriented and under $6250 after taxes and all. I'm 6'+ and 260 lbs.

    Others I checked out:

    Suzuki:
    DR650 suspension felt too soft
    DRZ400 seemed fine, but just a dirt bike really, not so good on highway
    V-Strom 650 nice on paper, but pretty heavy for its size and lacks ground clearance

    Kawi:
    Versys-X 300 was too small
    Versys 650 too heavy with 17" front wheel, lacks ground clearance

    Honda:
    CRF250L/Rally are too weak on the road (good off road)
    XR650L fine for dirt, no so much for on the road
    NC700X feels too cramped and small, 17" wheels and low ground clearance
    CB500X even smaller and more cramped, 17" wheels and low ground clearance

    Yamaha:
    W250R still weak for the road and weird rear shock (really good off road)

    KTM:
    690 Enduro too expensive and small gas tank (KTM's in general too much for my budget)

    BMW:
    BMW G 310 GS seems cool on paper, but reviewers seemed to pan it

    KLR650 was a bit of a sweet spot for me. Sitting on the bike was immediately comfortable. Not cramped, not forced to sit in a little pocket made for smaller riders.
    It also has much better road manners and wind management than DR's. It's fairly decent off pavement as well, I'm not doing any single track on it, just maintained and unmaintained roads. Bulletproof reliability. It can go almost 300 miles on a full tank. The 2014.5+ models got a seat and suspension upgrade that negates the need for aftermarket parts there, imo. Aftermarket support on the bike is incredible and inexpensive.

    Downsides are old technology, has been discontinued, so 2018 is last year. It's carb'ed versus fuel injected. Very bare bones. To some that's a good thing though.
    It's slow and easy going. Tops out about 90-95mph, 0-60 in about 5.4 seconds. It's not going to win any races. And like any single cylinder bike, it shakes. Better than others I've ridden though.

    If was I 50/50 or more dirt oriented, I'd look at the DRZ400. If more street then I'd be thinking Versys, V-Strom or NC700X

    I put this together to help me look it all over, might help you as well:

    [​IMG]
    #11
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  12. CCitis

    CCitis Been here awhile

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    Be Patient. I agree. If you are on a budget go used. Based on what you want I would say a Vstrom or KLR would be good bikes for you. Let us know what happens, then post ride reports!
    #12
    Bucho likes this.
  13. jfauerba

    jfauerba Been here awhile

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    I assume you did the "include nearby areas" and / or "MILES FROM ZIP" and put in 50 to 75 miles. Surprising to me how many people don't use these features on craiglist.
    #13
  14. CaptCapsize

    CaptCapsize Been here awhile

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    You should be persistent. You might look for new "Old" stock bike. My VStrom was a 2013 model near the end of 2015. I told the salesman in another month you will have a brand new 3 year old bike on your showroom floor. I got it for over $3k off MSRP. That said, with my skill level I would not take the VStrom on anything rougher than a good dirt road. Someone described it as ponderous, good description!
    #14
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  15. RickB1975

    RickB1975 Long timer

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    Sounds to me like you want an Adventure bike more than a dualsport machine. Check out the Honda CRF250 adventure. It might be exactly what your looking for. I haven't ridden the Adventure model, but the dual sport version is fine. It is far from overpowered, might even say it's slow, and a bit heavy. But it will cruise on a highway just fine, it'll just take a bit to get it up to speed. that and brand new: MSRP $5,899*.

    I have owned a XR650L and the yare as reliable as an anvil. I put 30K miles on mine and never had to do more than change oil, tires and regular maintenance. Valves were checked but never needed adjustment. I de-corked it and it had more than enough power off-road, and plenty on the road. it is tall, and heavy for off-road use, but it is the lightest 650 dualsport from japan by around 50 pounds. Needs a fork brace for any serious off-roading, but the suspension if better than the DR650, and way better than a KLR. At 185 pounds you shouldn't need to re-spring the XR, but I would highly recommend a fork brace.

    The "down the middle" bikes of what you mention are the 650 thumpers. The DR650, XR650L and the KLR. They make decent lightweight adventure bikes. They're capable of carrying luggage, and cruising on an interstate at speeds that are safe. you won't be passing many cars however. They are far better off-road than the big adventure bikes, and while they can run the highways, they are no where near as comfortable at speed or for long hauls. The DR and the KLR do have stronger sub-frames and can therefore carry more weight. But the XR is better off-road due to longer suspension travel and more ground clearance. The XR is the lightest, but also the most top heavy. I'm 5'10" and had no problems with my XR once I got used to it.
    #15
  16. Jarrett2

    Jarrett2 Been here awhile

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    I'll say its slow. Takes forever to get up to decent highway speed and once there you have zero passing power on the highway. Have to basically hold it wide open to go 70+ MPH and its fairly brutal (shaking/wind) trying to hold it like that for any length of time.

    Riding a KLR and a CRF250L on the highway is literally a night and day difference. Personally, I don't want a street legal dual sport or adventure bike that lacks the power to pass at highway speeds. The KLR650 has the power to pass. I assume the other 650's can as well.
    #16
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  17. RickB1975

    RickB1975 Long timer

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    The OP stated he isn't interested in highway travel. But, I figured it's nice to know you won't get mowed down by an 18 wheeler going 40 mph faster than you are. like I said, they are at least fast enough to be safe on the highway, that's nice to know if you got to make up time on a trip for some reason.
    #17
  18. nk14zp

    nk14zp Long timer

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    KLR.
    #18
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  19. Jarrett2

    Jarrett2 Been here awhile

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    He said he doesn't want to ride on a freeway, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't want to jump on a nice back road sometime and do 70 mph for a for a few miles. Maybe pass a car now and then.

    Doing that on a CRF250L sucks. On a KLR, its enjoyable.
    #19
  20. bodine003

    bodine003 Long timer

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    Royal Enfield
    #20
    Bitte ein Bit likes this.