"MY" Dual Sport Bike Ratings

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by OhioPT, Dec 29, 2007.

  1. OhioPT

    OhioPT Adventure Wannabe

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    I POSTED THIS AT ANOTHER ONLINE FORUM IN RESPONSE TO A QUESTION ABOUT WHAT DUAL-SPORT BIKE TO BUY. THE PERSON PLANs TO RIDE AT LEAST SOME OFFROAD AND WOODS, SO HERE IS HOW I REPLIED:

    Well, I own both a DRZ400S and a KTM 450exc (road each one 1000 dual-sport miles this year), and have ridden a friends KLX250S, so I have some experience with these bikes. Like others have stated, which bike is best for you depends on what type of riding you plan to do, and what your budget is.

    Ultimately, if you plan on doing a lot of offroad and woods riding, you will probably eventually end up trailering/trucking the bike out to different areas that are further away. I pretty much trailer my bike to any area more than 30 minutes from home, for one MAIN reason: TIRES. Knobby tires wear really quickly on the street, so it's just not worth riding on the street if I can trailer the bike. Based on this philosophy, I recommend getting something light-weight if it fits your budget. Again, this is ONLY if you plan to do a lot of OFFROAD/WOODs type riding.

    If you're riding MOSTLY dirt/gravel roads, then you'll be better off getting a less maintenance intensive bike, which are unfortunately heavier in weight. Having said all this, here are my recommendations for each type of riding:

    EDIT 12-30-07 to include the G650X (which I had forgotten about)

    I. Primarily Offroad and Woods Riding with SOME dirt road/gravel/street use
    1. KTM 450/525exc (you can convert a pre-2007 pretty easily to make
    it legal)
    2. Yamaha WR450f or WR250f with dual-sport kit (Baja Designs,
    homemade, etc)
    3. Suzuki DRZ400E with dual-sport kit
    4. Husky TE450/510 (gear box is too narrowly spaced for dualsport)
    5. Husky TE610 (and probably the new KTM 690E)
    6. Any other 4-stroke enduro with a dual-sport kit (would have to have
    e-start for me)
    7. Suzuki DRZ400S
    8. Kawi KLX250S
    9. KTM 640 LC4e (used)
    10. Yamaha WR250R
    11. BMW G650X

    II. Primarily Dirt/Gravel Roads with SOME Offroad/Woods (i.e, anything > 50% dirt/gravel/street)
    1. Husky TE610 (and probably the new KTM 690E)
    2. KTM 640 LC4e (used)
    3. BMW G650X
    4. Suzuki DRZ400S
    5. Suzuki DRZ400E with dual-sport kit
    6. KTM 450/525exc
    7. Yamaha WR450f or WR250f with dual-sport kit (Baja Designs,
    homemade, etc)
    8. Husky TE450/510 (gearbox is too narrowly spaced for dualsport)
    9. Kawi KLX250S
    10. Yamaha WR250R

    I have many reasons for these rankings, and before someone asks, the reason the KLX and WRR rate so low is because of the lack of power (the WRR uses a different motor than the WRf, so I'm assuming it's way down on power like the KLX, besides it's ridiculously heavy weight of 276 lbs for a 250cc bike).

    DISCUSS :lurk
    #1
  2. tbirdsp

    tbirdsp REMF

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    Why did you leave out the Husky TE250?

    Also, there are LOTS of states where it's not possible to license a dirt only bike. That would negate a bunch of your choices.
    #2
  3. mcinfantry

    mcinfantry who... me?

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    id like to see a list of LEGAL from the factory dual sports. loopholes are what allow insurance companies to screw you, and juries award civil judgements against you....
    #3
  4. holycaveman

    holycaveman Long timer

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    Well you left out quite a few bikes. I know that you can't include all of them.


    Ironically the bikes you listed as primary off road bikes and some light roads could be used to win a national enduro on.

    Truthfully the lighter less powered 4 strokes mentioned, klx250, dr250 etc. Has enough power and suspension for about 90 percent of adv riders talent. And about 1 percent of their ego. NO offense, but its true.


    I really think the lighter 4 stroke non race bikes are the ticket for easy fun trail work. They are much easier to handle on tight single track also.

    I am not slamming your post. But honestly, unless you are racing(I know we all think we are racing.) The KLX250, should rank right up there beside the 450 if not in front of it, because its easier to ride on the trails. NOt as fast, but your post does not say anything about racing???

    All the bikes mentioned are good at the same thing. The faster more race oriented ones though are a handfull to a new dirt rider.


    LOL put a newb on a 525 in tough single track!!! Thats funny.

    There is different ideas in everyones minds. I have ridden most every bike listed. And really for non race conditions and purly off road, if you are a new rider, chose a light mild mannered 4 stroke, and you will be a happy man!!

    Then when your man ego kicks in, get a full on racer, and play ricky for a day:D
    #4
  5. neepuk

    neepuk Such a drag...

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    "AT LEAST" implies to me that this guy's gonna be on the road alot.

    Based on what the original poster was asking for I'd agree with your assessment as long as I can average your response. The DRZ400, and the TE610 are the bikes that are on both of your lists and would average the highest.

    If the rider is newer to the sport I'd say stick with the 250 class until he's ready for the drz.
    #5
  6. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    Things I consider when dual sporting are as follows:
    1. Reliability (important when in remote areas)
    2. Dealer Network (where can I buy it and get it serviced)
    3. Parts availability (how long to wait for needed parts)
    4. Performance on and off road (power to weight ratio & suspension performance)
    5. Confort (can I survive 400 mile days in the saddle)
    6. After market parts availability (ie: larger fuel tanks, skid plates etc.)
    7. Ground Clearance (important when riding 4x4 trails)
    8. How well can the bike survive multiple drops and crashes in a day
    9. Ability to carry luggage
    10. Is it street legal from the factory ('05 and newer dual sported dirt bikes in California have been getting the plates taken away on some models)
    11. How much modification does it need to run well
    12. Does it have a catch tank for the radiator if it boils over
    13. What is the seat height (important for shorter riders)
    14. 150 mile fuel range (important if you ride Death Valley)

    Dual sport bikes come in sizes ranging from 250cc to 1200cc. You first have to decide where you will spend most of your time riding and that will determine what size bike you need.

    Reliability is high on my list of priorities for a dual sport because I have been 50 miles from nowhere and I don't want to have a bike failure. That is why I will never own a KTM. The 450EXC and 530EXC are great when they are working but there is no catch bottle for the radiator so if you boil over the radiator fluid can't be recovered. I have seen way too many 450EXC and especially 525EXC's have motor failure's for my liking.

    I'm not trying to offend any happy KTM owners out there, but I have personally ridden with over 14 KTM owners and base my opinion on my personal experience riding with them over the years.

    Getting a licence plate for a dirt bike, like the WR450F, in California is no guarantee you will be able to keep it as riders have had their plates taken away especially on Honda CRFX owners.

    For all out balls to the wall wide open riding on single track and pounding through the whoops, there is currently only the KTM 450 and 530EXC's that will fit the bill but be prepared for parts to break and fall off these bikes.

    You will also have to richen up the jetting, add skid plates, radiator guards, toughen up the blinkers and license plate mounting setup to make it be able to survive aggressive riding. Even with all that, and a price tag of over $10,000 out the door, you will still be screwed if you boil over the radiator and don't carry extra water.

    Yamaha's new WR250R looks promising as they claim it makes more horsepower than the Suzuki DRZ400S, but it is too heavy to meet the above criteria.

    BMW's new G450X looks good on paper but we will have to wait and see on that one.

    I just completed a two day ride on mostly single track and whoops in the Mojave Desert. I rode my '07 XR650L and it worked great for what I needed. The stock suspension worked well, not as well of course as a WR450F, but still good enough for what I needed, plus I have a 150 mile fuel range with my IMS 4.0 gal. fuel tank.

    I'm not interested in riding, "balls to the wall", anymore and just like to go exploring. Even though the XR650L is tall and heavy at 328 lbs, it meets all my criteria for a dual sport and is the bike most likely to get me back home with no fuss. It can also survive crashes because it has no radiator to boil over or break in a fall.

    The XR650l is very comfortable on road and does a good enough job off road to take me everywhere I want to go. It is also light enough to throw in the back of my pickup if I want to haul it to my riding destination which is what I did this past ride.

    My picks for dual sport bikes based on my criteria would be:

    950-1200cc class: BMW R1200 GS Adventure (more reliable and comfortable than the KTM 950 or 990 but not as good off road as the KTM)

    650cc class: Honda XR650L (meets all my criteria best)

    400cc class: Suzuki DRZ400S (better off road than a 650 but not as good on road)

    250cc class: Yamaha WR250R (These are the lightest dual sports, not including the KTM EXC's, and should be the most flickable and also are good for those just learning to ride off road. Hope this bike is as good as it looks)

    Husky's have had very sketchy parts availability in my area and no dealers. Vee Stroms are heavy and don't have enough ground clearence but are very good on road bikes.
    #6
  7. Max Kool

    Max Kool Xtankteam™

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    The tighter the woods, the more fun a lighter bike is. Deal. But in the end it's more the rider than the bike.
    #7
  8. Witherstrom

    Witherstrom Adventurer

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    Couple of thoughts.
    I have a hot rodded VStrom DL 1000, can't give it full throttle in 2nd without goin to the sky, but I love showing the "Fat Boys" in town that noise isn't speed. So now I need a lighter pure dirt bike.
    As a Canadian, I have seen the province of Quebec take a lot of dirt bikes off the road, stupid thinking spreads from one gov't to the other up here, so one of my criteria is it must be street legal into the future. I plan to ride a lot of single track on Vancouver Island, and wet gravel roads to get there.
    I'm spending much of my winter reading advice from people who have tried different bikes, and I will buy a mostly dirt dual sport this spring.
    I didn't see a BMW 650 mentioned, I tend to own bikes for 30 years, any veiws on the price/value equation?
    I was born a poor farm boy, but now have money, some times being cheap bites my ass.
    #8
  9. Flashman1

    Flashman1 Long timer

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    I like your logic and pick of bikes. My comment is that I ride both kind of conditions you have listed plus some commuting.

    If you average the rating in the two categories my favorite and current bike shares the #1 spot - TE610. Light, powerfull and a great 6 speed. Also holds 2 quarts of oil and a less frequent maintenance schedule than the other 1st place place bikes - KTM 450/525.
    #9
  10. OhioPT

    OhioPT Adventure Wannabe

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    Thanks for the input so far. I started this thread because I've always thought out my purchase decisions like this, but I've never seen a thread like this one, just a lot of "this bike is better than this one, bla, bla, bla." I guess I need to clarify a few things:

    1. This list is for an EXPERIENCED dual sporter, not a beginner rider. If it was directed toward a beginner, then the list order would be much different, and some bikes (like the KTM and Husky 4 strokes) wouldn't even be on the list. But regarding power levels, I like to have enough power on the street portions of my rides to get out of the way quickly if I need to to avoid an accident, and also to be able to easily bring up the front end to clear obstacles in the woods.

    2. I left out a lot of bikes (XRL, DR650, KLR) simply because of the weight. While these are all great bikes, I would never want to ride them here in the woods of the eastern US, where there are lots of ruts, roots, logs, and very slick conditions when it's wet. Out West, they may be fine, but over here in the woods, not a very good choice IMO. I left out the BMW simply because I forgot about it (oops), but it would rank low in the first list, and 3 or 4 in the 2nd list. I'll edit my list...

    3. As far as crash protection, comfort, and fuel range go, just about ANY of the bikes on the list need upgrades (some more than others) for serious woods riding, so that really isn't a deal breaker for me. I mean, how many DS bikes have you ever seen that weren't modified in at least one of these areas???

    4. This list was developed based on the bike's capabilities, and doesn't take into consideration parts availability and dealer access. I have a Husky dealer literally 10 minutes from my house and a KTM dealer within 30 minutes, and I do most of my own work anyways, so it's not a big issue for me. If it is for you, then just scan down the list to the next option... FWIW, when I do the TAT (or any type of multi-state or international ride), I will not take a Husky, because of the parts/dealer availability, but for anything that covers a 3-day weekend or less (which is 95% of my riding), I would be fine with a Husky.

    5. Yes, you can average the ratings to find the best bike for the amount of the type of riding you do. That's the main reason I made out these lists actually.

    6. I realize that it can be hard or impossible to plate certain bikes in certain states, but that's why this is "MY LIST" since plating anything (even 2-strokes) in Ohio isn't that difficult. If this is any issue for you, then simply eliminate that option from the list. See, that was easy :clap
    #10
  11. holycaveman

    holycaveman Long timer

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    Well with alittle more expierence, you might find the 650 class bikes are pretty good in the tight stuff :wink:
    Yes, I am trying to catch you in your words!

    You from Ohio??? If so I am sure that we have rode together at some point in time. I tend to get around alot. But mainly in the racing world, if it was just trail riding, thats something else.

    I keep editing my post!LOL YOu know Dualsporting in OH is abit different also that other parts. You go to a dualsport in OH and you have a bunch of plated mxer out there. Kinda makes me laugh, especially when a 650 passes them in the technical sections. I know, I know the right tool for the job, but if your job only lets you have one bike..........:D

    Anyways, dualsporting out west is different, and you will see a variety of bikes, unlike oh dualsporting. We are trying to break bill kappener in on that:lol3











    There are so many options out there today. Really none would be wrong. I love the KLR as you guys know. But I have grown abit from when I was in ricky racer mode. For me the 650 class bike is a do it all and do it all well bike. Can't even fathom haveing a 450 exc!!! If someone gave me one that would be terrible, cause knowing what I know, I would start racing again, thats what those bikes are good at.

    We all love the hot rods, I know, but they arn't really appropriate, and the reliability lacks in racers also.

    When you say dual sport, really it involves anything that is factory street legal and are able to take it in the dirt also.

    From a r1200gs to a tw200. Bikes to fit all of us! For a new off road rider, you can not say honestly that a ktm450exc would be better than a tw200? And for a guy that wants to do big trips and adventure off the road, you can't honestly tell him a tw200 would be better than a r1200gs.

    There is no cut and dry winner, we all know that, so it boils down to each of our individual expierences and opinons.

    You learn as you go, and through the expierences you have.
    #11
  12. OhioPT

    OhioPT Adventure Wannabe

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    Typically, the 650's are too heavy IMO to be throwing around in the woods, so that's why I ranked them low on the 1st list (but higher in the 2nd list). Now a plated XR650R would rank pretty high in my 1st list because of it's lighter weight, but the lack of e-start is a deal breaker (for ME anyways). I've ridden with a couple people who stalled there kickers in a major intersection on the street, and had a lot of trouble getting it going again because they lacked e-start. Not a safe way to go, not to mention restarting when stuck on an offcamber hillclimb.

    Again, I wouldn't recommend a 450cc racebike to a beginner, as I stated in my last post. For the experienced though, there are a lot of people that ride their 450exc's thousands of miles every year without any mechanical failure. Maintenance intervals are really not bad as long as the bike isn't being RACED (and dual-sport riding is not the same as racing enduros and harescrambles). Just do a search for 450exc dual sporting in this forum...
    #12
  13. mcinfantry

    mcinfantry who... me?

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    you forgot a prilia rxv5.5:wink:
    #13
  14. Noreaster

    Noreaster Fat and Cuddly again

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    :pope
    #14
  15. Noreaster

    Noreaster Fat and Cuddly again

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    Now why the heck is that?
    #15
  16. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    The California DMV has been pulling plated dirt bikes, 2005 and newer, on what appears to be a random basis. No one I have talked with knows exactly what the DMV is doing in California.

    Some speculate that some Honda Dealers have complained to their local DMV office that they are loosing sales to the dealer down the street because they are plating dirt bikes and maybe that is why some and not all have gotten their plates pulled.

    All Honda CRF250X plated bikes that I know of have had their plates pulled. I have also heard that about 150 Husky dirt bikes in Southern California got their plates pulled.

    That is all we know. Everything else is speculation and WAGing, wild ass guessing.
    #16
  17. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    For me, there just aren't enough of them out there and very limited dealer network. I don't even know if any parts are available should you need any.
    #17
  18. TinyBear

    TinyBear Been here awhile

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    See for me i really want to get more into trail riding. But their is very few if ANY bikes i can think of suitd for what i want.

    I have a V-Strom and for LIGHT dirt work and road work its great and is just a good all round bike i love it. But IT is far from being any good to really ride off road and even worse to try and learn on.

    Problem i have is finding a bike more suited to off road rideing iven my paticular physique LOL. At 6" and 285lbs (not all of its fat) im a BIG guy but unfortunetly i got Short legs (30" inseam). I cant flat foot my Strom but i feel comfy with its hight (Even with the taller gell seat).

    So off i go looking for a factory street legal trail bike that i can actually ride with my lack of inseam yet not look like a complete idiot due to my size. Something that would never need to go any faster the 80Km/hr (50mph). Is a good bike to really learn to ride on the trails and is CHEAP to own/operate.

    And the ONLY bike i come up with is Suzuki DR 650 wich for my preferance overlaps with my Dl650 too mutch.

    Why dont companys sell bikes with a mid boar single light weight but with a seat hight low enuff for the short guys.
    #18
  19. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    Do you ride with any KTM 525EXC owners in the woods? I rode, at 7,000 ft, on some tight single track with three 525 exc's and all of them over heated and wouldn't run at all. There was a 400EXC rider that had no problems on the same ride.

    Do you have any problems over heating and if so what mods have you made to your stock bike to elimate the problem?
    #19
  20. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

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    I personally don't like that option for the BMW 650X plus it is expensive and that is why I eliminated the 650X. Plus the XRL is much cheaper to begin with and probably handles just as good, if not better, off road in the west.
    #20