Need advice: downsizing from GS to thumper

Discussion in 'Europe' started by StevePizza, May 14, 2020.

  1. StevePizza

    StevePizza n00b

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    Howdy guys,

    Got a bit long winded, there's a summary at the bottom!

    Currently riding an 1150GS, have had it for a bit over a year and my license for a bit longer. Got it because it seemed like a bike that could do all sorts of stuff as I began figuring out what kind of riding I wanted to do. Did about 10k km this past year (99.999% on-road). Took it out on some sections of the TET and concluded it's just too heavy, maybe it's the street tires, but it's probably just the weight. Currently I've only got the means for one bike, so I'd like to sell the GS and get a thumper. Public transport is good here, but sometimes the bike just needs to be purely practical, too (e.g. commute, long stretches of highway, etc.). Going to work and stuff I usually do with my bicycle.

    In my teens I rode through the local woods and around the neighborhood on small, 100cc dirt bikes. Bikes that were too small for me but still fun to ride at their limit. Since then I've moved to western Europe, the southern part of the Netherlands, to be specific.

    I once read somewhere on here, `it's more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow'; that resonated with me and I think it's true.

    But I'm not too experienced off-road (also not too experienced on-road for that matter). So because I don't really know what I'm doing, my plan of approach was to get something along the lines of a CRF250L, rip around on that for 1+ year, see if I like dual-sport/enduro riding, and if so, to start looking for something bigger. I could either sell the 250 or if the finances allow by then, keep it as a commuter/runabout bike. I like the 250 because it's efficient an versatile go-anywhere machine. Lastly, I'm about 190 cm tall and weigh 90 kg.

    Before I stumbled upon the CRF250L, I thought I wanted a Husqvarna 701 Enduro, but that seems to be a KTM Duke dressed up as a dirt bike and I'm tired of that coming from the GS ;) After doing some reading, it seems that if I really want to get into the dirt properly, then eventually ending up at a 110kg, 450-500cc dirt bike is the way to go. Them's may be fightin' words, but please judge/attack my reasoning.

    Future off-road trip ideas for this next bike or the bigger one further down the line are:
    • Ferry to Iceland
    • Wales and Scotland
    • Morocco
    Bit of a ramble here, but in summary.
    • Selling my big GS for a thumper (light is right!)
    • Need one bike to do it all, at the moment
      • Something that is forgiving and cheap to operate (both running costs and costs of broken parts) .
      • Can probably keep the small, learner bike as a commuter later on
    • Dream of ripping through the desert on a KTM 500, but I live in the Netherlands
      • For western Europe, my area seems to have decent TET sections and off-road areas
      • Don't really know if trail riding is for me, but I had loads of fun the few times I've gone out
    • Looking for a bike that won't be far beyond my skill level; if I buy a 500cc off-road race machine I'll be scared of it forever because I don't have the skill base. As opposed to buying a 250cc 4-stroke, riding it at its limit and then 1-2 years from now upgrading to something bigger (kinda like what that guy Joe Rockstar on youtube did)

    Thanks for the sage advice, people!
    #1
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  2. SFCootz

    SFCootz I'm only adult shaped Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    DR650. The best bike ever. :deal

    I had an r1150gs. Great bike but I realized as a shorter person a lighter bike is easy to catch. I'm not a crazy skilled dirt rider so the dr650 is perfect for my fire road riding. :-)
    #2
  3. pepelopez

    pepelopez Out for a ride

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    DR650 is good, KLR is good, not the lightest bikes, but cheap and easy to work on, and no big deal if you beat them up a little, but big enough to do the distance and not beat you up...
    #3
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  4. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Stir crazy

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    I've enjoyed the CRF250L on 3 fly/rides. I think you've got the right idea in starting small and then going up a size. Since you're 190cm tall, maybe the Rally version with the extra fuel capacity would be better.

    Alternatively, the Yamaha XT660R could be a good place to start, but I think it needs a bit of modifying to be good.
    I found the KLR650 a bit (top) heavy. I've never ridden a DR650, I don't think it's available in Europe.

    Some rental bike photos...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
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  5. StevePizza

    StevePizza n00b

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    Thanks for the input so far, everyone. I had a look around and I see a few KLRs for sale near me between 2-3000 euros. No DR650s, though, and a quick glance at wikipedia tells me that they're rare/non-existent in Europe. I'd like to keep the budget for this bike near 4000, a price for which I've also seen a few CRF250Ls for sale. Gonna keep an eye on the used market here and in Germany.
    #5
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  6. StevePizza

    StevePizza n00b

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    Nice pictures, David! How did you like the 250? One of the complaints I read about the 690/701 when I was looking at those was that it has a very street oriented, tall gearbox. Is the gearbox in the 250 more dual-sport/off-road oriented? Not sure what you're size is, but how were the ergonomics on the 250? Any user experience you have to share about the three that you've rented are appreciated.
    #6
  7. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Stir crazy

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    I'm 178cm/85kg and the CRF250L is just OK for me - I like to be able to get my feet down. I found that 1st gear was a little high when I was riding some steep rocky tracks in Turkey. And a bit more power would be nice - but definitely a fun bike (and adequate for the 80km/h speed limit in Turkey). I prefer it to the KLX250 that I rented in Crete last year.
    I sat on a 701 once, but too tall for me.

    [​IMG]
    In Antalya in 2018. I see they've still got the XT660R that I rented in 2014.

    And I was impressed how well the CRF250L went through the Andes last year...
    [​IMG]

    I think my ideal bike would be a 500cc thumper.
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  8. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer Supporter

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    Or...

    You could stay with a GS. A G310GS.

    I have friends that have put serious miles on theirs.

    I also have a Tiger Explorer - so I can appreciate not liking a big, heavy bike in loose traction environments.

    Which is why the G310. Lovely little bike, although a bit tall in the saddle (I have short-leg syndrome).

    It's not a serious off-road bike, but then, I'm not a serious off-road rider.

    [​IMG]
    #8
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  9. SFCootz

    SFCootz I'm only adult shaped Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Oops! That is my bad. :shog

    Another bike you can get, not a thumper, that I LOVE is the TransAlp. They are brilliant!
    #9
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  10. hombacher

    hombacher Niederrheiner

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    It is always difficult to give advise for the next ride. It is more difficult if the help and advise comes from around the globe. Painful detail is, that not every model was sold around the world and that many riding habits and understanding may vary.

    Living in the Netherlands you may have a look at the NL offroad kalender: http://www.enduro.nl/kalender.htm

    Visit one of the events later in the year, just speak to the people and hobby riders, what is common in NL to ride, who are the addresses of good dealers etc.
    #10
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  11. StevePizza

    StevePizza n00b

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    Thanks for the continued guidance!

    I had visited the enduro.nl site previously and that's definitely a good suggestion. Unfortunately, they seem to be cancelling a lot of stuff; hopefully there will be something going on in the fall but I'd like to make a change before then.

    I figured I'd be moving away from BMW but I hadn't see the G310 before. Still a bit heavy at 375 lbs but if I ride by a dealer I'll have a look.

    I got a notification that another user had left a comment but I don't see it here. They asked a poignant question about how much highway riding I'd actually be doing. I'd say at most 1-2 hours at 100 kph, just sitting in the right lane because I don't like the highway. I generally pick the 60-100 kph back roads through Belgium, Germany, or the southern Dutch provinces. Even with the GS I have now, I'd never think to spend the whole day on the highway.

    I don't always have a car to use and that's what I meant by sometimes needing to use the bike for a purely practical purpose, to get from A to B. In those few times with the GS I've done some highway stints, just to get somewhere, but it's not my idea of fun.

    Being honest, though, whatever bike I get next, the majority of my riding will still be on the road, but I'd really like to venture out a bit more into the woods/dirt. I've also started looking for WR250Rs but those seem to be a bit more rare here in Europe.
    #11
  12. Herman1

    Herman1 Been here awhile

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    I personally think a 250 four stroke will very quickly frustrate you in terms of keeping up with traffic flow, luggage capacity and grin factor. Not biased as I have one , a TTR which I keep for more gentle trails as my KTM days are over . I had the aforementioned Yamaha XTR660 which was really very good at doing everything after some fettling. It went on to do several African trips after I sold it. I upgraded to a Honda CB500x and fitted that with a Rally Raid level 2 kit and that really is a very useful bit of kit which is staying in the stable ( did a lot of the Pyrenees TET ) . I also until recently had an XT1200z and got that rather muddy on occasion but NEVER on my own as if it goes wrong then you are walking home. Avoid the DRZ 400, I will get slagged off for this but it is truly a hateful machine to own and ride. Have fun choosing and if the new bike doesnt suit then change it as thats half the fun.
    #12
  13. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer Supporter

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    True - but orders of magnitude less than my fully dressed Tiger Explorer or a similar GS.

    G310GS thread here: https://advrider.com/f/threads/bmw-g310gs-thread.1140150

    It's getting ready to hit page 400, so...
    #13
  14. kaertner

    kaertner Long timer

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    KTM 390 Adventure?
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  15. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

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  16. yoohah

    yoohah Been here awhile

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    KTM 690 Enduro R. It will do everything, also good at tarmac. You can easily ride along other traffic. Terrible in the fire roads and in gravel roads. With the proper attitide it goes through paths also. Can carry easily your travelling stuff, preferably in soft cases like Mosko Moto Reckless 80.
    #16
  17. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer Supporter

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    ???????
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  18. Franque

    Franque Nilé na sohakélwa manga

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    It depends on what sort of riding you're doing, but I would think something like a WR250F might be a good option for you (if you're going to do a lot off-road). I found the 250L to be terrible off-road, it weighed too much, didn't have good suspension, but if it's more for touring + occasional bouts off-road, it should do okay.
    #18
  19. AdventureDave

    AdventureDave MMMMM Bundy!

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    Steve, I agree with most of your summary. I have owned a BMW R1150GS Adv and I have spent a lot of time on a CRF250 (recently). I also owned a KTM625SXC (the precursor to the KTM690). I dont believe a KLR650 or the Yamaha 660 tenere are your answer, great bikes but they are still way to heavy (for what you are trying to achieve). The new KTM 390 adventure doesnt seem to fit your budget. I think the CRF250 L/Rally would be fine as long as you are happy having fun under 100km/h. They are fun up to 80km/h as long as you recognise thet are not a sports bike. A KTM690 is your other real choice. If you want road bike service intervals and a bike you can pick up easily multiple times in a day, there really isnt much to choose from. I left out the CCM450, great bike but rare and short production run.

    Cheers

    David
    #19
  20. SirBikeALot

    SirBikeALot Adventurer

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    You come from 99% on-road and you live in the netherlands ... do you really think you'll go all-in dirtbike so soon?
    I'd be looking at a yamaha xtz660z, a thumper that a few people have ridden around the world and managed to get up and down the TETs. It is not as nimble as a 250 or even 450 but you'll enjoy it on the tarmac a lot more. Easy to repair, parts readily available (I've heard). Won't break if you drop it.

    You might end up realizing it's still too big/heavy, but by then you'll have ridden a lot more offroad and might have figured out what to get, and you might be able to sell the bike for about as much as you bought it for. And it is suited for taller riders.
    #20
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