Should my next Thumper be a DR650? --An extended demo ride.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Deano955, Mar 26, 2006.

  1. Deano955

    Deano955 Insatiable

    Jan 14, 2005
    I tend to go through motorcycles nearly as fast as underwear. I have had 3 Ducatis, 2 Triumphs, 1 Honda, a Kawasaki and a Yamaha in the past 9 years.

    Feburary 05 I bought a KLR650 to explore this "dual purpose" thing. 13 months and 4500 miles later I have had my fill of the KLR. I sold it 2 days ago (Craig's list in 6 hrs).

    While I have had my fill of the KLR, I have lots of room for the dual purpose thing. Oh the places you can go with a Thumper.

    Today I took a 120 mile trip through the Buffalo Creek Wilderness area in central Colorado. The weather seemed to be cooperating so I packed up the demo bike for a thurough test ride. My dad purchased the 2005 DR650 as a rental for the tour company. I had not spent any time on the bike and figured this would be a good time to get aquainted.


    A jaunt down FS211 lead me to this area. The sun was shining brightly when I left the FS road for a bit of doubletrack. It was just beautiful.

    A short hike yielded some excellent results.

    With the high winds along the foothills today, the weather changed. While framing this shot, sun gave way to clouds and the snow started flying. Time to get moving.

    That shot brings to mind the first comparison of the DR to the KLR: size. According to Kawasaki the KLR weighs 347lbs dry and is 53" tall. The Suzuki is 324lbs and 47" tall. The differences feel greater than the numbers lead one to believe. I am 5'-11" tall and feel dwarfed upon the KLR where as I dwarf the DR. The size and weight differences can easily be felt while riding as well. In fact, the DR feels like a nimble quarterhorse compared to the Clidesdale KLR. I am not knocking the KLR here, just trying to describe my experience.


    Water crossings like this are easy on either bike.

    When the going got slippery, I was grategul for the lower seat height on the DR.

    There were lots of great photo opportunities along FS550. Carefully, I negotiated the snow, mud, and water that concealed the road.

    The colors this time of year are captivating.

    I joined a bunch of Adv'ers on this route last March while riding my KLR. The conditions were similar to today. I dropped the KLR 3 times that day and 0 times today. That probably has more to do with gained experience than moto brands but an interesting thought just the same.


    I made it back to pavement without incident and was once again surprised by the DR. In a word, supermotard. The twisty road handling of the Dr is light, quick and confidence inspiring. This bike is so flickable that I rode nearly as fast as on my sportbike. Minus the brute acceleration of course.
    About 80 miles into my trip my ass was screaming for a break. I could not possibly write this without complaining about the seat on the DR. It is THE WORST seat my butt has ever had the displeasure of sitting on. Worse than the KTM 950s that I demo'd last fall. It must go.

    So I stopped for a break here.

    After the pain subsided I continued down the canyons toward home. I stopped for another break and captured these.



    With out a doubt, I like the DR650 better than my old KLR 650. The engine revs quicker and smoother, the handling is noticably sharper and the brakes actually stop the bike with little to no fade (try that on a KLR).

    The question is, is it "dirtbike" enough for me and where I want to go? I do not know. A DRZ sounds very appealing for the extra dirt worthiness but I doubt a DRZ would be as fun on the pavement. I enjoy paved twisties as much or more than trails so the road manners of the DR are a big plus for me.

    I will ponder the question for a while, any input would be appreciated.

    Here's the big closer.

  2. Johnny Dakar

    Johnny Dakar Fuckin' Smartass

    Jan 11, 2006
    SCREW the bike--what kind of CAMERA were you using?:eek1
  3. LavaBull

    LavaBull Been here awhile

    Jun 30, 2005
    Republic of Goat Trails
    He sure has an eye for taking pics...

    Try the Husqvarna TE610... it's a Dual purpose bike that will do pretty much everything... Or a KTM 640 LC4 Adventure.
  4. David_S

    David_S Long timer

    Feb 8, 2003
    Sullivan, Ohio
    I just finished a trip to Mexico's Copper Canyon on my 2000 DR650 (new to me). While I can't compare it to a KLR it did everything I ask of it. The last day before running for the border was spent on some awesome paved twisties. Even with knobbies I found myself wondering why I needed the RT that I had at home? Travel comfort and two up touring of course but the DR handled so well I think it could be a pretty good do all bike for a solo rider. I picked up a used Corbin and it was very comfy compare to the stock especially on the 300 mile trip back to Texas. If you don't mind buying used there are some smokin deals if you keep a look out.
  5. davorallyfan

    davorallyfan Commonist

    May 2, 2005
    That seat will bust your arse! Nice pics.

    :evil They let you demo bikes in the dirt in 'merica? Thats cool.

    Heres mine <IMG class=imgBorder title="Davorallyfan > Daves bikes and rally page photo" height=450 alt="Davorallyfan > Daves bikes and rally page photo" hspace=0 src="" width=600 border=0>
  6. dirtypumpkin

    dirtypumpkin "Monster Truck Bike"

    Jan 25, 2005
    Northern California
    Great pics.

    The 400 is a nice bike too, plenty of 650 vs DRZ threads in the thumper section.:D

    The DRZ would be better on the single track "oh shit" goat trails, but it gives
    up the highway gearing of the 650. I have 2 sets of rims & tires for the 400.
    Slicks & aggressive DOT knobs make for 2 bikes in one. Great twisties bike.
    If I was doing 500 mile trips most of the time the 650 would be better.
    Put 15/41 gearing on the 400 and it will do freeway all day too.

    I mainly dont take my 400 more then 200 miles on a weekend trip, have done 500 though.
    For traffic, twisties, and tight single track I think its a good choice.
    Im about 25 miles from great dirt & twisties and 100 from Tahoe, the 400 works for me.

    Having said all that, the Husky 510 & 610 are looking real good these days.
    The 610 weighs very close to the 400S, but it has the 6 speed.

    OBIWAN Been here awhile

    Jul 14, 2003
    Oklahoma Pole of Inaccessibility, USA
    I've owned both. I did just the opposite. I had the DR and it went away to make room for the KLR. The KLR is geared better for road use. I never had the power for smooth running in 5th at lower speeds (50-65) and 4th was too low. In OK in the summer the engine got hot a detonated. The KLR was water cooled and never had a problem in our heat.

    You are correct, the DR is a much smaller bike. It is geared way better than the KLR for off road/dirt roads. I always wish it had a tac but you could lugg that engine down real low and then gas it and it would take off. Can't do that on a KLR. Because the DR could be set lower I could handle it better. The gas tank on the DR isn't really big enough to get very far back in the boonies.

    On the road getting some place fun I liked the KLR better. Once I got there I wished I was on the DR.

    You're right about the brakes on the KLR, it stops about as good as a 707. I don't remember brakes fading on the DR but I wasn't really impressed with them either.

    Either bike when moving on twisties handles good but the DR would flick faster. I too feel over more on the KLR but then I'm vertically challenged. I didn't like the way the chain adjusted on the DR, it was either too much in one direction or the other.

    Well, that's all I have to say about that.
  8. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Aug 16, 2002
    :nod :nod

    I hope you like the DR better than the KLR.. I tried both and went the KLR way.. and I'm lovin' it!
  9. Tantrum

    Tantrum Condescending Nag

    Apr 17, 2005
    Auburn, Washington
    Great pics! I like your comments.:clap As a DR650 owner I really enjoy the bike. You sound a lot more experienced as a rider but, for someone who looked at both the DR and KLR your notes make me glad I have my DR! (Still, no reason not to own a KLR also!:lol3 )
  10. 805gregg

    805gregg Long timer

    Jan 14, 2006
    Ojai, Ca
    Why thump? when you can purr, check out the suzuki v-strom 650.
  11. soboy

    soboy Long timer

    Aug 11, 2005
    Roswell, GA
    If I ever get rid of my 1978 Yamaha DT 250, which is an absolute blast to ride in the dirt, I would probably get a DR650 to keep my WeeStrom company.
  12. GregX999

    GregX999 Nomad

    Mar 19, 2006
    South end of SF Bay
    Nice report! Great Pics! I'm currently considering a more trail-oriented bike to go along with my 1200GS and the DRZ400 is one posibility - something that's 90% dirt, 10% road as I already have the 90% road, 10% dirt covered.

    What roads/trails exactly did you go on? I'm in Boulder so I'm not far from there. I was actually just riding that area a day before you (285 to 67 to 24 to 77 back to 285)

  13. Hair

    Hair no wants or warrants

    Sep 28, 2003
    Northern New Mexico
    A couple of years ago I bought my son a DR650. It was an 02 model. I liked it but there were some issues. First the seat did not do it for long trips. Next the handle bars were way to soft. First drop and they bent. And that was in sand. Next the front forks were to soft for me. But I am a big guy. I would have kept the bike but it was causing problems between my son and I. So I sold it.

    To me its all about weight. The DR was less then the F650. Which made it better off road. The DR was heaver than the XR500R. The honda was way better off road. I think that an XR650R or L. Or a 640 Adventure. Or even an F650 Dakar would be better than the DR.

    I am currently thinking about another thumper. Maybe within the next year or to. Something that can go anywhere. When my time comes I will be looking at an KTM LC4 adventure. or the Husky TE610. I could see myself taking the LC4 to Mexico. The TE610 would be a hoot in the hills of Colorado.
  14. FatChance

    FatChance Road Captain

    Jun 12, 2003
    On the road
    Changing the front sprocket down to a 14T or up to a 16T to regear is a $15 fix if this is a problem.

    The DR engine is notoriously lean from the factory. If you go with a larger main jet (I use the DynoJet kit), it will run richer, stronger, and cooler. Again, a cheap, easy fix if this is a problem for you.

    These are much easier and cheaper to fix than the varied shortcomings of the KLR. :evil
  15. tah1800

    tah1800 Long timer

    Mar 8, 2006
    I agree with Fatchance. I picked up a DR650 a month ago and have changed out the front sprocket to a 14T which made a significant difference. I haven't changed out the main jet because my plugs look fine and the bike runs well. It's a nice, inexpensive bike to run and you'll have a lot of fun on it.
  16. Blakebird

    Blakebird r-u-n-n-o-f-t

    Feb 7, 2004
    Parker, CO
    I'm having a great time on my DR, it's ideal for the kind of riding we've got around here. Mine, a 2005, was set up very, very well by the previous owner.

    You and I are cut from the same cloth...since moving here 6 years ago, I've been thru (and put many miles on):

    Guzzi V11 Rosso Mandello
    RSV Mille
    KTM 300EXC
    KTM 520 MXC
    R1150GS Adventure
  17. jp4evr

    jp4evr I'm a dad, have a ceegar

    Apr 15, 2005
    Sac-O-Tomato, CA
    :norton 'nuff said

    btw - Thanks for sharing some of your neck of the woods Deano. How's the business?
  18. Deano955

    Deano955 Insatiable

    Jan 14, 2005

    I thump in the woods and purr on the roads with the big Tiger. I also ripp with the Daytona. I'm shopping the Dr as a dedicated DS bike to replace the KLR.

    I have spent lots of time on a Vstrom too, very nice except when you have to pick it up.

    Thanks to everyone for the comments and suggestions. I have nearly decided.

  19. 2whlrcr

    2whlrcr gooligan

    Jan 30, 2005
    Dubuque, Iowa
    I'm pretty sure I remember seeing this house years ago in CO. Who the heck lives there?


    Are you using a polarizer on your camera? Nice shots.
  20. darmahman

    darmahman "Illogically Deluded" Supporter

    Jun 4, 2003
    Fort Collins, CO
    Deanno - I have had both and fixed em up to close to the max in both cases. The DR is way better in the dirt than the KLR and the KLR's equal on the road if you are under 6'. I'm 6'1" and found the DR to be a little cramped while on the KLR I had plenty of room to move around. The motor once opened up(Staintune and jetting and airbox mods) feels much more powerful and satisfying. (At least to me)