The irony of dirt vs street prices

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by MisterNo, May 3, 2020.

  1. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades... Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    19,047
    Location:
    Delaware Ohio
    I was going to read all the comments, but got bored with it...

    The reason is there are less dirt/dual sport bikes sold than cruiser street bikes in the U.S. The law of supply and demand. It is all a numbers game. Plus condition of the bikes. There are a lot of clapped out off roaders and they don't sell for big bucks. A good dual sport is less common than a good street bike, a good TW200 is less common than a good dual sport.

    Demand for a good used TW200 is likely higher per number on the market than demand for a good dual sport per number on the market and both are higher demand than the demand for a good street bike per number available.

    I fixed it. 250 on the brain.
    #41
    Bucho and Ibraz like this.
  2. Pantah

    Pantah Jiggy Dog Fan Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    12,800
    Location:
    Scottsdale Arizona
    I don't quite get the issue. What is a TW250? I see Yamaha offers a TW200 at the modest list price of $4599. Kawasaki's large bore Vulcan list for $16799. What is so odd about that?

    In the used market, if the Vulcan sells for the same as the TW200, it says nobody really wants a Vulcan. I sure wouldn't. You couldn't give me one for free. The TW200 is a unique machine that has a dedicated following just like many other dual sport machines like the WR250R or KTM EXC-F 350/500 dual sports. They depreciate but only so far if they are fully functional. In any event, a good used TW200 can be bought for less than $4k.

    Maybe pick different models to compare?
    #42
    PitMyShants! likes this.
  3. CharlesLathe

    CharlesLathe Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Oddometer:
    435
    I may be wrong about this because I have never owned a dirt bike, but when we had the 55 mph national speed limit there were a whole lot of people riding around on dirt bikes. As I say, I have always been a street bike rider, but I thought the dirt bikes were so popular because they were cheaper and you didn't need a big bike to ride 55 mph. Am I wrong about this or have dirt bikes increased in price faster than street bikes since the 1970s?
    #43
  4. StolenFant

    StolenFant Life is good on this side of the grass Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    Oddometer:
    333
    Location:
    Edisto Beach, SC
    The Honda Elsinore came out in 1972, and was the first of the modern dirt bikes (smaller than street bike motor, for light weight, but with incredible power from the expansion chamber tuned two stroke motor) Suzuki had Roger Decoster racing motocross on his TM then RM 37 0, however it was the Honda dealership and marketing that made the modern dirt bike take off. They were cheap, SIMPLE and average Joe could go to the MX track on one and beat the pants off anyone with a four stroke or two stroke that wasn't expansion chamber tuned. They were wheelie machines and even off the race track filled the "macho American male" need for adrenalin rush. Remember, American icon Steve McQueen was still riding Triumph or similar striped down street bikes in his movie roles. We didn't have the Internet, cable TV sports or anything of the sort. The Elsinores were GODS of the track and surrounded in mystery for us mere mortals back east. Eventually RMs, YZs and the rest of the CRs became common, but the site was cast, and "dirt bikes" meant motocross race bikes. Sure there were a few Yamaha XTs and DTs on the back roads belching smoke from their (oil injected motors). Every kid that saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot remembers the sexy blonde smashing the headlight out of Jeff Bridges' stephan. She still gives me a BIG smile. However, that was the beginning of the end (for a long time) of the street capable "dirt bike". Everyone wanted "competition capable" motocross bikes. Riding them from home to woods wasn't going to get you hassled too much by the local police unless you ripped up Aunt Bea's yard or wheelied down the street. (Yes, we all did). That focus on competition capability and cheap price made for a huge influx of 1-2 year old bikes, and with some volunteer floor sweeping at the local auto speed shop and a mail order Weisco piston and rings, you could refresh the screaming motor that started the whole thing. From this came the entire modern dirt bike industry. Sure there were Husqvarna CRs and WRs (with headlights and tail lights). King Richard (Dick Burleson) was my Hero through the seventies, and he probably made the Husqvarna brand in America. Yes, Maico had bikes with LONG legs that heralded in the suspension wars, but the vast majority of the Dirt Bike market in America was uninterested in street. Street and dirt bikes and down evolutionary paths as different as Elephants and Rock Dassies (Google it). There are similarities "under the skin", but the two markets are vastly different. For instant look at the price hit a street bike takes if the tank and fenders are scratched. Now try to find a used dirt bike that doesn't have a scratch.

    Well, it was fun writing that, I don't care if you disagree, it's my opinion regarding your thought of what dirt bikes are now compared to the seventies.
    Have a safe and FANTASTIC day.
    #44
    Bucho, DKCJ and greasyfatman like this.
  5. greasyfatman

    greasyfatman Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    3,326
    Our flea market

    1991 dr350 2500$
    2004 fz1 with luggage 1800
    #45
  6. Elle2Konsai

    Elle2Konsai Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2017
    Oddometer:
    841
    Location:
    FL
    Many of you have already addressed the economic side of this quite well so I'll leave that be. What I can say is I used to really question how high prices seemed for dirt bikes and especially dual sports, not unlike the OP.

    In my head, I'd think well why would I pay X for a KLX/CRF/WR with 25 hp, a 2 gallon tank, and some old-school powerplant when I can buy an Ninja/SV/CBR/whatever for X but with 3x the power, 50% more range, etc etc. Naturally I only compared them in convenient road-biased variables that suited my own premise of why dual sports were overpriced.

    Having owned one of those little dual sports for several months now I feel totally different about it. And the evidence is oftentimes most tangible when I'm riding on a street bike and see an interesting trail intersect the road. Suddenly all those factors and off-roadability (not a word but let's pretend) feel quite relevant.

    More pragmatically, you can look for months in a 200 mile^2 range here which includes 3 big metro areas and not see a preowned WR/KLX/CRF posted whereas on any given day there are dozens of used CBR/Ninja/SVs out there for less.
    #46
    Bucho likes this.
  7. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades... Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    19,047
    Location:
    Delaware Ohio
    Your opinion reflects a definite truth in motocross racing, the Elsinore was the ice breaker in competition against the CZ, Husqvarnas, Maicos, Montesas, Ossas, and other European brands. "Eventually" in motocross bikes was a year or less back then. By 1974 the Japanese were dominating off roading with Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki leading, Kawasaki not quite getting there yet. But which brand dominated what area depended more on the dealerships in the area. In my area the Yamahas were first out of the off road blocks by a mile. In racing the local Honda dealer was a bit of a weak sister for off road and not a particularly strong dealership in the market, but they sold some Elsinores and the riders did well with them. But by 1974 the local Suzuki dealership came in with a strong effort and were a strong force in our area. Lots of TMs and eventually lots of RMs out there.

    When it comes to the general off road riding I was 17 and at the start of it, starting riding in 1970. Yamaha built the bike that put the most dual sports out, then called enduros, started the off road craze exemplified in On Any Sunday, three years before the Elsinore CR250. HT1 90cc, AT1 125cc, CT1 175cc, DT1 250, and RT1 360cc "Enduros". I started real off roading at a rental store riding HT1s in 1970 having a riot! Those bikes were ridden as road bikes, as dual sport bikes, and quite often stripped down and run as pure off road bikes. Frequently the stripping of equipment was done by the terrain being ridden as riders crashed out a lot.

    The CR250 Elsinore, with an unheard of aluminum tank and chromemoly frame coming in at 225 lb was the start of the serious motocrossers from Japan with the 250 first then the 125 weighing 188 lb with a steel tank. The Suzuki TMs and the Yamaha MX series came out in response and then the YZ with the first monoshock set the track on full tilt Japanese motocrossers that would compete with and beat the Europeans. Things seemed to change over night at that time.

    It was an amazing time to be riding. The Elsinore was worlds above the Yamaha MXs, converted Enduro models for the most part. The Suzuki TMs were near on par with the CRs, but the YZ really broke through with the RMs and CRs following suit. Huge strides in suspension was the biggest change and most radical change. I remember welding a gusset on top of my TM swing arm, then swinging shock forward about 1/2 way up the swing arm to mount the bottom of the shock. Nearly double the suspension travel. Companies made lay down kits for the CRs and TMs, then Honda and Suzuki did it themselves. Just that one modification enabled me to run up a rough rutted hill one gear higher floating the front wheel over the bumps. Incredible!

    Magazines actually had "how to" articles to cut up your CR frame for lay down shocks, doing forward mount on frame and swing arm on a Maico. Sticking a reed block on your two stroke, the Skunk Works 38mm Mikuni kit from FMF for your 125! Travel increases from 4" to 12" in less than five years!

    Much like you, that is my opinion acquired by living and riding through it. And it is kind of fun to think back about it. Thrashing the trails on a Yammie 90 for an hour, wearing Converse Coaches and an open face helmet. Good times, not the safest, but good times leading to a life of riding with good and bad times along the way, book ending street riding with dirt riding on both ends, but doing both at this end.


    As for pricing, hundred buck beater dual sports and motocrossers were all over the place too. I think as land closed down to off road riders, a combination of trespassing, noise, liability, and damaging terrain in that order was what killed off the dirt market in the 80s to date. There has been a minor increase in street riding and people who are willing to dump a street bike if they don't ride it often enough or learned they didn't like riding has the supply of street bikes higher. So less bikes sold and less used with more trashed due to wear versus more sold and more available. makes the price difference.
    #47
    whisperquiet likes this.
  8. JETalmage

    JETalmage Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2014
    Oddometer:
    890
    Remember when the 'hot setup' detailed in the magazines was to buy an aftermarket kit consisting of a few pipe inserts to splice into your frame down-tubes and thereby make your dual-purpose foo-foo bike handle like a high-tech secret weapon by 'lowering its center-of-gravity'?

    Yep. Same magazines said in print that standing on the pegs lowers the center-of-gravity.

    Moto journalists were physics masters. ;-)

    But you're right. I well remember it being standard practice for the magazines to document engine rebuilds, etc., and actually take things apart to compare how bikes were built. Nowadays, a 'custom bike build' is simply an exercise in bolting on the highest count and cost possible of (often dubious) aftermarket items that the magazines' advertisers concoct.

    JET
    #48
  9. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades... Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    19,047
    Location:
    Delaware Ohio
    It's all relative. The magazines were not far off, just wording. The loading of the bike is what changes. Lots of arguments here, but the reality is the load transfers from the seat to the pegs. The standing rider can also shift the load to the right, left, back, or forward. Ignoring all the c.o.g. stuff they are correct when they point out the benefits. The motorcycle may have a fixed c.o.g. for the fixed mass, but when you throw a dynamic load onto it the whole picture changes, physics does hold true, but it isn't the simple fixed values. The dynamic load can vary in positioning. If it couldn't there would be no use in standing up and leaning forward when climbing a hill. So ignore the c.o.g. stuff and look at fixed load and dynamic load. That's the physics, no matter the label.

    I never got the frame cutting and lowering the engine on an off roader, reducing ground clearance? With a low pipe?

    Now more often than not it isn't the magazine bolting it on, although we have to credit the Motorcyclist Garage stuff, it is having some company do it.
    #49
  10. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2003
    Oddometer:
    11,670
    Location:
    Southern Louisiana or Southern England or ...
    This is not always true but a decent off-road or dualsport bike will usually be smaller capacity than a typical street bike so if you compare them by cost per cc, dirt bikes are often going to look pricey. Don't see how that is ironic though.
    #50