Welll ... now I'm really undecided. KLR or DR?

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by basketcase, Mar 18, 2006.

  1. basketcase

    basketcase lifelong reject fixer

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    So today I was in Birmingham and went by two dealerships. Managed to sit on a new KLR650, and a new DR650.

    In terms of height, I did not find either to be the monster so many seem to describe (at that point) in reading several internet boards. After years on BMW's and basically an adult lifetime of tip-toeing on any motorcycle I've owned, sitting on them proved to be a draw in terms of desirability.

    Next, I can lower the DR with the stock setup, or it would cost maybe $75 to lower the KLR (with new links). But, the KLR stock gas tank is adquate, while the DR will need a different ($250 to $400) aftermarket tank to get the range I want.

    On other issues ...

    I have been leaning towards the DR because of the simpler maintenance, lighter weight, and air/oil cooled (less stuff to break). But the DR did not "feel" like a good fit in stock form. The seat was like a landscape timber, and the handlebar position seemed to want to pull me up onto the tank. I don't care for an aggressive riding posture. Is the available adjustment in those bars adequate to alleviate that complaint?

    The KLR on the other hand "felt" right -- my arms dropped comfortably and my posture was what I like, the seat was better than the DR. But as regards the KLR, I've been antsy about the more complex valve adjustments, liquid cooling (more chances of something to break), and older technology.

    As a natural born Extravert it helps me to hear (read) what other have to say.

    So I'm asking for some help here. What issues am I overlooking ... obsessing on ... etc.?

    Finally, what would you consider the tipping points if you were looking at a new purchase of one bike or the other?

    Thanks in advance.
    #1
  2. element

    element Time to roll

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    No dohickey to fix, easy valve adjustments, DR jets can be changed without removing the carb, no fan hitting the radiator when you lay it down the first time, better foot pegs and hardware.

    Seats and handle bars are minor changes
    #2
  3. ganshert

    ganshert not sleeping

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    I too was concerned with the KLR maintenance when i was making the same decision you are faced with.

    turns out the valve adjustment is really pretty easy.

    as far as being concerned about the KLR being older technology, as far as i'm concerned that is a good thing. it's proven reliable in the long run with maybe the exception of the cam chain tensioner

    my point is that you can go back and forth forever on these two bikes and get as many opinions as there are people. both are great bikes and very capable in many different environments

    go with the one that feels good to you and you won't be sorry

    i bought the KLR by the way :D, but i'm huge (6'4" 265lbs)
    #3
  4. rick danger

    rick danger The further adventures of

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    Nice to not have to change the tank on a brand new bike. "older technology" is proven technology. At least its weak points(hicky) are well known. See, While I was typin' somebody else was thinkin the same thing. Thats gotta count for sumthin(Yeah we both have KLRs):clap
    #4
  5. Hannda

    Hannda Short, fat, bearded, old & slow

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    Don't let the seat sway you - you'll have/want to change it out on either bike. Tough choice - the ergos go to the KLR, the weight goes to the DR. If you're that close, the only thing left (in my opinion) is to decide where you're going to log the most miles. More road, easy off-road, nvery little if any single track = KLR. Less road, more aggressive off-road = DR.

    Folks will tell you that the DR is as good or better on road as the KLR. It may be. Others will tell you the KLR is as good off-road as the DR. It may be. I, above, espouse only the commonly held beliefs of the apparent majority, not those of particular individuals or groups.
    #5
  6. Johnny KLR

    Johnny KLR Woefully Adventurous

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    I think it is really a draw between the two bikes, mechanically. I don't see either one breaking much. I've never really heard a problem with the KLR's liquid cooling in any situation (aside from breaking the rad during a drop; though you can get a rad protector for chump change).

    I think it just comes to what sort of riding you'll do. The KLR is going to put to road/distance better. It can be made as good as the DR is offroad but it'll probably take the same amount of money as it would to make the DR as good as the KLR is on the street.

    Then, there's the emotional aspect. I love the DR, and I fancy the air/oil cooling to the water cooling too, but in the end it is pretty much a non-issue. I bought the KLR, and frankly it worked better for my needs (commuting, riding around a long time to find a dirt/gravel road). The KLR went everyplace I'd want to take a bike, and I have every faith that the DR would too.
    #6
  7. Tholund

    Tholund Adventurer

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    Either bike will be a good choice. Lots of DR & KLR owners out there who are always signing the praises of these bikes. Which one can you get a "deal" on???

    Dan
    #7
  8. Trailace

    Trailace Dumb Ass

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    Where would you put the XR650L in this comparison?
    #8
  9. ekaphoto

    ekaphoto Been here awhile

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    Both are great bikes. I say get the one that fits you better. You said the KLR is more comfortable, so go with it. You will probably be happy with either choice.
    #9
  10. Rad

    Rad Done riding

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    Ya know, when I find someone, or even myself, hung up on a decision like this....It means there is no wrong choice; you will like either one.
    #10
  11. holycaveman

    holycaveman Long timer

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    Older tech??? Not hardly. The dr has a much older design. KLR is a more modern design, just been used forever. Kinda like the old vega's fuel inj, before its time. Valve adjustments also are ALOT more frequent with the dr. I have done 3 valve adjustments on my klr in 68,000 miles!!!!! Thats why the KLR is the preffered adventure bike, for long distance traveling.

    Most importantly is HOW you will be riding. If you came off of a streety, then go with the kLR, you'll love it, its ready to go, Dont need to lower it if the preload is on one. I you came from the dirt, then you probably would like the dr alittle better, no windshield, smaller tank, more dirtbikey.


    One thing on the KLR valve adjustment, if they do go out of adjustment during a long trip, you can just keep riding it untill you can adjust it at your convience, maybe the next day, maybe the next week, maybe in a month?? It will take it:wink:
    #11
  12. basketcase

    basketcase lifelong reject fixer

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    Dan asked --
    I am very inclinded to buy new, which would lead me to think the best deal might be a toss up ... within maybe $200.

    $200 is not much in view of that size purchase. But it is almost the price of a new Corbin, so that could become the deciding factor.

    Looking through the classifieds in the Birmingham News, I now see a '93 KLR advertised for $2,500, with 2,500 miles on it.

    Based on the NADA online schedules that is way overpriced. But for $1,000, I would probably risk it...

    In fact, depending on the prices I might be well advised to buy used and 'speriment with both. My son-in-law is going to also buy something, so we could scoff up one of each and then swap rides until sure, and then sell what we don't want.

    Hmm. :patch
    #12
  13. Fat Toney

    Fat Toney Long timer

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    I have close to 6k on my 05 KLR650 and the less I read about bike comparisons and the more I ride it the happier I am with my decision. DR may be nice but damn, I just got back a few hours ago from riding on the beach and all over a whole bunch of dunes, and some water crossings for 2 hours followed by 60 miles worth of twisties and 80-90mph on the straits, made it home happy without feeling tired or sore on a stock seat. The DR may be a great bike but the KLR does it all well.
    #13
  14. rustynail

    rustynail Been here awhile

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    I've been pondering this for about 2 years now, and reading the -vs- forums for a long time. Having the KLR 250, I was initially thinking of stepping up to the KLR 650. But now, I'm not so sure. Both bikes (KLR & DR) are reliable, fun, and are as close to 50/50 d/s machines as you can come from what I have read here in these forums. These are the things that stand out to me as the primary differences:

    KLR 650
    pro:
    6.1 gallon tank
    luggage rack
    windscreen
    veritable cornucopia of farkles and farkle suppliers

    con:
    cam chain tensioner issue
    notoriously weak front brake
    spindly front fork
    headlight that doesn't turn with the bars (personal preference)

    DR 650
    pro:
    a tad more capable in the dirt
    feels much lighter
    screw-type valve adjustment
    inch more ground clearance (I do a bit of log hopping)
    stainless exhaust (I've had to paint my KLR 250's twice)

    con:
    butt floss seat
    puny tank
    no windscreen
    no tachometer

    The air/oil cooling (what most people have a problem with) isn't on my list as a pro or a con. I know that air-cooled engines typically need rebuilds sooner than a water cooled engine, but the simplicity makes it attractive to me. Besides, this isn't a true air-cooled engine. My .02

    Right now, I am leaning toward the DR. I think with a CeeBailey screen, Tourtank, and Corbin seat I can make this bike as good as the KLR on the street, at the same time preserving it's edge in the dirt. The only other thing I think I would need would be a Pro Billet rack.

    Pretty much everthing I don't like about either bike can be fixed relatively inexpensively. I wouldn't have to pay more than 500-750 dollars on either to have either of them just the way I want. I guess I should just shit or get off the pot.

    I hope I didn't confuse you more, Bonkerpro. When you finally decide, make sure you post what you think of you new bike. I would be very interested.
    #14
  15. rick danger

    rick danger The further adventures of

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    The dr is a better woods bike. But when your stuck in the tight stuff slippin the clutch, rockin the bike back and forth for 15 minutes on a hot summer day, its nice to hear the cooling fan of the "street bike" come on
    #15
  16. rustynail

    rustynail Been here awhile

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    I had my KLR 250 3 months before I needed to order a new right side radiator. Rock got me in a stream crossing. I still got home without any leakage, but it was severely smashed. I was able to salvage the fan, shroud and plastics. Enough of a scare to make me decide that if I went with the KLR 650, I would be buying the dual star rad guards first thing.
    #16
  17. Chillis

    Chillis Long timer Supporter

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    the way i see it, the dr is the dirtbike. it's narrow, no wind protection, and out on the road, takes a bit to hold on to for extended riding. the klr, has that big tank that gives almost your entire body coverage from the wind when combined with it's fairing. i would be very hesitant to take a klr in the dirt, with that tank gassed up and you had a tip over in an area with unstable footing, how would you get it back up? also, the really old gauges/switchgear are very displeasing to the eye and hands as compared with the dr. i have a dr and love the bike, it keeps me out of trouble because of what it can't do. but a aqualine tank(500 mile range and tough to pick up if tipped over) along with a decent windshield would make it the clear winner for me.
    #17
  18. basketcase

    basketcase lifelong reject fixer

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    Trailace asked:
    In fairness, I am sure it is a great bike, but I am partial to the Kawasakis and Suzukis from past experience.

    My first-ever bike was one like this one. (Found the picture on the web).

    [​IMG]

    That is a 1970 Suzuki TC90 Blazer. The color choice that year was red. It was a rock solid reliable ride and a heck of a lot of fun.

    Regarding the KLR, the stationary headlight is sort of a non-issue for me. But if riding in the woods at night, I can see the advantage of the lamp turning with the forks.

    Probably -- and given the fact that either bike will have to have some things done to get it exactly like I want it, the matter is (at this point) almost a toss of a coin.

    But the idea of (the son-in-law and me) buying one each in older models and trying out both is appealing. It would delay a final choice for a while, but it would make for an informed decision with experience to go with the reading and talking.

    :freaky
    #18
  19. ldeikis

    ldeikis Dirty daydreamer

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    FWIW, you don't need to remove the carb from the KLR to change jets/needle either. You loosen the clamps, disconnect the thing that holds the throttle cables to the carb, and loosen the choke cable and then the whole thing will happily rotate 90 degrees giving you remarkably good access to the carb... jet through the bottom, needle through the top.

    Given how often you're likely to change jets, though, I'd say it's a non-issue.

    But to the original question:
    1. You'll be happy with either bike. I'd go with the one that feels best to you, in this case the KLR. Neither of them are hardcore performance machines, so it's really about what you'll enjoy, not which is better abstractly. If you feel more at home on the KLR go that way.
    2. Bikes in stealerships are almost always set up with REALLY soft suspension... That way prospective owners throw a leg over and feel all 9 inches soak them up and think, "Gosh, sure is a lot of nice plush suspension". Keep it in mind. A KLR set to feel soft (say, #1 preload) is sitting a good FIVE INCHES LOWER than where it will be once you've adjusted it. This has been my experience throwing legs over lots of bikes in lots of places. A quick eyeball sag measurement will do you fine--you're shooting for about 3" of suspension sag from full extension (pull it up on the sidestand) to you sitting on it balanced. I don't know how the DR adjusts, but a 12mm socket on 3" extension adjusts KLR preload, easily gotten to at the top left of the shock. If the saleman won't let you dial it up on the floor, tell him to get bent and walk out.

    Enjoy whichever you get... Oh, and I cast my vote for buying used. You're gonna drop it anyway.

    -Luke
    #19
  20. dakarboy

    dakarboy ugly and stupid

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    heeeaaaaayyyyyy, wait a god damn minute there bud......
    :eek1
    #20