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Adventure Riding Adventure riding, dual sports, and dirt bikes

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Mar 3rd 2016, 11:39 AM   #1
 motoroco's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  Redmond, WA

  2015 Versys 650
Question Beginner ADV bike?

I'm looking for a lightweight (wishfully under 400lbs) bike to learn some basic offroad skills on. I don't have the resources to own two bikes right now, so I'd be replacing my commuter-cruiser S40 for this and would spend at least 80% of my time on pavement throughout the year.

I have no practical experience in the dirt and only have about 3k miles on street, so my question to all of you is will I be able to learn and still have a good time on any of these bikes?

Royal Enfield's upcoming Himalayan is being touted for being lightweight, so that might be a good choice, but I'm also shying away from buying new if I'm probably going to end up learning most things about trail riding the hard way.

I really like Yamaha's XT660r, but that doesn't seem to be available in the US... hopefully someone can prove me wrong? It's almost exactly 400lb and seems quite street capable. Other than that I've looked at VStrom 650s and the G650GS, but don't really have opinions on them.

Thanks for sharing any thoughts on the matter
Mar 3rd 2016, 12:09 PM   #2
 
  Jan 2016
  Beaverton

  '13 636, '14 N1k, DR650
Quote:
Originally Posted by motoroco
Other than that I've looked at VStrom 650s and the G650GS, but don't really have opinions on them.
This is what I was going to recommend. The VStrom especially has a huge and loyal following.
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Mar 3rd 2016, 12:31 PM   #3
 Parilla125's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  SeaTac

CSC MOTORCYCLES - RX3 Cyclone 250cc Adventure Touring Motorcycle, TT250 Enduro Motorcycle, Apparel, Helmets, Gloves, Boots, Accessories

Depends on how light you want to go. These are small, come with the boxes but are a 250 so you will not be making any blistering passes. : ) That said, there are some good reviews for them including the 'other' site. Cheap also.
I have been itching to try one out and there was or is a place in Washington State that rents them! I saw it a while ago but don't remember where...
If that is too small for you the V-Strom 650 or one of the small BMW's might be better. I have the V-Strom 1000 and at 540 lbs I doubt it will ever see off road. Got a 'deal' or I would have got the 650 instead.
One of the off road courses might be a good idea too. If you don't have off road experience any bike over 300 lbs will be a handful for you. Getting an inexpensive light dirt bike to learn on (and beat up...) still would be the best idea.
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Edited by Parilla125 on Mar 3rd 2016 at 12:34 PM
Mar 3rd 2016, 12:44 PM   #4
 motoroco's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  Redmond, WA

  2015 Versys 650
Thanks for the input. I looked briefly at another 250 (trying to remember the make) but lost interest pretty quickly considering it might not be capable enough to get me to and from trails. Some light highway riding is involved, so it could be borderline.

I think my ideal learning situation, without adding anything else to the equation, is to get something like a DRZ400 and spend as much time in the dirt with it as I can this summer so by the time I'm hungering for more comfortable road rides next winter I can swap up to one of the lighter adv bikes.

My dilemma with that solution is figuring out places I can get to with some modicum of comfort. I don't think I'd make it out to the peninsula very easily, for example. Hell, I don't even know first hand any places in my immediate vicinity, so I might have to make a post about that, too...
Mar 3rd 2016, 12:58 PM   #5
 jared p's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  here

  there
what's your budget is the more important part.

klr650 is solid for inexpensive and learning and around 430lbs curb. can go around the world, easy to fix, cheap to fix comparably, but won't get you there terribly quick.

a drz400 with a large gas tank is also good for about anything, guys have taken theirs to alaska and back just fine. probably your best option for what it sounds like you want to do

honda xr650 sounds like it fits but i dunno about it much to say yay or nay. i have a crf250x i converted to dual sport and it's quite fun on anything but highway. there, not so much.

f650gs dakar is around 420 and solid but, slow. just like the klr. it's a bmw. it'll go, it'll just cost you more.

vstrom650 aka weeee strom also can do it but, eh, it weighs just shy of 500 pounds
Mar 3rd 2016, 01:08 PM   #6
 Scribbles's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  NW

My 2 cents.. and worth every penny...

Learning to ride offroad includes constantly dropping the bike. Get a cheap dirtbike and use that to learn. You can get an XR250l for about $1500, and the XRs are known to run forever.
Any bike that is decent for commuting, will suck in the dirt. Any dualsport that is good in the dirt, will suck for commuting. You can't make one bike do both well.

I'd avoid the Chinese bikes. While some Chinese products are improving in quality, I don't know if these bikes are among them. Another problem is getting parts. What good is a bike that won't run because a small part is broken and no longer available? Older KTMs have the same issue. (Don't ask me how I know..)

If riding dirt means forest roads, a DRZ400 or DR650 might fit for you. Especially if you can have two sets of wheels with dirt and street tires. Neither of those is a good trail bike for a beginner, but good on forest roads.

If you can trailer a bike to the trails, consider something even smaller. XR200, TTR230/250. For a beginner, a light bike with a lower seat height is so much easier. I've watched countless people struggle in the dirt on a bike that was too big/heavy. Save the headache and don't make that mistake.
Mar 3rd 2016, 01:13 PM   #7
 PeteN95's Avatar
Moderator
 
  Jan 2016
  Muklilteo, WA

  Suzuki DL1000, Honda XR650R, KTM 250 XC-W
+1 for DRZ400 or DR650.
Mar 3rd 2016, 01:23 PM   #8
 Scribbles's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  NW

Quote:
Hell, I don't even know first hand any places in my immediate vicinity, so I might have to make a post about that, too...
If you want to ride trails, Tahuya, Capital Forest, Walker Valley and Taneum/Naches are the closest options. Search youtube to see what those look like. You'll want a small bike (less than 260 lbs IMHO) to ride those.

If you want to do ADV type riding (forest roads) there are hundreds of roads just east of you. Larger dualsports would work good for that (DR650,DRZ400,KLR650,XR650L) but I'd suggest a used, pre-scratched bike.
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Mar 3rd 2016, 01:37 PM   #9
 Scribbles's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  NW

One more penny of wisdom...

Don't assume that the newest, high tech bike is better. The newer bikes can be harder to ride.

For example..
An older XR250 is better for a new rider than the newer CRF250. (but in a race the CRF is much faster).
The XR, with less HP has much better torque. It is difficult to stall the XR, the motor is like a tractor. Very forgiving for new riders.
While heavier, the XR parts are more durable. To save weight, the CRF brake rotors are much thinner, making them easier to bend. If you are going to be dropping the bike alot while learning, which would you want?
Seat.. the CRF seat is a 2x4, while the XR seat is a couch. New riders spend alot of time sitting.. making the XR more comfortable.

For an experienced rider the CRF is way better. More power (at higher RPMs), better suspension and it's a bit lighter. (I moved up to a CR250, a bike I would not recommend to a beginner, but I kept the XR for my kid to learn on)

This applies to other manufacturers as well, but especially to the Hondas.
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Edited by Scribbles on Mar 3rd 2016 at 01:52 PM
Mar 3rd 2016, 01:45 PM   #10
 motoroco's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  Redmond, WA

  2015 Versys 650
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribbles
Any bike that is decent for commuting, will suck in the dirt. Any dualsport that is good in the dirt, will suck for commuting. You can't make one bike do both well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribbles
If you can trailer a bike to the trails, consider something even smaller.
Probably the most honest response yet..

Okay, so now I'm trying to figure out in my head if I can just get a little motorcycle trailer and pick up a well-loved 125~200cc starter. I don't think I'd have enough spare change to upgrade my commuter, then, but that can wait if I'm going to be busy playing in the dirt.

I saw lots of good things in the dirt safety classes thread, so I'm planning to sign for one of those classes soon. Trying to make a friend jump on with me, so we'll see how far I can get him I'll probably start actually shopping for a bike after that tidbit of experience.

Has anyone heard anything more about the Himalayan since its first, uninformative announcement?
Mar 3rd 2016, 02:05 PM   #11
 motoroco's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  Redmond, WA

  2015 Versys 650
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribbles
If you want to ride trails, Tahuya, Capital Forest, Walker Valley and Taneum/Naches are the closest options. Search youtube to see what those look like. You'll want a small bike (less than 260 lbs IMHO) to ride those.

If you want to do ADV type riding (forest roads) there are hundreds of roads just east of you. Larger dualsports would work good for that (DR650,DRZ400,KLR650,XR650L) but I'd suggest a used, pre-scratched bike.
Good distinction on types of offroad riding and great idea about youtube. I'll be sure to turn my enduro-video-watching time to be NW specific!
Mar 3rd 2016, 02:11 PM   #12
 
  Feb 2016
  Spokane

  Vstrom 1000, DRZ 400 XR600 and way to many vintage mxers to list
Plus 2 (with Pete being plus 1) for the Suzuki DRZ 400, the Suzuki DR 650, the Honda XL 350 or higher.
Mar 3rd 2016, 02:28 PM   #13
 coastrider's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  Oregon Coast

  2017 BMW R1200RT
I have a V-Strom 650 and really love it. I did a 2,000 mile trip from northern Oregon through Nevada and California and thought it was fine on the highway even on long days and great fun on the twisty roads. I try and keep this on pavement but have had it on a bit of dirt and gravel. I would say it is fine for some unpaved road use especially with some suitable tires. But for true "off road" fun for me it is just too heavy at 470+ pounds. If you are young and strong and can pick up this much weight you might do OK. Long ago I used to ride a lot of logging roads and my preference for off-road is to go as light as possible. It is nice to be able to wrestle a bike over a downed log or not worry too much about needing to manage a turn around in a tight space. For me the V-Strom 650 is too much weight for serious off road use. It is a very nice road bike that can make occasional forays off of pavement.
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Mar 3rd 2016, 03:01 PM   #14
 cjohns's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  Moscow, Idaho

  ZX450r
Yamaha WR250r. Overall just a great dual-sport. Capable of very decent highway speeds, maybe around 80 mph per GPS (no head wind lol!) Loves dirt/gravel roads. Engine revs like mad and loves it. Low maintenance. Fuel injected. Fully ADV capable (see ADVrider). Fully street legal. Excellent fun on a rainy track day. Cheap. Even I have managed to pull a couple fun short wheelies with it. (not really a wheelie guy). Fully wife-approved bike (at least mine).

The bad? Maybe if you are a horsepower guy it might not satisfy the full grunt of a bigger bike. If you are short (tall bike). May need a aftermarket fuel tank depending on what type of riding you are doing. Not really a bike you'd take to a MX track, though you could have fun if the track was pretty mellow/tame and you ride the bike knowing what it can/cannot do.

I'd say a 250 dual sport is about the best starter bike around. Honda makes a similar street-legal 250 bike, I just haven't ridden it, and don't think it is as capable as the WR based on some reviews.

Edited by cjohns on Mar 3rd 2016 at 03:10 PM
Mar 3rd 2016, 04:39 PM   #15
 Rider712's Avatar
 
  Mar 2016
  Vantucky/PDX

  FZ-09
I would vote for a drz400S. Or Wr250R.
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