Buying a new bike....Need Help??


22 replies to this topic
  • dualsport newbie

Posted November 20, 2004 - 08:19 PM

#1

First time post-er. I need a little help from anyone willing to lend a hand. I have decided to buy my first dual sport bike. Needless to say, I am so excited that I am having trouble sleeping and my pursuit of this purchase has driven my girlfriend to feel like a second class citizen. I have a few years under my belt on an MX bike and a few years under my belt on a sportbike. I haven't had a bike for a couple of years. I am looking at about 50/50 split on street and dirt. Dirt riding will be mostly open Arizona desert riding with the occasional trip to the mountains for some good mountain/trail riding. Street riding will be 80% surface streets, 20% freeway. I have narrowed my options to the XR650L and the DR650SE (possible even the DRZ400). Therein lies the problem. Not sure which way to go??? I am going to buy new (2005) either way. The price difference is minimal and not an issue. The visual comfort and riding positions are a non issue for me as well. I have a few technical questions though:

1) Which brand (Honda or Suzuki) generally makes a more reliable product in the enduro/dualsport class?

2) What's the deal with the cooling systems? The XR is air cooled while the DR is oil/air cooled. Which would provide better protection against long rides under the hot desert sun, or are they roughly the same in overheating prevention?

3) I would like to buy new and keep it until it dies. How many miles can I expect out of either of these bike before major engine rebuild (50,60,70,80K)? Will one of these laster longer than the other, assuming they are both taken care of with TLC?

4) Which bike would you recommend for steady 75mph freeway riding with power to spare?

5) Is there any way to determine what the dealer invoices are on these 2 bikes? How much room do you typically have to with, in terms of out the door price, with a dealership on this class of bike?

I appologize for the mild dissertation presented above, but I am going to drop between $5.5K-$6K on this decision, and I like to make a well educated decision. I would appreciate any advice one can lend.

Thank you

  • savageracing

Posted November 20, 2004 - 08:26 PM

#2

I have an 03 dr650 and my buddy has an 04 xr650l. the suspension on the dr is very soft in stock form and needs new sprinks front and rear (175$). the xr is set up for taller riders. my freind is 6'3" and it fits him very well. i on the other hand have to push it tippy-toe when i get on it. the dr is in better shape for offroad use stock and the dr likes the street better stock. but with a few mods to both of them and they are very competable bikes. but remember, if you are under 6'1" or so you may have a hard time on the XR. hope this was some help. good luck :cry:

  • qadsan

Posted November 20, 2004 - 08:56 PM

#3

For mostly surface streets and AZ desert riding, take a good look at the DRZ400E. It might be a little buzzy at heigher freeway speeds, but it will shine everywhere else. It' s a super nice bike, has plenty of usable smooth power for general purpose fun, is very reliable and it's comfortable to ride.

It sounds like you're looking at bikes with electric start, yes? If you don't mind a kick start bike, then you may also want to look at the XR650R. It's not a whole lot heavier than the DRZ400 and you get an additional 250cc :cry: . You can find these bikes in used-excellent condition for $3K to $3.5K and new for $4K to $4.5K from various dealers. Converting this bike to dual registration in AZ is very simple. You can either make a kit yourself or buy a kit from places like Electrex, Baja Designs, eLine, Trick Dual Sport, etc. The XR650R has gobs of torque, loves the deserts and is also very reliable. There is an electric start kit available for this bike from Baja Designs, but it looks rather ugly (although it performs well & is built stout) and costs ~$895.

  • thumper245

Posted November 20, 2004 - 09:15 PM

#4

I have an 03 dr650 and my buddy has an 04 xr650l. the suspension on the dr is very soft in stock form and needs new sprinks front and rear (175$). the xr is set up for taller riders. my freind is 6'3" and it fits him very well. i on the other hand have to push it tippy-toe when i get on it. the dr is in better shape for offroad use stock and the dr likes the street better stock. but with a few mods to both of them and they are very competable bikes. but remember, if you are under 6'1" or so you may have a hard time on the XR. hope this was some help. good luck :cry:


I am about 5'9" with my shoes on and I have the XR650L. He is correct that it is targeted for the taller riders. I love mine. The main issue that I hav with mine is the gearing for the slower speed stuff. I just got my new 48 tooth rear sprocket and plan on putting on this weekend. That is the setup that all my riding partners are using and it seems to but just right without loosing the topend for the street. The only issue that I have had with the the air cooling is when I was at the dmv for the driving test (I was practising too much and it was at a speed that was too slow for first and it took about 10-15 minutes to get hot). I have also spent lots of time in the 115+ temps in the summer here and not had any problems with the bike. I have also taken some trips with some buddies with streetbikes at 70-85 mph and no problems. I have owned the bike for 2 years now and still love it. Good luck with whatever you buy and let us know what you get and how it turns out.

  • dualsport newbie

Posted November 20, 2004 - 10:11 PM

#5

Thanks for all of the great replies! I actually never considered either the DRZ400S/E, or the XR650R. You'll have to forgive me, but I just figured that the 650 class of bikes was going to give me significantly better power and acceleration at higer speeds (highway/open desert). But, the more time that I spend on this site, the more it seems that my assumption may not necessarily be true. As far as the 650R goes, I did not consider that I could modify the bike to make it street legal. Wow, that makes my decision more interesting??

Is there a feeling that in terms of acceleration and power to spare at high speeds, that the DRZ400 is not that far from the XR650L?

Is the DRZ400 essentially the same bike as the DR650, just smaller. The only difference readily noticeable is that the 400 is liquid cooled and the 650 is air/oil cooled?? Not sure of the "value add" difference between the different cooling systems as it relates to the hotter climates (air vs oil vs liquid)?? Any thoughts??

Any comments on the brands overall (Honda vs Suzuki)? Or is a 6 of 1, half dozen of the other situation?

  • qadsan

Posted November 20, 2004 - 10:57 PM

#6

As far as reliabilty goes, I think it's pretty much a toss up between the Honda XR650 and the DRZ bikes. They are both very reliable. The DRZ400 probably wouldn't be that far off from the XR650L concerning performance and would likely be faster in terms of acceleration. You could also get dual registration on a Yamaha WR450F, which has electric start. This is also a fantastic bike!

Here's an interesting article to check out.
http://www.cagivausa...rld/cw-6-04.pdf

In terms of air vs. liquid cooling, it's been my experience that the liquid cooled bikes typically run cooler oil temperatures than their air cooled counterparts, but air cooled bikes don't suffer from issues concerning crushed or punched radiators after a fall and they don't boil over like liquid cooled bikes sometimes do. One of the downsides with liquid cooling is that once the coolant reaches its boiling point, it will expand and boil over into the degas bottle, but the liquid cooled bike may still be running a cooler oil temp at the beginning of boiling over when compared to some air cooled bikes under similar circumstances. In stock form, you will boil over the XR650R at traffic lights in AZ, but with proper jetting and some mods, it won't be a problem. Bike radiators are quite expensive to replace if they are beyond repair, but a good set of aftermarket radiator guards will minimize damage during a fall.

Try to hook up with some TT'rs in your area if possible and get a few minutes on each of the bike's you're considering. Sometimes all it takes is one ride on a particular bike and from there it's like love at first ride. All the bikes you're considering are good reliable bikes that should offer years of trouble free service if you follow the manufacturers service recommendations / intervals.

  • Dual_Dog

Posted November 21, 2004 - 07:36 AM

#7

I actually never considered either the DRZ400S/E, or the XR650R.

Is there a feeling that in terms of acceleration and power to spare at high speeds, that the DRZ400 is not that far from the XR650L?

Is the DRZ400 essentially the same bike as the DR650, just smaller. The only difference readily noticeable is that the 400 is liquid cooled and the 650 is air/oil cooled?? Not sure of the "value add" difference between the different cooling systems as it relates to the hotter climates (air vs oil vs liquid)?? Any thoughts??

Any comments on the brands overall (Honda vs Suzuki)? Or is a 6 of 1, half dozen of the other situation?



The liquid-cooled motors have tighter tolerances and can produce more HP in stock form. So the DRZ400 is comparable to the XRL or DR650 in terms of HP. 4-stroke air-cooled motors won't rev as high as the water-pumpers. Case in point are the WRF's. These motors flat out RIP! :cry:

If you are going to have only one bike, and if you ride freeways more than dirt, there is no replacement for displacement. If you have a chance to test ride a XR650R you'll know what that means. :cry:

A dual-sported XR650R, or even a DRZ400, is going to be light years ahead of the ancient XRL or a DR650. More $0.02.

  • Birdmove

Posted November 21, 2004 - 09:24 AM

#8

You'll have to check the laws in your state though to see if you can legally "dual sport" a dirt bike.The XR65R and the Yamaha are dirt bikes.In my state , Washington, you cannot make a dirt bike street legal.Therefore, you have to choose one of the already street legal dual sport bikes.I am making the same decision as you, only I am including the Kawasaki KLR650 in my list.But it isn't as good in the dirt as the bikes you already mentioned, but is considered a better street bike, and even suitable for long distance touring.
Good luck in your choice.

  • Mokuleia

Posted November 21, 2004 - 01:18 PM

#9

Birdmove,
Is it possible to title and register an XR650R in Washington that is already titled and registered in Or. or Ca?

Thanks for any info...

  • qadsan

Posted November 21, 2004 - 05:59 PM

#10

You'll have to check the laws in your state though to see if you can legally "dual sport" a dirt bike.The XR65R and the Yamaha are dirt bikes.


In Arizona, it's a piece of cake to register many off road bikes for dual sport. There's plenty of Californians that go to AZ to register their off road bikes. It' still possible to do so in CA, but it's not as easy as it used to be and there's no consistancy between the DMV offices.

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  • rokklym

Posted November 21, 2004 - 07:18 PM

#11

Is the DRZ400 essentially the same bike as the DR650, just smaller. The only difference readily noticeable is that the 400 is liquid cooled and the 650 is air/oil cooled??


Nope, The DRZ 400 is totally different bike. Its much taller and has a much better suspension, alot more adjustability. I was trying to decide between the XR650L and the DRZ400S and ended up getting the XRL just because I was able to find a great deal on a slightly used one. I'm totally happy with the bike, its sweet. The rear coil on mine was set to a soft setting so its got some sag. I'm 5'9" and dont have any height issues.

If I had 6K in my hand and could get which ever bike I wanted I'd probably get the DRZ400S, just due to its off road ability.

  • RingKingPin

Posted November 21, 2004 - 07:57 PM

#12

California, Washington State, and New York are the only states that won't allow you to do a d.s. conversion on a bike. So if you live there, MOVE :cry: Just kidding. Anyhow, if you had a dirt bike and you've ridden street bikes, I'd have to say go for the xr650r. It pulls to 90 like a street bike, is very off road worthy and has the honda XR reliablity. Of course I'm biased but I've ridden all the afforementioned bikes and prefer my pig big time over the others. :cry:

  • dualsport newbie

Posted November 21, 2004 - 08:09 PM

#13

Thanks all for the wonderful advice.......I am very close to a decision. One final question.

I am leaning towards the 05 XR650L. In looking at the price. It looks like the dealership wants something in the neghborhood of $6300 (MSRP $5.6K) out the door for the 05 with all of the BS fees and TTL. If I wanted to get a good helmet thrown in, what type of offer should I put together as a starting point? Hopefully some of you have some negotiating experience on new bikes. How much room do these dealerships have to work with? How much fat is built into that price? Is $5K just a laughable starting point? What about $5.5K????

  • RingKingPin

Posted November 21, 2004 - 08:43 PM

#14

Have you considered buying used? I see lot so L's and even more R's on ebay with low hours---guy's who buy them and then decide it is too much bike. You know I'm still trying to sell you on an "R" right? :cry:

  • dualsport newbie

Posted November 25, 2004 - 01:36 PM

#15

well, its over. after careful thought, i went with the XR650L. what it really came down to was emotion and not logic. for some reason, i just fell head over heals for the XR650L. brought it home last night and sat up all night ready the owners manual. i have been on this thing all morning. screw the turkey, i'm riding. not quite sure if i received a good deal or not. MSRP was $5,600. i got it out the door (all the BS fees, TTL, etc) for $5,850. What do you guys think? was i treated fairly? that's ok, you won't hurt my feelings if you think i overpaid, it was my first new bike purchase. hopefully i'll get better as i buy more bikes in the future.

anyone have any advice on the "break-in" procedure. the owners manual says not to go heavy on the RPM until 300mi. do i really have to wait that long? what else do i need to know? what about aftermarket mods? where should i start? where's the best on-line source for buying mod's?

  • socalxr650

Posted November 25, 2004 - 05:30 PM

#16

Congrats on the new bike. I just got one as well. I too bought the XR650L, I live in SoCal so DSing a bike was out of the question, i had to go with the factory street legal too.

As far as the price you paid...... Do a little more homework next time. I do not want to sound bad, but you paid 1,000 more than I did for the bike. But like you said you live and learn.

I was aslo wondering about the break in. I have been pretty much babying it since I got it, been up and down in the revs as well as the gears, but will not hold it out there too long. Anyone else with advice about this?

Good luck with the new bike, and be safe. Take care.

  • Dual_Dog

Posted November 25, 2004 - 07:09 PM

#17

well, its over. after careful thought, i went with the XR650L. what it really came down to was emotion and not logic. for some reason, i just fell head over heals for the XR650L. brought it home last night and sat up all night ready the owners manual. i have been on this thing all morning. screw the turkey, i'm riding. not quite sure if i received a good deal or not. MSRP was $5,600. i got it out the door (all the BS fees, TTL, etc) for $5,850. What do you guys think? was i treated fairly? that's ok, you won't hurt my feelings if you think i overpaid, it was my first new bike purchase. hopefully i'll get better as i buy more bikes in the future.

anyone have any advice on the "break-in" procedure. the owners manual says not to go heavy on the RPM until 300mi. do i really have to wait that long? what else do i need to know? what about aftermarket mods? where should i start? where's the best on-line source for buying mod's?


Congratulations. You've just become addicted. I re-entered the sport a little over a year ago and you can tell by my sig what effect (my XRL) had on me.

Price is irrelevant. Sure you could've saved this or haggled more for that. An '05 won't be cheap, and the '04's are probably identical execpt for the tank graphics. Bottom line is if you ride the crap out of it you'll get your money's worth no matter what you paid for it.

Aftermarket is all about intake, carb and exhaust mods. Your best bet is to do a search here for XR650L mods. There are hundreds of messages about this topic.

Remove the smog crap and the intake snorkle, get a foam air filter, replace the pilot and main jets with larger ones, drill the vacuum slide & shim the jet needle, and put on a slip-on exhaust. It's about performance and better driveability. The XRL suffers from part throttle response problems, and they only increase once you start modifying it.

My used '98 came with the Honda Factory Service manual. This is an invalueable resource. Clymer is a good one too. I highly recommend getting one or both.

As far as the break-in is concerned, doulbe-check the oil level after a brief warm up. If it's good, go for a ride and vary the speed in every gear especially for the first 500 miles. Don't over-rev the motor and don't lug it. Ride smoothly, but don't baby it either.

If you plan on doing any serious off-roading, ditch the stock "slicks" for some DOT knobs and get a bash plate. These two mods alone will make the Big Fat Pig a bike you can ride just about anywhere you've got the guts to try it.

Have fun & keep the rubber side down.

  • Birdmove

Posted November 25, 2004 - 10:05 PM

#18

Congrats on the new XR. I don't think you did too bad on the price. Here near Seattle, Wa., the best I've found is about $5400.00 plus tax and license, with no bs fees. Only two dealers were willing to trash the bs fees in their low ball quote to me. But I heven't quite decided yet between the XR650L, the DR650, the DRZ400S, and the KLR650..I'm taking my time, and with the off season and all, the prices aren't going to be going up until spring maybe?
But I'm sure you made the right choice for yourself, so enjoy!

Jon Neet

  • thumper245

Posted November 25, 2004 - 10:58 PM

#19

well, its over. after careful thought, i went with the XR650L. what it really came down to was emotion and not logic. for some reason, i just fell head over heals for the XR650L. brought it home last night and sat up all night ready the owners manual. i have been on this thing all morning. screw the turkey, i'm riding. not quite sure if i received a good deal or not. MSRP was $5,600. i got it out the door (all the BS fees, TTL, etc) for $5,850. What do you guys think? was i treated fairly? that's ok, you won't hurt my feelings if you think i overpaid, it was my first new bike purchase. hopefully i'll get better as i buy more bikes in the future.

anyone have any advice on the "break-in" procedure. the owners manual says not to go heavy on the RPM until 300mi. do i really have to wait that long? what else do i need to know? what about aftermarket mods? where should i start? where's the best on-line source for buying mod's?

I dont think that you did so bad, I got mine loclaly for 5800 out the door. That was the msrp at the time and I got that out the door with a helmet thrown in and the locol shop would do the waranty work!!!! I think that is worth it. If you plan to do any slow tech. stuff I would suggest a 14 front sprocket or a 48 rear. I love mine. Let us know how you feel about your choice after a few rides. :cry: :cry: :cry:

  • dualsport newbie

Posted November 25, 2004 - 11:16 PM

#20

I dont think that you did so bad, I got mine loclaly for 5800 out the door. That was the msrp at the time and I got that out the door with a helmet thrown in and the locol shop would do the waranty work!!!! I think that is worth it. If you plan to do any slow tech. stuff I would suggest a 14 front sprocket or a 48 rear. I love mine. Let us know how you feel about your choice after a few rides. :cry: :cry: :cry:


sounds like you were treated well. congrat's! what is the theory behind the teeth count on the sprocket? less teeth = smaller radius = for a givin crankshaft rotation = faster speed? do i have that backwards? you'll have to forgive the novice question, i'm still learing.





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