Best dirt dual sport


26 replies to this topic
  • daddysbike

Posted July 17, 2006 - 08:24 AM

#1

Hello,
I'm looking for a good dirt focused dual sport to ride mainly fire roads in the north GA mtns. I'm 43 5-11 180lb and grew up riding trail bikes. I ride street bikes over 20,000 miles/yr and want to ride all the fire/forest service roads that I pass all the time. I'll likely just put the bike on a trailer and haul it to where I'm going to ride it.
I have 2 streebikes so I don't think I'm too concerned with the best street manners. I need a street legal to ride the fire roads/forest servicve roads. I like the DR650 because of the oil cooler and don't know if heat is an isssue with Honda. It seems odd to me that Honda doesn't use one on the 650L, doesn't need it I guess?
It seems the KLR is most street worthy (also heavy) the DR650 better off road than the KLR and the XR650L better off road than both. Is this correct?
Will the XR650L still last long w/o cooling? one less thing to go wrong I guess. I'd like to be able to strap a tailbag to carry a few things, can I put a little rack on back?
What about soft saddlebags and or tank bags if needed or if decided later to tour more?
Would you take the XR650L before the DR650, DRZ400 and KLR?
I ride in north GA, it does get hot here and don't want my bike overheating.
What do you lik/dislike about the XR650L?
Any issues or must do fixes?

Any info appreciated.

Steve

  • XRsteve

Posted July 17, 2006 - 09:10 AM

#2

The DR has an olil cooler because its a wet sump. The XR has the oil in the frame instead of the engine and this is what helps cool it. The XR will last a long time with proper maintainence. The XR is better offroad than the DR or KLR, and its really not that bad on the highway. It should have no problem with a tail bag, just don't overload it. (sorry, I don't know what the weight limit is)
As far as "necessary" mods go, the best thing is probably what is known as "Dave's carb mods" Very easy, and definitely makes a big improvement in performance and actually helps the engine run cooler.
The DRZ400 is better offroad, mainly because of its weight. But the Honda will go anywhere you want it to, and is better on the street because of its weight and bigger engine.
I have had my 650L for over a year and never had the slightest problem with it. I ride it much more than my other bikes, but probably because its my only street legal bike.

  • wheelnut46

Posted July 17, 2006 - 09:11 AM

#3

I like mine.

  • desert4seat

Posted July 17, 2006 - 09:30 AM

#4

Seems like I was in the same boat as you not too long ago, and I chose the 650L. I was definitely a little hesitant at first because of the weight issue, but there was one thing that made the L stand above the rest.
Reliability.
Seems like I’ve had unreliable bikes my whole life. LOL…and I wanted something that would take me anywhere, anytime I wanted, without any worries. I liked the low compression, air-cooled motor, abundant parts and easy to work on!
If you buy a un-modded L, you need to put it on a diet, you need to let it breath (pipe, filter, jets), you need hook-up (tires), and you need the suspension work and a fork brace/stabilizer.
Good luck

  • wr450fyamaha

Posted July 17, 2006 - 09:35 AM

#5

If you want a dual sport, get the klr outta your mind right now, that thing is not an off road bike at all. I never had a problem with my xr overheating...they can take just about anything.... I'm 6', 190lbs and I threw it around just fine.The XR is best but it is pretty damn close to the DR, its just few minor little things that make the different....both will do ya good but i would go for the xr, the things have been around for even and really proven themselvs...and they will be around for ever cuz ya just cant break em.....

  • snaggleXR650

Posted July 17, 2006 - 02:08 PM

#6

A good friend of mine has had 2 KLR's, which he really travelled with. Now he has a DR650 and an XR650L. He's really liking the L better, however he is like 6'4", so it fits him better than the short DR.

You being a bit shorter, you might consider the seat height, the XR650L is pretty tall, the DR is alot shorter. Both bikes will suit you well on the street and on the trail, and both are very reliable, oil cooler or not. You can't go wrong with either mechanically, you just need to see which bike fits you better (seat height).

  • desert4seat

Posted July 17, 2006 - 02:15 PM

#7

If you want a dual sport, get the klr outta your mind right now, that thing is not an off road bike at all. I never had a problem with my xr overheating...they can take just about anything.... I'm 6', 190lbs and I threw it around just fine.The XR is best but it is pretty damn close to the DR, its just few minor little things that make the different....both will do ya good but i would go for the xr, the things have been around for even and really proven themselvs...and they will be around for ever cuz ya just cant break em.....


well, I kinda agree. But if you can rip it up on a XR650L in the dez, you could definitely rip it up on a KLR or a DR. My buddy, for example, rides a BIG ass KLR in the dez…and he rocks! Hill climbs, sand washes, whoops, you name it. Sure it’s big and heavy (really f-ing heavy) but he’s a big guy, and he’s got skill.
Sometimes, along the trail, we trade bike. I like it. The water cooled motor on the KLR works real nice.

  • SniperTeamBravo

Posted July 17, 2006 - 02:41 PM

#8

XR600R plated, XR650L, or plated XR650R will suit you very well and never break on you forever if you do standard maintainence. The XR650L is the heaviest and slowest, the XR600R is faster and way lighter than an L, the XTR650R is a little faster than a 600R and a little more expensive to hop up but water cooled. None of the XRs are bad in the heat, they were designed as desert racers and to be ridden hard forever. Any will be a long love affair withthe bike!

  • frankiewhipit

Posted July 17, 2006 - 03:01 PM

#9

i would recommend going with the Honda, i have ridden the klr & the drz, but always wind up buying a honda, this is my 4th XL
1981 xl 500
1986 xl 600
1995 xl 650
1999 xl 650
:thumbsup: :ride: :cry: :ride:

  • DigDug

Posted July 17, 2006 - 08:33 PM

#10

It sounds to me like you don't need street manners at all... If that were the case, I'd look at how hard it is to get a true trail bike plated in Georgia (that's where you are correct?). If that's too difficult, and you want a dirt oriented bike that's street legal... check out Kawi's KLX-250s - brand new offering this year. If that's too small, check out Suzuki's DRZ-400S. Both are street legal out of the box. The DRZ could do some higher speed street stuff if needed.

I went with the Big Old pig (XR-650L) since I live in commieland (CA) and Dual-Sport conversions are more than I wanted to deal with. I also use it for a daily commute (15-20 miles of freeway, depending on how quick I need to get there)... It's the most dirt friendly of the big bores (650's) which helps chasing my son around the desert and the mountain singletrack (which it does VERRRRRYYYY well !!!! - until I have to pick it up when it's laying downhill that is :cry: )

Sorry, but I guess that's two more bikes you can consider...

Have fun deciding... I'm sure you're love whatever you buy (most do!!! :thumbsup: )

Doug

:ride:

Visit the ThumperTalk Store for the lowest prices on motorcycle / ATV parts and accessories - Guaranteed
  • captb

Posted July 18, 2006 - 08:26 AM

#11

Sounds like the L for you, I liked mine but prefer the R made Street legal for less weight and more power, the DR and KLR are mothers to handle in serious off road riding, if I was going the big tanker route I would buy a Suzuki 650 V Strom at least it cruises nice on the Hiway and fire roads, thumpers are not the best choice for saddle bags and hiway riding, if I didn't ride in the rough something like a old Transalp, Africa Twin or V Strom would more suit me.

  • tommyj92028

Posted July 18, 2006 - 08:46 PM

#12

I have a dr650 and an xr650r. I know you're thinking about an "L" model, which I havent ridden. My friend has a klr. My DR 650 walks all over his klr. The klr has a lot more aftermarket parts for it. The dr 650 is absolutely horrible on any bumps/whoops. I jumped it once when I first got it and considered myself fortunate to not have gotten killed. The only susp. adjustments is a comp. on the rear shock. No rebound on any thing. DEADLY in the dirt. I love the bike for the street, fun and reliable. Now, The xr650r...Thats a bike for the dirt. I take it everywhere and it soaks up ALL the big hits. You can probably tell which one I'd choose if I could only have 1.

  • kpatrick

Posted July 18, 2006 - 10:11 PM

#13

With out a doubt, the DRZ400S is the best and there really isn't anything close. I have worked at a Honda dealership for close to 8 years now and have built 3 XR650L's and although they were great when they first came out back in the summer of '92, they are extremely outdated and put out less HP than the newer DRZ400. Not to mention that they are extemely tall for any type of serious off-road excursions. If you live in the desert, than you are going to be fine. Venture off in the woods, and you will be hating life.

  • HappyCurmudgeon

Posted July 19, 2006 - 04:00 AM

#14

I ride my L in the woods all the time. Everyday home from work usually. Granted i am not setting any land speed records, or clearing any doubles where and how i ride, but the bike takes it just fine. Well, unless you get flopped over with the tank facing downhill. THAT is when the weight is an issue for me, otherwise i barely notice it. I am about 5'-11" and change, around 200#'s. I am not in super great physical shape, i am more donut shaped & rather rusty off road, but i honestly don't have any mentionable trouble riding the L. But... if i could legally do so, i would much rather have an R.

I personally do not like the DRZ400, it just plain feels all wrong to me when i sit on it. Same for the KLR, just didn't "feel" right, all the ergo's where just a bit off for me. They are nice bikes, just not the ones for me. Tall bars and risers on the L and it fits me like a glove.

As far as racks go, I have a small one on my L. There are pics in my garage if you are curious. I have a tank bag that i sometimes use as well, but it does tend to be in my way. I have a Pelican case currently mounted on the rear of my rack, it is big enough to hold the tools and my lunch but doesnt use the whole rack up so i still have some carrying capacity for Diapers and formul... err... I mean Beer & chips - yeah that's it. A lot of people use tank panniers, and some have made some custom brackets to hold saddlebags which look very trick.

Any dual sport (or converted dirt bike) is a conglomeration of compromises; not 100% dirt, not 100% street, certainly not 100% MX. But a little of all of them combined. Which one is best is whatever you are comfy on, and is geared toward your particular needs. For me, that is: 0%MX / 30-40% Dirt,Trail / 60-70%Road. The L fits me & that bill just right.

I would say (as someone else mentioned above) that any of the bikes you mentioned would work, just try them all and see which one "fits" you best.

  • Muddin

Posted July 19, 2006 - 08:46 AM

#15

:eek: Well I just bought my 650L a couple of months ago and I can't get enough of it :busted: . I did Daves mods and what a difference, the pig will stand up in 1st & 2nd no problem :cry: . Everyone tells me what a nice lookin bike :ride: (even the KLR, XT,and DR owners) My only beef is the small gas tank, :ride: around 90 miles to reserve after mods. Not alot of aftermarket add ons but TT guys can keep you busy, :ride: :crazy: and tell you what parts from other bikes will fit the L. It would only be to your benefit to look at the other bikes :eek: mentioned, but once on the L you won't want to get off. :busted: :thumbsup: :ride: till your :ride: :busted: falls asleep.

  • mikekay

Posted July 19, 2006 - 10:06 AM

#16

Choosing a dual sport bike is more personal than just about any other type of bike. It all depends on what ya think 'dual sport' means. For some its a cheap college commuter (get a used KLR or XRL) for others a light bike for riding 300 or more paved miles and then 4 miles of dirt for a weekend camping (get the BMW). For others a second bike for plodding to the local fishing hole (go for the cheapest you can find). For me its a bike i can ride down the freeway and then across baja on bad roads. So i need good suspension and street legal from the factory. That means my dated XR650r is out and a estart, factory street legal Husqvarna is in.

Also worth noting all the enduro bikes from Husqvarna are street legal. Many of the '07 KTM enduro bikes will also be factory street legal. In time the japanese will have to answer. Also--watch for some changes in the Honda line-up in the next month or so.

While the japanese bikes you listed are all more or less capable there are some great bikes from europe that are well worth considering. They arent for everyone--limited dealer networds, aftermarket, etc. are real issues...but for many guys the answer to 'best big dual sport' comes from europe. Just as reliable with higher end components--these bikes are impressive. In order of 'dirt worthiness' ya might want to consider these:

Husqvarna TE 610.

KTM 640/625

BMW F650GS


Just my .02 pesos worth. The 650 jap bikes serve their purpose(s) well.

  • BAJAHUSKYS

Posted July 19, 2006 - 10:12 AM

#17

:eek: Well I just bought my 650L a couple of months ago and I can't get enough of it :busted: . I did Daves mods and what a difference, the pig will stand up in 1st & 2nd no problem :cry: . Everyone tells me what a nice lookin bike :ride: (even the KLR, XT,and DR owners) My only beef is the small gas tank, :ride: around 90 miles to reserve after mods. Not alot of aftermarket add ons but TT guys can keep you busy, :ride: :crazy: and tell you what parts from other bikes will fit the L. It would only be to your benefit to look at the other bikes :eek: mentioned, but once on the L you won't want to get off. :busted: :thumbsup: :ride: till your :ride: :busted: falls asleep.


You can buy an IMS Products tank for your bike. I believe it is 4.0 gallons? Steny

  • azmanxman

Posted July 19, 2006 - 10:32 AM

#18

There's no doubt an XR will make you very happy. But it is not a bike I'd want to spend a long day on the Freeway on. If you are looking into doing more 'touring dual-sport' I would get a KLR. Don't believe everything you read here about them, this is an XR site! I owned one for a couple of years and it went everywhere. With a set of Dunlop 606's on it you could get it places you'd be surprised. You get used to the weight after a while in a sick kind of way. I've jumped mine, you just gotta have strong legs!

Just decide what you really want to use if for. Long days of mixed riding with perhaps some muli-day loaded tours? Or blasting through desert washes at 50 mph?

There's no one perfect bike.

Personally, I'm happy with my 95 XR600R.

  • Motosprtman

Posted July 19, 2006 - 10:47 AM

#19

go with the XR650L -uncork it - regear it 14/48 - re-tire it and wow....there is nothing to compare it to. Just hang on!

  • huntmaster

Posted July 19, 2006 - 11:19 AM

#20

Now, The xr650r...Thats a bike for the dirt. I take it everywhere and it soaks up ALL the big hits.

No question there. But it's not a dualsport bike in North America...it's an off-road model you have to make street legal. Perhaps Honda will repackage it as such (as in other markets) when some new pure dirt CRF600X or something comes out, but the whole off road bike licensing/registration is becoming more and more of a liability with varying juristictional requirements and rapidly closing loopholes....while other manufacturers are stepping up with very capable dualsport bikes that are legal out of the box!





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