Need opinions/ info on big dual purpose bike

6 replies to this topic
  • Pete_Z

Posted May 06, 2003 - 10:15 AM


I know that this is a little O/T for this board, but I've alway found the answers here informative and refreshingly B.S. free. I am in the market for a big dual-sport bike, something to explore the back-roads with around home. I will be carrying a passenger fairly often, and will be mostly running gravel roads with some highway use at elevated (65 mph +) speeds. I also will with out a doubt take the bike off-road mostly on two-track jeep-type trails.

Some of the bikes that come to mind as likely candidates are the KLR650, DR650, XR650L, and BMW F650GS Dakar. I would welcome anyone's input before I lay down the cash, and I am completely open to any suggestions on these or any other bike.

Peace Eh - P.Z.


Posted May 06, 2003 - 02:20 PM


I own a new WR450F and a 1990 XT600.

IN my opinion, the WR IS a truly fantastic, versatile DIRT bike. I am not too sure about it's ON-ROAD capabilities. In the few instances that I have used mine on the pavement/gravel fire roads, my impressions are that it needs quite a bit of help to be livable as a street legal dual purpose mount. The seat is extremely hard even at it's thickest point. I couldn't imagine a passenger ever wanting to go on another ride with you if you took them out on that seat for any length of time. There are no passenger pegs, you would have to fabricate those. Also, the bike is quite loud for the speeds you would be traveling on the highway. It gets tiresome, even with ear plugs at constant speeds over 1/2 throttle. You would probably want to re-gear the bike. Dropping a couple of teeth on the rear or adding one on the front should be good for most highway conditions. The suspension is, of course, quite firm as well. You feel every ripple in the pavement (not necessarily a bad thing). Gas mileage isn't too bad but my experience has been 70 miles max range(can't seem to stay out the meat of the powerband). Once you get off the highway however, you won't be able to get the smile off of your face! :D

My old XT600 has been a fantastic bike for many years now and is very well suited for just the type of riding(two-up) that you are describing. I have kept mine for just that reason, although it is now collecting dust these days with my recent purchase of the WR. The XT's are "claw-hammer" reliable, 24,000 miles on this one and still counting! I rode this thing from Florida to Alaska in the summer of 1995 (honestly), I only had to change tires/wheel bearings. The engine is much smoother, quieter at highway speeds than the WR. It may take longer to get up there but my XT will leave my WR on the top end. It has a much lower seat height and is great for low speed trail work. It can chug down to what feels like zero rpm. Once the trail gets rough and the speeds pick up, the suspension quickly becomes overwhelmed. It is much heavier. It has a fairly comfortable seat (feels like a lazy boy after the WR's seat). It also has passenger foot pegs stock. This bikes has a much longer range as well(over 100 miles on a tank of gas).

The thing is, at some point you must compromise with street legal off-road bikes. The bikes you mentioned are all great in certain applications but will quickly get into trouble at speed in off road settings. They are just too heavy for serious off road work. I can't stress that fact enough.

In my opinion, the BMW would be fantastic if you had to ride say 60+ miles on pavement to get to a nice hard gravel fire road. The speeds would have to come down on that gravel and you must be willing to get down to walking speed on the jeep trail stuff you describe.

The KLR 650 is pretty much in the same dept. as the BMW.
They are humongous. They have terrible ground clearance. I have trail ridden with some guys on KLR's while on my XT and the difference was tremendous. Look at the specifications of the BMW and KLR's in comparison to the DR and XR. Unfortunately, Yamaha no longer makes the XT600.

I keep praying for a WR with a 660 raptor motor in it. HMMMMM?????Anyone at Yamaha listening????? :D :)

From what I know about the DR650, it is pretty much the same as my XT600. They are a bit more capable on the dirt(lighter), probably a little less comfortable than the BMW/KLR on the street and less apt to get damaged in a spill.

The XR650L can be made to work very well off-road. There are tons of aftermarket go-fast products designed for them. They have a great reputation for reliability, have won numerous Baja events and can be tolerable on the highway as well. Their stock suspension is worlds above what the other models you mentioned offer in off-road applications.

Hope that gives you some direction. I know it was long but there is alot to consider when making a purchase like this(I only hit a few major points). I don't think one bike will ever be able to do everything. Good luck with your decision.

  • SBG

Posted May 06, 2003 - 03:21 PM


Well, here is my 1990 DR650S
I still have it with very few miles on it, also in dust collection mode till I get in my new home. The newer models are a little lighter than my 345lbs model, and have electric start and adjustable seat height. This engine at the time was the most powerful single in the states. I'm sure that no longer holds true, but I did race a friend on a 2 cylinder Suzuki 500(can't remember the model), and we were racing into a headwind. We both got up to about 117mph when my DR started edging him out REALLY SLOWLY. I'd say a tailwind would have got us over 125mph. It wasn't close to red lining, but the gears are so tall it would have never come close. The 1st gear is good for about 40-45mph tapped, and the other gears are just as tall. There is enough torque for anything, even slow speed stuff is fine. Mine had a 5.5 gallon tank, but I think the new tanks are closer to 3.2. I averaged about 50mpg. Switch to some better tires and the bike will better suit your riding agenda. Maybe some stiffer spring whether someones riding on the back or not. I could do some small jumps(2' to 3') and it would bottom. I wouldn't recommend too much of that unless you do the springs, and if you want, revalve.
For the money, the DRS is a good deal. The newer body style is also more suited for off roading. I'd say the DR400S or Kawasaki equivilent with its liquid cooling and newer engine are close to what the 650 can put out while maintaining a higher level of off road competence, it's just more expensive. I say give them both a look, check the XR650 too. I think the lower seat of the DRS650 might help more in 2 up riding. I'd like to know what you go with. Good luck! :)
Posted Image Here is a euro version.

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  • Indy_WR450

Posted May 06, 2003 - 03:21 PM


Forget about the WR450. It will not fit your needs BMW has the best bike for your needs. They have a F650 CS that is beautiful. They have 2 Paris Dakar versions for more difficult off road rides. Check them out at :)

  • uechi45

Posted May 09, 2003 - 04:46 PM


I have a '99 DR650S that is a blast to ride. I bought it for the same thing...around town and exploring back roads. However forget about a passenger if they weigh over 100 pounds. The bike has tons of power in stock gearing. It will go well over 100 mph, but the suspension gets wobbly after about 90 or so. You don't even get into 5th gear until about 75 or 80 mph. I just dropped my front sprocket one tooth and rejetted. A whole new bike off road, and a lot less top end on the highway. Better acceleration and a much better around town bike. I have 3200 miles on it with no problems. Bike weighs 355 lbs. ready to run with a full tank.

  • JamesD

Posted May 09, 2003 - 08:53 PM


There are a lot of people around here that have the KLR and love it. Honestly, any of those will do.
Also consider the KTM (Adventure?)

  • huskyrider

Posted May 10, 2003 - 03:19 PM


I think you'd be well served if you passed on a true dualsport and built your own out of a XR650. I gave serious thought to doing this several years ago after riding one. It was very stable at speed, felt lighter than it should have for its weight, and being a Honda will last a long time. I'm gonna dualsport my WR's soon, but only to connect trails around the house and ride on the forest roads where you get a ticket if your bikes not street legal. If my application was what you described this is the bike I'd want.
Good luck with your decision.


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