Can't decide

Hi all,

I'm in the process of trying to make a decision here. I've decided to get a dual sport to play on all the firebreak roads and trails out here in Southern California. I'm 6'0 tall and about 215 Lbs. I've pretty much narrowed it down to two bikes. An XR650L or a DRZ400S. They seem to be about the same price but are obviously very different machines. I'm not gonna be riding any single track technical stuff. Like I said, just trails and the like. Questions.....Does the air-cooled motor on the XR have any problems? I would think that pup would get pretty hot on a 100 degree So Cal. day. I like the simplicity of the motor but how does it hold up? Which of the two 04' bikes I've mentioned is better suspended for my purpose? Finally, what kind of deal can you get on the XR. It would seem they've depreciated all their tooling costs at this point and should have a pretty good profit margin so I'd think you ought to be able to get a pretty good deal on one. Is that right? I presently ride a Bandit 1200S and have had Honda's in the past. Always loved their build quality. My buddy had an 89' XL600R and I used to love riding that thing but never got it out in the dirt. I have to say the DRS looks tempting too. I like the weight, but it looks like a lot of fragile bits that may not be necessary for my needs. Any ideas?? Thaks in advance and nice site!!!

I've decided to get a dual sport to play on all the firebreak roads and trails out here in Southern California. I'm 6'0 tall and about 215 Lbs

You're going to get a lot of opinions here and as you know, those will vary. For fireroad cruising either of these bikes would be fine. But if you're not planning to do much street riding, and if you want more off-road capability (just in case you want to go more in that direction), then I'd favor the DRZs over the XR650l. I'm sure the DRZs has e-start, not sure about the XR650l. But I'd say the DRZs can be more easily be modified into a very solid dirt bike and it has a very solid and updated suspension. But given how you intend to ride, above those two I'd favor a nice good used XR400, XR600 or XR650r with a DS kit. Used XRs are all over the place and many are in good condition with the DS kit and plate already in place. Any would be a great bike for the riding you describe and you'll save $2,000-$2,500 buying used with minimal give in quality.

Check Recycler for used bikes in the SoCal area.

Tough decision, both are good bikes. Both have e start. The big difference of course is the cooling and the CCs Air cooled bikes have been around forever, along with the ATV market for years were air cooled, BMW air heads are a good example. Liquid cooled engines will have longer life before rebuilds due to the better engine cooling, but don't get me wrong air cooled bikes will run for years and years with no rebuild as long as you change the oil and filter on a regular basis and use good oil. There was a post on this site earlier that had 42,000 miles on his XRL. Can you get a test ride on both bikes, from a dealer, thats the best way to help you decide. If your going to do lots of real slow riding in high tempuratures, I think I would opt for a liquid cooled machine. But another point to look at, how many used XRLs do you see on the for sale block? People seem to hang on to them for some reason. I think bullet proof comes to mind.

DRZ 400s was derived from a dirt bike, very capable in the woods, but with E start a great addition, I wouldn't be without it anymore. Nice on a cold start and really nice if you stall it in a mud hole or in a creek or river crossing. I considered both before I bought mine, rode them both and just decided to stay with Honda, as I have owned several types of them. I found the weight of the L to be tough to handle at first, but as I gained confidence in off road riding it seemed to loose some of that bulk, of course better tires and a smaller front sprocket helped for the slow stuff. Just my $.02 :) (Probably not much help)

This is the same thing my dad and I talked about a couple of months ago. If you are going to ride more dirt than street go with the DRZ. If you want to cruz the freeway and street ride more than dirt go with the XR. XR will cruz about 15-20mph faster than the DRZ. Not to say the DRZ can't go as fast as the XR but I'm talking about cruzing speeds. Now the DRZ is better in the dirt by far than the XR so just think of it as a mid size car or a full size. Which one fits your needs?

I've had both and feel that both are great bikes, for true offroad use I'd go with the DRZ, the XRL is also a great bike but a bit outdated in design, totally reliable but simply can't compete with the more modern DRZ, I think the DRZ beats the Honda in power, suspention,braking,handling, ect. prices to modify either bike for best performance are about even, my deciding factor would be the amount of street use the bike will get, I think the XRL is better on the road. :)

Thanks for all the practical info Gentlemen. From what I'm reading, I'm leaning toward the DRZ. I'm gonna be on the street/dirt about 50/50 and I have my Bandit for Highway use. It's old school like the XRL in that it's A/O cooled and I like that for simplicity and maintenance. It do get hot though!! I'm still undecided. That 600R sure looks like a sweet machine. Why the hell doesn't Honda throw some streetable light and an E start on that thing, raise the gearing, put a dash on it and call it the L model. Hell...that's the bike I really want. But as my wife so accurately points out "if wishes were horses, beggars would ride." Very appropriate here. Keep the good suggestions coming and thanks alot!!!

What about a XR650R with a dual sport kit installed (Baja Designs, Trick DualSport, Eline, etc)? The XR650R is about the same weight as a DRZ (both significantly lighter than the XR650L) and it has another 250cc to spare. The XR650R is more suited to off road use, but there's plenty of people who dual sport them to use on the street for shorter trips and it can cruise nicely at higher speeds with power to spare. It also makes a killer super motard bike if that's a direction you want to head someday. For a more comfortable ride on the street, you can also change to a taller softer seat foam. The DRZ sure is a nice bike and that magic button is awefully attractive, so you've got to being going nuts trying to sort this all out :)

Here's some info I saved from the May 2000 issue of dirt Rider that compared the true weights of various bikes fully gassed and ready to ride.

Honda XR650R = 302 lbs

Suzuki DRZ400E = 295 lbs

KTM520 E/XC = 272 lbs

Husaberg FE600E = 285 lbs

Honda XR400R = 278 lbs

Yamaha WR400F = 276 lbs

Kawasaki KLX300 = 271 lbs

Here's a XR650R D/S kit on Ebay

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=35580&item=2439492428

Have you thought about getting an XR 650R ? And putting a dual sport kit on it? That's what I have, and it's great as long as you're not planning on extended road trips.

But for fireroads and trails, it's hard bike to beat. Of course my other choice if I couldn't have my 650R, would be a DRZ-400E. I've had one chance to ride a DRZ, and to me it felt alot like the RM's, which is a good thing.

Crap.....that's what I meant of course....A 650R, all whored up to be a street bike. But I'm in kalifornia?! Do I have to register before O4' to get my sticker? Isn't this too much of a bike for a dirt Squid?. I mean, I've been riding street bikes for thirty years but my only experience in the dirt is on an XR 600L,and that was years ago. That and kick starting that beast when I've stalled in a ditch plays out in my mind as a painful experience. Can I really learn on and eventually handle an XR650R?

I'd love to go that way cuz' Im a horsie junkie....but man that seems like a lot of bike for a squid. What's the last year I can license...legally .........for street,forest roads and trails......a 650R ? (In the state of Kalifornia) and of course....am I up to the task of riding the beast????

Thanks for all your time and insights.....

I'm still undecided. That 600R sure looks like a sweet machine. Why the hell doesn't Honda throw some streetable light and an E start on that thing, raise the gearing, put a dash on it and call it the L model. Hell...that's the bike I really want. But as my wife so accurately points out "if wishes were horses, beggars would ride." Very appropriate here. Keep the good suggestions coming and thanks alot!!!

Basically, that's just what Honda did with the XR650L. It is built on the XR600 frame and suspension with the NX650 e-start engine and lighting equipment and big quiet (heavy) exhaust to make it street legal.

:)

HW

That's true HWCHUNTER, but where's the state of the art Liquid cooled motor and the updated clocks? That's what I'm really talking about. But I understand that point is moot. I guess I'm like everyone else. I want it all for my specific needs and that doesn't really fit with what the public wants...again, with my limited skills and what's available I keep coming back to the DRZ. Dammit!!! I want to want a Honda..... but I want all the creature comforts too. :):D

I think the 650R is one of the easiest bikes to ride because of its smooth powerband and my 14 year od son just loves it when I let him ride it. It's a smooth and easy starting bike when cold or when hot, but you'll have a time of it trying to start it if you dump it like you did with the XR600L in a ditch. There's a procedure for starting it when this happens and it works, but it requires anhywhere from about 6 to 12 kicks if your bike goes down. That's one of the reasons I bought a different carb for my bike (~$380) because it will NOT flood out like the stock carb under ANY circumstances and getting it started requires just one or two kicks at the most even if the bike cartwheeles :). With the DRZ, you just push the button :D , but I've actually started my bike with my arm and I know a few others here have tried ity also, so it can't be too much of a brute to start and it's nowhere as mean as the older Suzuki TM's of the 70's :D

With all the hoopla going on in Kalifornia, you've probably got to get any bike worth considering plated before the first of the year or else be stuck with a red/green sticker license, unless the bike you're considering complies to the new requirements. The current 2003/2004 DRZ400E is NOT even a green sticker bike and you won't be able to get it plated unless the DMV makes a mistake and then you run the risk of them correcting it in the future. You'd have to either buy a 2002 or older DRZ-400E (since all 2002 & older bikes are now grandfathered for green stickers with the recent legislation changes), then dual sport it and get it plated before the 1st of the year when the new laws come into effect, unless you're thinking of buying the DRZ400S which is even heavier yet.

If you're considering dual sporting a new DRZ400E or a XR650R, then you may want to contact some of the following companies that produce the dual sport kits as they'll be up to date with the latest Kalifornia legal info on these kits, but I believe you'll have to plate a DRZ400E or XR650R before the first of the year or succumb to the DMV for a red/green sticker for off road use only unless you go with the DRZ400S or XR650L.

http://www.bajadesigns.com/

http://www.trickdualsport.com/

http://www.elineaccessories.com/MulitSportKits.asp

http://www.electrexusa.com/electrex_dakar_main.html

That's true HWCHUNTER, but where's the state of the art Liquid cooled motor and the updated clocks? That's what I'm really talking about. But I understand that point is moot. I guess I'm like everyone else. I want it all for my specific needs and that doesn't really fit with what the public wants...again, with my limited skills and what's available I keep coming back to the DRZ. Dammit!!! I want to want a Honda..... but I want all the creature comforts too. :):D

OK, I guess you meant 650R instead of 600R in your prior post. I agree that Honda should make a street version of the 650R with e-start even though I personally actually prefer the simplicity of an air/oil-cooled engine.

:D

HW

HWC....That is in fact, what I meant. Sorry about that. I went and looked at both Bikes today. The 650R and the DRZ. Both nice machines to be sure. But compared to each other, the DRZ looked and felt like a toy. Not to mention I liked the Honda's ergo's better. The DRZs radiator looks kinda like an afterthought. It kind of hangs out there in the breeze and looks like it could be made a mess of pretty easily :) . I really like the Honda alot. I'd like to understand the sticker dilemma better. Let's say hypothetically that I buy a used 2002 650R from a private party in March of 2004 that's been converted and registered for the street by the previous owner. Does the street legal status carry over to me as the new owner? If so....does that mean it's legal everywhere? If that's the case, I think I can live without the e-start. Otherwise I'll be pooched cuz I won't be ready to buy until that point. Anybody that can clear this issue up for me? Much appreciated.

Hi BigBlue;

Once you have a plate on the bike, it's just like any other street bike, fully transferrable to anyone else. They give you a new pink and you get registration renewals annually. It was made clear that they weren't going to revoke any of the existing conversions even after they stop allowing future conversions (under the current plan) after 1/31/04.

:)

HW

Let's say hypothetically that I buy a used 2002 650R from a private party in March of 2004 that's been converted and registered for the street by the previous owner. Does the street legal status carry over to me as the new owner? If so....does that mean it's legal everywhere?

Yes, it carries over from what I understand as long as its plated before this year ends, otherwise the rules change. With a plate, it will be legal everywhere and that's a huge plus. You'll need to provide proof of insurance to the DMV like you would with a car, but Progressive offers some decent rates.

You can find some great deals on used XR650R's in excellent condition, but most are not dual sported. I've seen them as low as 3K for a used 2002 in primo condition, so keep your eyes wide open, but make sure its already plated or get it plated before the end of this year, otherwise you'll be stuck with a green/red sticker.

Get the XR650R and dual sport it. Baja designs is like 3 weeks away from having and electric starter kit for it. The kit will include everything including the battery. It will cost about 750.00. The XR650R is awsome on anything you use it for except motocross. We use ours on tight mountain trails and once your set up right its a breeze. :)

Baja designs is like 3 weeks away from having and electric starter kit for it. The kit will include everything including the battery.

:):D :D :D :D

Thank you Gentlemen. That pretty much clinches it for me. I don't really care about the E-start at that price but I imagine it'll need a better stator to upgrade the light to roadworthy acceptability by my standards. I assume Baja makes one of those as well. Thanks for all the help and advice. It's really given me direction and shown me which way I wanna go.

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