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  1. #1
    DaneH's Avatar
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    Dual Sport recommendations

    The wife and I have been noodling picking up a pair of dual sports. We're both experienced motorcycle riders and have decided on dual sports rather than full dirt because we like the idea of being able to simply take the bikes to the trails. We realize you lose a bit, but ultimately this is the direction we want to go. I'm bigger (6'3" 225) so I'm thinking I may go the 650 route. I can see the wife maybe with something in the 400 range (she's about 5'4"). Our budget is probably in the $2,500-$4,000 per bike. We aren't after anything super new and fancy, but I'm thinking maybe '05 or newer. So, that being said, what do you recommend and why?

  2. #2
    Dunno about the cost, but I want a BMW GS 650 slightly more than I want oxygen. I think higher miles might be in your budget.

  3. #3
    I only got into motorcycles in 2011, but went straight for the dual sport thing. Bought a DR350, which has worked well for me. Only thing I would change (and probably will eventually), is to get an electric start vs. kick. I screwed around with different setups more oriented towards dirt, then more street, and ultimately found the place to make compromises is on the pavement. Dirt bike on pavement works just fine....street bike on dirt is dangerous. Everyone will point you towards a KLR, but you'll end up regretting it with anything harder than dirt roads. I got the chance to ride a friend's XR650R, and holy cow....that's THE bike. So much easier to ride with all that torque right off idle. The DR650 seems to do well on group rides too. Kind of chunky, but rock solid reliable and affordable. A smaller bike for your wife?...WR250R seems to be the hot ticket these days. If you can find a later model DR350S with elec start, that's a good bike too. DRZ400 is about the same, but only has a 5-speed gearbox so the range of terrain you can cover will be more limited. Seems to be difficult to find a bike that can handle single-track AND 70mph cruising. Everyone seems to love the orange bikes (KTM), but they're kind of pricey.

    I have my bike up for sale, but don't really want to sell it... http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1035040 The bikes listed above would be my preferred replacements.
    Last edited by _CJ; January 6th, 2015 at 09:00 PM.

  4. #4
    DaneH's Avatar
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    I guess I should add some specificity. I do want to be geared mostly TOWARD dirt. The streetability is not for cruising (I have a GSX-R1000 for cruising), but just to allow me to go places when I don't want to throw the bikes in the truck.
    The XR650 looks right up my alley.

  5. #5
    CJ pretty much nailed it. I do like my orange bike. If you want something geared primarily towards dirt you should check them out. 07 and up 450EXC came street legal from the factory. WR's would be another excellent choice as they are plentiful and cheaper. Honda CRFX's would be good but they're much harder to find. XR's are super reliable, lots of fun, very capable, but they're no where near the performance of a KTM, WR, CRF, etc. Suzuki DRZ's are also popular, especially in supermoto trim for some reason, and would also be a good choice IMO.
    Murray's Toys: 76 FJ40, 00 Toyota MR2, 13 Triumph Tiger 800XC, 07 KTM 450EXC, 05 Suzuki SV1000S, 12 Yeti SB66c, too many skis to list...

    I got your Jeep thing....now it burns when I pee

  6. #6
    DaneH's Avatar
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    So, I can be a bit of a power junky, so in terms of pure power, where would you go? I'm assuming any of the above can comfortably cruise at freeway speeds when needed? By comfortably I mean powerwise without screaming. Obviously these aren't comfy cruisers and I'm fine with that.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by DaneH View Post
    So, I can be a bit of a power junky, so in terms of pure power, where would you go? I'm assuming any of the above can comfortably cruise at freeway speeds when needed? By comfortably I mean powerwise without screaming. Obviously these aren't comfy cruisers and I'm fine with that.
    The bigger bikes are going to have better low end grunt, which makes trail riding and gearing for highway use easier. Heavier though, which makes trail use more difficult. Smaller bikes are easier to throw around on the trail, but need to be kept in the higher rpms on the trial to really perform, which makes gearing for highway use difficult. Gear down so you're in the power band on slow/steep trails, and the bike will be screaming at 60mph. Gear it to keep the revs in check on the slab, and you'll be slipping the clutch all day on the trail to keep it from stalling.

    You really need to figure out where you're willing to compromise....trail or street. No bike does it all well. Personally, I think a 450-500cc would be perfect, but very few of the common bikes come in that size. If you want power, 650 is the bike, but don't expect gnarly single-track trails to be much fun. When you say "geared toward dirt", that covers a really broad spectrum, so you probably need to define that before anyone can really suggest what size bike would be best.

    In my situation, a 650 would probably be best, but I enjoy the economy and range of the 350, plus it's small/light enough to work in just about any situation I might encounter. I suck at single-track, so having a bike more geared in that direction to compensate for my poor skills makes more sense.
    Last edited by _CJ; January 7th, 2015 at 03:22 PM.

  8. #8
    DaneH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by _CJ View Post
    The bigger bikes are going to have better low end grunt, which makes trail riding and gearing for highway use easier. Heavier though, which makes trail use more difficult. Smaller bikes are easier to throw around on the trail, but need to be kept in the higher rpms on the trial to really perform, which makes gearing for highway use difficult. Gear down so you're in the power band on slow/steep trails, and the bike will be screaming at 60mph. Gear it to keep the revs in check on the slab, and you'll be slipping the clutch all day on the trail to keep it from stalling.

    You really need to figure out where you're willing to compromise....trail or street. No bike does it all well. Personally, I think a 450-500cc would be perfect, but very few of the common bikes come in that size. If you want power, 650 is the bike, but don't expect gnarly single-track trails to be much fun. When you say "geared toward dirt", that covers a really broad spectrum, so you probably need to define that before anyone can really suggest what size bike would be best.

    In my situation, a 650 would probably be best, but I enjoy the economy and range of the 350, plus it's small/light enough to work in just about any situation I might encounter. I suck at single-track, so having a bike more geared in that direction to compensate for my poor skills makes more sense.
    Well, I'm not looking at getting crazy - more exploring. Our trip through the Alpine Loop (watching a trio of bikers) got our adventure spirit going. So we're not talking super gnarly, tough trail riding. I wouldn't mind being able to play in the sand with a paddle tire occasionally too. I'm still leaning towards the 650 me thinks.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by DaneH View Post
    Well, I'm not looking at getting crazy - more exploring. Our trip through the Alpine Loop (watching a trio of bikers) got our adventure spirit going. So we're not talking super gnarly, tough trail riding. I wouldn't mind being able to play in the sand with a paddle tire occasionally too. I'm still leaning towards the 650 me thinks.
    Most dual sports are going to be good for about 80% of what you might encounter in a range of single-track to interstate. 650 would be a good choice if you're going to be in the middle of that range.

    And fair warning...you're never going to take your jeep off-road again once you find out how much more fun 4x4 trails are on a motorcycle.
    Last edited by _CJ; January 7th, 2015 at 03:45 PM.

  10. #10
    DaneH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by _CJ View Post
    Most dual sports are going to be good for about 80% of what you might encounter in a range of single-track to interstate. 650 would be a good choice if you're going to be in the middle of that range.
    How do they range in height? For me it won't be a problem, but my wife is shorter at 5'4". Do the smaller displacements tend to be shorter? I realize they can be lowered as well. The wife can handle the GSX-R1000 just fine (and we used to have a Banshee), but I'm not sure if I should steer her towards more of a 450 or not.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by DaneH View Post
    How do they range in height? For me it won't be a problem, but my wife is shorter at 5'4". Do the smaller displacements tend to be shorter? I realize they can be lowered as well. The wife can handle the GSX-R1000 just fine (and we used to have a Banshee), but I'm not sure if I should steer her towards more of a 450 or not.
    Generally the only "small" bikes are going to be small displacement and crap suspension, brakes, etc. It's probably best to get a better bike and add a lowering kit if needed.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by _CJ View Post
    You really need to figure out where you're willing to compromise....trail or street. No bike does it all well. Personally, I think a 450-500cc would be perfect, but very few of the common bikes come in that size. If you want power, 650 is the bike, but don't expect gnarly single-track trails to be much fun. When you say "geared toward dirt", that covers a really broad spectrum, so you probably need to define that before anyone can really suggest what size bike would be best.
    That's why I think my 450EXC is perfect for mainly trail running and street use limited to short trips and connecting trails. More of an 80/20 bike. It can handle freeway speeds but it's not fun. I wouldn't consider it an ADV bike because of that, which I think would need to be more 50/50. But off road, it's top of the class.

    Quote Originally Posted by _CJ View Post
    And fair warning...you're never going to take your jeep off-road again once you find out how much more fun 4x4 trails are on a motorcycle
    Truth!!

    Your wife is going to have a hard time finding a suitable bike at 5'4". My g/f is 5'5" and just got a CRF230, which she just fits on but she's a beginner and isn't real comfortable unless she can touch the ground easily. That bike also falls under CJ's category of small displacement and crap suspension, brakes... Best bet is to get a hi performance 250 such as a WR250, 250EXC etc, and get a lowering kit for it and shave the seat foam. I met a chick in Moab on Thanksgiving who was 5'-5" IIRC and running a 250EXC that was way lowered.

  13. #13
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    I had an awesome '06 DRZ400 off road model. They make a street version that is detuned. It's a very powerful bike, but was tall for me and 5'7" frame. Tight trails were a bit of a pain because I had not lowered the gear and could not easily plant my feet around switchbacks. I did see that my friend was doing awesome on his WR450 but he had a recluse clutch that made a tremendous difference for single track that was tight and twisty.

    I have sold that bike and my next one will be a KTM. Expensive but they are such a perfect balance for the purpose. I have also found a lot of owners claiming the lower CC KTM's are as powerful as the big bore bike from the competition, but of course a lighter package.
    My name is Daniel. I pretty much do what I want.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by DaneH View Post
    I really appreciate the link and it's damned tempting. I'm just not quite ready to make the plunge yet, but am trying to educate myself. One of my main hurdles to overcome is to figure out if my truck will allow me to hitch-haul two of these. It's a Raptor, so I have to be careful about weight. I'm doing that research as well.
    Three years of keeping an eye on bikes that come up for sale, and I can tell you without question that deal is not coming around again.

    Most dual sports are going to be in the 300-350 pound range, so a 500 pound tongue weight bumper isn't going to get it. You'll need a dedicated class IV receiver hitch for two bikes.

  15. #15
    DaneH's Avatar
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    The Raptor has a Class IV hitch. The problem is the total weight of cargo and passengers (1020 cargo limit). I might have to get creative.

  16. #16
    Captain Radon Steve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by _CJ View Post
    And fair warning...you're never going to take your jeep off-road again once you find out how much more fun 4x4 trails are on a motorcycle.
    This is so true.

    Quote Originally Posted by DaneH View Post
    How do they range in height? For me it won't be a problem, but my wife is shorter at 5'4". Do the smaller displacements tend to be shorter? I realize they can be lowered as well. The wife can handle the GSX-R1000 just fine (and we used to have a Banshee), but I'm not sure if I should steer her towards more of a 450 or not.
    I just traded my CRF450R in on a new CRF450X. It's an awesome dual sport bike. I'm 5'8" and can tell you that your wife could not ride it without it being lowered. Well, she could ride it, but it would be ugly when she stopped.

  17. #17
    DaneH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve View Post
    This is so true.



    I just traded my CRF450R in on a new CRF450X. It's an awesome dual sport bike. I'm 5'8" and can tell you that your wife could not ride it without it being lowered. Well, she could ride it, but it would be ugly when she stopped.
    How does it do at freeway speeds?

    How much lowering we talking?

  18. #18
    Captain Radon Steve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaneH View Post
    How does it do at freeway speeds?

    How much lowering we talking?
    Just got it last week and have only ridden it once off road. I don't know what it's rated at for top speed, but it has a 5 speed trans and I suspect top speed is 60 or thereabouts. If you put ~$300 into a new muffler, EGR delete kit and adjustable main jet it really wakes it up. I suspect it would have to be lowered 2" or so to make it comfortable for a 5'4" rider to use. There is more than enough rear suspension travel to do that. It's a very different bike than the 450R I traded in on it; it's much better suited to what I do now on a dirt bike.

  19. #19
    kchaser's Avatar
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    I run a 2008 KLX450R that I titled for the road. I run SuperMoto kit for it on the road (wheels,tires,brakes,gearing) and it tops out over 90mph. Have another setup for offroad (knobby) and yet another setup for the dunes (paddle). All this fun and it makes it out of the garage on Memorial Day weekend. The rest of the time it collects dust. Make sure you are gonna use it before you buy it, I didn't....


  20. #20
    i agree with kchaser. i bought a bike last fall and only took it out twice before winter set in. granted mine isn't street legal(ktm 300)

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by rollingblubber View Post
    i agree with kchaser. i bought a bike last fall and only took it out twice before winter set in. granted mine isn't street legal(ktm 300)
    There's your problem. If I can't ride/drive it from my driveway, it's not getting used. Plus, nothing beats riding your dirt bike through town... LIKE A BOSS!

  22. #22
    very true. i'd like to plate mine but its far down on the list of stuff i need to get done. plus the gf doesn't like the idea of me on the street on a bike due to all of the other idiots on the road

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by rollingblubber View Post
    the gf doesn't like the idea of me on the street on a bike due to all of the other idiots on the road
    Jesus, just sell the bike and buy a mini-van already. Hopefully she'll give you your balls back someday.


  24. #24
    DaneH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by _CJ View Post
    Jesus, just sell the bike and buy a mini-van already. Hopefully she'll give you your balls back someday.

    HA HA!! My wife and I met BECAUSE of my motorcycle (she rides too). Luckily the above won't be a problem!

  25. #25
    Haha I didn't say she was stopping me from doing it. Just doesn't like the idea of it.

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