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Bike For Young Guy - Limited Experience

Discussion in 'General Moto & Off-Topic Discussions' started by JustRidin, Aug 20, 2014.

  1. JustRidin

    JustRidin Rookie
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    Off the pavement and into the dirt. That's the idea anyway.

    Hello All,

    I'm finally looking to buy myself a dirt bike after having played with the idea in the back of my mind for a few years now.

    First off, a little background. Currently I'm 22, recently graduated with my bachelors (and now with enough spare income to buy any decent used bike). I've ridden atv's occasionally since I was 8, but only in the most casual sense. I also rode dirt bikes from 8 to 13 on mild trails on family property, but haven't touched one since.Two years ago I went ahead and bought a street bike as I could ride that daily rather than once every two weeks with a dirt bike. I've been riding that constantly since buying it.

    Having finished school now though, I really want to get off the pavement and into the mud and bumps. I currently live near Denver, CO and would like to ride trails in the mountains primarily, but I'm also extremely interested in trying out some track riding in the area after acclimating myself to dirt a bit. Plus, the tracks are closer than the trails. Knowing myself I will have a tendency to ride aggressively once I gain some confidence. At this point I consider myself all but clueless about dirt riding I suppose, and I realize my street experience only has limited application.

    Physically speaking I'm 5'9" and a bit of a skinny fellow @ 125 lb (130 wet and with a full stomach!).

    I've been tossing around the idea of a CRF230F or a CRF250X mostly due to a slight Honda preference, but prefer the choosing the right bike over any specific manufacturer. I'm also curious about a 125 two stroke as well, but don't know what would really suit my needs best at this point.

    Maintenance wise, I'm comfortable with performing some on my own and learning as I go, but so far I'm at a beginner level. The worst I've dealt with is rebuilding a carburetor on an old trx300ex quad.

    Finally, my budget is pretty flexible, but I'm not looking to spend a ton just to have the nicest of the nice. Odds are I'm going to drop it, crash it, and generally make it through the worst of my growing pains on this bike.

    What specific bikes would you guys (and ladies) recommend and why? (Plus what price range should I be looking at for these bikes).

    Thanks for any and all input!



    -Nick
     
  2. Okiewan

    Okiewan DRN is my fault.
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    Based on the info provided, the CRF250X would be the better choice. It's a capable bike on trail and does well on the track for all but the "fast guys". The 230F isn't close to the X in either regard. I'd gladly trade my CRF (R) for an X if I could find one, as I am less interested in MX ONLY these days. I've ridden a 250X on a track and had a great time. I also rode it on trails, had a blast.

    The R model CRF isn't as flexible, but somewhat faster / lighter than it's X brother, the power gap can be narrowed with a cam replacement and other little mods and you end-up with a bike that can (easily/cheaply) be plated and ridden on the street in many states. THAT's a flexible motorcycle.

    The 230F will probably be easier to find used and will be less $$ but lacks a lot of capability of the X model. It's a completely different bike targeted at a completely different rider and those that have never been on a bike, offering a tame, easy to ride learning experience.

    Yes, you can have a lot of fun on the 230, but many end up selling them to get a better bike if they plan to continue riding / advancing their skills. These bikes and the like are not suited to aggressive / fast off-road riding. They are more suited to a casual stroll down some mild trails sightseeing. Suspension is typically designed for a comfortable ride, not coming-up short on the big double.

    Also look at the Yamaha WR and Honda L models (if street use dual sport is needed) Being able to ride to the trails is pretty cool, but keep in mind, dual-sports typically don't do both particularly well. Sure beats no bike though.

    BOTTOM LINE: BUYING A BIKE IS THE EASY PART OF GETTING INTO THE SPORT. ALL IT TAKES IS MONEY & DECIDING WHAT COLOR YOU LIKE BEST. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF ABOUT WHERE YOU WILL RIDE THE MOST. THE BIKE CHOICE WILL BE EASY AFTER THAT.

    If there are MX tracks close by and that's what floats your boat, nothing short of an actual MX bike will last long in your garage. Since the 4-stroke has become popular again (if you are old enough to remember when 2-strokes became all the rage the first time), starting out on a MX bike has become easier to learn on and go "fast" on. They aren't peaky like 2-strokes, require less clutch use and can be ridden more like a tractor (meaning slow but strong) without worry of fouling plugs. They are more forgiving of your noob mistakes than a MX 2-Stroke of years past.

    If trails / woods, etc., is where you'll spend most of your time, look at model made for that. They are a lot more fun on tight or technical single track than MX bike. Again, give some serious thought about what kind of riding you will do most. Yeah, MX and big ol' jumps is a good time and most popular with young males, "going big" and all.

    If there are tracks close by and they have open riding most of the time, great. What sucks are the tracks that have organized practice where you will most likely spend most of your hours at the track, sitting in the pits waiting for your turn to go spin a few laps. Not fun, but that's just me.

    Time. This hobby takes a LOT of time and a lot of money. In my case and the people I rode with, a "day riding" was a WHOLE DAY. Driving, setting up, riding, messing with the bike, hanging-out, riding, messing with the bike, cooling off, messing with the bike..... And stuff breaks. Often. The harder you ride it, the more you spend maintaining it. It can turn into some real money.

    Which leads to Places to Ride.

    Back in the day, with a private track to ride at that was 30-40 minutes away, we rode virtually every weekend. At least one of the two days, often we'd get a few laps in Friday's after work, then show up Sat morning and ride most of the day. Threw in some Sundays from time to time as well. That went on for 5 +years, then I moved to Texas. A longer riding season, but no private track and the local moto tracks closing down due to noise and dust complaints by the new home owners within ear short. Urban sprawl has shut down many tracks around the country. Throw in insurance costs, thanks to the sue-happy world we live in, gas prices and the less than great economy, there are less and less places to ride these days.

    The local tracks closing around here in North Texas contributed a lot to NOT riding, in my case. When there was a good track (ie; good dirt and not filled with Supercross size jumps) , within an hour each way, we rode fairly often, twice a month on average. We could get there early ride and be back home by early afternoon (honey-do lists, etc could still get done). When the two closest closed, it then meant a FULL day and gas costs don't help, etc. It became easy to not ride. Throw in some age and not healing as quickly / breaking body parts becoming easier, the risk-reward ratio got a little out of whack. Going to work on Monday isn't optional either. So now after some time off, I'm getting fired-up again to ride, but this time, not on a MX track. For most, It's about accessibility of places to ride, out west where they have all that open land to ride on, they have got it great. Not so much here in Texas and other parts of the country. It pays to know someone who has land or own it yourself.

    Do yourself a favor and figure out where all the places are you can ride, before you buy a bike. Plenty of people have rushed out to buy a bike only to find out after the fact that the closest place to ride is hours away. Do you have that kind of time to invest in this new hobby?

    So back to bikes, PICK A COLOR. They (major brands) are all great bikes. It mainly comes down to what the manufacturer offers and how well it fits your need. HONDA, KAWASAKI, SUZUKI, KTM, YAMAHA ... you are good to go with any of them. Pick a bike that has a good, parts stocking dealer close by. If you discover Friday that a part needs to be replaced, the internet won't help much if you are riding tomorrow.

    You want to stay away from, rather RUN FROM the no-name Chinese (Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Indonesia; who knows from where) knock-off, eBay, local auto parts store, bikes. They are typically crap when they are new, then impossible to find parts for when they break, which is normally very soon and then very often after purchase.

    I'm sure we've all heard/read the story from the guy that bought one of those bikes and how great it is, how he smokes all those brand name bikes on a regular basis, etc. Yeah.... okay, have a nice day.

    AS OR MORE IMPORTANT THAN BRAND / COLOR CHOICE: PROTECTIVE GEAR.

    This post is too long already, another post to follow about gear and what you need to protect yourself.

    I'm sure not trying to talk anyone out of buying a bike and getting into the sport. It's a GREAT time filled with GREAT people. But there are realities involved. Folks would be well served to do some research before jumping in. Be real about it, then start spending the cash! This isn't an inexpensive hobby and the most expensive bike out there is the one you don't ride and then sell at a big loss.
     
    Benski, truespode and Rich Rohrich like this.
  3. JustRidin

    JustRidin Rookie
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    Wow, thank you for the very detailed response Okiewan. I was definitely sticking to a major brand, wouldn't dream of touching some no name Chinese make. I have done some research on the nearby areas to ride and there is a sufficient number of spots within 1-2 hours to keep me occupied. Gear will be a top priority, same as it is on the street for me.

    As far as staying involved in riding, it will depend a lot on how much fun I end up having after getting a few months under my belt. I'm pretty hopeful, riding my street bike is a blast, and all of my time spent off road in the past amounts to a decent portion of my favorite memories combined with camping. Still, I'm accepting the potential loss on a bike and gear should I just not like it that much. As far as the trail vs track, I've never ridden track so I can't even guess if it will be my thing. Having said that, I've heard most trail bikes are simply terrible for track style riding, so I may not get as good an impression if I try track on a trail bike.

    Just things I'm considering. Once again thanks for the detail and looking forward to hear your gear suggestions.
     
  4. Okiewan

    Okiewan DRN is my fault.
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    You're welcome JustRidin. Caught me feeling a little wordy apparently. :BLAH: Just trying to throw out some stuff that new to the dirt riders may have not considered. Like, where am I going to ride this thing, and oh yeah, how do I get it there.

    My time on the street was pretty limited (98 GSXR), Too many crazies out there. I grew up riding (not racing), mostly woods, trails, fields, etc and wanted to get back on a bike but didn't know where to ride it, so I ended up on the street bike. Got that figured out, sold the 'zook with less than 3500 miles on it, never looked back.

    You'll find that most folks that ride, are a really great bunch. I've got a little experience putting rides together and have spent a week at a time, camping and riding with them. Best times of my life right there! Here's a pick of one of those "rides" back in '01. We did one of those each year for 5-6 years, with people coming from all over the country.


    Yup, one big ol' family.

    Anyway, welcome to the site, let us know if you have any more questions and GOOD LUCK!
     
  5. JustRidin

    JustRidin Rookie
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    Well, by total chance I was invited by a group of coworkers to go out riding with them this weekend (just moved to town). I rented a CRF230F and found it to be extremely anemic. There was simply no punch to it, even on flat ground, much less on any incline. It feels like a bike I could outgrow quickly, and grow a bit bored with.



    On the other hand someone let me try out their 08' KX250F and man, was that spot on. Definitely has more power than I have skill to make full use of yet, but didn't feel unmanageable. We were riding trails (50 in. OHV), so I didn't get very rowdy with it or anything, but it feels like a bike I could grow into for years to come, without killing myself on it either so long as I stay level headed about things. What I really loved was how planted it felt throughout my time on it, be it loose gravel or hard pack. Power delivery and gearing was fine for me, but then again, I'm not too picky yet having so little experience.



    I also saw a KTM 150 XC that looked like a hoot, and quite nimble according to it's rider who owned a 250F as well. On that note, how well suited are the 250Fs (MX bikes) for trails in general (or when compared to their enduro counterparts)? I noticed probably 60% of the other bikes on the trails were 250 or 450 MX bikes, with the remainder being small displacement trail bikes like the 230 or 2/4 stroke enduros with headlights. Like I mentioned before, I don't have any experience to draw from, but the Kawi 250F seemed fine to me. No headlight, but I wouldn't plan to ride after dark anyhow. E-start is the only thing I think I may miss.
     
    #5 JustRidin, Aug 23, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2014
  6. JustRidin

    JustRidin Rookie
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