Help picking a new bike - Long

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#1
Hi All,

I'm very new to this forum, my boyfriend forwarded me the link last night. ;)

Last year, I started riding. ( Ok,..I was on a Honda Something-or-other touring bike once about 7 yrs ago, long enough to learn the fine art of highsiding into a truck in a parking lot. Bike was fine, my "coach" who was riding on the back of the bike stood up and grabbed the bike as I flew.)

In June of 2003, the 2002 TTR-125L taught me the ropes.

Day 1: Gentle (1 mile wide) turns in a farmer's field. Later we graduated on to harder stuff. Only one spill. this is when I learned that in sand you need more gas, and that gravity can indeed overtake you.

Day 2: ( A week or two later) Brule Lake, AB, Canada. Sink or swim. A sandy Forest trail leading to a sharp drop into miles upon miles of sand dunes. And a "bald-ish" back tire to boot. I learned a ton that day. Not the least of which - respect the bike, (And whatever you do, don't tick it off!), paddling to help you up the big hills is good for you, (and necessary with 7HP) and with that 7HP, riding on the beach on the wet sand is easier.

The rest of the summer I gradually improved, to the point where I was trying to follow the BF around in doing things he could do with his CR250.... ohhh the naivety! I was doing whoops and running the bike in 5th gear more than any other. My cornering got a fair bit stronger, and I started to overrun the suspension regularly. A couple of people have mentioned how much faster I got from the beginning of the year to the end, and the BF was constantly amazed at how fast I was learning. The second trip to Brule in September hurt me significantly less.

Living in Central Alberta, Canada, the bikes were put to sleep in October, and will be coming back out soon for some maintenance. Looking at the modifications needed to make the bike last me this year, we finally reached the conclusion that I've outgrown the bike. So now the bike is in the local "buy&sell" publication.

The last month, we've been looking around at some bikes. I have a ton of concerns about a "new" bike, so was hoping to get a few opinions here, since I've reached a point where I can't logic it out anymore. :)

The bikes that we've looked at, and I've sat on are as follows:

Yamaha WR-250, Yz125, Yz80
Honda Cr-125, CRF-230F
Kawasaki Kx100

First off, I am not quite 5' 5", I haven't dared step on a scale in years so couldn't tell you what I weigh. ( I wear a size 7 - 8 if that helps)

Therefore, Height is a factor. The 250s and 125s are tall for me, but -may- be lowerable enough with the seat foam shaved and stuff. I draw the line at subframe modifications though.

The 80, 100 and 230 are good height for me, but have their own limitations.

Next, Being the height that I am, weight is also a factor, I'd rather not have a 250LB (wet) bike, which makes the 230 and 250 suspect. I can manhandle the CR125 around a driveway with relative ease, but of course, I haven't laid one down to pick up.

Sound would also be a factor. I'm not fond of the scream that a 2stroke has, but I noticed that with my helmet on and being in -front- of the exhaust, that it's not -as- bad. This I think though rules out the 80 and 100, for always being on the throttle to get anywhere. Of course, because he's most familiar with them, the 2 strokes are easiest for the BF to work on, so there's a point there.

Having been on a TTR only and having never ridden a 2 stroke, I have been looking about for one to ride to see if I like it. The BF is fairly sure that his CR-250 might kill me! :ohmy:

This weekend, I got to take a 2001 CR125 on a very short test ride (1/2 block each way). It was setup for a 160lb rider that's way taller than me. What I learned there is that I can manhandle it to where I want it with not much more difficulty than the TTR, I can start it, as long as I lean it a little, but shifting my balance to get it stable enough for me to want to take off is a little hairy. I can do it though.

Now, How manuveurable is a full-size bike going to be vs the play bike? Those forest paths that I was on last summer seemed tough enough with the playbike for a person with my experience. Will I notice a significant setback in these areas?

Now, just to be a little "girly" here,...I also like the blue bikes better :thumb: , and all my gear matches that way, but the BF figures that Blue plastic can be bought for the red ones too. So I guess that's not too much of an issue.

Because we're not sure if I will like a 2-Stroke, it seems to me that the way to go is with a used one for this season, and if I like it, I keep it, or sell it an buy a new one (to know the service history), depending on the shape of the existing one, or if I don't like it, then we sell it and I get a 4stroke again.

I seem to be leaning toward the CR-125 (with blue plastic ;) ), because I've heard it's a "newbie friendly" bike, compared to the YZ, but I can really use some suggestions here.

Thanks to everyone, sorry for such a long post.

stormi
 

MXGirl230

Stupid tires and trees
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#2
I have an '01 CR125, I started out on an XR100..to learn on. AT 5'3" all of the fullsize bikes are tall. I I learned how to start it though, and how to shift my weight on it. We also put in a softer center spring and Pro-Action set up the suspension. This took a long time though, and a lot of practice. Yes the CR's are a little more friendly when you get on the throttle, the power works its way up. The YZ's have power right then and there. Good luck on choosing a bike.

Acerbis does make blue plastic to fit any bike.
 

CaNaDiAn,Eh?

#3
You might be a little bit short for it, but if you can find one just to sit on and see if you like it the KDX-220 is a great bike. It is a two stroke but it is friendly and much quieter than a motocross bike. If you think you could feel comfortable riding something at that height I would really recommend it!
 

pinball

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#4
I agree that the kdx-220 would be a good bike to start out with, but you might also look at the gasgas pampera ,or gasgas ec200,or the ktm exc 200.
 

GETMETOCA

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#7
I'm impressed by all your research and thought process into picking a new bike. But of course I like the orange bikes.

(bbbom...the blender? Remember?) Try not to piss the Canadians off, lol.
 
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#8
Hi Guys!! Thanks for all the input!!
From what I can see, I might have to try out one or two more bikes too. :)

The CR was comfortable-ish (as comfortable as something that sits that much higher than crotch height anyway) and I didn't loop it out right off,.. I thought that was a good sign.

I'm not sure who carries Kawasaki around here, but I'll look into it. I like the "quieter" thing. ;)

The BF thinks the ktm 200 might be a little much for me to handle, but they also have a 125 so we might look at that. I know of a dealer that carries them.

As for the gas gas bikes, they're not too easy to get parts for up here apparently, and I don't really recall running across any when I hit the shops and the used places.

Natalie - Thanks for the compliment! :) Part of the reason that I do the research is that it's part of my personality ( as a Computer person, I can be overly analytical) but also, I have too much time between when we can buy and when we'll be able to ride (I'm guessing another month - in fact, that's why the test ride on the CR was so short,.. the rest of the street was still covered in ice. :( )

Of Course, my first impulse was "I like blue bikes, guess it's time for a YZ125", but most of the used ones we've seen have been way more expensive than the CRs and totally beat to crap. One guy tried to tell us that it had only been riden twice then put away. The paint was rubbed off the subframe, and there was a Racing number on the fender....uhm....

I will report back this weekend once we've tried out the other two as well.

Thanks
stormi
 

Kokanee

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#9
Someone left the door to the ladies room open, and I think it was Pinball! Seriously though I would really consider a 2 stroke european bike (GasGas or KTM) The power on the enduro 200cc bikes are much more mellow than a 125cc motocross bike. They are very much like a 4 stroke down low and have the power that you need at higher revs. All this without the weight of a 4 stroke. On the list of bikes that you mentioned I would think for your heigt that the KX 100 would be the best choice. Almost the power of the 125 without the height. The KX 100 is an excellent bike and is nearly unbreakable. Hope this helps. If you guys are in Alberta, consider coming out to our ride in July, there will be lots of different bikes you can try out. the info is listed in the organized rides forum under Canada Ride 2004. :)
 

bbbom

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#10
Nice plug for the ride Kokanee! :thumb:

Don't worry Natalie, I would never jeapordize US/Canadian relations, especially when they have the blender!

Sorry pinball (now there's a new twist on the sorry declaration).

Stormi, like you said you need to try out the different bikes and if you can do so on the terrain you will be riding so much for the better. When I started looking for my second bike I tried everything I could get my hands on (no one had a KTM200 in our group back then) out of those I tried, I felt most comfortable on the pretty pink one (and I really don't even like pink).
 
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srellis

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#11
Don't rush your decision either. I went 8 months looking for my second bike (my first was a TTR125L) and tried so many, but they just didn't seem right. I picked up my CRF250X two weeks ago and I'm glad I waited. It was very hard to be patient. Once I got on the CRF, I knew it was for me. Good luck!
 

firecracker22

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#12
Ktm! Ktm! Ktm! Ktm!

Go orange!
I don't think the 200 KTM would be too much for you. It is pipey-er than the KDXs, but it's also MUCH MUCH lighter with infinitely better suspension. I started on a XR 200 and got the KTM after a year of riding the XR. I almost got a KDX and changed my mind as I was on my way to the dealership to sign papers. I am so glad I did. I love my bike. I did my plastic all in silver and it looks really nice that way.

The KTM in stock form can be lugged and ridden slow, but still likes to pick up and scream; the *huge* stock silencer keeps it quiet, and even with an FMF on it mine still isn't that loud; they sit a hair lower than CRs, and can be lowered easily via seat cutting or full on suspension work; they come with stuff for trail riding, which it sounds like you do, such as big tank, tall gearing, 18" rear tire, headlight/taillight, spark arrestor, big wide footpegs, hydraulic clutch, etc. Also, (LoriKTM, tell us more?) you can do stuff to mellow them out even more--I believe an additional flywheel weight is available, and gearing can be adjusted to give you better low-speed gear choices. Also some people have mentioned thicker base gaskets to change the compression ratio. Plus they are lighter than any of the four-strokes (except your TTR), and about the same as most 125s.

I took the lights, stock silencer and kickstand off mine--more to prevent breakage but also to lighten it up. I actually broke the kickstand off but I don't miss it that much. Aside from a couple of guards, tires, handlebars, plastic and SUSPENSION my KTM is mostly stock. I had a local guy revalve my suspension and wowee, what a difference.

The transition period is going to suck. No matter what you get, you will find that you can't get away with a lot of habits that the TTR let you do. That's ok--this too shall pass. It lasted about 2 months for me, maybe less. The worst part was the brakes and suspension not the power. I was prepared for the power difference although throttle control still took me awhile. However from faulty drum brakes to disc brakes is a big leap. At least your TTR has a front disc, that will help. Also the suspension almost makes you learn to ride all over again. It's stiffer--so it works better when you go fast, which doesn't happen much for me. No more sitting down to ride, let me tell you. I didn't do it much on the XR because I knew it was a bad habit. But I CAN'T do it on the KTM. My suspension is still a bit stiff for woods riding, and if I sit down it's like riding a ping-pong ball.

Not trying to scare you off--just trying to say that you can learn to ride just about anything if you set your mind to it, and don't get discouraged if you have a few bad days.

So anyway, grab a ride on one if you can. If you haven't made a final decision by the time mine is running again (blown up engine) you're welcome to try it although it's quite a trek down here for you. Have fun shopping! Plus if you get a bike that's not blue, you have an excuse to buy all new gear! (While I've had an orange bike for 3 years, I have only one piece of orange gear and that's the Shift coat I just bought.)
 
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#13
Hi Everyone!

After doing some research into the KTM, and on paper it sure looks like it might be what I've been looking for. I will have to see if I can grab a ride on one somewhere and see if it's in the running. Of course herein lies the problem ,... How smart is it for me to spend upwards of $8500 on a brand new bike that I might not like. We don't often see a lot of KTMs used, unless they're the mini bikes ( couple of 50s this week,...) Oh wait! Just found a brand new 2002 for $6000.... have to drive 350Kms each way for it though....

The biggest thing with bikes < 125cc is that they are so loud. I think we've decided to stay above that threshold, but otherwise the KX100 seemed a good choice.

Kokanee - We'd love to come, we'll have to see if the BF can get the time off. He usually works 6 days a week, so it's difficult to make a trip like that (almost 1900kms round trip), but we'll see. I'm my own boss, so I usually get the go ahead if I want to do something. :) I can't get to the word doc that you posted though, it said that I don't have sufficient permissions, so if you had any info you wanted to forward, I'd be interested. The BF was pretty interested when I mentioned it to him.

bbbom - do you have any suggestions of how to try these bikes out?? I can sit on them in most cases, but dealers won't let you ride them, used or not, and you have to drive a LOT to find ones worth riding from private sellers. Then of course there's the snow issue. That's actually been a source of unending frustration to me. I don't want to make a purchase like this based on "sitting" on a bike. I got to "drive" my Ranger before I bought it. Of course I understand the liability, new bike what if she crashes, etc,...

Then of course there are the dealers that I walk in saying for instance, I want a Yz125, and they say, wouldn't you prefer... such and such? and I never get within 20ft of the bike I want to see.

srellis - If I wait 8 months, I won't have a bike this season! :) I know what you're saying. I'm sort of leaning toward picking up a reasonably priced 2stroke bike (used) and riding it for the year, so I have a basis for comparison, then making the 'final" decision next year, when I have more experience to do it. Even my BF who's ridden for years hasn't been able to figure my riding style and preferences out yet. (I think it's mostly the sand dunes, because they challenge me the most, of course they frustrate me the most too, because the ttr was never meant for that sort of abuse.) I did ask him though what my bad habits are. (He seems to spend a lot of time behind me watching for some reason.) He said the only one I really have is sticking my feet out (off the pegs) when the bike starts to swap about.

firecracker22 - So what do you really think of KTMs? :) Your post had some great advice. I tend to stand on the TTR anyway, because, I don't know if it's true or not, but it sure feels like I have more time to recover her when she decided to swap on me, plus the whoops and various other surprises don't hurt the butt as much.

Last year I set the bar really high for myself for learning to ride the TTR, I'm sure I can do the same for the next bike. Thanks for the encouragement. How did you blow up the engine? I'm not sure where I'm going to be able to ride one, but I will definately keep looking around. You know, as for gear, I'd like a chance to break in the gear before I decide to get new stuff. :) It's only a few months old!
 

bbbom

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#14
The only way I've ever taken a test ride is on an actual outing - the other people are always more than willing to let you try out their bikes. I would usually wait until we all stopped for a break and then took the various bikes for a spin.

If I felt like the bike was a possible fit, I'd trade for part of the ride to see how it did in other sections.

I still trade bikes off & on, just to see how they compare and if I need a change.

I thought you were talking riding in the woods, sand dunes are a different story. The 125 may not be such a bad choice for sand but I'm no expert on sand or 125's.

I would recommend getting something reasonably close to what you think you want if you can find a good deal. I made the mistake of forking out big bucks on my KLX300 when I started riding and within a year I wanted something else. My second bike was much cheaper than my first bike and I enjoy riding my second bike a lot more than my first.
 
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#15
OMG!! What have I done?

Well,.. I've done it. :ohmy: Even though I originally nixed the idea of a KTM 200 EXC, I found one,.. and have put a deposit on it. We go to Calgary this saturday to pick it up. :yeehaw:

I didn't get a chance to ride it, since it's brand new. I can very nearly touch the ground with both feet without the sag set, and the seat -seems- narrower than the 125s and the 250s I've tried.

The dealer in Calgary had some brand new 2002 leftovers that they bought from the factory and were selling them for $5600. (Retailed for $8500 at this dealer originally) After having looked at several bikes that were 2 -3 yrs old and many beat to rat crap, the extra money seems to make sense.

Perhaps I'll look at a chest protector while I'm there. I suspect that the large power and braking power gains may neccessitate this last piece of gear I'm missing.

I feel a little like I might have stepped over that line dividing sanity and "the other side".