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Opinions on best dual sport bike?

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#1
Recently I've been thinking about purchasing a new dual sport bike. I've never had one or even a street bike (I'm total a dirt bike guy) but since my wife got a little Buell Blast and is having so much fun going on street bike rides with the group here in town I think I'd like to join her. Do any members have experience with the big, 650cc dual sports? I've been looking at the Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki along with the Suzuki DR400S. I don't have any brand preference and dirt manners arn't as important to me since I've already got a dirt bike.

My riding would consist of 200 mile day trips with speeds of 55-75mph and I have to climb a 2200' pass every time I leave town. I'm wondering if the 400 would be a little small for that type of usage. The reason I don't just get a street bike is that I still want to be able to explore dirt roads and easy trails when I am riding by myself. Plus, there are not a whole lot of paved roads in Alaska so a pure street bike would be really boring to me. Presently I'm leaning towards the KLR 650 because of the big tank, liquid cooling and price. I'm not brand loyal, just seems like the best deal. Any opinions?
 
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#2
I've always been a Honda guy having owned an XL 600 ('83 enduro) but recently I switched to a '94 Suzuki DR 350 SE. It is also and enduro and a wonderful one at that. The electric starter is great and the bike feels real solid.

Before I ramble off topic about my bike and away from your question, I would say give the new Suzuki DRZ 400 a good look. It is supposed to be 1 great bike! I've also heard really good things about the Yamaha WR series bikes, especially the big one!

Hope this helps.
 
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#4
from the looks of the replies, i'm not sure anyone actually read all the words in your post. you pretty much perfectly described what the klr650 is good at. day trips, touring, etc... i have only ridden the xr650l a little bit, but it's generally not reputed to be nearly the street machine that the klr is. the drz400e might be a good choice, if you could do something about the seat for a 200 mile ride. you probably already know that the klr is too heavy and ungainly for anything more than fireroads and easy trails, but as you say, dirt manners not that important.

if you wanted to still be able to do serious dirt riding, i'd say look elsewhere, but for light dirt, and lots of street and dirt roads and traveling, the klr is comfortable for the long haul, cheap, reliable, easy to work on, and has tons of aftermarket stuff for adventure touring. i have 21k miles on mine in 18 months, and it hasn't let me down yet.
mw
 
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#5
I think you are right-every other bike except the KLR is going to break your butt on long rides. My XR starts killing me after 100 miles, same for the DRZ-S. For what you are describing, the KLR or a BMW F650 or GS are the only bikes that will fit and the KLR is much more affordable and offroadable. It will take you some time to get used to that 400 or so pounds of weight offroad, though. I ride with a guy that has a KLR650 and he can go everywhere that I go on my bikes-but he's a good rider.
 
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#6
Wow 21,000 miles! I was curious how the KLR held up. Is the KLR the same as the old KLX 650? I seem to remember from the old magazine tests that the KLX had a problem with overheating. I don't know if that is an issue for the KLR.

The BMW's were the first bikes I considered of since I see a lot of tourists on them during the summers. I checked out the 1150 and 650 when I was in Fairbanks and was shocked by the prices. The 650 didn't seem like a huge improvement over the KLR, DR or Honda.

I'm curious how the dual purpose bikes treat you on a long ride on pavement, say 200 miles. So far everyone who has street bikes in town tells me I'm crazy to consider a dual sport since, according to them, they tire you out too much. Is that true? Both Dave'sDRZ and spankymarker mentioned the seat. Is it really bad? What tires you out, vibration, wind, seating postion?

Finally does the DRZ400S cruise along at speed as easily as a DR650S? They are the same price and the 400 weighs 40lbs less. If I go by Dirt Bike's buyers guide, they said the 400 was the bike to get. But, I hold Dirt Bike suspect when it comes to recommending bikes. It seems like if it isn't a brand new design then it isn't worth a poop.
 
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#7
the drz seat is a real dirt bike seat,narrow and hard. good for offroad, not good for planting your butt on for hours.

as for the klr, most klr owners would not consider 200 miles to be a particularly long ride. i'm good for about 10 hrs/day of riding, after that i get tired. it would probably be the same on any bike. compared to most of the more dirt-worthy dual-sports, the klr has:
1. better wind protection. the little toy fairing actually keeps all the wind off your chest.
2. smoother engine. vibration is not a problem for me at all.
3. wider seat.
4. more weight, which might make it less susceptible to cross winds.

i rode my klr from riverside CA to la paz a couple months ago. 2 1/2 days down, several days lounging and drinking, then 2 days back. i was tired, but i'd expect to be after 1500 miles of mixed dirt and pavement. i also rode to moab and back last year.

note that the klr650 is a completely different bike than the klx650, and significantly more reliable from what i understand. check out http://www.dualsport.org/ for more klr info. there's also a review of the dr650. the dr is physically too small for me (i'm 6-2).

i agree that bmw's are way overpriced. they're also significantly heavier than even the klr, which is just ridiculous. you might consider checking out the klr owners group on yahoo. there are lots of guys on that group with 30k or more miles. one fellow is up around 80-90k now on his, with no problems at all.
email me at mweaver@niku.com if you have trouble finding the klr mailing list.
mw
 
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#8
The XR and the DRZ-S are both really tall. Te DR650 and the KLR650 have a much lower seating position. The KLR is the only one with a comfortable seat-we call my buddy's "the couch". If you will mainly ride dirt, then the DRZ-s would be the bike to get (unless you have the dough for a KTM). The DRZ-S is a new design and kicks butt over the DR650-I'd suspect that it has more power (but maybe not torque) over most dualpurpose 650's. The suspension is also excellent over the rest of the bikes in it's class. Knobby tires are noisy on pavement, they will slide if you lean the bike over far enough, and they wear out pretty fast (2500 miles is considered good). For touring, they offer "dualsport" tires that last longer, but are also less agressive. I think thumpers are by design a little buzzy. The DRZ-s is the least buzzy of the bike's I've ridden. The dualsport group I ride with likes the DRZ-S, but we ride mostly trails. I'd say the XR650L next and then the DR650. My buddy with the KLR has toured most of the western US, much of it with his wife on the back. There is no way in the world I do that on either the XR or the DRZ-S.

To me the main negatives on the KLR are:
1) Weight-Got to be pushing 400lbs with gas(6 gallons)-add rider and gear and that's a serious pig offroad
2)Suspension-bike is low to begin with and the weak suspension causes it to bottom out easily-they have better springs to fix this-plastic skid plate is a joke

Pluses:
1)Engine is a tractor-not spunky, but lots of power that builds
2)comfy seat-you sit instead of stand over the bumps
3)fairing provides needed wind protection
4)great range-my buddy goes over 300 miles on a tank-compare that to my XR with a 4 gallon tank (120 miles before reserve) or my DRZ-S with stock tank (90 miles before reserve)

Hope this helps you--David
 
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#9
Thanks guys. I checked out the dual sport site and was pleased to find info on the KLR. The internet is amazing! At this point I have just started to mull over the possibilty of getting a bike. I'd like to get one this summer but I ordered a snowmachine so I have to save up for that. By next year I will be ready to go. The dual sport site said the KLR had been manufactured for 13 years. Does anyone know if Kawi is planning on a new model? Next time I'm in Anchorage I'm going to have to check out the DRZ 400 S. The seat height could be a problem for me depending on how stiff the suspension is.

The weight of these dual sports is intimidating. 400lbs for the KLR is downright scary. Do they make a larger tank for the DRZ? Are their any new dual sport models rumored to be coming out? I was surprised to see that Yamaha doesn't offer anything bigger than the 225.
 
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#10
Originally posted by Dave'sDRZ:
"4)great range-my buddy goes over 300 miles on a tank-compare that to my XR with a 4 gallon tank (120 miles before reserve) or my DRZ-S with stock tank (90 miles before reserve)"

Your XR only gets 30 mpg???
Sure thats not a CR?? LOL
My XL500 gets roughly 50 to 65 mpg........offroad.
(maybe im not riding it hard enough, sure feels hard though!)

:eek:
 
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#11
That thing under the grip on the right side is a throttle-you might try twisting it sometime. :) I have done some mods to the jetting, airbox, ect. I have gone 160 mi before, but 120 is much more common-technically that's on 3.5 gallons as the tank has a .5 gallon reserve. My buddy with the KLR gets about 45mpg at the worst-on the highway he can get 60mpg+. On long rides I just strap an extra gas can on my rack-I either carry it or stash it if we're doing a long loop.
 

HiG4s

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#12
With dual sports it depends on just how much dirt vs street you need and how serious you are about dirt. For a serious dirt bike that is legal to street the VOR503 Enduro comes to mind. It has DOT approved knobbies, turn signals (usally the dealers only put them on if asked) and a streetable title here in the US. For a serious street bike that you can take in the dirt the BMWs are the ticket. Everything else is inbetween. KTM makes a 400 and two different 640 dualsports. All liquid cooled with many of the features of their Enduro racing bikes. For lower priced duals, the Kawasaki, Suzuki and Honda bikes are all decent but somewhat heavy. Now again, depending on how much road time you will be spending n the bike, that could be a good thing. Heavier bikes don't get blown around as much by semi-trucks. To check out the KTMs go to www.ktmusa.com
 
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#13
I have a XR650R dual sported that is not too bad.

One of the magazines picked the Husky 610 as the best dual sport bike.

Got any Husky dealers in your neighborhood?

KLR650.... um, I can ride my Yam TDM850 in the dirt just about as well, and the Yam is about four times as fast on the street.
 
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#15
The KTM's look pretty nice, very dirt orientated, and very expensive. For that kind of money I think I'd go with a BMW. I don't know of any Husky dealers up here, but I think their bike is also very dirt orienated. I don't know what a Yam TDM 850 is but I don't want a pure street bike since they totally suck off pavement. Some of our major roads in Alaska are still dirt, and most of the interesting roads are dirt so street bikes are out the the question to me. Realistically I think either the KLR or the DRZ 400S are the two I'm going to look at seriously. I keep hoping that more choices will come out since even Dirt Bike said dual sports will be the next big thing but I'm not going to hold my breath.
 
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