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Discussion Starter #1
I'm completely new to motorcycles, and other than taking notes into a text file while reading articles on stuff I have no personal experience or knowledge of things even yet. I just read the advice of having your first motorcycle be a dirt bike, to get used to low traction riding and to have something designed to be dropped without hurting it until you have a few times since it's going to happen anyways.

Although i'm sort of planning on starting on some small 250cc-ish dual sport that's not the specific advice i'm looking for. :) I'm more curious on what to plan for or expect a little further down the road... you could even say what questions I should be asking in the future for after when I get a year of riding done or so.

I've been told I might even want to keep the 250cc - notably moreso than in the 'street' bike world simply because a light smaller bike can go places a bigger heavier one cant. On a street bike a 'light' one might be 600cc which can weigh barely more than 250cc but I saw it suggested that dual sports can be even lighter at small displacements and one could still have a place to keep to get up and over things even if it lacks range or power.



So this isn't even asking for specific models or somesuch but rather "what should I start reading to educate myself further to even know how to ask GOOD questions?" Or do I just have to get out and ride before I can even know what to ask? As a random example, i'd heard it suggested that KTM's were expensive to buy, but cheaper than fully modified bikes while outperforming them.. (I don't even have that brand awareness yet so it's new to me) Yet if performance came at the cost of a high strung unreliable engine I wouldn't want one which i've also seen suggested. Among the more common brands it sounds like they all have plusses and minuses for different models at different levels though with no clear winner or common traits across the board. (if i'm wrong and "hondas are always X, and kawasakis are always Y" from 250cc thru 700cc by all means correct me)
 

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Canuckastani
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How tall are you?
 

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Well ALL of that was confusing :laughing:
If you have zero experience riding motorcycles, stay away from a 600cc street/sport bike. Your size will somewhat dictate what you should start out with. If you have off-road trails around you, go buy a $500-1000 dirt bike and start learning how to ride, balance, start and stop.
As for what questions to ask later, figure it out when you want to know something. There are people of all riding styles and bike types in this forum. Someone will have an answer
 

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I've been riding for about 15 years or so and just got really into dual sports about 4 years ago. I started dual sporting on a KLR 250, went to KTM 450exc, KLR 650, then to a WR250R, then a KTM 250xcf-w....and finally I currently have a plated CRF250X and a 650 Versys for fast gravel and road traveling.

The type of bike you pick needs to be suited to the type of riding you plan to do. I like small displacement bikes because here in Ohio we have tight woods trails. If you live in the southwest and plan on desert bombing, you may want a bigger displacement with a real suspension. My typical dual sport weekend is gravel back roads with some trail work, the WR250r was the ideal bike for that as it is sub 300 pounds, has decent power, decent suspension, decent fuel range, great reliability, it really is the best all around bike out there if you are going to own just one bike.

My style of riding has shifted to where I am doing more single track and technical trails, so I wanted to switch to a lighter bike with good suspension, but still be able to do a few hundred miles of gravel. That is why I switched to the CRF.


SO, how big are you and what type of riding to you plan to do where?
 

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Yes what type of riding? Also keep in mind you may not like that type of riding. I would plan on whatever bike you get you'll only have for about a year. You'll need seat time to figure out what you want.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
How tall are you?
6 foot. I sat on a ninja 250R and it felt too short for me wanting a higher seat. I sat on a Vstrom 650 and it felt too tall, but the weight had something to do with that. One legging a lighter bike might be fine. Adventure-touring feel too heavy period to sit on.

If you have zero experience riding motorcycles, stay away from a 600cc street/sport bike. If you have off-road trails around you, go buy a $500-1000 dirt bike and start learning how to ride, balance, start and stop.
Well I was told "start with a dirt bike, because 1) you WILL drop it and they're made to take that, and 2) learn low traction riding first". So that when I later have a street bike, if I find myself on the gravel or the grass trying to avoid an accident at 55mph i'm not freaking out. (as multiple youtube videos have shown me)

Since I have to ride on the road to get to the off road it will have to be a dual sport though legally.

I know to avoid 600cc - and I know to distrust the honda dealership that thought a 600cc full racing tuck was an appropriate first bike to sell me, I think it was an R6-something. But 650cc twin with torque is different so that's my upper max.

I was suggested "anything 250-650cc that's not a race bike" is a good starting range.

Even after I learn how to ride properly for like a commuter bike though i'd like a dual sport that can take me off road to interesting camping spots with no services.


SO, how big are you and what type of riding to you plan to do where?
6 foot and mostly finding off the beaten path camping spots in northern or southeast minnesota. Also commuting and commute-highway use up to 27mi one way if it saves gas over a geo metro. In the future I might want to do some travel but that will be the 2nd bike/not what I start with.

Yes what type of riding? Also keep in mind you may not like that type of riding. I would plan on whatever bike you get you'll only have for about a year. You'll need seat time to figure out what you want.
Thats sorta the advice i'm trying to follow... I don't even fully know what I want yet, but want something to let me taste some of my offroad options here in the midwest for now.


My confusing-i-guess comments about KTM's are that if I end up keeping the first bike (having more than one is fine, I have 1/2 car-slot parking available to fit 2) I might want something better as a lightweight offroad+ commuter like 250cc something plus something more competent offroad/long travel (both in suspension and fuel range) like a klr400/650. But I was told "don't spend thousands modifying it trying to make it into a KTM because it still wont be".

So i'm mostly bouncing advice i've gotten elsewhere off here to see if i'm on the right track or not. :p While wondering if I need to learn more in general before I take the plunge, or just get my ass onto the saddle because i'm ready to start to ride...
 

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Can you rent a bike anywhere near you? That may be a faster and easier way to see what you like, or at least what different ones feel like.
 

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If you want to ride the freeway, I would get a 400 atleast. Rode a friends CRF250L and it was 6th gear pinned just to go freeway speeds. Get an old drz400 or see if you can borrow ANY bike and get riding
 

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Wr 250r with a 290 kit makes for an impressive almost indestructable bike, DRZ 400s are tanks with unsurpassed relability and you can get any part you ever need off Ebay. Best bet is to ride as many bikes as you can and see what fits you.
 

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Rode a friends CRF250L and it was 6th gear pinned just to go freeway speeds.

I put 25,000 miles on a CBR250R, same engine, throttle is pinned, but the engine isn't anywhere near redline and our freeways are nothing like where the OP lives. I could get 87mph out of the little CBR250R.
 

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I also recommend the WR250R/X, it is the swiss army knife of dual sports, and mine would cruise at 70 without too much issue. THey are tallish, but i am 5'10" with a 33" inseam and had no issues on it. If it really is too tall, it's pretty easy to lower them up to 3" with a link and seat change.
 

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Canuckastani
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What about KLR or Dr650, both can be had at a decent price used.
 

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personal opinion...

XR 250 or 650. The 250 will have less power and a lighter weight to get used to, but it will also suck to ride 30 miles to work. They are however little tanks and are hard to kill. The 650 will ride better on the street but it will be a beast off road too.
 

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I would be looking at:
  1. WR250R
  2. 2006-2007 KLX250S
  3. CRF250L

The WR250R is the stock performance leader out of the 3, the KLX has easy 300 and 351 engine upgrades and the CRF is cheap. All three have reasonable aftermarket support and if you buy a decent used one, ride it for a year and decide to go a different way chances are you will not loose any / too much $$$ in the deal.
Great suggestions. First bike you'll want electric start. I wouldn't discount a drz400. The crf and klx weight almost the same as the drz400. The aftermarket is great on all the bikes. I have an older klx kickstart only i love it. But mine has been worked over majorly.
 

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thhhpptthh!
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I'm going to throw in my vote for an xr400 with a plate.

Street legal, indestructable, mellow to learn on, but enough bike to grow into.

Not the best at anything but can easily handle both highway commuting and technical singletrack.

Loved mine.
 

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