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Discussion Starter #1
My son-in-law and I are seriously considering getting dual sports. I already have 3 road bikes, so the intent will be on more off than on road. Tried to think this whole thing through: max distance traveled on road to get to dirt roads & trails, how often we'd use them, how often we might even trailer them (longer distance & overniters).
Kind'a narrowed it down to the Suzuki DR650, Honda XR650, or even the Suzuki DX400 (think that's the right designation). Only thing about the 400 is the engine size - little small - but the trail weight is inviting. KLR650 and Vstrom are too big and too much road for the intended purpose. Don't want to spend a fortune, so KTM and BMW are both out.
Any thoughts? Anybody doing the same thing, or riding any of these?
Would appreciate thoughts and opinions.
Thanks,
Frank
 

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Frank,
Interestingly, my son-in-law and I just made that decision and recently bought dual sports.

He ended up buying a 2007 Honda XR 650 and I bought a 2005 Suzuki DR 650, both off of Craigs List. He paid $3800 for his...I paid $2700 for mine. Both had less than 6000 miles on them. We both initially considered the KLR 650, but after reading about all the problems guys have with them on the forums, we removed them from our consideration. Here's beta on the two bikes:

Honda XR 650- His bike was already very well equipped for off road riding (answers some of the price difference). Additional equipment included: new knobbies, FMF performance exhaust/headers, skid plate, extended range fuel tank, Bark Buster hand guards, reduced gearing and a few other small improvements that most XR 650 owners make to the bike. It is a VERY tall bike. My son-in-law is 6'8" and can just barely flat foot the bike.

Suzuki DR 650- My bike was basically stock, with upgraded gel seat, aluminum billet tail rack, new battery and new street tires. The DR is really set up pretty well from the factory for off road use, but I've added the following to make it more trail ready: skid plate, Bark Buster hand guards, engine guards, upgraded handlebars (stockers are very flimsy- DAMHIK), IMS 4.9 gal fuel tank (in natural color so you can see the fuel level) and new knobbies. I've also swapped out the stock 15T front gear for a 14T. This gives the bike more low end grunt and reduces first gear so it's better for trail crawling.

The bike is still in my shop as I finish the equipment installs, but I'll post a picture in the next couple of days.

One other thought. As you get into dual sport riding, buy the right gear. Right after we got our bikes, my son-in-law wanted to ride a local dual sport route over the Cascades called the Naches Trail. The trail has two routes, one is a logging road the other is a 4X4 trail. Both close in the winter, so we didn't have a lot of time to ride it this season. I was hesitant to go since I didn't have my bike set up for trails yet, but we decided if we stayed on the logging road, I wouldn't have any problems. Well, all was fine until we took a wrong turn and ended up on the 4X4 route. Nothing but mud, ruts, tree roots and standing water...working uphill through the Cascade pass. As you can imagine, my street tires were something less than WORTHLESS in these conditions. I made it, but did drop the bike a couple of times. Not a big deal for the bike as it's built to take it, but I was wearing my street touring boots at the time and I now understand why off road boots are built so much heavier. On one of the drops, I was unable to get my foot out from under the bike because of the terrain and the bike came down on my foot. It didn't break anything, but suffice it to say I was hobbling around for a couple of weeks with a VERY sore foot. I'm now the proud owner of a nice pair of Alpinstar Tech 3 off road boots (did I mention getting into dual sport riding is a great excuse for some cool new gear). :D

Good luck with your decision!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the input Larry. Funny too, as my son-in-law started with the Honda 650. We did everything we could do to turn it into a V-Strom, and he finally got pissed and sold it. Bought a V-strom, and sold it. Bought the KTM 990 Adventure, and sold that too. He's coming back full circle to the Honda, and his wife, my daughter, had put he foot down - NO HONDA for her own sanity.
I keep gravitating to the DR 650. Seems like I recall that the stock DR outran the tweaked Honda easily. Been reading a lot about suspension upgrades, and it really seem the way to go.
We may head over the hill to Salem and test the DRZ400 just to see if it could do the highway portion adequately, but I'm holding out little hope.
Thanks again,
Frank
 

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I had also considered the DRZ 400, which really would be the perfect combination of power and agility for dirt riding. But since we really want these bikes to be dual sport, the DR 650 is just much better on the road.

One other comment on the DR 650. I mentioned how TALL the XR 650 is, which pretty much eliminated it for my consideration. I'm 5'8" with a 32" inseam and I can flat foot the DR 650. It is lower from the factory than either the XR 650 or the KLR 650, so that was an important factor for me.

I actually found my DR 650 fairly close to you, in Eugene, OR. I happened to be flying down there on business and had some extra time, so I took some riding gear with me and went to take a look at the bike. It was exactly what I was looking for and the price was right, so I bought it on the spot, geared up and rode it home. After touring for years on my K1200LT, it felt like I was back on my 70's Honda CB550, tucked in behind an 18 wheeler. Deja vu all over again. Great fun.
 

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I have a DR 650 as well as my 12GS. Just returned from a 1400 mile ride of the Oregon Outback Trail and CA lost coast. We rode the whole distance from Sacto CA

When we do Baja we trailer to San Diego.

The DR is decent off road but not as good as my buddy's XR (I have electric start though) It's OK on the road too if you're not in a hurry just because of power. Be prepared to spend some $$$ on either to upgrade suspension and subframe on the XR if you want to carry any luggage.

I would look at the types of roads you're going to ride and base the decision on that. For your typical fire road/ forest service roads a bike like the 800GS of Tiger is all you need and is MUCH better on the pavement. I only added the 650 after we started doing some gnarly single track stuff in Baja that would have been really tough on the GS.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yep, sadly, depending on how sophisticated a suspension one wants, $300-$600 for the rear, $100-$300 for the front. And probably $300-$400 for a seat and a couple'a hundred more for a larger fuel tank.
I tried to think back to when I ever owned any bike that didn't need a suspension and/or seat upgrade. So far, the FZ1 is the only stock suspension that's actually worked, but it's seat sucked badly too. Sort'a frustrating.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, we took the plunge. I got an older DR650, and the son-in-law got a newer DRZ400. May not be long before we know which of us made the right choice, and who goofed. We shall see.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the links, but I ended up with a '94 - less than 10,000 miles and clean. Problem with that though is that all the really good accessories are for '96 and up. Not a ton of stuff for '94 or '95. About all I really wanted was a large tank - this one has 5.3 gallons so I'm good, and I wanted to upgrade the suspension. I took it out today and not sure I really need to worry about it just yet.
It's been a long time since I was on a dirt bike, and I was a little worried. After today? ME LIKEY!!! :p
 
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