Originally Posted by lhendrik
The more I read, the less I think the KTM is anything I would ever be able to ride on the street, while heading to the dirt. The DR-Z 400 seems like it will do the street very well, and hang in there in the dirt. I was particularly troubled to read about the maintenance requirements of the KTM, it almost seemed like you need to rebuild the motor frequently, but maybe I am misreading.....
I am a R12GS rider that got hooked into more and more off-road stuff that led me to buying a light weight dual sport. I see myself a little a head of you and can readily identify where you are.
The advice that I got over and over was that the KLX250, WR250R, and DRZ-400 are the best of the lightweight, easy to handle, great low maintenance platforms to both learn on and ride forever.
I had to be different and ended up with a Husaberg FE390, which is essentially an uprated KTM. The bike is a blast and handles a lot like a mountain bike. Feels plenty light, lots of low end torque. I am confident (but without the actual experience to say) that it is more nimble and responsive that the lightweight DS's I mentioned above. The downside is that it, like many of the KTM's, have to be converted to be street legal--no big deal but can add to the costs depending on the bike, have very small oil reservoirs demanding frequent oil changes, and the foam air filter needs to be cleaned constantly. The bikes often have small gas tanks requiring an aftermarket fuel tank, and the lights often suck. It short, the exotics are lots of fun but you pay for it in time and money.
The KLR's and DR650s are easier to handle "big" bikes akin in a lot of ways to the GS in my view. You won't cry when you drop these bikes like you will the GS, but in my view it was just a variation of the same genre of bike. They may be easier to handle than the GS (maybe), but I don't think by much, and certainly not enough for me to have justified that path.
Anything much bigger in the dirtbike class like the 450s and up I gather are a lot of bike for a beginner, although there are ways to tame them down.
For what its worth. Hope this helps.