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Old 04-21-2013, 02:22 PM   #1
rystjohn OP
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Educated Newbie Advice, first bike. Help please!

Hey, I'm sure there are thousands of other posts like this, but I can't seem to find a comparison or advice between the two.

Mainly I'm asking financial advice here.

I'm about to order some River Road Scout Textile pants & jacket as well as some kind of hi-viz vest. Also, a hi-viz helmet of sorts. I'm debating now on an AFX FX120 or AFX FX140. Main difference being price and modular capability. Oddly the modular costs less...but I know the whole saying of "if you have a $10 head, purchase a $10 helmet." I'm a mountain biker and road cyclist and always am willing to pay for good protection, but I also have to respect that I have limited funds. The other options I've looked at are the GMAX G11D and the Bell Revolver EVO. Of these, am I at least on a good track? I've been doing as much research as I possibly can, reading reviews, etc, but I'd like to have some interactivity and hear back from other people.

And now the main question:

Some background info: I know I should start off small, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. I'm 25, 5'10" 160lbs and roughly a 34 inseam. I literally today just completed my MSF BRC course and feel much more confident on a bike, but not enough to jump up to a 650 or anything. I want to start small, around 250, and hone my skills, learn more, get more confidence, etc. I'm going to be doing mostly pavement riding, but want the ability to head down a forest road and maybe some bike trails as my skills progress. But for the most part I will be commuting around town and possibly a few short trips (300 miles one way at most) on side-roads and highways. For all purposes, I might also wind up riding this bike for years and years to come, and find that this is the perfect size for me. Another variable is that I'm probably going to be moving West at some point with my lady, and I'm going to want to be able to bring the bike with me in my pickup. I've got a huge pickup, so that's no problem. My budget is around 5K, with about 1K of that going towards safety gear

Option A I'm scouring Craigslist right now here in Asheville and the surrounding areas. I've found a few bikes in the 250cc range, and most are in preferred price range of 3K or less, however I don't know their history and their reliability. I'm new to bikes so I'm not totally sure what to look for and I don't want something that's going to break down when I'm in the middle of nowhere. I've owned waaay too many used cars over the past year or two, and they've all done this to me, so I'm kinda hesitant to buy a used cycle too. I have plenty of experience working on engines (I owned a 1984 VW Vanagon for a long time, you kinda are forced to learn mechanics with those ol' gals) but I don't have experience with bike motors. I plan on learning everything I can, but I don't want to buy a bike that will turn into a "project" bike or something that I'm going to have to sink more and more money into down the line just to keep it running. So the pro here is mainly that I will be spending less up front, but who knows how much down the line.

Option B I've also found a few bikes from local dealers for around the $4,500 mark. I figure I might be able to talk them down to $4K, I hope. My thoughts on this are: they will have a manufacturers warranty, the chances of them having problems (both serious and minor) will be reduced, and they will resell for a better price than an already-used bike. Also, I will support my local dealer economy. Also, I'll have to admit that this will allow me to get a bike SOONER (rather than waiting for the right one to come along on CL) and I'll be able to ride sooner and start developing my skills. The only cons are that I'll be dropping a lot of money now, and when I do eventually drop the bike, it's gonna hurt that it's new and all. Also a lot of the new ones are EFI, and for some reason that scares me. I doubt it'll give me any issues, but I feel like a carburator is easier to tinker with when in the middle of nowhere compared to the EFI electronics and such. But that's just me being paranoid. After all, my 30 year old VW had EFI and it still worked. Barely, but it worked.

Bikes I'm looking at (EDITED 23 April 18:27 EST):

  • Honda CRF250L $4500 <--- This is the one I'm leaning towards most in the new
  • Yamaha XT250
  • Kawasaki KLX 250S
  • Suzuki DR200SE

  • Suzuki DR200SE with 3,200 miles $2500
  • 2005 Yamaha XT 225 with a hitch rack, straps, etc to haul the bike. 6800 miles $2800
  • 2009 Kawasaki Super Sherpa with 336 miles $3,400 <--- This is the one I'm leaning towards most of the used, as of today EDITED 23 April 18:27 EST

Thank you to everyone who reads this massive post and responds with their advice and opinions. You're helping cultivate a new rider who wants to become an educated and safe rider in the community.


rystjohn screwed with this post 04-23-2013 at 03:29 PM
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Old 04-21-2013, 02:51 PM   #2
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I haven't ridden the CRF250L but reports would indicate that one would likely match your needs well.

As a similar size guy I can tell you that the DR200 & XT225 are probably a bit small for anything more than local riding. The XT250 is borderline.

Keep an eye out for a Yamaha WR250R also- they fill a similar niche to the KLX & CRF-L.

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Old 04-21-2013, 05:22 PM   #3
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A used DS will probably come with things like a skid plate, radiator guards, and some sort of Barkbuster already installed.
And most of the bikes you listed are pretty bullet proof.
Since you will drop it, not when, Barkbusters can save big money that you might otherwise spend on new levers and perches or bars.
I bought a new KLX250S(still carbed in 2013, btw) and added all that stuff to go off-roading. It wasn't cheap. But I got exactly what I wanted.
The bike needs protection, just like you do. The bike and I have augered in more than a few times and neither of us has sustained any serious (ride ending) damage.
The Fly Trekker is a nice DS helmet for around $130, comes in Hi-Viz too.
Good luck with the search.
And I understand about wanting it now, but deals come up here, deals worth waiting for....just saying.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:23 PM   #4
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I think you're right on track. Any smaller DS bike has its limitation, but so do larger ones. Having a truck you can throw your bike in puts you at a huge advantage,I think it opens up way more possibilities.

Buying a popular bike has its benefits to, there are always a lot of used parts around. People will sometime strip their farkles off and sell them separately from their bike, you can then get some decent parts for way less then new. That always helps out when you starting out and you're buying everything.

I think your budget sounds about right, bike, good gear and you've got some room for upgrades.

Buy good gear, it'll probably outlast the bike you start out with... the Fly trekker is a great recommendation for a helmet, and goes to show you don't have to spend a lot of money to get worthwhile gear. Good gear doesn't cost a lot, but crap gear does.

anyway, happy hunting!
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:35 PM   #5
Morgan Steele
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Originally Posted by csf View Post
i think you're right on track.
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Old 04-21-2013, 08:29 PM   #6
rystjohn OP
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Thanks everyone so far. I really appreciate you taking the time to read my lengthy post and respond. In your opinions, would you go new or used bike?
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Old 04-21-2013, 08:49 PM   #7
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I've never had a problem with a used bike I bought. Some do need attention more than others, but if you know what to look for, or have a buddy who can help, you should be fine.
At the end of the day, YOU have to have peace of mind. If buying new gives you that, and you're able to, go new.
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Old 04-21-2013, 09:23 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by rystjohn View Post
Thanks everyone so far. I really appreciate you taking the time to read my lengthy post and respond. In your opinions, would you go new or used bike?
I'd go back and EDIT your first post down by about 60%. Keep it short, sweet and to the point.

Skip the gear evaluations/opinions for now. Start another thread for that.

... and by all means ... as a NEW rider, BUY USED. And take an MSF rider training course. Practice Practice Practice.

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Old 04-21-2013, 09:24 PM   #9
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My friend/roommate of similar stature who had minimal street bike experience just bought a new crf250l. A little smaller than other dualsports but handles all the local gravel, single track, and trails just fine. Does pretty good on the highway compared to my dr350 too. Figure <500 for hand guards, skid plate, rad guards and a few other things an it will be well set up for trail. So far he has ran the piss out of it and hasn't missed a beat.
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Old 04-22-2013, 09:41 PM   #10
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At 5'10/34" inseam, your probably going to want a bike with a full-size frame...WR250R or KLX250S are better choices than the other small bikes mentioned.

That said, be aware that even a DR650SE thumper is as light as some multi-cylinder 250cc streetbikes, and not a whole lot more powerful until it's uncorked. It's not like riding a 45+HP race-ready SM with a hard hit of power. It's a bit more forgiving. Where something like a DR650 will often seem too big and powerful is when riding technical dirt as a noob. I wouldn't really want to start out on anything this heavy in technical dirt as a kid with his very first moto, but it is a quite easy bike for an adult of your size and training to begin to ride on pavement first, and then transition into easy trails. Stripped of 20lb from the common swaps of heavy muffler, battery, rear underfender, mirrors, and metal tank, the DR is only around 40lb heavier than the 250s, and even more weight can be shaved off (handles, helmet lock, passenger pegs, huge taillight, etc.). If you had an easy time of passing the BRC, you may not have any issue with a mild-powered and sub-400lb 650 thumper as a first streetbike. The Rider's Edge BRC uses 500cc Buell Blast thumpers that aren't really any easier to handle than a DR.

As for gear, if the helmet is DOT and/or Snell approved, the protection is similar. Does it fit YOU comfortably? Extra price after DOT/Snell is brand, lightness, quietness, features, and luxury. I wouldn't spend more than $150 for a helmet. My $70 Vega Attitude is noticeably not as cushy as a $500 Arai, but it has the same DOT approval and is comfortable enough for me. You have me wondering though, why you want to wear a hi-viz vest over a jacket, rather than just wear a hi-viz jacket? Check out TourMaster Flex pants and something like a hi-viz Tourmaster Sonora or Intake mesh, or Icon Hooligan 2 Mil-Spec hi-viz mesh jacket. Summer gets hot without mesh, and these hi-viz jackets all have insulated liners for cooler weather too. The 3/4-length touring-cut Sonora will also accept chest armor in front pockets, like some of the pricier Alpinestars jackets do.
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Old 04-23-2013, 04:18 AM   #11
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CRF250L sounds perfect for you.

I was looking at one, but I'm 6'2", 225. A bit much for a little 250.
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Old 04-23-2013, 06:19 AM   #12
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I own a new CRF250L and I'm 6'1" and 230 and the bike will carry me just fine. I didn't buy the bike as a road bike I have other bikes for that, but up to 55-60mph the bike is a blast to ride, just what I wanted for my off road riding and zipping around town, great fun bike and does everything I wanted in a bike of that size. The bike offers everything that todays riders want in a modern bike, water cooled, fuel injection, great fuel mileage, and Honda quality. Take it from a old guy 68 year old and probably have had over 50 plus bikes and still counting over the years.


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Old 04-23-2013, 07:34 AM   #13
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What weight is it sprung for though? The one I tried was really soft.
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Old 04-23-2013, 01:35 PM   #14
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I buy bikes to ride, personally I don't get all caught up in the suspension and power thing, this bike probably won't work for everyone, but I'm riding mine and it works for me.

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Old 04-23-2013, 02:25 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by rystjohn View Post

  • Honda CRF250L $4500 <--- This is the one I'm leaning towards most in the new - Is okay
  • Yamahaw XT250 Junk - too heavy and gutless, air cooled and old tech
  • Kawasaki KLX 250S - Girl or kids bike. totally gutless. Can be punched out and upgraded. It's a bland version of the old KDX which was stellar.
  • Suzuki DR200SE - should be a mini bike.

  • Suzuki DR200SE with 3,200 miles $2500 <--- This is the one I'm leaning towards most of the used
  • 2005 Yamahaw XT 225 with a hitch rack, straps, etc to haul the bike. 6800 miles $2800 Absolutely gutless
  • 2000 Yamahaw XT350 with 11,000 miles. $1800 Too old, old technology
My opinion of the above in orange. If you can swing it get the CRF250. It's gutless too, but it's a nice little bike for a smaller person or a beginner.

For a trailbike on the cheap, see if you can find a KDX 200/220, or even a KLX230 4-stroke. Probably none plated. Or a WR250F. Now there's a real trailbike.

If you want a competent adventure bike the WRR would get a nod, a bit down on power but way popular nonetheless. This is where the CRF250 would land.

Forget the CRF230, too heavy and gutless, crappy suspension.

On the cheap a DRZ400 would be good. Heavy for offroad, but a solid bike.

The suzuki DR200 is what I would call a tiddler. You would be satisfied for about 2 hours of riding.
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