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Old 08-08-2006, 11:36 AM   #1
GregX999 OP
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DR650 vs. DRZ400S

Okay, so I'm 95% sure that I'll be getting one of these two bikes. I currently have a 1200GS, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be selling it. I want a bike that's more nimble on the dirt roads and trails here in Colorado. (I'm 5'8", 30" inseam, 155lbs and find the GS is just TOO big and heavy for me to feel like I'm having any fun while off-road - also, I'm an off-road newbie). I'm also pretty sure I'd end up getting a pure street bike of some kind to do the longer on-road-only tours.

The typical ride I can envision wanting to do with one of these bikes would entail anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours on pavement getting to and coming back from spending anywhere from 1 to 6 hours riding dirt. However, I can also see myself occasionally doing 2-3 day camping trips with mixed road and dirt and even, a couple times a year, a week or two long mixed road and dirt tour off in some other state or even into Mexico.

It seems like the DR650 would be better for the longer trips, but I'm a bit worried about giving up too much of the nimbleness I'm seeking vs. the DRZ. I think I'm leaning towards the DRZ, but wonder if anyone has any experience that they could share that's similar to what I want to do.

(BTW: I want the DRZ-S as opposed the the E because of the rear-subframe and the ability to run regular gas)

Thanks,
Greg
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Old 08-08-2006, 11:48 AM   #2
cam_roger
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cosmic question

good luck figuring this one out, no matter what there will be times you will wish you had purchased the other one. I've had a dr650 (old, thrashed when I got it). I purchased the KLR because of all the things I didn't like about the DR. But there are days when I wish I had a DR650, DRZ400, and a KLX250.


I'd say DRZ, but that's just because I'm looking to add one this fall.
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Old 08-08-2006, 11:49 AM   #3
markjenn
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You're doing enough pavement and distance that it would tip the balance towards the DR. The DRZ is a great bike (I own one), but you're asking a lot of it to do 200 miles on the pavement, load it up with camping gear, etc. It can be done on the DRZ, but the DR will shoulder the load more comfortably, cruise a lot less frantically on the highway, and still make you think you've died and gone to heaven in the dirt compared to the GS.

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Old 08-08-2006, 03:04 PM   #4
Navaho
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My reply to this same ? on ThumperTalk.com:


It depends on how aggressive you want to ride offroad, and how fast you want to go on the highway.

There were two problems with the DRZ400S I owned. The bike was unstable on and offroad, and the top speed was too slow. I tried everthing I could to fix the instability problem - tires, suspension, fork position, seating position etc. I tried everything except a steering stabilizer, which I think would only help moderately. The top speed of my DRZ with the Dynojet kit was 85 mph (with stock or smaller sprocket the difference is 2 mph). At that speed the DRZ sounded like it was about to explode, and was annoyingly "buzzy". Even at 65 mph the DRZ felt buzzy, and unstable. Worst of all, on the gravel, the DRZ felt DANGEROUS. The front and rear wheels tracked like they were connected by a wet noodle. I let other people ride the DRZ, and they all had the same complaints. Maybe a DRZ400E or supermotard version is a little different. I haven't ridden either so I can't comment. On a positive note, the DRZ400S will put the DR650 to shame on a dirt trail when the going gets tough. The DRZ's suspension is pretty good and the lighter weight makes it a lot more manageable off road.

Basically, the DRZ is a very heavy dirt bike that can take on any trail and is suitable for short runs on the street. Catch some air on the DRZ, and its weight becomes very noticeable (290 dry). It just does not want to come off the ground, and when it does, it's not all that exciting. Fortunately, it handles the landings suprisingly well for such a heavy bike.

The DR650 on the other hand is a 'lightweight' street bike that can take on most trails if taken at a slower pace. Suspension upgrades are a must for any serious offroad use. I've ridden a couple of DR650's over the last 6 months, and also some KLR's. The DR is wonderfully stable at any speed on the road, in the dirt or on gravel. The top speed is in the high 90's, maybe even over 100 (I never tried past 95). Cruising at 75 - 85 mph is easy for the DR's engine and it feels comfortable, stable and smooth. In the slow twisties, a DR (with minor modifications) will hang with, and in some cases embarrass a sport bike (as will a KLR). I've seen it many times. Of course the sportbikes will smoke the DR on a straight.

The link to the thread:
http://www.thumpertalk.com/forum/sho...ighlight=DR650
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Old 08-08-2006, 04:12 PM   #5
soboy
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I have a DR and my riding buddy has a DRZ. They are both great bikes, the DR is better on pavement and the DRZ is better off road. However, I go everywhere my DRZ friend goes off road, and he goes everywhere I go on pavement. At your height and inseam, you'll find the DR to be a better fit. I am the same height and inseam as you and I was not comfortable on the DRZ.
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Old 08-08-2006, 04:30 PM   #6
dirtypumpkin
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37,000 miles on my KLX400, the green DRZ, no stability issues here.
I have 2 sets of rims & tires, slicks & agressive knobs. 2 bikes in one.

I put about 1000 a month on it, 800 street, 200 dirt, give or take.
Some freeway, but mostly surface and twisties with the slicks.
Perfect city bike one day, and ready for the dirt with a quick rim swap.

If you want the better dirt bike get the 400, more adventure travel
& freeway the DR is probably better suited. Having said that Ive taken
my 400 for 80-90mph 200 mile freeway trips without any problems.
I feel comfortable doing multi day trips with that mileage.

Do a search for this question, it comes up a lot. There are a ton of these replies already.
Look up BurrenRider, he has owned and modified them both extensively, good reviews with pics.

It is a tall bike, but there are links and seat options to fit you, or come close.
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Old 08-08-2006, 04:44 PM   #7
Pantah
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Navaho
My reply to this same ? on ThumperTalk.com:


It depends on how aggressive you want to ride offroad, and how fast you want to go on the highway.

There were two problems with the DRZ400S I owned. The bike was unstable on and offroad, and the top speed was too slow. I tried everthing I could to fix the instability problem - tires, suspension, fork position, seating position etc. I tried everything except a steering stabilizer, which I think would only help moderately. The top speed of my DRZ with the Dynojet kit was 85 mph (with stock or smaller sprocket the difference is 2 mph). At that speed the DRZ sounded like it was about to explode, and was annoyingly "buzzy". Even at 65 mph the DRZ felt buzzy, and unstable. Worst of all, on the gravel, the DRZ felt DANGEROUS. The front and rear wheels tracked like they were connected by a wet noodle. I let other people ride the DRZ, and they all had the same complaints. Maybe a DRZ400E or supermotard version is a little different. I haven't ridden either so I can't comment. On a positive note, the DRZ400S will put the DR650 to shame on a dirt trail when the going gets tough. The DRZ's suspension is pretty good and the lighter weight makes it a lot more manageable off road.

Basically, the DRZ is a very heavy dirt bike that can take on any trail and is suitable for short runs on the street. Catch some air on the DRZ, and its weight becomes very noticeable (290 dry). It just does not want to come off the ground, and when it does, it's not all that exciting. Fortunately, it handles the landings suprisingly well for such a heavy bike.

The DR650 on the other hand is a 'lightweight' street bike that can take on most trails if taken at a slower pace. Suspension upgrades are a must for any serious offroad use. I've ridden a couple of DR650's over the last 6 months, and also some KLR's. The DR is wonderfully stable at any speed on the road, in the dirt or on gravel. The top speed is in the high 90's, maybe even over 100 (I never tried past 95). Cruising at 75 - 85 mph is easy for the DR's engine and it feels comfortable, stable and smooth. In the slow twisties, a DR (with minor modifications) will hang with, and in some cases embarrass a sport bike (as will a KLR). I've seen it many times. Of course the sportbikes will smoke the DR on a straight.

The link to the thread:
http://www.thumpertalk.com/forum/sho...ighlight=DR650
Gee... that was a very good comparo! Bottom line... the DR is a lot better streetbike then the DRZ is a dirtbike, right? That is a fairly defining summation if I am understanding you. Based on your obsevations, if I were living on front range somewhere, I'd select a DR so I could actually enjoy getting to whatever trail complex I was headed. That way I might actually ride there. If I was willing to trailer, I'd get something lighter then the DRZ.
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Old 08-08-2006, 04:54 PM   #8
atgreg
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After the GS, the DR will feel tiny and very flickable, you'd only think the DR650 was heavy if you came to it from the other direction, coming from a GS it will feel like an MX'er
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Old 08-08-2006, 05:18 PM   #9
brad21
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FWIW, a buddy of mine and I do a lot of dual-sporting here in Oregon. He's not too awfully tall, he's really old and just sold off his DR650 and purchased a DRZ kicker model and couldn't be happier for the kind of riding we do. With a little taller gearing from stock the DRZ is just fine (I'm at 15/47) on both the trail and highway. Good luck.
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Old 08-08-2006, 05:49 PM   #10
jrs200
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The DR will go all day on the interstate 80mph. At 75 there is really very little vibration. I have hit 110 on mine and could of went faster. I have a friend who did 120 on his and said he could of got more out of it.
It does great on the trail. I have been riding dirt bikes for over 30 years. I only had one other on/off road machine. A 1974 KE 175. Never had a pure street ride. But after trying to deside myself between the XRL DRZ and DR. I could not be happier with my pick. I was really impressed with the way it handles. It has enough torque to get you out of bad situations. But believe me I wouldn't want to do any serious jumping with it. But I am impressed with how good it does in tight stuff, given the weight factor. The bike really handles good for the weight, at least till you try to pick it up. Get rid of the deathwing tires. They really are bad.
I don't think after all the post I have read about the DR, hearing anyone say they hated their DR.
I would rather have a dirt bike than a DR, but then again I would rather have a DR than a street bike. That is why I have a DR.
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Old 08-08-2006, 06:11 PM   #11
Navaho
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I think the best advice anyone could give you is this - Ride both bikes!!!!!

I didn't before I made the decision to get the DRZ400S. It was a big dissapointment, and I paid a "price" when I sold it 6 months later. It left a $2000 hole in my wallet.

I have the DR650 now, and I'm lovin' it. Like someone else said, I've never heard a DR650 owner complain. That should tell you something but don't let anyone else decide. Catch a ride.
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Old 08-08-2006, 07:26 PM   #12
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I was a dirt noob this past winter and now I can't get enough. I had the same options everyone else has and went with the DRZ because I wanted to ride true single track. Muddy, sandy, rocky singletrack where you can barely fit your bars between the trees. I've ridden with guys on bigger bikes that were faster than me, but being a noob with modest upper body strength (improtant when repeatedly picking up a 300-400 pound bike) I went with the DRZ. With a better seat I'd be fine riding over 2 hours on the highway or several hours on back roads (I believe Navaho's experience with instability is rare). If you're new and want to ride real trails I'd go with the DRZ. If your focus is anything less than tight single track, I'd get the DR. If you haven't picked up on it yet, I think the most important variable is the single track. If you're talking wider trails and dirt roads you could go even heavier than the DR and be fine. Please take all this with exactly one grain of salt, maybe two.
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Old 08-08-2006, 08:10 PM   #13
GregX999 OP
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Wow, thanks for all the responses. There's certainly a lot of information here, maybe too much... :)

To address some people's comments/questions:

1. Singletrack - I've never ridden it. The narrowest trails I've ridden on my GS were ATV trails. It certainly looks fun. I imagine that I'd enjoy it, but certainly at a slower pace - no hare-scramble speeds or anything. (I'd love to try Rampart Range - which I've never been to, but heard it's all single-track)

2. Jumping - Maybe catching a foot of air - two at the most. But probably very rarely.

3. Sand - Very definate possibilty. I HATE my GS in sand.

4. Lower seat height of DR - sounds good to me. However I do realize it comes at the expense of suspension travel.

5. I'd prefer to stay off of freeways as much as possible, but the occasional 55-65mph road is inevitable for at least short stretches.

6. I think my overall interests are about 50/50 split between trail riding and adventure traveling.

Damn! It seems like such splitting of hair between the two bikes. I'm sure whichever I get I'll be at times happy and at times wishing I got the other... Maybe I should just hang up a picture of each and throw a dart.

Greg
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Old 08-09-2006, 07:36 AM   #14
StartledPancake
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Well Ive got a DRZ so Ill chip in. It replaced a Aprilla Pegaso (very similar to a BMW F650) and I had considered the DR650 at the time. Personally Im well chuffed with my purchase, it handles very well off road, the motor feels light years more modern than the 'peg (and therefore eons more than the DR650), they have incredible reliability and it sips fuel. It has more power than the DR and allied to the lighter weight its in a different class performance wise. Unfortunatly with a seat height of 37 inches, low speed spills are inevitable when you hit the dirt.

On the road Ive ridden about 100 miles which was enough without a decent break, it cruises at 70mph with no effort but your going to have to be perpared for a serious buffeting. I commute 60 miles everyday and generally arrive home with a grin on my face, although I suspect that will change once winter gets here.

Right now Im prepping mine to go to the Sahara, something I wouldnt have even considered doing on the 'peg. Im fairly convinced that the DRZ is the right answer for 90% of peoples dual sport quandries.

StartledPancake screwed with this post 08-09-2006 at 07:42 AM
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Old 08-09-2006, 10:33 AM   #15
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I chose the DRZ over the DR because I wanted the more dirtworthy bike. I have an F650 Dakar for the longer road rides like going out west but have done up to 600 miles/day on the DRZ here in the east. You don't need much street ability if you're talking about staying inside CO, so why give up dirt ability? I just change sprockets and tires to suit the occasion.



The only place I'm not happy with the DRZ is in the whoops. It's just too heavy to keep the front end up to skim the tops for any length of time.

Photo by B. Thebert

That said, I've never ridden the DR650. I know lots of people like it and it may suit you better. Only you can decide.
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