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Old 12-07-2008, 04:47 PM   #1
tathambenjamin OP
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Thumper Showdown....post your bikes and opinions here!

So, I am tearing down the BMW right now, and am going to be in the market for a second bike in a few weeks (Jan 15) after some careful redistribution of current financial resources.

I am going to have $1500- 2200 to spend and I want to hear what you have (to sell) and what you would buy to meet these criteria:

-Looking in the 350-450range but will consider anything 250-650cc
-Single cylinder (suggestions welcome though)
-Disc brakes- front and rear preferred, but others welcome.
-Something not in need of a total rebuild- i.e.- I am not afraid of some basic maintenance/ repairs to be done, but I want to be able to get it on the road by Feb.
-street legal in IL (Lights, signals, mirrors)
-Seller w. title- this seems obvious to me, but I thought I would be specific just in case.

My plan is to do some very basic mods-

-Beef up and change sprockets and chain (depending on what it comes w)
-Stainless steel lines
-Springs/ Suspension upgrade.
-Possible front fork swap.
-Fab a skid plate, change around and paint body work, etc.

At some point I want to build up a set of Supermoto wheels since I will be using this bike about 90% on the street and 10% off road, so something with interchangeability is a huge plus. My plans are to use this bike in town, and eventually take it as a backroads tour bike, maybe do part of the TAT or another tour of longer distance.


Let me show you what I have on my radar so far and then I would love to hear some suggestions about what (in general) would suit my purpose, and then what (specifically) anybody has that they want to sell.

-1st, I have a good line on an '87 xt350 that I could get for $1100-1200. It has 12k on the motor, but from what I gather has been very well maintained. Already has sprockets, chain conversion, stainless steel lines and is very clean. Owned by an old timer who I asked if it had been off road much..... he said: "Off road?" I took it in the yard once, it was kinda bumpy for me though". He is selling because he says his knees cant do the kick starting anymore.

Cons: Parts availability? After-market? From what I read, it might be a little difficult to fit up a set of SM wheels.....any thoughts? I know, I have already read the xt350 thread, and the other relevant threads in thumpers....just looking for more opinions and to see what people have.

Pros: 6sp trans., dependable motor, able to handle light highway work.

Picture of the actual bike:




2nd on the list is the XR400. (Radguzzi, if you are reading this, I may be willing to deal for that XR if you still have it come Jan.)This would be top of the list if not for the fact that they dont seem to sell them with lights/signals/etc. Is that the case or am I just overlooking a whole model designation? I would be willing to put on a baja kit on the right bike, but I would figure this into the cost of purchase. My only other concern with the XR is...do they come street titled and if not what does it take to get a bike titled for the street in IL?

Pros: Reliable engine, easy to maintain. Better looking than the XT imho. Parts interchangeability and lots of aftermarket support.I think this would make an easier conversion to an SM set upbased on what I have read.

Cons: No lights, possible title issues, maybe a little more costly than the XT. 5sp gear box? (I cant recall)

Here is radguzzis: I like it.....




Next: DR350- Mostly the same as I feel about the XR, just a little less power and I think if I only had one starting method I would rather have the kicker, both would be really cool. I always hear good things about this bike, and I think the interhangebility would be good for SM set up. Maybe the most expensive of the three judging from my searches.

Heres a random one: (I know you guys have seen em, but everybody likes pictures right?)



Well, those are the main bikes that I have on my radar at the moment, but I would love to hear about popular alternatives that fit the bill.....I will add more if I can think of any of the others that I have seen.

Thanks guys.

-Ben
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Old 12-17-2008, 03:05 AM   #2
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Go the Xr it's the best bike by far and away.
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:52 AM   #3
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you could be wading through deep crap getting the honda plated, i dont know about your state.
all fine bikes, i'd love to have any or all of them.
all air-cooled, a plus for me.
bottom line... dr350. 6-speed with e-start, the winner.
dont know about your price range with all you want to do... suspension is expensive
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Old 12-17-2008, 05:43 AM   #4
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Get a XR650L.
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Old 12-17-2008, 08:59 AM   #5
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Personally I'd go for the XR400,but my road riding is usually just to get to trails. Great off road but it makes a terrible street bike. With gearing suitable for off road,cruising at over 50mph is buzzy.
There have also been transmission failures on XR400's used on the street,(no cush drive, and not as beefy as a 600,650.) If you are riding 90% on the street the DR350 would probably be a better bike. I had two freinds who got DR's (one kick start, one electric start) about the same time I got my 400. Rode both, they were both much better streetbikes than my 400(6-speed trans makes all the difference).The DR is not bad off road either. If you can find one in your price range a XR650L might be a good choice as well.
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Old 12-17-2008, 03:58 PM   #6
tathambenjamin OP
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hmmm

I like the power of a 650, but have the impression from different bikes that I have ridden that the 350-400's handle much better than the 650's- not to mention a marginal difference in gas mileage. I want to take a sort of minimalist approach to a highway capable bike. As I said, I will be about 90% street riding. Of that 90 it will probably be 80-10 in town vs. highway use, so I want something that can "get to trails" on the highway or just take a quick jaunt when I need to get out of town.

I did not know that the xr400 did not have a cush drive......also, the xr seems a little pricier than I had originally thought, especially when you consider that I will have to pay to get it titled/ licensed for the street and buy a light kit with a stator, etc.


I am leaning toward the xt- I am looking at a 98 that has been converted to a light supermoto sort of set up. 17" wheels, rebuilt top end, new clutch, various nice accesories, higher gearing, chain conversion- but it is near the top of my price range since it has all the goodies. Would anyone hesitate to buy a bike that has been rebuilt with first over pistons? Is it more likely to fail in the future than a low mileage example or should it be considered as new and good for another go round? With a 350 how many major rebuilds, rebores of the cylinder can one expect? 2,3 at most?

I have always thought of the kick start as an advantage over the e start. I know the button is convenient, but when I balance that against the possibility that it could leave me stranded, I like the alternative. Any thoughts on why you would rather have e start over kick and vice versa?
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:09 PM   #7
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I have an XR350R. Like the XR350 I believe the XR400 also has a 6-speed transmission also.

I would buy the XR if I was buying one of these bikes. The XT is basically a bored over 250 and probably about 10 hp less than the XR.
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:15 PM   #8
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As I read your description of what you were looking for, all I could think was "DRZ400S, DRZ400S, DRZ400S." They've been out since 2000, so you could probably find an '00-'02 in your price range. I had an XT350 that I replaced with a DRZ400S, and there's no comparison, the DRZ400S beats it in every catagory. It's a great bike for trail riding, or light street duty, with your choice in tires ultimately deciding it's ideal environment. And no problem on fitting up SM wheels.
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:17 PM   #9
tathambenjamin OP
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god to know

I thought I had read somewhere that the XT350 was a completely different cylinder from the 250? Maybe not, thanks for mentioning it.

I realize from talking to people that the XT is underpowered when compared to the XR, as I said, I am not too focused on any of these bike's ability to go offroad. Any trail rding will be very relaxed and purely recreational- my main requirement is that it can handle the highway if neccesary, and while the XR might handle it at a slightly faster pace and would definitely out do the XT on the trail, I think all of these bikes would meet minimum requirements for highway duty. hmmm, what about the e start though? advantage or disadvantage i you can only have one (kick or electric)?
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:21 PM   #10
tathambenjamin OP
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Drz

Yeah, I hear what you are saying about the DRZ. I have looked around for them and I think that they are at the absolute ceiling of what I can afford.... There is a dealer around here who is selling the 08sm leftovers for $4300 +tax (7% in that county) and title. They also have financing for $39 a month payments. I have been tempted more than once to go in and sign on one. I will look around for the DRZ- maybe it is more realistic than I thought.
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:53 PM   #11
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Hey for what it is worth, I bought my first bike 3 years ago, a DR350(the one in the pic above )
At the time and since I have done quite abit of reading on the xt350 vrs the dr350 and from what I have read the dr350 may be a better choice(price being equal) there are a few dis-advantages with the xt350, suspension and oddities with the electrical system(again only from what I have read)
I can tell from experience that I lucked out,the DR350 ia a perfect bike for me. Not great at anything but better at everything than I am/was.
It has a proven track record for reliablity and good aftermarket support.
Its suspension is soft not that it matters too much given your requirements and a little under powered in stock form, nothing that a new carb and/or airbox jetting mod wouldn't fix.
I suspect that it will be hard to go wrong xt vrs dr 350 but I can say if a good deal on a dr350 presents it's self I would grab it. For all the reading I have done I have never read about a un-happy dr350 owner!!

If you read thru the dr350 thread here you will find plenty of examples of guy buying sub $2000 dr350's and laughing at there good luck in doing so!!

Good luck

Not alot of hard info for you I guess, just another satisfied dr owner

EDIT
Just read you post about handling the highway.
I weight 165 pounds, with stock gearing I can cruise comfortably at 100-110 km's hour and top speed being about 130-140 km's an hour. It does get buzzy above 120.
I am currently running a smaller front sprocket, 14 tooth. I prefer it. It increase acceleration around town and I prefer the slower 1'st gear off road. I do pay for it on the highway top speed being closer to 120 km's hour and not very comfortable about 100-110 km's hour. I will leave the kms to miles per hour conversion to you. Point being not a great bike for the freeways but acceptable for 2 lane highways.


John
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johnnyandjebus screwed with this post 12-17-2008 at 05:01 PM
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Old 12-17-2008, 05:01 PM   #12
tathambenjamin OP
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good to hear

opinions are what Im looking for. Did you mean the white DR up above is yours? I like that one, I want to paint over the stock graphics/paint with truck bed liner. I like a rat/utility sort of look and I think the stock graphics on all of the bikes I am considering are very unsightly. Something about the early to mid 90's that seems to have guided the design sense of the company that doesnt look good to me.

I will put another check in the DR column, I think in the end it will probably be more of a decision of price and opportunity than it will be one based on the hard facts of which is better. Most of my decisions are made by money, or lack of it, so I guess I just want to know what people think and weigh that in my decision.
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Old 12-17-2008, 05:03 PM   #13
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I bought a 2002 ktm 400exc for $1500 in the fall of 2007. It needed some work. Clean carb. chain and sprockets and that kind of stuff,I spent about $800 in parts. I was in the same spot you are in now. If you can find one its the bike to buy. If you search my posts there is a pic of it some where.
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Old 12-17-2008, 05:08 PM   #14
tathambenjamin OP
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hhhmmm

that is an option... how are the maintenance intervals? I have seen a couple of those listed in my area, but I hesitate just for the impression that the cost of ownership is a lot higher if there are any major issues.
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There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.

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Old 12-17-2008, 05:11 PM   #15
johnnyandjebus
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Yup the above dr is mine. My buying decision was not much different than yours, I was looking for my first bike. Lack of money and wanting reliability was at the top of the list. As to the graphics, I agree the 90's were a bad decade for thumper cosmetic appearances. The first winter after buying the bike I pulled off all the plastics and painted them with rattle can plastic paint. It was a cheap and effective way of cleaning the bike up.
Although the pic above is after I replaced all of the plastics(the result of a long cold winter up here in Canada)
There is a xt350 thread here some-where, it might be worth a read. You may find guys with the option that the xt350 is as good as it gets!!


Good luck with your purchase.
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