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Old 02-11-2008, 12:31 AM   #1
Lochlyn_Deckard OP
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Why not a capable 250 dual sport?

It's been interesting to watch the Kawasaki Ninja 250 R be "reborn." I saw a new 2008 the other day at my local Kawi dealer and it's really really nice looking. I owned a 2000 250 for a year and moved on to the 500 I currently have now. The thing that always impressed me about the 250 was it's capability. It did just fine on the highway after I got used to being blown all around; it was a light bike. It was cheap to insure, maintain, and I got 70 mpg. But again, it was still a blast to ride. Quite a nice little package; capable, but not amazing. I think the 2008's are going to sell well.

So I started thinking. Why don't we have a capable 250 dual sport? I read a bit about the KLR 250 when it was still made (stopped in 2005?). The currently have the KLX 250 S, but the bike is definitely geared for off road. The KLR 250's had nothing at the top end and weren't much of a step up from a dirt bike as far as I remember.

Kawasaki redid the KLR 650 and overall it seems to be very well received; though I continue to read about issues of high oil consumption under long high speed trips. Physically, I very much like the new look.

Is there no market for what I'm wondering about? Would people rather just buy a KLR 650? I often read that the 650 is really too heavy for serious off road use. So wouldn't an updated 250 be more appealing; make it a better street bike than the old one.

Why don't we have a 250 dual sport "just like the Ninja 250?"
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Old 02-11-2008, 01:07 AM   #2
reconsmr
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Are you asking for a street biased 250cc dualsport? There are few 250cc bikes that are even street approved, KLX and Husky TE, a Kawi or Suzi cruiser too(?), neither are especially good on American roads. Our KTM EXC250RFS tops out at a power limited, not gearing, 71-72 MPH depending on the wind. An all surface EX250 twin, longer suspension and Ralley styling, bit O' luggage and might not be too bad. Problem is the Mfgs. don't even recognize the big bore US market for that style bike, KTM and BMW, Suzuki's Stroms, and the Kawi Verses at the barely dirt road end, anything with 17" wheels really even count?

A small run of low displacement bikes would be nearly as expensive as the big bores, how many 'Mericuns would drop the $ for one? Dealers sell GSXR1000s and HDs all day long, the US market for "real" motorcycles seems to be a relatively small one. Brilliant bikes languish on the sales floor for years, Hyabusa demand goes up and they build what sells. American buyers are, for the most part, posers. Look the part at the coffee shop, bar, driveway, bike meet that you trailered to and ride 1k a year till you forget it behind the boxes in the garage. Look at the want ads, (not here) and most bikes listed are 3-6k milers several years old.
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Old 02-11-2008, 01:13 AM   #3
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The simple answer to your question is: Because there would not be enough sold to make it profitable for most companies!

The longer answer: Anymore people think that a 600 is a small bike and anything under that is a play bike. Look at all the MSF courses...most poeple train on the small 250 bikes and sitting at home they have a 1000 Sportster or a 600 SS style bike waiting for them (minimum). It seems that anything below 600 is a pussy bike! I get sneered at all the time riding the DT's (175 mine/250 wife's, I have bigger street bikes that I ride also) around, getting called putt-putt and the like.

A friend from church took the beginner's class last year in June/July. He passed but struggled and asked me what he should consider for a first bike. After discussing smaller bikes we decided a nice KLR650 would be OK but a little big (he is tall so should be OK). He rode it and had a lot of fun on it. All his miles are street and I don't even think he rode it over 2500 last summer/fall. So I talk to him a few weeks ago about a spring ride...he tells me he traded it in on a 1600 Drifter (whatever the huge Kaw Cruiser is). I try not to smirk but i have seen him ride. He needs more miles on the KLR before he graduates to the tanks, but his work buddies convinced him he was ready and the KLR was a scooter.

Hope he does OK. I would hate for him to crash or just have a bad time with the big bike.

It is sad to me that people cannot figure out the joy of a light easy to ride machine. The bare essentials of riding are an awful lot of fun!

Kenny
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Old 02-11-2008, 01:48 AM   #4
Lochlyn_Deckard OP
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After doing a little more reading, I found this thread:

Small bikes are the future?

The Honda Varadero 125 is mentioned. I've always been curious about this bike; too bad it's not available in the U.S. But I wouldn't think a 125 would do too well on the highway; no power to escape when when Mr. SUV tries to take you out.

They also mention the rumored Versys 250. I keep coming across these vague references about a little Versys. That would be very nice to see, although as with the 650, many would not consider it a "real" dual sport bike.
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Old 02-11-2008, 02:41 AM   #5
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Two stroke 250s were popular dual purpose bikes with road capability.
All gone.
A parallel or V twin 250 (325 remember?) would work well.
Especially dual sport and street (DL) versions. Or Scrambler!
Trouble is costs about the same to build a small bike as a big one (similar) and people will pay more for big bikes.
There is no reason (exept cost) not to put twins in offroad play bikes, a friend put old Yamaha twin in dirt bike chassis, worked fine.
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Old 02-11-2008, 06:27 AM   #6
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The bike that stuck with me at this year's Cycle World International Motorcycle Show was Yamaha's WR250R. I found it much more attractive in person than in the brochure. The finish and components are of remarkable quality.


Here are some features listed on Yamaha's web site.
  • DOHC engine with fuel injection relies on input from a crank sensor, intake air pressure sensor and throttle position sensor feeding a compact ECU
  • An ECU-controlled EXUP exhaust valve, along with an electronic intake control valve
  • titanium intake valves with WPC processed (surface is sprayed with fine powder at over 100 meters per second to increase surface hardness) high lift cams
  • Rare earth-type ACM alternator
  • Direct ignition coil sits atop the spark plug
I was in Larson's Cycle in Cambridge Saturday morning and they had a WR250X (supermoto version) on the floor, so I asked Nick if he would dig up the owner's manual for me. Pretty good, too, slotting in a little wider than the gear set on Kawasaki's KLX250, and more so now that Kawasaki is lowering sixth gear slightly for the 2009 models.
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Old 02-11-2008, 06:33 AM   #7
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Kenny
At least he put 2.5k miles on something with suspension, maybe he'll come back after he gets his fill of the 'big' bike. It took me a long time to discover the DS side, but have always had middleweights.
I feel a 250 is too small for much highway distance, a 400 is as small as I want to go for road use.
Jim
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Old 02-11-2008, 07:14 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by on2wheels52
I feel a 250 is too small for much highway distance, a 400 is as small as I want to go for road use.
Jim
+1 even with a performance 250cc like a Ninja 250, you are wringing the bike's neck trying to keep up at highway speed. Passing a slow semi... Forget about it - not enough juice. Perhaps in slower roads of eastern US they could work, but out West a two fiddy is more of a dirt bike with lights than a dual sport.
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Old 02-11-2008, 08:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paochow
+1 even with a performance 250cc like a Ninja 250, you are wringing the bike's neck trying to keep up at highway speed. .
This is a typical (and well founded) comment about "minimalist" bikes. A lot of new riders feel some overwhelming compulsion to get out on the freeway, thus dealers steer young customers away from them. Most 250 buyers come into the showroom knowing exactly what they're looking for, thus it's a pretty small percentage of customers. Most of the posters on the "minimalist" thread have owned larger bikes previously, and have realized there is more fun to be had when you stay off the slab. (Obviously some of us live in isolated areas where the freeway is the only option) Once you beat the 'freeway' habit, any of the 250 DS's out there are tremendous fun. Take a look at the "Minimalist Tour" thread in Upcoming. Join us even if you have to bring your "big" bike, and see that you don't have to have a 1200GS to have a great time.
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Old 02-11-2008, 08:31 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by on2wheels52
I feel a 250 is too small for much highway distance. Jim
Maybe, maybe not, but Kawasaki's twin cylinder 250 will go faster than a KLR650.
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Old 02-11-2008, 08:55 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paochow
even with a performance 250cc like a Ninja 250, you are wringing the bike's neck trying to keep up at highway speed. Passing a slow semi... Forget about it - not enough juice. Perhaps in slower roads of eastern US they could work, but out West a two fiddy is more of a dirt bike with lights than a dual sport.
Sure if the freeway speeds are 80mph+ I've been riding in Texas and even on my V-Max I wanted a faster bike I don't think I've spent more time doing the TON than when I was riding in Texas But for Rural areas and a lot of other places a 250 would be OKAY. Shit I saw Adways at Meatfest in AL and he rode a friggin XT225 from MO to there .

But I've seen those chincy chinky china scooters on the freeway here; you know those 150cc generic things sold at Mini-Malls and out of the back of semis for $899..

So if those guys can hang on the I-10, then I think a decent 250cc could do a lot more than we give 'em credit for.
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Old 02-11-2008, 10:43 AM   #12
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Yamaha XT225. Its a pretty capable 225cc dual sport.Mine gets 85-95 miles per gallon.I'm still breaking it in, but guys I've known that owned ome said it can go on the freeway.I used to have a KLR250 also.I rode it on my 65 miles round trip commute into Seattle all the time.Sometimes on the freeway, sometimes on the back roads, for over 10,000 miles.I also have a KLR650 and a Royal Enfield Bullet 500 thumper.Don't forget a bike like the KLR650 or Suzuki DRZ400S (or the SM) are not only off roadable, but are a riot on a twisty back road where the sports bikes like to hang out.You will never scrape a bike like these going around a corner.Fast? Hardly.But light,flickable,great ground clearance,good gas mileage,low insurance rates,relative simplicity,reasonable cost-a dual sport can make a great only bike, or a fine second bike too.I used to scrape on my EX500-never on my KLR.

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Old 02-11-2008, 10:51 AM   #13
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Gear a 250 for dirt and it will top out at about 57 MPH, that is the RPM limited and indicated speed on a new 08 Husky TE250 with the factory stock DOT iginition. The EX250 engine with its 6 speed and gazillion RPM redline might be better but that engine is a weighty item. The 250cc engine doesn't have the torque to span the gap in gears for both worlds, hell, riders complain that 400cc-650cc bikes can't really do both without a sprocket swap. That Yamaha looks good till you factor in its likely over 300lbs. of ready to ride weight with a lower output than the already sluggish, restricted WR250.

The idea of a 250cc twin tourer/allroad bike might not be a bad one, guys are hoping for that Versyes 250 someday. With the limited off road ability of the 650 Versyes, basically a streetbike, you could pretty easily build one yourself with a EX250 as a donor, in fact IIRC someone did it already, might have been a 500 though,,,,
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Old 02-11-2008, 10:56 AM   #14
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Old 02-11-2008, 11:10 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by montesa_vr
Maybe, maybe not, but Kawasaki's twin cylinder 250 will go faster than a KLR650.
Exactly.

When a former girlfriend (109 pounds) was learning to ride and looking for a bike, all her friends told her to get a 500. I was one of the few voices telling her to get a Ninja 250. All she heard was "you'll outgrow it in a month", "it won't go freeway speeds", "it's way too small", etc.

I'm 6' 2" and 175#. When I rode it home from the guys she bought it from, I went 80 on the freeway, with no problem at all.

After a year or so, she complained that the bike was feeling slow, and she was considering something larger. We had a discussion about RPM and horsepower, and now she just twists it harder when she wants more speed, and has the same bike. It's been three years, and she has no intention of getting a new bike.

She's small and light, so it helps, but I don't think she'd have any more fun on a bigger bike.

I'n not saying that a 250 DS would be a good thing on the freeway.
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