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Old 07-30-2010, 01:12 AM   #1
bigalsmith101 OP
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Yamaha WR250R vs Honda XR650L vs Suzuki DR650

Ok guys, I'm asking for some personal experience, thoughtful advice, or prominent points of interests that I may have not mentioned, left out, or forgotten. The question is about the durability, reliability, financial investment, and overall value between three bikes. The Yamaha WR250R, Honda XR650L, and Suzuki DR650.

Yamaha WR250R

Honda XR650L

Suzuki DR650

First and foremost, the trip will involve the following.

In 2 years, three of us are traveling around the entire world. We will be riding from our home town, just north of Seattle, to the northernmost part of Alaska. We will then ride down to the bottom of South America, hitting every country along the way in meandering fashion before we ship the bikes from Buenos Aires to South Africa. We will ride up the east coast of Africa to the northern countries and ferry across to Southwestern Europe. From Southern Europe we will ride to the northernmost part of Norway before looping back and riding towards Southeastern Europe and heading through Turkey, Georgia, Russia and into the Stans. From there, it becomes a bit fuzzy. We will either ride south, and head towards India and South East Asia, or we will head East towards Mongolia and the Road of Bones. If we head east, we will ship from Vladivostok to Vietnam and tour Southeast Asia from there. From Southeast Asia we will head south towards Malaysia and Indonesia, where we will reach East Timor where we can then ship to Darwin, Australia. We will tour Australia, ship to New Zealand, tour NZ and then ship home to Seattle.

In total we will ride through approximately 65 countries, cover approximately 65,000 miles, across 6 continents, and over the course of roughly 25 months. Our route looks similar to the picture below.

Secondly, we are each are each of nearly the same, yet different sizes. I (Alex) am 6’6” and 210lbs, with a 36.5” inseam. Tom is 6’2” and 185lbs, with a 33” inseam. Kristi is 5’9” and 155lbs, with a 31” inseam. Each bike will fit Tom or I just fine. Kristi’s bike will need to be lowered. Not an issue. Weight is no problem for her either. In effect, we can each ride any of the bikes just fine with simple modifications.

Our first goal is to reach a mutual decision concerning which bike we will ride around the world. We will all ride the same bike to ensure that we have ample spare parts, combined knowledge of the motorcycle, and be able to ensure preventative maintenance is carried out regularly. The benefit of riding the same bike, for us, easily and significantly outweighs riding our own personal favorites.

After doing my own research, and having conferred with the other two riders we decided between the three of us that we'd prefer a sturdy, off road worthy motorcycle that has the least chance of letting us down and leaving us stranded somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

Our key points so far are listed below

bigalsmith101 screwed with this post 07-30-2010 at 01:46 AM
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Old 07-30-2010, 01:33 AM   #2
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Our key points are listed below:

Xs represent Cons, and Os represent Pros. Two Os are better than one O. But you already knew that now didnt you?

All specs are for stock bikes with no mods

Stats Pros/Cons

XR650L DR650 WR250R XR650L DR650 WR250R

Weight 346lbs 356lbs 298lbs X X O
Tank Size 2.8gl 3.4gl 2.0gl X X X
Tank Range 112-150mi 153-187mi 100-120mi X X XX
After Market Tank 5.8gl 6.6 4.5gl O OO O
Max Tank Range 290 330 279 O OO O
Fuel Economy 45-55 45-55 55-65mpg O O OO
Sub Frame Steel Steel Steel O O O
Comp Ratio 8.3:1 9.5:1 11.8:1 O OO OOO
Fuel System Carb Carb Fuel Injected O O X
Cooling System Air Cooled Air Cooled Water Cooled O O X
Rear Wheel 18" 17" 18" O X O
Front Wheel 21" 21" 21" O O O
Seat Height 37.0" 34.8" 36.6" O X O
Ground Clearance 13.0" 10.4" 11.8" OO O O
2008 Model Cost Avg 3,500.00 3,500.00 4,200.00 O O X
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Old 07-30-2010, 01:35 AM   #3
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To sum it up

To sum it up:

The 650’s are both at least 50lbs heavier stock, and to attain the same fuel range, our goal is set at 250 miles, the 650’s need an extra gallon, or 6.25lbs. The WR250R therefore has roughly a 60lb weight advantage.

The 650s are both air cooled and carbureted and so are less to worry about, but more difficult at higher altitudes, i.e. South America, parts of the Stans, and Europe. Can run “battery-less”

The WR250R is water cooled and fuel injected. Puncture a radiator in a fall, and you’re into some money. Fuel pump fails = money. Fuel injection fails = going nowhere. It must operate on a battery.

Seat heights are not much of an issue. Tom and I like the higher seat heights as we are both taller than average. Kristi enjoys the shorter height available after lowering any of the bikes. So it’s of no concern.

We’d prefer to run a 21” front and 18” rear wheel which puts the Dr650 at a disadvantage unless modified. Not impossible.

Shipping Costs: The heavier, larger bikes will cost more to ship, and our major shipping destinations are not small. Buenos Aires to South Africa, Ferry from Africa to Europe, (Possibly Vladivostok, Russia to Vietnam), East Timor to Darwin AUS, Syndey AUS to New Zealand, NZ to Seattle. Over all, it will be cheaper to ship smaller, lighter, less dimensional bikes.

Fuel Economy: The WR250r can obtain nearly 10 more miles per gallon then the 650’s. Over the course of 65,000 miles, at an average cost of $3.00/gl, the savings reaches nearly $800. The better the mileage difference, and the higher the price of fuel, the larger the savings will be for the WR250r.

The 650’s have been tried and true, and each has been ridden around the world successfully on multiple accounts with the trophy going to the DR650 for the sheer number of riders who choose that bike. Personal friends of mine have ridden the XR650L 30,000 miles around the planet with no major defects. The 250 however, from my research does not seem to have been ridden on immensely long journeys such as this one. It is ONLY 2 years old however, and much can happen in the 2 more years before we depart.

OK. So having said all of this, and putting forth what I know about the bikes, and all that other jazz. What do you guy/gals think about them? I’d like to hear things like, “availability of spare parts”,“reliability issues”, “what you think it’d cost to properly modify the bikes for RTW travel”, “necessary modifications for one bike that aren’t necessary for the others”, and things like that.

Which bike would you ride around the world for 2 years, 65,000 miles, 6 continents, and 65 countries? These bikes will be our homes, livelihood, and mode of transportation.

The bank is open; give me your two cents please! Thanks!

--Alex, Tom, and Kristi

Also, Here are a few pics of who we are.

Alex (thats me) 23yrs old for now. In an ice cave, Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau Alaska. Chewing an Apple.

Kristi (Alex's significant other of 3 years) 21yrs old for now, hiking under an ice cave in Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau Alaska

Tom (Alex's friend of 15 years, fellow Eagle Scout) 23yrs old for now. A rip roaring, non afraid to follow my lead, EPIC, born in the wrong decade, MAN.

bigalsmith101 screwed with this post 07-30-2010 at 02:11 AM
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Old 07-30-2010, 01:39 AM   #4
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I see you fixed your map. If i had anything else intelligent to contribute i would...


Looking forward to following this thread.

*edit edit*
Curious, what made you rule out the KLR?

Antiacus screwed with this post 07-30-2010 at 01:50 AM
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Old 07-30-2010, 02:07 AM   #5
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I have a WR 250 R and i would NOT count the Liquid cooling or FI as a con.

The problem with the 250, i think is the lack of low end torgue. It is a powerfull and fun bike, but you have to keep it at high rpm to have power. And when you do that, you end up having poor mpg, i average 40/45 mpg... Headwind allso has a big negative effect on fuel consumption with the WRR. I like my bike, but i would not take it for RTW trip. Reliability is not the problem. I have allso crashed/dropped my bike many times, no problems.

What is your budget with the bikes? How about a KTM 690 enduro R? I know it's not the most reliable bike out there, but carry some spares.

I would not choose heavy, poorly suspended, air cooled, antique bike either... RTW trip may be once in a life time thing, i would choose something that is FUN to ride. ( powerfull, light )
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Old 07-30-2010, 02:22 AM   #6
bigalsmith101 OP
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KLR is out

The KLR is 432lbs wet, a full 134lbs heavier then the WR250R, and 77lbs over the XR650, and 87 over the DR650. It too runs a 17" rear wheel, which is more difficult to source while traveling the globe. Also, it is liquid cooled, something I would not prefer. It only has 8.3" of ground clearance, and has less travel in the forks/suspension then the other 3 bikes. The only pro it has over the other bikes is that it is generally cheaper, and comes stock with a 6.1 gallon tank (2008 Model).
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Old 07-30-2010, 02:31 AM   #7
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The goal for these bikes, is to keep the upfront cost below $4000. Including modifications to the bike including panniers (soft or hard) and every other mod, riding gear, and miscellaneous, the goal is to stay below $7500 a person upon take off.

The less expensive the better, but we will not skimp on the finer points before hand. Our two years prior to the trip start date will serve as a break in period, several small trips will iron out the details, while our trip to Alaska before heading south will serve as our major pre-trip.

We'd prefer the bikes to be less than 4 or 5 years old the day we leave. We hope to purchase these bikes this coming winter when prices drop as they always do.

KYNS: The KTM 690R is a good bike, powerful and light. People ride KTM's around the world as well. But consider that the cheapest 2007 model on Craigslist, anywhere in the entire US is over $5k, and take in to consideration that modifications will be more expensive, dealership access, and spare parts along the way will be hard to find, and you can see why I've knocked the KTM out of the options list.

Our total budget is significant enough to travel the world for 25 months. But we intend to spend the money traveling, and not on repairs. More fuel, less spare parts please.

bigalsmith101 screwed with this post 07-30-2010 at 02:54 AM
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Old 07-30-2010, 03:03 AM   #8
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It seems the Suzuki DR-Z 400 could be a fair dealfor you guys?!

big tank available
decent power
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TM 144EN 2009
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Old 07-30-2010, 03:28 AM   #9
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Going that far with three bikes, calculate for at least one major engine rebuild or replacement, parts/spare engine availability in the parts of the world were you will be half way should be considered.

What material is in the frames on each bike, you will need to be able to weld cracks with simple equipment.

Keep it simple, bikes with fuel pumps, radiators and so on are harder to repair, the need for parts is higher.

What bikes can cope with crappy fuel and oils?

I would go for the Honda, just because it is an easy, low tech mashine that can be kept running. Just bring a head gasket, everything else can be solved with silicone or JB Weld.

If I wanted a fuel injected bike, I would look at the XT660R or XT660Z instead of the WR250R.
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Old 07-30-2010, 03:59 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Dahlin
What bikes can cope with crappy fuel and oils?
This is a good point. In your chart, you have the high compression ratio of the WR250R listed as a positive, but it is actually a negative if you are forced to run low octane fuel.

I think the XR650L is the bike for you.

One more thing. Can I come along?

Sounds like an awesome trip!
2005 XT-225 (mine)
2003 TTR-125L (daughter's)
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Old 07-30-2010, 04:17 AM   #11
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I have a WR-R...

...Bought new five months ago. It is a great bike and has been trouble free for nearly 6K miles, handles like it's even lighter than its 295 pounds, cruises easily 65-70 and is comfy with the aftermarket saddle I installed, but it wouldn't be my choice for an extended trip for a couple of reasons.

The main reason is that the subframe and smaller engine size will limit the amount of cargo you can carry without either beefing up the bike (and adding more weight) and/or gearing down (limiting highway performance and gas mileage).

Actually, there will soon be three aftermarket tank options for the WRs - 1. the Safari 3.5-gallon tank ($450); 2. a 3-gallon IMS tank that will hit the streets later this summer (expected to be ~$250-300); 3. a 4.5-gallon IMS tank now in initial phases of development ($-?).

To me this bike would be the perfect mount for something like the TAT, where good fuel and parts would be available, but there are too many unknowns simply because the bike is so new. It could be that the bike proves to be a great world traveler, but none that I'm aware of has more than 20-30K miles. Also, the bike calls for 93 octane minimum fuel and for me only low 50s mpg. Loaded I'd predict no better than 50.

Another possibility that would be at the top of my list for a trip like this is the BMW X-Challenge, but you'd be putting a lot more into the bike up front. Lightly used X's can be found for $4-5K and the Rotax 650 single has been a long-proven round-the-world powerplant. My 03 Dakar with that engine had 72K plus completely trouble free miles (valves were never out of spec) when it was totaled. The X has plenty of power, gets 60-65 mpg and is lighter than the other 650s you're considering.

Mods to the X for me would include the TT auxiliary tank for $750 (yielding a total of over 6.5 gallons (60 mpg x 6.5 gallons = 390 miles!). I would also be tempted by the TT 2-light fairing, but it wouldn't really be needed.

The subframe is also puny on the X, but even if beefed up a minimal amount could carry something like a Giant Loop or other soft panniers just fine. TT makes a kit with steel subframe for their Zega aluminum hard panniers too.

All in all, a used X and mods would likely be $6-9K depending on the degree of TT and other bling.

Good luck on the trip and I'll be following with interest!

X-Challenge with TT tank/fairing:

GSBS screwed with this post 07-30-2010 at 04:22 AM Reason: add photo
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Old 07-30-2010, 04:17 AM   #12
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Those fuel mileage figures are all well and dandy, but once you load up that 250 with the amount of gear you will likelly need to carry, that will go right out the window. I would bet though, that you cant go wrong with any of those models. Though for the price and ease of maintenance, and trust me it pains me to say it, why not a KLR? I know they are butt ugly and all, but they have a huge tank and the reliablility is probably spot on with the rest.

If Charley and Ewan can ride an 1150GS loaded around the world, a loaded KLR should be more than do'able for the rest of us?
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Old 07-30-2010, 06:58 AM   #13
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The bigger/heavier bikes are going to carry a load better and be more relaxed on the highway/state roads.

I'd say DR650!, simply because it is a bt better for road work than the XR, plus it has an oil cooler which will help in the hot humid latin american countries.

Additionally make sure you all get the same bike. This makes carrying spare parts and trouble shooting on the road easier.
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Old 07-30-2010, 07:09 AM   #14
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One other thing I just noticed from your chart. Isn't the subframe on the WR250R aluminum? You have it listed as steel.
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Old 07-30-2010, 07:15 AM   #15
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subframe is steel , main frame is aluminum on the WR250R
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