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Old 06-24-2015, 04:41 PM   #1
Laurence243 OP
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Looking for a cheap project/dual sport bike

Cross posting this from pnwriders...

I'm looking to get my second bike. What I want is an older dual sport that I can use to go shooting in the desert and explore the mountains with. I also want it to be a project bike that I can learn motorcycle mechanics with, while still being reliable enough to not leave me stranded.

I'm thinking a mid eighties XR250 or TW200. Any other models to look at?

My budget is <$1000, doesn't need to be pretty or low mileage but I do want it to be stock or close to stock. Does also need to be streetable (turn signals and brake light and headlight). I'm looking for something I can fix up, ride, and eventually sell.

Any ideas?

There's a somewhat local 1979 XR250, asking $950. Looks to be in good shape, 5k miles. I want to spend closer to $500 though.
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Old 06-24-2015, 05:10 PM   #2
MrPulldown
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dr350
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Old 06-24-2015, 07:19 PM   #3
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The XR is out then. Not street legal.
I recommend the TW200. It is not uncommon to find one in good condition for $1000 or less.
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Old 06-24-2015, 07:22 PM   #4
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some XRs are street legal. the 400s, 600s, and 650s, at least, are popular bikes to put a dual sport kit on and get a plate for.
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Old 06-24-2015, 08:30 PM   #5
Laurence243 OP
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In Idaho all you need is a headlight and brake light
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Old 06-25-2015, 03:37 AM   #6
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Hi there mate, welcome aboard! Please kindly take a huge recommendation for anything Honda XR or Suzuki DR from me!

Here's my 1990 XR600R:



Best bike I've owned for doing anything you want - onroad, offroad, jump on and get the groceries in busy afternoon traffic so you can cut through traffic... it does it all.

I've ridden a 250 and they are a lot of fun as well, especially as you can moderate the throttle less and just keep upshifting. They will be more challenged on the freeway, buzzing along at 50~60mph as opposed to a solid no-worries-at-all 70mph like the 600 will, but they will be a lot better in tighter stuff offroad than the 600 as they are lighter.

The XR series are very easy to work on - two bolts undo the seat, another two and the tank is off, then a big shift spanner for the valve covers on top of the engine. A 10mm spanner for the valve adjuster locknuts and you can do the clearances. Should take 20-30 minutes but budget an hour for the first time. Do it when the bike is cold, as soon as you can after buying her, then again ever 3-5k miles. I find mine don't change a lot after the first few, but never hurts to check.

The carb is simple to tune, and if she starts and runs fine then leave it alone.

Oil filter is on the side cover, a few bolts and its in your hand. Oil is drained easily as there isn't any bodywork.

Like I said, easy to work on. The DR series from Suzuki is very similar to what I have described above, in performance as well as maintenance.

Anyway, have a hunt around for a decent XR but the 250 you mentioned with 5k miles sounds amazing. See how it is and try and get it for as low a price as possible. Don't buy it without seeing it running, and try and get a test ride first. Nothing worse than buying a bike only to find it is fit for the scrapheap under its fresh coat of paint and new tyres.

CHeers - boingk
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Old 06-26-2015, 03:26 PM   #7
Laurence243 OP
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Thanks for the info! How hard is it to convert the 6v Hondas to 12v?
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Old 06-26-2015, 04:04 PM   #8
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Just leave them 6v and make sure you have a good clean sparkplug in it. It isn't a real issue.
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Old 06-26-2015, 04:43 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by boingk View Post
Just leave them 6v and make sure you have a good clean sparkplug in it. It isn't a real issue.
yeah, but what if he wants to ride at night and actually be able to see what's in front of him?
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Old 06-26-2015, 06:24 PM   #10
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XT350. Usually $500'ish and the YDIS carbs will either teach you to be a decent mechanic or make you suicidal. Plus shim and bucket valve adjustment, a special tool to set the float height and did I mention the YDIS half CV carburetor monstrosity? You will learn to wrench or learn to kick one 10,000 times.

Actually, I would second an XR or XL600R. Stone ax reliable, easy to work on, Honda still sells parts, some XR parts cross over to the XL, God's own seat and they are actually kind of fast. Sure they handle like crap over whoops but they turn better than any dual sport should and generally behave pretty well for an ancient bike.

The DR350 would be a good choice if they weren't a cult bike that still gets stupid money for beaters. If you trip over one at a decent price though it is on the short list. They still handle like crap in whoops and have Suzuki ergonomics. But they work better than they should and were the best of the time period.

I am not a huge fan of the Yamaha 200's. They really don't make enough power to even be entertaining. Maybe it's just me, but a TW200 would be among my last choices for exploring deserts and mountains.
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Old 06-26-2015, 06:43 PM   #11
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Early XR 250's (and 350's I think?) had issues with lubrication at sustained highway use. There was an oil cooler available to mount to the headstem. Not that I've owned an XR250 but I have two coolers here I was going to fit to earlier bikes with one going to be fitted to a KTM 620.

On that note, I'd be looking at a KTM 620 etc. I've had my run with XR's and won't be going back there!
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Old 06-27-2015, 05:42 AM   #12
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From what I read, the Yamaha TW200 makes a lot of sense. It isn't a hard core off roader, but with the wider tires it would be a great all around bike for a hunter/fisher since you never quite know what the trail/meadow conditions might be. Sure it requires more casual riding style, but I'm seeing that in the OP.

Stick a scabbard and box on the back and have at it. Simple engine/bike for simple maintenance and learning.

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Old 06-27-2015, 05:50 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AUSSIEADV View Post
Early XR 250's (and 350's I think?) had issues with lubrication at sustained highway use. There was an oil cooler available to mount to the headstem. Not that I've owned an XR250 but I have two coolers here I was going to fit to earlier bikes with one going to be fitted to a KTM 620.

On that note, I'd be looking at a KTM 620 etc. I've had my run with XR's and won't be going back there!

Selling Hondas in the 80s, never heard of that, but then again the internet didn't exist, so it was word of mouth and magazines.

The earlier ones I never saw blown up in the shop, so I'm thinking the older ones didn't really have much issue. Maybe if a rider didn't keep an eye on the oil level if the bike blew off oil, there might be an issue. Never read anything about it in magazines either.


The later RFV 250s had oil coolers and the four valves had oil filters. The worst problem we saw was if a rider put the oil filter in backward. If I remember right, the end with the hole went to the outside, but a few riders would want to turn it to the inside. It would block the feed and starve the top end for oil.
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Old 06-28-2015, 01:46 AM   #14
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You could buy new Chinese bike, it will be a project bike out of the shelf. Plus the parts are cheaper
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Old 06-28-2015, 02:02 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by MCVL View Post
You could buy new Chinese bike, it will be a project bike out of the shelf. Plus the parts are cheaper
I think there's a guy on here with 40,000+ miles on one of those Lifan 200cc dual sports... I rode one for my MSF course and it wasn't a bad bike at all. From what I understand they are clones of the XR200, pretty hard to go wrong there.
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