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Old Yesterday, 07:01 PM   #1
hangontight OP
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Bike choice for someone new to dirt riding

I have a longing to ride dirt. I'm 30 yrs old and have ridden street since I was 18. Mostly Buells, sportsters, etc. I've done a fair amount to track riding so I consider myself an experienced street rider.
As far as dirt, I grew up on a farm riding ATV's but to this day I've never been on a dirt bike of any kind (unless you call my old Buell Ulysses one ).

Anyway I want to try dirt riding....a little about me, I'm 6'3" #240 so I'm not a small guy, but I'm in good shape physically. I want something street legal so I can ride to the trails. Would I be better off with a smaller bike like a 250 to learn or should I go with a 650 like a DR or XRL? On one hand I'm sure the 250 would be more confidence inspiring on the dirt, but I feel that with my size I might be more comfortable on something taller like an XRL. I also feel like after riding large bore bikes on the street for so many years, a TW200 or 250 would be frustrating anytime I'm on the street due to lack of power.

I suppose my final option would be an off road only bike like a CRF230F or something, but then I'd have to throw it in my pickup everytime I want to ride, not the most ideal setup

Just looking' for some advice from all you seasoned off-roaders
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Old Yesterday, 07:32 PM   #2
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Old Yesterday, 07:38 PM   #3
McB
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It doesn't sound like the 650s would overwhelm you at all, and height shouldn't be an issue. Plus, you can probably find a good used 650 for no more than you'd pay for a smaller bike, because there are a lot more out there.
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Old Yesterday, 08:37 PM   #4
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Not the same size as you (I'm 5'10 #175) but I do have a lot of street experience with a lot of powerful bikes (1198, RC51, MV Agusta F4, FJR, etc.) and let me be the first to say, the WR250R is more than enough bike to have learn and have fun on - even stock. You can't really compare this to 250/300cc streetbikes either. If you've ridden the Ninja 300 you'd know what underpowered for the street feels like, the WR does NOT feel like that. It feels a bit more like a 500cc street bike, and rails pretty hard in the corners as well.

With your weight I can't tell you for sure it wouldn't feel a little slow, but I can say that coming from very powerful street bikes, I don't miss the power anywhere but on the freeway slabbing it - and you don't buy a dual sport to slab.

If I were your size, I would demo the XR and the WR250R and see which worked better for me. That's really all I can suggest. You've got the height to make the XR work and it certainly has more power, but the WR is a sweet ass bike that you can't disregard unless you've ridden it.
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Old Yesterday, 08:40 PM   #5
Rob.G
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At your size, I think a DR650 would be about ideal. There are plenty of used ones out there at many price levels, and it'll grow with you.

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Old Yesterday, 10:12 PM   #6
enigma2y0u
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My opinion on the matter is either buy a really cheap small bike or just buy the bike you want from the beginning.

I have spent too many years in the harley crowd, klr crowd, etc., because it was the thing at the time. Looking back I wish I would have spent all that time on what I wanted.

Since you are used to sporty bikes you will be frustrated at the power delivery of small enduros.
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Old Yesterday, 10:28 PM   #7
DRTII
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enigma2y0u View Post
Since you are used to sporty bikes you will be frustrated at the power delivery of small enduros.
It's possible, but you also have to realize he's coming from heavy American bikes and might find a 300lb dirt bike with lights a welcome change, even if it's only got 25hp.

I went from 1200cc to 250cc, and before that I had a 1300cc bike. There's a lot more to it than just displacement.
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Old Yesterday, 10:56 PM   #8
lamotovita
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hangontight View Post
Anyway I want to try dirt riding....a little about me, I'm 6'3" #240 so I'm not a small guy, but I'm in good shape physically.
I suppose my final option would be an off road only bike like a CRF230F or something, but then I'd have to throw it in my pickup everytime I want to ride, not the most ideal setup
You are way too big for the 230, you would kill it.
Dirt bikes do work much better in the dirt than dual sports though.
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Old Today, 08:25 AM   #9
dirt hokie
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DRZ 400

This guy sounds like somebody who is going to be a little more aggressive then many first time dirt riders otherwise he would not have taken his street bikes to the track, so the 250 and 230 factory dual sports will not cut it especially with his size.

A DRZ 400 is big enough but has smooth power, has decent suspension and can handle any trail in stock form with the proper tires.

A XR 650L or DR 650 will also work, but a DRZ 400 is better off road then either, and the PO said he is only getting a dual sport to get to the trails as opposed to going dual sporting or adventurer riding, which he could still do on a DRZ 400. Other option is a converted dirt bike.
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Old Today, 09:44 AM   #10
doogiepooch
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dirt hokie View Post
DRZ 400
Yep.
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Old Today, 09:51 AM   #11
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What kind of trails?

I vote WR250R. It's a much easier-to-ride bike than the portly DRZ. It's plenty tall enough for you as well. It's a little over-sprung for me, but should suit you pretty well in stock form.
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Old Today, 10:22 AM   #12
markk53
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A bit better to be underpowered than overpowered when learning off road. It's a lot less painful when you auger into the earth at lower speeds... and yes, you will do so. Better to scare the snot out of yourself on as light a bike as possible with minimal power than to do so on a top heavy 650. There is a reason all the off road training camps use small bikes too. If you can slide and wheelie a sub-20hp bike you can do it on a big one too, but it takes more skill to make the small bike do tough things.

I'm thinking a used 250 on the cheap would be great, then if you like it, do a big bore or a more serious off road/MX ride. No sense in spending 3000-10,000 dollars then find you really don't like it and don't want to ride off road anymore or find out you bought the wrong bike.
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Old Today, 10:31 AM   #13
Navin
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How far you are riding street might limit your tire choices. You want to ride a race pace and push your limits or putter?

A WRR is a near zero torque trail bike, with crap stock suspension settings for a big guy. DRZ 400 is probably a better choice if you can ride within the gear box spread. (you probably can), and lots of room to upgrade and set it up for your size/skill and all the knowledge is there to get it up to a pretty decent race bike too.

I've avoid the "toys" like the 230, 225, just about all the 250 bikes.

The 650s are turds too. Go exploring, fine. Go up the pace and not a lot of fun. Think of them as ATVs. It'll get there, but it might not be very much fun.

You have a budget?

If you want to hammer, any of the used KTM EXC/MXCs with plate. 400-450-520-525-530. Anywhere from $2500-10,000. Under $5000 gets you a really nice one.
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Old Today, 10:34 AM   #14
byron555
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still have a street bike?

If so, the easy choice is a DRZ400. With your size you could go with a 650, but if you are keeping the Street bike go with a better dirt machine the DRZ. Easy to find used, reasonably priced too...


A WR250r is an excellent choice too, but the added torque of a DRZ might work better for a guy your size.
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Old Today, 10:38 AM   #15
LittleRedToyota
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imho...

assuming you are talking about real dirt riding, not just dirt roads...you want something light. something well under 300lbs.

a 250 2-stroke would certainly have more than enough power and would be nice and light. a 250f (4 stroke) would be good to start on, too, but you might quickly get tired of the relative lack of torque.

a KTM 350 exc would be great, too, but you won't be able to get one as cheaply as a 250 2-stroke. that might be the prefect bike for it though, imho. it doesn't weight a whole lot more than a 250 2 stroke but, imho, the power is easier to control/easier to learn to ride dirt on than a typical 250 smoker.

DRZs, WRRs, and especially any of the 650 dual sports, are not ideal for learning to dirt ride because of their relatively heavy weight. (it doesn't really matter how big you are...they're still heavy.)
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