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Old 10-01-2011, 04:18 PM   #1
Wildswolfe OP
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Beta 520RS street comfort

I live in NM and have been on a 2008 KLR650 for almost 4 years and am seriously considering replacing it with a 2011 or 2012 Beta 520RS. I ride mostly off-pavement on forest service roads (both graded gravel and 4WD only) with occasional forays cross-country to reach primo campsites. My paved surface time is usually to reach a camping area in National Forest or BLM land and is normally done on 2-lane highways at 55-65mph. I am not a long-distance tourer. I will be 64 in a few months and am recently finding the KLR too heavy to pick-up after it takes a dirt nap, especially when I have my Giant Loop Great Basin bag strapped to the back. All my dumps have been off-balance falls at 0-3 mph and have done little of no damage to the bike (I have crash bars - don't leave home without them!) and never any injuries to me.

The 520RS is way lighter (249 lbs dry vs. close to 400 dry for the KLR) and should be a lot easier to pick up after going down. With the 520RS I'm getting a lot better off-road bike although I don't have any intention of using it to its full potential like I might have back when I was stupid and 21. I will have to pack a smaller and lighter camping kit when using it to get into the outback which I am OK with, but I am interested in knowing what people's experience has been on the highway. I've read the reviews which all praise its performance in the dirt but only casually deal with what it's like on the road for 50-100 miles (the distance I may have to travel before reaching unpaved roads). I know it's primarily a dirt bike that happens to be street legal, but how is it riding for my distance needs? The KLR is fine on the highway with the fairing/windshield blocking a lot of wind, and being relatively heavy compared to many dual-sports it is less affected by sidewind and turbulence (less effected is not equal to no effects). What have you experienced on the highway with the 520RS (or 450RS as it is so similar).
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Old 10-01-2011, 05:54 PM   #2
Duken4evr
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Like all real dirt bikes when used on extended street rides (extended means more than about 10 miles), the Beta's saddle is likely going to literally be a sore point. The 520 Beta is a beautiful way cool and highly desireable bike, but it seems like a pretty serious tool for the job you are asking of it too. On the other hand, it is way cool. That is enough perhaps. I love my Husaberg 450 for it's cool factor and it has a plate on it, but I would not want to go more than about 15 miles on the street with it.

Honestly, an old DR350 in great shape would better suit your needs. With 6 speeds they are good on the street, competent enough off road for a dual sport and because they are air cooled they are unbreakable and it is quite a bit lighter than your KLR. I have not owned one but have ridden a friend's DR (with a 440 big bore kit, if memory serves) and it was squishy, comfy and had loads of torque. Did really natural sick long wheelies too by the way. It was a cool bike. With modern suspension it would really be something.

I owned a DRZ400 for many years and it has far better suspension than the old 350s, but they took some steps backward, particularly with the 5 speed trans and the seat, which is comfy off road, but a weapon of a$$ destruction on any kind of street ride that is more than incidental.

Maybe some DR350 owners will chime in, but as far as I am concerned, they are the bike for what you are looking for.
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Old 10-01-2011, 07:48 PM   #3
Happy Seal
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OK, Wildswolf. I'll help the best I can.

Much lighter and less top heavy, very light feel of bike when rolling due to very low center of gravity.

Low seat height with stock seat makes for a managable bike for any terrain.

very good cornering and handleing bike stock from factory.

They sell a rack for the rear and saddlebags and tank bags through AB website.
6th gear is very nice for tooling on the highway.


You might want to=
1. get the soft seat installed or go with aftermarket.
2. get roadworthy tires. My tires are DOT approved Michelin competition III's but are not road or highway tires.

I can ride my bike on the highway but the tires are ridiculous. I like to ride secondary roads with the bike as it is, feel like a kid on a bmx bike= fun.

Power is all there but not if you dont need it. The power is extremely manageable. Roll the throttle and it feels like a 400 with great low and midrange power, but twist the throttle and it's full on smiles. Just keep from looping it. Today I rode down to get cigars. Comfy fun ride until on the back road a kid on my sons baseball team and his friends saw me and did the wheelie sign with his arms. 3rd gear and a twist and I was wheelin down the road, no clutch just power.

I think with your description you would be happy with the bike. Especially when you have to lift the back end off of a rock wall or over a log. Just getting the bike onto a crate is pure joy compared to my very heavy DRZ400S.





tire are good off road, but a set of Dunlop D606's would sure make it more pleasurable on the road.


The bike really shines on the fire roads and off road. Good luck and welcome to ADV.
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Old 10-02-2011, 12:20 PM   #4
Wildswolfe OP
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Thanks for your input guys. The DR choice, while serving my needs, is something I hadn't considered because I want a new bike and not have to deal with necessary upgrade mods on an older bike. The Beta is way more than I need but it is so fine and I'm at the age that I may never get another chance for an Italian hot rod (Ferraris and Lambos are way out of my income bracket plus they wouldn't survive the 2-mile dirt road to my house - if I only rode street I guess I could use a Ducati to satisfy the urge for Italian style and performance). Will look at getting D606s or maybe TKC80s for a better pavement ride.
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Old 10-02-2011, 12:57 PM   #5
straightrod
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I am in the same boat as you. Age 60 with 30-80 miles of two lane to forest roads and single track. My DR650 is a pig for my capacity to pick it up and throw it around on the trail. I have looked at used KTM EXC 525 and 530. They can have a plate for California and have wide ratio gearing for moderately relaxed road work.

Does anyone know how the New Beta street legal bikes stack up to the KTM EXC road manners? I also don't care if I use half the potential of these race bikes. I am shooting for lightness and ability to throw the bike around and extract it from the usual screw ups one encounters on the trail.

Keep us posted if you get a new Beta. There is more of us out there each year with diminishing muscle mass than one would think and we could care less what kind of kool aide we have to drink, we just want to be able to pick it up without a harness, hernia or a come-a-long chained to a tree.

As far as I am concerned the WR250R at 300lbs wet is still to heavy for my style of trail use.
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Old 10-02-2011, 03:25 PM   #6
Happy Seal
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Quote:
Originally Posted by straightrod View Post
I am in the same boat as you. Age 60 with 30-80 miles of two lane to forest roads and single track. My DR650 is a pig for my capacity to pick it up and throw it around on the trail. I have looked at used KTM EXC 525 and 530. They can have a plate for California and have wide ratio gearing for moderately relaxed road work.

Does anyone know how the New Beta street legal bikes stack up to the KTM EXC road manners? I also don't care if I use half the potential of these race bikes. I am shooting for lightness and ability to throw the bike around and extract it from the usual screw ups one encounters on the trail.

Keep us posted if you get a new Beta. There is more of us out there each year with diminishing muscle mass than one would think and we could care less what kind of kool aide we have to drink, we just want to be able to pick it up without a harness, hernia or a come-a-long chained to a tree.

As far as I am concerned the WR250R at 300lbs wet is still to heavy for my style of trail use.
Funny you mention age. I am 45 and the DRZ was 300 lbs dry. I could ride the bike fine other than the terrible steering radius and antiquated suspension until I fell over in the laurel bushes. Then I had a hard time picking it up and out of places. I was riding with my buddy and he took a digger on a very tight trail. It was pretty bad, so I thought I would help w/ the bike and geti it turned around for him. WRONG, I pulled and yanked and thought holy shit. It took both of us.

I said to my wife " how long do you think I'll be able to ride in the woods?". I need to get a light bike now, it just might be my last hoorah!
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Old 10-02-2011, 04:37 PM   #7
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Funny Happy Seal. I had a DRZ400 also, Mine was a bit of a "sleeper". Eddie Sisneros ("Burned" of Thumpertalk fame) is a complete DRZ guru and he is local to me. Eddie completely revalved and resprung my DRZ's suspension. Did a bit of motor massaging too. A 435 kit, a full Yosh exhaust and a pair of Hotcams makes it a different engine altogether, the stock DRZ malaise replaced by actual wheel lofting let's get with it burly power.

The "big yellow pig" as I used to call it could hammer whoops and even fly the easier table tops at the local MX track. Something about that DRZ - it's smooth engine and very hooked up midrange focused power and lowish stance begged me to ride the sh%t out of it and so I happily obliged. Surpised and even pissed off a lot of competition bike mounted people on that machine. It really had amazing suspension and the engine was very stout and effective. Eddie knows his stuff.

The one thing even Eddie could not do was get that DRZ to steer. Weight is weight I guess. Always took the "fat lines" on the yellow bus - no sharp cutting to the inside. It was a dual sport bike after all, for crying out loud. It was good enough that I would forget about all that when in the heat of friendly and fast riding with buddies. It ate bumps great and tracked straight and climbed over everything I threw at it. 9 years of hard core abuse without so much as a valve adjustment after the initial bed in.

I am 49 now and figured rather than have an affair or do other destructive behavior to feed the mid life crisis, it was time for a new bike, enter the Husaberg FE450. The 'Berg actually has some DRZ qualities in a general sense. It is smooth and it is hooked up. Big difference is it handles! The 'Berg needs suspension work to fully realize it's potential for me, and that is coming. I actually rate the Sisneros modded DRZ suspension as superior to the stock undersprung 'Berg suspension. A quick and dirty front and rear spring swap helped the 'Berg considerably though.

Just love how the "real dirt bike" lets me put it where I want it while at speed on the trail. The 'Berg even cruises fine on the street up to 65 mph or so with it's shared with KTM XCW 6 speed trans. It is actually better than the DRZ was in this regard - the DRZ when geared for off road (13/50 was my favorite on that bike) was really geared too short for the street. The 'Berg's seat, so perfect for off road, becomes a plank in short order on the street though. I find myself standing up after awhile. Wearing bicycle shorts with the gel "diaper" pad thing under my riding pants helps lots to cushion my tender backside. Use those shorts on the street bike too.

The 'old DRZ, 13,000 feet high on top of Red Cone. Post mods, it was only a 6th speed away from moderately great, um, greatness The Suzook was good to me to the end. When I put it up for sale on Craigslist, it sold in 2 days, for asking price

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2001 Honda CR250 (out of state riding buddy's bike stored in CO for his annual epic ride) fills my need for the occasional 2 stroke hit!
2006 Yamaha FZ1

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Old 10-02-2011, 08:39 PM   #8
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Yup, I bought my Z from a guy in PA. It was fully modded except bore and suspension. but it was heavy for what I wanted, that's all. otherwise I loved it.




It was only 1 gear and 50 pounds away from a great bike minus doing the suspension.

I made the right choice. I rode the Beta today on mostly roads, ( nursing a hand injury ) And it was a blast, minus the Mich comp III's.

Wow, heck of a pic! I want to go out west bad!
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Old 10-02-2011, 09:55 PM   #9
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Wild,

I'll throw in my 2 cents with the hope it helps in your decision. As you can see from my sig, I've had most of the bikes mentioned, although they were a different color (my "KLR" was a BMW F650 Dakar, and my "Beta 520" was a KTM 520EXC).

My KTM was a great bike, but was a shaker on the street. I couldn't handle very long distances in anything approaching comfort, and highway riding was out due to the gearing. Off-road it was great, but would wear me out if I was hammering. My BMW Dakar was a fine bike, but like the KLR, pretty much sucked at everything . Too big/heavy for real dirt riding, and too gutless to survive on the street (especially the freeway). I've owned a DRZ400 (great bike, just too heavy and I felt every lb of that bike), Honda XR350 and 600, and doG knows how many other bikes over the years.

Out of ALL of those bikes, I ride a WR250R now and couldn't be happier. On paper it's heavier than my KTM, but it feels 30lbs lighter. That rotating mass business isn't BS like I thought it was, it has a real (big) impact! The WRR feels like a mountain bike w/ a motor, and since I've uncorked it, it makes really good, usable power (without a lot of extra noise). It'll run 75mph down the highway all day long w/ stock gearing, and go on any back road, ATV trail, or goat trail that you can find.

So, there you have it. My advice is to check out a smaller bike. You might be surprised. Sure, my KTM 520 could climb a tree (and I tried on several occasions ), but after a few hours in the saddle, it just flat wore me out (I'm 6', 180lbs, so not a little guy). I can ride my "girlie bike" all day, on any terrain, and be ready for more the next day.

-SM
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Old 10-03-2011, 08:01 AM   #10
Duken4evr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Seal View Post

Wow, heck of a pic! I want to go out west bad!
Used to live in Southern Cal before Colorado. A pic of the old "Dr. Z" (off road therapy is good for the soul you know) in the badlands of the Mohave



Ironic perhaps, I hardly ever rode my DRZ on the street. It was used 95% off road. Went a lot of cool places on that bike and as a result became quite emotionally attached to it. This sounds nuts, but I was sad to sell it, even with the spiffy new 'Berg coming. I associate my bikes with the places I ride them, the friends I ride with and the whole experience. In the end, it is just a bike. Psychology - it is a funny thing.

So I have the new bike and am accumulating memories on it. Bonding rather quickly at this point! Gotta get that beautiful Beta of yours out to Colorado and get a pic of it like this one that I took of my 'Berg in Taylor Park! The riding is as good as the picture, and the 'Berg and I, well, we are fully "bonded". The DRZ is but a fond memory now. I have moved on to the hot new lady!



Yes, I am a complete picture whore. Don't encourage me, there is more where these came from. So many photo ops in the west!

Back to the actual subject of this thread, the Yamaha WR250R (dual sport) is an interesting bike. Durable has can be and it has soft but good suspension components. I could see really liking one of those for general go everywhere duty you describe with a big bore kit, some exhaust and fuel injection therapy and tuned suspension. Might have to go take a closer looksie at the WRR mega thread. Guys who own them like them. Can't give a bike higher praise than that.

Sockmonkey is right about the roatating mass thing by the way. On a bigger bike with lots of torque, I like to keep the revs down in the zig zaggy tight stuff and nip the clutch here and there to break the tire loose to bring the back end around when desired. The bike turns easier when the crank is not spinning fast. Conversely, on a bigger bike, when going fast over rough terrain, higher rpm gives stability, Usually running perhaps a gear low, with the R's up and the throttle feathered, with a big dose of juice available anytime it is needed. Riding dirt bikes is such a gas isn't it?
__________________
2010 Husaberg FE450 (plated)
2001 Honda CR250 (out of state riding buddy's bike stored in CO for his annual epic ride) fills my need for the occasional 2 stroke hit!
2006 Yamaha FZ1

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Old 10-03-2011, 12:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duken4evr View Post
Ironic perhaps, I hardly ever rode my DRZ on the street. It was used 95% off road. Went a lot of cool places on that bike and as a result became quite emotionally attached to it. This sounds nuts, but I was sad to sell it, even with the spiffy new 'Berg coming. I associate my bikes with the places I ride them, the friends I ride with and the whole experience. In the end, it is just a bike. Psychology - it is a funny thing.
LOL! I sold my DRZ to my brother for that very reason. Emotion. I loved the bike, and went on great rides with it. Even though it's not in my garage, it's still in the family (and I have visitation rights)!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Duken4evr View Post
Conversely, on a bigger bike, when going fast over rough terrain, higher rpm gives stability, Usually running perhaps a gear low, with the R's up and the throttle feathered, with a big dose of juice available anytime it is needed. Riding dirt bikes is such a gas isn't it?
That reminds me of one other point I wanted to make and your comment re. the big dose of juice jogged my memory. Another reason I like the smaller bike is because it actually helps protect me.....from ME! Case in point, I was on a gnarly hill climb with my mighty 520 and got a bit off line. I hit a smallish log buried in some tall grass, which deflected my front end up. Since I was already on a steep incline, this wasn't good. What was worse was when I deflected back, I unintentionally gave it a blip of juice and with that much torque on tap, whammo! I looped out and I was on my back with a big 520 smashing down on top of me in the blink of an eye. If I hadn't been wearing my Asterisk knee braces, I would have been toast. As it was I hopped around on a sore leg for over a week. Point being, the smaller bike still takes me anywhere I want to go, but is much more forgiving of my errors. And as much as my brain tells me I'm still 25, my body says otherwise and I just don't heal as fast as I used to....

-SM
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Old 10-03-2011, 09:06 PM   #12
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The only thing I will say to about Sock Monkeys first reply is the new generation Beta motors are not the same as the KTM RFS motors of the past. I am not sure what motor you had in the 530 but the new Beta are motors are pretty smooth. Otherwise good post.
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Old 10-03-2011, 10:14 PM   #13
Sock Monkey
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Originally Posted by Happy Seal View Post
The only thing I will say to about Sock Monkeys first reply is the new generation Beta motors are not the same as the KTM RFS motors of the past. I am not sure what motor you had in the 530 but the new Beta are motors are pretty smooth. Otherwise good post.
You're 100% correct, and I haven't ridden the new Beta. I keep forgetting that they make their own engines now vs. stuffing KTM engines into their frames, so they are likely very different beasts. But a 520 is a 520, with all of the good and bad traits that come with them, so my recommendation for the OP to at least look at a smaller bike stands. Hell, a guy with more talent in his big toe than I have in my entire body rides (and races) a 150cc 2-stroke (Dick Burleson).

-SM
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Old 10-04-2011, 01:12 PM   #14
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How light do you need?

The Husky TE630 is available for $6000-6500. I just replaced my 610 with the 630, after having KLR's.

The Husky's are around 320 true lb w/o fuel which is about 100 lb less than my KLR.

I did several 375 mile highway only days with DOT aggressive Knobbies, no problems (had a custom seat and made a

small windscreen.). It is as comfortable on the street as my KLR aside from being lighter in the wind, and MUCH more

fun. The WIDE ratio 6-speed transmission is perfect, go one down in front if you so long dirt trips (Baja).

The big deal about the 610/630 is that this is not a hi maintenance motor but has 3000 mile oil change intervals and is an

EASY bike to work on, and so far parts have been quick and easy to get.

The 610 did go through timing chains about every 8k miles, but the valves were easy to adjust by the side of the road.

The 630 has a new head design and should have regular timing chain wear, I love mine now that it has the power-up kit.

Check out the TE630 forum if you do not need a 275lb bike. I would love a 275lb bike but want generous maintenance

schedule, do not want to give up power, need the comfort on the street, and the price of the Husky TE630 now is

an incredible deal (was going to keep my '06 610 until I hit 20,000 miles but the 630 sale was too good to pass up).



I looked at the Beta 520 at Motoxotica but went with the TE630, admittedly a differnt creature but FAR closer to the Beta

than to the KLR.
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Old 10-04-2011, 03:58 PM   #15
Sock Monkey
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How light do you need?
.
.
.
My point was not STATIC weight, but the perceived weight from all the rotating mass in the bigger motor. Don't believe me? Go hammer off-road on a 520+ for 30 minutes, then go hammer the same trails on a 250. The 250 will feel like a toy in comparison. I thought it was total BS until I bought one.....

Anyway, I was just tossing the "smaller bike" idea out there for the OP since I owned a 520 and wanted to share my experience "going small".

-SM
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