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Old 11-27-2012, 03:21 AM   #1
vector_dumb OP
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Classic on/off road bike options?

Howdy,

I'm starting to do some long range planning for an on/off road adventure bike. I currently have an R80ST which I love - it's in great condition and I am planning to use it for regional camping. ...but I have bigger aspirations. I'd like to learn some dirt riding and eventually tackle parts of the trans america trail. I could G/Sify the ST, but the world doesn't need to lose another ST. Also, when learning off road riding I'm probably going to dump the bike and the ST just doesn't need that after 30 years of care by prior owners.

Soooo I'm starting to investigate the XR650L. It seems simple, cheap, easy to get parts, and relatively bomb proof. All things I like. I could also get an early model and apply for historic registration soon. The XR650L would probably need some rear subframe work or bolstering which I can deal with.

So my question is - what classic vehicles are out there that maybe I should consider? I do love the airheads and have the aptitude to make a offroad airhead. The holdup for me is silly little parts can cost far more than they should unless you are willing to wait around for used items to show up here or IBMWR. That adds up quick when building or repairing. I really like the scrambler look that many here have done. Maybe there are other makes and models that I should take a look at?

For what it's worth I'm 6'2" and 165lbs, so short bikes are not the best. I'd also want the bike to be capable of highway speeds, even if it won't be used much there.

Thanks!

This is just long range planning
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WTB: XR650l parts: Stock front sprocket cover/case saver, rear chain guard, petcock. Condition used but decent, price fair.
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Old 11-27-2012, 09:36 AM   #2
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XV 920 Yamaha. Heavy , low and you won't see them often. Turn your back on the pack.
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Old 11-27-2012, 02:17 PM   #3
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XT600, KLX650, XL600, DR650.

Or get any old UJM with 18s or 19/18s with 100/120 tyres, fit fork valves and decent rear shocks, then ride the crap out of it till the wheels fall off in goopy clay, corrugated gravel, sand, dirt, whatever.
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MODNROD View Post
XT600, KLX650, XL600, DR650.
I wouldn't quite consider any of those classics. 1 of them is still being made. I'd look at a late 70s xt500 if you want a classic, capable, and reliable bike. Dual shocks look cool. Old XTs can be found dirt cheap as well.



Let's not forget that rambo rode an old XT. Can't mess with that.

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Old 11-27-2012, 05:44 PM   #5
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As was mentioned above, just about any UJM can be converted for mild off-road use fairly easily. But it would probably be easier and cheaper to just buy an old enduro bike - they pop up all the time on CL, at least near me.
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:57 PM   #6
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I would like a vintage dual sport also, something like an old sl350, Suzuki made a 400 cc 4 stroke dual sport, along with the xt500 and so on, but getting parts is tough.
I was dual sporting a 1969 Triumph Daytona which worked very well as a dual sport, but it needed too much work to keep it in shape. Not from dual sporting it, just from riding it.

The DR650 is a great bike, and sort of old style (air cooled at least).

There are likely a few old bikes you could put dual sport tires on and do ok in mellow dirt with a little work on the suspension, any old Honda twin, the sx650, an old Suzuki GN400 and others.
Maybe even an old 883 sportster, the old solid frame chain drive ones. Those you CAN get parts for.
I had an 86 883 and thought it would have been fun on dirt roads, strip off some weight, mount plastic fenders, thicker fork oil, fit big knobby's and enjoy the torque.
That is one thing about Harley's, you can always get parts.
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Old 11-27-2012, 09:22 PM   #7
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Maryland is not exactly an enduro bike hub, but stuff does occasionally pop up on craigslist.

I like the look of the XT500 but the seat may be pretty low for a guy whose 6'2". Too bad since it looks like a pretty lithe little thing.

Going for a classic bike is a little of a catch .22 - you can get something that the average joe blow doesn't have, but parts may be a bit of an issue as Brett pointed out.

The other thing to consider is while I don't plan on comprehensively ruining this bike, it may see some tough days. So a ~2k workhorse sounds pretty good.
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WTB: XR650l parts: Stock front sprocket cover/case saver, rear chain guard, petcock. Condition used but decent, price fair.
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Old 11-28-2012, 04:48 AM   #8
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Older bikes seemed bigger then modern ones, so don't write anything off till you sit on it.
I am not sure when the low seat trend started, but before then, almost every bike was good for a 6 foot person, and different bars made it good for bigger people.
I remember my old 86 sportster being great, all it needed was the seat upgrade, but the new ones are made for dwarfs.
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Old 11-28-2012, 06:05 AM   #9
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How about an old Trans Alp if you can find one. Honda is good at maintaining parts as availalble.

I'm converting an old XS650 into a dual sport / adv bike. While the cost is not too bad, the time involved in my project is prohibitive for anything other than a project bike.

I'd be looking at an XT, DR or XR 500 to 650. They are reasonable and already set up for dual sport riding.

Can't overlook the KLR650s either. Very popular with tons of aftermarket support. May be heavier than you want, but they also have decent fuel range. That is the complaint I hear about the XR650L, the tank is too small if you don't have regular access to fuel.
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Old 11-28-2012, 06:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vector_dumb View Post
Maryland is not exactly an enduro bike hub, but stuff does occasionally pop up on craigslist.

I like the look of the XT500 but the seat may be pretty low for a guy whose 6'2". Too bad since it looks like a pretty lithe little thing.

Going for a classic bike is a little of a catch .22 - you can get something that the average joe blow doesn't have, but parts may be a bit of an issue as Brett pointed out.

The other thing to consider is while I don't plan on comprehensively ruining this bike, it may see some tough days. So a ~2k workhorse sounds pretty good.
I'm 5' 6" tall with a 30" inseam and my '77 XT500 is perfectly sized for me. I don't think it would be for tall guys though.

Parts for an XT500 aren't a problem (not that I've needed much in 11k miles) - one of the best supported old Japanese bikes in my experience.
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Old 11-28-2012, 07:42 PM   #11
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:57 AM   #12
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caponerd - is that a r60/2?

I've thought about an r75/6 scramber, but have been somewhat concerned about the weight of the bike. I'm not exactly a beast, so I've often wondered If I'd have trouble dealing with a 450lb airhead as opposed to a 350lb enduro/dualsport.

Having 2 airheads in the stable would cut down on learning curve.
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WTB: XR650l parts: Stock front sprocket cover/case saver, rear chain guard, petcock. Condition used but decent, price fair.
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Old 11-29-2012, 01:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vector_dumb View Post
caponerd - is that a r60/2?

I've thought about an r75/6 scramber, but have been somewhat concerned about the weight of the bike. I'm not exactly a beast, so I've often wondered If I'd have trouble dealing with a 450lb airhead as opposed to a 350lb enduro/dualsport.

Having 2 airheads in the stable would cut down on learning curve.
One is an R69 (1958) the other is an R69S (1963).

Both are standard bikes, with the exception of the Shinko 244 dual sport tires, which are the most important modification you can make on one of these bikes for off-pavement use.

My two friends and I (I have a 1965 R69S) have been taking trips every summer for several years that have been involving more and more forest service and "unimproved" roads each year.
All of us own more modern dual sport, purpose built adv bikes (mine's a 2002 Aprilia Caponord), and we all agree that these little Earles Fork BMW's are more fun offroad than any of the 1000+cc dual sport bikes we own, or have ridden.
Not long after I snapped that picture, we did two fairly intense water crossings (for which, nobody was willling to do a second time so I could get a picture!), and all three bikes managed without a problem.

I can tell you that the best way to find out if your /6 works offroad for you is to just try it out, as-is. Dual sport tires are definately preferable, but in dry conditions, normal street tires work fine. We've only been running the Shinko's for two years, before that, we did all our dirt road riding on Metzeler street tires.
Hell, I've even had my 1982 R100RT on some fairly rough roads with no real difficulty.


caponerd screwed with this post 11-29-2012 at 01:23 PM
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Old 11-29-2012, 03:16 PM   #14
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Two old XS650 - 'Allroads Travellers'

right tyres & you can go anywhere!
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Old 11-30-2012, 08:47 AM   #15
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I guess the question I need to ask myself is "What do I want to do with it?" Traversing fire roads, rural dirt roads, something more aggressive? Tough to say. Not much dirt out my way, so I'd have to go a ways to find something interesting. All the more reason to make this an adventure bike. Take a day to ride up to PA, camp in a state forest, and do some local trail riding. Gee, I rather like the sound of that!

Since I own a nice R80ST I've given thought to buying a second ST that is a little rough around the edges. Certainly would be capable off road w/ proper tires and could inherit hand me down parts from it's prettier sibling. Same maintenance procedures, same ins and outs, and same support items to carry along. Also I could always G/Sify the bike later down the line for more off road ability.

-or-

I could get an r75/6 (currently do not own one) and turn it into a scrambler. Advantages include a few parts being more common than the ST or G/S. Maintenance, parts, and special tools would be similar and I'd already be aware of the quirks

-or-

I could get an older UJM. Advantages being lighter and the bike would have a different character. It seems most parts are cheaper than airheads which may be an advantage if the bike sees some aggressive off road action. Different maintenance and quirks, but feel good about finding another classic a home

-or-

Get a mid 90's dual sport for 2k. Bask in part availability, aftermarket support and not worry about beating it to death. Reinforce subframe if needed.

Well... choices are good!!

The R69's off road is pretty wild, but if I accidentally dumped a bike like that I'd blow a gasket. Keep in mind I have zero dirt experience. Ooopsies will probably happen along the way.
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Mac, you have an exceptional number of bugs in your teeth. You're gonna wanna rinse those out. It's disgusting. (Always Sunny)

WTB: XR650l parts: Stock front sprocket cover/case saver, rear chain guard, petcock. Condition used but decent, price fair.
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