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Old 11-27-2012, 05:54 PM   #16
Mad Kaw
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The KTM is a great bike. I've ridden a KTM LC4 quite a bit. Personally the DRz (IMO) is a better bike for a variety of reasons. But that's just opinion. I have had 35 bikes in my career. 12 were dirt bikes....numerous BMW's. I can tell you the DRz/KLX platform is as good as it gets. But Far be it from me to try to steer you away from a KTM. If you drink the orange kool aid...you'll be hooked. I know...I've riden em! Good luck!
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:57 PM   #17
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I guess it's fate that the GSA pic is upsidown given the fact that you are looking for a fun toy. I'm with you, very little offroad experience but wanting to play. I went safe and cheap with a DR 350 which I then bored out to 385 (easy kit). Plenty of fun and lite as a bicycle. Not as fast and well suspended as a KTM or anything of that caliber but it works for me as a learner and it's great for quick trips to HomeDepot and the like.




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Old 11-27-2012, 06:08 PM   #18
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I used to take my GSA pretty far off the beaten track but started to feel bad - actually realized after a ride on a friends KTM that I wasn't fast and I was working hard to get the speeds I was getting. The KTM was so much more suited to ripping along on dirt trails, jumping ditches and digging through the mud. I ended up buying a KTM 690 for the off road fun while still having all the road going capability. At 310lbs it's pretty light. Not a woods weapon but depending on what you mean by off road it might be a good option, though the price point may be north of your planned budget to get a new one. Lots of good options out there from the slate of 250cc offerings to the bigger thumpers. Where and how do you plan to use the bike, are you a experienced road rider, how big of guy are you. Biggest point will be to look for opportunities to get saddle time on a variety of bikes. Anything lighter than the GSA and with the bigger front wheel will certainly feel more at home on the dirt.
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Old 11-27-2012, 06:25 PM   #19
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My 505 EXC was one of my all time favorites but wasn't plated so it went away!

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Old 12-10-2012, 06:30 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Kaw View Post
The KTM is a great bike. I've ridden a KTM LC4 quite a bit. Personally the DRz (IMO) is a better bike for a variety of reasons. But that's just opinion. I have had 35 bikes in my career. 12 were dirt bikes....numerous BMW's. I can tell you the DRz/KLX platform is as good as it gets. But Far be it from me to try to steer you away from a KTM. If you drink the orange kool aid...you'll be hooked. I know...I've riden em! Good luck!
The more I read, the less I think the KTM is anything I would ever be able to ride on the street, while heading to the dirt. The DR-Z 400 seems like it will do the street very well, and hang in there in the dirt. I was particularly troubled to read about the maintenance requirements of the KTM, it almost seemed like you need to rebuild the motor frequently, but maybe I am misreading.....
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Old 12-10-2012, 07:01 PM   #21
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I bought a Husky 630 but imo a 610 is easily as good if you read the fan base reviews in Thumpers and a KTM 500 series bike or Husaberg 570 is even better offroad. Sure there are cheaper bikes that are great in their own right but the cheaper bikes will not perform as well offroad. And no amount of money poured into a cheaper bike is going to make it a match.

I've owned my Husky for 2 seasons and negligible issues, IOW nothing requiring a dealer visit.
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Old 12-10-2012, 07:04 PM   #22
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I had a 2008 KLR and sold that to get a 2009 KTM 690r enduro. The KLR is a good all-arounder but is very top heavy and is not made to go fast. If you try to ride a KLR fast off road, even with upgraded suspension, it gets very sketchy. The 690 is much ligher and not top heavy since the tank is under the seat/rear fender. It loves to go fast and handles off road speed very well. I am not sure the 690 would be a good bike to learn riding off road on. It is very fast and could bite a rider with no experience. Maintenence on the 690 is more like a normal dual sport. The EXC bikes are plated race bikes so upkeep on those bikes is more intense. The KLR and DR650 are probably more reliable than the 690 but I just love the 690s power and handling. On the highway the 690 might be slightly worse than the KLR but not by much. A big plus is the 690 has way more power so passing is way easier. The 690 will require a new or redone seat. The stocker is a plank. Hope this helps.
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Old 12-10-2012, 08:18 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhendrik View Post
The more I read, the less I think the KTM is anything I would ever be able to ride on the street, while heading to the dirt. The DR-Z 400 seems like it will do the street very well, and hang in there in the dirt. I was particularly troubled to read about the maintenance requirements of the KTM, it almost seemed like you need to rebuild the motor frequently, but maybe I am misreading.....
I am a R12GS rider that got hooked into more and more off-road stuff that led me to buying a light weight dual sport. I see myself a little a head of you and can readily identify where you are.

The advice that I got over and over was that the KLX250, WR250R, and DRZ-400 are the best of the lightweight, easy to handle, great low maintenance platforms to both learn on and ride forever.

I had to be different and ended up with a Husaberg FE390, which is essentially an uprated KTM. The bike is a blast and handles a lot like a mountain bike. Feels plenty light, lots of low end torque. I am confident (but without the actual experience to say) that it is more nimble and responsive that the lightweight DS's I mentioned above. The downside is that it, like many of the KTM's, have to be converted to be street legal--no big deal but can add to the costs depending on the bike, have very small oil reservoirs demanding frequent oil changes, and the foam air filter needs to be cleaned constantly. The bikes often have small gas tanks requiring an aftermarket fuel tank, and the lights often suck. It short, the exotics are lots of fun but you pay for it in time and money.

The KLR's and DR650s are easier to handle "big" bikes akin in a lot of ways to the GS in my view. You won't cry when you drop these bikes like you will the GS, but in my view it was just a variation of the same genre of bike. They may be easier to handle than the GS (maybe), but I don't think by much, and certainly not enough for me to have justified that path.

Anything much bigger in the dirtbike class like the 450s and up I gather are a lot of bike for a beginner, although there are ways to tame them down.

For what its worth. Hope this helps.
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Old 12-11-2012, 08:36 AM   #24
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A smaller Dual Sport like a WR250r , or the 250 Honda or Kawaski . Cheap and easy to ride and pick up.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:43 AM   #25
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alternative

I also have a 1200gs and am looking at a second bike for the same reasons you are. I have had many bikes over the years and to find one bike to do it all is pretty difficult. I,ve had Ktm 950 adv. ,640lc4e,525exc 250exc,200exc,.I had a Yamaha Wr250r and a Kaw klr and a few more. All great bikes in there own right..Of all the bikes I mentioned I found the Ktm 640lc4e to be the one closest to what I am looking for now.So that being said I will be looking at a used Husqvarna TE610 or TE630 and possibly the new Husky 650 Terra come spring, although I think that the Terra may be a little heavier than I want but maybe a great bike for you . I think the mid size adventure platform (650cc) is the best compromise for what you may want .It will go on the interstate at a pretty good clip and is capable of doing so decent off -roading ,dependent on your abilities.They also have a enough power to put a grin on your face on the gravel backroads.This is just one old man's opinion and I hope it helps.
Good luck on your choice.
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Old 12-11-2012, 11:25 AM   #26
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If range and carrying gear weren't prime factors, this could work. . ..

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Old 12-11-2012, 11:29 AM   #27
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after riding my GS off road then switching to the KLR, the klr feels like a bicycle. my KLR has Ricor valves in the forks & a Moab shock on the back. tittied up with a 705, a bit of head work, & FMF exhaust, etc... I've ridden it side by side with the KTM640 and it's really close. I know orange guys will hate that but its true & my friend with the 640 agrees. it takes $$$ and time to make those changes, but it has 8000 trouble free miles. (the 690 is a definite step up). the DR is pretty good out of the box, a little lighter than the klr & only needs a tank to go rtw. the DRZ is better off road because of the weight... trouble is the gearing is short and the seat is butt floss. the WR250 can stay with the KLR on the highway if packed light (very light)... it also need premium gas. it's all trade offs

learn the dirt on a half beat dirt bike if you can

P.S. I still have the GS and use it a lot. I'm still looking for that 400-500cc light weight mostly dirt bike that can hold the highway speeds
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:19 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhendrik View Post
Looking for advice. I have an 09 GSA for long haul touring, pavement. It's great for heavy loads over long paved rides. Now I keep reading about guys like Colebach, etc who ride gravel and dirt and sand and off road, places where the big pig is a handful, like all the way to Magadan and Mongolia I want to explore the rougher ride, and wanted advice on what bike might work, maybe with soft luggage for some real adventure riding, including lots of fire roads, gravel and dirt, while still carrying lightweight camping gear.

I have seen some pics of the BMW 650X Challenge and its looks good. Is this a good place to start my off pavement exploration, or do I need to go lighter.

I have zero off road time, and don't mind taking some training programs.

All information appreciated.

I was in a similar situation about a year ago. I have a 1200 GS and found that I had very little offroad riding skills. I ended up buying a KLX-250S. After a few weeks of riding I found an offroad riding school and attended a one-day class. Best thing I ever did for my offroad riding.

My instructor told me that my choice of bikes was excellent. The power delivery was mild compared to the fire-breathing 450's, but the bike could still get the job done. He suggested that I keep that bike for about a year to build up my ability. I think that was pretty good advice. I did keep that bike for about a year but in the meantime ended up buying a kdx-220 for purely offroad stuff. (Night and day difference between that and the klx in the offroad environment.) Eventually, I found the KLX wasn't enough for me. I was pushing harder and wanted more... It didn't make sense to try and upgrade everything on it. I sold that and bought a WR450 that I plated.

So where is my advice in all this? Buy the nicest, well-maintained, 250cc bike you can find in your local area. I would pay a premium for the maintenance part. Go out and ride the hell out of it. After a few months of ownership, I bet you'll have a clearer idea of the type of riding you'll be interested in. After you know that, the bike choice will be easy.

Good luck.

Jon
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:40 PM   #29
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This all sounds like good advice to me. Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DirtViking View Post
I was in a similar situation about a year ago. I have a 1200 GS and found that I had very little offroad riding skills. I ended up buying a KLX-250S. After a few weeks of riding I found an offroad riding school and attended a one-day class. Best thing I ever did for my offroad riding.

My instructor told me that my choice of bikes was excellent. The power delivery was mild compared to the fire-breathing 450's, but the bike could still get the job done. He suggested that I keep that bike for about a year to build up my ability. I think that was pretty good advice. I did keep that bike for about a year but in the meantime ended up buying a kdx-220 for purely offroad stuff. (Night and day difference between that and the klx in the offroad environment.) Eventually, I found the KLX wasn't enough for me. I was pushing harder and wanted more... It didn't make sense to try and upgrade everything on it. I sold that and bought a WR450 that I plated.

So where is my advice in all this? Buy the nicest, well-maintained, 250cc bike you can find in your local area. I would pay a premium for the maintenance part. Go out and ride the hell out of it. After a few months of ownership, I bet you'll have a clearer idea of the type of riding you'll be interested in. After you know that, the bike choice will be easy.

Good luck.

Jon
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Old 12-14-2012, 07:16 PM   #30
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I learned to ride dirtbikes since I was a kid and have been riding mostly off road most of my life.
I actually regret selling my DRZ 400 S, as it was a bike that could do everything I ever asked of it
while riding trails and water crossings etc. But at the end of the day it really had its limits when
taking it to the tarmac. Which is why I wanted something bigger.

That being said, what about not getting another bike at all? With the riding you described, you
can just take your hard luggage off and put soft on. Balance? For more confidence, put a low seat
on and for traction put some Heidenau scouts on. I have takin my GSA through the fire roads, gravel,
hard and soft dirt, and in the end? I was very surprised just how good these big bikes are off road, and
there is tons of power when you need it. Of course if you want to do deep water crossings and lots
of rocky terrain... then sure a light dirt bike would be better.
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