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Old 03-11-2013, 12:03 AM   #1
countzero OP
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Need advice before purchasing my 1st REAL bike.

Hello! First time posting so forgive my noobness. :)

I've spent hours, no, days on ADV and Thumper doing research and would like some suggestions. I apologize in advance for my long-windedness but felt I should lay out as much info as possible.

About me: 5'10", 185 lbs, 28" inseam. I've been riding a Yamaha Zuma 125 scooter every day for 3 years & 11,000 miles. I do almost all of my own wrenching on my vehicles, and while I have wrenched extensively on my scooter, I have never worked on a motorcycle. I've taken the motorcycle safety course on a 250 beginners bike. After finishing the 3day course I asked the instructors what size street bike they thought I could handle, they said anything you want, just control the throttle.

Type of riding: My new bike would be my primary mode of transportation. Running errands & commuting a few miles. 90% of my riding is on flat roads. 40% on bumpy streets, 50% highway, 10% will be Highway/fire roads/ trails in the hills/mountains when I get a DS bike. I hit the freeway as much as I can. MUCH safer.

Budget: $3500 total is the absolute max. Less is better. $2000 would be great.

What I want in a bike in order of importance:

1) Really good gas mileage, like 60-70 mpg. I have a honda civic vx hatch that gets about 25 city & 38 highway but I'm going to hyper-mile it and should get about 35city/60highway. So, if I can't get significantly better mileage then there's no point (other than the fun factor). Im getting 80 mpg city/60 mpg highway on my Zuma 125, but it only goes 60 mph. Ive seen people supposedly getting 70 MPG on their 250's at fuelly.com .

2) Low maintenance. Oil change intervals measured in miles not hours. Bomb-proof, proven engine design; meaning, if someone didn't do the oil changes on time, the engine isn't going to blow. In other words, not even close to a race tuned engine.

3) Good suspension. As I stated above, the streets and highways around here are not very well maintained. Lots of holes and uneven surfaces.

These are the contenders so far: Suzuki DRZ400/KLX400, Honda CRF250L, Suzuki DR 350. Yamaha WR250F (wr250r?), Kawa KLR250, KLX250S. I lean towards the 250's for the MPG and toward the 350/400's for hill climbing. Tough decision.

Are there other/older bikes worth considering? I'm open to any suggestions... No Two-smokes though. Commiefornia will probably ban them at some point.

Many many thanks in advance!


PS - "The other factor" : If SHTF I want to be able to get out of town. This will mean taking back roads, riding in the gravel shoulder, gravel roads, trails, or even crossing uneven ground/fields. I dont think a 250 will handle my 185 lbs plus a 30-40 lb pack over an uneven field going even slightly uphill.

PPS - Found a 1990 Suzuki DR 350 with 5000 miles for $1600. Gotta travel an hour to look at it... 23 years old... IF its never been down and he has receipts for oil, is it worth it ? I know some common problems with a bike that's been sitting are flat spots on tires, gummed up carb, leaky fork seals, brakes, ... anything else?
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Old 03-11-2013, 12:09 AM   #2
Blue&Yellow
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DRZ400 all the way - just buy one. You won't regret it.

If you want more dirt capability the WR250R looks like a really sweet bike but it's going to be more expensive.

A nice DRZ400 can be had for very reasonable money second hand, and there are endless mods available. The perfect first bike!
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Old 03-11-2013, 12:22 AM   #3
b1pig
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the only thing you may find as a factor for you is your inseam. i brought home my first dual-sport last night. its my 5th motorcycle. i bought a used KLR650. the thing about dual sport bikes is that they tend to be very tall. just like mom used to say about buying pants. inseam is a factor... try it on.

i went to a local dealer and sat on a couple of bikes. there was a KLX250 i sat on and it was not "too" tall. i havent ridden one, though. my wife has a '07 GZ250. it probably got close to 70mpg when it was new, but after adjusting the carb so it would actually run... its closer to 60 and will haul 2-up at 65. solo at 75 with a +1 front sprocket, windscreen and medium saddle bags.

as the instructor said.... so long as it fits you. if you get a bike that is too tall for you, your riding experience can suffer dearly. you may be able to lower it to suit your height better, though, so keep that in mind and dont get discouraged.

do your best to enjoy the shopping. the guys on here offered alot of insight to me in an earlier thread that was much appreciated. take your time, too. never thought i'd say this... but "Murphy" struck me the night I sold my last bike. I was looking at a over-priced bike close to home. the 2 days afforded by murphy's law allowed me time to search a little more and i actually found what i wanted at a price i could afford.

results?
happy guy.
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Old 03-11-2013, 04:41 AM   #4
gplassm
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Given your requirements, and your budget, of the bikes you listed, I would suggest the Honda CRF250L (if you can find one used), then the Yamaha WR250R, then the KLX250S. The KLX still has a carburetor, so it will not be as fuel efficient as the others, but it does have a lower seat height, like the Honda. The Yamaha WR250R is the performer of the group, but you pay for that.
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Old 03-11-2013, 04:49 AM   #5
-Macca-
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b1pig View Post
the only thing you may find as a factor for you is your inseam. i brought home my first dual-sport last night. its my 5th motorcycle. i bought a used KLR650. the thing about dual sport bikes is that they tend to be very tall. just like mom used to say about buying pants. inseam is a factor... try it on..
Keep in mind though, it is a DS bike, not a sports bike. The suspension WILL sag a fair bit with your weight on board. Don't just look at it and think "I can't get my leg up that high!". Hop on board and see how it feels.
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Old 03-11-2013, 06:15 AM   #6
zeeko
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Any of the 250's mentioned would do the trick but in my experience (my only form of transportation is a KLX250) I would definitely get something with bigger displacement if you are hitting highways.
Problem is that many of the bigger bikes aren't going to get much better mpg's than your Honda.
Take a look around and see if you can find a BMW F650GS (not a funduro) in your price range. I put many thousands of miles on one of those and don't think it ever dropped below 70mpg. Never had a single problem either-didn't even have to adjust the valves...ever.
Good luck shopping!
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Old 03-11-2013, 06:44 AM   #7
8gv
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+1 on "try it on"...a 28" inseam will likely require lowering some of the choices.

Some 250cc insight:

I weigh 235# and load my KLR250 with 40# of gear. It hauls me up hills just fine with a -1 front sprocket.

On the highway it screams at 65, so I don't do that.

It gets 55 mpg in the woods and 65 on back roads doing 50.

There are several bikes in the 225-250cc range. They each have different amounts of power. Because the mfg's are reluctant to advertise hp, you'll need to compare compression ratios to gauge their power relative to each other. A higher c/r generally results in more power.
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Old 03-14-2013, 02:57 AM   #8
countzero OP
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Wow!

Didn't expect such a quick response from so many people. You all rock! I'm still digesting all the advice.

It looks like a 250 might not cut it on the freeway, which is where I try to ride if at all possible since it's much safer. A 250 will probably be maxed out at 70-75 with no more OOOMPF left to get out of trouble.

I sat on a DRZ400S and it was pretty tall. No flat footing that (but then again I cant flat foot my Zuma 125 due to the super wide seat). The salesman told me to get on it like you would a horse. That made it easy to get on but it might still be a bit tall to be riding in stop and go traffic, even after I got my weight on it and the suspension settled.

The F650GS is intriguing but might be out of my price range. I see people are getting about 60 mpg though and its freeway safe. Does anyone else have an opinion on the BMW?

Also, what if my budget was $2000? Suzuki DR350???

Thanks so much for your help it is truly appreciated!
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Old 03-14-2013, 03:47 AM   #9
Murphy Slaw
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b1pig View Post
the 2 days afforded by murphy's law allowed me time to search a little more and i actually found what i wanted at a price i could afford.

results?
happy guy.
You're welcome......

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Old 03-14-2013, 05:01 AM   #10
gplassm
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DR-350's are very nice bikes. I like them a lot. For one thing, the seat height on a DR350 is much lower than the seat height of a DRZ400. The DR350 also has a 6 speed gear box, the DRZ400 only has 5 - this *does* make a difference in terms of pavement RPM's.
I am one of the few people who actually liked the older DR350's more than the DRZ400's - especially in the woods.
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Old 03-14-2013, 10:28 AM   #11
kid_A
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Quote:
Originally Posted by countzero View Post
PS - "The other factor" : If SHTF I want to be able to get out of town. This will mean taking back roads, riding in the gravel shoulder, gravel roads, trails, or even crossing uneven ground/fields. I dont think a 250 will handle my 185 lbs plus a 30-40 lb pack over an uneven field going even slightly uphill.
You need a couple passports to go with this bike?
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Old 03-14-2013, 10:53 AM   #12
Hiredgoon
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I spent most of my life riding a 72 Honda 500four, and felt that it was the "right" size for me. I'm almost your exact same size, by the way. Last summer I picked up a 2010 KLR with a Corbin dual low seat on it, and I have NEVER felt so at home on a vehicle so quickly. Stock height actually feels low to me now, I'm thinking of putting raising links on it, to get it a bit higher. I think you'd be surprised how comfy a KLR can be once you give it a bit of a ride, especially with a better seat. That old Honda seems like a toy now.

The height of a typical DS was always very intimidating to me, seeing them on the showroom floor, and even throwing my leg over, but that changed very quickly when I started moving.

The mileage is great, it's the easiest thing I've ever turned a wrench on, and there's a LOAD of support on here and on other forums. I suspect someday I will want something with a little more power, but this thing is a really good all arounder.

The only danger is how quickly you'll start customizing it--it's a bit of an addiction.
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Old 03-14-2013, 04:15 PM   #13
simbaboy
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same height as you

I bought many cruisers when I started riding MCs about 4 years ago. I had no previous experience at all. Not even riding a scooter.

I was advised by my experienced buddies to look into a dual sport as my first bike. I was intimidated by their SUV looks and feel. So I went from one cruiser to another.

Last year I bought a KLR 650 (that had been lowered from stock by about 1.5in). I can safely say I would have stopped looking at other bikes once I bought my KLR initially. But at the same time I gained a lot of confidence and experience from the other bikes.

My advice is:
1. take a MC safety course (ask if you can use your own bike. Most instructors will agree).
2. practice in a parking lot with cones and in your neighborhood like crazy no matter what bike you buy. Don't let an endorsement fool you into thinking you are good at this.

Here is a picture of my bike when I first bought it: a 1990 Tengai KLR650, in perfect mechanical condition for less than $1500. Good deals are out there.

good luck
Simba

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Old 03-29-2013, 10:45 PM   #14
countzero OP
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Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

I just spent 2 hours on a post and something glitched and I lost it all.

So, excuse my brevity, but in a nutshell:

Thank you all for the info! Very helpful!

My parameters have changed a bit.

Max budget is $2500 although $1500 would be better. That includes any repairs that might be needed like new tires, chain, sprockets, etc.

MPG is no longer the top priority though it is still important.

I had 3 very close calls in one day so I'm not riding everyday/on city streets anymore. I swear people are on drugs, legal or not. Going to drive my truck or Civic.

The main purpose of the bike is to "get out of dodge" in any SHTF scenario.

Secondary purpose is fun, plain and simple:

I'll probably ride it on the weekends up to Lake Tahoe (7400' pass) from Sacramento CA (basically sea level). Probably occasional errands also.

250's cant do that, right?

Leaning towards Suzuki DR350. Maybe KLR650. Any and all suggestions are welcome.

Thank you soooooooooo much!
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