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Dumb Motard Questions.

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by screwdriver, Dec 20, 2010.

  1. as you may guess I'm thinking about getting a motard for my first bike, hopefully wise forum mystics can save me from my ignorance?

    wheels/tyres : can you just swap the road wheels/tyres out for dirt wheels/tyres or is there a little bit more involved?

    how fast do do they go?
    logically having lower gearing limits top speed and i kinda figure that lots of highway work is not recommended, but is it possible? or is it just dangerous?

    do they need to be serviced more than a traditional Honda/Yamaha road bike?

    that's all i can think of, any assistance or advice would be much appreciated.
  2. pretty sure its a bit more than tyres... maybe rims as well? non-motard person here as well. generally gearings a bit different to i think? not a must though.

    as for speed, depends on the bike....
  3. You should be able to swap the tire without any worries.
    Swapping the wheel should be no worries (assuming you have a wheel that thad fits the brakes), as long as you swap for the same sized wheel.
    Dropping from a 21" front to a 17" for example will reduce the trail, and may reduce it to a point where the bike is dangerous (unstable). (this is dependant on the rake)

    Can't really comment on top speed or maintenance intervals, but the ones I have seen around seem to be able to tear up the curves pretty bloody well enough!
  4. Hi Screwdriver, there are two paths you can go down to get to your motard - take an off road bike and motard it yourself, or buy an off the shelf motard.

    Motarding a bike yourself will require a fair amount of mechanical and engineering skill. You need to know the bike you're modifying inside out, and you need some engineering knowledge to make it both safe and legal. I assume you want to be able to register and insure this bike. As Shady and Spenze have alluded, there are some serious considerations beyond just throwing on a different set of tyres and rims.

    I assume - if this is your first bike - that you do not have alot of experience working on, maintaining and modifying motorcycles. If this is the case perhaps you should consider an off the shelf motard.

    If you go down this path you will be riding a bike designed, built and backed by the manufacturer, and you will avoid the safety risks, mechanical challenges and compliance headaches of trying to motard your own bike safely and legally.

    I think many manufacturers offer a LAMS motard - check out Kawasaki KLX250SF, Suzuki DRZ400SM, and Yamaha WR250X for starters.

    Later on if you want to do a motard project, then that is cool - but if you want to start with a safe, reliable and legal motard, off the shelf may be the best way to go.

    Just my $0.02.

  5. hmm, they vibrate, they arent very comfy, no wind protection, uncomfy seat but get them on a twisty road and theres no catching one with a decent rider. backing it in is hell fun too and if you crash you just pick it up and keep going.
  6. Or if you're trying to save cash have a look at one of the Chinese off-the-shelf motards like the Kinlon or Zongshen 200s. In terms of quality I can't imagine they'd be any worse than a crudely modified 2nd hand bike, and they'd probably work out cheaper.
  7. Definitely agree with the twisties - I ride an XR600R and its brilliant through the twisties. Its also comfortable, doesn't give much wind blast, and isn't too vibey, but this is all dependant on the rider. Maybe I'm just a hardcore motherf***er :LOL:

    To be honest, I wouldn't get wheels for both ends unless you are really serious about it, like, racing or something. Generally the dirt bikes that are road registerable will come with an 18 inch rear wheel. The front will be a 21 incher. Simply drop the front wheel out and install an 18 inch hub with road tyre to suit. Talk to the hub supplier or your local dealership and they should be able to help you out.

    I would reccomend a 110 section front tyre and a 130 section rear, as pretty much any dirt bike will tolerate these with ease and they will also provide good handling and traction. You're riding a sub 140kg bike with 50hp or less, so don't worry about not having huge superbike tyres... you just don't need them.

    You can get some good tyres in the 18 inch wheel sizes, too, and I would reccomend Metzeler Lazertecs or Bridgstone BT45's - both are good, grippy tyres that will wear at a reasonable rate and won't break the bank. They are classed as sports-touring tyres but I've found that with the power of a motard you won't need much more unless you're a pro rider pushing the limits on the track.

    Of course, you can just fit tyres to the stock rims you have and go ride like that. I find my bike is plenty fast enough through the twisties, and I'm still running a 21 inch front... with a knobbly on it! Only gets a bit dodgy when you're going fast downhill, and a proper 21" road tyre would fix that.

    Highway work is fine - my XR600R will cruise at a true 120km/h and top out at around 160km/h. Top speed might not be huge but its more than enough for most people, and these things are more at home on twistie roads, anyway. For comparison, a DRZ-400E will be happy cruising at 90~100km/h and will top out at around 150km/h.

    The short answer is 'not really' if you are buying a new, liquid-cooled model such as a DRZ-400 and 'yes' if you are buying an older air-cooled model. The high-performance air-cooled models will need frequent valve adjustments and oil changes. My XR600R, for example, needs new oil every 2,000km and valve checks every 2,000km as well. Luckily, they usually hold slightly less than 2 litres of oil and the valve checks are quite easy and can be done in 20 minutes with only basic tools. A DRZ-400, for example, will only need oil every 5,000km and valve checks every 20,000km.

    The older bikes like my XR600R can be picked up cheaply and converted. They are also very reliable and have similar power to the modern smaller capacity liquid-cooled bikes... but a much larger, friendlier spread of torque. Go check eBay for 'XR600R' and you'll see what I mean.

    Hope that helps - boingk
  8. Pretty sure the Bridgestone comes in a dirt bike friendly 21" front as well, so you can have road tyres without the hassle of a rim change. It's a compromise but, for the road and on a budget, possibly a good one. I'll be trying them on the DR come tyre time.
  9. gonna disagree with the 18 inch front wheel swap. you COULD do it but you wouldnt considering theres not a huge price difference between a 17 with proper width and tyre choice than the 18 inch. you would struggle to sell a 18 inch front wheel for a dirtbike if you tried too.

    you can find tyres that work fine on 21/18's, i had them with sorta road rubber on them before i went to 17's. i had a 110 front and 140 rear on the 21/18 combo, but the rear was too wide. tyres werent mine anyway, grifted them off the old man. i rode on them until i knew they were slowing me down, then went to 17's all round.

    boink, there is a great deal of variation between maintenance on the LAM's motards out now, drz and the wr-x have the least maintenance. you wont find an off the shelf air cooled motard, all would have been converted. my street tard which is LAM's approved needs oil and filter every 1000km and then you've got stuff like the husky sm510r which needs shedloads more maintenance.

    the xr may seem alright but once you ride a 'proper' motard you will understand. even from going from my street tard which is properly setup to a race tard theres a massive jump.
  10. Chook chasers go like nothing else. Round a track over here one was lapping R1s, Hayabusas and Fireblades. This particular track was tight where the big litre bikes couldn't get up some speed. It was all about corner speed and this particular trail bike was killer.

    The DRZ is a nice bike... You could do alot worse than one of them. Make sure you try the bikes out as much as is possible.
  11. If you intend to rack up the kms stay away from the 450's like the WR, you'll be burning holes in your wallet quick smart. Stick with the softer DRZ400's, XR's and the like which will have longer service intervals and generally less running costs.

    If you want a weapon though go for one of the Kato's or a WR etc.
  12. Motards are a great bike to learn on. Light, nimble, quick (different from fast) and more fun then a road vehicle ought to be. Only real draw backs are they are not built for long distance work (eg touring), though they are tolerable, and they tend to eat consumables if you use them as a hooligan machine. .

    Assuming you are after a street-tard with reasonable maintenance (probably a must for a new rider, especially one with limited mechanical experience) you will be wanting a lazy motard. As fun (and as much extra kapow) as the more high-strung motards are, they end up costing a lot in time and money (both could be better spent hitting the twisties!).

    As others have mentioned, the DRZ-400 (affectionately known as the 'poo-cart') is a great starting motard. Not the most wow-factor, but it is bullet proof, cheap, common and a great bike to learn on. The XR400 is much the same (DRZ probably has a little more poke). Best of all, both have factory motard setups, great for new 'tarders. Major drawback would be that they could do with a 6th gear.

    If you want something with more go then the 400s, there are a few big factory motards which make it into LAMS. KTM 625smc and Husqvarna sm610 being two good options. The XT660X is another, but it is very heavy for a motard, and often frowned upon for it (though I would imagine still very capable, particularly for a new rider). All three of them come as factory motards and carry more reasonable maintenance schedules (5000km or so), though I would recommend oil every 3000km or so. They are, however, more expensive (the price for bigger performance) and apart from the XT harder to find.

    If you would rather build a motard yourself, if you know what you are doing, a full setup will cost less than $1000 (and that includes tyres!). If you are changing wheels, go 17" or don't bother. If you don't know what you are doing, full commercial kits cost considerably more ($3000+, at a guess). Considering the rather small price difference between trail/motard models, especially when it comes to the DRZ or XR, I can't see why you would bother converting a trial bike for general street use (note: this does not apply to motard masters and racers). If you really want a converted trail bike (perhaps for the ability to change back) you can probably get an already converted bike for less than it would cost to do the conversion yourself. Of course, self conversions allow you a wider choice of base bike, but the more you move away from the staple models (most of which have a factory motard setup you can buy) the more work/research you will need to do to be successful.

    Your third option is to shove some road tyres onto dirt rims (ie. 21" front, 18" rear). Not really a motard (just a street orientated dual-sport) but this option is super cheap and gives great bang for buck. Better still, you can pick up any old reliable lazy single and make the swap - if you destroy the bike, get another, they are pretty cheap. The difference in performance and handling of a dual-sport with road tyres and a proper motard setup is considerable, but at an early stage of your riding you probably wouldn't notice anyway. Such tyre conversions make sure fantastic commuters as well.

    I recently converted a Husqvarna te610 to a motard, but I got the bike brand new for cheap (it has been superseded by the 630, which is not LAMS) and wanted to have the ability to quickly convert to trail/dual-sport setup (in my case, wheel swap, about 15 mins work). For a LAMS spec bike, it has pretty crazy performance, but things do feel faster (and much more fun) on a motard anyway!
  13. +1 to GPM - this is what I've done with the KLR and it is working out really well. Not a motard ... but a great first bike and a great commuter.

  14. loved riding a DR 650 as a rental while my bike was in the shop. The only issue I have with them is that you can't get on one and not feel a little bit of a hooligan. This isn't necessarily a bad thing.

    The DR650 and DR650SE is on the LAMS list. :D

    Mental machines, probably would have gone that route myself if I had understood how much fun they are to commute on.
  15. This. When I got my DR, it gave me a little taste of why so many dirt bike riders appear to ride like complete bell-ends. It's because they can :twisted:. And generally without dying :D.

    Seriously, consider a DR650. Costs nothing to buy and run. Does everything at least passably. Very easy to live with and has massive potential for modification if you feel so inclined.
  16. wow, lots of great info and advice in there. huge thanks to everyone.

    i think i 'm going to get a 0km 08/09 Yamaha wr250x it felt great, looks nice, good dealer etc, etc

    i tried a few others the KLX250SF felt a bit small for me and unfortunately i couldn't find anyone close by with a DRZ400SM but i did try a DR-Z400S to check the size though.

    can anyone give a reason to not get the Yamaha?
    am i doing myself a disservice by not tracking a down and trying a DRZ400SM?
  17. It's a Yamaha? :wink:
  18. The only reason I wouldn't get a WR250X is because its a 250cc machine, other than that I think it would be a very nice first bike and very good to learn on.

    If you are going to be doing much freeway or long distance work then I would recommend a larger capacity bike like the DRZ-400.

    Cheers - boingk