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Great bike on a budget? Super Singles!

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by mattb, May 26, 2008.

  1. Hi All.

    Was reading this article which somebody(?) posted somewhere else pages into another thread(?) and which I'd saved, and it stimulated me to start a thread pointing out this possibility. http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/Article_Page.aspx?ArticleID=6024&Page=1 Those of us in the singles scene, and those who have been around, will know that you can pretty much take any single (one cylinder motorcycle) and do pretty much whatever you want with it, and make a great bike on a budget - much less than many people pay for their first 250. That is, you can get a 300 - 400cc dirt bike for under $2000 (or you can spend more of course), and the mods are up to you. Parts are cheap on eBay, from rear-sets to classic fairings. The lesson from this article is that if you want a sporty bike that can hold its own in the twisties, but you can't spend the money for something that excites you, then going this route means you can get yourself something which, if it's your cup of tea, is interesting, fun, respectable and quite capable bike on a budget. Anybody who has ridden a single through the twisties will know how great the engine feels in that context. I ride quite sedately on my weekend rides and the bike and its design lend it wonderfully to this task, but I know others who go hard or even race them and sing the praises of such light flickable bikes with such great engine responsiveness.

  2. A common(ish) special in the UK was a TZR250 chassis with an XT600 lump hung from it. This was at a time when TZR 250s with seized motors and smashed fairings were relatively cheap and available. Most were built for Sound of Singles racing, but I can remember at least a couple of roadgoing examples. I'd prefer not to speculate about the fatigue effects of a big thumper on an ally frame though :grin: .

    Then, of course, there were all the people who built proto-motards by sticking chewing gum tyres on their big trailies.

    Then again, the UK has more roads where light, flickable bikes with not many horsepower can really shine against bigger machinery.
  3. After seeing that article in another thread it has got me wondering about using a dirtbike for a cafe racer. Main concern is the ridiculously short service intervals of some dirtbike engines, and trying to find one with a steel frame rather than alloy.
    Did see a Honda FT500 that had been partially cafe racered and was selling for a ridiculously cheap price, unfortunately it sold before I had a chance to check it out (or perhaps fortunately give it was an old Honda).
    I'm sure other manufacturers would have made similar bikes, just haven't done much research on them yet.
  4. This was on eBay a coupe of weeks ago http://cgi.ebay.com.au/RGV-Yamaha-S...ryZ32625QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
    Thecptn told me you can apparently put an XT350 motor in an SR250 - that sounds like fun (though I'd be more interested in how big an SR250 motor can be bored...).

    I've heard some negative things about the FT - startors commonly wearing out, bad damping and power more like a 350cc, but they do look good for cheap thrills! Regarding a dirt bike I think I'd go more for a dual-purpose bike, which is still cheap (unless it's hit classic status, like the XT500, in which case it's expensive! -just like its child, the SR500, which is now rising in value!).
  5. Personally, I'd steer clear of any Honda over 200 cc made between about 1976 and 1985. Material quality is awful and the design work would embarrass the 1970s British industry.

    Even against a generally mediocre backdrop, the FT was not a highly desirable bike, although its successor, the XBR, seems to have won a few hearts.

    Of the big, air cooled singles, I've heard, from people who's opinion I respect, that the Suzuki DRs are the pick of the bunch. But then, I'm rather biased towards Suzooks. They always seemed to be cheaper (secondhand) than the equivalent Yams, apparently because Yam had the kudos that came from the original XT500.
  6. So I've heard - which is why I'm steering clear of the 2 separate CX500s for sale in the local paper at the moment, even though they would make a good cafe racer (especially the one in 1970's vivid lime green).
    Old dirtbikes certainly aren't hard to find cheap around here though, and wouldn't necessarily rule out a 2-stroke single (if just for the "annoy the neighbours" value).
  7. Sadly, over here in the West, dirt bikes are either (a) expensive or (b) thrashed through the bush by mechanically illiterate 14 year olds. Or, if you're really unlucky, both.

    If you can get dirt bikes cheap, buy up all you can and stick em in a container heading across the Nullabor. You'll make a killing and I'll charge only a modest 40% commission for the idea :LOL: .
  8. I believe the CX is a bit of an exception - or quite an exception, with twice the life-span of most other disposable bikes (200,000km and up). I read a bit about them and wanted to buy one at the time when I instead bought a Kawasaki GT550. I'd like one for touring, though here are a couple of cafe raced ones.


  9. I'm sorta struggling to see any advantage with a super single when compared to a motard version of the same bike. Other then top speed perhaps. More expensive to crash, probably a bit heavier & more difficult to set up & work on. If top speed is what you're after then I think your looking at the wrong engine configuration & capacity anyway. Only my thoughts :? :?
  10. I have raced in the supermono class on my motard against a couple proper well built monos with the same engine. I found they had no advantage from aerodynamics down the straight and that was at speeds up to 170... not really what a single is for anyway. On the day they had no advantage anywhere really.

    A street version of the same thing could only be heavier and compromised I would have thought.

    There are looks of course (if that's your thing), a heavier bike feels more stable, and then there's the project side of doing something different. I'll pay respect to anyone that puts a Frankenstein together, unless it's just a dirt bike with rearsets/fairings/clipons; that's just a plasticky motard that you're sitting on funny.
  11. I don't see a dirtbike frame offering anything particularly exciting for teh twisties.
    Throwing decent tyres and suspension on one is only going to highlight teh fact that dirtbike frames are pretty flexible, and teh long forks flex too much.
    They're not designed to be super rigid like a roadbike, because there's no point when teh surface is not smooth.
    For $2k, you'd get into some very nice older roadbikes, that would need far less money spent on them to make them fairly exceptional handlers.
    I keep saying it, late 70's/early 80's Z's are the BEST value for money out there, the later ones are triple disc braked and handle like a modern bike. The four cylinder engines will impress you, even today. Cheap to own and maintain.
    Don't want a four cylinder? get a two cylinder one.

    Regards, Andrew.
  12. Spoken as only someone that has never ridden a late model dirt bike could. Get yourself a ride on something other than an overweight badly suspended underbraked dual purpose bike -then come back & tell us what you think.
    Your overweight flexi framed pogo shock Z bike would not see which way a decent dirt bike went :LOL: :LOL: We are talking twisty road prowess here are we not? :LOL: :LOL:
    Believe me -any late model dirt bike with a set of rims & decent brakes will be a revelation in lightness, agility, mind boggling corner speed and cornering clearance whether the road is smooth, rough or anywhere in between.
    You would be surprised how little change in damping is required from a well setup dirt bike to road duties. Just my real life experience anyway :) :)
  13. I certainly appreciate your point Andrew, when it comes to what's available among older road bikes - I miss my old Z550GT; and my partner just got a GR650 on the road - great condition and a real pleasure to ride, $1500!! And of course there's a lot of big cheap GS's around etc.

    Aside from the fact that I *love* the way a single feels, sounds, and moves, the essential idea that I tie to the article is the notion that you can make something exotic, something heavily (or lightly) modified out of this typically simple motorcycle design, and from within a limited budget - something that has its own credibility alongside the credit card bikes because its so much in a world of its own (and yet can be made to perform. Of course it can be made to do things that don't centralise that, and that is the wider gist also). In one sense that's a superficial consideration (I must admit there are deeper and more superficial aspects to my mc enthusiasm(s) :) )

    In a sense what I want to say is: Do you have a tight budget and would like a really interesting bike? Then have you thought about what you could do with an old single? There's a whole world of modifying going on, from serious racers, cafe racers, street fighters, flat-trackers. To some this is obvious, to others it is a whole new world...
  14. I owned in immediate succession a fairly nice GS650 katana, followed by a shmick TTR600 supermotard.

    While the GS650 is no Z650, it's rated pretty good for an 80's machine, especially for a shafty.

    That said, The TTR absolutely killed it in handling and control at any speed. Jumping between these two machines, the shift was unbelievable, really showed up what a pig, big across the frame fours are. Words fail me to describe how good it is. Endless grip and ground clearance. Throw it around from lean to lean, turns in effortlessly. New michelin pilot powers on a 160 rear, with such a lightweight frame is a very good thing. Frame stiffness is overrated.

    No amount of work and modification could ever make a GS650 brake and turn as well.

    Go for a test on a DRZ-400sm, or better still a euro-tard, and I think you'll revise your opinion on dirt bike handling.
  15. Don't get me wrong -I'm not knocking mid '80's japanese 4 cylinders -but to compare one in handling with any of the 400-500cc motards from any of the manufacturers is just plain laughable :LOL: :LOL: :LOL:
    As for frame stiffness, I recall Honda being criticised for it's first couple of alloy framed motocrossers being too rigid & stiff. KTM uses proper CrMo for its frame construction -not just high tensile spec steel as most roadies, 48mm & larger forks are the norm rather than the exception for most dirt bikes now & combined with USD fork configuration keeps flex at bay.
    Just my observations anyway :) :)
  16. The bike's you're talking about aren't exactly $2000 though NSAG.

    We'd be talking XR650's, TTR's, KLX's... But even then, there are lower fork braces available for the RSU forks, and compared to a lump of 80's Z bike, they're quite the ballerinas.

    Or if you could find an old fixer upper CR500E. :twisted: Some bloke almost took out the Australian Supermoto Champs a few years back on an old steel framed CR500.

    If you're talking NEW dirtbike frames though, don't even mention an SXV winning a pro supersport race in the US, or another getting punted to 4th in the unlimited Bears class here in Australia. They're no good for cornering.
  17. Take your blinkers off then :LOL:
  18. One way to mod an XR650
    Okay so it's not a cafe racer, but still an alternative to a motard.