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Second Bike: Dual-Purpose/Road Legal Suggestions

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by Captain115, Aug 18, 2012.

  1. Hi everyone,

    So at the beginning of the year I bought my first bike, a Honda CBF250. In retrospect I should've paid more and got a more powerful bike but it has been great to learn on and perfect for commuting (what it was designed for). However, I'm now very interested in dirt/adventure bikes and would like to buy a second bike in this vein. I had the thought that I would buy a cheaper oldish bike and fix her up while using the CBF for transport, then sell the CBF and use the oter bike as my main transport whilst I save up for a larger roadbike (since I can go for my R's at the end of this year, 2012).

    However I have come caveats:

    It must be road registrable as I live in the centre of Brisbane and would have to ride to get onto any kind of dirt.

    It also must be comfortable enough to ride to uni and around the suburbs.

    I enjoy fixing up bikes, and so have been looking at buying the older style air-cooled 4-stroke thumpers that dominated the market 20 years ago, XR/L's, DR's, KLR's, XT/TT's. I figure they all have a ridiculous amount of aftermarket support, are very simple to work on and fix, and are incredibly popular. I orignally was going to buy the Jap 600-650's, ie KLR650, DR650, XR650, XT600's becuase of the extra power and comfort on the road and I thought it would be better for commuting to uni and general Brissy life which would be abut 80% road. Plus I would be getting a more powerful bike, which I would like after being on the underpowered CBF.

    Oh and I've never ridden dirt before but I'm super keen to learn! I'd be riding with my dad who has a F650.

    But these kind of bike seem to be pretty hard to find in my price bracket of <$2000 but there are heaps of the smaller dirt bikes like DR250's or XR250s for sale on Gumtree.

    So I guess my questions are:

    Would you suggest the smaller bikes or stick with the larger 650's?

    Would the extra weight of the 650's make it too difficult in the dirt for a complete dirt-riding-newby like myself?

    Would the smaller bikes be a pain in the arse for commuting on?

    I thought electric start would be almost necessary for safety etc in traffic (don't want to kickstart in traffic) but is that a correct assumption? If so, that gets rid of a lot of the options.

    Amusingly, I think the idea of kick-start is really cool...so I wouldn't mind one that had a kickstart (this hinge on the above question though).

    So please, share your suggestions on what bike would be perfect for me! I know a lot of these Jap bikes are very similar, so even if you don't want to give a specific brand could you suggest between the sizes (the large 650's vs smaller capacity)?


  2. To answer your questions, a 650 would be better on the road, but you dont have the budget for a decent one, so the 250 would be ok. The dr250 is not going to be much faster than your cbf though.

    A 250 is fine for commuting on. You wont be able to sit on 110kmh but tooling around the suburbs is fine (much like your cbf). I had a xl250 when I was at uni and it was fine.

    The kickstart is not really dangerous(i assume you mean in traffic) you are not a complete learner so you wont stall much. A 250 isnt hard to kick, if it wont start first kick just push it off the road. Its more dangerous riding on knobbies than having a kick only.

    I just sold my rgv that was kick only, I never had an issue, if you stall it facing down hill you can just kick off to get going and clutch it.

    That said, it is a pain in the butt on dirt, as you are more likely to stall it there and its harder o kick on no level ground.

    Having said that, I would look for a xr600 which is kick only, people dont like them because of that so they are under $3k. Not sure if you can stretch to that. They are harder to kick but they hammer. I rode my friends, i couldnt start the bloody thing as you need to have the technique down, but it had lots of power.
  3. For learning to ride dirt, I'd suggest a lighter bike as they would much more forgiving than the bigger dual sports, DR250 would be a very good choice, it will be reliable should do a good job of commuting around. Not saying that you can't learn to ride dirt on a DR650, I am. As your skill and budget increases, maybe then get a bigger dual sport and slap on some upgrades so you can go do long adventure rides.
  4. There's a klr 650 on flea bay for 1650 currently. 2005 model.
  5. Height/weight? *edit* as in rider height and weight. Generally an important consideration when trying to give advice about 'Which bike for me' type questions ;-)
  6. Hi everyone, thanks for the replies!

    I'm 6 foot and 85kg so standard size I'd say, if that helps at all?

    After reading that the kickstart is not really a bother once you learn it etc, I'm more inclined to be ok with kickstart only bikes like the earlier XR's (as opposed to the XL's).

    But after reading that I won't be able to sit on 110 make me a bit wary of the 250's, since I love doing big day trips around places (100-300km/day) and visiting my parents in Gympie involves some 110km/h stuff. Especially when I get ride of the CBF and there's that time before I get another roadbike, I would like the dual-purpose to be able to do what I want whether that be commuting, some dirt or longer rides around the place.

    So I guess that is an important consideration that I didn't really think of, since my CBF is less powerful and more heavy than the 250's I was looking at I assumed they'd be able to sit on 110. But I guess not, which really means that I should be looking more at the 400-650 range. Any particular bike suggestions in this range? IE, the KLR6650 is better that the DRZ for ___ reason etc

    As some of you mentioned, learning to ride on dirt would be easier on a smaller bike, but I guess that would be the minority of the riding as most would probably be on the road.

    PS. Vertigo1, cheers for the heads up on the eBay KLR, bit far away from me (nearing 3 hours) but it's good to know that there are bike in this price range around.

  7. Honestly there isn't much difference between all the 600's/650's. It goes something like this from most road orientated to least (most dirt orientated)- Kawasaki KLR650-Suzuki DR650- Yamaha XT600, Honda XL650-Yamaha TT600- Honda XR650/600

    The 400s are less road orientated that the XR. The 250s generally about the same as the 400s. Some of the 400/250 dont have ignition switches and steering locks which makes life complicated.

    Some people might argue slightly on my grading above but there is bugger all difference between any of the 600/650 class. There are more differences in how each individual bike has been treated. Get the best bike for the least amount of money don't worry about model/brand.

    That KLR sounds good for that money if it hasn't done over 50000kms. Ask him to meet you half way.
  8. Who told you that?
    The only thing I would accept being kick start only would be a crosser and they are a PAIN IN THE ARSE to start when they are hot.
  9. Kick start..mmm sort of like getting a car with a crank handle, that should be fun. Outside dunnies with resident redbacks are a hoot as well.
  10. Why not just deal with the 250, save some $$ and buy a nice electric start 600/650 that is going to be more exactly what you want. A 250 will be fine, just do a bit less in the 110 zones and be extra careful. I had a 250 that I regularly rode to sydney but it wasn't a dirt bike, so I don't know if it's a different kettle of fish. It was definitely a bit underpowered but had the gears for it. Not sure if that will cross over to your dirt bike but if it does, I'd stick it out and buy something nicer
  11. Hmmm, ok I might just put in a couple of other things I've been thinking about.

    I get my R's at the end of the year (almost literally, like the 23rd I can do my test) and I am very keen to upgrade. Probably mostly my fault for buying an underpowered first bike but either way I do not want to be stuck on another 250 for longer than I have to.

    If I sold the CBF and straight away got a larger road bike, then having a 250 dirt bike would be perfect. But it's looking as thought this will have to become my jack-of-all-trades bike while I get the money to buy a another road bike.

    In that case, I think I will continue to look for the aforementioned 600-650 class of air-cooled bikes that I was looking at previously (Kawasaki KLR650-Suzuki DR650- Yamaha XT600, Honda XL650-Yamaha TT600- Honda XR650/600). Sounds like it's a bit divided about the whole kick-start thing, but I think I have gotten the idea of another 250 out of my mind. Thoughts?

    My dad did say I should get a larger bike, especially as I have been doing the touring around places as well.

  12. All the 600/650 class I mentioned have electric start except the XR600.

    Seriously they are all very similar, when I bought a DR650 I also looked at KLR650's and XT600's. The DR just was better value for the one I found. Open the net as wide as you can to get the bargain.
  13. Lack of an electric foot can be a bit of a pain at times but it's not even remotely dangerous.

    Kick only becomes a problem if your bike won't go first or second kick every time. Most modern (ie anything since ~1980 or so) road engines engines should mange this feat if in reasonable mechanical condition and with ignition and carburretion working as they should. Given that I could fire MrsB's Commando, with lumpy pistons and god knows what cam in it, in no more than two kicks in every condition from arctic winter morning to glowing red hot after 2 hours chasing Z1100s, I don't see it as an impossible ask. Might be a bit of an issue for a <$2k trail bike though, because most will have been neglected and thrashed by mechanically unsympathetic 14 year olds.

    Pukka competition engines are a different matter.