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Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
2/18/24 5:39 p.m.

So I'm fairly ignorant of modern bikes. Rode a lot of offroad as a kid. Now I've got a cool vintage bike (Velocette Demon) but am interested in getting a do-everything bike that can handle dirty touring as well as the twisties. My initial impulse is to get something relatively small so that it won't feel like a tank when off road. My favorite dirt bike was a Maico 490 and it was blisteringly fast, but it was also lightweight, unlike streetbikes - particularly ones laden with my fat ass, panniers, fairing, et cetera. I'm told that the smaller displacement adventure bikes  are kind of a drag if you've got a lot of miles to cover.

It's got to be reliable, used (under $8k) and fun.

Thoughts?

docwyte
docwyte UltimaDork
2/18/24 5:42 p.m.

Light weight adventure bikes tend to be single cylinder, so thumpers.  On a long slab ride, yeah, they can kinda grate on you.  However the twins are very heavier, even the "middle weight" twins like the KTM 790/890, Yamaha T7 still weigh ~500lbs and that's without luggage.  However the liter bikes like the BMW 1150-1250 GS's are more like over 600lbs.

So depends on what you want and how you're going to ride...

pkingham (Forum Supporter)
pkingham (Forum Supporter) Reader
2/18/24 7:19 p.m.

I'm starting to look for the same thing. So far, I'm leaning towards the BMW F700GS/F750GS as being a good mix between lightweight and comfortable/capable. 

Vracer111
Vracer111 HalfDork
2/18/24 9:20 p.m.

One bike to do it all that is reliable, good for long miles onroad and off, and has long maintenance intervals? Doesn't get more miata than a Honda CB500X and brand new they are under $8k. The '22 and up are most ideal with upgraded suspension, brakes, and power delivery. Used KTMs and their Husqvarna/GasGas clones are ruled out for reliability/maintenance intervals as they are more race than street bikes and are also less ideal for covering distance onroad.

I'm in a process of getting an older CB500X ('16) which has already been Rally Raid Level 2 upgraded for more offroad capability... hopefully the deal comes through as the price is really good, it's the price of what just a Rally Raid Stage 2 upgrade costs.

Vracer111
Vracer111 HalfDork
2/18/24 9:50 p.m.

In reply to pkingham (Forum Supporter) :

Have you looked into the new '24 Honda Transalp 750? For same money as base new F750GS it's ~40lbs lighter with 0.5 gallon more fuel capacity, + 1.2" front/- 0.1" rear suspension travel, +0.8" ground clearance, and ~ up 13hp/ down 5ftlb. Makes a beautiful sound...

 

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
2/19/24 7:58 a.m.

The CB500x is probably the Miata equivalent of adv bikes. Does everything, but nothing particularly well. The KLR650 is up there too but more Willys Jeep than Miata.

I've owned a KLR, V-Strom 650 and Tiger 800. The problem with higher power, highway capable ADV bikes is they become top heavy beasts pretty quickly. I loved my Tiger but it was a bit much to pick up on the inevitable drop off road. Great on the highway though as a touring bike.

I was close to getting a Honda CB500x but Hondas are just too sterile for me. If all you want is a tool for the job, they are fine. If you want something with character though, you need to consider alternatives.

KTM 390 Adventure wasn't quite it. Don't like BMWs or Ducatis. Already owned a couple Royal Enfields so figured I'd give the Himalayan/Scram 411 a try. And I love it. Got the Scram because it's less ugly than the Himmy. Not fast, but not annoyingly slow. Pleasantly acceptable power. Cruises at 65 no problem, will do 70 if you ask but isn't thrilled. Cheap as chips to buy new, as they say in the UK, and even cheaper used. Parts and accessories are absurdly inexpensive from India. I'm surprised how much I like it.

It's not a touring bike unless you want to stick to the back roads, but I'm not doing long tours on the highway these days. I've loaded it in a trailer and hauled it for weekend rides, and it's easy to load/unload myself.

RE is coming out with a new 452 Himalayan soon and Triumph just announced a pair of 400 thumpers worth a look. I vastly prefer the lighter, smaller bikes than the bigger ADV models for the forest and two lane road riding I mostly do. My biggest tip would be to find the one that fits you the best. Bike ergos vary dramatically and some popular bikes I just can't enjoy for more than an hour at a time.

Peabody
Peabody MegaDork
2/19/24 8:48 a.m.

I'm not a street guy but the very first thing that came to mind was one of the Kawai Versys bikes.

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
2/19/24 9:24 a.m.

You guys have helped me focus my mind on this a little. I don't need a big-bore tourer because frankly, on the freeway I'd rather be in air-conditioned comfort in my car. I'm not going to head to Sturgis. I'm going to head to the hills for an hour or three blat and I want to be able to hit some fireroads or even a bit of singletrack. Interesting what David said about Royal Enfields, but  it's hard to imagine buying a modern bike that makes less power than my 55 YO bike. So I think that I'll focus on the 650 class for the mean time. The fitment is a very pertinent point. I'm not going to worry about character so much till I get some miles under my wheels. 

edit: One bike that's caught my eye is the DR650. It's no firebreather power-wise, but seems quite lightweight for the displacement. I've heard that they're pretty bulletproof. Thoughts? 

gearheadE30
gearheadE30 Dork
2/19/24 10:50 a.m.

Sounds like you're on the right track trying to narrow down what you want. There's a lot more range of "characters" between bikes than there is between cars, in my opinion. 

DR650 is my favorite bike of the class its in, which is the simple, durable, low-performance dual sport class. Put a fairing on it and it's better than a KLR at being a KLR. It's also generally a higher performance machine than the XR650L, and they tend to sell quite cheap. Cheap enough that if you don't like it or don't end up using it the way you expected, you can likely get your money back.

I am a KTM guy so take this with a grain of salt, but I wouldn't be too afraid of the KTMs in terms of maintenance. All of these bikes have their quirks and fail points. The 690 is a solid option and offers more oil capacity/longer service intervals than a 450 or 500, with a lot more performance out of the box than the DR650 if you care about that. A few of us here have 690s, myself included.

 

Vracer111
Vracer111 HalfDork
2/19/24 3:07 p.m.

DR650 seems to be the one if you want a carbed, air-cooled larger displacement thumper dualsport ... don't think there is anything that can beat what it offers for the price.

The route I went is a fairly new and long term unproven offroad rally bike for the masses - the KOVE 450 Rally. No other manufacturer is offering what the bike has in range and low CG for the fuel capacity at under $10k. KTM is really the only other manufacturer and their factory rally replica bike is limited batch run and way out of most peoples price range unless you're a professional racer who needs such a machine. Making your own rally adventure bike from an enduro will just unbalance the bike more than stock while this was engineered to carry ~8 gallons extremely well... carries it better than 300CC class trail bikes with 2 gallon tanks and is not too much heavier.  Getting rid of my KLX300R because the KOVE simply does nearly everything better and is easier to pick up when dropped and build quality is no worse...

Not really interested in riding on roads, but want to get the CB500X as street legal all arounder that has decent non-extreme offroad ability while the KOVE 450 Rally remains an offroad only desert exploration bike that can handle anything you want to throw at it. ~500cc displacement 50hp/30ftlb class of modern bikes is plenty enough for me and seems to have the sweet spot of not being too big while having enough mass to be a bit more stable than the smaller, lighter bikes and enough power to get the job done and still be fairly easy going and pleasant to ride.

docwyte
docwyte UltimaDork
2/19/24 6:20 p.m.

KTM thumpers are very reliable bikes.  I love my 690, easy to work on and a total hooligan to ride.  Way more power, suspension, fuel injected vs the DR650

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
2/20/24 8:08 a.m.

You can't go wrong with a DR650, but it's a bit of an antique. Even Kawasaki updated the KLR with EFI (though it still has the stupid doohickey spring that breaks).

Don't get obsessed with spec sheets as far as HP and weight go. Weight, in particular, can be very misleading. How a bike carries it's weight is far more important. My Bonneville is a bit under 500 pounds. A Kawi Z900RS feels like it weighs half as much.  My Tiger 800 weighed less than my Bonneville, but the weight was a lot higher up, so was actually more difficult to handle on loose surfaces. My KLR was TALL; absurdly so. Even though it weighed the least it liked to fall over a lot.

Power delivery is going to be probably more important if you want to ride off-pavement. I like my RE 411 with it's paltry 24 or so HP because it makes great torque. It tractors through rough, technical stuff handily where, say, a Versys 300X will struggle because it has an engine from a Ninja that makes it's power way up high in the rev range. Depends on what you like. I'm a torque guy. Some guys like winding the piss out of things (which I guess is why 2 strokes exist; hate them myself). 

You need to sit on bikes at a minimum first and see what the weight feels like. How hard are they to get on/off of? Some of the choices are pretty tall. Can you pick it up by yourself when you inevitably drop it? 

Peabody
Peabody MegaDork
2/20/24 8:40 a.m.
ddavidv said:

 

 

 Some guys like winding the piss out of things (which I guess is why 2 strokes exist; hate them myself).

Two strokes exist because they make double the power at a fraction of the weight and complexity of a four stroke, not to mention being cheaper to build, and more reliable. They are not inherently high revving any more than a four stroke, they're just tuned that way in modern applications because they can be more competitive. Modern four stroke race engines rev as high, or higher than modern two stroke race engines, at least in MX and off road applications.

Ride a Euro two stroke 300 woods bike back to back with a similar size four stroke and tell me which is the high revver.

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
2/20/24 10:19 a.m.

I remember when the TT500 came out. It was slow compared to the 2-strokes that I'd been riding, but that broad powerband and torque was a revelation. Much easier to manage on pokey cowtrails and such, but it would have been a dog at the MX track. 

Peabody
Peabody MegaDork
2/20/24 10:45 a.m.
ddavidv said:

I'm a torque guy. Some guys like winding the piss out of things (which I guess is why 2 strokes exist; hate them myself).

I guess I missed the edit window, but I just realized I have the perfect example. My Freeride 250R doesn't rev past 6500, and makes loads of torque. And what motorcycles rely on torque the most? Trials bikes, which are almost exclusively two stroke

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
2/20/24 6:08 p.m.
Peabody said:
ddavidv said:

I'm a torque guy. Some guys like winding the piss out of things (which I guess is why 2 strokes exist; hate them myself).

I guess I missed the edit window, but I just realized I have the perfect example. My Freeride 250R doesn't rev past 6500, and makes loads of torque. And what motorcycles rely on torque the most? Trials bikes, which are almost exclusively two stroke

Interesting, I did not know that. 

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
2/21/24 7:44 a.m.

My limited experience with road oriented two strokes didn't impress. Plus, I just can't get past the sound. I don't want to ride a chainsaw. I know millions of people love them and lament the fact they can't easily pass emissions so are mostly off-road toys these days. I'm just not a fan and never will be.

Straying OT though.

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
2/21/24 8:14 a.m.

SV650 with a fork and tire swap?

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
2/22/24 6:43 a.m.

They make that. It's called a V-Strom.

Rodan
Rodan UltraDork
2/22/24 10:37 a.m.

I'm looking at the same segment, and the one problem with the "mid-sized" bikes on dirt is weight.  Just about anything 600-700CCs is well over 400lbs.  My take is that there is no unicorn, and you have to have a clear picture of the kind of riding you're actually going to do (as opposed to what you'd like to do) to find the right bike for you.

There's a Versys-X300 very close to me for a great price, so I've been researching it pretty hard.  Yes, it makes its power by revving, but it's also not intended to be a woods bike.  All of the realistic reviews I've read/watched say the powerband is not a hindrance for anything short of the kind of trails the bike isn't really intended for.  The tradeoff is better highway performance, and I need something that can deal with 65mph rural highways.  It's not light, but it's under 400lbs and has a bigger fuel tank than most 'dirty' bikes.

My other candidate is a KLX300 D/S...  much more dirt oriented, but sacrifices highway performance and considerably more expensive if I get a current model.  

 

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
2/22/24 11:01 a.m.

Yeah, I've noticed a broad range of published weights. As David says, it isn't just gross weight, but how it gets carried. The other big variable is power. Again, the range is amazing. It's not like cars, where everyone's NA 2 liter is within a few percentage points of each other. 

Will I be happy with something Japanese, reliable and unexciting? Or do I go for something like a KTM which is inevitably going to take more care, but will be a hellofa lot quicker and give me more cred with my friends?  I've just got to get on some of these and see how they push my buttons. Talking ain't riding.

 

Rodan
Rodan UltraDork
2/22/24 11:21 a.m.
Kreb (Forum Supporter) said:

Will I be happy with something Japanese, reliable and unexciting? 

Someone told me this a long time ago, and I think it's about perfect:

"What the Italians call "character", the Japanese engineer out, and the Germans deny implicitly."

You can substitute any of the boutique manufactures for "Italians".  It's cool to stand around at C&C and talk about some interesting bike, but I ride because I like to ride.   When you're riding it, what matters most is that it works, though I do admit there are 'boring' bikes out there.  My worst ownership experience with a modern bike was a Ducati.  It didn't live up to expectations in any way, including reliability.  The Japanese bike that replaced it was a more enjoyable ride in every way.

NermalSnert (Forum Supporter)
NermalSnert (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
2/22/24 11:28 a.m.

In reply to Rodan :

I'm saving that quote.

twowheeled
twowheeled Reader
2/23/24 1:17 a.m.

Dr650 is a great place to jump back in. It's a 60/40 dirt/pavement with a lazy torquey mill and somewhat flexy chassis but will do exactly what you want besides run more than an hour or so of highway at which point you'll be miserable. It's got character. It weighs 360lb or so. As I always say, they're not wives. And so I've lost track of how many bikes have come through my garage, never losing more than a few hundred for each ownership experience.

if you're a lighter guy you may also like the klx 300, there's a Honda crf300 rally thing, the kove mentioned above, drz400, etc. 

advrider is an excellent forum and any questions you have will have been discussed there hundreds of times before. I've ridden a few 1 week long off-road trips thru Nevada, Arizona, Utah on both a Ktm 500 and the dr650. Can't say I had much less fun on the Suzuki.

twowheeled
twowheeled Reader
2/23/24 1:20 a.m.

In reply to twowheeled :

Forgot to mention, in 20 years of riding I've only owned 2 bikes I thought were utter POS. The klr 650 and the Yamaha super tenere 1200.

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