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My Dual Sport Experiment

Jarrett

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Original Post:

So I've got my Africa Twin and its a fun bike, but big. I've been wondering what it would be like to have a smaller dirt bike that I can throw around and
really run off road with it.

I have a 5 acre pasture at my place and took the Africa Twin in there and it was... not really that fun. Seems like a light, more torquey bike might be more fun there. And on trails that are too tight for the Africa Twin.

I'm a big guy. 260 lbs before putting on all the gear. Over 6 foot tall. Decently strong. So wondering IF (and that's a big if) I wanted to get a "dirt" bike, what should I be looking at? 250? 450? 650?

=========================================
Summary of Thread as of 10/31/2018:

This is here in case you don't want to read it all. I started out looking for a "dirt bike" but I figured out pretty quickly that trying to start being joe dirt bike at age 47 isn't all its cracked up to be.

Changed directions and started looking at mid size dual sport bikes and changed the title of the thread per request to keep the story going.

Highlights:

Post 133 - Bought 2014 CRF250L

Post 222 - Lost interest in CRF250L (after a month and a half of ownership)

Post 388 - Sold CRF250L

Post 420 - Bought 2018 KLR650

Post 544 - Lost interest in the KLR650 (again, bout a month and a half)

Post 584 - Bought a 2016 VFR1200X (on 10/30/2018 - NOT a dual sport bike :))

Post 630 - The KLR sold and the Dual Sport Experiment is officially over

Post 645 - I'm back, kinda... Bought a Zero FX (electric dual sport) on 2/20/19
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

Are you looking new or used. Any notion of plating it? How much are you going to use it?

When it comes to dual sport or off-road my thinking is off-road first and road very little. so my choices would tend to lend very nicely to off-road only.

A used KTM 300 or 250 2 stroke is a great bike and can be picked up pretty inexpensive. Easy to work on and way less to rebuild or maintain than a 4 stroke. Great for just keeping out on the land or trail rides at Red River, COTR, and Barnwell, or even the odd occasional Hair scramble or enduro if you want to mix it up with different terrain or see what its all about. Tons of used ones floating about. IF you pick up a 08 KTM XC-W (wide ratio transmission great for off road) or later you can bonus with an electric start. The other soft spot for me would be a YZ250. Clean and used. IF you stick with 04 or so and up and you get aluminum frame, good suspension, and with a update plastic kit it will look like a 2017 or better. I have seen some really nicely done ones. Even older metal framed ones 2000 to 03 are still pretty good and fixed up still very cool.

If you are looking to plate or any type of road work a 450 or 650, but if you want anything single track or nasty I would rock a 450 or newer 350 KTM. The 350 is a great spot between a 450 and a 250 off road, but will still do the trick for short dual sport or connect easily between mountain trails. A 450 can be super fun as well but a little cumbersome in the woods (I owned a plated 06 450exc) and it has seen many a single track mile as well as seasons of enduro. All while plated. Everything from mild to wild. The more fit you are (health wise) with a 450 the more you will enjoy it. They can wear you down on a hard day of single track.

If you want to hit nasty single track with road connect only or no dual sport days a 250 4 stroke is nice light and the newer version can climb like mountain goats. 250xcf or yz250xf. Either can be plated it TX pretty easy. Both are very nice. If you do keep it long enough to wear out a top end at BB kit would be sweet!

I have a KTM300xc (updated E-start and linkage suspension vs. linkless of the xc-w) and a v-strom 650. If I were to buy another bike to replace the 300 and I wanted to race I would go the small 250xc or 250xf route. I don't think I will let go of that 300 any time soon unless I got a 17 or newer with the new frame and counter balanced (way more smooth motor). If I wanted a dual sport the KTM350exc would be the bomb and they go back to 2013 so picking up a clean used one would not be a big deal.
 
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Jarrett

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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

Are you looking new or used. Any notion of plating it? How much are you going to use it?
Used.

Don't know what plating means.

Probably very little compared to my Africa Twin. I do like the idea of having a street legal one though.
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

Plating is the process of making a dirt bike road legal. It's not a must in Texas, but having one plated will make riding a lot of places easier since you don't need to trailer it between trailheads.

I'll agree that the gold standard for light dirt bikes is the KTM 300. They weigh less than most other dirt bikes. I recently sold mine because I really didn't ride it. I have 11 acres and a KTM 300 can make that much property seem really small. Trailering it four hours to a place where it really shined was just too much time to invest on a weekend.

So my thought is buy cheap and make sure you want to invest the time. Then upgrade.

m
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

I have a 5 acre pasture at my place
Hello new friend! :rofl: :rider:

Probably listing a price range would be good as well. Are you wanting to set up a track and rip it or just putt putt around the property?
 

Jarrett

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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

Hello new friend! :rofl: :rider:

Probably listing a price range would be good as well. Are you wanting to set up a track and rip it or just putt putt around the property?
hehe, I don't know. Probably just putt around initially. Maybe take it to some other properties and run around a bit. The various motocross trail parks sound kinda fun too.

I'm old and not looking to go crazy. I'm not even sure I'd ride it that much.

I like the cheap idea. 3k or under, I guess. I'm surprised at how expensive dirt bikes are compared to used street bikes already.
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

hehe, I don't know. Probably just putt around initially. Maybe take it to some other properties and run around a bit. The various motocross trail parks sound kinda fun too.

I'm old and not looking to go crazy. I'm not even sure I'd ride it that much.

I like the cheap idea. 3k or under, I guess. I'm surprised at how expensive dirt bikes are compared to used street bikes already.
Since you already have the AT - I would look for a Dual Sport in the 200cc to 400cc range so you can get from point A to B without having to put it on a trailer and have something light enough that would work well on trails - if you want to stay with a Honda, something like the CFR 250L if you want to step out of the Honda brand there's several Kawasaki & Suzuki bikes that are similar
 

Tourmeister

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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

There's a nice 2010 WR 250 in the FS section here on TWT right now...
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

To me, a dirt bike means a dirt bike. Factory plated 250s are dual sport motorcycles, not dirt bikes (except KTMs), and I would not recommend one to anyone that is 260 pounds anyway. A WR250R is an underpowered overweight 300+ pound pig if you compare it to a real dirt bike. If you want a small factory dual sport then that same bike is one of the very best choices out there.

You need to narrow down what you want or else prepared to get bombarded by 50 different folks with 50 different perspectives of what a dirt bike is and what suits you.

A license plate is great in Cloudcroft or Colorado, or anywhere you can connect single track trail via public roads. In Texas, a plate on a real dirt bike makes little difference unless you live within a few miles of a riding area, which are few and far between anyway. again my perspective, as I have seen many $11K KTMs out putting around dirt roads you can drive a Camry down, and those guys have big smiles on their faces.
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

Don't waste your time or money on that cheap chinese junk. I get the sense that you're not sure what you need or want just yet. We've ALL been in that spot a time or five! For the $1200-2000 doller range, I would look at picking up a well loved 2 stroke like a yz125 or kdx200/220. They are just a blast to ride, relatively cheap, easy to maintain, easy to ride. After you play on that for a few months, if you decide you want something different it's no biggie since you can sell it for what you paid for it. With that experience under your belt, you will have a great amount of confidence it what you want and can feel better about spending bigger bucks to get it.
 

bwdmax

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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

I'm in the avoid the China bike crowd. You could get a better bike like what Jcstratt says. There are a lot of choices KDX, YZ, XR, TTR, WR.... You get the idea. You might find someone near you that has a few dirt bikes and or dual sports that would let you try them out to narrow your search.
 

mitchntx

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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

Asking which dirt bike to buy is like asking which oil to use.

After wrasslin' the AT on dirt, most anything will feel lighter and more nimble. Reading through these responses, it's easy to spot the hard-core knack-knack riders and those who will get sweet air, but mostly after consuming a dozen donuts.

I think you have to decide what you want to accomplish in the "dirt". There is a chasm of difference in ride, speed and handling between my XR650 and a CRF450. Either are capable platforms to haul around my lard ***, but it boils down to what the end goal is ... riding two track fire roads and local dirt roads or wringing out a MX track and a single track trail up a mountainside.

I want something that I can take to Big Bend ... ease through the baby heads, loose rock grades, sand and ride comfortably back to camp. Not the fastest, but will tractor through, easy to work on and be dead nuts reliable.
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

You'll be way happier to just accept that you NEED at least three motorcycles. You've got the adventure thing well covered with the mighty AT. You'll have lots of fun riding with small groups of friends on a plated duel sport connecting up two track and jeep trails in places like Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas Hill Country, etc. You'll probably wear this one out soonest. As was already mentioned, if you want to get out there and bang some handlebars in enduro racing or playing around with technical places like Hidden Falls, CTOR, Emma Long, Barnwell, etc....then yeah, the real deal two strokes and 450 dirt bikes are where it's at. These are no joke hot rod motorcycles that will stretch your arms and throw folks on the ground right quick like.
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

You have a lot of options. My advice here is to get something that is plated or easy to plate. Not being plated can hurt you if you decide you want to do something where a plate is required, like ride in Big Bend. It'd be a real pain to buy a racing dirt bike and find you want to plate it and then have to go to the trouble and expense and hoop jumping to get the equipment on it and plate it when you could have had one from the get go. Having a plate and not needing it won't hurt you in the long run. But since you are figuring out what it is you really want to do with a dirt bike, it's best to not limit your options of where you can ride right out of the gate.
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

Made in China - supposedly has a "Honda Clone" engine - could be issues getting parts & service.
Agree. You can argue all day about whether they're good bikes or not. But for certain, the dealer networks are scanty at this point, so getting parts could be an issue.

I'd be in the camp of getting something Japanese in the 250cc range. Austrian would be better, but also more expensive. I also favor having one that's street-licenseable, for the reasons stated. Plus, sometimes, it's just fun to go ripping around the streets on a bike that's about 2/5 the weight and 1/3 the CCs of your main bike. I spent the first couple of my street-riding years on a 185cc and a 360cc street-legal enduro. Fun, easy to ride, and I could turn left and head out across a pasture anytime I wanted.
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

Used.

Don't know what plating means.

Probably very little compared to my Africa Twin. I do like the idea of having a street legal one though.
that's PLATED as in road legal, inspected and licensed for street use.
 

jqueen

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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

I'm only 10lbs or so lighter than you and an inch or 2 shorter according to your first post. Be aware that the suspension springs should be replaced with heavier ones, regardless of bike. Makes more difference in a light dirt bike than a big one like the AT.

Since you already have the AT, I think you might outgrow one of the 4-stroke 250's too soon. Don't get me wrong, they'll work, but unless you are on gnarly 1st and 2nd gear trails, you may want a little more lively response when you twist the throttle.

On the other hand, 2 strokes are a whole different beast. If you find a decent deal on a well maintained 200-300cc 2-stroke, the power will probably be just fine. My 2007 KTM 300XC is plenty of power, wheelies no problem, etc.. however it is one year too old to have electric start.

There are some good China bikes out there, but they look like KTM's and are 4-6k new, not 1.5k .

Personal vote would be ktm 250 xcw or exc, followed by 300xcw or exc, followed by ktm, yamaha, Honda 450, followed by kdx200.

Fyi, kdx200 may be my favorite, but they aren't built new anymore, so hard to find a decent one that isn't beat up.

Regarding electric vs kick start- if you don't have bad knees or hips, 2-strokes in general are easier to kickstart, where 4-strokes take a little more technique. Nowadays I'd say electric start on a 4 stroke should be expected, and is a nice-to-have on a 2-stroke.
 

Jarrett

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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

I didn't even think about suspension. That's a good point.

So smaller 2 smoke, bigger 4 stroke. Got it.
 

jqueen

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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

What I mean is that a 250 is a smaller 4 stroke, but a 250-300 is actually a pretty big 2 stroke. The 300 is pretty close power wise to a 450 4 stroke.
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

I didn't even think about suspension. That's a good point.

So smaller 2 smoke, bigger 4 stroke. Got it.
Bigger 4 strokes are hard to find around here for under $5Kto$6k, but if you want something street legal from the get-go that performs well off road, a Suzuki DRZ-400S (or DRZ-400SM if your into Super-Motard style bike) may be the way to go. Google the bike & check the reviews.
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

I'm 45 years old 6'2" 200#s I had a Tenere, got tired of a big bike.
I now have a 2009 KTM 450 exc and I love it I have 14 acres I plan on making an enduro track. I also ride out at Hidden Falls and I can also ride around town if I want too.
It was $3000 for the win.
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

I know from speaking to you that you want to learn those skills that so many of us learned growing up, usually with minimal injuries instead of the ones that can come with crashing a big bike. So, if I'm spending your money (I know you don't mind instruction) go here,

http://texastornadobootcamp.com/


[ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUJZDIf4_a0"]Texas Tornado Boot Camp Shofner Films - YouTube[/ame]


[ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQwklL_DyzI"]Getting Sideways at Texas Tornado Boot Camp TTBC Video | Riders Domain - YouTube[/ame]
Some inappropriate language, it is Collin Edwards after all. :trust:


If you didn't need a plated bike and you could find a decent one, I think the KDX would be excellent for you.
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

"as I have seen many $11K KTMs out putting around dirt roads you can drive a Camry down, and those guys have big smiles on their faces."

Using them as intended, lol!
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

As you have read so far, "which dirt bike should I get" is quite a bit like what should I have for dinner. It really all just depends. For me, my next dirt bike will be a KTM 250 XC-W and I am going to have a blast on it. But the type of riding may not be the type of riding you want to do.

I do agree with JohnF in that to me a dirt bike is just that, a dirt bike. And plating a dirt bike for use in TX is kind of a waste of time, effort, and money. They aren't fun to ride on the pavement for any more than a few miles, and unless you are one of the very few that live down the road from the national forest by Houston, then you aren't riding just a few miles to get to any trails. For places like Big Bend, I couldn't stand my plated dirt bike. It was great if you wanted to blitz the fire roads at mach 1 but that really isn't the point of going out to Big Bend if you ask me. I can go fast at a bunch of places closer to home.

If it were me, and I had a 5 acre place, and wanted to ride on it, I would either be looking for a used KTM 200, or heck even a trials bike. Then I could go out in my back yard and put around over some rocks or trees and have a blast going 0.5mph. Something like a 450 would just be way overkill on a small piece of property I feel.
 

copb8

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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

I went through several bikes over a few years on my way to what I own now. All were plated and all were 4 strokes. The key to me was to buy right so that you can get out of it with almost no loss if you decide you want something else. Buying and selling the right bikes is pretty easy. I even had one 2 weeks :-)

Since you're so new to dirt a 250 would probably be ideal. Not too hard of a throttle hit and super light to pick up.
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

... or heck even a trials bike. Then I could go out in my back yard and put around over some rocks or trees and have a blast going 0.5mph. Something like a 450 would just be way overkill on a small piece of property I feel.
That would be a skill builder. It's advice I should take myself.
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

If it were me, and I had a 5 acre place, and wanted to ride on it, I would either be looking for a used KTM 200, or heck even a trials bike. Then I could go out in my back yard and put around over some rocks or trees and have a blast going 0.5mph. Something like a 450 would just be way overkill on a small piece of property I feel.
A trials bike is exactly where I ended up. Reflecting on it we I could have put in a decent, though small, track around the perimeter or our place, but it would have meant ruining the place for all the other things we like to do there. KTMs munch ground.

I ended up with Helwig's Sherco and have been adding obstacles in the lower pasture ever since. Even turning figure eights in the ditch by the road can be a challenge if they are tight enough. If skill building is the goal, then a trials bike is a good option. Nothing reveals your sins like a trials bike.

Funny, I had six bikes at one point and the one that I used to get around the farm most frequently was a DR200.
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

I find my self not riding as much as a few years ago, but I find the riding I do on my trials bike to be most fun/work and fulfilling, with little chance of debilitating injury.
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

As noted earlier, suspension makes or breaks the off-road experience. At 260# you're looking at springs and valving at a minimum, unless you like blowing through the stroke on a routine basis.

Also, you might want to ride a few bikes before pulling the trigger. 2 strokes' power delivery frequently catches novice riders off-guard, and require a higher level of finesse than 4 bangers. Newer riders often prefer engines that "lug", which is a 4 strokes' domain.

Your geared-up weight approaches 280+, and 250Fs will struggle. 350s have a large following, but expect to drop more than $3K, as nice used versions sell quickly. A de-tuned 450 might be your best bet.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

A trials bike is pretty specialized. That wouldn't be my recommendation for a first dirt bike. Something more generalized makes sense to me. That leads me back your plain Jane 250.
 

RollingJ

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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

I'm selling an 06 ktm 450xc that's plated. You should buy one of those. ;-)
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

Borrow a bike from a friend. Look for a dated and tired 250 / 350 four stroke like an XR250, XT250/350, XR400, DR350, DR250. Get one with a front disk, so stay away from old stuff from the 80's.

$1000 should do fine. Go fine tune your off road skills on a clunker and decide what you like more: power, light weight, comfort, outright power, low end torque, ground clearance, low seat height, wheelies, not wheelies, jumping ability, etc, etc...

Here's a DR, street legal, $1400 in Dallas, 1900 miles, dual disks, electric start, 85 mph top speed. https://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/mcy/d/1997-suzuki-dr350/6625847155.html This is a bike you could thrash for ever and sell for what you paid ($1200 is probaby fair price to buy it for). My son Sid rode one 5,000 miles across Mexico and aside from a leaking valve stem, he never put a wrench to it. Texas to Guanajuato to Zihuataneo to Salyulita to Phoenix and lots of stuff in between. And, despite being on an old underpowered kinda heavy and squishy bike, he never had issues being at the front of the pack on Mextrek, drifting in and out of corners on the edge of traction. These old bikes usually had rear racks standard so hanging a set of saddlebags off it is easy, as is taking extra gas and a tail pack. And most will run 60 - 70 MPH highway so you can get from home to trail on a freeway if needed.

Buy cheap, learn what you like, sell. Then move up to something to make your heart race. Sid rides a KTM450 and a WR426 now and will forever appreciate just how capable they are in comparison. But he definitely had more genuine smiles on the DR350.

As you learned with the Africa Twin, it may pop wheelies and go uber fast, but so does a V-Max.

Colin's boot camp, especially if you can find a one day camp, is the best money you'll ever spend to become a better rider. And it is redic fun.

Peter

20171029_123810-XL.jpg
 
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Jarrett

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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

If I got my tallying correct, it goes something like this:

ktm 250 - 2 votes
KTM 300 - 2 votes
KTM 450 exc - 3 votes
kdx200/220 - 2 votes
CRF250L - 1 vote
WR250 - 1 vote
XR650 - 1 vote
CRF450 - 1 vote
ktm 200 - 1 vote
DRZ-400 - 1 vote
DR350 - 1 vote
KTM 380EXC - 1 vote
trials bike?? - 1 or 2 votes
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

I'd vote for these as a first dirt bike, but the last 2 for ease of buying and selling and not taking a loss:

CRF250L - 1 vote
WR250 - 1 vote
DRZ-400 - 1 vote
DR350 - 1 vote
 
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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

The TT is the dirt only version of the XT350 I recommended. The one downside of this bike is the overly complicated dual carb setup. So, given ethanol in modern fuel, I'd like to withdraw the xt/tt350 from my nomination list. Stick with an xt 250 or be safe and go honda xr or suzuki dr 250/350/400.
 
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kubotamiketx

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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

Jarrett, like you I too have a AT and great as it is, the darn thing still weighs 525 lbs at least, more when I am tired.

I picked up a lightly used Husky FE510S and freaking love it. It must have 70% of the HP the AT does but at 50% the weight. It is a thousand times better off-road than the AT, but it isn't as good on the street as the AT.

There is no one perfect bike, but if you have twin, the KTM 500 or Husky 501 is a great addition. I have been pondering the need for an even lighter KTM 250 2T or something like that, but I need to get more saddle time on what i have now before i can justify yet another bike.
 

Tourmeister

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Re: IF I were to get a dirt bike, what should I get?

Yeah... definitely three bikes if you want to cover the whole spectrum well :lol2:

I have my 1200 GS, which is an awesome road bike and decent adventure bike. This is the bike I'd ride to Alaska and back. or on some prolonged adventure trip.

I have my KTM 530 EXC, which is a total BLAST on tight twisty pavement and handles the really nasty two track, and some single track. This bike gets trailered to a general area, then I might spend a week riding it, camping along the way or doing hotels. For instance, I've trailered it to Montana, Arkansas, and North Carolina. I would never ride it to any of those places and back. IF I had the money to spend, I would upgrade this to a 500 EXC so I could get the fuel injection.

IF I had the time to ride one and the money to spend, I'd be all over the KTM 300 two stroke. I got to ride one in the sandy trails in the SHNF and loved it. This would be a day ride only bike. I would not try to load it up with camping gear. I'd trailer to and camp in a single spot and ride out/back each day. If I wanted to camp somewhere else, I'd load up and trailer there too.
 
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