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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
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Old 22 Feb 2010
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Question Help a gal out

I'm a new rider searching out my first bike, and was looking for a bit of advice from folks who are wise in the riding ways. I'm looking for something that will fit a 5'8'' lighter-weight adventuresome chick (32in inseam). One of my ideas is to load the sucker up for off-road/desert/guerrilla camping trips, and fire-road explorations the other is city riding.

A few of my friends are discouraging the dual sport idea on the basis of the center of gravity being higher, and the tires not being ideal for city riding (which I will also be doing). Others have been suggesting a Motard, which seems like a middle of the road option but does not offer fantastic off-road preformance. Still another tells me to just forget the dual sport and get a standard.

In conclusion I'm looking for something in the 250-650cc range, lightweight, below $2,000ish (used) but I'm flexible, dual sport for mostly on-road but still dual sport, something that has a wide availability of parts and is fairly easy to work on, does OK on freeways, and has the ability to attach panniers.

well, here goes, you gotta start somewhere right?

Thanks for any suggestions and thoughts you all might have.
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Old 22 Feb 2010
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Hi Famza, you don't say where you are but the $ sign makes me guess the States. If so I'd buy a Suzuki DR650 in a heartbeat. It'll do all of the type of riding you want has good gas mileage and lots of extras from panniers to larger fuel tanks available. As for knobbies, they make perfect road tyres even in the wet. If you get something like TKC80's they perform well on all surfaces, you just have to trust them.

If you want something smaller and easier to pick up off road I'd try an XT250, I've got one and love it but the earlier XT225 are just as good and plentiful secondhand. They'll do 60mph all day but lack the real punch for keeping up with fast traffic. It depends what your commute is like. The lack of weight will pay you back many times over when off road though. There is also the Kawasaki Super Sherpa along the same lines and both these bikes have pretty low seat heights.

Good hunting and go with your gut instinct when buying bikes don't buy something someone else wants you to ride. They've probably never ridden a dual sport or been off road.
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Old 22 Feb 2010
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you will be surprised how flexible and torquey this dual sport bikes are... good to scare the road runner fraction of biker, at least on the traffic light, even with knobbies as I do accelerating out of the bends... you can fit more road type tyres if you want to match the surface ... yae playing on gravel is fun...

and weight wise... well compare to road bike with there +200Kg, a dual purpose bike with a 600cc sort of engine may gets up to 145Kg in the worst but less in the most case and only around 100Kg if you start with a 250cc which I would warmly recommend you to start with as 1st bike, just to get used to it's grunt before switching over to bigger ones.... easy to fix as well lot's 2nd hand around to choice of.... regarding your tempting adventuresome 5'8'' lighter-weight... well you can still fit a lowering link very easily to get your feet on to the ground.
Bike wise... have a look at the XR250s, DR250 they are basic and got grunt.. dual purpose bikes are not top heavy at all.... easy to pick up if you drop it, you won't need a helping hand from a cretin...

The trouble is that he was talking in philosophy, but they were listening in gibberish.
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Old 22 Feb 2010
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The height of most trailbikes is uncomfortable when you first ride one if you've come from riding road bikes. But you'll get used to it in no time at all. As long as you get something fairly lightweight then trailbikes are easier to control than pretty much all road bikes even with their lower center of gravity.

If you've not got much experience of riding anything, then you will probably notice the height even less (as long as you don't get something too high for you). Getting something at the smaller engined/lighter end of the spectrum would be a good idea if you're a new rider - something 400cc or less.

Don't buy something without trying it first though. I've got a dr350 and I suspect the standard seat height might be that little bit too much for someone of your height. Sometimes backing off the preload on the rear shock will create more 'sag' and the bike will be lower when you're sat on it. Fat people who are shorter than me often get their feet as flat as me on bikes as they compress the suspension more.
UK to Mongolia 2009, on a DR350
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Old 22 Feb 2010
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Sorry guys but in my humble experience dual sports are top heavy compared with equally sized road bikes and that will never really change as long as the laws of physics don't change. Trust me on this one, my KTM (~155kg) feels about equally as heavy as my Speed Triple (~220kg) when standing...

Then again dual sports still make pretty good beginners bike and here's why:
  • You're higher up and sit upright, so you have a better overview in traffic.
  • The upright sitting position also gives you an impression of better control and encourages trying out different techniques of cornering (pushing or pulling the bike into the corner), although this is quite subjective...
  • If you don't go for newer KTMs ()most engines deliver their punch in lower rpms, which in turn makes for a less stressful riding style and lowers the risk of cutting of the bike a traffic lights and the like.
  • Dual Sport bikes do both road and dirt quite well, so if you discover that you prefer one to the other you're bike will still get you there.
  • They generally crash better, although this quite depended on the bike. In general though a simple spill with a supersport or most road bikes with a fairing will set you back more $$$ than with most dual sports. Then again, whatever you buy, get some protection for it...
  • Dual Sport tires are not up the standards of good street tires on the road and will never be (simple physics again, think contact area on knobblies (e.g. TKC 80) vs. semi-slicks (e.g. Michelin Pilot Road).
    On the other hand you can fit tires which are quite good on the road and for the most part - if you won't try to push your luck - you won't come close to the limits of a good pair of knobbies.
  • Most people will tell you that - as a beginner - you absolutely need to get both feet flat on the ground. In my experience this is quite overrated. Since leaving riding school (where I rode some pre-war BMW) I've never been able to flat foot any bike I owned. I live in metric-land so no idea how big (or rather petite) you really are but, don't exclude bikes just because you might not be able to get you're feed on the ground. At least try them out first...
Which kinda brings me to my last point. Test ride as many bikes as you possible can. Imho most novices end up with the wrong bike, because they buy just the first bike that strikes their fancy. I know it is hard not to go out right now and get that shiny, cool bike, but do give yourself some time first, it pays out in the end.

Now sure about the availability where you live, but (the older 600cc) Transalp might fit the bill. Handles quite well (a bit on the heavy side maybe), does fireroads all day, not to high, and carries a ton of luggage...

Have fun whatever you do!
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Old 22 Feb 2010
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First bike.

Flyingdoctor mentioned the Kawasaki Super Sherpa. Allow me to sing its various praises. My wife and I are in Ecuador at the moment. We left Canada 9 months ago on two Super Sherpas, 36,000 km so far. Rock solid 250 cc bike that does it all. IMHO it is near perfect for down here or anywhere. We spent 2 1/2 months touring British Columbia on these bikes as well.

1. Inexpensive to buy.
2. One cylinder, one carburator, bone simple, no googaws. Change the oil, adjust the valves and will run forever.
3. 70 miles to the gallon, cruise at 80 to 90 kph fully loaded. Top speed about 110 kph.
4. Low seat height. My wife's bike has been lowered 1 1/2 inches, easy to do. We are both 5' 8´´.
5. Pretty decent stock suspension.
6. 300 pound bike, easy to pick up when tipped over.
7. There are aftermarket racks, etc, available for it.

1. Not many used bikes available.
2. Not very comfortable, but we only go 200-250 km per day.

Happy hunting.

Joel and Taz
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Old 23 Feb 2010
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I am about the same height as you (female) and I own a Yamaha XT660R as well as a YamahaTTR 250. I have just completed an 8000km trip in Africa and I chose to do it on the 250cc. I would recommend the 250cc dual purpose bike for ease of handling. (It's so much harder for me to pick up the 660cc after a fall - and in soft sand it's hard not to fall).
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Old 23 Feb 2010
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I would go for the smaller bike and see how you get on with it for the sole reason that you say you want to go playing offroad.

A DR650 is no lightweight machine, and it takes a lot of manhandling to get it to work well offroad even if you're a 6' young strong bloke. As you say, you're lightweight and 5'8.

If you're inexperienced to riding offroad then dragging a heavy, tall bike along the trails may just put you off for life.

The beauty about sub $2000 trail bikes is that they have pretty much depreciated most of their value. You could give it a go for a year, then move up to a larger bike (if you want to) without losing any money.

As for road use, there are plenty of duel purpose tyres which work perfecly fine. Don't be put off a 21/17 , 21/18 wheel set up for that.

Whatever you do, enjoy !!!!
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Old 23 Feb 2010
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All of these threads are worth a look. It shows what can be done with a 250.

Super Sherpa thread - ADVrider

The official XT225 thread! - ADVrider

Minimalist Touring Thread (250cc and under) - ADVrider
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Old 26 Feb 2010
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There is no perfect bike.

However, you can do all you can to make a bike perfectish™. What I do suggest (and many others will agree) is having a good base to start with, and by that I'd say anything (in the trail, enduro category) under 400cc is a good start for you. Sadly, the drawback is that the fast roads wont be as fast for you on it; which is a perfect excuse to take in the scenery and take slower roads. :P

Next problem might be height and/or comfort seating, lowering links and/or an after-market seat may solve that problem.

Try a few out, and then try them again, and then maybe again ... then decide. Good luck!
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Also you can follow me on FaceBook, YouTube or Twitter.

And let's not forget: The Suzuki DRZ Repository (a side project I'm working on)
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