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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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  #1  
Old 2 Dec 2012
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Keep the little DR or move on up?

After 10 years or so of not riding at all, I decided for my 30th Birthday present to myself that i was going to do something about it.

Picked up what appears to have been a bit of a bargain 2000 DR 125, went and did CBT again, did the theory test and last weekend passed Mod 1 DAS and hopefully getting around to Mod 2 shortly.

In the past I'd always had two strokes, mostly competetion bikes (CR's mainly) but I did have a KMX 125 on the road while I was 17.

The little DR runs fairly well (just need to have a play with gearing and maybe the jetting a bit yet) and is fairly tidy but I know they're not the most desirable of bikes as they are fairly sluggish (in comparison to say the XLR 125) and I like the fact that off road it seems to be able to surprise those on more conventional bikes so I'm getting kind of attached to it.

I'd liken it to a Serow in terms of physical size but with a bit less go - but it does still make me smile.

I'm a bit torn as which direction to go really; I'm looking to end up with a bit of an all rounder at the moment, something that I can get away for some short trips on, maybe take in a few lanes on a weekend and an odd bit of commuting.

But, I've always had a hankering for an XR 250/400 or a DR 350. I know deep down the XR or DR would probably be the more sensible choice but for what the little DR stands me at, am I daft for thinking about maybe doing a few subtle mods and hanging on to it?

There's very little info online that I can find on the DR 125 but from I can gather I should be able to drop in a set of earlier RM 80 big wheel forks for an extra inch or so travel on the front - not got very far on the rear yet.
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  #2  
Old 3 Dec 2012
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There's nothing wrong with small engined bikes, but if you're just after an 'all-rounder', you'd surely be better off with the mid-engined trailie. Almost as nimble at slow speed or when man-handling it, but loads more go and happier cruising at speed. Being able to lift up your front wheel easily is a massive advantage on the trails.

Finding a good DR350 is hard these days, and they all die the same way - top end wear - so fixing up a duff one isn't too easy. I've fancied an XR400 for quite some time, as an alternative low-tech mid-sized trailbike, though I've always been a bit worried by the 5 speed gearbox.


The thing I always liked about 125s was how physically small they are/can be. The last cg125 I had ended up styled as a 1960s trial bike rat, and I could pick the thing up off the ground entirely (despite being very scrawny). If your dr125 is sized up more like a bigger trailie (I've never seen one), then it seems to me you're missing one of the biggest reasons for having a 125.
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  #3  
Old 3 Dec 2012
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Cheers for the reply,

Physically it is quite a small bike, about 7 inch or so of travel at each end and fairly short wheelbase - we had a bit of a play round in an old gravel pit a few weeks ago and most guys were on trials bikes but there was a DR 250 and a DR 350 along too. Everyone was fairly surprised at what my little DR would do, what it lacks in power it makes up for in agility. I ut some wider and slightly taller bars on t to make it less cramped and that's helped make it more comfortable and also makes ridign stood up easier now too. I'm not what you'd call lanky but not really a big lad either at 6ft and 13st.

I did get a go on the 250 and the 350 - despite them sharing loads of bits they rode totally different, the 250 was quite revvy but almost a bit more awkward (jap import trail version with various oddities like auto height adjust suspension) whereas the 350 was just ace (why oh why did I not swap from two strokes when racing).

Finding any DR350 seems to be getting harder from what I've seen - there's a few of the steel tank trail versions appear from time to time on ebay but not many of the kick start, plastic tank ones.

How do/did you find your 350 on longer road days?

One thing I really like about the Xr's is the agricultural nature of them - they sort of remind me of a landrover in many ways in that you could pretty much carry a big hammer, an adjustabe spanner and a big screwdriver to fix them with
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  #4  
Old 3 Dec 2012
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DRZ400S.... Good greenlaner and takes very little to turn it into a competent travel bike. If a little slow on the highways.
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  #5  
Old 3 Dec 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *Touring Ted* View Post
DRZ400S.... Good greenlaner and takes very little to turn it into a competent travel bike. If a little slow on the highways.
It's one I've looked at but at the moment I don't think I can stretch my budget to a DRZ for a bit.

Do the DRZ have any weak points to look out for when looking for one though?
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  #6  
Old 3 Dec 2012
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Might have done something a bit daft, just bought a mostly complete older DR 125 on ebay for £70 - figured it's worth that for a spare set of (ali) wheels and tyres, engine and brake parts, so it might be staying a bit longer
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  #7  
Old 30 Jul 2014
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Sooooo, fast forward a bit, Mod 2 passed about 18 months ago, collection's been growing (though mostly old vinduro bikes) and I'm still riding a DR 125 in amongst the others (yep, the £70 one).


Anyway, been keeping half an eye out for something that's up to a bit of commuting in between a bit of lightweight travelling, but still nimble enough for a bit of a light foray offroad, and kind of out of the blue I've the chance of a 1995 DR 350 that I've known for a coupl of years, ridden a few times and also ridden briefly at one enduro - it's in great shape for it's age (very much standard still), runs brilliant and the price seems fair. The only reason the guy's selling it is that his wife's found the rest of his bike collection and isn't right happy.


However, it's the proper enduro version, rather than the trail version and I was wondering if there's much difference between the two other than the obvious visual ones (plastic tank, less dials, no indicators, no pillion pegs etc) and if so, is the enduro one not so good a choice for general travelling?
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  #8  
Old 31 Jul 2014
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Dr350 ... Yes!

As you know the DR350 is a sort of classic, very reliable and a good all round bike. Has a great reputation and BIG following.
Good both ON and OFF road. Simple, basic, easy to work on.

There were 3 different versions that Suzuki made of the DR350. Basically, one is more trail/road based, the other more enduro oriented. The 3rd one, I'm not sure of. Any help? Not sure if UK got all three models or not. In USA, we did. Very popular bike here for years ... then came the DRZ400 and 350 was discontinued.

The Off road Enduro one was really the GOOD ONE. I'd guess with a few mods you can make yours (if that's the one you've got?) road legal and a fairly good On road All round bike too without too much bother.

It will need signals and lights to be road legal and may need higher gearing for motorway use. But the basic bike is the same. Maybe if you do some research you can find out FOR CERTAIN which model you've got and the exact differences between the various models. Could be later DR350's dual sports had elec. start? Dunno?

The best thing about the DR350 (all of them) is how simple and straightforward they are to work on, how indestructible they are if you fall down, and how generally tough and reliable the bike is.

Parts are still around, AFAIK and lots of enthusiast information to learn from.
A 125 is a hoot, but limited if doing any distance. (IMO) I road 125 two strokes all over Thailand, had a ball. But a 125 two stroke has LOTS more power than your DR125, plus it's lighter weight. I've ridden a CB125 (some years ago) and liked it for short runs to the shops, but not so practical for broader use.

Good luck, let us know which way you go. I'd love to see pics on your
DR350 if you end up buying it.
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Old 1 Aug 2014
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hi Chris, well done for passing the big test!
If you can afford the DR350, buy it. You shouldn't have a problem moving it on if it's not what you expect. I have a DR250 and love it but there are times I wish it had a bit more oomph. Have fun!
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  #10  
Old 13 Aug 2014
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There are only 2 models of DR350, trail and enduro. Other differences are down to year. All early bikes are kickstart. From either 94 or 95 the trail version went electric start only, enduro model stayed kickstart. It's the DRZ400 that was produced as 3 models.

The enduro model has only a basic lighting coil genny, trail model has 3phase alternator. On both versions the ignition has its own genny coil on the stator, so they both work without a battery. If you want to power things like GPS or phone charger you really need 3phase power.


Apart from that the enduro model is a better bike. Most years the enduro model had better suspension (including more adjustability). Flat slide pumper carb on the enduro model is a million times better than the CV carb on the trail version, even should give better cruising mpg if jetted right.



My top tip for the dr350, if you have to take your rocker cover off pay close attention to the threads in the cylinder head that secure it. If in any doubt as to how strong they are, pull the head and helicoil the suspect ones. If you do this definitely helicoil the threads for all 4 of the most central bolts. They have special 'sealing' washers, because there's full oil pressure behind them. The washers don't seal very well. Order new ones, or if you know what you're doing replace them with a better solution. Suzuki cast their cylinder heads out of cheese, and the people who bought their bikes mostly don't seem to know how tight to do up an M6 bolt into ali. I'm not being alarmist, nearly all DR350s die this way in the end. Oil leaks out onto the exhaust, burns away so you never spot it, then the cam eats the cam-followers and plain bearings in the head.


PS, buy an xr400 instead!!!
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  #11  
Old 31 Aug 2014
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Thanks all for the replies.

As it is, I didn't get the DR, though it's not gone far. A mate was looking to get riding and rather than me getting greedy, he had it instead.

I did very nearly go to see a Serow locally and that might still be an option yet; just not sure if I'd like it so much on long runs. The leccy start DR 200 I had briefly wasn't bad, but felt a bit cramped after about 45 mins and was happier at 60 than 70, but got there surprisingly quick.

There's a bit of an oddball thing appeared right on the doorstep - a Suzuki Freewind 650 - never seen one before but looks like it might share the DR 650 engine? Looks a bit more road biased than the DR though.
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Old 31 Aug 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris S View Post
Thanks all for the replies.

As it is, I didn't get the DR, though it's not gone far. A mate was looking to get riding and rather than me getting greedy, he had it instead.

I did very nearly go to see a Serow locally and that might still be an option yet; just not sure if I'd like it so much on long runs. The leccy start DR 200 I had briefly wasn't bad, but felt a bit cramped after about 45 mins and was happier at 60 than 70, but got there surprisingly quick.

There's a bit of an oddball thing appeared right on the doorstep - a Suzuki Freewind 650 - never seen one before but looks like it might share the DR 650 engine? Looks a bit more road biased than the DR though.
Too bad, the DR350 is a very good bike. Having ridden several Serow 225's, I would avoid like the plague. IMHO, one of the worst bikes Yamaha has ever produced (along with the XT350). HEAVY, underpowered, uninspiring. SO heavy for a 225cc bike. (check the weight)

The Freewind is based on the DR650 with a few key differences: Twin Carb,
higher state of tune (more HP than the DR650), I believe a front 19" front wheel? (not sure). A very nice Do IT ALL bike ... and actually VERY light weight for a 650 class bike.

Not a featherweight compared to DR350 but the Freewind can easily sit at 75 mph all day, be packed up heavy for overlanding and do fairly well off road with proper knobbies fitted.

And ... most of all ... very reliable with very easy maintenance. (I own a DR650 ... only saw a Freewind when in Germany ... never rode one) A great bike. Not sure about parts availability. Check the Euro bike forums for more info on the Freewind.
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Old 31 Aug 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nath View Post
There are only 2 models of DR350, trail and enduro. Other differences are down to year. All early bikes are kickstart. From either 94 or 95 the trail version went electric start only, enduro model stayed kickstart. It's the DRZ400 that was produced as 3 models.
Thanks for the clarification Nath! Not sure if USA got different models to UK or not. We did get an "S" version of the DR350 ... and yes, later ones were electric start. We had two at the magazine, one was tricked out pretty good by staff and someone ran an enduro on it!

I also owned a XR400. In USA that bike is made "OFF ROAD ONLY", but back then one could add a kit and make it road legal. Mine had the Baja Designs kit. A great bike for sure ... but that kick start could be a challenge after a tip over. Still, overall a really GOOD UN' and the price is right.
So cheap to buy over here now.
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  #14  
Old 31 Aug 2014
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Just sold my XR400 (had 2 for 7 years between them) - great bikes but no electric start and no ignition security. The former is expensive to retro fit and the later means commuting is an issue (I had 2 since the first one got nicked). If that's not an issue I'd highly recommend one.


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Old 31 Aug 2014
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True, no proper ignition switch on the XR400. I simply fit a hidden switch that interrupted juice to the coil. DONE. NO START.

Switch was hidden up under side panel. $3 switch, ten minute hook up.

If your bikes get nicked a lot it's not a bad idea to fit a hidden Ign. switch even on bikes with a proper key ignition. I've done this on several bikes that had to sit on City street all day when I was commuting. But if the thieves have a Van and Batt operated Disc grinder ... all bets are off.
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