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oh man another newbie!

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Greetings from Florida! I have an itch to get in the dirt, and try out hare scrambles and enduro. I live about 30 minutes from Croom and Dade city, so I'll probably go hoon it up there as well. I have some experience as a teenager putzing around in a Honda C70 clutchless 3-speed scooter. What a hoot! Haven't been on a motorcycle since.

What I know:

  1. I would be safest learning around 250cc or less, and a 4-stroke would be easer to learn on. With that said, I'm no idiot. Having one million CC's would not cause me to uncontrollably use it. I've had the experience of holding the throttle open while the bike drives away underneath me. Been there already.
  2. There's no way in hell I'm spending more than about 2K to find out if this is for me, as I'll have to rotate out of an old hobby (probably RC cars) to get into it.
  3. It'd be nice to be in something street legal, but just barely. I want a 90% dirt bike, 10% road bike.
  4. I'd really prefer KTM, there's a lot of support for it around here. Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha are all good alternatives.
  5. I've read up on most of the online stuff about how to check a used bike out before buying it. I'll be taking a compression tester, checking for leaks, obvious maintenance items, ignoring the cosmetics, and watching to see how the owner warms it up.

What I don't know:

  1. I know that 2-cycles are cheaper to maintain (no valve train), but need more frequent rebuilds. That said, I'm a little turned off of used 4-stroke motors, because they are more sensitive to poor maintenance. I'm probably looking at a 7-12 year old bike, and I get the sense a 2-stroke is a safer bet. Is that accurate?
  2. How old a bike should I get, and still have good enough parts availability? I'm trying to cut it off about 2001, but hey, if a 95 looked like it was maintained, I could be tempted sub 1K.
  3. Should I give up on a road-legal bike? I know that the KTM dealer around me can get any new KTM plated, and that the EXC's are all super dirtbikes, but both are few and far between in my price range on the used market.
  4. Any stay away from that model no matter what bikes? In the KTM/Honda/Kawasaki/Yamaha space, I haven't heard of any such advise as yet.

I really appreciate all the help in advance!

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You seem to have a pretty good feel for the market. If I had to name bikes to stay away from no matter what the first that come to my mind are 2004-2005 suzuki rmz250 and kawasaki kx250f's. They had multiple problems from valves to overheating to transmissions. They were a shared model between kaw/suzi and they both updated/changed for 2006 and up and are no longer shared. Also early crf250's ('04-05) also had valve problems even when maintained.

Modern 250f's can be very stout/reliable if ridden and maintained properly but in your budget it would be a bit of a struggle to find a 250f worth getting. Essentially without knowing the history you need to find one that looks darn near brand new!

When looking over a bike look for wear on the engine cases and frames where your boots rub that's a good way to get a feel for how much time is on a bike. Check the easy stuff, chain, sprockets fresh/adjusted/greased, tires fresh, grips, levers not sloppy, grab the wheel and move it side to side, if it has any play the wheel bearings are bad, works front and rear.

Its generally pretty easy to get a feel for how well a bike is mechanically pretty quickly. You can tell a lot about bikes by asking some questions and listening to the responses from the owners as well.

Good luck I hope some of that helped! I really don't know what type of bike to suggest as I don't really think you know what your looking for yet either!

Edited by yz133rider

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Thanks yz... I'll add those to my 'avoid' list.

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