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Second Thoughts About Dual Sport

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So my original plan was to get a used dual sport bike to start out on. I already took the basic rider safety class - and rode a dual sport there so that was good. I passed the riding test so now I am licensed - Woohoo!

 

I've been watching YouTube videos of people riding and reviewing various dual sport bikes when I happened to view a sport bike video of people riding on Mulholland drive near LA. That suggested videos column is addictive - so next I clicked on a suggested beginner bike video. That video suggested a Honda CBR250R.

 

I navigated to the the Honda Power-sports website and there it was (Choir voices,... Ahhh!) The CBR250R Repsol edition. I just took one look at it and said, "That's my bike." 

 

(insert Gollum yelling "Curses and splashes!")

 

And now I am trying to justify to myself why I wanted a dual sport in the first place. I live in the western suburbs of Chicago so there aren't any trails easily accessible for me (that I currently know of) without a long drive - certainly not riding there on a 250cc dual sport. I was planning on getting a trailer (or build one) to haul it to a trail or riding area - probably in S. Illinois, Wisconsin or Michigan. Furthermore, when I peek in on prices on Cycletrader or Craig's List most used dual sports I am looking at are $3000'ish; ones with a lot of miles or heavily modded worry me (I don't want to have to fix something I just bought). A new bike is not that far away at $4300 list. Not really interested in plating a dirt bike - maybe next time.

 

The question going through my head is: Since I am just starting out riding I will probably do most riding on the street even with a dual sport. I don't want to have it be a big chore to hook up the trailer, drive 2+ hours to a trail, have to use an entire day or weekend of time, return, unhook trailer, and then wash the bike. I currently have a big telescope that I hardly use because the little 4 inch does the job and I can have it in the car in 5 minutes, setup time nil - even though the big scope has a much better image. The big telescope cost me $2K+ and the little one $150 (used the big one 2 times this year vs. 5 for the little one).

 

So the question is - Will I use the dual sport off-road like I am envisioning or might it be better to focus on riding on the street first then get off-road when I am a better rider? I don't plan on racing the bike or riding fast on public streets - it just looks like a fun ride to hop on and ride around on (no trailer, no fuss). Might get old fast though. I'm also understanding why more than one motorcycle may be necessary - and I don't even have one yet.

 

If there are closer trails in Illinois to ride rather than long hauls to another state then my worries are over - I'm getting a dual sport. I'm just kind of shocked that seeing the CBR had this effect on me really. I even went to a dealer to see one yesterday.

 

Any advice on beginning riding experiences/learning and purchasing decisions would be helpful. I don't want a motorcycle that just sits in the garage. I'm hoping the key to this is finding others to ride with.

 

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Where do you live? If in a highly developed urban area with no trails, dont bother with a dual sport. If you live in the suburbs, with pockets of woods every few miles, get the d/s bike and go explore. Lastly, if youre not comfortable with a bike sliding around underneath you, with traction and wheelspin coming and going, dont bother with a d/s.

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Congrats on getting started with biking! any bike you get will open up the door to a great time. I've rode bikes forever, have had one of every kind over the last 40 years. I love sport bikes, and you wanting one is nothing new to a new bike rider. Just my opinion here, but I think as cool as a CBR250 is I really believe that you will be over a 250 crotch rocket pretty quickly. A 250 dual sport on the oth hand will keep you happy longer. to be able to go anywhere is such a cool thing to have. I have a WR250r for 3 years now and love riding it on the street. I ride it to work in weather that most put theirs away. While your not looking for top speed, the little 250 is only going to have just a little bit more top speed than a 250 D/S. I find it so much easier ripping around town on the dirt bike than the street bike, and funner. You can find a bigger CC D/S that will still be easy to learn on and whip the crap out of a CBR250. Just being able to go through parking lots, up around parking garages, and you will find little spots to do some dirt stuff in the coolest places that you never thought of. Even if you don't ever plan to go off road having a super Moto style bike like a WR/X, or a DRS  is way funner than a road bike. A CBR250 would let you explore the roads around where you live but after a while you will want to go farther and a 250 would be small for that. You can do it and have fun, but you can do the same thing with a D/S. Any bike you get you'll love but there are places that you can go with a D/S that you can't go with a Rocket. Good luck with your shopping, and if you can try a couple out before you lock into something. just being able to ride around your yard is fun. You'll find cool little short cuts that a street only bike can't even think of doing. good luck.

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If you don't like maintenance and repairs I'd suggest the street bike. I love duel sporting but the bike upkeep is twice that of a street only bike. Tires, air filter, bearings, tip over damage...

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Given the situation you have described I would, as you have, lean toward the street bike. The CBR250R is a great choice, too. You'll have a ton of fun on that bike. I rode one recently and decided if I go back to street only that would be the one.

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I'm in your situation with no trails less than 4 hrs away. I have 3 dual sports and love them for their light weight and quick handling. But a CBR250 has the same traits and much more capability on road.

 Reality is we go to the trails 3 or 4 times a year.  :(

It gets old pretty quickly driving 8-10 hrs to ride. 

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you can't ride a CBR250R in city park or golf courses very well. 

 

Resale on the CRF250L would prolly be better. 

 

Riding street only could be boring if only by yourself. Not so if you find some dirt areas to explore by yourself. 

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For the limited amount of trail riding you anticipate, I would not go with a dual-sport. I'd go with any of the 250cc streets, probably the CBR250R unless I was planning on any dual-up. I've rode streets in the past and now have a dual-sport. But my situation has vastly changed. I live in the Northern Adirondacks and have less than a half-mile ride to many back-woods dirt and logging roads. And I have zero interest in the street now. Too dangerous IMHO unless on roads with sparse traffic. From my experience in the difference in comfort and handling between a street and a dual-sport bike, I know that I would not be happy having a dual-sport in your situation. And you can have fun on any bike, regardless of what it is. Back in the day, I've rode both solo and dual-up with a 50cc Bridgestone 2-stroke street, a 175 cc Bridgestone 2-stroke street, and a 175 cc Honda 4-stroke street. I've even rode dual-up with my wife on the Honda on easy dirt trails. I had fun in all cases. 

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I have to disagree with people saying a dual sport isnt' fun in the city. Urban riding is a blast, stairs, sidewalks, alleys. Not to mention you could simply buy the motard edition of some of the bikes and it will do anything the dirt version will. Then if you want to take a weekend out in the woods simply swap wheels with a spare ebay set.

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I have to disagree with people saying a dual sport isnt' fun in the city. Urban riding is a blast, stairs, sidewalks, alleys. Not to mention you could simply buy the motard edition of some of the bikes and it will do anything the dirt version will. Then if you want to take a weekend out in the woods simply swap wheels with a spare ebay set.

 Nobody is dissing dual sport, but they aren't the best bikes at anything. If you are going to ride mostly street, a 250cc CBR is going to put a lot mores smiles your face than than a xr250l.   (and all 3 of my bikes are dual sports) 

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Get a dual sport, for a first bike that your may or may not drop. A dual sport will be cheaper to fix. But if your heart is set on a street bike, I would get a 600cc minimum. You will quickly outgrow the 250cc street bike.

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XR 650L 2012 5000 miles torque horse for Maine...

Edited by muckle21

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Well, after several days and many YouTube viewings my pull towards the CBR has dwindled to about equal that of the dual sport - actually a little less. It's funny that in some of the replies you say get a CBR since I'll have more fun since I won't be riding trails that much - but then you say you currently own dual sport(s) and can ride it anywhere and it's fun. So reading between the lines I'd say that's the real key - being able to ride anywhere. There may be others reading this and saying "get whatever man!" and not replying but the few that have replied your advice is very close to what I was initially thinking all along. Flexibility. Plus, I am not against working/maintaining it - I just don't want to buy something that needs a lot of work before I can ride it. 

 

On my first post on Thumpertalk several people said try and get a DR-Z400S used as a first bike. I'm pretty much sold on that idea - thanks! It looks like a great compromise between power/dirt/street riding. The 250cc ones are all good options too but it'll all come down to timing when I actually am ready to buy next spring.

 

So next summer if you live in the Fox River Valley area west of Chicago and are looking for a riding buddy - let me know!

 

Thanks for all your input everyone.

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Wow.  Your situation is so similar to mine that I had to chime in here.  I am also in Chicago (Skokie area) and also a new rider who just completed a MSF course and got their license about a month ago.  I managed to find a used Yamaha XT250 on Craigslist along with a receiver hitch rack (like this one http://www.harborfreight.com/400-lb-receiver-mount-motorcycle-carrier-99721.html

 

So I have been riding around for about a month and have put on about 500 miles so far.  Here are my thoughts:

 

The bike is really easy to ride and a lot of fun.  Honsetly though, I have probably put only about 10 off-road miles on it out of 500.  The receiver hitch rack works nicely and I plan on doing more offroading in the spring, but street riding feels more comfortable to me so far.  Offroad (as others here have noted) you will feel a lot less sure of yourself.  Your traction comes and goes and sometimes it feels like your back wheel is all over the place which for a new rider can be pretty scary.  Riding off road kinda scares me a bit (street still scares me too, but I am more worried about other idiots than myself).  I am sure that once I get some more off-road miles under my belt I will be more comfotable, but at this point riding on the street is more fun to me.  The problem with street riding is that a 250 (especially a low-geared dualsport) is pretty underpowered.  I have been riding to work which is about 12 miles away from my house and I have already kinda been wishing I had something bigger.  If I had to do it over again, I would look into getting something bigger.  Probably a 400 or so but with tires that are more geared towards road than trail.  Unfortunately, options in this size of a bike aren't very good (or cheap for that matter).  If you want to go offroad even sometimes, I would think that a 650 would be a real bitch to handle offroad for a beginner.

 

Anyway... I am a new rider so everything I said should be taken with many grains of salt.

 

Ohh... as far as a riding buddy, I'm definitely game.  I would think that along the river there would be plenty of good spots.  I see places all the time that look fun to ride but I am afraid of trespassing/getting a ticket so I have been pretty frustrated.

Edited by el_brio

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 I lived in Chicago for most of my life, and I'd TOTALLY get a dualsport for there. The potholes and bumpy roads in the city can be nasty on a streetbike. The sustained highway speeds are typically below 85MPH. Gas prices are jacked in the city, so a 50MPG+ thumper makes more sense than a high-strung 35-40MPG mid-sized sportbike. Fender-benders are common, and sportbike plastics can be expensive. Technical dirt is only 2hrs away, at most (Badlands in Attica IN, The Cliffs in Utica IL, Bong Rec Area in WI). You also have an extended riding season if you simply have warm gear and knobby tires that can handle snow. Dirt roads are even closer than the technical trails. The rivers out by Utica or Galena are beautiful riding in autumn, and there are several dirt routes to explore in NW IL and in WI

 

 I'm 5'8"/200lb/30" inseam/strong-like-bull, and the first dirty moto I've owned is a DR650SE. I've ridden just streetbikes off and on for many years, but handling the 367lb DR offroad is do-able as a dirt-noob if you simply don't ride like you're trying to win the Paris-Dakar. Wear good gear though, as a heavy bike can toss/pound you. I ride the 650 in the sand, mud, and rocks without a major issue now, and the Jap 250s sold these days are 300lb tanks anyway. The power delivery on a stock DR is fairly mild too. As your skills improve, the aftermarket can also improve the bike. The slab ability of the DR also makes it easy to take long trips if you choose, well outside of the midwest.

 

 You may prefer something lighter, and Chicago is actually a fine place to ride a bike with a bit less slab ability, since speeds are generally well below 100MPH. The WR250R, CRF250L, KLX250S, DRZ-400S, XT250, DR350SE, and other 250cc+ dualsports are definitely worth a look.

 

 Many people like the SMs too, but I don't seem to have a need for anything that handles better on pavement than what the DR's 17/21 wheels offer. Try an IRC TR8 front and a Kenda K270 or D606 rear in some sharp paved turns, and then tell me they aren't more than adequate to make you forget about $150 17" sportbike tires. I also much prefer having the ability to comfortably leave the pavment if I feel the need or inclination, and I can still scrape pegs, wheely, or stoppy just fine on the right DS knobs. Just upgrade your brakes with some stainless hoses and maybe some grippy pads clamping oversized rotors.

Edited by Kommando
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I just picked up an old XL250 to use around town and ride to work in the summer. So far it's been a blast just tooling around the back roads at 30-40 mph with the occasional dirt road and trails mixed in. It is nice to have the off road option while tooling around town. I think I would get bored riding on street all the time....

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If you go the street route, seriously consider a cbr500 instead of the 250. My GF rides the 250 and while it looks great, theres not much motor in there. Same motor as the crf250l, and its one of the slowest 250 dual sports. The 500 is not much more $.  I've riden both and the cbr500 is a blast for the money.

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I don't think you can make a bad decision with a dualsport or a CBR as a first bike. I do suggest that you spend some time sitting on both. I think you will find the upright riding position of a dualsport, much more comfortable and you will have better visibility. A test ride might be very telling, if you can get one. At any rate, good luck your new bike! :thumbsup:

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Wow.  Your situation is so similar to mine that I had to chime in here.  I am also in Chicago (Skokie area) and also a new rider who just completed a MSF course and got their license about a month ago.  I managed to find a used Yamaha XT250 on Craigslist along with a receiver hitch rack (like this one http://www.harborfreight.com/400-lb-receiver-mount-motorcycle-carrier-99721.html

 

So I have been riding around for about a month and have put on about 500 miles so far.  Here are my thoughts:

 

The bike is really easy to ride and a lot of fun.  Honsetly though, I have probably put only about 10 off-road miles on it out of 500.  The receiver hitch rack works nicely and I plan on doing more offroading in the spring, but street riding feels more comfortable to me so far.  Offroad (as others here have noted) you will feel a lot less sure of yourself.  Your traction comes and goes and sometimes it feels like your back wheel is all over the place which for a new rider can be pretty scary.  Riding off road kinda scares me a bit (street still scares me too, but I am more worried about other idiots than myself).  I am sure that once I get some more off-road miles under my belt I will be more comfotable, but at this point riding on the street is more fun to me.  The problem with street riding is that a 250 (especially a low-geared dualsport) is pretty underpowered.  I have been riding to work which is about 12 miles away from my house and I have already kinda been wishing I had something bigger.  If I had to do it over again, I would look into getting something bigger.  Probably a 400 or so but with tires that are more geared towards road than trail.  Unfortunately, options in this size of a bike aren't very good (or cheap for that matter).  If you want to go offroad even sometimes, I would think that a 650 would be a real bitch to handle offroad for a beginner.

 

Anyway... I am a new rider so everything I said should be taken with many grains of salt.

 

Ohh... as far as a riding buddy, I'm definitely game.  I would think that along the river there would be plenty of good spots.  I see places all the time that look fun to ride but I am afraid of trespassing/getting a ticket so I have been pretty frustrated.

 

 

Gearing changes can be your best friend with a small displacement (cc) bike.  As you've seen a dual sport has to be geared very low to be able to get out of steep offroad situations. Doesn't translate to the best gearing for street use.

If stock is 14t (t=teeth on the sprocket) a 15t is a simple swap and raises the gearing the equivalent of 3t on the rear (noticeable).  A bigger front sprocket for street, smaller for dirt will improve things a whole bunch!  (you'll be surprised how much)

Edited by MindBlower

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