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Short newbie finding very few choices (reposted from elsewhere)

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I am 5'3" with inseam a little more than 29", 108 lbs.

At least 10 years ago I wanted to get a dual sport bike and learn to ride, but a salesman told me there was nothing available for me. Instead, he steered me towards cruisers, which I thought was lame given that I had told him I actually did want to ride off pavement.

Fast forward to a few months ago, when I saw a Grom parked by the street. Whoa. I practically skidded to a halt...and I was walking. I did some net searching on Groms, went to a dealer to confirm that the size was comfortable, found out there are knobbies for it, and tried to come up with alternatives so that I was not considering ONLY one model.

I signed up for the BRC, had a choice between one too-tall dual sport and a bunch of cruisers, used the cruiser, felt uncomfortable with the riding position right from the start, and ended up being asked to leave the class. I am athletic and fit, so this came as a surprise, but I wasn't about to give up.

Next I took an intro class geared towards dirt biking. I rode a Yamaha TTR125 that felt right "at home", more like something I would enjoy working with. And I did. The class was loads of fun and I loved the physicality of it--standing up, moving around, counterweighting.

So now I want an offroad-capable bike even more, but it has to be street legal, because I do not want to tow or haul a bike around when it has its own motor and wheels.

I keep hearing that a 125cc engine is too small for much highway use, so I checked out the Yamaha XT250 dual sport. On the website spec list, it is shown as having a 31.9" seat height, versus the TTR

125's 31.7", nearly identical. But a reality check in person revealed that those two bikes do NOT have similar seat heights! I can straddle the TTR125 with both feet securely on the balls of my feet, or one foot flat on ground with the other on the footpeg. Not so for the XT250. On the latter, if I put one foot on the footpeg, the other is on toes only, not a good feeling. Ditto for Suzuki DR200 SE.

A shop guy told me they could convert a Kawasaki KLX140 (whose seat height was good for me) to street legal, but there is a hitch, namely there is only one model of DOT tire for it in its stock size. The alternative is to put knobbies and a better footpeg on the Grom, giving up some dirt trail capability as well as back to the highway speed question for either the Grom or KLX140.

Since I decided it was better for me to get my own bike and practice with it rather than trying to learn from ground zero in two days on a cruiser that I hate the feel of, I need help in choosing between these two options, or finding another one. I plan to take the written exam to get a learner's permit soon, good for 90 days, but am holding off buying a bike just yet.

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If going of road is what you want to do, don't buy a Grom. The suspension I not made for off road. Get the KLX or TTR and do a street conversion. All three bikes will have difficulty at "highway speeds". I plan on making my TTR street legal.

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You don't want the tiny front tire size of a grom in the dirt either. You get in some soft dirt or sand and it will wash right out.

Edited by wielywilly-g

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Where do you live? I'm 5'3, 110 lbs and ride a street-legal 2004 Honda CRF250X. 

 

The issue you may have ran into at the dealership (between the XT250 and TT-R125 with seat height) is that someone may have adjusted the sag. I didn't research the seat heights though, and it may be dependent upon the year of the model bike. One of our sales girls rides a XT250 and seems to love it. She did 200 miles on one of our last ride trips with it. 

Edited by Lindsey Lovell @DirtRider

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Maybe I had better wait and see if any manufacturers come out with, say, a 175 to 200cc dual sport that is a bit smaller and lighter than the DR200 SE.

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You live in Washington, you can convert any bike into a Dual Sport. Get a 150F or (preferably) a 150R, put lights on it, have it inspected and go ride  :thumbsup:

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The devil is in the details. I would need DOT tires as part of the conversion, 70/100-19 front and 90/100-16 rear for either the TTR125 LE and the KLX140 L. Honda's specs are incomplete on tire sizes for the 150F, plus it has a taller seat height.

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The devil is in the details. I would need DOT tires as part of the conversion, 70/100-19 front and 90/100-16 rear for either the TTR125 LE and the KLX140 L. Honda's specs are incomplete on tire sizes for the 150F, plus it has a taller seat height.

And? Kenda makes a few DOT options, I'm sure there are others,

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And? Kenda makes a few DOT options, I'm sure there are others,

Yes, Kenda makes some offroad DOT tires. So far, I have not found any (Kenda or otherwise) for both the front and rear wheels in the sizes I listed earlier.

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Yes, Kenda makes some offroad DOT tires. So far, I have not found any (Kenda or otherwise) for both the front and rear wheels in the sizes I listed earlier.

Track Masters from Motorcycle Superstore. The Washougal front tire is DOT, so I'd run the Washougal front/T.M. rear, since the TM front tire isn't that great on slippery roots. The rear tire is pretty good though.

In fact, that is the tire combo that my son and I race on, out at Straddleline (Capitol forest).

Also, once you get inspected and tags, buy what ever tire you like, nobody is going to pull you over to check if your tires are DOT certified.

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Thanks, 6riders. I'll look for those. The reason I am concerned about the DOT tires is because I still have to get my endorsement; since I want to practice on and test on my own bike, it has to pass the inspection of the testers before they would allow me to use it for the test, or so their websites say.

Do they fail people for using two-finger clutch and brake coverage instead of four fingers?

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I don't know about Washington, But here in Northern Nevada you can either take the written and skills test OR go to an approved MC safety course (after you pass the course, no DMV testing is required). The one here is taught through the community college and costs $150 and from what I hear, it's great.

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I don't know about Washington, But here in Northern Nevada you can either take the written and skills test OR go to an approved MC safety course (after you pass the course, no DMV testing is required). The one here is taught through the community college and costs $150 and from what I hear, it's great.

It's the same in Washington. I did the "one day" course, which was; Take the written test, then ride. It took about 5hrs for my group, but this is for "experienced riders".....I shouldn't have been included, since riding a dirt bike is WAY different than a 250cc cruiser (which suck BTW).

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dirtbikegirl, I would like more time to learn the skills than is given in the BRC, which adds hours of classroom time, a written test, and the endorsement test in a 16-hr format with 12 students and 2 instructors. That probably is OK for people with some experience, but I had never ridden a motorcycle prior to that aborted class. The 5-hr dirt bike intro I took after that was way more helpful because it was ALL riding time, only 4 students, less rushed, and I felt comfortable right away on the dirt bike. I really hated the cruiser used in the BRC. There, I said it. No offense intended to anyone who likes them, but the position felt all wrong to me.

I have been studying the Washington Motorcyclists handbook and taking online practice tests, so I can get the written test out of the way separately from the skills practice and endorsement test. And, hopefully, take the endorsement test on the bike that I will actually be riding.

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The Yamaha XT250 (and many other bikes) can be lowered by using a lowering suspension link. The new XT250s are good little Dual sports and are fuel injected with both wheels having disc brakes.

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There are a couple of things about bike height that aren't really obvious. 

 

I tried a KLX250 once and it had a lower seat height than my WR250F, but they felt like they were the same height. The WR is skinny compared to the KLX, so your legs aren't straddling as much (the trade off is that skinny bikes are harder to grip with your knees).

 

When you adjust the suspension clickers for your weight the bike will sink a bit more when you sit on it. The OEM settings are most likely going to be for an average rider that is much heavier than a 5'3" female. So I'd say just about any bike you are looking at is going to need some significant adjusting. That's what Lindsay Lovell was referring to with the sag adjustment. You have to adjust anyhow, otherwise it's going to feel really harsh off road. 

 

Lowering links can be bought for just about anything. They change the handling a bit but you can remove them if you later decide that you want to try managing with only one foot on the ground. Plenty of offroad riders find they can. 

 

You can also shave the seat foam to give just a little bit of a drop in height. Not sure but I think they may also sell seat foams that are already done if you don't feel like hacking one up. 

 

If you try a bit of all of these things you might get a good result on the bike you want. I wouldn't worry too much about highway speeds either, small-capacity dirt bikes suck on the highway, that's what those cruisers are good at. If you gear any of those small bikes for proper trail riding they would be lucky to hit highway speeds at redline. If you gear them for highway riding they lack torque on the trail and they're easier to stall. Any of them will get you to the trail but none of them are going to be fast. I have a 250 4T with close to stock gearing and it's at very high revs to keep up on the highway. I try to avoid the highway whenever possible, it's also hard on the tyres. 

 

I had a friend once who wanted to buy a 250 dirt bike and he brought it to me because he thought there was something wrong with it. I took it for a ride and had to convince him that there was nothing wrong, that's just how they handle. I told him he'd understand once he starts riding it off road. He did, and a couple of years later he's still riding it everywhere. 

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Sorry I clicked on this forum by accident.  But after reading the OP's issue, the solution is simple.  I do suspension work as a hobby/side business.  Buy the XT250.  There are a couple options for you.  The 125 felt shorter because it has a softer suspension and it sags more when you sit on it.  The spring rates of the 125 should be able to be put in the 250.  It's rather inexpensive.  Or one can have the suspension shortened for you.  It's fairly easily done.

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I gave up and bought a 500 cruiser for street riding. Figured it was better in the long run than putting too much strain on the dirt bike. Also the dual sport bikes that fit me weren't really ideal for the trails and single track I ride. Now if it would just stop snowing, I could ride them.

Edited by dirtbikegirl
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I gave up and bought a 500 cruiser for street riding. Figured it was better in the long run than putting too much strain on the dirt bike. Also the dual sport bikes that fit me weren't really ideal for the trails and single track I ride. Now if it would just stop snowing, I could ride them.

Nice. I ride dirt bikes, a sportsbike and sometimes a Harley and I have a great time with all of them all depending on the situation. Enjoy! :)

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