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Next bike and taking this hobby a little more serious.

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Hello all,

I have a question regarding my next dirt bike purchase.  Currently I have a 2003 Suzuki DRZ250 and like the bike.  It serves my purpose now for trail riding.  I have been contemplating racing harescrambles/enduros.  I have no experience racing and am interested right now from afar.  I have no expectations of becoming competitive but think it may be a fun way to get to know more riders and push myself to get better riding.  Most comments I read about the DRZ250 is that it is a pig and not good for competition.  So what would be the next step up as far as a low maintenance bike that I would not get laughed out of the building if I decided to give the racing a try.  I am 52,  5'7", weigh about 220lbs and would say I am a novice rider.  The DRZ250 seat height fits me perfect.  Any suggestions are appreciated even if they are "are you crazy, just trail ride".  

My next question is how does someone get started racing?  
And just to complicate matters I have really been interested in vintage racing.  Love the old bikes.

Thanx

Edited by mbris

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Well.... I was sort of in the same boat as you.  34.  Never really had a dirt bike.  Bought one.  Rode a year and decided to go go harescramble racing.  I would suggest signing up for a class that fits your age and your desire.  Are you chasing a points of just want to ride with 200 of your new friends and have some fun.  As far as bike choice... ride what you have.  You know it and its limits.  After some races or a season you will have a better idea of what fits your needs and terrain.  PS.. I am now addicted to racing.  I raced more this year than I trail rode.... so keep that in mind

 

I started on a 2000 KTM 300 and moved to a 2010 KTM 150.  Now I am on a Beta 250rr.  Next bike will probably be a small bore Sherco 4 stroke.  That is all personal though. 

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Thanx tripped38.

How much maintenance is required for the KTMs.  I have heard on other forum how much more maintenance has to be done for the higher end bikes.  

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I think once you go down the slope of racing you will always be doing maintenance.  I don't think one brand is worse than the other.  Having access to amazing local dealers and being able to handle most of the bike work myself helps. 

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I got into racing because another new riding friend of mine was doing it. I have made a lot of friends racing and love it. Competition is just fun.

As far as bike choice goes you could just ride the DRZ. If I were to suggest something maybe a KTM or Yamaha 250f trail bike. Or for ease of engine maintenance a 2 stroke. The smaller 200 would be a good pick, or even a 150. A KTM or Beta 200 might make you happy. What do you want out of the motorcycle as far as performance and engine characteristic?

To get started just find your local series and give a representative a call. I bet they would be glad to answer questions that you may have. 

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3 hours ago, mbris said:

How much maintenance is required for the KTMs.  I have heard on other forum how much more maintenance has to be done for the higher end bikes.  

Lets reword this: how much maintenance is required for a bike that is actively raced?
Answer: a ton. Far more than you can imagine. Two strokes are easier and cheaper to rebuild the motor. Four strokes are more popular. Racing bikes live a hard life. Engines last a small number of weekends. Suspensions might need to be rebuilt 3 times a season. Frames and wheel hubs break.

Many "user manuals" are available online, grab some and look at the schedules. Expect to find things like "replace pistons and adjust valves" every 20 hours.

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Thanx for all the information and keep it coming.  I may try to give the racing a try with the DRZ to see if I like it.  I don't ever see myself being competitive but looking at this as a fun way to get away from the stresses of life.  Now that my daughters are through with their sports and life is slightly more relaxed I thought it might be something to try.  

To throw another question out there, what has your experiences been like getting into racing later in life?

 

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Pat is correct, but more at an expert level than the level you are racing at.  It does depend on the terrain you ride too.  I don't have to do much maintenance on mine or my son's bikes but my daughter's boyfriend seems to break something every time he races.  Not sure what's going on there.  He's no faster than I am but he does run races that lean slightly toward Hard Enduro, rocks and such.

I run a lot of Hare Scrambles and GP races.  I Like flowy tracks.  I like to ride my bike, not push it, pull it, or drag it over the course.  I am also 52 years old. 

I suggest that you talk to a local race representative and tell him what you want to do and what you are riding now.  He can suggest one race over another for difficulty due to your experience (none) and your bike.  Nobody wants you to hate it, trust me.

While there, talk to people with different bikes.  Not the pros necessarily because although they may be the most knowledgeable guys there, their experience doesn't relate to yours.  Talk to the competitive novices.  These are guys and gals that are just above your experience level but are already hooked.  They can best tell you what bikes work best and have respectable maintenance levels at your level of racing.  They won't know too much more about any bike that they haven't personally raced, but that's why you talk to many of them with different bikes.  You can even just show up at races, before you even try it for the first time, and just talk to people.

Out here in California, some of the biggest classes are the 50+ and 60+ Vet classes.  Crazy fast old guys, but a lot of novices too.  Nobody wants to get hurt, nobody can afford to miss work, nobody will throw it all away for a plastic trophy.  If you are going to start racing for the first time, the vet classes are some of the safest ones to do it in.  That said, you don't want to be anywhere near a 250/450 Open, haha.

Good luck and follow up with what you decide and your progress.  Always good to hear someone getting into the sport.

Dave

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As for bikes it’s personal preference. If maintenance is a big concern I really like the 2 strokes for EASE of maintenance. But I do do a lot of it. I also try and ride hard though and ride 2x a week. I think either a 250 or 300 Ktm would be really solid. I have 2 300’s and really like the power delivery and simplicity of them. 

For racing start off in the beginner class. I’ve only done 3 so far but did that in my first race and it went really well. You’ll learn a ton in your first race then if you like it keep going from there. Lots of other beginners doing there first race so don’t feel alone. Good luck and have fun :)  

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On 10/19/2018 at 2:31 PM, mbris said:

 I may try to give the racing a try with the DRZ to see if I like it.

 

Do it. Who cares how fast you are for your first one. At least after you've given it a go you'll really know if you want to carry on, and if you need/want to upgrade.

If you're just doing it for fun, some decent tires and a little suspension work on the old beast may be all you need.

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I did my first hare scramble at 46.  I was in excellent shape but not a very good rider.  It was a sloppy technical course and I fell...a lot.  I finished but it was the most physically exhausting thing I had done to that point in my life.  I still loved it and have been hooked ever since.  My best advice is get in shape and get as much seat time as possible.  You can ride a DRZ but it will have limitations. I don't think you can go wrong with a well sorted KTM 200 or 300.  They have been  reliable  bikes for me considering the abuse they take.  Either bike can be tuned for a linear power delivery and will feel like a feather compared to your Suzuki.  Maintenance is a fact of life, but once you become an addict like the rest of us you will accept it.

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Thanx guys for all the information and encouraging words.  Once I hear back from the club I contacted and find out about their races I think I am going to give it a try.  Trying to get some seat time for the remainder of the year and hopefully be ready for spring and attending an event.

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I would say go the KTM, Beta, or GasGas 200 route.

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