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Returning to Off Road Riding After 20 Years....

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Hello, I am brand new to this community and looking for help in trying to decide on a used 450 or 500 cc enduro to purchase.  I'm not sure "enduro" means what it used to back when I rode... specifically an off road bike with headlight, tail light, and at least an odometer.  But I'm also considering what I guess is still called a "dual sport", an enduro that's street legal... and in California specifically.  I like the idea of having the option to go on streets when needed.  Anyway, I'll start with the default questions & answers:

1. What is your skill Level (be honest)?  Intermediate  (was advanced 20 years ago but not now)

2. What's your height & weight?  6' 0" 170 lbs.

3. What year, make, & model of motorcycle are you coming from?  1987 Honda XR 600

And, what do you want the new bike to do better?  Be lighter and more agile than my old XR 600, minimal clutching on the goat trails (wide ratio gearbox), parts easy to obtain and not too expensive, and most of all RELIABLE.  (I don't understand why kick starters are disappearing from the latest generation of dirt bikes.  What happens when you dump it in the middle of nowhere and break some electrical connection in the starting system?)

4. What's your ballpark budget?  $2000 - $5000 for a bike that is hopefully 2014 or newer, but will consider outside that range if the value is really there.

5. What types of terrain will you be riding?  Desert, forest, day or night (perhaps street legal as mentioned above).

6. Will you be racing or just play riding?  No racing.  Only trails, fire roads, etc. but would like to hit the motocross track once in a while and be able to handle modest doubles, whoops, etc. without being "bucked"!  LOL

I'm REALLY excited to get back into it and appreciate any help.

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Don’t count out 2 strokes. 300 are really good for what you want to do.

Also the KTM 350 4 strokes are pretty good as well. XC-W and EXC ktm’s can be easily street plated.

450’s and 500’s are beasts. And a blast if you can handle them but will never be as agile as the smaller displacements.

Edit: also your going to want to invest in a good light bar or helmet light regardless of which you choose. The headlights are marginal at best.

Edited by Bobatsea
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Thanks for starting off @Bobatsea.  I figured since I loved the torque of the XR 600, I'd want a 450/500.  And since the weight difference is minimal why not go for the extra power.  But maybe you're right with the 350s.  Sure wish there was a way I could test ride some of these different sizes and see.

Not looking for a 2 stroke mainly because I don't want to deal with pre-mix (want to fill up anywhere), it's less noise & pollution, and it's green sticker so I can ride off road year round... unless I'm not correct about red vs. green stickers in California....

Edited by Barrymw
added info

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9 minutes ago, Barrymw said:

Thanks for starting off @Bobatsea.  I figured since I loved the torque of the XR 600, I'd want a 450/500.  And since the weight difference is minimal why not go for the extra power.  But maybe you're right with the 350s.  Sure wish there was a way I could test ride some of these different sizes and see.

Not looking for a 2 stroke mainly because I don't want to deal with pre-mix (want to fill up anywhere), it's less noise & pollution, and it's green sticker so I can ride off road year round... unless I'm not correct about red vs. green stickers in California....

People rave about the 350’s. My experience has been that the 450 and 500’s are really good but can make a long day of riding too much. They just wear you out. And I’m a big very strong dude who knows how to ride. 

I would start with looking at 350’s in your position. 

Maybe a dealer demo day is coming up in your area. I can find them a couple times a year around me.

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In terms of 350's, I understand there's really only the Husky & KTM, putting me out of Japanese bikes 

So are those bikes really worth the extra money to purchase?  And are parts significantly more money than the same parts for Japanese bikes?

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2 minutes ago, Barrymw said:

In terms of 350's, I understand there's really only the Husky & KTM, putting me out of Japanese bikes 

So are those bikes really worth the extra money to purchase?  And are parts significantly more money than the same parts for Japanese bikes?

Also Beta...cheaper to buy than a Husky/Ktm and most oem parts are cheaper too. I'm a bit biased as I own 2 Beta's, but as delivered from the factories, I think the plated Beta's are better bikes than the plated Austrian bikes. The Austrian bikes are pretty underwhelming until you do some uncorking/get a replacement ECU.

As far as dual sports, Ktm/Husky and Beta are in a league of their own. The Japanese don't really make a dual sport that's in the same class as the Euro bikes.

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Sorry, what's an ECU?

And if I were to go strictly dirt (enduro, like a Yamaha WR model), are the KTM/Husky/Beta still worth the extra money in purchase price and parts?

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Hello, I am brand new to this community and looking for help in trying to decide on a used 450 or 500 cc enduro to purchase.  I'm not sure "enduro" means what it used to back when I rode... specifically an off road bike with headlight, tail light, and at least an odometer.  But I'm also considering what I guess is still called a "dual sport", an enduro that's street legal... and in California specifically.  I like the idea of having the option to go on streets when needed.  Anyway, I'll start with the default questions & answers:
1. What is your skill Level (be honest)?  Intermediate  (was advanced 20 years ago but not now)
2. What's your height & weight?  6' 0" 170 lbs.
3. What year, make, & model of motorcycle are you coming from?  1987 Honda XR 600
And, what do you want the new bike to do better?  Be lighter and more agile than my old XR 600, minimal clutching on the goat trails (wide ratio gearbox), parts easy to obtain and not too expensive, and most of all RELIABLE.  (I don't understand why kick starters are disappearing from the latest generation of dirt bikes.  What happens when you dump it in the middle of nowhere and break some electrical connection in the starting system?)
4. What's your ballpark budget?  $2000 - $5000 for a bike that is hopefully 2014 or newer, but will consider outside that range if the value is really there.
5. What types of terrain will you be riding?  Desert, forest, day or night (perhaps street legal as mentioned above).
6. Will you be racing or just play riding?  No racing.  Only trails, fire roads, etc. but would like to hit the motocross track once in a while and be able to handle modest doubles, whoops, etc. without being "bucked"!  LOL
I'm REALLY excited to get back into it and appreciate any help.
For CA and a plate you'll need to triple your budget. 10k gets it done.

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@JefeRotacion Yes, for a new bike I might.  But I'm looking mostly at used bikes from around 2012 forward and from what I've seen on Craigslist & FB Marketplace, $2 -5K would get it done for almost any Japanese bike.  I wouldn't buy any new bike unless the technology/features justify losing several hundred dollars the moment I take it off the lot.

@ASP1227  I'll bet, but that may not be a sensible for me.  And how hard is it to get parts for that?  Again, I rode an XR600 pretty hard back in the day, but I've been away for a long time and would rather not pay top dollar on a bike, again, unless there's a really good reason to do so..

Could anyone chime in with some cost comparisons between European and Japanese parts?  Are KTM/Husky THAT MUCH more that Honda/Yamaha, over the long term?  Are there any specific parts that only the manufacturer can provide that if purchased would set would make me cringe?

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Got a 2017 Husky FE 501 a few weeks back - desert tank, dirt tires, extras, plated.  It was just too good a buy to pass up even though it was more money than I wanted to spend.  Done.

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