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The (il)logic of a small bore as a step up bike?

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My son went from his kx100 to my yz250. He was much happier with the off idle power. He never come to terms with the kx. 

 I did detune the yz. My cr250 i modded next was even milder. 

 I posted on another thread that i believe a detuned 250 is easier to ride than my 150. Novices i had ride both agreed. 

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To further confuse this subject: I started riding on one of those Italian import 125CC junkers, called a Harley Davidson. I did this, just trails, for about 6 mo., then raced it 4 times. The frame broke. Dad had his 185, so I entered it in the 250 class. I did fairly well, so dad bought me a 1973 TM250. I did super-well that year, finishing 1973 as season point champ. My point is,  am 5'11" tall and then weighed 148. Your son should have had adequate experience, and be big/strong enough to handle a 250 just fine. I saw you do not want an "old bike". I highly suggest a dr350 is an excellent "development bike." Very reliable, awesome torque, reasonable weight, and very reasonably priced!

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TG, a few things to think about.  You know your son.  If he is a responsible rider and somewhat skilled, I would go with 250/300 2.  My reason is that these bikes have a heavier fly wheel and can lug well at low RPM on the trails.  Both a 300 and a 125 can go fast and if he rides that way the risk of the bike getting away from him is somewhat equivalent in my opinion.  Where the 250/300 benefits is the ability to climb at low RPM and being able to stay out of the power band which results in better traction and reduces risk of the bike getting away from him.  I have 2017 KTM 250XC-W and I even wanted more low end on trails so I upgraded the head designed for low end torque.  It noticeably climbs better and feels more like a 300 which I feel is more safe because I don’t have to get as near to the power band to make a climb. My brothers 2021 Husky 300 was even smoother in the low RPM than my bike.  Of course my risk “opinion” can be easily disputed due to the overall extra power of a 300/250 over a 150/125 but that low end lug sure is nice.

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Posted (edited)

I'm 34 & weigh 180 lbs. I'm very happy with my Beta 125 RR. Certainly requires some clutch input, but it's no slouch either. Mid range is very healthy, especially after the RK Tek head insert (pump gas).

I don't doubt I could have been injured in some pickles I've gotten myself into had there been another 125-175 cc's behind the throttle.. 

Plenty of bike to be competitive in any class at area hare scrambles. 

Poke around, someone's bound to have a 125-150 enduro machine you and your boy could try out.. Search FB for local riders/riding groups or marketplace to test ride used one. 

Allegiant flys round trip FL to IA for about $250 if you want to give mine a whirl 😉

Edited by Marvin Main
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Posted (edited)

Way back in the 70s, I bought a 1976 RM 125.  Looking (way) back, this was the best thing I could have done for my future riding skills.  As a trail bike, I had to learn to be constantly aware of my momentum and gear/RPM selection.  When I had sons that were transitioning from minis to full size bikes, they went through the KX (RM) 100 stage as well. Mine both graduated to a 91 KDX 200 because it's what I had in the garage. Neither boys were interested enough in keeping their responsibilities in line to get further sponsorship from dad, so that was the end of their riding days...   Perhaps if they had an old 125 to ride things would have been different? 

Edited by Russell Dp
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I think the 125x would be a fantastic option, the xc as well. 

The small bore two strokes are great for learning as they foster good riding technique like body position, using momentum and staying on the pipe and in the right gear. 

The larger bikes are easier to ride mostly because u can disregard all of that and the power will still pull u up whatever hill and over obstacles with little or no technique. This is good if you're a less active rider, but doesn't do much to push your skills. 

There is also the fun factor - u may have heard the saying it's funner to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow. This is key. I have incredible amounts of fun pushing my 150 to its limit, and yes sometimes I wonder if more low end power would be useful, but mostly I am just grinning and riding the high that is the power band. 

Also, you mentioned weight as one of your main points of concern. My '19 150 xc-w is very noticeably lighter than the 250/300, and much lighter feeling than my 250 xc-f. 

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125 or 150 TPI (avoid the 150 SX for now) all the way. Either will make him a better technical rider. They are easier to maneuver in tight trails and will keep him progressing with better bike control. A 125 will teach him to bend the will of the bike to what he needs instead of just trying to manage the power of a 250/300. A couple years of 125 riding will burn that into his reflexes and when he does move up to a 250/300 he will ride it that much better. Go look at GNCC racers. The really fast ones progress through the different bike power levels and once they learn to ride a given class at close to 100% they move up to more power and that small increment in power makes it that much easier to learn to ride the next level of bike at 100%.

Some won't like this but try to get a KTM/Husky/Gasgas or maybe a Euro 125 like a Beta or TM. The YZ platform is very old and the newer bikes have better geometry.

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My son was about your sons size and age a year ago. (He just turned 16, and we’re going for his permit test in a few hours) Anyway, I stuck him on a YZ144. We tried a 250F for a bit, but it was too heavy for him to wrestle very long. The YZ kicked his arse a few times, but he learned on it. He’s stepped up to an orange 200 now, but I’m glad he had time on the YZ. Big Bore one, add a flywheel weight,  some protection, and watch him bloom!

Oh, and don’t let anyone tell you these modern 200’s aren’t serious machines. They are. For a woods bike, I honestly think they’re the best hidden secret weapon out there. 

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