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400 or 650?

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I am 6'2" 275 and building a 50/50 dual sport/motard bike to use on dirt jeep trails and gravel forest service roads with DOT knobbies, and twisty paved mountain roads with 17" motard rims/tires. I am trying to decide between a '01 DRZ400E or a '02 DR650SE to use as a starting point. I like the 650 engine but not the 70's suspension. The 400E is much lighter with better suspension and has almost as much HP. Would the 400E engine hold up under long term high speed use pulling tall gearing? Will the 400 benefit from having an engine oil cooler installed?

DBM

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If you're trying to decide between a 400 and a 650 I wouldn't even think about the DR650, you'd be a lot better off with the water cooled Honda XR650R (not the L). If you can get a plate on a DRZ400E in your state then you can get one on a XR650R.

I would personaly never consider an air cooled bike for off road riding, but I tend to ride on a lot slower trails.

The 400 would be more agile and less strenuous to ride in the dirt, but not as well suited to very long highway rides, where the 650 would be more stable, comfortable, and better geared and suited for long highway or gravel road miles, yet more sluggish and tiring to manipulate in rough terrain.

In picking a bike you must really decide what kind of riding you want to do and keep in mind that no bike will do it all perfectly.

I will say that I got my DRZ400s with the plans of mounting up some 17s and having a sweet hooligan bike, and I did. But I haven't ridden it on the street for over a year now and most of my riding is on deep woods single track, with the exception that I race the local SM series, but this only accounts for about 10% of my riding. I really had no idea how much I was going to enjoy trail riding when I bought the bike, if I did I would have gotten the E or even a kick.

So if you're not sure or think you might be inclined to ride more dirt, go with the 400. If you're pretty certain that you really want to blast the twisty mountain highways with some occasional off-road action you might lean more towards a bigger bike.

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