Newbie Advice - Please!

I currently ride a GSXR750 2K but want to use a second bike to commute and for dirt riding.

My budget is around £3.5-4K

I travel a total of 18 miles / day

I would prefer electric start

It must be a 400cc +

I don’t know what to do about tyres “can I buy an all-round tyre or will I need to change them on-road/off-road” ?????

I’ve got my mind set on a Yamaha WR450F.

Can you please offer some advice / alternatives

P.S. I’ve also been looking at the Honda XR.

If licensing for the street is not an issue there, the WR450 is tough to beat IF you also plan some semi-serious fun off-road. Otherwise, some of the factory Suzuki/ Honda dual sports might be a good option. Just don't expect as much off-road ability.

Tire choices are plentiful. From 90% street/10% off-road to 10% street/90% off-road to 100% either and everything in between. You decide based on your actual use of the bike. Are road-certified tires required there in your part of the world? I would suppose that a U.S. DOT certification would be pretty meaningless, but your government may require it's own for street use?

One other small thing: It helps, when looking for advice or help on these forums, if you be a bit more specific in your post title. "Newbie Advice-Please" is too general and may be skipped over by some of the very knowledgeable and helpful members doing a quick scan of posts. Try something like "Help:Choosing a new bike."

I don't like seeing posts from new members go unanswered due to vagueness. You are very welcome here and will find some very friendly and opinionated people eager to share those opinions... me, for example!:)

Hope this helps! Anyone else? Taffy..?

If you are going to do a lot of street riding, I'd look at the XR650R as well. I've got the WR426 and he has a XR650R and for street riding, the big XR is better. Less shifting, more power and a taller top gear. It does weigh more but depending on where you ride it's a ton of fun on the street. If you are going to do more aggressive off road riding, the WR is probably better.

As Chaindrive said, there are tons of tire combos. Go look under the Motard section. There is a discussion right now about 18" and 21" tires.

By the way, my buddy and I are both small and have no problem starting either bike so I wouldn't let that be a determining factor.

It depends on the type of riding you plan on doing...

Both the bikes these guys are talking about .. the XR and WR are very much dirt oriented. You'll need to buy an aftermarket conversion kit (signals & new lights) to bring it up to a level where it'll be considered street legal. These kits are about $500 'merican. So budget that into your calculations.

You mightbe better off looking at the DR (Suzuki) or XL (Honda) or IT (Yamaha) or KLR (Kawasaki) series of bikes. These are much more street oriented. The generally have a weaker suspension and not as much hp and are a bit heavier (steel gas tank, battery, etc) ... but they're way more suited to street and gravel roads rather than trails and MX tracks. .. and they come with lights and signals and all that sort of stuff you'll be cursing when you fall down. :)

I don't know about Chesire, but around here there's a bunch of folks running around on the KLR650. They're cheap used at under $5k CAN. It's mediocre in most respects but it's got a huge gas range (350km avg) and 9" of travel (vs 11" on my '00 WR). The hp is low at around 37 hp and it tops out just over 160 kph (that's a guess) but the trade off is that you get to do dirt and street with the same bike. I've seen a great rider on a KLR easily keep up with a novice on a WR in a single-track trail situation. (guess which one I was :D ) It's not fantastic in the dirt like the WR and XR and it's not a sport bike.. but it'll get you from here to there reliably.

The 2003 Honda XR400 suspension does not look like it could take jumps etc.

I plan to travel 18miles / day for 5 days / week and 1 day off road "jumps/hard riding".

I could do without the Electric start.

What do ya think ?

I think along 2 lines...

1) The hard jumps and riding make the XR, DRZ and WR to be the choices. IF you can dual sport them (check your local regulations) and install some decent rubber, they'll do the commuting with no problems. The compromise of paved-road-approved tires will limit your off-roading capabilities.

2) Stop looking at new bikes and get 2 older ones... a decent (WR/XR)off-road bike and a dual-sport (XL, IT, DR) commuter that are several years old. This way you'll have a bike you can offer your wife/friends when you need to and you won't have your prized dirt bike in the open while you're at work.

That's my $.02

I think it really depends on what type of rider you are. If you plan on very aggressive dirt riding, you will need to do a little work to the XR400. I had a 1999 XR400 and if you change out the front fork springs you can jump it and hammer it no problem. You could go farther and get a fork brace and revalve the suspension but at that point, get something else. I'd look at a WR250 or a DRZ400 before I'd consider another XR400.

The WR250 has nearly the same hp output as the XR400, weighs less and has a lot better suspension.

The DRZ400 has more hp than the XR400, about the same weight with a little better suspsension than the XR400.

The XR650R has a lot more power and torque and the suspension is better than the XR400. It's not as good as the WR's and a lot of this could be attributed to the fact that it does weigh 30 lbs. more.

The WR426/WR450 will have the best suspension, a little less weight and and a lot more power than the XR400.

Hope this helps.


If you have a Gixxer750, why do you want to ride your dirt bike for commuting?

I have contemplated converting mine to a dual sport also. Thing is, I have a FZR for on the road. I decided not to dual sport and that way, my WR will give me more trouble free off-road years. Besides, the FZR, like your 750, requires way less maintainence per mile than the WR (tires, oil change, ect).

Perhaps you are planning to sell your Gixxer, but you did not indicate that. My advice, keep them both and use them for what they were designed for.


The gixxer is hitting a lot of rain and salty roads "not good". I want to use it for summer blasts only.

Thank you! Good advice.

I'm in Essex, (London UK for all the folks offshore).

I've got a ZX9 and just bought a WR426. The 426 is excellent off road, almost a full blown motocrosser with lights. You need the extra road kit in the UK as the bike comes with a basic front and rear light only. Also a set of supermotard wheels and tyres would'nt go amis. This is as knobblies wear out too quickly on the road.

Drop me a message or email if you want to talk more.


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