Best choice for a street-legal dirt bike?

Looking to tap into the collective experience of this esteemed group. I have a nice sport touring bike to cover general around-town and touring duties; but have always wanted to get a dirt bike. However, I don't have a truck and am pretty close to the mountains here in So Cal. The fire roads, dual-track etc. in the National Forests are calling me. I need a street-legal dirt bike that I can drive to the woods and hit the trails.

Note thaty I am not a seasoned dirt rider - but I did used to do a bit of dirt riding when I was younger (in my 50's now) and don't want to get something I will be sick of in 6 months. I am also a "big guy" - 275 lbs according to my doctor - so a tiny bike may not be able to haul my ass around (not to mention how silly I will look hanging off the sides).

Should I be looking at a 250, 400, a 650? I have always lusted after a KLR650, (original) but since this is not going to be my only bike now, and the RT can handle any long-distance duties, I don't have to focus on road-worthiness. A huge gas tank, comfy seat, etc. are not the main concern - what is is a capable dirt bike I can drive via the street to the trails, have fun and drive back home.

Oh yeah (and this is a big one) I only want to spend $2-4K on this puppy, and the lower the better. I see older KLR650's, DR650's in this range, also interested in the DR-Z400S or maybe even an old Yamaha XT350, but not sure if these smaller bikes would have enough power to get my butt up a hill.

Would appreciate any recommendations from the group, given the info above.

Regards, OB

Maybe consider a used Husky 610TE.

for what you describe, I'd put my vote in for a "plated" xr600r.

air cooled = less maintenance

screw/tappet valves adjustment = less maintenance ( not bucket shim )

plenty of power

plenty comfortable on the street, nice seat

kicker for maximum reliability in the boonies ( no battery to fail like on dr650, 650L, klr, etc )

it's a little heavy, and not the greatest dirt bike, but it'll be plenty of fun.

I would say you would have the better luck looking for an xr650l, they are all the same every year (easy to find parts in the future), I never tried one, but im sure its friendly and fun... I would look for a bone stock second hand for a low price without alot of miles.

If cost is a concern, hard to go wrong with a KLR650. They're pretty bulletproof (military uses them), and -cheap-.

How tall are you, if your 6' or under I'd look at a DR650, if your over 6' the XR650L would be a better fit since it rides higher then the DR. Both bikes are proven, and since you way 275, the suspension on both bikes may need to be resprung for your weight, I'm 250lbs and drive the DR and resprung it fairly cheap, I'm not familiar the XR650L suspension personally. Happy hunting.:busted:

Xr650l

bah, the L is a pig, I own one. :busted:

There's plenty of plated xr600s out there

get the free extra HP, the never-fail kicker and save a few pounds all in one fell swoop

xr400 or xr250. 650 is way too heavy

I forgot to add that I'm 5' 9" with a 32 inch inseam. I once sat on a KLR (original version) in a showroom and it was pretty tall, on my toes.

OB

How tall are you, if your 6' or under I'd look at a DR650, if your over 6' the XR650L would be a better fit since it rides higher then the DR. Both bikes are proven, and since you way 275, the suspension on both bikes may need to be resprung for your weight, I'm 250lbs and drive the DR and resprung it fairly cheap, I'm not familiar the XR650L suspension personally. Happy hunting.:busted:

atps - I'm 5'8" and find many of the dual-sports tall. The XT225, KLR250 & DR200 are the only "easy" mounts for me. Luckily, I'm fairly flexible, so with a little effort I can get on the KLX250, DRZ400, and either of the 650 bikes. IIRC one of the two 650's has the ability to lower the rear.

JM

Find an older DR or XR that's plated...., as in that low price range you're stuck with few options.

FYI.....I spent over $1200.00 to do a top-end rebuild on m Honda CRF450x.

Your thoughts of $2-4k does not go far on Dual-Sport bikes today.

Though I've been hearing that the Kawasaki 250 is being sold very cheap by a few dealers, if you want new, and of course adding $1500.00 to your budjet.

You buy old stuff, and you roll the dice on how long it will run....or not.

Find an older DR or XR that's plated...., as in that low price range you're stuck with few options.

FYI.....I spent over $1200.00 to do a top-end rebuild on m Honda CRF450x.

Your thoughts of $2-4k does not go far on Dual-Sport bikes today.

Though I've been hearing that the Kawasaki 250 is being sold very cheap by a few dealers, if you want new, and of course adding $1500.00 to your budjet.

You buy old stuff, and you roll the dice on how long it will run....or not.

ok, these are good points about the price of new stuff, AND I agree that buying a used "high performance" 4 stroke, can be "rolling the dice" ... but to be fair, buying an antique engine design like the ANY of the of XR series bikes, or air cooled DR series bikes ... these things are bombproof, not the time-bomb valve-trains like the modern higher horespower 4 strokes. A DRZ400 is probably still pretty bombproof valvetrain; although I don't care for bucket shim.

ANY of the big 650 DP bikes can be lowered, one way or another, with lowering links or seats. In his price range and rider weight, I really only see a handful of choices

plated dirt versions of: drz400,xr400,xr600

or ANY of the "old school" 650 dual sports

obviously the latter are larger and heavier pigs and do not have the performance in the dirt. The xr600 straddles the 2 groups, it's a pig, but arguable has much better dirt performance than the dr650,klr650 or xr650L.

I would not fear for 1 second buying a used XR in the 2k price range. I purchased a xr650L a couple years ago for $2100 ( BEfore the recession ) and it runs like a top 7k miles later.

Oooh, an XR650L. I would give almost anything to find a cherry one of those. Only thing is, most of the bike's owners know what they have and just hold on to them forever.

I would not fear for 1 second buying a used XR in the 2k price range. I purchased a xr650L a couple years ago for $2100 ( BEfore the recession ) and it runs like a top 7k miles later.

The 1996-present DR650 has a factory lowering option, that means for no extra money you can lower a factory stock DR650. If you want a lighter bike I suggest the XT225 yamaha, it will do 70-75 and is lighter and shorter, reliable and cheap I used to own one and they are a fun little bike, but not a speed demon.:busted:

have always wanted to get a dirt bike. I need a street-legal dirt bike that I can drive to the woods and hit the trails.

Here we go again, if you did a back search on the "Dualsport/Adventure sub-forum of TT, you'll find the same

or very similar question asked about every 10th-15th post all the way back

to it's inception and ironiclly you'll get the same responses. Everyone

pimps what they own. It's fun... I do it as well... and you will get some

valuable information along with a lot of biased homerism. That said..Your

headline immediately exludes the KLR650 and the DR650 as they shouldn't

even be mentioned in the same sentence as "Dirtbike".

Should I be looking at a 250, 400, a 650? I have always lusted after a KLR650
Why? The KLR650 is a dirt semi-capable streetbike, your headline reads "Best choice for street legal dirtbike"? I don't have to focus on road-worthiness.
A huge gas tank, comfy seat, etc. are not the main concern - what is is a capable dirt bike I can drive via the street to the trails, have fun and drive back home
. Again, the words "capable dirtbike

and KLR650/DR650" do not belong in the same sentence. Now you might

want to look into the DRZ400. Although I wouldn't exactly call it a single-track demon, it's definitely dirt worthy and not as much of a tank as the

KLR or DR650. In response to the XR600 homer claiming air-cooled =less

maintenance...:busted: Sorry, air-cooled =pre-historic dinosoar. A fossil. The

last air-cooled bike I owned was my 79'YZ80 30 years ago. Since then I

had five different bikes, all water-cooled and you know how many times I've had an issue regarding the radiator? 0 ,zilch, nada. Less maintenace

in regards to watercooled is a myth. What you do get is 0 powerloss especially on hot summer days. Longer engine life. Ability to go on longer

distances and still maintain optimum performance. Oh... wait a minute...

I almost forgot the one aircooled bike that I did own about 15 years ago

and a bike that I would highly recommend because I loved mine was an

89' XT350. Had it for about six months and once I put the Cobra slipon

muffler on it, I had a blast. Peppy little motor, great trailbike but it just

gave me that urge to get something bigger so I sold it and got a KLX650.

Another awesome bike, best I'd ever owned until I got my Husky. OUT !!

air-cooled = dinasaur? hah!:busted:

I ride an 87 XR250, and the only bike I would consider upgrading to would be an XR400. my xr250 will last forever, and your bike will be a scrap heap in five years. I still ride my 1965 honda S90 trail bikes a lot, completely stock and untouched since my grandfather got them new. Never rebuilt. :thumbsup:

oh and yeah, plenty of people "dirt bike" with a xr650. you just have to know your limits and if you want a street oriented bike or trail.

KTM 530 EXC end of story ...... Perfect bike for this application , Just no doubt, 2nd choice WR450 F ...

I'm not defending an air cooled motor as "superior", I own plenty of water pumpers in my garage. I do like having one less thing ( or 2 ) to remove when it comes time to do top ends, and never having to change the coolant, and never worrying about leaks when I'm in the middle of nowhere.

My point with the air cooled is more about less to go wrong in the middle of nowhere. Not everyone has cracked a radiator 150 miles from help in Death Valley ( and neither have I )... but someone will. JBWeld, and borrowing water from all your friends CamelBacks might work ... but an air cooled engine would too.

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