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I have recently passed the MSF course and am looking to buy a street legal dual-sport. My first, and only time riding, was during the actual MSF course, so my skill level is at the beginner stage. A friend has offered to take me out to some trails, in order to get some saddle time, but until then, I'll be practicing on empty streets and parking lots. I will be using this bike around the city; but as soon as I get a truck, I'll be hitting the trails more often. The DRZ400 has been suggested, but I wasn't too sure if I could handle the bike, especially with my skill level. What bike do you think I should purchase? (I am open to any size engine)

- I am 5'11", 175-185 lbs.

- 28 years old

- Skill Level: Beginner, Rookie, Little Brown Cub, etc.

- 70% Street / 30% Dirt

- I live in Venice, CA.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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Pretty much what ever bike you buy, you will decide (with in a year usually) that you should have bought a diffrent bike.......

How much $$ do you want to spend?

The Drz400 is a great do it all bike

You might want to consider a used XT225 or new XT250 to start with......there alot lower, lighter and cheaper

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Thanks for the quick response, Kyron. I was looking to spend no more than $3,000. I have just started pricing the XTs on craigslist, and found an '81 xt250 for $800. Most people I have talked to, recommend the DRZ for the same reason that you mentioned. I'm going to see some bikes this weekend, and will get a chance to try out the XT.

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With a 3K budget, you should be able to pick up something that is less than 5 to 10 years old. The big issue is that you are going to use it for both street and dirt riding for awhile, and then switch over to pure dirt.

And as far as being able to do that, in all honesty the DRZ400 is the best bike out there that can: 1 - meet your budget, 2 - be good on the street and in the dirt, 3 - be able to turn into a pure dirt only when the time comes.

Also, the DRZ400 is one of the few bikes that can go from a beginner friendly bike in it's stock form to a very wild machine with a few upgrades (pipe, carb & big bore). The XT 250 was a good bike a long time ago but that day is gone.

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just make sure whatever you get has a front disc brake, because drums suck, especially on a 81 xt250, i used to own one.

i agree with the other guys, a drz400 would be great bike.

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I would probably buy a bike no older than 10-12 years. You can find the older bikes cheap but sometimes you tend to spend the savings on parts fixing it. I think a 250cc in California is a good start, but for highway riding it wont be enough and I would guess you would sell it soon. If you were in a high altitude state like Colorado I would recommend a 400cc bike as so much power is lost.

Like others have said - you might go through a bike every few years or so. I had 15 bikes by the time I was 28.

As long as you don't pay too much for a used bike - you can ride it and resell it and recover all or most of your money for another bike, so don't worry about what bike you get.

Good luck.

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Thanks everyone, for your help. I don't have any real experience with bikes, so I appreciate all the insight. I am going to check out an '01 DRZ400e, '05 XT225, and a couple of XR250's over the winter break. I am now selecting bikes that have front disc brakes. Hope you all have a safe Holiday Season.

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I would also suggest the drz400 but you might find it hard on the trails with its huge weight. I think you would be better of with an xt250 or something along those lines, still heavy but not as bad as the drz.

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I have narrowed my first bike selection to the Honda XR250 (1996 and up). I have located a couple of bikes, but am having a little trouble deciding. My choices are:

1996 250XR-L - Extremely clean, only 5,000 miles, CA license plate - $1600

1996 250XR-R - Very clean, Baja kit, CA plate, extra tires and parts, needs battery - $2000

2000 250XR-R - Clean, Lots of miles (seller is unsure), Baja Kit, CA license plate - $2300

From what I have read, the XR250-L is really lacking power. The only things stopping me from purchasing any of the listed XR250-R's, are the mileage and price. I've heard that these bikes are workhorses, but wasn't too sure if high mileage plays a factor in the loss of reliabilty. I would like to keep this bike for a while. Does anyone have any opinions on this or the price? Thanks.

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stay away from the L and buy the R they are way better bike when playing in the bush the milage shouldnt matter as the XR line from Honda is bullet proof as long as it looks clean and seems the run strong check comperssion and u should be good

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Thanks for the info T-Cat.

The only snag I've ran into, involves the license plate. I had contacted the DMV/ARB (California Air Resource Board) to check and see if the license plate was legitimate; only to find out that the plate would be pulled, as soon as the registration was transferred over. The laws in California, involving off-road vehicles, were reworked in 2003. I was told that the street plates were "grandfathered" only to their current owner, which means I would be stuck with just a green sticker. I'm waiting for one of their supervisors to respond in writing, this way I have definite answer. Keeping my fingers crossed; I need this bike to be street legal.

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that would be very unfortunate if CA started pulling plated bikes. god only knows these infectious ideals would spread north to Oregon and my Beta 450RR would lose its plate. hopefully the DMV clerk just dident know what they were talking about and spouted off some random response because they had no real answer for your question.

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Sometimes it seems we obsess on the present dilemma to the neglect of our long term goals. It sounds as if you are planning for the future. I am also a huge believer in simplicity. Take the long look, and keep it simple.

Go with a bike that will not be called into question on the plates, and that you can grow into with less finagling.

Next, as someone else noted at your budget there is a plethora of bikes available that are 5 or less years old. Just last month I bought an '08 DR650 that was advertised at $3K. "Pounce factor" came in to play -- it stayed on Craigslist less than 24 hours. My point is that you can find a bargain with a bit of patience.

Next, I agree with the DRZ400 suggestion. I reentered riding in 1995 after a 13 year hiatus. My reentry bike was a Honda VT700 Shadow that taught me the seating position on a cruiser sucks. Within six months I traded for a beemer and rode BMW's for 10 + years.

The next thing I bought was a Gold Wing. I bought it over the phone and had never ridden one. I brought it home on a trailer and took a morning by myself to do parking lot drills and never looked back. As I became acquainted with the Gold Wing culture I met many Wingers who had not ridden since they parked their old "dirt bike" back in high school. Many of them bought a Wing as their reentry bike, departed happy and rode away accident free. And then there were others who had finished the MSF course and bought a Wing as their first bike.

My point is that it's not so much about the size, power, and weight of the bike as it is about rider maturity and attenuation to his or her skill level. You can get killed on a 90cc bike that will only do 60 mph wide open if you hit a stationary object or get lost in the scenery and ride over the edge of the Grand Canyon... IOW, as long as you don't override your skill level you can grow into the larger bike.

Finally, the internet will let you shop anywhere. A 300 mile one way trip is 600 miles both ways, and adds up to about 12 hours on the road. You might have to take a Friday off to travel a bit and pick up something but a 300 mile circle around your town greatly expands your shopping options. And if you need to enlist a friend with a truck to make the pickup, volunteer to pay his gas and meals and go for it.

At the end of the day and with a $3,000 budget and a bit of patience you can treat yourself a lot better than a 15 year old bike. :ride:

Just MHO

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Thanks for the info T-Cat.

The only snag I've ran into, involves the license plate. I had contacted the DMV/ARB (California Air Resource Board) to check and see if the license plate was legitimate; only to find out that the plate would be pulled, as soon as the registration was transferred over. The laws in California, involving off-road vehicles, were reworked in 2003. I was told that the street plates were "grandfathered" only to their current owner, which means I would be stuck with just a green sticker. I'm waiting for one of their supervisors to respond in writing, this way I have definite answer. Keeping my fingers crossed; I need this bike to be street legal.

Keep us posted, I've also tried to get a correct answer, I've been told, once they are grandfathered, their good to go for ever, and also been told, only grandfathered to original owner, but I've seen numerous plated bikes, that have sold once or twice since they were originally plated before the deadline of 1-31-04, transferred a couple times, and plates were never revoked upon transfer,

I dont know what to think, I too am looking at buying a plated XR or DRZ E and I cant take the risk that the plate will later be revoked, if I cant get a firm answer, I'll just buy a DRZ S and live with less power, more weight but worry free.

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@ basketcase: Thanks for taking the time to write that basketcase. I agree with you on a couple of things, especially on how a person can even get injured on a pit bike. I initially was going to purchase a DRZ400, but had a couple of people steer me away from it. I have tried out the DRZ and the XR, as well as some other used bikes, and in the end, the XR felt perfect. Personally, I had more fun wailing on an underpowered bike, than trying to control a much more powerful one.

@ brianm767: I will definitley keep you posted on the outcome. You just echoed everything I have been dealing with. At the moment, I am now waiting on a DMV registration clerk to respond back to me. The guy comes back from vacation on Monday (02/08/10). I am trying to stay positive, but if it all falls through, I will go with my second selection, and purchase a newer model 250WRR.

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I have tried out the DRZ and the XR, as well as some other used bikes, and in the end, the XR felt perfect.

There it its -- if it feels right to you I would say that's the one!

When mechanical and technical factors, money, availability, aftermarket support, and all other things are equal the "which bike" answer hinges on how it matches your personal ergonomics.

Years ago I read an article by Sam Sneed on the perfect golf swing. "How do you know when your swing is grooved?" He spent several columns getting around to saying, "If it feels right and you are hitting the ball consistently."

The shift towards a dual sport began for me back in 2004 after a family trip to Colorado where I saw a group of dual sporters riding up Tincup Pass. When I got back home I joined over on AdvRider and began asking the same "which bike" questions. Some of the best advice I got was "Go to a dealership and sit on the bikes you think you want, and if possible do a test ride. When you are on the right bike you will know because you can feel it."

So I hope all the other stuff works out and you get her home soon. As always, when you get a chance post some peectures senor...

:ride:

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@ basketcase: Thanks for taking the time to write that basketcase. I agree with you on a couple of things, especially on how a person can even get injured on a pit bike. I initially was going to purchase a DRZ400, but had a couple of people steer me away from it. I have tried out the DRZ and the XR, as well as some other used bikes, and in the end, the XR felt perfect. Personally, I had more fun wailing on an underpowered bike, than trying to control a much more powerful one.

@ brianm767: I will definitley keep you posted on the outcome. You just echoed everything I have been dealing with. At the moment, I am now waiting on a DMV registration clerk to respond back to me. The guy comes back from vacation on Monday (02/08/10). I am trying to stay positive, but if it all falls through, I will go with my second selection, and purchase a newer model 250WRR.

I've left messages and sent emails to several folks at the ARB, no response so far from any one who can give me a straight answer with documentation to back it up, we all know that many DMV officials don't know what they are doing, it's obvious because look how many 2005 CR450X are for sale that have been plated, and WR450's too, those bikes are not legal to plate, but DMV still does it, I see them for sale all the time, I'd rather get the response

from the ARB.

Only documents I have found myself do not say the bikes that are grandfathered in are only grandfathered for original owners, just states, the two quotes below

Quote "All off-highway motorcycles previously converted to on-highway or dual registration will not be subject to verification" (Emissions label verification)

And Quote

"The only motorcycles that are allowed to be street registered are models that are certified by ARB as meeting highway emission standards,

those converted previous to the 1-31-04 deadline and motorcycles of model year 1977 and older. Anyone who converted their off-highway motorcycles to street legal status prior to the 1-31-04 date will not be affected, and their current status will not change"

http://www.roadracingworld.com/news/article/?article=38370

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/vehindustry/vin_memos/vin2003/03vin11OHV_MC_Conversions.pdf

Cant find the original official by the ARB, but this is the copied text from it. VBAKERSFIELD, CA (August 21, 2006.) The California Air Resources Board (ARB) recently became aware of the fact that some off-highway motorcycles may have been inappropriately converted to street legal registration by the Department of Motor Vehicles since new policies banning that practice were adopted in 2004. In mid 2003, new policies were issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles that blocked owner or dealer conversions of off-highway motorcycles. This was in response to ARB requirements that all street legal motorcycles must be certified by ARB that they meet street legal motorcycle emission standards. DMV policies had historically allowed conversions after appropriate lighting and safety equipment was installed, but those policies had not been updated to reflect newer ARB regulations adopted subsequent to the DMV policy development. After discussions among ORBA, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), DMV and ARB, a delayed implementation of the new policy until 1-31-04 was adopted, allowing owners who had already purchased or ordered motorcycles in good faith with the intent to utilize the existing DMV policy to complete the conversion to street legal status. After 1-31-04, no off-highway motorcycles were supposed to be converted and registered by DMV.

Currently, DMV and ARB are auditing DMV records to determine if off-highway motorcycles have been converted to street legal status inappropriately since the 1-31-04 cut-off date. Preliminary indications are that some motorcycles may have been inappropriately converted, and a more detailed audit is underway to determine if that is the case and if so, how many of them were done, and to whom they belong. Owners of any off-highway motorcycles that are determined to be inappropriately converted will be contacted by DMV by mail, informed their street legal license plates are no longer valid, and offered the opportunity to register the bikes as off-highway motorcycles.

The only motorcycles that are allowed to be street registered are models that are certified by ARB as meeting highway emission standards, those converted previous to the 1-31-04 deadline and motorcycles of model year 1977 and older. Anyone who converted their off-highway motorcycles to street legal status prior to the 1-31-04 date will not be affected, and their current status will not change.

For those California residents interested in owning a street legal motorcycle that performs well off-road, there are several good options. Until now, there have been few options for those buyers, and even those were not as desirable to some buyers as converting a lighter, higher performance off-highway motorcycle. Fortunately, a few manufacturers have responded by producing dual sport bikes that perform well off-highway and are lighter than traditional dual sport models. It is expected that other companies may follow this trend.

DMV registration procedures pertaining to off-highway motorcycle conversions can be viewed at: http://www.arb.ca.gov/enf/advs/advs319.pdf

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brianm767,

Finally had the DMV/ARB respond back, though they declined any written statement - like I didn't see that one coming.

At the moment, the DMV/ARB are actively pursuing dealerships/businesses that fraudulently tried to register off-road bikes. I was told that they are not going after ordinary people, unless the bikes were registered after 2004. The guy stated, that if they wanted to find and pull the plates of every converted bike in California, they could; but their interest is with the dealers and businesses.

The plated bike I was looking at, should be fine because:

a.) It was registered before 2004

b.) It was converted by a private party, in good faith, with approval from the DMV

c.) The bike is not out of state and the registration is current

He could not give me a straight "yes or no" answer, but was confident that I would be able to transfer the plate without any problems. He even suggested going through AAA to help improve my chances. The one downside he mentioned, was that if the bike was involved in a road accident, insurance companies will usually void any claim, because the bike was not intended for street use. Before I hung up, he said that all the policies could change by tomorrow night, and if I purchase the bike, that I should always keep in mind that the plate could be pulled at any time.

Edited by BrownBear
typo

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I like the XR250, but as you said "70% street riding" I think you should describe this part more. The 250 will rock on surface streets where your speed is 30-50. It will suck on the highway after 5 minutes.

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I like the XR250, but as you said "70% street riding" I think you should describe this part more. The 250 will rock on surface streets where your speed is 30-50. It will suck on the highway after 5 minutes.

+1 you would have to gear it way down for highway, i think stock is 13 and 48? you would have to go up to 14 or 15, and down to 45 or 46, which is a huge gearing change. then the bike may do 65 without screaming

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