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Choosing a first bike, any insight is helpful (dual purpose btw)


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Hello everyone

I am new to this forum and I want to make the right decision for me as far as which bike to buy as my first motorcycle. I have ridden street bikes and dirt bikes before and I am comfortable on both. In the past I have always been a car guy but now I am broadening my horizons.

The basics:

I am 24, 6'3 and about 180-185 with no gear. My main purpose for a bike is to save some miles on my car along with gas while having fun. I have a daily work commute of less than 10 miles a day through city traffic.

Now, with that said, i have no desire for a crotch rocket or cruiser. I am only interested in getting a dual purpose/enduro type bike. While probably 90% of my riding will be on the road, I love the idea of being able to ride off-road as well. The extent of my off-road riding would be dirt roads, trail riding through the woods, and things like that. I am in no way planning on hardcore trails or mx tracks. This is merely pleasure riding at its finest. I want something i can ride to work, leave work and hit back roads or like I said the occasional trail. Speed is not that important either (I have a fun car for that).

I have been primarily looking at 3 bikes any of which I plan to buy new:

Suzuki DRZ400sm or DR650 and the Kawasaki KLR650

I have done a lot of research on the matter and feel like the DR650 would be best suited for my personal riding demands. I like the styling better than the KLR and have heard more positive remarks regarding this one. The 400 seems great as well, I am just concerned with the size. I am going to my local dealer this weekend to talk to some of them, I am just looking for some insight and recommendations or specific questions to ask.

So here is my basic pros and cons that I have come up with, feel free to add:

DRZ400SM:

I love the way it looks and the fact that its liquid cooled. Overheating in traffic is not an issue. It is better suited for off road but maybe more capable than I need. It is light and nimble and probably the most fun out of the three.

DR650:

I like the styling of this one as well. It would be more suited for longer distance rides while being fun for my daily commute. It is capable of off road, less than the 400 but better than the KLR. I like the size of the bike but don't want it to be too much for a first time buyer.

KLR650:

This is probably the best on-road capable of the group but may lack on the trails. I like the larger gas tank and the older styling they have. I have heard that they do not get as good as gas mileage as the others.

I guess thats pretty much it. Do any of these have good aftermarket products for looks or performance? Stock is always fun but I have never had a vehicle that has stayed stock for long. Any opinions or help would be much appreciated. By the way, if you are in Gainesville, FL and want to go riding sometime hit me up...in another few weeks that is. Thanks everyone.

Matt B.

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I'm sure people will correct me, but the SM version of the DRZ400 is going to be way more focused for street riding. I don't think I'd want to take those tires off road...ever. You might consider the DRZ400 "S" model. I had one for several years and loved it. The only reason I moved on was that I wanted more of an MX style bike.

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The only bikes I've ever had overheat in traffic, were liquid cooled, all the bikes you listed are pretty low on the fun factor list

unless your idea of trail riding is a gravel road, I would look for a more dirt worthy bike, the big ones would be the husqvarna 630 or ktm 630, far too big for me, I prefer the ktm 450 exc

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You guys are recommending some big high power bikes for this person's first bike! I've ridden the dr650, and owned the Drz400 "s". I suppose the only thing was the seat on the 400 wasn't super comfortable for more than an hour or so.

I think that the Drz400 is the best choice out of the bikes you're looking at.

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You guys are recommending some big high power bikes for this person's first bike! I've ridden the dr650, and owned the Drz400 "s". I suppose the only thing was the seat on the 400 wasn't super comfortable for more than an hour or so.

I think that the Drz400 is the best choice out of the bikes you're looking at.

lol. DOH! Somehow I just focused on "I have ridden street bikes and dirt bikes before and I am comfortable on both."

A DRZ400 or DR650 would be a good choice.

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lol. DOH! Somehow I just focused on "I have ridden street bikes and dirt bikes before and I am comfortable on both."

A DRZ400 or DR650 would be a good choice.

Wow, I totally misread that statement in his post...oops!­čśĆ

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Your research looks spot on. I'd suggest a used DR650. Should be able to pick one up at a good price, put some miles on it, and see what type of riding you enjoy most.

If you start getting into dirt more, you might want to pick up a dirt only bike in the future. If you find yourself only riding on the street and feeling the DR isn't as powerful as you'd like you could get a street only bike.

And just so you know, none of those bikes are going to be very fun in sand ... well a hard packed dirt road with some sand on it will be fine, but once you get into 4"+ deep sand you are going to start wanting a YZ250 or KTM 2 stroke, etc. :banana:

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Well it's decided, and after actually sitting and feeling out all of them, the DRZ400SM is the one. I went down to my local bike dealer today and found a really good deal on a left over but still new - never had gas in the tank 2007. I am picking it up Monday if all goes according to plan. Pics to come, thanks for the input everyone.

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