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Cheap, Easy to ride, Reliable Enduro/Dualsport Bike

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Posting in this section, because I remember some good conversations in the past by Dwight and others on getting good power and suspension handling out of some older and smaller 4 strokes.

Here is the story - have a buddy who is looking to get back into riding after half a life off. Our group does a lot of dirt oriented dualsporting and some hare scrambles/enduro racing. Over the past few weeks, several buddies let him borrow different bikes - 08 WR 450, 99 WR 400, 04 450 EXC, 07 450 exc, 01 WR 250 etc and then last a clapped out 1996 XR250 - Guess which one was his favorite? The olde XR. Said it was much easier to ride in the woods and knarly hills. Of course everyone in the group is saying "not enough bike, you'll grow out of it, won't be fast enough on the roads when we dualsport etc."

Do you have any suggestions on bikes that would be cheap, easy to ride, but able to keep up as he gets better? Tell me more about the bikes and the suspension changes to make them modern competitive.

Thanks!

Edited by mikem

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You know what...if he's been off a bike for a long time & is goin' to buy used...let him buy something he is happy with and feels comfortable to ride...:thumbsup:

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You know what...if he's been off a bike for a long time & is goin' to buy used...let him buy something he is happy with and feels comfortable to ride...:thumbsup:

Agreed - that's why I'm asking the question here.

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buy one of the ole XR's -- ride it for a while, see if he is going to stick with it, then upgrade once he gets sorted out. Heck, even a CRF230F would be a relatively newer bike, electric start, better suspension, air-cooled, etc. I have seen decent ones around here on craigslist for $1500 or so? I usually see decent CRF230F going for less than an old XR in decent shape??

Spend the extra cash on a auto-clutch -- so much easier for someone getting back into the sports.

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Agreed - that's why I'm asking the question here.

Let him buy the old clapped out XR...It won't cost the earth & he'll be happy..:thumbsup:

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Nothing wrong with an XR250/400. They both have a lot of room for growth and good resell.

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One of my riding buddys is still riding a '98 XR280 with upgraded suspension. He has no trouble keeping up.

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One of my riding buddies just picked up a nice '98 XR 250 that's actually in great shape, for $900. He also has a DR-Z 250 (2003 model) that he bought on eBay for $800. The XR is a much better bike all around. Better suspension, feels a lot lighter, and definitely feels more powerful (I've ridden both). We've tried to talk him into a faster bike, he won't touch a two stroke (he doesn't want to mix gas), and when he tried my 450 it scared the crap out of him. He's just happy with his 250's and isn't an aggressive rider at all. Point is, not everyone has to ride at the edge of performance limits to have a good time. Now me on the other hand...

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A good buddy of mine just got into riding on a clapped out XR250. He loved it for about 2 months then grew out of it and bought a 2000 WR400, which he now rails with aplomb. The easy power of the old XR was just what he needed to build confidence and appreciate the suspension and power of a standard woods bike and he feels like it was the right way to go.

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KlX 250. Better than the XR because it has electric start. Easy to ride and can be upgraded with a pumper carb and big bore if he wants more power later.

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Same with the DR 350. If he "out-grows" it, he can go for the 441cc big bore, pumper carb (the "dirt only" model has one already), re-valved/sprung suspension etc. Most can be dual-sported, depending on your state laws.

Ditto the XR 400, and is a better off-road alternative to the DR 350, more power and better suspension.

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I say an old XR250 sounds perfect for him. Sure he'll likely outgrow it, but that's when you sell it and upgrade. It won't lose much, if any, value in that time. And while he's out riding and gaining experience he may get a better feel for what he likes/wants out of a bike and be able to make a well educated decision on what to get for his next bike.

Starting off with something too heavy/powerful/aggressive can intimidate a new rider, or just make riding not fun for them. Then you don't ride as much because it's not enjoyable, then your riding days are over before they ever really started.

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Thanks for the input all. He is leaning towards an XR 250 or 400.

Another option being thrown around is buying a 5 years or more used and relatively cheap EXC450/400, WR250f, WR450 etc. and having it professionally lowered by our local RaceTech specialist (approx $500 - $600). This way he will have electric start, which seems like a big deal to him. Note - this guy can ride pretty well already, although rusty in certain high skill situations. We went on an all day enduro oriented dual sport ride a few weeks ago. He kept up well with a big smile on his face, except in a few extreme situations (like super steep hill with big loose rocks and mud), but even then he eventually got through. Seemed like the seat height was the biggest issue to him in the knarly stuff.

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Thanks for the input all. He is leaning towards an XR 250 or 400.

Another option being thrown around is buying a 5 years or more used and relatively cheap EXC450/400, WR250f, WR450 etc. and having it professionally lowered by our local RaceTech specialist (approx $500 - $600). This way he will have electric start, which seems like a big deal to him. Note - this guy can ride pretty well already, although rusty in certain high skill situations. We went on an all day enduro oriented dual sport ride a few weeks ago. He kept up well with a big smile on his face, except in a few extreme situations (like super steep hill with big loose rocks and mud), but even then he eventually got through. Seemed like the seat height was the biggest issue to him in the knarly stuff.

In that case he's ready for more bike, it will actually be easier for him; much better suspension. The big X's and WR's are pretty tame but hard to outgrow.

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I ride a dualsported XR250. Sure it's not a powerhouse, but it's got enough to get me through anything I've tried. And I don't get the comment about not being fast enough on the street. Mine tops out at around 68mph, and I once hit 74 while drafting an 18 wheeler on the interstate. I've even taken it on some Sunday rides in the twisties with the local sportbike group. Sure I wasn't in the front of the pack like with my F4i, but as long as I kept my cornering speeds up I wasn't in the back either.

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One of my friends bought one of the last year XR250 made about a year ago. It gave him some trouble getting it fixed, etc. From experience a newbie doesn't want to spend their time fixing stuff yet. But, he got some valuable experience on it and moved up to a 300xc that he likes much better. I think the XR allowed him to gain some confidence which all beginners lack initially. These bikes are relatively cheap and usually sell for what you bought them for, so just make sure he knows all his options, and be patient on finding the right bike.

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Hey, don't forget to consider a Yamaha TTR250. Pretty much the same as an XR250 except with electric start. I have one as a second bike and for trailwork, it's alot of fun and would make a good first bike due to the torquey motor and low-ish seat height.

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I am currently building a 1986 XR250 for dual sporting. This bike was super clapped out! I just started the build thread in the XR250/400 forums. Its titled "dual sport build." I understand it isnt the fastest bike or the most up to date by any means, but I figure it would be comfortable and easy to handle. If i want to go fast i have a cr250 and crf250 to fill the need!

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TTR250 has all the benefits of the XR250 for simplicity & reliability but has an e-start and can be had cheaper on the used market in my experience. Slightly heavier, but a great woods bike.

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