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another bike for another newbie

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1. I have probably the least amount of experience possible to have. I'm not even particularly good at riding a bicycle, like, on the road. If there was a way to have negative-years of trail riding, I'd be a pretty good candidate.

2. That said, I catch on pretty quick, especially where engines are concerned, so I'm really super-not-afraid of getting something that might be considered "too much for me," unless it's going to literally kill me the first time I touch the throttle. I'd like to be able to grow into this bike and take it long distances and go fast and jump over long, long series of tractor trailers and play moto-polo and whatever else it is that people eventually learn how to do on dual-sport bikes.

3. I'm not a little person. 6'2", 210-ish pounds, relatively good shape. Planning on using it most often to commute to and from work (about 20 miles round trip), but most importantly to ride whatever trails exist in New Mexico (lots of dirt roads at first, but down the line hopefully some mountains, rocks, etc. I don't really know, I'm new here).

4. Price isn't exactly a killer, but cheaper is better. If I can get away with something under 5k, I'm happy -- if it's under 4k, that's better. Totally buying used.

So, all that considered, here's where I stand. I've done some research online, which has been largely hampered because I'm dumb and don't know what I'm talking about. Basically I've pretty much gathered that I should start small -- but I've also gathered that if I start TOO small I'm gonna be clipping along at a road-rage-inducing 45mph every morning and afternoon. My first instinct was to jump up to a XR650. I sat on one and felt like I could probably handle it, but then I realized those sounded remarkably like famous last words. I started looking around online for something in the 450 range, and from reading around here I think maybe I'm finally on to something.

So, anybody have buying tips for the dumb newbie?

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An XR650's are very low maintenance and relaible, however, they are extremely heavy. It really depends on the mix of trail and road you plan on riding. If you plan on doing any type of intermediate level trail riding, I would probably recommend something lighter and more powerful. As you may be aware, cc displacement doesnt equal more power...its all about engine design. My KTM 300 XC will smoke a XR650. I might recommend a Yamaha WR450, Honda CRF450X, KTM 400/450 EXC. These are much more serious off road machines than the XR, so you may need to put in some seat time before you go and tackle some nasty technical trails. Considering your size, I would be concerned a 250 might not get the job done. To give you some perspective on highway speed, my friend's XR400 will run about 85 mph with stock gearing, but I would never ever want to go that fast on that bike again.

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An XR650's are very low maintenance and relaible, however, they are extremely heavy. It really depends on the mix of trail and road you plan on riding. If you plan on doing any type of intermediate level trail riding, I would probably recommend something lighter and more powerful. As you may be aware, cc displacement doesnt equal more power...its all about engine design. My KTM 300 XC will smoke a XR650. I might recommend a Yamaha WR450, Honda CRF450X, KTM 400/450 EXC. These are much more serious off road machines than the XR, so you may need to put in some seat time before you go and tackle some nasty technical trails. Considering your size, I would be concerned a 250 might not get the job done. To give you some perspective on highway speed, my friend's XR400 will run about 85 mph with stock gearing, but I would never ever want to go that fast on that bike again.

Yes, people keep trying to explain to me that "It's Over 9000!" is not a valid argument for bike power. That underlined bit is news to me though -- I was somehow led to believe that getting over 60 was going to require a nuclear engine. If the 450 can (albeit with a reckless disregard for mortality) get that hot, then I can't think of a reason to go bigger.

But out of curiosity, what are the benefits of a bigger engine? So far I've got "More stable at high speed on the road" and "Compensates for poor endowment a little better." Is there any reason to bring a bigger engine onto the trail, when you become an advanced rider capable of handling one?

would get a KTM 450exc. or a KLR

I like the reviews on the KTM, but the high market price has me wary of any "low" asking-price I stumble across. Is there a magic number on a KTM engine where I should start to be leery?

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I like the reviews on the KTM, but the high market price has me wary of any "low" asking-price I stumble across. Is there a magic number on a KTM engine where I should start to be leery?

you can easily get an 05 450 for $3000 and those RFS motors are indestructible :thumbsup:

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I would agree, any pre-2008 KTMs had the RFS engine, which is one of the best 4 strokes ever made. If you really know what you are doing AND you are patient, there are deals to be had. I have benefited by being patient...just because a bike is priced a little bit low doesnt mean its a piece of crap, it doesnt mean it isnt either.

There is no reason for you to go bigger than a 450...you will have your hands full. If you were strictly a trail rider, there is no way I would recommend a 450. I would suggest something like a KDX220..lighter and more nimble. However, since you are riding road, you may need the extra power. A bigger bike isnt necessarily more stable on the road....it depends. I know a guy that just sold a DR650 and bought a KLX250 and is very happy with the move.

And yes, when you become an advanced rider capable of handling more power, it can be helpful...but keep in mind that bigger 4 strokes also weigh more. Weight is not your friend on the trail. What it comes down to is no one bike does everything perfectly...that sums it up.

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I'd suggest going out and buying a used Honda XR250, Kawasaki KLX300 or something of that type and riding around a bit in the dirt to figure out the extent to which you're cut out for/enjoy riding, given that you have precisely no experience at this point. You're not likely to lose any significant money buying and then ultimately selling a used bike of that type. Before you go out on the roads, I'd also HIGHLY suggest signing up for a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) basic rider course.

Jumping in with both feet on something like a KTM 450 will certainly ensure that you won't "outgrow" the bike, but it could lead to easily getting in over your head while you're still learning the very basic fundamentals of motorcycle control. That is a serious motorcycle.

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MSF is a given for me -- I'm already signed up. So that's a box with a checkmark.

As for 300 vs. 450... I'm trying to equate the riding difference to something I can visualize, because with zero experience "A lot of bike" is a strange concept. Is this like skipping horses and jumping right on a bull? Or more like skipping the pony ride at the state fair, and jumping straight on a horse? If it's an issue of "You're going to have to throw it around a lot harder," I feel like I can handle the extra weight, but if it's something like "the power will sneak up on you in your sleep and murder you with a pillow," then maybe I should be more careful than I'm currently being.

Also -- I *have* seen a few 350s that would make a decent middle ground, if that's the way I should be leaning. Any suggestions there? I mean, I'm pretty much shooting the whole spectrum, I know, but I'd like it best if I didn't mess this up.

(basically I'm trying to gauge whether or not I should apply \/ this advice \/ to myself)

I learned how to ride a dirtbike, at age 28, on a 2001 WR426, which I bought new and still ride. I am 5'8" and about 175-185 lbs. It made for a VERY steep learning curve, but it is doable. That bike can, and will bite you HARD if you do not exercise extreme control over the throttle. It is also heavier and less manuverable than a smaller bike. I am very athletic and strong, so I adapted well. Do I use all the horsepower that a big-bore can put out? Not in the slightest, except for certain situations.

I say go for it, but go in knowingly that you may not progress as fast as you think you should. Exercise extreme discipline of the throttle hand and unleash extra horsepower through aftermarket parts/mods only after you are comfortable.

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Would you advise somebody who had never driven a car to jump straight into a Ferrari or a Corvette Z06 as their first car? Sure, it CAN be done, but the odds of something bad happening are probably much higher than they'd be if that person drove an Accord first.

You can have a TON of fun on a 250 and really go anywhere the 450 can go, but you'll be able to focus more on learning the fundamentals of riding on something like that.

There's absolutely no reason that the first bike you buy has to be the last bike you buy, particularly if you buy used from the get-go. Do it right and you'll lose next to nothing when you sell the first bike to buy the next bike. At that point, you'll have a better idea of what you really want, too - a MX bike, a trail oriented bike, something with better street manners, etc..

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Look into the rules in NM to make something street legal.

Given your lack of riding experience, I would avoid the motocross bikes and look at the bike ratio bikes. I would look for a good price with any of the following models:

CRF250X

WR250F

CRF450X

WR450F

KLX450R

KTM450 EXC

KTM400 XCW

(can't say I am familiar with all the wide variety of KTM's....but recommend you get something with a wide ratio transmission or at least a 6 speed. This will enable you to go slow and pick your way around if need be and also ride on the road at highways speeds.

I have a buddy who just picked up a '08 KLX450R with 137 mi for $3500 here in Colorado. He just missed an opportunity for an '07 WR450F already licensed in CO for $3800 (it sold the first day on Craigslist.).

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Look into the rules in NM to make something street legal.

Given your lack of riding experience, I would avoid the motocross bikes and look at the bike ratio bikes. I would look for a good price with any of the following models:

CRF250X

WR250F

CRF450X

WR450F

KLX450R

KTM450 EXC

KTM400 XCW

(can't say I am familiar with all the wide variety of KTM's....but recommend you get something with a wide ratio transmission or at least a 6 speed. This will enable you to go slow and pick your way around if need be and also ride on the road at highways speeds.

I have a buddy who just picked up a '08 KLX450R with 137 mi for $3500 here in Colorado. He just missed an opportunity for an '07 WR450F already licensed in CO for $3800 (it sold the first day on Craigslist.).

we have had both the ktm 450 and 400. the 400 is better down low but tapers off up top, while the 450 screams anywhere and makes a better DS

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wow...guess I was typing and not thinking above. I meant to say look for the WIDE ratio transmission bikes (and then listed those that I am aware of).

Also, you could consider the DRZ400E, which is a bit more of a dual sport bike, but I always like to have a large list of 'possibilities' to consider when buying used. With a larger list to work from, you should be able to find a good used one under your $5K max budget.

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wow...guess I was typing and not thinking above. I meant to say look for the WIDE ratio transmission bikes (and then listed those that I am aware of).

Also, you could consider the DRZ400E, which is a bit more of a dual sport bike, but I always like to have a large list of 'possibilities' to consider when buying used. With a larger list to work from, you should be able to find a good used one under your $5K max budget.

Good tips one and all. I'm gonna start with the KTM and work my way through the list backwards because.... shoot, I really like the looks of the KTM :thumbsup:

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KTM's have a lot to love. Except for the price of used ones. My limited used buying/shopping experience has been that the KTM's get ridden more (tend to be bought more by enthusiasts) and are higher priced.

Hope you find a good one for the right price.

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