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The Perfect Trail Bike Does Not Exist

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Out of the dealer parking lot, at least. I've been riding dirt bikes since I was 13. 16 years later, nothing has really changed in the market. You have your enduros and your motocrossers and nothing really in between. Yes, you can mod your bike till the cows come home, but name one manufacturer that gives you that package off the lot.

The guys who ride liquid-cooled bikes (CRF250/450) complain about overheating and engine problems/frequent maintenance on the trails while the guys who ride air-cooled bikes (CRF230F) complain about weak suspension and more entry-level components.

Why can't manufacturers make an air-cooled 250CC engine, similar to that of an XR250, and build a CRF250-like chassis around it with killer suspension, disc brakes and a larger gas tank?

I've already piped and jetted my 230 and it's a blast to ride--I really don't need or want anything else for the trails. But the suspension is pisspoor. I can either drop around $2,600 on the Reger CR85/150 Expert front end and a Works rear shock, or I can get the suspension worked on by Hlebo. But those cheap little forks will still bend over time.

I'm willing to mod, but for $2,600, I can get a CRF250X and worry about valves and overheating all the livelong day.

Where is that perfect production trail bike? The air-cooled XR-style engine with killer motocross chassis and ace suspension?

What do you guys think?

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Why does the perfect trail bike have to be a 4 stroke? :lol:

Good point--it doesn't, but for maintenance's sake, I think air-cooled four strokes are the way to go. I've only ridden a two-smoke a handful of times and prefer the gradual grunt of a 4-stroke. Plus, the powerband puts my balls in my trachea.

I've seen plenty of fun 2-stroke trail bikes, but I likes me mah four strokers.:)

And it doesn't have to be a Honda--any brand will do. Just give me an air-cooled four stroke with good power and awesome components out of the dealer lot and I will sell my mint condition piped and jetted CRF230 tomorrow.

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A KTM 300 can be tuned to be VERY tame. And you can lug it just like a 4 stroke. Plenty of power and don't have to be on the pipe to have power.

Here's a clip of my 1st test section in the last enduro I did. I probably rode 90% of the entire section in 2nd gear, even in the tight spots where I come to almost a complete stop.

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So you're saying the perfect bike does not exist but you're ruling out the 2t's??? That does not make any sense, seems you should have said "The perfect bike IMO does not exist". The fact is, there are several bikes out there that would fit the bill you prescribe but you have to look outside of Honda....

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WOW.....totally dismiss ALL water cooled AND 2 strokes huh?? time to pull the head out of the ground. RIDE one and see how it performs......especially against the very very basic 230.

Joe

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If you are just talking about riding around on trails, the old KDX 200/220 is probably pretty close to perfect. If you want something that can also serve race duty, various Euro smokers (Gasgas, KTM, Husqvarna, TM) are fine mounts--surely they have a model that has a powerband that would make you happy.

I think you are right that 4 strokes have a way to go. Performance oriented 4 strokes are just too heavy when compared to smokers of similar power, and the "play" type bikes don't have the suspension or brakes for spirited riding.

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WOW.....totally dismiss ALL water cooled AND 2 strokes huh?? time to pull the head out of the ground. RIDE one and see how it performs......especially against the very very basic 230.

Joe

I don't want to worry about frequent maintenance. I already have a streetbike for that. Would a 2-stroke or liquid cooled bike offer better maintenance intervals than an air-cooled 4-stroke?

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Good luck with this discussion, I figured that it was based on your opinion in the first place and didn't for a second think that you were excluding other brands beyond Honda. But that doesn't make a difference, none of the other brands make one either. Look at the new KTM Freeride 350. Probably closer to what you want except that it is #1 expensive, #2 not available in the USA yet, and #3 is water-cooled.

It does use the KTM 43mn mini-bike suspension, which is much stronger than the typical Japanese 37mm forks. It is lighter than your 230 and puts out a few hp more. Trials tires, low seat height probably really reliable and easy to ride. Still, big bucks... Solution, build what you want. Yes it will cost you some $$$ to do it your way. If you think it out you will end up with what you want, probably not based on your XR230. For lightest weight you can't beat the 2-smokers, I don't like them either but they are light and efficient and can be tuned for good Grunt! The 200-300cc 2-smokes are nice bikes from the factory and are nice and quiet. A pumped up Thumper is going to be difficult to keep the sound levels down and get strong performance. It can be done but I have run sound checks at Enduros and Desert Races and it is a waste of time on most of the factory piped 2-smokers to bother checking them, they are QUIET!

You can get a custom Thumper down to the 200-220lb range and add some performance parts to it and make a nice bike. Check out the postings on the XR200 bike that Chuck built for lightweight information. Honda just doesn't worry about the POUNDS on their "Trail" version 4-strokers. Heavy parts and not very efficient. If you want better suspension, grab a set of the KTM 85-105 front forks and build around it. Plenty of travel for trail riding, lightweight and stronger than the Japanese versions. Wheels can be converted to 21" and 18" versions, will be lighter than your 230 based wheels..

Your decision on how you want to spend your money and what you want to ride but you will lose the argument about which bike is "better" except for using your "opinion" for your Final Answer!

Swiss

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The guys who ride liquid-cooled bikes (CRF250/450) complain about overheating and engine problems/frequent maintenance on the trails while the guys who ride air-cooled bikes (CRF230F)

I would assume your 230F air cooled bike overheats as well. You just don't have coolant and steam to tip you off that your bike is too hot. I'll stick to my liquid cooled wrf. It's the perfect trail bike for me.

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I don't want to worry about frequent maintenance. I already have a streetbike for that. Would a 2-stroke or liquid cooled bike offer better maintenance intervals than an air-cooled 4-stroke?

A trail-ridden 300 2 stroke (ie- not abused) can go at least 200 hrs before a new top end. So, I'm not sure how long it takes you to rack up 200+ hrs? Even then it's about a $200 job and a few hours of your time.

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A trail-ridden 300 2 stroke (ie- not abused) can go at least 200 hrs before a new top end. So, I'm not sure how long it takes you to rack up 200+ hrs? Even then it's about a $200 job and a few hours of your time.

a 250 or 200 2stroke will also go 200 hours between top ends, if you're not a fanatic revver.

I think the original post was silly. The perfect trailbike (for idaho) exists right off the dealer floor. It's a ktm xc or xcw 2-stroke, 200, 250 or 300.

I have 780 hours on my 2008 200 right now (I only ride it in the summer). I had the suspension revalved for me (not really necessary on the 2009+ models), and I had the head cut for more low-end. It works great everywhere. A 250 would also work great everywhere at slightly more initial cost and a few lbs more weight.

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My 07' WR has not needed a valve adjustment yet. Inspection yes, but adjustment no. I know others that have gone even longer without having to adjust them as well. My wife's 02' XR200 was basically maintenance free, and very dependable. But your comparing 2 completly different bikes. A competition offroad bike vrs a play bike, and 2 different types of consumers.

Consumer #1 just wants to get something to learn to ride, teach the wife and/or kids, and just do some leizurly (spelling?) riding. XR's 230's TTR's and ect... And for this group the lower dollar play bike is suitable.

Consumer #2 wants a competetion offroad bike with the works and is willing to pay higher dollar.

I don't think the Manufacturer see 's a buyers market for a bike right in between that would profit them much. Just my opinion though.

I have seen guys make some pretty capable offroad machines out of XR's, DRZ's and such, and I can appreciate the ingenuity they put into they're bikes, but they usually spend a fortune doing it.

Edited by mikewrf18

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Out of the dealer parking lot, at least. I've been riding dirt bikes since I was 13. 16 years later, nothing has really changed in the market. You have your enduros and your motocrossers and nothing really in between. Yes, you can mod your bike till the cows come home, but name one manufacturer that gives you that package off the lot.

The guys who ride liquid-cooled bikes (CRF250/450) complain about overheating and engine problems/frequent maintenance on the trails while the guys who ride air-cooled bikes (CRF230F) complain about weak suspension and more entry-level components.

Why can't manufacturers make an air-cooled 250CC engine, similar to that of an XR250, and build a CRF250-like chassis around it with killer suspension, disc brakes and a larger gas tank?

I've already piped and jetted my 230 and it's a blast to ride--I really don't need or want anything else for the trails. But the suspension is pisspoor. I can either drop around $2,600 on the Reger CR85/150 Expert front end and a Works rear shock, or I can get the suspension worked on by Hlebo. But those cheap little forks will still bend over time.

I'm willing to mod, but for $2,600, I can get a CRF250X and worry about valves and overheating all the livelong day.

Where is that perfect production trail bike? The air-cooled XR-style engine with killer motocross chassis and ace suspension?

What do you guys think?

KTM 300 is the only way to go, get rid of the heavy ass 4 stroke and go 2 stroke lighter, better, less maint,cheaper, and funner.:lol:

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Where is that perfect production trail bike? The air-cooled XR-style engine with killer motocross chassis and ace suspension?

What do you guys think?

How exactly are you bending the forks on your 230? I know some big guys that ride that bike in some harsh terrain and have never bent those forks.

Who do you know that has frequent overheating or maintenance problems out on the trails. The worst bike you can buy these days is still a very good bike. It doesn't sound right.

Oh, don't pay $2600 to get the suspension done. Who in their right mind would put a works suspension on a crf230? for trail riding? Who would even consider a works suspension for that bike.

I suspect you are not telling the whole truth here about what you are doing with that bike.

Do this... either get the suspension fixed on your 230 or go buy a crf250x or a wr250f. Those are good trail bikes with highly tunable suspensions. The Yamaha has crazy long longevity.

Either way, build up the bike you want just like the rest of us do.

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Thanks for the advice, guys!

What is the maintenance like on a CRF250X?

Will the powerband from a KTM 2-smoker be a huge jolt of power, or is it more manageable?

The story is I'm an advanced rider on a 230F who got the bike because I wanted to play around initially, but after a few rides I found I could use much better suspension, nicer brakes and more advanced components. But I love the indestructable nature of the air-cooled 4-stroke.

Hey, I'd sell the 230F and look for a 250X if the X is reliable and I don't have to spend every other weekend doing valves or worrying about blowing the head.

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a 250 or 200 2stroke will also go 200 hours between top ends, if you're not a fanatic revver.

I have a hard time with that one, 100hrs maybe but 200 seems like some dangerous territory.

Personaly I ride a mix of MX and woods (race) and anything over 50hrs is pushing it. Not to mention the performance loss from the rings at 25hrs. I'll usually do a rering at 25hrs, new piston 50hrs.

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Thanks for the advice, guys!

What is the maintenance like on a CRF250X?

Will the powerband from a KTM 2-smoker be a huge jolt of power, or is it more manageable?

First, the Honda will have higher maintenance than the KTM but the 250X is still a good bike.

To answer the second question we'd have to address which one you want. If you get the SX, ya that will rip your arms off. The XC or XC-W are very smooth and with the right setup can be very very mellow. Everything you need to tone it down comes with the bike as well. The KTM 250 even in it's mellow state will have all the power the Honda has and then some, plus it's going to be lighter and easier to maintain....

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I have a hard time with that one, 100hrs maybe but 200 seems like some dangerous territory.

Personaly I ride a mix of MX and woods (race) and anything over 50hrs is pushing it. Not to mention the performance loss from the rings at 25hrs. I'll usually do a rering at 25hrs, new piston 50hrs.

That's ok if you want to do it more often, or if you do a higher percentage of mx. Some people are hard on bikes, and for sure mx is harder on motors than off-road racing. at 150 hrs, I personally can't feel any performance loss (and we both rode to class wins and podiums at national offroad events at well over 100 hrs).

I would be doing 10-15 top ends a year (my bike and wife's) if i was on your schedule. no thanks.

At any rate, I specified my advice only applies to folks that aren't fanatic revvers. The OP didn't appear to be talking about mx racing, and neither am I. There are a zillion posts here and on ktmtalk from other folks that ride and race off-road that go 200 hrs between top ends. It's not at all unusual. We've got a couple bikes (2007 and 2008 model year) that are closing on 800 total hours now, so I think if the 200 hr interval were a problem, it would have shown itself.

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