Hey, I am looking to buy a dual sport bike and figured this was the place to come for some input. Also seems like the most helpful thing for me to do is to begin by getting my info out there so I can get the best input back. I am 41 yrs old, 5'11" and weigh just under 200 lbs (fairly muscular/athletic). This is my first dual sport and haven't ridden any dirt bikes since I was a kid and rode mini-bikes (if you can even count that). I have been riding about 6 years. My first bike was a VStar 1100 cruiser. Liked it and it got me into riding. Soon "evolved" and wanted something with better performance and more fun. Got a VStrom 650. Also really liked this bike. Performed much better on the back roads and did a few fire roads and gravel roads with it. However, on those "off road adventures," the bike felt super-heavy and along with my inexperience, I did not feel very surefooted. My last bike (which I am currently selling) is a Triumph Speed Triple. I love this bike and it is super fast. Handles great and I even love dodging in and out of the Houston traffic with it. However, I just have a longing for some dirt road, trail, open field kinda action. That WeeStrom gave me a taste that I haven't been able to shake.
Okay all that said, I am NOT looking to commute with this bike or do any long distance travel with it. I live in an urban-ish area of Houston, but if you know Houston, you know that fields and areas to get off road aren't too far away. We don't have any trails like Colorado or California or other places like that where you can go for miles and miles, but I just want tool around and get off road on some gravel and dirt, back roads and even hit some of the trails in our local national forest around here, maybe single track. I do have a pickup and can take my bike to any place too far off, but want it to be street legal so I can go exploring around here. I certainly won't be doing any racing or track stuff.
Anyway, I can only afford one bike (which is why I am selling my Triumph) and only want to spend $3k or so. With my weight and size, I just don't know what bike might be best. Is a 250cc too small? Do I need a 450cc bike? Bigger? I am hoping that I can get something fairly light to play around on, but that I won't be like a big gorrilla hulking around on a tricyle. I am also not super mechanical so maintenance is a factor, but I am also willing to learn to do my own oil changes, etc. though I have always taken my bikes to a shop for that before. Okay, so I know that is probably waaaay to much info, but figured it would be better to give a lot of detail to help with some informed opinons from the experts here. Thanks in advance!!