Currently I own a 2005 Yamaha YZ125 and have owned it for the last 6 years. Before this bike, I owned a 2005 Honda CRF100f for 3 years and have rode numerous other bikes (Kawasaki KE100, Honda Crf250r, Honda Cr85r, Honda Cr125r, Yamaha yz80, Honda Cr80, Honda crf230f Kawasaki klx110, KTM 85, Yamaha Xt350, Kawasaki KX250f, Husqvarna te300i, Husqvarna te610 and a Honda CRF250L off the top of my head). I am by no means an advanced rider but I do feel as though I can carry a good pace and am faster than most of my friends, as long as we stay on the ground going around the edge of a cornfield or running ATV trails in northern MN, the second we get to a MX track, however, I whimp out and take it much more cautiously.
Due to my lack of enjoyment in seriously racing/competing in MX events, I am deciding to explore other routes of "dirt bike" options. I am currently 19, and go to college, so riding will most likely only be available to me during the summer months (may-aug). At home I live on a farm that is located in a semi-rural area of central, Minnesota. Being I live where I do, there are no opportunities to ride a bike off-road besides on my property or friends properties that have trails cut into the woods, or trails that outline crop-fields. Most of our properties, however, do have small MX tracks built onto them and I occasionally do enjoy hitting the tracks, but as stated before, I am aggressive through the straight aways, moguls, and corners, but come the jumps, I only feel comfortable doubling them.... if that. Another style of riding I have done twice now and really enjoy is riding the ATV trails located in northern MN, specifically in the Ely region. If they had trails like these back home (even if they were just like the snowmobile trails, running through cornfields and ditches) id be in heaven.
With that in mind, I am also looking at something that would be suitable to ride backroads and possibly even less traveled routes on pavement. More likely than not the bike would not see a freeway, so typical driving speed on "roads" would be kept under 70mph. The majority of the driving I would be doing would be commuting to and from friends houses and having fun driving through the twists and turns present on some of the backroads, paved and red rock.
Currently I am 6' and weigh 185lbs but as we all know, the weight will go up with age.... Some previous experiences with the bikes I have road are, the YZ125, Crf250f, and Kx250F all had power to have fun with but even sometimes while racing around the edge of cornfields and going through the hilly portions I felt as though I was biting at the limits of what the bike had, this could be due to MX gearing but I am not sure. I liked the low end grunt the XT350 gave but the suspension was very poor and the engine seemed to be rev'ed out once we got onto some of the faster fire roads up north going 70mph or so. The CRF250L to me was a sloth, There was not much power anywhere throughout the whole range of the engine. It seemed as it would be best suited for a brand new rider or someone wanting a bike to travel around in a downtown setting where slow quick commutes are common. The te300i 2stroke was a definite power house and could get you into trouble if you overestimated your abilities. The Te610 was an absolute animal. Although I could ride the bike very fast, the rear tire would like to slide out around every corner due to the sheer amount of torque, also a bike that could get you into trouble real quick if you weren't smart.
The bikes I am currently looking at are the Yamaha Wr250r, Honda Crf250L, Suzuki DRZ400s, Yamaha WR450f, and Honda CRF450x. I would absolutely love a Husqvarna fe350, fe450, or fe501, or a Beta 390 RR-S, but 1, they are nonexistent on the used market (at least around me) and 2, they are very expensive when it comes time to replace parts. Out of the bikes stated above, I would think either of the two 450's I would never feel as though I needed anything bigger, but I am worried that they would become more maintenance than I am wanting to deal with (short intervals between oil changes and valve resets). The CRF250L, although I have stated that I didn't care for it much initially, can be had at the best price through doing a little searching. I have also heard that there are mods to make the thing wake up but, I would most likely have to get the suspension changed as it non-adjustable and I dont know if it would be too soft for the riding I stated above. The Wr250r from the research I have done seems like it would suit what I am looking for best, but it still has some complications. First off, most, if not all, agree that the engine leaves much to be desired especially on the low end. The other major thing is that the stock suspension especially in the rear is not good at all. So, after figuring in re-valving/replacing the suspension on this bike I still dont know if id be satisfied with the power even if I did mods to the engine too. The Suzuki, on the other hand seems to have a big enough engine for what I'm looking for but, the suspension and lack of a 6th gear are what are really holding me back from that bike. If Yamaha made a Wr350r or wr450r, I think id have that in the shed right now, and I wouldn't be asking this question....
So, after hearing my complaints against each bike and reading the style of riding that I do, I will top it off with a budget of around $4k. This is with mods most likely or, if the bike is good enough stock mods may come with time and added money. The bikes I would be looking at would obviously be on the used market due to the low budget I have.
If anyone has any suggestions on any of the bikes I have listed or other ones it would be much appreciated. Any other thoughts or comments would be appreciated as well. Thanks!