Dual-purpose motorcycles

I was going to post this to Johnny LA’s motorcycle thread but figured I ought to just keep it separate.

I’ve taken the MSF course and had my driver’s license upgraded to motorcycle & car. I haven’t bought a bike yet because I live in NYC and it just isn’t the place for me to learn the ropes and keep a bike.

In a month or so we’re going to be moving into a place up in the Catskills (a relatively mountainous area near NYC). I’m getting psyched to finally get a bike. I keep thinking a dual purpose would be the thing for me since I’m attracted to dirt. Part of me says get a 250 along the lines of a Kawasaki KLR250 or Super sherpa. These bikes look light, easy for me to handle, and just plain fun. Another part of me says no, they’re too small (I’m 6’1" 250lbs) you’ll soon want more power you should get something like a KLR650 or maybe even a BMW f650. One thing that’s daunting about the KLR is that the seat seems so high. I’d be trying to balance on my tip-toes while stopped.

Something like the ninja500 or Bandit looks tempting as well.

When I get up there I’ll start poking around dealerships for probably a used one of the above, but in the meantime I was wondering what your experiences with dual purpose bikes are. Does one easily get used to the seat height of a KLR650 or other 650 size bikes?

Get yourself two bikes, one trail machine such as the Suzuki DR350 or the newer 400 version.

Then get yourself something like a big BMW, would suit someone your height.

I have a BMW F650GS and I love it. I had a K1200RS but I realized that despite its power and good looks, it just wasn’t the bike for me–too heavy and unwieldy. Although the F650 is a serious step down in power (130 HP for the K12 vs. I think somewhere around 50 for the F650) it more than makes up for that in maneuverability. It’s just a fun bike to ride. It would be a good one for a taller rider as well, especially if you get the Dakar model, which is aimed a little more off-road than the basic F650, and is a couple of inches taller (it’s too tall for me and I’m 5’10–the basic F650 fits me just fine).

the suzuki DR350 is the best all-around motorcycle i have ever owned. i have a 90 model and the wife has a 97 electric start. as an ex-desert racer, i ride pretty damn hard off road and this bike has never failed me. it is light enough to flick in the real tight gnarly stuff and powerful enough (with some weight shaved and a supertrapp added) to take me anywhere i have wanted to go. i have never been short of power for climbing hills. i have it geared to easily cruise at 80mph on the highway, and with a 4 gal tank, i can go a ways. sure, the seat is narrow, and its not a tour bike, but i use it primarily as a dirt bike that is capable of highway transfers to the next trail, or if its dark/cold/gotta get home, i jump on the road.

around town, the seat height afford excellant visibililty, and is very easy to handle, plus you can jump curbs and take shortcuts across fields and stuff.

this bike has truly been abused and has never let me down, never failed, never had something “fall off” or break on its own. i cant say enough about the entire DR product line. when i was a motorcycle saleman, i sold boatloads of them.

if the seat height is too much, shave the foam or install a corbin seat (wife has one and its great for her) and remember, the suspension will sack out eventually, lowering it an inch or two, but still work fine.

i have also ridden klr250s (not enough power, but H2O cooling was nice in Vegas), xt350 (as a yamaha fan, i hate to admit it, but that is a real piece of shit!) and XT/KLR/DR650’s (all too heavy for serious dirt hammering, but would be okay for fireroading.)

really would like to ride the new suzuki 400, but will never get rid of the 90 DR.

oops! i did have the clutch cable break one time! i rode it all the way home without one, and with the smooth power delivery and faultless transmission, never needed it! even popped it into neutral as i coasted into the driveway. i have always said this bike was so easy to ride, my granny could ride it!

Your Grandma may vary.

I’ve been lusting after the F650 pretty much since it came out but it seems a little upscale for a first bike. I doubt I could fine one used for that much less than new.

The DR400’s not in the Suzuki lineup anymore but I imagine there are used 350s/400s out there since they’ve been out so long. I’ll have to look into that. a 400 seems like just the right size.

As my pal Spiny Norman always advises about buying your first bike: buy cheap, buy second hand, buy Japanese.

Having said that: I know next to nothing about dual purpose bikes. The only one I’ve riden (albeit for a short stretch only) was the Yamaha TDM 850. Good upright riding position, plenty of grunt, and reportedly not bad in moderate sand or dirt.

what cho’ talkin’ bout Willis? The DR400 is alive and well

check it out. used 350’s are all over the place, too.

Well how about that.

I guess I got confused with all the Z’s and S’s and SE’s.


s’all right!