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Old 01-15-2021, 07:37 AM   #1
evermore
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Smile Lowest maintenance 250cc+ street legal dirt bike?

Good morning!

After watching the Dakar, I'm inspired to see if I want to take up dirt biking and potentially enter a rally.

My background: In my 40s, riding for 19 years, I owned a DR650SE which I took down to Patagonia, and have even taken a KTM 1190 ADV R onto the rocks in Moab. Presently, I'm on a Brutale 800RR.

First step, I signed up for Garrahan's off road training to see if this is really the path i want to take.

Next though, bike: There are two aspects, the riding, and getting to know a bike well enough mechanically that I wont face surprises down the road/trail.

To gain more experience riding, I want a something with low maintenance that I can spend the maximum time riding and not wrenching on it. The obvious candidate seems to be a Yamaha WR250R but if there is a less work alternative, I would love to hear about it.

As for wrenching and next step, a KTM EXC-F 500 seems likely (I have owned 3 KTMs). Unless a Honda or Yamaha 450cc has significantly easier or lower maintenance?

Would love to hear thoughts and alternatives!
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Old 01-15-2021, 08:26 AM   #2
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What are you looking for in a dirt bike? I don't consider a WR250R a dirt bike. It's a street legal enduro- is that what you're looking for? What's your budget? How much power do you need? You talk about a WR250R and an EXC 500 in the next sentence. Apples and Oranges there if you ask me.
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Old 01-15-2021, 08:29 AM   #3
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and get a dirtbike! preferably a 2 stroke... Or... Electric!
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Old 01-15-2021, 08:49 AM   #4
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If your ultimate goal is to race rallies, go straight to the KTM 500 EXC.

If you end up changing direction it will be super easy/fast to sell it.

The street legal 250 bikes from Japan are for some reason super heavy low powered foo foo bikes. They are reasonably priced, and reliable, and get great gas mileage ... but as a dirt bike? Pretty bad.

The KTM 500 EXC is significantly lighter than those 250 dual sports.

As for maintenance ... if you are planning on putting on 10,000 miles a year, then yes, you will be doing a lot to the KTM (oil changes, valve clearance checks, etc).

Stock, the KTM 500 is not a monster to ride, very easy to ride, not like stupid power. You can modify them to get more race oriented power, but they don't come that way.
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Old 01-15-2021, 08:49 AM   #5
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I would recommend learning to ride dirt on something very light and fully dirt focused. If you buy used, you can always pivot to your next bike on 6 to 12 months.

I think starting with a heavy 250X or big 500 would not be the best way to go. How big and tall are you? I would consider a real dirt bike like a KTM 350 or maybe a trail set up 250 or 300 two stroke.

Starting dirt on a pig will slow your progression and reduce your fun factor. Starting on a proper dirt bike will build fundamentals that transfer over to bigger enduro / rally bikes (and you’ll have a blast)

I’m not a know it all, and I certainly don’t know it all, but my back ground is street, track, tons and tons of dual sporting, super motard, and dirt biking. I currently have a 300 and a 350. Previously owned the WR250 and various street legal bikes in between all the way up to a 640 and a 950.

If you are set on street legal, KTM 350 EXC-F all day, no question. Mine has 200 hours and I’ve yet to adjust the valves...bought it at 12 hours. I’ve changed rear wheel bearings but otherwise trouble free. Bike has been beaten hard.

The 500 is better suited for the desert or guys over 250-275 lbs that don’t ride tight stuff. It’s a capable bike but it’s not a true trail/gnar bike. And the 350s are crazy fast and there isn’t anything a 500 can do they a 350 can’t other than feel heavy, suck fuel, and have a bit more unusable top speed.

By the way, the Mystery 250 would be a good way to ease into a rally type event. It’s a two day 250 mile ride through the Nevada desert with a party in the middle. The ride ranges from gnarly single track, to dirt roads, to third gear sand washes, to 6th gear ass on the fender bike wobbling like hell sand washes. Definitely requires varied skills, physical endurance, and some smarts to finish near the front. It’s also not a race, but lots of people treat it that way.

Last edited by DefyInertia; 01-15-2021 at 09:08 AM..
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Old 01-15-2021, 09:01 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the replies:

1. I'm 6' 1", 220lbs

2. I brought up both the WR250R and the 500 EXC-F as a progression, the WR250R being the stepping stone.

3. I did not realize the WR250R is actually heavier than the 500 EXC-F. I was considering it assuming it would be lighter.

4. Regarding 350 or 500 EXC-F , the weight difference is 12lbs.. with the 500 coming in at 251lbs. I cant see that weight difference being enough to make a difference on trails? am I wrong?

5. Assuming the 500 EXC-F with 251lbs as a baseline, is there something significantly lighter that is worth jumping on first?
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Old 01-15-2021, 09:09 AM   #7
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If you want to learn to ride dirt, especially if thinking a rally down the road, you will need real dirt skills and experience. Few if any dual sports will give you the experience you really need... A proper dirtbike will be the most economical way to gain that experience.

Take the class and see where you are and where you want to be. I've seen some folks try to learn as adults absolutely struggle on a 250 two stroke or race ready four stroke. They were more suited to something like the CRF230F in the beginning. Trail bikes. No way to tell until you get on and try, hence the class.

A 300lb dual sport or 500cc bike retards most folks real dirt learning curves.
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Old 01-15-2021, 09:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evermore View Post

4. Regarding 350 or 500 EXC-F , the weight difference is 12lbs.. with the 500 coming in at 251lbs. I cant see that weight difference being enough to make a difference on trails? am I wrong?

5. Assuming the 500 EXC-F with 251lbs as a baseline, is there something significantly lighter that is worth jumping on first?
Yes you are wrong. Doesnít seem intuitive does it? When I was in your exact place (street and accomplished dual sporter want wing to go full dirt), I was heavily leaning toward the 500. Im 6í2Ē and 205. I had hauled the mail on larger bikes including the 950 super enduro. A 500 seemed like a super light bike to me, and the 350 seemed too small. But I didnít have the full dirt experience. Iím really glad I was talked out of the 500.

It might be 12 pounds heavier but it will feel a lot heavier than the 350 (reciprocating weight, blah blah). Frankly, the 350 feels like a pig compared to my 300, so if buying a dirt bike and really wanting a plate, 350 is the biggest compromise I would recommend.

No one rides gnar with a 500. I ride dirt a lot...people donít show up on 500s with any frequency, and then they do, they struggle as they are never really trail focused riders...more dual spotters.

Anyway, you know what they say about opinions...
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Old 01-15-2021, 09:21 AM   #9
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300 = fully race prepped / gutted / caged Porsche

350 EXC = street legal Porsche off the showroom floor

500 Exc = four door sedan Porsche off showroom floor

690 = Porsche SUV
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Old 01-15-2021, 09:29 AM   #10
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Their are all kinds of "dirt bikes" depends on the rider -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BoK...ature=youtu.be
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Old 01-15-2021, 09:32 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by evermore View Post
Thanks for all the replies:

1. I'm 6' 1", 220lbs

2. I brought up both the WR250R and the 500 EXC-F as a progression, the WR250R being the stepping stone.

3. I did not realize the WR250R is actually heavier than the 500 EXC-F. I was considering it assuming it would be lighter.

4. Regarding 350 or 500 EXC-F , the weight difference is 12lbs.. with the 500 coming in at 251lbs. I cant see that weight difference being enough to make a difference on trails? am I wrong?

5. Assuming the 500 EXC-F with 251lbs as a baseline, is there something significantly lighter that is worth jumping on first?
Your height, weight, and hate to say it.. previous motorcycle experience will have very little to do with what bike is appropriate. Dirt riding is a whole other world of skills to be learned.

Weight of the bike, but also engine size makes a massive difference in the energy, strength, and skill it takes to ride a dirt bike well. While the 500 EXC-F might be one of the lightest and most race ready dual sport produced...... it will still take more skill and significantly more energy/strength to ride in tight technical terrain ESPECIALLY while learning those skills.

You see very few if any expert A level racers riding a 500 on technical enduros regardless of it's actual weight on the scale.

Take the class, figure out where you are, determine a budget, and folks will have many suggestions.
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Old 01-15-2021, 10:27 AM   #12
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Again, thank you all for your suggestions and opinions.

So, it sounds to me that if I stay in 4-stroke world (with the upside of staying street legal so I could ride to places), there isn't any weight savings over a KTM 350 EXC-F.

The leap would be to 2-stroke and the KTM 300 XC-W which saves ~12lbs over the 350. So maybe that's the best option to learn on? Of course, then I'll have to get a trailer (at least I have a 4runner with a hitch so I have that going for me)

Can't wait to take the class but that's on the 24th
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Old 01-15-2021, 11:50 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by evermore View Post
Again, thank you all for your suggestions and opinions.

So, it sounds to me that if I stay in 4-stroke world (with the upside of staying street legal so I could ride to places), there isn't any weight savings over a KTM 350 EXC-F.

The leap would be to 2-stroke and the KTM 300 XC-W which saves ~12lbs over the 350. So maybe that's the best option to learn on? Of course, then I'll have to get a trailer (at least I have a 4runner with a hitch so I have that going for me)

Can't wait to take the class but that's on the 24th
If you stay in the fourstroke world AND a plate, then yes a KTM or Husky 350 is about as light as they get. Be forewarned, while it has a plate, you won't want to ride it to Hollister or Carnegie from San Jose on a regular basis. Its a bike better offer trucked to the destination, as are any dirtbikes or dualsports in the dirtbike category. You also pay a HUGE financial premium for a bike like this.

The 300 XC-W will be lighter, but also produce more power and delivered differently than a fourstroke. The power and its delivery may be a bit much for a new or newish dirt rider to master. May or may not work for you. See how the class goes first. A 300 two stroke puts out more HP than the street legal 500 EXC-F (stock.)

Bikes that work for most adult full size new dirt riders would be the fourstroke WR250F, YZ250FX (key is X here), CRF250X (not R), KTM 250 XCF-W. Or a 150-200 two stroke enduro/trail bike.

Street bikes are a lot lot buying as sports car. You can analyze on the internet all the models, prices, hp, 0-60 etc etc and find something that fits your needs and drive or ride it competently pretty quickly.

Dirt biking is more like surfing, skiing, etc. Skill sports you need to work up to with the right equipment at the appropriate level. You aren't going to get the board to ride Mavericks to learn on or gain the skills you need to move up to such a level on a board made for big waves. Never going to happen.

Say you just watched the Kitzbuhl Downhill and want to learn to race. Well, you will never do it on race specific downhill or super g skis. You start on something more forgiving. Just doesn't happen this way.

Hope this makes sense, not trying to be condescending but give you good advice. Too often folks get stuck on where they want to be and want they think they are going to want to ride when they are there..... forgetting the the whole process of how to get there.

If you really want the skills to ride a rally, you are going to need to learn to ride a small cc dirtbike very very well. Those skills will transfer up to larger dualsports and rally bikes, but not the other way. A trailer or hitchhauler will be in your future if thats really your desire.

Just my opinion and experience, others will vary.
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I'm looking for 1970 or older Triumph 650 project, cheap and preferably complete. PM me if you have something - will provide it a good home.

If you think me being naked is offensive, dont look!

"You find the biggest meanest bull, chop off his balls, dangle them in front of him, then hop on his back. That should give you some reference point. Either that, or shove a shuttle rocket up your ass. Take your pick." Colin Edwards

'Cycles is a mean toy lady" Big Halsy
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Old 01-15-2021, 12:03 PM   #14
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Or get a trials bike and learn on that.....

had to do it ...I love trials..
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Old 01-15-2021, 12:06 PM   #15
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Or get a trials bike and learn on that.....

had to do it ...I love trials..
boom! Funny, but plenty of truth too.
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I'm looking for 1970 or older Triumph 650 project, cheap and preferably complete. PM me if you have something - will provide it a good home.

If you think me being naked is offensive, dont look!

"You find the biggest meanest bull, chop off his balls, dangle them in front of him, then hop on his back. That should give you some reference point. Either that, or shove a shuttle rocket up your ass. Take your pick." Colin Edwards

'Cycles is a mean toy lady" Big Halsy
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