Who knows dual sport motorcycles?

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Feb 8, 2007
Northeast Georgia (Habersham)
I'm looking to buy a kicker for around town while I'm home. I usually travel year round so this is a cheap alternative while myFJ-60 gets a heart transplant.

So this is what I'm hearing. Go 2 stroke because they are cheaper to fix and will last you a long time, while 4 stroke are more maintenance.

I don't really like the sound or smell of dealing with a 2 stroke, and I'm going to be using it on the road only.

Here's what I do know:'

I'm only 5' 7 so that will limit some of the bigger bikes.

I would like four stroke depending on what people have to say (pos and neg)

I am looking to spend around $2500

Anything you can tell me will help me out. I've been riding street bikes for years, honda, suzuki, ducati, so I'm not new to bikes, just dual sports. And the reason I need one is because I live down a long dirt road and it's to long and rough for a street bike.

Anybody that says different calls their wheels "dubs".

dr650 is a no brainer for most.

I'm a big fan of the 80's xl model hondas. More metal than you find in todays enduros. Craigslist is the way to go. Use tempest as the search engine.
One of these will set you back 500-1,500 depending on condition. My father just bought a 350xl with 4k miles on it for 1k. Look around.
I have a 1979 XL500s. I am really surprised to see one posted, as they a bit hard to find. I have owned two, a few dual sport 2 stroke vintage hodakas, and a 1997 XR650L honda.

My .02- the 500s is the best true dual sport I have ever ridden.
By that I mean true ability to go offroad, and still ride it to work. They have a low standover, so tossing them around in the woods is easy, it is also pretty darn light. Kick only and some oddball parts (like an enormous front wheel and a tought to find taillight) but just an awesome bike.

The xr650L was a bulletproof reliable bike, but at 6' I was on tiptoes at lights- at 5'7 (even with the white lowering kit and a corbin seat) it will be tall.

The Dr650, and the DR400 (I think it is a 400) are awesome bikes, decent standover and reliable.

The KLR650 is a true touring off road bike, big tank, tall but manageable. Also completely reliable.

STAY AWAY FROM 2 STROKES. They are WAY more maintenance, way less reliable. Trust me.
Better in the woods, more low end grunt, but just not worth it every time you have to fill up. I pushed my hodakas home more than once.

The KTMs are unreal on the track, but a bit twitchy on the road for me. Great bike, though.

IMO- stick with any of the big three (honda, Kawi, Suzuki), and find one that has not seen much dirt- and has not been rebuilt. Sit on the 650 before you commit, she is a big girl.
and the obligatory pic of said sexy beast.


The compression release o ring will always leak. Get used to it.

Aside from that, a plug and oil changes in almost three years. Starts every time, runs like stink.
WOW, thanks for the posts. The "wow" is because I just looked before writing this post at a 1981 Honda XL500S with 6000 original miles for $1000. I liked the look, I might call and have the guy hold it for me.
$1K is short money. If it is original and has all its parts, it is worth it.
Use the other cash in your budget for a good jacket, A GOOD HELMET ( both DOT and Snell compliant), boots and the motorcycle safety course.

Good luck, email me with any questions.

BTW- 1980 should be identical with a slightly different tank.

In 81 they went with a monoshock rear- a little better.

xlintperformance.com has some info- the 250 and 500 use a lot of the same parts. Call and ask.
yeah, I have a jacket, boots, helmet, etc. already from my street bike, already taken the safety course thanks to the military. I also used to ride the mini bikes when I was in. I won't be going trail riding with it. I could give it a real good tune up, assuming it's not already sold. It looks to be in great shape. Here's a picture.

I put a 500 tank on mine. Looks better than the 250 tank. You just can't go wrong with a honda. I've never bought or sold one that didn't run with a little work.
4 stroke are more maintenance and 2 stroke are cheaper to fix? BS. The couple 2 stroke bikes I've had have been garbage.

As has been suggested a KLR would be great, but at 5'7", a 650 is a TALL bike. For just around town, get a 250.
What's better than a FJ55? A FJ55 with a honda dual sport on it's back! nice haha. Yeah I found it hard to believe that it was posted on this dual sport forum that a 2 stroke was less upkeep......wtf? everyone I know with one is always changing plugs, and dealing with 2 stroke issues. I really liked this honda before I heard all the great things about them. I might have to jump on this one.
I enjoy a little dual sport riding. Ridden all over the world on a bike and the dual sport is IMO the way to go every time. The one I pick when I'm going to be gone for a month or two is the KLR650. It's not inspiring in any way but it will get there and it will get back... and it's probably going to fit in that $2500 budget if you look around pretty good.

Here's a pic from the stable taken yesterday. The TY250 is what I'm working on this weekend and it s/b ready to kick by tonight sometime.


(edit: BTW, the guy that said to go two smoke was full of crap. Four's the way. I'd go KLR650 or DR650 based on what you've stated).
Whoever gave you that two stroke advice is completely wrong. Two smokes are a constant PITA.

I daily ride a 2006 XT225. It was $2500 a couple years ago. Best all around bike ever, especially for in town driving, and especially if you have short legs like me (30" inseam). Not an ideal highway bike but it will get it done. Here I am on my typical grueling commute, had to stop and take a pic because it was so brutal.


You can't go wrong with a used Honda dualsport. If you get that 500 you'll probably be happy with it. :cool:
this thread is bizarre. I redid one of those trials yamahas for my inlaw! Pics tomorrow. How odd. That bike was ODD to ride. Thump...thump....thump... You can feel every revolution.

I was amazed at how many parts I could still get at the dealer. He raced it int he 80's, sat in his barn since. I did a mostly cosmetic rehab for it. Cool bikes.

That XL looks period correct. There is not a big market for them, there was one here on craigslist for a little more, same miles. I agree with the 650 being a little much around town, but if you seeing highway or over 50 at all, go a little bigger.

DR400 or that 500 will do nicely. Good luck to you.

edit- the odd part is that I have only put together about 5 vintage bikes. 2 of them were mentioned here. Just strange since neither of those are popular.

I always liked those 225's. Thought they would make a great run to town bike.

My 2 STROKE Hodaka road toad (my first frame off) was 100cc, and I thought it would be awesome around town. wrong. I am WAY too tubby for that small displacement.
Check out ADV rider to find out about your different options. You don't say how much you are going to be on the pavement vs. off. If you are more pavement oriented, take a look at a pre 2000 BMW F650. If you are looking to actually use it as a dual sport, start looking at the Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawsaki used options, 400-650 ccs.

The tradeoffs are ones like the BMW will ride much better on the highway, but weigh about 420 loaded. The more dirt oriented dual sports are much more nimble on the dirt but twitchy and buzzy for longer highway trips, that is what happens when you loose 100 pounds in weight and steepen the angles.
can you buy a BMW in that price range? I had left them out as they are way more than that around here.
I like my 1991 TW200


and my 2006 KLR 650


As others have said, four stroke is the way to go.

I like my Honda toys:

1984 XR200R and 2001 XR250R


1985 250ES Big Red


1985 350X


When I was looking at a 650 dual sport, I was set on a Honda, until I realized that they have very small fuel tanks compared to the KLR.... So I went Green over Red :rolleyes:


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