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Author Topic: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?  (Read 3745 times)

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Offline Hardy de Kock

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Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« on: April 04, 2021, 08:05:07 pm »
I just got off the phone with a very nice man from KZN who phoned me about the June tour. He started riding in 2017 and rates himself as an average rider.
He wanted to know if he would be able to do the tour on his Africa Twin (first bike). I explained that it gets very technical in some of the areas and that I would be uncomfortable with the thought of sending an "average rider" with a 230kg+ in there.

The conversation eventually turned towards technical trails in his areas which he know nothing about "because he can't ride them with the bike that he has" (his words).
I asked him if he would consider buying a smaller, affordable and reliable little dual sport bike which would definitely make his tour a lot more enjoyable.
He was happy with the idea and asked me what bike I suggested.
I know that I am a bit biased when it comes to XR650's and DR650's. I have however recently bought a very nice KTM 525 for what I believe was a very reasonable price, and realized that there are other bikes out there that you can buy for under 60k that will be just as enjoyable and with a little TLC, just as reliable. 

I believe there are many prospective dual sport riders out there that ask themselves the same question. I for one have had this question many times in my life.
I would like to create a thread where prospective newcomers can look at the poll, and research the motivation and reasoning for that specific bike in the thread.

I asked Andrew to assist me in modifying the poll after the thread has started so that I can add your suggestions.
Please keep it to bikes under R60,000 - with your reasons for that bike being nominated, and as a help to these newcomers you can also add the name of members or professionals who really knows that specific bike model very well. By doing that we will have a poll where newcomers will be able to see how the forum rates these "cheapies", they will understand why, and they will know who to contact should they decide to look for & purchase such a bike.
Please feel free to post criticism too - It all helps  :thumleft:



We will add the poll with the suggestions we have on the thread after a week

Thanks


Referral List for people with knowledge on the bikes listed below:
 

BMW 650 Dakar

BMW 650 X-Challenge

Honda XR650L - @Runner  @Dux

Honda XR600R

Honda XR400

Honda CRF230

Honda XR250 Tornado

Honda CRF250L

Husqvarna 610

Husqvarna 630

Kawazaki KDX200

Kawazaki KLR650 - @Groenie 

KTM 640 Adventure

KTM 525

KTM 450

Suzuki DR650

Suzuki DRZ400

Suzuki DR200

Yamaha XT660R

Yamaha XT660Z

Yamaha XT 250

Yamaha TW200

Yamaha TTR250


« Last Edit: April 09, 2021, 09:51:19 am by Hardy de Kock »
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Offline Hardy de Kock

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Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2021, 08:14:17 pm »
Honda XR650L:

Pro's
Super reliable if well maintained
Relatively affordable
Parts easy to come by
Easily modified to purpose
Comfortable riding position
Easy to work on (not a lot can go wrong)
Enough power for technical riding and longer trails or tours.
Good torque

Cons

a Tad too high for the shorter riders
OE tank is too small
Subframe weak if you put weight on it

@Runner in Pretoria at Offroad Cycles, or Dux in Cape Town. They know them really well and can help with parts
« Last Edit: April 05, 2021, 11:46:10 am by Hardy de Kock »
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Offline Gerrard

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Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2021, 08:32:22 pm »
Look what I've done on your OP. A quick reference to where mention of a bike can be found or else it will just disappear in the quagmire.
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Offline Dux

Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2021, 05:45:54 am »
XR650L and DR650 are both good bikes , on paper they look like twins , but in reality very different bikes , the XR has better suspension , the DR better brakes . Stock the XR is more comfortable , and of course the DR has a lower seat height and can be made even lower very easily ,  which one is better for a particular rider is difficult to say and my advice is to test them both and then take the plunge .
The 525 is legendary in my eyes , if KTM still made them they would still sell them , I have ridden some of the newer KTMís like the 500 but I have never gelled with them as I did with the 525 , I think one of these with an MXC tank and a more comfortable seat could be a great technical touring bike .

My 5c contribution on skills improvement and my advice to Hardyís client is to sell the Africa Twin and buy a KDX200 and one of the above , KDXís are cheap with good ones available for R15k . It is a great reliable bile to learn technical skills on and while not a KTM , Sherco or Beta it has enough power and decent enough suspension to have lots of fun on while learning those technical skills .
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Offline BLK

Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2021, 07:15:23 am »
Maybe the person in question should rather spend more time getting his riding skills up a level then his choice of bikes wont be so limited.Rather spend another year going on training courses etc.

Just my thought.
 

Offline Bill the Bong

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Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2021, 07:48:38 am »
I used to have a self-drive rental set-up with a friend.  DR650s and KLRs and one 690.  A std DR runs out of suspension very quickly with a heavier rider; I can bottom one on demand. I thought the newer gen KLR was very good on stuff like the Riemvasmaak route where a 690 was too much work with too much power for really loose and slow going, the KLR just had too much body work.  For what its worth, we made more money on recovery operations than the rentals; when the german customers customers got too tired to continue.  Mostly the one throwing in the towel was on the 690. 

As an aside, I once had a XT660 for a day.  It had its exhaust pipes relocate to the side (from underneath the engine) and was 2 into 1.  I thought it was good as an XR650L in that configuration.  I have quite a bit of experience on the Ls, but they were too high for European customers.  Another option for a taller rider is a XT660Z.  They also crash very well.  Properly set-up, they have lots of suspension.  This one would be my personal choice.
 

Offline neil-ph

Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2021, 08:15:30 am »
I downsized from a GSA to a DR.

The reason was I felt the GS just too heavy and difficult in medium/rough terrain, and try as I could, my skill level (which is not genius level) just didn't allow the use I wanted from an adventure bike.

To be fair, a garage is not for a single bike. Limitations on riding ability and routes require (in my opinion) a set up of 2 or 3 bikes.

I'm loving the DR, albeit the stock standard shocks do need a facelift; my 6'1" frame with 95kg is oversized for it. But then I suit the routes to what I can handle. It's a great bike for those semi gnarley gravel roads, and equally enjoyable on semi gnarley single track, and sand for that matter.

There's no substitute for experience when it comes to choosing the ideal bike. Bikes differ in design and look, but are basically built and set up for the joy of riding, no matter what style of riding you want.

I was fortunate enough to start out young on the farm with a DT 100, an ER 125, then the DT 175......What more did a teenager need?

But I digress.

A good condition 650, in my opinion, is a perfect fit to start out with, but having said that though there appears to be a shift towards smaller adventure bikes. Would I go smaller?  No, I'm happy.

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Offline Sandban(g)k

Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2021, 08:20:33 am »
A XR 650L would be my weapon of choice for a Kaokoland trip, thats why I donít spend time in the for sale section. Yet  :biggrin:

I think 650GS or Dakar would also be a nice bike for that trip? And of course a KTM 640 with some loctite!
 

Offline DavidMorrisXp

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Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2021, 08:21:41 am »




A good condition 650, in my opinion, is a perfect fit to start out with, but having said that though there appears to be a shift towards smaller adventure bikes. Would I go smaller?  No, I'm happy.



I was thinking the same earlier as I bought my son at 17 a 650 after seeing how dangerous it was that his 125 couldn't keep up with the traffic while going up a steep hill on the tar.  Most people need to do some tar before finding their favourite tracks
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Offline Skeltonsc

Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2021, 08:49:27 am »




A good condition 650, in my opinion, is a perfect fit to start out with, but having said that though there appears to be a shift towards smaller adventure bikes. Would I go smaller?  No, I'm happy.



I was thinking the same earlier as I bought my son at 17 a 650 after seeing how dangerous it was that his 125 couldn't keep up with the traffic while going up a steep hill on the tar.  Most people need to do some tar before finding their favourite tracks

I agree 200% with the statement about a small 125 being too slow and dam dangerous in the traffic.
 
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Offline DUSTRIDERS

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Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2021, 11:29:59 am »
I would pick a 250 Tornado or Suzuki 250 Djebel or WR250R and if I was still in a kicking mood a good old XR600/XR400.The Suzuki DRZ-400 would be perfect too.

Can't beat an old XR600R. :thumleft:




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Offline Altie7deLaan

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Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2021, 12:31:48 pm »
What a great thread.
I dont  have a perfect answer as to the perfect smaller adv bike, but if more people start moving away from battleship cruisers to a bike that makes you scratch your handguards, through some brush, then the world is a better place.
It will improve your skills in leaps, and make you more fit in the process.

Well done Hardy, challenge the boys....
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Offline mulmi

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Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2021, 12:41:20 pm »
I would pick a 250 Tornado or Suzuki 250 Djebel or WR250R and if I was still in a kicking mood a good old XR600/XR400.The Suzuki DRZ-400 would be perfect too.

Can't beat an old XR600R. :thumleft:




https://www.rideexpeditions.com/honda-xr-400-vs-suzuki-drz-400-which-is-better/
Is the Tornado and the WR 250 comparable?

And how does this compare to the KDX that Dux recommender for a light trainer/starter bike? 


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Offline uaedesertfox

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Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2021, 12:42:55 pm »
I would go with an XR400R for a beginner/intermediate rider as a DS ...(if you can find a good one!!!  8))

The perfect balance of lightweight, cruiseability and it's very very capable in any terrain.... did I mention absolutely bulletproof and easy to maintain...

A Suzuki DRZ 400 would be my second recommendation... basically same reasoning as above..
Africa Twin - CRF1000
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Offline Dux

Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2021, 01:06:18 pm »
I have a client with a KLR 650 and a KDX 200 for his son , he wanted something else because the 200 was just a bit too small for some of the longer rides they were doing , I recommended the XR400 , junior can use it for their longer rides and dad can use it for more technical rides where junior is on the 200 .
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Offline roxenz

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Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2021, 01:11:23 pm »
I cannot really say which bike, but I'll venture my spec list...
  • 150 kg max (wet)
  • 400 km range (may be inclusive of a 3 L extra container?)
  • doesnt need a service or engine overhaul for at least 5000 km
  • reasonable rear sub-frame so traveling basics and tools can be packed
  • reputation for reliability
  • can maintain 115 kph on open road
That shouldn't be too difficult, hmmm?
 

Offline sidetrack

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Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2021, 01:41:54 pm »
XR650L cracked sub frames always creeps up when loading the bike from what I have seen
« Last Edit: April 05, 2021, 01:43:35 pm by sidetrack »
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Offline sidetrack

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Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2021, 01:46:00 pm »
KTM525 nice bike but some engine parts now not avaliable anymore. DR650 / XR650L / X challenge with bigger tank/ KTM640
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Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2021, 01:50:05 pm »
Xt660R with proper bash plate, best option. Quite low, very reliable, Fi. Itís a Yamaha
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Offline Tyre kicker

Re: Which affordable dual sport bike for beginners, and why?
« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2021, 02:40:00 pm »
XR650L cracked sub frames always creeps up when loading the bike from what I have seen


The problem that I have in SOUTH AFRICA is that all the bikes you mention here DR650,XR650L and XT660R and to some extent KLR650's have all been discontinued over here despite still being manufactured and released abroad every year and that now leaves the problem question as to what year model of what discontinued used dual sport motorcycle is best for a beginner in this country if it can be found for sale.

-First problem to overcome is to get a good condition non abused motorcycle that is available freely at a decent price.
-Second problem is to find the correct one and year model that does not have inherent or known issues and does not need serious attention ie. specific year models with known issues.
- Third problem is that most of the good examples are hard to come by and if so are mostly way above their value due to being considered a rare find as a result of being discontinued and no longer available here in SA.

- If all these 650 models were still being imported and manufactured then it would be fair to start comparing which would be the right/best bike for dual sport although most other European bikes that are being manufactured are even way way more expensive than the old faithful Japanese bikes mentioned above and therefore are only suitable to a fortunate few.

I have always been a Honda XR fan and have ridden and have owned every model and size available from my teens to the military to my adult life and hence I know and understand them far better than some people that work in the industry proclaim to know and think they know XR'S. ;)

I would take the XR650L any day and every day  provided that there is full support continuously from the importers and new models are released as overseas like the 2021 XR650L was recently launched.

I had to import all my accessories, performance and spare parts, Dyno Jet kits, tanks for my XR650L from the USA long before Runner or Hannes from Bike Quip stocked a single XR650L part for these specific bikes.

I am afraid that we will have to contend with what is available as used bikes as far as these listed  bikes are concerned as SA is screwed by the importers when it comes to deciding what and when to homologate and import into SA.

It is absolutely sacrilege that the DT's. TW'.s, AG's and ,XT's are no longer being homologated by Bidvest who owns Yamaha as well as various other models from other manufacturers that have been stopped here in South Africa but yet are still being manufactured and are available elsewhere all over the world.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2021, 02:42:02 pm by Tyre kicker »
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