Looking for some confirmation - Suzuki DRZ-400?

Cabrito

I come in Peace
Good info calicamper, Leather beats Synthetics hands down, and I often wonder how I'll do in similar get-offs where my leather jacket saved a lot of road rash. Even the Synth gear is heave when it has armor and all these cool pockets. I wear my over pants, and jacket even when it's 100 degrees outside.

Oh, and I split lanes at most speeds, but not constantly. I usually wait for the flow to be around 35-45 if I can help it, but I do some weaving to get out of congested spots at higher speeds for sure.
 

mnwanders

Member
Permit accomplished today. Helmet and armor coming next. Basic Rider Course starts June 7th. Now for a couple more questions.

Bikes are provided for this Basic Rider course. Is it better to learn on the bikes provided, or is it better to learn on the very first bike you'll own? Personally I think I'd rather take the course and get my license and learn on what's provided so I can properly test drive before I buy, plus I assume I'll avoid picking up bad habits. Conversely, my wife thinks I might be safer if I build skills on a bike that own, but I see two problems with that, one, I might buy a lemon of a bike, and two, I'm definitely going to be tempted to take it for a spin and maybe I'll develop bad habits? Plus I'm told the bike I bring has to pass inspection, being a greenhorn I'm not sure I'll be able to do that.

Second, all of the advice has left me feeling very indecisive. I've gotten a lead on a couple of CRF250s but they seem to disappear pretty fast after going up for sale. And though I know I should be staying off major roadways while I learn, I have to admit that I'm guessing I will be able to build my skills and spend more time on back pavement and gravel in outer suburbia on the rural edges and not as much off road since that is farther away. So that make me wonder if I should be pursuing something more street-friendly at first? Something like a Versys x-300 or KTM 390 adventure? There is a 2013 KTM 390 Enduro R (I realize it is different that the adventure, but its lighter) for sale not too far from here that look's interesting. It looks to weigh less than the CRF 250L with a lower seat height, while still being a six-speed with EFI, but also has more power which maybe makes it a little more road friendly? Thoughts? It seems like the entire internet thinks the CRF250/300 is the way to go.
 

motorcycle matt

Active member
Glad you're moving forward with this. I feel it'd be best to use their bike so you don't need to worry about passing an inspection, you get to ride a bike that you might not otherwise and chances are that it will be something with a low seat height (depends on your height) and center of gravity.

As for your first bike... there is no best bike or best first bike, (although a single cylinder for a 75 mile commute will be rough) it all depends on you and what you're comfortable with. My first street bike was a 600cc inline four Honda sportbike, first dirt bike was a KTM 550 two stroke. I had many years on quads before either of those. I say go to dealers, talk to motorcyclists in parking lots and sit on as many motorcycles as you can and see what feels comfortable concerning riding position, height, bar width, weight etc. It sounds silly, but when sit on a bike I'm thinking about buying or when I'm setting up the controls to my preferred position, I sit on it, close my eyes, envision myself riding and move around or move the controls around until I find the right spot. Again, it sounds silly, but having my eyes closed helps me "feel" the bike to see if it will fit me. Congratulations on the permit.
 

Willsfree

Member
My first bike was a Yamaha RD250 with modified header/jets; I took it to the shop because it was sputtering and smoking all over the place. The shop owner told me that it was tuned to ride above 4500 rpm. I took it out on the freeway and opened up the throttle past 4500 and the bike leapt out from under me like a rocket to 6500+. Luckily I was able to barely hold on...I got off at the next exit, rode back to the shop and bought my first helmet. Had a grin on my face realizing the power and thrust of the two stroke. Not sure I could recommend anyone starting out with hi torque bikes, but I've somehow survived. The Kawi KLR250 that I have recommended has been a great bang for the buck commuter and offroad trail bike. It will go 75mph all day long to keep up with traffic; not great for Interstate riding, but good for all Bay Area freeway riding. The smaller bikes do get blown about in the wind. I think you will find that you will end up with two bikes; one for trails and around town and another for your pending commute. Small displacement bike would probably be the best for riding a year or so and a mid sized 600 or better might be a better more stable commuter. If I didn't already have the KLR then I'd be looking at the CRF 300 or WR250R or a KTM 500ex for a small lightweight bike for mostly dirt road/trail riding. The lighter bike will also be easier to put on the hitch rack you want as well.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
Permit accomplished today. Helmet and armor coming next. Basic Rider Course starts June 7th. Now for a couple more questions.

Bikes are provided for this Basic Rider course. Is it better to learn on the bikes provided, or is it better to learn on the very first bike you'll own? Personally I think I'd rather take the course and get my license and learn on what's provided so I can properly test drive before I buy, plus I assume I'll avoid picking up bad habits. Conversely, my wife thinks I might be safer if I build skills on a bike that own, but I see two problems with that, one, I might buy a lemon of a bike, and two, I'm definitely going to be tempted to take it for a spin and maybe I'll develop bad habits? Plus I'm told the bike I bring has to pass inspection, being a greenhorn I'm not sure I'll be able to do that.

Second, all of the advice has left me feeling very indecisive. I've gotten a lead on a couple of CRF250s but they seem to disappear pretty fast after going up for sale. And though I know I should be staying off major roadways while I learn, I have to admit that I'm guessing I will be able to build my skills and spend more time on back pavement and gravel in outer suburbia on the rural edges and not as much off road since that is farther away. So that make me wonder if I should be pursuing something more street-friendly at first? Something like a Versys x-300 or KTM 390 adventure? There is a 2013 KTM 390 Enduro R (I realize it is different that the adventure, but its lighter) for sale not too far from here that look's interesting. It looks to weigh less than the CRF 250L with a lower seat height, while still being a six-speed with EFI, but also has more power which maybe makes it a little more road friendly? Thoughts? It seems like the entire internet thinks the CRF250/300 is the way to go.
Use the class bike👍 No question about it
 

UHAULER

Explorer
Permit accomplished today. Helmet and armor coming next. Basic Rider Course starts June 7th. Now for a couple more questions.

Bikes are provided for this Basic Rider course. Is it better to learn on the bikes provided, or is it better to learn on the very first bike you'll own? Personally I think I'd rather take the course and get my license and learn on what's provided so I can properly test drive before I buy, plus I assume I'll avoid picking up bad habits. Conversely, my wife thinks I might be safer if I build skills on a bike that own, but I see two problems with that, one, I might buy a lemon of a bike, and two, I'm definitely going to be tempted to take it for a spin and maybe I'll develop bad habits? Plus I'm told the bike I bring has to pass inspection, being a greenhorn I'm not sure I'll be able to do that.

Second, all of the advice has left me feeling very indecisive. I've gotten a lead on a couple of CRF250s but they seem to disappear pretty fast after going up for sale. And though I know I should be staying off major roadways while I learn, I have to admit that I'm guessing I will be able to build my skills and spend more time on back pavement and gravel in outer suburbia on the rural edges and not as much off road since that is farther away. So that make me wonder if I should be pursuing something more street-friendly at first? Something like a Versys x-300 or KTM 390 adventure? There is a 2013 KTM 390 Enduro R (I realize it is different that the adventure, but its lighter) for sale not too far from here that look's interesting. It looks to weigh less than the CRF 250L with a lower seat height, while still being a six-speed with EFI, but also has more power which maybe makes it a little more road friendly? Thoughts? It seems like the entire internet thinks the CRF250/300 is the way to go.
I think if you are going to be commuting, get a small street bike. Small dual sports suck for covering boring road miles. Yes it can be done and people do it but why not get the best bike for the job.
 

givemethewillys

Jonathan Chouinard
I haven't ridden in a state that allowed lane splitting since 2005, but I recall that when I was on my motorcycle, it felt much safer.

When you were sitting in your car and the bike went by, it startled you. The difference is that the guy on the bike was controlling the situation and is able to work around the traffic rather than sit and wait for things to happen around him. It's hard to explain until you've done it.

One of the coolest motorcycle moments I've experienced was cruising down the highway in California, splitting lanes behind a CHP officer :)
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
I haven't ridden in a state that allowed lane splitting since 2005, but I recall that when I was on my motorcycle, it felt much safer.

When you were sitting in your car and the bike went by, it startled you. The difference is that the guy on the bike was controlling the situation and is able to work around the traffic rather than sit and wait for things to happen around him. It's hard to explain until you've done it.

One of the coolest motorcycle moments I've experienced was cruising down the highway in California, splitting lanes behind a CHP officer :)
With 60,000+ commute miles in CA and having dodged texting, reading books, doing spread sheets on laptop drivers on the damn highway, that hit cars around me/in front of where I was etc. I would NEVER ride in a state that doesn’t allow lane sharing!!! Its hard to hit something thats not there when you crash your cage👍.

My little brother started riding a few years after me and 5 min into our first ride I pulled him off the road and ripped into him about stopping center lane behind traffic he did it every time by habit! I told him the next tome he does it I’ll knock him off his bike my self. 10 minutes back on the road I kicked him from behind when he did it again!!! He was super angry at me but never did it again. A week later we rode again and he watched a car that was behind us, pass him in his lane then plow into the car I filtered past. No brakes were ever applied! My brother stopped next to me and told me if he ever stops center behind a car again take his bike to the crusher so he can’t ride anymore👍. He was the occasional rider type sold his bike 5 yrs later with 6000 miles on it. He might trail ride with me when the kids are grown up. But no street riding for us till then👍
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
The really experienced commuter guys are easy to spot. 1 They ride left lane,
2 never ever seen in a blind spot,
3 They crowd the the right lane cager at their front fender they are fully in their left lane but the cager definitely knows they are there given they feel like your nearly sitting in their lap. ie forcing cage drivers to be fully aware of your presence!
4 Not a single one will EVER!!! Use sound as some sort of magical safety bubble!!’ EVER!!! The idiots on YouTube hitting their rev limiters at cars drifting into their lanes as if thats going to some how fix that the cyclist was stupidly sitting in a blind spot about 90% of the time..

5 They never lane share at speeds where stopping or slowing to avoid a lane shift or lane change, a car length ahead means they are mounting a vehicle from behind like a pervert lol.

6 The daily commuter guys have roads they avoid certain times a day due to the type of traffic and yes vehicle driver attitudes etc.
 

mnwanders

Member
Former CA Motorcycle instructor here. I have extensive experience with most of the bikes you listed. Finding the "bike that does it all" is an elusive unicorn. A lot of it comes down to what you're willing to put up with as far as comfort and capability are concerned. The DRZ wouldn't be my first choice for the mix of riding that you're thinking of—especially the extensive highway commuting part.

With your parameters (body, riding experience, desired riding) a Honda CRF250L/CRF300L Rally would be my preference. It's not the most speedy on the highway, but it's pretty smooth and isn't any less "slab-capable" than the DRZ is—in fact, as a 6'3" fella, I much prefer it because of the windscreen. It also has pretty reasonable suspension and good aftermarket support. It's EFI and more modern models have ABS which is a brilliant safety feature on motorcycles, especially for new riders. It's still light enough to put on a stout hitch carrier, and is quite capable on the dirt.

For helmets, buy the best one you can afford. You don't need a $700 helmet, but it would behoove you to stick with reputable brands. I wouldn't futz with built-in bluetooth; the add-on units from Cardo and Sena are quite nice and can be transferred from helmet-to-helmet, or upgraded in the future.

When shopping for a helmet, keep in mind that different manufacturers produce helmets for different head shapes. If you find one that, for example, puts pressure on the sides of your head, but you have space on the front and rear, it means you need a more round shaped helmet, not necessarily a larger size.
Helmet and jacket in possession now. Just two weeks away from Basic Rider Course.

I've been looking at a lot of bikes and have taken most of the advice to heart. Seems like the Honda CRF250L meets all of my needs, however, it looks like the CRF300L is an even better option. There are a few used CRF250L options around here, but they are all over book value anywhere from $400-1000. With the power increase and weight reduction in the new model and the inflated prices in the used market, it seems like a smarter idea to buy a new CRF300L. I can pre-order and have one here by early July. However, the timing is a little concerning because the riding season is only so long here in MN. I don't really want to miss half the riding season. But I probably shouldn't be too worried, since I've already missed 20 plus years of riding!

So I have been thinking a lot about buying a much cheaper bike to ride until the CRF300L would arrive. All of the 250 EFI options seem way overpriced and I'm concerned about resale. However, there are a few bikes that look to be under book value and maybe (that's a strong MAYBE) easier to resell when the new bike would arrive (I haven't pulled the trigger on the new CRF300L yet). So my question is what is wrong with starting out on something like the Suzuki DR650? I know it has a lot more power than the CRF300, but its weight and seat height look to be almost exactly the same. There is a 2006 DR650 for sale here that is $600 under book value (maybe that should be a warning to me). Could I start out on something like that then flip it? Or maybe I ride a cheap street bike for a few weeks, or the whole summer, like a Suzuki GW250 or SV650. Ultimately I want a dual sport, and the CRF300L seems like a great option, but older 650s can be had for a lot cheaper with roughly the same seat height and weight (the Suzuki anyway, the KLR is heavy and the XR650L is tall). Is the power the concern for me as a new rider?
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
Helmet and jacket in possession now. Just two weeks away from Basic Rider Course.

I've been looking at a lot of bikes and have taken most of the advice to heart. Seems like the Honda CRF250L meets all of my needs, however, it looks like the CRF300L is an even better option. There are a few used CRF250L options around here, but they are all over book value anywhere from $400-1000. With the power increase and weight reduction in the new model and the inflated prices in the used market, it seems like a smarter idea to buy a new CRF300L. I can pre-order and have one here by early July. However, the timing is a little concerning because the riding season is only so long here in MN. I don't really want to miss half the riding season. But I probably shouldn't be too worried, since I've already missed 20 plus years of riding!

So I have been thinking a lot about buying a much cheaper bike to ride until the CRF300L would arrive. All of the 250 EFI options seem way overpriced and I'm concerned about resale. However, there are a few bikes that look to be under book value and maybe (that's a strong MAYBE) easier to resell when the new bike would arrive (I haven't pulled the trigger on the new CRF300L yet). So my question is what is wrong with starting out on something like the Suzuki DR650? I know it has a lot more power than the CRF300, but its weight and seat height look to be almost exactly the same. There is a 2006 DR650 for sale here that is $600 under book value (maybe that should be a warning to me). Could I start out on something like that then flip it? Or maybe I ride a cheap street bike for a few weeks, or the whole summer, like a Suzuki GW250 or SV650. Ultimately I want a dual sport, and the CRF300L seems like a great option, but older 650s can be had for a lot cheaper with roughly the same seat height and weight (the Suzuki anyway, the KLR is heavy and the XR650L is tall). Is the power the concern for me as a new rider?
As a new rider your enemy is weight. As an old rider the lightest bike I can get away with will be the only next bike I buy. Some of the old 650 thumpers need valve work which is why they are less money.

I haven’t looked at honda lately but I know they have taken a beating by Yamaha regarding modern better built engines. Today? Yamaha rules the small engine world with some really impressive engines. Personally I would be shopping Yamaha vs Honda my self.
 

Shigeta

W6EXP
There is nothing wrong with the DR650, but it's not at all comparable to the CRF250/CRF300.

As far as wet weight is concerned, the DR650 is about 45 lbs heavier than the CRF300L, (357 lbs vs. 311 lbs) and especially in the dirt, every pound counts. Also, the Honda suspension and chassis 1) construction and 2) design is light years ahead of the DR650. Additionally, CRF300L can have ABS and is EFI (carbs can be a PITA if you don't know "how to carb"). I've got a load of experience riding big and small bikes off road and there is no way that I'd go for a heavy bike if I wanted to spend any amount of time riding trails. When you ride a heavier bike off road—especially as a new rider—the "effort" and "risk" curve grow exponentially compared to a smaller, lighter bike.

The DR650 is more long distance road oriented, but can handle moderate dirt. The CRF250/300 is much more dirt oriented, but can handle moderate amounts of road.

Getting a temp bike to ride for the season is a totally legitimate strategy, in fact, it's a great way to go since you'll be able to more closely hone in on just exactly what type of riding you'd like to focus on. If you get a DR and find that you hate how heavy it is on dirt, you know a lighter bike might be right for you. If the DR's discomfort on the highway drives you nuts and you don't find yourself doing as much dirt as you thought, maybe a more road-oriented bike would suit your use case better.

My final bit of advice it to just make sure you don't buy a piece of work that requires you to pull your hair out wrenching on it instead of riding—that's the worst! :cry: Private party inspections by specialist motorcycle shops are well worth the money if you don't know motorcycle mechanics reasonably well. They've saved me from buying absolute money pits in the past.
 

Shigeta

W6EXP
Oh, a note about the GW250 and GZ250. We had those as some of our instruction bikes and they were... pretty miserable. I can't imagine anyone is very happy with one of those for long. If you want an introductory cruiser style bike, I'm of the opinion that the Honda Rebel 250 or newer 300 are better in every regard. I believe the KTM now sells a Duke 200 and BMW makes a G310R which are quite nice, though very expensive.

A 2003 SV650 was my first motorcycle and I loved it until it met it's demise when I crashed it hard into the side of a car ~6 months into my riding career. It was a great bike and really inspired me to level up my street and track riding. I don't think you could go wrong with that as a first bike.
 

mnwanders

Member
There is nothing wrong with the DR650, but it's not at all comparable to the CRF250/CRF300.

As far as wet weight is concerned, the DR650 is about 45 lbs heavier than the CRF300L, (357 lbs vs. 311 lbs) and especially in the dirt, every pound counts. Also, the Honda suspension and chassis 1) construction and 2) design is light years ahead of the DR650. Additionally, CRF300L can have ABS and is EFI (carbs can be a PITA if you don't know "how to carb"). I've got a load of experience riding big and small bikes off road and there is no way that I'd go for a heavy bike if I wanted to spend any amount of time riding trails. When you ride a heavier bike off road—especially as a new rider—the "effort" and "risk" curve grow exponentially compared to a smaller, lighter bike.

The DR650 is more long distance road oriented, but can handle moderate dirt. The CRF250/300 is much more dirt oriented, but can handle moderate amounts of road.

Getting a temp bike to ride for the season is a totally legitimate strategy, in fact, it's a great way to go since you'll be able to more closely hone in on just exactly what type of riding you'd like to focus on. If you get a DR and find that you hate how heavy it is on dirt, you know a lighter bike might be right for you. If the DR's discomfort on the highway drives you nuts and you don't find yourself doing as much dirt as you thought, maybe a more road-oriented bike would suit your use case better.

My final bit of advice it to just make sure you don't buy a piece of work that requires you to pull your hair out wrenching on it instead of riding—that's the worst! :cry: Private party inspections by specialist motorcycle shops are well worth the money if you don't know motorcycle mechanics reasonably well. They've saved me from buying absolute money pits in the past.
Not arguing here, just explaining my rationale. Bikez.com showed the 2003 DR650 as weighing 324 lbs with a seat height of 34.8 inches, which is comparable to the 2019 CRF250L Rally I was looking at which Bikez.com shows as 317.5 lbs with a seat height of 34.4 inches. No disagreements here that the non-rally versions are lighter and especially the new CRF300's. Thanks for the advice.
 
Top