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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, Guys,

Long time, no post. Honestly, I took a break from riding for a couple / three years (sold my ‘07 Wee back in ‘18 due to one too many close calls with absent minded drivers). I loved that bike, and have some remorse in selling it. Well, it’s time to get another bike, and this time I would like to focus off road at a much higher level. Not seriously technical single track stuff (I’m getting close to being an old man at 58) but I really want to get out into the forests and parks in my neck of the woods (Birmingham). Want to do some overnight camping as well.

My question is:
How many of this group recognize the DR650 as a reasonable ‘compromise’ dual sport to the much more street-worthy and powerful DL650? I’d look to limit myself to as just back roads as possible, just enough to get to and from the trails. Won’t be a work commuter, so my rides will be on my schedule. Im crossing off the KLR650 (too heavy / down in power) and the XR650 (too tall) from the list.

Im highly interested in this group’s opinion, because I think I can grasp the comparisons well, having been from this camp.

Who owns a DR and can speak of its pros and cons?

Thanks!
 
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Hey Ken, I am like you. I am 59 and I have a Goldwing but I wanted a bike that was both good on the highway, can haul my camping things and get good range. Plus I wanted to start going off on dirt roads to explore other places so I got a 650 V-strom. I got it at the end of last season but I managed to squeeze in one trip out to BC with it and it proved itself over and over to me. That trip was a couple thousand miles and 2 weeks. 90% paved with some off road and back roads to get to some great camping spots. I love the lighter weight and the reliabilty of the bike. I would highly recommend a 650 V-strom. I too quick biking like 10 years ago because I had like a half of dozen "near death" experiences in a week with other drivers but then my son got into bikes so of course dad had to get back into it. When I am camping with the Strom and I need fire wood which is more or less in the back country I grab some rope and straps and go and gather wood. The V-strom is very versatile and I love it. I have had like 8 motorbikes in my life but this one is the best suited for what I am trying to do at my age and for where I want to go. I hope this helps:)
 

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The DR650 is an ok bike, but it's old technology and depending what you want to do, it's maybe not the ideal compromise anymore. In my opinion, there are a few others out there like the WR250R or CRF300 that are a better compromise. Don't let the small displacement fool you, these small bikes are just as decent or better on the highway as the DR, and have better suspension and lower weight to make them significantly better off road.
 

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I've had 1 DL650 and 3 DR650's with two of them being post 1996.One was set up as my touring rid the other was set up for off pavement. As a touring rig it did fine other than it ate ear tires. Now if you are riding with other on 1000cc bikes you not going to be happy trying to keep up. If you ride alone or with others on similar HP machines its great fun. With a tooth up in the front the DR650 will do and maintain highway speeds all day long.

As an off-road machine, the DR650 is still a bit heavy. I rode two dual-sports with it and by the end of the day it felt like a battleship while the guys on the lightweight Euro stuff were barely breaking a sweat.

As time went on the offroad DR got sold and the street DR got a sidecar added to it.

The DR650 is a bulletproof well proven platform. Someday I'll probably own another. The DL650 my 1st was most likely my last.
 

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Who owns a DR and can speak of its pros and cons?

Thanks!
I had a DR650 for a few months while I had my '21 VStrom 650 XT. My DR was highly modified and was adventurized for long distance Adventure riding.

A stock DR is just adequate for street duty. It's fast enough to keep up with traffic in the urban environment. As soon as you hit highway speeds, anything above 65 mph, the DR is very uncomfortable. The wind blast is horrible. Also, the bike's electrical system is outdated. Weak halogen headlights, an analog speedometer with one trip meter, carbureted, weird ergonomics for modern day off road style riding. The bike was designed in the mid-90's, and it NEVER changed since then. And I do mean it NEVER changed. Same brakes, suspension, ergos, and motor. I liked my DR650 after all the extensive modifications I did to it. The modifications only brought the bike up to near-modern standards.

If I was looking for something like the DR650 again, I would go for the '22 KLR650. Yes it's heavier and the power to weight ratio is inferior to the DR. But it is A LOT better overall. You can easily address the power deficit with a few engine mods for the KLR. The rest of the KLR's package is up to date. Suspension, brakes, electronics, ergonomics, range, wind protection, fuel injection, and looks. All for nearly the same price. Another alternative to the KLR is the KTM 390 Adventure. Same price. Faster and better suspended with a full electronic suite.

I loved my modified DR650. But I'm not ever going to back to it.
 

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I've road with a cr250L and it was way down in power compared to my dr650 and my friends xr650. It was also no better off road. I don't see the new 300L making up that much ground. I believe they are overrated.
I have ridden my DR on the highway, and it does ok. But it's lower weight and no wind protection make it less than ideal.
I like the XR too, but like you mentioned it is too tall for me.
If u can find a good used DR for a decent price, I think you will be happy. I am not sure I would dish out for a new one though.
The DR/XR are old school, but both are very easy to work on, excellent reliability, and all kinds of parts since most years are the same bike.

Check out DRRiders.com. Very knowledgeable forum.
 

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I've ridden all three. The DR650 is much more street oriented than the DR400Z SM. So much so that I would not choose the DR650 for a Trans America Trail ride unless I planned to skip the challenging single track portions. Those sections really beg for a real dirt bike. And if you skip those you might as well ride the V-Strom.

But time has moved on and the DRZ400 isn't the best choice anymore. The CRF300F adventure looks pretty good, but I don't know if I would want to ride it across country. And it is just 30 Hp. I had to modify all kinds of things on my 1986 XR250 to even come close to keeping up with the better bikes. That included a big bore kit to take it to 280cc. It still wasn't enough. This guy had similar thoughts about his XRF300 Rally.

Buying used you can get a near mint DRZ400SM. And it comes with better suspension and more power.

So it depends on how important single track is to you. I would hate to beat the crap out of a V-Strom on single track, but people do it. Given the choice between a DR650 and DRZ400, I would take the DRZ400. The only thing the DR650 offers is a lower seat height and slightly more comfort.
 

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This does bring attention to the MFGs lagging in a category. Surely there is a demand for a 'world bike' newer than a Dr/Xl/Kawasaurus?? Find a Yammy XT350 or 600? KTM520?
Hold up a mirror to the markets' mouth?
 

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I have a DR-Z400S. Close to the same power as the DR650, but lighter and better suspension. With Happy Trails racks, some Pelican cases and a Clark oversize tank it's a pretty good "true" dual sport bike.
I bought DR-z400S last year at 58 years old. Just bought a bunch of farkles to make it more of a long distance machine, planning to hit the WA BDR. My buddies will be on bigger adv bikes, we'll see how it goes. I have wondered if the 650 would have been a better choice, but I do like the 400's light weight and suspension.
 

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Didn't own one, used to ride with DR's, KLR,s DRZ's now and then.

The problems with the DR and even the DRZ are why I had a DL 650. They aren't a LOT more capable on dirt roads than a DL, sure you can ride them faster but they beat the crap out of you if you make that effort and they are just plain more tiring to ride long days on. The more effort needed was the same if it was sealed or dirt. The DRZ was also don't even think about it too tall for me.

There probably are places they are more suitable than a DL (above) but overall they just sucked more for the type of riding I was doing which was mainly dirt roads a long way away with occasional stretches of single track connecting A->B and more than 200k's of slab there and back.
 

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I have owned a DR650 before swapping to a DRZ400 and the comparisons between them above are spot on. The DR is slightly more comfortable on the road and the DRZ more suitable on single track.
I traded in the DRZ on a DL650 when I wanted to travel further and stay on formed roads/tracks.

When you say no highly technical single track there is another alternative. A Honda CB500X or a Kawasaki Versys 300. Both are low seat height twins, light weight comfortable and nimble bikes capable of good single track while still providing on road comfort. When that dirt road/track gets rough or deeply graveled my Versys 300 is nimble and stable where the V-Strom can be, by comparison, quite demanding.
 

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Have always wanted a DR650, just has the right mix of reasonable size, power and simpleness for me. I currently have a Yamaha XT225 and the DR650 just seems like a big brother. I got to demo the 650 in November and liked it.

Made an offer today on one that is on consignment; waiting on answer back from dealer.
 

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I raced off road bikes and appreciate a light motorcycle. I have won over all on two hour hare scrambles on a 200cc (2 stroke). The smaller and lighter bike was fast enough for that type of racing while being much easier to handle and less tiring to ride. I recall at one race having a buddy who doubted this time the bikes. In this case the winning open class bike would have finished fourth in the 200cc class. Same for the 250cc class....no contest. Lesson learned: Light and easy to handle is the way to go. I had a KLR 650 for a time. Also a Honda XR 400 back in the day. Those two bikes felt like they were made of lead. On the road my Vstom 650 feels great next to the liter class bikes I use to ride. For me its the perfect compromise as I don't do off road any more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks, Guys. Lots of good input. I should have added that if I do wind up going down the DR route, it would be used, and I’d be treating it as a ‘blank canvas’ - not unlike what I did during my many years with the ‘07 DL650. Really about 1/2 of the joy of bike ownership (for me) is the transformation / hands-on process.

With that said, I’m going to back up and think on this a little more. Tough decision when you are settled on a ‘one bike’ plan!

Appreciate your views.
 
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I had a 2009 DL650, and now have a 2018 DL1000XT and a DR650. So I feel I'm qualified to offer an opinion here. First, whoever says the DL650 and DR650 have similar capabilities off road... well they are just, wrong. Seriously. The DR650 is in a whole different league off road. Not saying it's great, it's heavy and you need to so some suspension work for any serious off road riding, but you just can't compare the two bikes as if they're in the same category. They are not. I was originally attracted to the bike BECAUSE it's old school, simple, bulletproof, and as it's basically been the same bike since 1996, has unbelievable aftermarket support for modding and tweaking in any direction you want to go, it's relatively cheap to own, especially compared to the sexy KTMs and Huskys that many of us would probably rather have. I enjoy messing around with it, have changed the gearing to my liking and plan to tweak the suspension somewhat for more off road use. I also like the DRZ400 a lot, my buddy has one and I've ridden it some, and I could easily have gone that way as well, and sometimes when it gets gnarly off road I wish I did. I just found the DR650 first, and have no regrets.
 

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Well take another look at a KLR, especially if you are not afraid of buying used and doing some work. I added a 1st gen KLR (2007) with over 55k on the clock to do more dirt road riding AND being able to carry load AND being able to get back home after we are done. The 1st gen is significasntly lighter than the newer versions and after re-doing the suspension more edgy and hard nosed (but not punishing) than a Gen 2/3. The bike was quite well taken care of and a steal because of the mileage. It burns almost no oil and performs flawless and if you rev it a bit it will go even in the twisties.

What do they really weigh?

Note: There is a lot of misinformation about weights. The 1st gen KLR is about 400 lbs, the DR about 390 lbs, so that is not the decisive factor. There are so much more used and aftermarket parts for the KLR than for the DR, just search on what you can find on e-bay. That was one major reason for me to get an old KLR vs a DR. Also much larger pool (and lower price - when I bought mine) of used KLR's.

I got the shock re-done, reworked the forks, put on DL1000 calipers front/ rear, 320mm front disk, DL1000 front MC, Gen 2 rear MC, better wind protection, cleaned up the electrics, added a Thermobob, sealed the rear rim to run tubeless tires.

This thing goes where you point it and is much more enjoyable when the forest roads get rough, compared to the V2. To eat 1000 miles, this is not the best tool but you can get back home from the end of the BDR.

Wheel Tire Fuel tank Vehicle Motor vehicle


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Tire Wheel Fuel tank Automotive fuel system Vehicle
 

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Finding the right bike is all about knowing, or figuring out what you want to ride. For me, I don't think I will ever find a single bike to cover everything what I want. I need a good two up bike with a comfy back seat, a good long distance bike, something I can take camping for as long as I want with my partner. This is easily covered by a VStrom. I also want to be able to go trail riding, explore remote places, take trips on BDRs etc. and I tried that for a few years on the Strom, and yeah, ok it will do it, but it's just not fun and what's the point of doing that if it's not fun? So I got a small dualsport for that purpose. Neither can do well what the other shines at.

I've owned and ridden about 20 different motorcycles over the past 30 years of riding, and I loved them all for specific things. Honestly I don't even want to try to have a single bike anymore. Where I live, I can barely afford to keep more than one insured and on the road, but it's worth it for me at the moment.
 

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I had a 2009 DL650, and now have a 2018 DL1000XT and a DR650. So I feel I'm qualified to offer an opinion here. First, whoever says the DL650 and DR650 have similar capabilities off road... well they are just, wrong. Seriously. The DR650 is in a whole different league off road. Not saying it's great, it's heavy and you need to so some suspension work for any serious off road riding, but you just can't compare the two bikes as if they're in the same category. They are not. I was originally attracted to the bike BECAUSE it's old school, simple, bulletproof, and as it's basically been the same bike since 1996, has unbelievable aftermarket support for modding and tweaking in any direction you want to go, it's relatively cheap to own, especially compared to the sexy KTMs and Huskys that many of us would probably rather have. I enjoy messing around with it, have changed the gearing to my liking and plan to tweak the suspension somewhat for more off road use. I also like the DRZ400 a lot, my buddy has one and I've ridden it some, and I could easily have gone that way as well, and sometimes when it gets gnarly off road I wish I did. I just found the DR650 first, and have no regrets.
I agree completely. Teleboy444 knows what he is talking about.

I've put 135,000 miles on DR650's (3 bikes) and 55,000 miles on my 2014 DL650.

The VStrom is a great bike but it is very road oriented compared to the DR650. The DR is a bit heavy for tough trails, but very usable on stuff that would be very tough for the DL. The DR is a bit light and underpowered for true highway cruising, but it can handle 70 mph easily and has plenty left for passing up to 85. The DL is definitely more comfortable on highways and certainly better for 2-up travel.

The DR 'old school' criticism falls flat on my ears. This a a 4 valve cylinder, with nicasil lining; engine cooling is handled by a clever oiling system and an external oil cooler- they just do not overheat. The screw type valve adjustments can be set easily in an hour, valve checks every 7500 miles. Oil and filter easy to get to. Spark plugs and air filter very easy access. The bike is simple- no computers, sensors etc and is a joy to work on.

I have traveled on mine extensively. It is a reliable workhorse.

Somewhere in Mexico.....


Not a fast bike, not the best at anything, but pretty darn good at everything and a lot of fun to ride.

....................shu
 
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