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  • Current choice of lightweight adventure bikes?

    For some reason adventure bikes just seem to get heavier each year (or dual sport bikes easily converted) - fine if you spend most of your time on the highway. But if you like the rough stuff as well then weight becomes important. Keen to hear what has worked for you. This was my journey toward my latest lightweight adventure bike.

    CRITERIA
    - Between 105kg and 175kg dry weight (all figures below are estimated dry weight)
    - Good balance between performance and reliability
    - A decent sized fuel tank
    - Preferably a 21" front wheel
    - Decent oil capacity and oil change intervals
    - Still available in 2020 as a new bike.

    https://youtu.be/lsorI76PBYc


    WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THOSE OLD MODELS?
    There used to be a lot of bikes that came close to this. The Husqvarna TE610. KTM 640. Honda Dominator NX650. Honda XR650L which they stopped selling here years ago. And Yamaha's old XT600 before it evolved into the super obese T7. My personal favorite? The Honda XR650R - why didn't Honda convert this to adventure bike and clean up? Sigh.

    105KG TO 120KG ADVENTURIZING A BIG BORE DIRT BIKE?
    Usual issues with a small gas tank, small oil capacity, terrible seat, higher maintenance engine, weak subframe for luggage, rough on the road and potential gearbox wear due to no cush drive hub. It gets expensive trying to fix those issues, and most of us find it's too much of a compromise when on the highway. I did look into the Beta RR480 as a light adventure bike.

    ~122KG HONDA CRF450L
    This detuned version of the racing model was much awaited by some adventure riders but it still has most of the problems above. In fact Honda states the oil must be changed every 600 miles, simply too often for serious adventure riding. Lets hope Honda develops a proper rally or adventure model soon, as they did with the 250 model.

    ~130KG JAPANESE DUAL SPORT 250s
    For years these have been very popular in the USA as cheap light weight adventure bikes. The WR250R is the most expensive but has the most powerful engine and best suspension. The Yamaha XT250 is the cheapest and has the lowest seat height. The Kawasaki KLX250 and Honda CRF250L are both popular too. Of course the limited power is an issue for many, and the Suzuki DRZ400 is a common preference when it doesn't weigh or cost much more but has way more horsepower.

    133KG SUZUKI DRZ400
    Largely unchanged for 20 years, thousands of riders have slapped a big tank and comfortable seat on this bike and ridden all over the world. I have owned three of these and loved them once you make the necessary mods. But that engine can get buzzy on the highway compared to bigger bikes. Why can't Suzuki put a sixth gear in?! See our review here.

    145KG HONDA CRF250L RALLY
    Honda modified their CRF250L into this rally bike. It looks the part. A windscreen, dual LED headlights, bigger fuel tank, 1.8L oil capacity, better suspension. Unfortunately it also got a lot heavier in the process.

    146KG KTM 690 / HUSQVARNA 701
    A bit heavier and a crazy amount of horsepower. Some guys love them, others hate them. Some find them reliable, others don't with failing of the two ECUs, fuel pump, rocker arm bearings, electrics in general etc. Some mechanically minded riders just carry various spares and manage long trips anyway. See our review here.

    ~153KG SUZUKI DR650
    Mostly unchanged since 1996, this cheap reliable air cooled workhorse is still popular as a few cheap mods can fix the known issues and transform its handling and power characteristics. If you like tweaking a bike into shape, you'll love it. If you want to buy a ready made adv bike, look elsewhere. We compared it to the XR650L and KLR650 here.

    ~155KG AJP PR7
    It's been around for a few years but there's so little information from owners as to it's long term reliability. I contacted the Australian distributor and local dealers regularly to do a review and never got an answer. It looks great though.

    158KG KTM 390 ADVENTURE
    Cheap, great fuel and oil capacities, and a zippy engine. But it's only got a 19 inch front wheel and those spindly looking cast wheels so it's really more of a small touring bike. Plus it's made in India so time will tell if it doesn't hold up as well as the Austrian built KTMs. There are rumors it may be assembled in China soon.

    169KG SWM SUPERDUAL
    We mentioned the excellent Husqvarna TE610 earlier, it has slowly devolved into this much heavier beast. The specs look good except for that weight. And unfortunately it's still largely an unknown quantity as their are so few long term reports from owners as yet, and a substantial amount of the engine is made in China.

    175KG KAWASAKI VERSYS & BMW G310GS
    Unfortunately they only have 19 inch front wheels. But they are surprisingly cheap and under our weight limit. If you are mainly riding highways and occasional easy dirt roads these might be worth a look.

    176KG KAWASAKI KLR650
    Just over the chosen weight limit. The KLR is similar to the DR650 but more suited to highways and easy dirt roads due to its weight, big fuel tank and fairing. See our vid here comparing the old style Japanese 650s.

    AND THE WINNER IS.......?
    Well there is no winner, of course. Bike magazines love to pretend there's a best bike in every class but it comes down to what suits you.

    Me? I was tempted by the SWM Superdual but it's still a relatively unknown quantity and heavy, so I have just purchased another Suzuki DR650 (my third one in 20 years). For me, it ticks all the boxes. Cheap. Reliable. And with a few basic mods you can transform it into a great lightweight adventure bike. See our tongue-in-cheek review here which explains why.

  • #2
    Nah, the big heavy beasts are a hoot in the rough stuff.

    Recent'y picked up a low k KTM 1190 Adventure S.

    Have taken it down some tracks many wouldn't dream of taking their hard core enduro bikes. The weight adds to the comedy of it all, wouldn't do it any other way.

    Chasing the light bikes, you may as well just fit a big tank to an enduro bike and be done with it.

    Will be doing a two dayer this weekend and can't wait.
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    • #3
      Maybe you just need to upgrade your skills on an ADV bike? Your about the same height as this bloke and you have more experience (due to age....)

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      • #4
        White text is impossible to read in 'light' mode, FYI.
        Beta 200RR

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Spac View Post
          White text is impossible to read in 'light' mode, FYI.
          I'm still on this default dark brown screen, have most changed over to this 'light' mode?

          Comment


          • #6
            No idea. I changed our laptop to light.

            If you use the default text colour, it automatically changes to black in light mode. When you manually choose a colour, then it stays - and becomes unreadable in certain modes.

            Beta 200RR

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            • #7
              Got a 701 Husky. Love it yes had a fuel pump fail, KTM part, Warrenty fixed it and I bought a spare of Ali barba for $27 delivered. Great bike. Fitted a rade tank in place of the airbox, 19lts of fuel on board now, Will take it anywhere an enduro bike will go, and still cruise at 140 down the black top. Weight was the reason for a 701. Still do all the jumps at the local mx track, Wanted an Africa twin but at 240 kg I would never pick it up. 701 at around 165kg full of fuel. its a no brainer, No fear of getting somwhere down a track and not being able to get out.
              WANTED, OLD MX BIKES OR PARTS
              Life is all about ASS, Kissing it, kicking it, covering it and trying to get it!!!
              "Going to McDonalds for a salad roll is like going to a brothel for a hug"

              2016 Beta 300 RR, 2013 KTM500 EXC, !
              Plus all this vintage stuff!!!!!!
              72 Husky 400, 73 Husky 250, 77 RM 370x2 77 Honda CR 125, 79 Honda CR125, XR 75, 79 XL500 Honda hybird, 86 Suzuki TSX 250, 82 Honda CR480,83 CR250, 83 YZ 490, 77 Honda 750/4, 77 Maico 400 84 KDX 200/ 250, 90 KDX200

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              • #8
                Originally posted by silverfox View Post
                Got a 701 Husky. Love it yes had a fuel pump fail, KTM part, Warrenty fixed it and I bought a spare of Ali barba for $27 delivered. Great bike. Fitted a rade tank in place of the airbox, 19lts of fuel on board now, Will take it anywhere an enduro bike will go, and still cruise at 140 down the black top. Weight was the reason for a 701. Still do all the jumps at the local mx track, Wanted an Africa twin but at 240 kg I would never pick it up. 701 at around 165kg full of fuel. its a no brainer, No fear of getting somwhere down a track and not being able to get out.
                Which year model? I heard there was a pile of changes in the 2019 model...
                Apparently the fuel pumps for KTM four strokes are made in China now so chances are the cheap one from Ali Baba is from the same factory.

                Comment


                • #9
                  This whole "made in China" debate is becoming moot. What are we gonna do? Make America great again - make Australia great again? Get real, stuff we buy is Chinese made.

                  Was having a convo with an old hand on chainsaws in town the other day, he buys all his rebuild parts for Stihls on line cheap. I mean $30 for a piston kit. I myself bought a carby, coil, plug, air filter, hoses for $29.95 and fixed a saw that the local shop quoted me $600+ to fix (admittedly it still has a score in the piston and bore, but works good enough as a 3rd saw/spare). I could buy 3 of those kits and still be way ahead if two of them were sh1t.

                  Bring on the Chinga 701 for $8k for those who can't afford a KTM/Husky. Oh, that's right, it's called a DR! Where TF is qwerty when we need him?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mr bergman View Post

                    Which year model? I heard there was a pile of changes in the 2019 model...
                    Apparently the fuel pumps for KTM four strokes are made in China now so chances are the cheap one from Ali Baba is from the same factory.
                    Mine is a 17, First of the counterbalanced engine. KTM did not get that engine till 19/20. 20 model has the big changes which I don't want, Traction contro,l lean angle sensor and a heap of other crap that should not be on a dirt bike, I do still have abs on the front wheel though.
                    Yes same pump. I typed in the part number and it comes up. KTM one even has made in china on it, Could not tell them apart when side by side. The same pump is used in a lot of brands, Yamaha etc, it is the housing that is different.
                    WANTED, OLD MX BIKES OR PARTS
                    Life is all about ASS, Kissing it, kicking it, covering it and trying to get it!!!
                    "Going to McDonalds for a salad roll is like going to a brothel for a hug"

                    2016 Beta 300 RR, 2013 KTM500 EXC, !
                    Plus all this vintage stuff!!!!!!
                    72 Husky 400, 73 Husky 250, 77 RM 370x2 77 Honda CR 125, 79 Honda CR125, XR 75, 79 XL500 Honda hybird, 86 Suzuki TSX 250, 82 Honda CR480,83 CR250, 83 YZ 490, 77 Honda 750/4, 77 Maico 400 84 KDX 200/ 250, 90 KDX200

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Pete40 View Post
                      This whole "made in China" debate is becoming moot. What are we gonna do? Make America great again - make Australia great again? Get real, stuff we buy is Chinese made.

                      Was having a convo with an old hand on chainsaws in town the other day, he buys all his rebuild parts for Stihls on line cheap. I mean $30 for a piston kit. I myself bought a carby, coil, plug, air filter, hoses for $29.95 and fixed a saw that the local shop quoted me $600+ to fix (admittedly it still has a score in the piston and bore, but works good enough as a 3rd saw/spare). I could buy 3 of those kits and still be way ahead if two of them were sh1t.

                      Bring on the Chinga 701 for $8k for those who can't afford a KTM/Husky. Oh, that's right, it's called a DR! Where TF is qwerty when we need him?
                      I'll be a substitute qwerty... the DR650 is still 100% manufactured in Japan, not China! Get your facts right, you chainsaw-wielding pumpkin rider.

                      It is an interesting debate though. This whole 'make your home country great' plays fine to the masses but how do you find a balance between benefiting from free trade and protecting your local industries through tariffs? I've got no real answers, and not starting a debate. But it's an interesting point.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by silverfox View Post
                        Mine is a 17, First of the counterbalanced engine. KTM did not get that engine till 19/20. 20 model has the big changes which I don't want, Traction contro,l lean angle sensor and a heap of other crap that should not be on a dirt bike, I do still have abs on the front wheel though.
                        Yes same pump. I typed in the part number and it comes up. KTM one even has made in china on it, Could not tell them apart when side by side. The same pump is used in a lot of brands, Yamaha etc, it is the housing that is different.
                        Can't say I'm keen on too much electronics with any bike, but especially an adventure bike if you break down miles from anywhere. I was reading yesterday about guys with 2019 models having issues with the traction control, rev limiter coming in too early, engine light problems (sometimes with the engine stalling too) - one owner was given a new bike when KTM couldn't resolve the problem. Apparently the occasional leaking countershaft seals and failing clutch slave cylinder failures from earlier models are still an issue in 2019/2020.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mr bergman View Post

                          I'll be a substitute qwerty... the DR650 is still 100% manufactured in Japan, not China! Get your facts right, you chainsaw-wielding pumpkin rider.

                          It is an interesting debate though. This whole 'make your home country great' plays fine to the masses but how do you find a balance between benefiting from free trade and protecting your local industries through tariffs? I've got no real answers, and not starting a debate. But it's an interesting point.
                          When I was a young fella and my grandparents still remembered clearly WW2, my grandma wouldn't have anything "made in Japan" in the house. Now people reckon "made in Japan" is a good thing - ya DR love-boy. The grandkids in future will be saying how great things "made in China" are, but they're getting so expensive! The world turns bud - it ain't flat.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Pete40 View Post

                            When I was a young fella and my grandparents still remembered clearly WW2, my grandma wouldn't have anything "made in Japan" in the house. Now people reckon "made in Japan" is a good thing - ya DR love-boy. The grandkids in future will be saying how great things "made in China" are, but they're getting so expensive! The world turns bud - it ain't flat.
                            Don't be jealous, with a few years of dedicated riding training you too might eventualy be able to handle the power of a DR650 and upgrade from that doughy KTM 690....

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Pete40 View Post
                              Bring on the Chinga 701 for $8k for those who can't afford a KTM/Husky. Oh, that's right, it's called a DR! Where TF is qwerty when we need him?
                              Exactly, I love my DR650 more than any bike I've owned.
                              It travels long distance, has never broken down (20K km), keeps with most bikes on high speed stuff, I can make it stay with most bikes on dirt tracks, it carries plenty of gear when required, costs stuff all for rego, low maintenance (except I over maintain it), I can pick it up no problems, I carry spares for most potential issues, GO THE DR650!!!!

                              KTM 300 exc
                              Suzuki DR650

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