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Harley1
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   Posted 9/8/2008 10:10 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
We took our reigning 650cc dual-sport champion, the Kawasaki KLR650 and pitted it against a challenger from the opposite end of the DS spectrum, Suzuki's DR650SE. Read the results in our 2008 650 Dual-Sport Challenge.
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GAJ
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   Posted 9/8/2008 11:18 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
What I don't know about dirt riding would fill a book the size of the San Francisco phone book, but I was surprised with how competitive, and dirt cheap, the Suzuki is.

Thx for the education.
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Desmolicious
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   Posted 9/8/2008 11:33 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
It's easier to fix the faults of the Suzuki than the Kawi.
Add bigger tank, gel to seat, small shield and you're done.
The Kawi?....


Børk! Børk! Børk!

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tigerowner_ut
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   Posted 9/8/2008 12:43 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Windscreen - $100
Tank - $200
Seat - $300

DR is now superior both on and off road.

Add a fully adjustable Cogent Dynamics shock, Gold Valve Emulators and springs for the forks and the KLR is begging for mercy.

Add, a Skid plate protection luggage of your choice and you are still lighter than a KLR.

A KLR may be debatably better from the showroom but the DR can be made to fit what you want your bike to be for a few bucks.

The unfortunate fact though is that there are better Dual Sports out there from Yamaha, Aprilia, and others that have not found their way to our shores.
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Desmolicious
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   Posted 9/8/2008 12:46 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
KLR still has the doo-hickey issue with the motor even though it has been partially addressed. DR motor is bomb proof.


Børk! Børk! Børk!

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designeraccd
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   Posted 9/8/2008 1:18 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I tried both of these thumpers before settling on the "ancient" DR. I only ride mine on pavement so I put Avon street rubber on her.  Personally I liked the "feel" of the DR better, especially the responsive motor. To address the pain inducing issue of the laughable stock saddle I first put on a Corbin, but now have an even better Renazco saddle. I do not slip and slide all over the saddle with every throttle movement on the Renazco, unlike the Corbin.
 
The suspension is a wee bit of the soft/mushy side, but acceptable on the street. The "horn", like most bikes is pathetic. Brakes are just adequate given the low power output of the motor. However, given her flat torque curve, she is a willing performer and even the way I ride fuel mileage is reasonable.
 
Of all the street singles I've had over the years this Suzook has worked out very well; glad I bought her. Also, she makes for an interesting counterpoint, so to speak, to my other licensed bike: '06 Yamaha FJR 1300!  DFO
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bmadson
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   Posted 9/8/2008 4:17 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I participated in this test and like the DR better, but the KLR was sooooooo much more comfortable and does everything well, with a great range... touring, street riding, plus a trekking out on the occasional logging roads.

I had a lot more fun on the DR in the dirt and loved it on the street, but I could see going to the dealer to buy a DR and coming home with a KLR knowing you'd ride it more and because it's so damn practical.
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S.A.M650L
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   Posted 9/9/2008 8:02 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I have an XR650L that I've heavily modified. I had to put a ton of bucks into it to create a workable seat height, lighter weight, decent tires, better fuel range, and nicer lighter exhaust. The DR is so much cheaper and a great platform it is almost laughable! Like others have said, it wouldn't take much $$ to give it those things it needed to put it on top in this battle. The money spent on those items would still make it cheaper than a stock XR's msrp at the dealership.  Let's face it, the KLR is used 90% of the time as a street/adventure mount. Suzuki's V-strom 650 fills that role nicely since both bikes stay on the street most of the time. Throw a set of Avon Gripsters on the DR and you'll have a street mount that's a total hoot. It would even look tougher with a set of black 17 inch excel rims and sport bike tires. Now that's smiles per miles!!  rolleyes  
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Mojav
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   Posted 9/9/2008 9:07 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I have modded my 05 DR650 - MT40 flatslide, Racetech forks, Cogent shock, D606, IMS 5 gal tank, 520 conversion. It's dirt performance is in a completely different world from when it was stock. It easily exceeds the stock DRZ400S I owned before it. I defy anyone (remotely near my skill, or at least mostly sane) to take a new KLR, modded or not, where I go. And with the IMS tank I get a safe 200 dualsport miles range.

I do HATE HATE HATE the seat.

But there are good options for that - Corbin and Renazco. There are several wind screens available from small to huge, racks galore, boxes, bags, whatever

For the person willing to do a little work and spend some money the DR can at least match the KLR on the road, and it's vastly superior offroad.
 
The DR is a heavy bike but nothing like the F650GS Dakar I had for a while. There were a couple of times, staring up at the sky with that big pig pinning me down to the ground, that I vowed to never take a 400+ pound bike off road again.

Post Edited (Mojav) : 9/10/2008 4:18:18 AM GMT

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ebfoster
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   Posted 9/10/2008 12:14 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Hey there, I live in Oregon and have had a few dirt bikes. Living a few miles down a logging road and a 15 mile commute, I went shopping for a dual sport to ride to work. First I bought a new 2004 KLR650 based on how well it performed on a road test ride, it really felt very nimble! As I rode more I noticed that gravel roads were scary as it was difficult to keep the front tire from sliding out (with the stock tires). On the trails it was a handful compared to any real dirt bike, mostly due to weight, soft forks and traction. I fell over twice and found myself struggling to get out from under... But I really enjoyed it on the twisty paved sections.. I got ~300 miles per tank for 2000 miles. I sold it and recently bought a stock 2006 DR650... It is also very nimble on the road. The seat requires me to stand up every 20 minutes or so to "recover", but it is slowly getting better. On gravel roads with the stock tires, it feels more predictable than the KLR and drifts rather than washing out. I dropped 1 tooth on the front sprocket to make it easier to ride in first, and it still goes 80 easily. I still get 160 miles per tank. Both bikes really need dirt tires to ride dirt or gravel! I have ridden a few 150 - 200 mile loops that include 75% paved and 25% unpaved roads with a bit of trail thrown in and both are a blast, with the DR favored on the gravel and dirt.... I am a bit surprised you all picked the KLR as the "winner" after all the trail riding. But Thanks for the compare.
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toddo
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   Posted 9/10/2008 5:40 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
How is visibility better on a motorcycle without a screen you look through like on a goldwing? Clean your goggles.lol
I'd rather have a crf230L size bike with the dr 650 motor. Notwithstanding I'd take the dr over the klr. Nice review, but you had me thinking that the dr was gonna win the whole time. Then, without a splash the klr takes the win. Someone cheated.rollMy take is that there are two types of ds riding. One is 70% dirt & the other 70% road. This test demostrated that there are one of each bike represented here. To pick a winner would need you to pick a genre. I agree another test is in order, vstrom vs klr, Or an under 8000.00 dollar dual sport touring test. On another thought you could throw 3 or 4 hundred dollars at esch machine & see whats better. Nodoubt anyone who buys either will hardly leave it stock. Todd. 


Think before talking

Post Edited (toddo) : 9/10/2008 3:00:10 PM GMT

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Desmolicious
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   Posted 9/10/2008 10:47 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
The Kawi also has a problem with burning oil. Owners report using 1 qt every 1K miles. Motorcyclist magazine has one for a long term tester too, and they say their bike also does that. If you complain loud enough Kawi will admit to the piston rings being bad and will replace under warranty.
The DR motor on the other hand is rock solid.


Børk! Børk! Børk!

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louemc
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   Posted 9/10/2008 2:26 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
ebfoster said...
Hey there, I live in Oregon and have had a few dirt bikes. Living a few miles down a logging road and a 15 mile commute, I went shopping for a dual sport to ride to work. First I bought a new 2004 KLR650 based on how well it performed on a road test ride, it really felt very nimble! As I rode more I noticed that gravel roads were scary as it was difficult to keep the front tire from sliding out (with the stock tires). On the trails it was a handful compared to any real dirt bike, mostly due to weight, soft forks and traction. I fell over twice and found myself struggling to get out from under... But I really enjoyed it on the twisty paved sections.. I got ~300 miles per tank for 2000 miles. I sold it and recently bought a stock 2006 DR650... It is also very nimble on the road. The seat requires me to stand up every 20 minutes or so to "recover", but it is slowly getting better. On gravel roads with the stock tires, it feels more predictable than the KLR and drifts rather than washing out. I dropped 1 tooth on the front sprocket to make it easier to ride in first, and it still goes 80 easily. I still get 160 miles per tank. Both bikes really need dirt tires to ride dirt or gravel! I have ridden a few 150 - 200 mile loops that include 75% paved and 25% unpaved roads with a bit of trail thrown in and both are a blast, with the DR favored on the gravel and dirt.... I am a bit surprised you all picked the KLR as the "winner" after all the trail riding. But Thanks for the compare.
 
Welcome to MCUSA ebfoster, 
 
I haven't riden either bike, but.... I've always like Suzuki suspension better than the other big fours, so what you said sounded right to me.
 
Where in Oregon do you do your logging road riding?  If it is anywhere around Scappose or Tillamook or Battle Ground Washington, I might have riden the same place.


 Focus the forces, Be The Force

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Jon Neet
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   Posted 9/10/2008 9:18 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I should add here that its the 2008 KLR650 that have the heavy oil use problem. My 2005 with 13,000 miles uses none between changes. Mines been quite reliable too, and I commute every day rain,shine,cold,whatever.

jon
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Desmolicious
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   Posted 9/11/2008 7:42 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
You're correct Jon, it's the new "improved" model that thinks it's a diesel.


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gotdurt
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   Posted 9/11/2008 11:34 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
S.A.M650L said...
I have an XR650L that I've heavily modified. I had to put a ton of bucks into it to create a workable seat height, lighter weight, decent tires, better fuel range, and nicer lighter exhaust. The DR is so much cheaper and a great platform it is almost laughable! Like others have said, it wouldn't take much $$ to give it those things it needed to put it on top in this battle. The money spent on those items would still make it cheaper than a stock XR's msrp at the dealership. Let's face it, the KLR is used 90% of the time as a street/adventure mount. Suzuki's V-strom 650 fills that role nicely since both bikes stay on the street most of the time. Throw a set of Avon Gripsters on the DR and you'll have a street mount that's a total hoot. It would even look tougher with a set of black 17 inch excel rims and sport bike tires. Now that's smiles per miles!! rolleyes


If you spend much time off road, hang on to the XRL. I've spent the past 4 years trying to make my DR more like the XRL I had before it, and it still falls short. The XR650L does everything that the DR does well, and then some. I, however, didn't mind the extra height of the 'L (even though I'm only 5-10/ 31" inseam), and more appreciated the extra 3" of ground clearance and 2" of suspension travel that it afforded, not to mention the 18 rear wheel, more adjustable suspension with better damping, easier maintenance, better aftermarket, etc, etc...
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Ace!
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   Posted 9/11/2008 2:25 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Nevermind....
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KilLeR650
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   Posted 9/12/2008 12:11 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I Ride a 2002 KLR throughout Utah. I am more concerned with how I get to the places I want to see than whether I can moto the whoops. The overall comfort and capability I get for the price makes it the vehicle of choice. I have to admit that the fun I have carving mountain roads is amazing. My sport bike riding friend comments on how often he scrapes his pegs following me. I have plenty of room to pack out the bike for extended trips. I haven't had to add anything but have changed to Avon Gripsters. Who cares what logo your t-shirt displays or decal you have in the rear window. Get one and go have the fun these bikes are intended for.
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Desmolicious
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   Posted 9/12/2008 4:02 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Welcome Killer650. I had Avon Distanzias on my KLR 650. Great street/rough road tyre but if ya wanta go down gravel/dirt/sandy roads you really need knobbies. As is the case with any bike...
Good to see you're having a good time.


Børk! Børk! Børk!

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eparks11
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   Posted 1/31/2009 11:24 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I was sitting here reading through all the Dual Sport & Adventure Touring comparo's and I couldn't help but think that you guys should really widen your scope and do a comparo that mixes the best of both. Dual Sport/Adv Riding is such a weird category it's hard to choose one bike to do it all. I personally decided on a KTM 990 Adv, but it wasn't an easy choice. The reason it wasn't an easy choice was mainly due to after market farkles. Unlike sportbikes I don't know a single person that has left their DS bike stock. Due to the after market mods I honestly considered (and test rode some) all of the following bikes:

  • Kawasaki KLR 650
  • Suzuki DR650
  • Suzuki V-Strom 650
  • KTM 690 Enduro
  • KTM 990 Adventure
  • BMW F800 GS
  • Husqvarna TE 610

That may sound like an eclectic group that shouldn't compete against each other, but that's exactly what they do thanks to the after market. The KLR, KTM 990, & F800 are pretty much ready to go as is (well, after a tire change and a few minor mods), but when you take into consideration that you can buy something like a DR650, then spend $200 on a larger fuel tank, $150 on a new speedo, $300 for a better seat, $70 on a windscreen, and a few easy performance mods such as jetting and you'll have a bike that can do virtually everything an F800GS can do (Just look at the numerous threads on ADV Rider for proof). The same goes for the Husky and KTM 690 although those two will cost more.

I know you guys can't test modified bikes, but when comparing these I think you should put more weight into potential each has as a platform. I mean damn, I've seen pics of a Vstrom flying through the air off of dirt jumps after suspension mods and being fitted with a set of Conti TKC80's. However in stock form you'd never think it could do it.

Speaking of tires, that makes a huge difference on these bikes. Is there any way you guys can fit each bike with the same tire to even the playing field when doing the comparos?

Finally, as far as your price/value rankings go; call around some local dealers and get some actual real world prices to list along side MSRP. I didn't think I could afford a 990 ADV because of its $14k MSRP, but if you check around you'll see you can get one out the door for $11,500. I found the opposite to be true for the F800GS. MSRP is listed at $10,500 on their site, but dealers were all asking $12k+.

Post Edited (eparks11) : 1/31/2009 6:41:02 PM GMT

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