It seems like recently, the popularity of dualsport & ADV riding has been on the rise. If you search the hashtag #ADV on Instagram, you will see 1000’s of pictures of guys & gals with their friends, spouses or alone riding to epic places with stunning back drops. People seem to be touring the world on 2 wheels & taking pictures to show us all what an exciting time their having. Its not hard to get excited about this if your a fan of 2 wheels & the great outdoors.
Richard, the head dude here at Dirthammers had alot to do with getting me pumped up about dualsport riding. He recently completed a build with a 2009 plated WR450. Being a big fan of Yamah, I wanted to get a WR450 & plate it too. Over the next few weeks we both began checking at Craigslist & Georgia Off-road daily, looking for a good foundation for another dualsport WR450 build. Unfortunately, I was never able to find one in the time frame I was looking to get this project started. There just wasn’t a wide variety of used WR450’s in our area & even the surrounding states. I was even willing to go as far north as Ohio too. Honestly I think it worked out for the best. I wanted to be able to hit the pavement running as soon as I got my new bike, but with the WR, I would’ve had to get a dualsport kit, install it & jump through hoops to get the bike plated.
I’m not sure at what point it came up, but the KLR650 came into the picture. Richard had been talking about how that was going to be the next bike he was going to get & was going to make it into a capable ADV bike. I really didn’t know much about the KLR or its capabilities, but the more I read about it, watched videos & chatted on forums, the more I started to really like this bike. You can buy a really nice used one for around $3-4k & a new one for a little over $6k. That’s not a bad deal for what your getting & for what the bike is capable of becoming. At the time, I was fully committed to getting a KLR.
After having my mind made up & my heart set on the KLR, I made an appointment with Josh Polete of Mountain Motorsports in Marietta, Ga. He said hes got 2 KLR’s in stock & even a DRZ400 for good measure. I head up there w/ my trade-in appraised & approval for the loan signed off on. I went up there with every intention of getting a KLR or maybe the DRZ if I changed my mind. One can be a bit indecisive when shopping for a new motorcycle, especially with so many to choose from. I get there & the 2 KLR’s are lined up right inside the front door when you walk in. There they were, all nice & shinny. They looked so much better new than all the used ones I had been looking at on Craigslist for the past month. I was impressed, then I sat on one… Hmmmm, not really what I had in mind I thought to myself as I sat there. I’m trying to picture myself riding this big, bulky off-road bike that felt like a sport bike from behind the bars. It didn’t take long, but I knew this was not going to work. The bike was nice, it felt like a great street bike that I could cruise down a dirt road with, but it just wasn’t talking to me that day. It was so wide & it felt like it would crumble like a coke can if I dropped it in the dirt. I couldn’t imagine getting in the gnarly stuff or even the slick stuff! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the the jolly green giant, but for what I had envisioned as my Adv bike, this just wasn’t the bike. Not right now at least. I’m looking for something a little more off-road worthy, something a bit more capable. I’m a enduro guy, I’ve got to have something that at least has clickers on the suspension. This bike was going to cost some money right off the rip just to be ridden the way I want to ride. It looks like the KLR650 is going to be put on hold for this build…
After walking away from the KLR that we, (Josh & I) decided that I was not going to get, he showed me the 2015 DRZ400. Now I’ve been doing my homework on these bikes & thought that the DRZ might be better for me, but there were some issues I had & that kind of kept it in the back of my mind. After sitting on it though, I felt more at home. This bike was speaking to me. It was more of a dirtbike & it just felt right. I felt like I could ride this bike how I wanted to be able to ride. The junior foot pegs, huge speedo & small metal gas tank didn’t impress me, but for the most part it felt good. I immediately started going down the list in my head of what I was going to have to do to this bike to get it in to off-road trim. We bounced ideas back & fourth on what it would need & it was adding up quick! Suspension, airbox mod, jetting, exhaust, tires, foot pegs, over sized tank & on & on. I like the bike, but was I going to be disappointed after spending $6600, then having to drop another $3k in mods & it still not be able to satisfy my thirst for a capable off-road machine?! We thought so. I just don’t think the DRZ400 is for me. I think I would be to disappointed once we hit the trail.
After going down the list of bikes I had planned on buying, it was brought to my attention that there was 1 leftover 350EXC-F. I hadn’t really given the EXC’s any thought because of price, but probably should have. Its really the only bike out of the 3 that is capable of doing what I want it to do off-road & not cost a ton of money off the rip. So after taking a look & knowing there’s no question that it would be the right bike, I had to go home for another few days while they reached out to the lender & got the new loan approved. With the bike being a left over from 2014, I figured I could get a decent deal on it. It wasn’t going to be the price of the KLR, but it wasn’t going to be the normal $12,500 either! We finally worked out a deal & got it in my targeted price range! The KTM 350EXC-F was really going to be my bike! What a huge difference from what I walked in there to buy from what I picked up a week later. I have always been intrigued with the 350’s, but have never been interested in paying the price. But after some thought, working a deal & inking the paper, I was very happy with my final choice. I knew this bike was going to be a great foundation for the bike build & that I would be very happy once I hit the dirt with it. The next thing to do was to bring it home, ride it in stock trim, then break it down & start the build!!