NC700X vs. DR650 Today - Looking to add some dirt to my life

limitedreality

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Long winded intro... So I've had my NC700X for 5 years this month. Love it for what it is. It is my go to, everyday bike. I have a 1200RT for touring/two up days, and a Stratoliner cruiser that just sits now that I have the RT. I plan to get rid of the Stratoliner to make room for a new toy. This past weekend I did an MSF dirt bike school day and had a blast riding Honda 250's around a farm and trails. I have never ridden offroad/dirt bikes and this made me want to get a dirt bike. Unfortunately there aren't any dirt bike trails nearby -- closest are 1-2 hours away. I don't have a truck, nor do I want to get one just to be able to trailer a bike to the destination so that got me thinking about a dual sport. After 2 days of research I settle on the DR650 as the lightest, in-between, highway capable bike I want to consider. The other option, a KTM 690 is far to expensive to want to drop repeatedly in the woods :) I go out to test ride a cherry 2018 a guy is selling and it's literally the first bike I've ridden that didn't put a smile on my face. Granted it was a 5 minute jaunt down a rural 50 mph road, but it had some curves... and I came back and just felt MEH about it.

The point was to get something lighter than the NC, that would feel more nimble and more comfortable in the dirt. The NC to me feels more fun, and confidence inspiring in turns. I didn't really notice the weight difference. Maybe it was the height of the DR? The less traction of the dual sport tires? The additional wind from lack of fairing? Sharing all this to get others thoughts if you've ridden the DR650. Does what I experienced make sense? Does it go away as you get use to the bike? Or will it possibly continue to feel "ho hum"? It kinda has me wanting to just put dual sport tires on the NC. Only problem is I wouldn't have the nerve or skill to take the NC on the kinda dirt bike trails that I've got the itch for. I like the idea of a bike I don't mind dropping, and I'm ok picking up a bunch of times. Is there something better to consider?

Open to your guys opinions and thoughts.
 

670cc

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I’ve had a dirt bike the last 10 years but recently sold it because I grew tired of having to drive to the few off-road parks available in a three state area.

I have now added a 250 dual sport to the fleet, which is far more useful than the dirt bike.

Now about the NC700 or 750. While Honda is careful to call it an adventure STYLED bike, I can assure you it is a street bike, not an adventure bike, and certainly not a dual sport. I bought a second NC700X and attempted to use it as a dual sport, but gave up. A real dual sport is way more capable in the rough stuff than a street bike. I would not entertain the idea of making the NC into a dual sport.
 

kebrider

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With decent tires a DR650 is a fantastic road machine. I have owned two DRZ's and only ridden DR's on test rides rides and swapped rides. Like most dualsports the bike will feel a bit more flexy but when you learn to trust their capabilities you can have as much fun on the street as you can stand. I have a friend who will regale you in the exploits of my CRF250L as it passed him on Dragon last year. He really thought his Panigale was faster.
 

Janus

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I would suggest you look into the DR-Z400S if you didn't feel that smile on the DR650. I haven't tried a big thumper like that but I do own a DRZ as my third bike.

It's capable of buzzing along at 70 packed up, with some room to spare. Some. It tops out around 93. I wouldn't accuse it of being fun in a straight line, but it dips through corners with ease. In the dirt she's a real champ.

I have the small idea of getting an old 650 with wintertime pricing and do some cross continental tours with as much dirt as possible. But I probably won't for a long time. The 650 is for a more road-oriented dual-sportist.

The saddle is the thing that bothers me most on the DRZ. It's upgradable. A small windscreen would take care of freeway wind. I've pounded hours of pavement to get to trails and I promptly forgot about the interstate. Usually I only have to ride about an hour to a good trail, which is more than tolerable.

As I kept telling my buddies on our big dirt ride: little boys get it done quicker
 

limitedreality

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Thanks everyone so far.

@670cc I did contemplate the idea of getting another NC or a CB500X for this purpose. Seems like your first hand experience kills that for me. Same goes for the vstrom or KLR. Too big, wrong suspension.

@kebrider @Janus I've messaged a couple DR-Z400S's to see if I can hook a test ride. I didn't consider these guys as folks said they were the "lesser" of the 650, plus they were even higher on my 29" inseam but maybe they'll suite me better. The smaller the bike, often the faster you feel like you're going. I know I felt like Rossi on my 250R taking corners all the way over going 30 mph :p
 

Janus

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The venerable DRZ in her dualsport setup rides at a modest 93.5cm, or 36.8 freedom units.

With my 32" inseam, I cannot flat foot both feet unless I'm wearing my dirt boots. It takes a bit of getting used to, but the bike is light enough that single-footing it isn't an issue. Just another thing to think about.

I put my left down first, and will shift to the right foot if I'm going to turn right. Otherwise I mostly keep the left on the ground.

And yeah it might be "lesser than" a 650, but it's also less weight, more nimble, and more efficient. The only thing it's truly lesser capable of is freeway speed. We have other bikes for that
 

Griff

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I previously had a DRZ400 for general trail riding. I parted with that for a new KTM690R Enduro. I parted with that for a CRF250L. Now I am happy. Should have gotten the 250 years ago.

The DRZ was a good bike but it needed a 6th gear. On open roads the motor was screaming to keep up a decent speed. There really was no fix for that, and I needed reasonable open road performance to get me to some trailheads in some degree of comfort. That was when I got the 690 with the purpose of having more open road performance without revving the nuts off the motor. That worked but the 690 wasn't as good an offroad bike as the DRZ. It also had an animal of a motor that could be a real nuisance in tight tech offroad. Too much power and too little flywheel together with troublesome EFI.

I started to look around when the 690 efi started to be a little troublesome but I was also having to admit to myself that it was just too much motor for my purpose and not a great offroad chassis to boot. On the flipside it was a hoot as a backroad carver, and on forest fire roads and the like where it was capable of unreal speeds.

The little 250 then started to come into focus as the only viable alternative for my purposes. Friends tried to put me off it on the basis of one third of the power of the 690. I tried a bike from a shop who trusted me (as it wasn't run in). As such I couldn't rev it hard enough to get a proper idea of what it could do. However after about 40 miles pottering around I knew I could live with it and bought it. I have never looked back. The CRF is simply a great little bike. I bought it with 100kms on the odo and now have over 30,000kms on.

So where is the 250 better than the other two. in comparison with the DRZ it has that 6th (overdrive) gear. It is also more comfortable revving hard on an open road and is a considerably smoother motor. The difference in power between them isn't a problem. The Rider works a little harder on the 250, and it easily has the measure of the 400 on the twisties because of its precise and confidence inspiring handling and turning ability. It only loses out to both the more powerful bikes on long sticky climbs, but it always gets there. On one occasion I was in the company of three mates on 700 Huskys on really twisty going, onroad and off. They couldn't lose the 250 and this was a talking point at the end of the run. Two were folks of similar ability to myself. However one of them would be a better rider than me especially offroad, and the little white Honda buzzing around his back end really hacked him off to the point that he missed a turn and got lost. Anyway I digress.

I have tried a DR650. I found it heavy but the Motor was nice. The one I rode had a tendency to push its front end on tight turns on a loose surface. That was why the owner eventually sold it. Perhaps He didn't have it set up properly.

So long story short I recommend a CRF250L as good value, great fun and it will do the job. My dimensions are 5'8" and 79Kg. I own one alongside a NC derivitive, the X-Adv. The X-Adv also is suggestive of offroad capability but like the NC, it isn't except for firm going on forest tracks and the like. Anything sticky is a no no.
 

limitedreality

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@Griff Thank you for the feedback. I had dismissed the CRF250L early on because folks said the Yamaha WR250R was better in almost all regards. The 250 dirtbikes I road offload were CRF250's so I'm not sure why I didn't think on that more. Those are what I had fun on... The L is just the street legal version of that. I had dismissed the 250 class entirely due to folks stating any real road time on the them being terrible. I guess I need to get a test ride on some 250's as well to see how I feel they handle the roads around here. Ultimately if I could hack it on the back of one of those for an hour or two to get to the trail, I would literally have a dirt bike to ride. So many options and no real answer without seat time to see.
 

670cc

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@Griff Thank you for the feedback. I had dismissed the CRF250L early on because folks said the Yamaha WR250R was better in almost all regards. The 250 dirtbikes I road offload were CRF250's so I'm not sure why I didn't think on that more. Those are what I had fun on... The L is just the street legal version of that. I had dismissed the 250 class entirely due to folks stating any real road time on the them being terrible. I guess I need to get a test ride on some 250's as well to see how I feel they handle the roads around here. Ultimately if I could hack it on the back of one of those for an hour or two to get to the trail, I would literally have a dirt bike to ride. So many options and no real answer without seat time to see.
My 250 is the Honda CRF250L Rally, which is the 250L with some added features that primarily make it more comfortable on the street. I’m usually the last person that would say a motorcycle needs more power, but in a way I wish the 250 was a 350 for the street side of dual sporting, but absolutely not if it meant more weight. Lighter weight and agility are more important than excess power.

The Yamaha WR does get good reviews but it is too tall for me.

Hondas in general are built tough, but they are usually heavy by comparison to other brands.
 

greenboy

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I bought a used WR250R that already had a lowering link after riding a dealer demo CRF250L back when it was introduced. My original intention was to buy a CRF as soon as they could get me one but unless someone canceled their pre-order I would be waiting for most of the riding season. So I hit Craigslist and saved a couple thou, for a really good deal on a WR that was mostly farkled the way I would have done it anyway, and stripped of non-essential weight. And I was riding at least 4 months earlier. No regrets. In fact, FOR ME, it turned out better. But each to their own.
 

jtanner

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I definitely endorse the off-road life! I love it enough to haul my bike on a trailer behind my Civic. Works great.

1596810667430.png

If you want to get a bike that you can also ride on the road, I don't think you'd regret getting a lighter one like previously mentioned (WR250 or CRF250L). Wrestling a heavy bike on tricky trails is not great. Even turning around on a tight trail if it gets too tough can present a challenge.
 

limitedreality

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I looked at that this morning as well :) Great minds. It seems much closer to our NC and less with dual sport than like the KTM 690 E. Don't get me wrong, I think it's significantly better, lighter, better clearance, etc. but if I'd be ok with that, than my NC with better offroad tires might be the ticket. Just bought another forum members pirelli's MT 60's, we'll see how the NC handles with them on fire roads and such. Still don't think it'd scratch the offroad itch entirely though. Haven't found anyone asking a reasonable price for a DRZ400 yet to get a test ride lined up. That or a streetable 250 are my next ideas to knock down.

Surprised more folks don't have thoughts on the DR650. I really kinda wanted someone to tell me it was me and that I'd get used to it because on paper, that seems like that's right bike :p
 

greenboy

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Could read some DR650 thoughts on ADVPulse.com, as well as using search here. It'll stomp an NC700x's ass anywhere off pavement. More than 110 pounds lighter, no fat 17" wheel on front, dirt bike plastic goodness with more durability and easy to remove for maintenance... If you don't really need all the extra ground clearance though, the KTM 390 gives you a lower seat height, a 6-speed gearbox, better stock suspension with adjustability, EFI, tubeless wheels if you don't need spokes for the level of abuse you intend to wreak, and seems to have gotten good actual user reports about both on-pavement and off-pavement use. I'd avoid the quickshifter option though.
 
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kebrider

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The DR650 is exceptionally versatile and can be upgraded to near infinity in the engine and suspension departments along with an abundance of comfort options. I love the bike and I keep meaning to buy one. Great street bike in stock form with good handling, brakes and that classic dualsport, reasonably stretched out riding position. The DRZ400SM is a sportier street bike and a decent offroad bike and I ran mine at 70 to 75 mph all the time and it was smooth and effortless to me. At 67 mph it felt a little thrashy but when you get a smooth DRZ you get a great street bike.

I ran a technical section of mountain roads chasing a friends CB500X (with lots of sport stuff) and we both had the same top speed but the DRZSM is a bit quicker through the apex. I was always amazed how good the DRZSM is as a street bike. I wear extremely good ear plugs and I ran stock cans on both my DRZ's. They both had the 3X3 airbox mod and JD jet kits installed and with this 1.5 hour, $79 mod both bikes got 10 MPG better mileage and had notably smoother and more seamless power. In stock form the DRZ400SM is lower than the S model due to the smaller wheels. The 310mm brake is excellent but more than stopping the gyroscopic effect adds a serious amount of stability the S will never have.

We have both a WR250R and a CRF250L in the garage. She has 37,000 miles on the WR and my CRF has 10,500. The WR is subjectively better but the CRF is just more fun to ride in many situations. The CRF has better low end torque and it just tractors along like a 450. I actually sold my KTM 525 EXC and took the money and bought the CRF. Mostly we wanted the CRF to teach a new rider but the first time I rode it one the street I was very impressed. Our primary road bikes are my BMW R1200R and her S1000XR. I have the NC750X as my "swing" bike because I love simple roadsters and the built in storage makes it a perfect guest bike when friend come to town. Our favorite rides the last 3.5 years have been the 250s.

I bought my 2015 CRF used with an exhaust, a tall seat and some other practical add ons. The previous owner had a 2015 WR250R which he preferred so when he sold his CRF to me it only had 412 miles on it. It was brand new. It was dog slow and he though it was much less bike than the Yamaha. When I got it home I knew it was not running right so the first thing I did was check the air filter. See the mouse house below. It runs much better know with an EJK fuel controller and 5 more teeth on the rear sprocket. The bike has an 80 MPH top speed with stock or revised gearing and the motor seems smoother the more it revs until it gets past 65. The bike only feels like a 250 when you run freeways but back roads are great. We regularly do 250 to 300 mile days on the 250s and we always have a blast. After 3 years i just bought upgraded suspension parts and a braided line and floating rotor for the front brake. If you total what I paid for the bike and all my upgrades I am right at the MSRP of a new 2020 non ABS CRF250L. The bike has hit a deer, been crashed by several riders and it still looks great and runs perfectly. Replacement parts are ridiculously cheap like all the Thai built Hondas so there s no reason not to keep the things in perfect condition. The little CRF is a keeper and it is the only reason I don't have a DR650.

IMAG2010.jpg

The CRF teaching a new rider:

Aub Smaller.jpg
 

Griff

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in a way I wish the 250 was a 350 for the street side of dual sporting, but absolutely not if it meant more weight. Lighter weight and agility are more important than excess power.

That is something most CRF owners wish for. :) However if it meant a more vibey motor then not for me. I will live with it as it is and tbh it is one motorcycle I will have for a long time.
 

limitedreality

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@kebrider What an awesome and thorough response. Funny about the airbox. Reinforces the honda 250L in my must try column. And when I went looking someone is selling a basically new 250L Rally. That might be just the fun package I'm looking for. More wind protection. Just again, a bit high of a seat. We'll see. Exciting.
 

670cc

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@kebrider What an awesome and thorough response. Funny about the airbox. Reinforces the honda 250L in my must try column. And when I went looking someone is selling a basically new 250L Rally. That might be just the fun package I'm looking for. More wind protection. Just again, a bit high of a seat. We'll see. Exciting.
In case the question comes up about what is different with the Rally over the standard CRF250L, here is a list I had made answering that question in a different thread.

What the Rally has over the standard 250L:
1) A 0.66 gallon larger fuel tank with a nicer hinged fuel cap. 0.66 gallons doesn’t sound like much, but the standard 2 gallon tank just wouldn’t do it for me in range. With the a Rally‘s 2.66 gallons, I can get 200 miles on the tank, so it’s real world usable for me.
2) The Rally fairing/taller windshield is frame mounted (vs handlebar mount) and the taller windshield and the larger lower bodywork/fairing are pretty decent at blocking wind.
3) The Rally instrument panel sits higher for better view, vs the low mounted panel on the standard model that is partially blocked by the front brake hose.
4) The Rally has a two beam LED headlight that is very good, and probably better than the standard 250, but I can’t speak from experience.
5) Wheel sizes are the same, but the Rally has black rims on the earlier models if that makes any difference. It doesn’t for me.
6) The Rally has about 1 inch more suspension travel and sits higher. That was actually a temporary negative for me with my 32 inch inseam. I lowered the Rally about 3/4 to 7/8 inch with links and sliding up the fork tubes. I also installed the shorter sidestand from the standard model. It fits me fine now. The rear spring is on the soft side, like many Hondas, so even with a tall seat height, it settles down lower when you sit on it.
7) The Rally’s front brake rotor is slightly larger.
8) The Rally comes with plastic hand guards. They block the wind at your hands, but have no metal frame for impact protection.
9) The Rally bodywork includes a little lockable tool box bin on the left side, but it is small.
10) The Rally has a larger plastic skid plate that is nice but not as good as an aftermarket metal one.

For negatives, the Rally weighs more, costs more, and there is more plastic to break if you drop it.
 
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Afan

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What about Himalayan? It's very high on my list.

Or CB500X with Rally Raid kit?
Check blancolirio or Jenny Morgan - she started the CB500x Rally Raid kit idea

And, regarding the question is NC dual sport bike, it depends of somebody's "off-road" definition. It's definitely NOT dirt bike, but Vman1313, and the guy from Greece - I'm following his YouTube channel (billy84000) for a while, proved me that my NC is just enough for "my version" of off-roading :D
 
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