Letter Rip! Letter of the Week - Dirt Rider Magazine

Long-Winded, Dual PurposeI would like your advice concerning dual sports. I'm looking for something I could do some hard-core commuting to and from work (50 miles a day) on and still be somewhat dirt worthy. About me: I'm 47 years old. I'm getting a touch fragile. I never was a hard-core dirt rider, but I had a taste of dirt riding in my teens via a friend and his bike. I have ridden street bikes from the very beginning! (15 and a half!) My dirt skill: I'm not sure how the ranking work...beginner, novice, intermediate, pro? I think that I'm at least a novice. I beat all of my friends at the Elsinore Grand Prix. My fastest friend is a bit older than me and the only reason I won was because he got exhausted (passed him on the very last lap!) Man I hope you guys are reading this. Anyways, I live very near Tom's farms (I know you know were that is) while I was doing yard work the mountain was calling me. So I told my wife that I needed a dual sport so I could explore. I bought an '85 Suzuki DRZ 400 as at that time it was posted as the most dirt worthy dual sport. The mods I made were yanking the snorkel and drilling the air box to add 6 of those 1" diameter breather things. I had a jet kit installed and got a Yosh pipe. My real life opinion is that based on my gut feeling that 75 mph is the top long-term cruising speed with stock gearing. My feelings towards handling: I've never had the chance o ride the "latest/greatest". The last dirt bike I owned was an '85 Suzuki 250 (long time ago, but I loved it!) However, I think this bike handles reasonably well, and quite frankly it kept me on two wheels long after I thought I should have eaten #$@$%! Having said that, my biggest problem with this bike for both street and dirt use is in the power department, for both street and dirt use. Street: The top cruising speed is a bit low...up until recently any way... there were many times that I felt I was traveling a bit slow (cars were riding my ass!) Dirt: the throttle is sluggish. If you got time to get the rpm's up a bit the bike will pull you through most any thing. But if surprise catches you and you need an instant wheelie to save the day, don't hold your breath. I put a different rear sprocket on, down 1 tooth. Net result: top cruise speed of 65, and still sluggish throttle response at slow speed... though it was better. I can cruise up the street at low speed and get a wheelie with no clutch.... but it is still sluggish. I'm seeking a dual sport that is dirt worthy but more importantly can handle a 250 weekly commute. StevenSorry Steve, the bike you want does not exist. You need to drastically lower the gearing on your 400 to get the dirt power you want, but you are right, it will ruin the bike on the street for your commute. Any of the big dual-sports bite in the dirt. The KTM and the Husky are great in the dirt, but they will not survive a constant diet of street riding. KTM doesn't suggest you ride the EXC models on the street. They are competition dirt bikes legal to ride from one trailhead to another. And a 50-mile commute on one is like pouring lighter fluid on your under wear and lighting it. Pure misery. I would make your Suzuki work for off-road, and then spend the money you are thinking to upgrade with on a cheap street bike. Then you will have a great commuter and a great trail bike. No bike made is both.-Karel Kramer