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Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

  1. #1
    I hardly know ‘er Spooler's Avatar
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    Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    So, I have unexpectedly come into some disposable money recently and have decided that I am going to buy a dirt-focused dual sport and a spare car. The dual sport has to be at least tolerable on the road because I don’t have a truck or trailer (if the budget allows I may shop for a used Kendon also). I have my Scrambler and that will keep me happy on the street and any big-bike dirt, but I want something I can take places I’m too nervous to take the Scrambler. I also want to buy a small spare car with a manual transmission. Doesn’t have to be anything too crazy, but fun to drive and small enough to fit in my tiny driveway, preferably under $15k. Would only be an occasional driver. Here are some of the vehicles I’m considering:

    Dual sports:
    690/701
    500 EXC/501
    Beta 390/500 rr-s
    CRF450L
    Or, maybe just settle for a DRZ400

    The 690/701 is very appealing to me, but may cross over with the Scrambler too much, and also not be quite good enough off-road. The 500 EXC/501 is probably the top contender right now. The Beta is very appealing, but a little bit of an unknown for me. On paper the CRF sounds perfect, but reviews are all over the place and it seems like you have to put a lot of money into them to get them set up right, however there do seem to be some used ones around that already have the necessary mods. DRZ is ok, only one of these bikes I’ve actually ridden before. I think it’s a good bike for what it is, but they’re so expensive I feel like I’d rather just pay the extra money for a significantly better bike.

    Cars:
    Must be manual transmission. I’d like something small and sporty. Car will be living outside, maybe with a car cover if deemed necessary. Must be able to make occasional trips in the 300 mile range with minimal luggage. 4 seats is a plus, for emergency child transport. A decent 944 or Boxster? A Mini Cooper S? Not really into convertibles, but I guess I could see myself in a roadster, so Z3, Z4, Miata, etc? I’d love an older BMW 3 series, especially a wagon… WRX and GTI are probably more than I want to spend for a decent one, but would be very happy to be proved wrong… Saab 900 would be cool, hard to find a decent one with a stick. And kind of a wild card: could I be a Jeep guy? There seem to be plenty of MT 2 door Wranglers around in the $5-$15k range. Very open to other suggestions.

    Anyway, help me with my first world problem, and feel free to throw in further suggestions. I’ll be looking new and used on bikes, strictly used on the car and obviously how much I spend on one influences how much I spend on the other. If I buy a DRZ for $5k I’ll be willing to spend $20-$25 on the car.

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    Last edited by Spooler; 09-12-22 at 04:13 PM.
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    Super Adventurer SRTie4k's Avatar
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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    500 EXC if you want the ultimate go-anywhere (including single track) offroad dual sport. CRF450L if you want that, but a bit more road oriented and reliable. 690/701 if you want a heavier DS that will do roads much more comfortably than the former 2.

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  3. #3
    Lifer
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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    No to the 944 and cooper. They will send you into the poor house with niggly problems.
    Saab 92x would cover a lot of your wants. A jeep makes sense for winter and resale. Wrx is a rot box but fun.

    For a dirty bike I would go with the crf300 and put some money into it to make it what you want.

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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Quote Originally Posted by SRTie4k View Post
    500 EXC if you want the ultimate go-anywhere (including single track) offroad dual sport. CRF450L if you want that, but a bit more road oriented and reliable. 690/701 if you want a heavier DS that will do roads much more comfortably than the former 2.
    Yeah, those are my top contenders, just having a tough time deciding between them. Leaning towards the 500 EXC or 501 because the Honda seems questionable and I already have a heavy bike that I ride off-road…

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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Quote Originally Posted by boosten lebaron View Post
    No to the 944 and cooper. They will send you into the poor house with niggly problems.
    Saab 92x would cover a lot of your wants. A jeep makes sense for winter and resale. Wrx is a rot box but fun.

    For a dirty bike I would go with the crf300 and put some money into it to make it what you want.
    I don’t think the 300 is for me, I rode one wasn’t impressed. I’m not sure the last time I saw a Saabaru that wasn’t completely rusted out, but I’d sure like to find one. I miss my 2012 GTI, I should have repaired it instead of selling, I would be worth so much in this market.

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    Super Moderator TheIglu's Avatar
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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Miata is always the answer.

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  7. #7

    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    For dirt, How far do you you to ride on pavement, and at which speeds?

    And how technical are we talking for the dirt portions?

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    Lifer loudbeard's Avatar
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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Quote Originally Posted by Spooler View Post
    the Honda seems questionable and I already have a heavy bike that I ride off-road…
    Keep in mind that KTM publishes dry weight and Honda publishes wet. The gap isn't as large as the spec sheet says it is.

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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Also, could possibly just spend this windfall on hookers and blow?

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    I went to MMI I know what Im doing here chief

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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Quote Originally Posted by loudbeard View Post
    Keep in mind that KTM publishes dry weight and Honda publishes wet. The gap isn't as large as the spec sheet says it is.
    It’s not the weight I’m worried about, just reports of constant flame outs/stalling and very touchy throttle requiring aftermarket ECU. But on paper the Honda sounds perfect.

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  11. #11
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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Quote Originally Posted by breakdirt916 View Post
    For dirt, How far do you you to ride on pavement, and at which speeds?

    And how technical are we talking for the dirt portions?
    I live in Worcester, so I guess the ride to Hodges isn’t too far, but I think anything else will be a hike. I haven’t owned a serious dirty bike in close to 20 years, so I’ll be getting back into it and wanting to get into more and more technical stuff as I go on.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by loudbeard View Post
    Also, could possibly just spend this windfall on hookers and blow?
    I’ve set plenty aside for that, no worries

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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Quote Originally Posted by TheIglu View Post
    Miata is always the answer.
    I’ve never been in one, are they particularly cramped for someone over 6 feet? I love the looks of the hard tops, but they may be pushing my budget.

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    Super Moderator TheIglu's Avatar
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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Quote Originally Posted by Spooler View Post
    I’ve never been in one, are they particularly cramped for someone over 6 feet? I love the looks of the hard tops, but they may be pushing my budget.
    I'll let you know if I ever grow.

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    Super Adventurer SRTie4k's Avatar
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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Quote Originally Posted by Spooler View Post
    Yeah, those are my top contenders, just having a tough time deciding between them. Leaning towards the 500 EXC or 501 because the Honda seems questionable and I already have a heavy bike that I ride off-road…
    I wouldn't call ~300lbs that heavy for a dual sport. They're pretty close in spec, but the KTM obviously has more power and has more on the table when uncorked, but it also lacks a cush drive and has a questionable 4-5? gear spread IIRC. The Honda will be much more comfy on road, but needs a Vortex ECU to overcome those Euro5 emissions issues that cause throttle response issues and flameouts.

    As for the 500 vs 501, if you plan on carrying gear, skip the 501. While the 501 arguably has the better rear suspension (linkage vs PDS), the fancy subframe on the 501 has been known to have issues when carrying loaded bags.

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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Small car but you're looking at like 3 series wagons? Answer is clearly Miata with a hardtop. You won't even notice it's convertible unless you really want to take it off and it will check off everybody of light, fun, cheap and small to fit in driveway for occasional drive.

    Personally, this thing is still for sale. Buy it, enjoy it. It will never depreciate a dollar, if anything its under market value right now. Enjoy it forever for free and have an experience of a lifetime. This seems like a very properly done Locost.

    https://www.locostusa.com/forums/vie...p?f=40&t=23047


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    Lifer
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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Quote Originally Posted by TheIglu View Post
    Miata is always the answer.
    Not in the winter months.

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  17. #17
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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Quote Originally Posted by SRTie4k View Post
    I wouldn't call ~300lbs that heavy for a dual sport. They're pretty close in spec, but the KTM obviously has more power and has more on the table when uncorked, but it also lacks a cush drive and has a questionable 4-5? gear spread IIRC. The Honda will be much more comfy on road, but needs a Vortex ECU to overcome those Euro5 emissions issues that cause throttle response issues and flameouts.

    As for the 500 vs 501, if you plan on carrying gear, skip the 501. While the 501 arguably has the better rear suspension (linkage vs PDS), the fancy subframe on the 501 has been known to have issues when carrying loaded bags.
    Just to clarify, I was calling the 690 platform heavy, and even then only in comparison to the 500s and 450. It’ll feel like nothing compared to the Scrambler.


    Quote Originally Posted by Vovchandr View Post
    Small car but you're looking at like 3 series wagons? Answer is clearly Miata with a hardtop. You won't even notice it's convertible unless you really want to take it off and it will check off everybody of light, fun, cheap and small to fit in driveway for occasional drive.

    Personally, this thing is still for sale. Buy it, enjoy it. It will never depreciate a dollar, if anything its under market value right now. Enjoy it forever for free and have an experience of a lifetime. This seems like a very properly done Locost.

    https://www.locostusa.com/forums/vie...p?f=40&t=23047

    That thing is awesome looking, but the car will have to be living outside, maybe with a car cover at best. Also will need to make occasional 300 mile trips with minimal luggage.

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    Last edited by Spooler; 09-12-22 at 04:10 PM.
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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    500exc and kit it with a rackless kit, get 2 spare wheel sets (DOT knobbies, Canadian ice tires & a set of 17’s) and buy a snow bike kit. There will be nothing you can’t do with it other than 2-up. Pretty sure the new ones are drive by wire and could possibly have a blipper installed for fun in the twisties?

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  19. #19

    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Quote Originally Posted by Spooler View Post
    Just to clarify, I was calling the 690 platform heavy, and even then only in comparison to the 500s and 450. It’ll feel like nothing compared to the Scrambler.

    That thing is awesome looking, but the car will have to be living outside, maybe with a car cover at best. Also will need to make occasional 300 mile trips with minimal luggage.
    Is this going to be your only car and a daily? That changes variables quite a bit.

    If it's your spare fun car, then I'm not sure why you'd need to take the car on the trip.

    Regardless Miata is still the answer especially if something like a 7/Locost doesn't work for you.

    I'm still not sure on your size limitations but wanting a jeep or wagon. That's a pretty big spread from like a Mini/Miata.

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  20. #20
    Lifer OneCheekRider's Avatar
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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Ah yes I've been in your shoes and may be biased here, but unless you need/want tons of power or something that says "look at me" I'd say WR250R and a Mustang (I'm partial to 94-04) . Both are reliable, inexpensive, and have large aftermarket support as well as forums/DIY tutorials.

    I literally ride the WR into Mexico for a week long dual sport trip each year where I'm the only none-orange bike yet have the least amount of issues and unless we're drag racing on a dry lakebed, the HP deficit is not a problem. I also do local rides in excess of 200 miles. 3k+ mile oil changes and virtually no other maintenance, so I might even do valves before the 26k interval :lol.

    The Mustang can tow a 6x10 enclosed across the country and is still engaging to drive with RWD, V8, and manual. It has turned into my daily driver and the Jeep GC is basically now a tow pig for the mini toy hauler or the moto hitch rack when I don't want a trailer.

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  21. #21
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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Quote Originally Posted by Vovchandr View Post
    Is this going to be your only car and a daily? That changes variables quite a bit.

    If it's your spare fun car, then I'm not sure why you'd need to take the car on the trip.

    Regardless Miata is still the answer especially if something like a 7/Locost doesn't work for you.

    I'm still not sure on your size limitations but wanting a jeep or wagon. That's a pretty big spread from like a Mini/Miata.
    Not my only car, my wife and I have an Outback. We got rid of our second car early pandemic because it wasn’t being driven. We still don’t need a second car 95% of the time, but sometimes it would help, especially if I need to help out elderly family members or tend to the house I just inherited about 300 miles from my house.

    Size limitations: Can’t be much more than a foot longer than a 4-door GTI and fit in our driveway. A 2-door wrangler is shorter than the GTI, if google is to be believed. An old 3 series wagon looks pretty small to me, but I haven’t looked up the actual length. Any 90’s or older 3 series would be cool, but the wagons always catch my eye. I could maybe go a tiny bit longer if I’m willing to bet on my neighbors not complaining that my car is partially blocking the sidewalk

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    Last edited by Spooler; 09-12-22 at 08:30 PM.
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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Quote Originally Posted by OneCheekRider View Post
    Ah yes I've been in your shoes and may be biased here, but unless you need/want tons of power or something that says "look at me" I'd say WR250R and a Mustang (I'm partial to 94-04) . Both are reliable, inexpensive, and have large aftermarket support as well as forums/DIY tutorials.

    I literally ride the WR into Mexico for a week long dual sport trip each year where I'm the only none-orange bike yet have the least amount of issues and unless we're drag racing on a dry lakebed, the HP deficit is not a problem. I also do local rides in excess of 200 miles. 3k+ mile oil changes and virtually no other maintenance, so I might even do valves before the 26k interval :lol.

    The Mustang can tow a 6x10 enclosed across the country and is still engaging to drive with RWD, V8, and manual. It has turned into my daily driver and the Jeep GC is basically now a tow pig for the mini toy hauler or the moto hitch rack when I don't want a trailer.
    I need to try to ride the WR250R. I’m looking for more than most 250s can give, but I’ve hear the WR has a bit more pep.

    I don’t think I can bring myself to go for a Mustang, or many other American cars. The Jeep is something I’ve never been into, but recently I’ve though might be fun. But Mustangs, Cameros, and Mopar just remind me of high school.

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  23. #23

    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Quote Originally Posted by Spooler View Post
    Not my only car, my wife and I have an Outback. We got rid of our second car early pandemic because it wasn’t being driven. We still don’t need a second car 95% of the time, but sometimes it would help, especially if I need to help out elderly family members or tend to the house I just inherited about 300 miles from my house.

    Size limitations: Can’t be much more than a foot longer than a 4-door GTI and fit in our driveway. A 2-door wrangler is shorter than the GTI, if google is to be believed. An old 3 series wagon looks pretty small to me, but I haven’t looked up the actual length. Any 90’s or older 3 series would be cool, but the wagons always catch my eye. I could maybe go a tiny bit longer if I’m willing to bet on my neighbors not complaining that my car is partially blocking the sidewalk
    I gotcha.

    Slightly used new Toyota 86/BRZ, what do they go for? They are quite practical to have as a daily car and even more so if it's a second fun car. Should check just about all the boxes. According to the internet/auto journalists Toyota nailed it with the second generation.

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  24. #24
    Lifer typeone's Avatar
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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Beta 390 + another GTI

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  25. #25
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    Re: Help me choose a dirt-focused dual sport and cheap, fun car

    Quote Originally Posted by TheIglu View Post
    Miata is always the answer.
    I know the "purists" aren't fond of the NC(06-15), but it is a great chassis and a bit bigger(6' shouldn't be an issue), and only like 160lbs heavier.

    Quote Originally Posted by boosten lebaron View Post
    No to the 944 ....... Wrx is a rot box but fun.
    Maybe Boxster? Depending on bike choice / final car $$$, could get a higher mileage 987.2 at $25k. Sabbaru / 02-07 WRX wagon , 101% guarantee the rear shock towers will be ROTTED. 08+WRX/STi, should be better/OK, not sure.

    AS you don't appear averse to VAG, maybe a deal on a TT


    I'd go DRZ if it got me a better car, KTM 500 if I REALLY wanted to ride a LOT of dirty

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