Which bike for desert racing ?

DrZero

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I'm looking at getting into desert racing. I'm trying to talk a few friends into doing a truck with me, but am also considering going with the bike. I'm 45 and have been riding my whole life, mostly trails and jumps, some desert here and there.

What are people running in the desert these days. I know the KX-500 and CR-500 were kings there for a decade. But now all the focus on 4 strokes.

I'm kinda partial to Yamaha. Between the WR-450, YZ-450R and YZ-250 is one seen or seemingly better for the desert? I like the simplicity and cost of 2-strokes and For sure I'd rather have the YZ-250 for trails but , wonder if running one for hours and hours in the desert is going to result in the engine blowing up.

Does the WR have any advantages for desert racing over the motocross oriented YZ 450? I can't remember if the WR is a wide ratio, but seems like you would re-gear anyway, so that would soft of disapear. Electric start is nice for trails but maybe less important for long p-t-p races.

(I'm sure the Honda XR650 is a great, but it's just too big and heavy for me. I know I want something a little smaller. )
 

Young&Fast

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I've never riden any of those bike but I can say this: WR stand for wide ratio. the first three greas are the same as the YZ 450f but once you get into 4&5 then wow, your flyin. It also has softer suspension. I'm sure you could run a two smoke in D-37 or D-38 (thats what I plan on doing). But in long races I dont think you would want a smoker because of enginge problems.
 

Jarvis

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Cream of the crop you gotta go KTM-525. Power/Reliable/Simple.
 

Total Loss

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Depends on where you are racing.
Baja- a sportsman can do well with an xr650 (the best ever long distance machine).
High desert-(washington?)- Honda crf450x or KTM 525.
You would be surprised how easy the 650's are when you learn how to ride them.
I would not ride anything else for a long distance.
 

Total Loss

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ktm 525, dont waste your time on anythig else......kc
KC
I will probably see you at the next USDR race.
Mr Earll said the XR650 would be perfect for this course.
Prepping it now.
I will probably be the only one racing with a Cali license plate (52s).
 

ORR183

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i race district 37 and soon BITD. i currently have a wr250f but i will be soon moving on to a kx450f. i would stick with yamaha but the yz450f cockpit is a bit tight for big/tall guys. i'm 6'2" 180lbs.
 

Total Loss

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i race district 37 and soon BITD. i currently have a wr250f but i will be soon moving on to a kx450f. i would stick with yamaha but the yz450f cockpit is a bit tight for big/tall guys. i'm 6'2" 180lbs.
When the klx450f comes out-dont be surprised to see it in the winners circle-alot!!!
Your size may still hinder you. You could still put some tall bars or risers on.
I was going to buy a crf450x but decided to wait for the klx450.
I had a KLX650 and rode it into the ground- very reliable...
I like the kawi motors and ergos.
You may see a lot of bagging on the "jap" bikes on this blog- but I have only owned "Jap" dirt bikes (kaw,suz,yam and hon) and nothing but good things.
The Wr is a great all around bike as per the tests- good luck on your choice.
My choice for the BITD races (other than the Laughlin race) is an XR650.
I have one but you cant have it...
 

DrZero

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ORR183 & dezracer E:

What is it you will get in the "f" model KX that the moto version doesn't have? The e-start ? Gearing? Softer shocks? Which of these are key for you? Just curious because I've noticed many pro level racers seem to opt for the MX versions. For instance last year Ty Davis ran a YZ-450F not a WR, for whatever reason.

One advantage of the WR / X / KLX versions that isn't mentioned often is that I imagine the slightly lower tuning state of the engine is bit more reliable. Which has to be a good thing for super long races like BITD.
 

BajaboundMoto

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DrZero - for where you live, what you're looking to do, and what your skill sounds like you'd be more than happy with a WR450F, KTM450, CRF450X, or KX450F (the non-moto one, when it's available, i'm waiting to try one too). Go with the E start style w/headlight and quiet(er) exhaust. Keep it mostly stock, you wont be able to outride it, you'll be totally happy.
 

Total Loss

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ORR183 & dezracer E:

What is it you will get in the "f" model KX that the moto version doesn't have? The e-start ? Gearing? Softer shocks? Which of these are key for you? Just curious because I've noticed many pro level racers seem to opt for the MX versions. For instance last year Ty Davis ran a YZ-450F not a WR, for whatever reason.

One advantage of the WR / X / KLX versions that isn't mentioned often is that I imagine the slightly lower tuning state of the engine is bit more reliable. Which has to be a good thing for super long races like BITD.
Ty and the factory guys get exactly what they want. Their budgets are much larger than ours. They can turn a lighter, more nimble MX'r into a winner with gear ratios, suspension tricks, motor mods- all necessary when turning an MX bike into a desert racer. Out of the box- I can race a CRF450x with normal goodies. (stabilizer, spockets, skid plates) The new suspensions are so good- just a half day of setup gets it very good.
Comfort is another point. Long races require it- especially in the vet classes- in my old-slightly worn out opinion.....
 

DrZero

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Thanks for all the postings here. I have definately decided against the 2-stroke. I'm leaning towards the WR at this point, but will try to see if I can find a KTM to look at, too.
 

Total Loss

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Thanks for all the postings here. I have definately decided against the 2-stroke. I'm leaning towards the WR at this point, but will try to see if I can find a KTM to look at, too.
Don't give up on the 2-strokes totally.
KTM probably makes the best for the desert. (300 exc)
Stone reliable as I have heard with minimal maintenance.
Lots of power on demand and light.
I have considered one but have not pulled the trigger.
 

DrZero

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ktm 525, dont waste your time on anythig else......kc
Looking at their web site there is a 525 XC and a 525 EXC. The EXC is dual sport. I'm thinking the XC is the better choice among KTMs as I won't have to go through the whole "rip this weird thing off" process I've been through on the DR. Even though it has a less wide ratio box. (It's a six speed !!) Also less $$. Also, appears to be the one people race in the desert? Correct?

I'm going to look at both KTM and Yamaha WR this week.
 

Total Loss

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Looking at their web site there is a 525 XC and a 525 EXC. The EXC is dual sport. I'm thinking the XC is the better choice among KTMs as I won't have to go through the whole "rip this weird thing off" process I've been through on the DR. Even though it has a less wide ratio box. (It's a six speed !!) Also less $$. Also, appears to be the one people race in the desert? Correct?

I'm going to look at both KTM and Yamaha WR this week.
You could race the dual sport without taking much if anything off.
I am racing my xr650 dually this weekend with just removing the mirror and the fender bag. The 525's are very good. Check Cycle News on the test a couple weeks ago.
It is pricey...
 

ktmkc

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i will have to say dezracer e, i rode jim coffey's xr650 back to the pits when he got off. what a nice bike. i sure would have liked to take it for a rip. k.cave
 

MX808

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ktm 525, dont waste your time on anythig else......kc
Garenteed ( or however thats spelt) that my ex honda team prerun bike would eat a ktm525 up all day. In the desert however. I have it on trails and trust me that thing is hard to get around trees with and to keep happy with going in first and second.
 

SpceSpff

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How would a YZ400F do in desert racing? I just want to race for some fun, no skills/resources to be competitive. I'm not even sure where I would race up here in nor-cal. What's hare and hound?
 

ktmkc

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How would a YZ400F do in desert racing? I just want to race for some fun, no skills/resources to be competitive. I'm not even sure where I would race up here in nor-cal. What's hare and hound?
you can go as fast on a 400 as anything else in the beginner level, go to the ama dist 36 or ama dist37 web sites and read up on racing. it is all loads of fun...kevin
 

Total Loss

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i will have to say dezracer e, i rode jim coffey's xr650 back to the pits when he got off. what a nice bike. i sure would have liked to take it for a rip. k.cave
Dave was right- the XR650 was perfect for that race.
You still cannot beat the xr all around- if you dont mind muscling 300 lbs around.
There is an advantage through the rocks with the XR. the weight and geometry allows you to roll through with minimal deflection. I noticed that on all the rocky uphills- easy to catch and pass. Also alot of throttle when you need it for a quick pass. No delay except for the tire-spin,
On a side note- I tried the Maxxis desert It and was impressed- worked well with minimal wear.
Once again-Major Props to you for helping Coffey.
Lots of guys would not do that.
Now I know why I did not see you at the finish...
Off to Ensenada to pre-run.
Not racing the bike- with the Artic Cat UTV team- # 1801. Attempting to be the first UTV to finish a Score race.
I will let you know when I will do another USDR race. Maybe April or May.
 
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