The DR650: Unlimited smiles per mile

It has now been a little over one thousand miles since I bought the DR650SE. First off, here are some statistics:

  • Miles ridden = 1,000
  • Days ridden = 60, exactly 2 months
  • Longest ride = 105 miles roundtrip
  • Dirt rides = 1
  • Dirt miles = Probably about 20
  • Mods done = 2
  • Money spent on mods = $16 😀
  • Money spent on maintenance = $329 (new tires, oil & filter, cam chain tensioner oil leak, etc.)

If you ever start searching for adventure bikes or dual sports, you will literally find hundreds of thousands of reviews, comments and posts online about the DR650. There is a very active fanbase: riders, adventurers, off-roaders, modders, supermotards and so on. A lot of threads focus on comparing the DR v/s Kawasaki KLR650 v/s Honda XR650L v/s BMW F650GS. And a lot of threads document how the DR has been ridden across: North America, South America, Africa, Asia and occasionally around the world.

Anyway, here are my simplistic thoughts on the DR:

The Good:

  • The DR is really an amazing first bike. Cheap to buy, cheap to maintain and cheap to insure.
  • The DR is extremely simple. No fuel injection, no ABS, no radiator, no computer, a single cylinder and air cooled. You cannot get simpler than that. There is nothing to break, nothing to fix.
  • The DR has basically been unchanged since 1996. Simple classic design that works today as well as it did 16 years ago.
  • The engine has very good low and mid-range torque. It never fails to bring on a smile as I come out of  a corner.
  • The DR can handle the twisties like a boss. Yes, I’m comfortable taking on the big sport bikes on Hwy 9.
  • There is a wealth of information online and a very strong community. There are ample aftermarket parts and support to please almost everyone.

The Bad:

  • There are no bragging rights with the DR.
  • As I said in the good part, the DR has basically been unchanged since 1996. So the setup is old school, especially the suspension.
  • The DR is not very freeway friendly. No Iron Butt highway long-hauls here.
  • Everyone complains about the small DR fuel tank (3.2 gals) and the hard seat. I’ve not really found either to be an issue.

The Ugly:

  • The DR’s no stunner. Not going to pose alongside the Italian bikes anytime soon.

It is my conclusion that the DR simply cannot be beaten for the smiles per mile it offers. I’ll leave you with a video of the DR650. Judge for yourself:

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