Need advice-deciding between xr400sm,xr250 Baja, D-trkr

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by Paul1212, Aug 18, 2009.

  1. Paul1212

    Paul1212 Active Member

    I’m planning to sell my Honda Degree soon (it’s pretty old - 1993 - & I’ve put over 150,000 km on it in the last 5 years), and want to get a new or new-used dirt bike to replace it. I’ve narrowed my choice down to three bikes, and would really appreciate any opinions or suggestions anyone has about my decision. I do 98% of my riding on paved roads, usually going between 80-110 kph, so it seems that a super-motard would be a logical choice. (I occasionally ride on dirt roads to hilltribe villages.) I’m about 5’10”, and the drz400 is too tall (and also too loud) for me. Whatever I buy, I plan to get the bike registered, or at least pay sales tax, to avoid it getting confiscated by the police. My three possibilities are: a 2005 Honda XR400-SM, a 2002 XR250 Baja, and a new Kawasaki D-tracker. Since this post is quite long, I’ll list my questions first:
    (1) Which of these three bikes would be best for highway driving at speeds of 80-120 kph?
    (2) Which would hold up better, requiring fewer repairs and new parts?
    (3) Is a 400 cc. bike more expensive to register than a 250cc? And if so, by how much?
    (4) How difficult would it be to find parts for the xr400sm?
    (5) Is the Honda xr250 Baja really the same height as the regular xr250?

    Here’s the background and details to the questions above:
    (1) - the 2005 xr400sm (supermotard model, the kind with the 17 inch front & rear wheels). I found a used one on sale for a reasonable price (125k baht). It seems to have the extra power I’d like to have at higher speeds for the times when I’d like to be able to pass someone quickly when going fairly fast (say 100-110 kph). I’m a little concerned about getting parts for it, but I’ve read that it’s being sold in Australia, so for parts that couldn’t be found here in Thailand, I’m hoping I could find a parts dealer in Australia that I could buy from. I do a fair bit of night driving (maybe 20% of my mileage - about 500 km/month), so I’d probably need to put on a brighter headlight. I’d also like to find some good dirt tires that I could use for the times that I go up into the hills on dirt roads. I’ve heard that registering an imported bike in Thailand costs about 50,000 baht. Would that hold true for a 400 cc bike also, or would it be more expensive?
    (2) - the 2002 Honda xr250 Baja. I found one of these for sale for 90,000 baht (140,000 with legal registration). This bike has regular dirt bike-size wheels (21” front, 18” rear), so it would be easy to switch from dirt tires to 80/20 tires (80% road, 20% dirt), like the Dunlop Trailmaxes I’m using on my Degree. The Baja also has a nice bright headlight (double lamp, 7” diameter [I think], though they only take 35 watt bulbs). However, I don’t think it would be as stable at high speeds on the highway as the xr400sm or D-tracker would be. Also, there might be a height problem, though I’m not sure about this. The one Baja I’ve test-ridden was a 1997 model, and only my toes were touching the pavement when I sat on it. I’ve since sat on a number of xr250’s (not the Baja), and was able to get both feet flat on the ground, and I’ve had several Thais tell me that the xr250 and xr250 Baja are the same size. I haven’t test-ridden or sat on the 2002 Baja I’m interested in, because the guy who’s selling it hasn’t put it together yet - (he’s afraid it might get confiscated by the police). I read a post by some company giving dirt-bike tours in Vietnam that said that a person needs to be about 6’1” to ride a Baja, which would fit in with the height of the tall ’97 Baja I test rode. One possibility for this confusion is that maybe the ’97 Baja that I rode had its shocks set very stiff, which would’ve reduced the sag when sitting on it (I only weigh 140 lbs.) If the Baja is only a little too tall, I could lower it an inch and a half by buying a Kouba link for $125.
    (3) - the Kawasaki D-tracker. I test rode one last week at Chiangmai Kawasaki. From what I’ve read, the Honda xr400sm is a better bike, and would probably have fewer problems. One Thai guy I talked to who does a lot of trail riding said that the D-trackers have problems with the gears - that the gears strip out very easily (he just said that if the gears are shifted hard, they เสีย - เสียบ่อยมาก). I’m also concerned about how the inane Thai motorcycle emission laws might affect the performance of this bike, even with de-restricting efforts. Another negative on the D-tracker is that it has a lot less power than the xr400sm. One good thing about the D-trackers is that they’re liquid-cooled, whereas the xr400 and Baja are just air-cooled. Also, parts would be easy to get and not expensive. I would probably need to add a brighter headlight for the night driving I do. For some reason, when I test-rode the D-tracker, it didn’t feel as stable as the xr400sm, maybe because it’s lighter (but only by about 15 pounds).
    Thanks in advance for any opinions or suggestions anyone shares...
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  3. penetrator

    penetrator Ol'Timer

    I rented a XR400 Motard last month in Pattaya and was very pleased with it, was perfect for around town and pretty good on main highways, top speed of about 140 - 150 kph and cruise happily at around 110 - 120 kph. I've rode a Baja in the past and they're not too happy on highways, lacking a decent cruising speed and typical twitchy steering you get with 21 inch front wheel and dual purpose tyres, but it'll make up for that by being more capable off road than the XR400 Motard with it's 17 inch front wheel. Never rode a D Tracker so cant comment on them. If I was looking to buy a bike of these types in Thailand I'd be tempted to check out a DRZ400SM, not quite the same build quality of a Honda but a better super motard than the XR I'd say.

  4. Pikey


    I'm not sure if he's still selling it but "Siinthai" was advertising an XR440 for sale with both dirt & SM wheels. I know this is a good bike as I used to own it and put a total of 260,000+ baht into it with such things as Excel rims, EBC full floater 320mm disc, 440 kit, pumper carb & more. The ad should be on here somewhere if interested or just PM Simon.

    Agree - a 400 is the way to go.


  5. Auke

    Auke Ol'Timer

  6. dirthonk

    dirthonk Ol'Timer

    mmmm, an interesting dilemma there paul.
    for what you say you like to ride a 400 sounds the way to go. whether you go with a drz or an xr. having ridden both there really isnt that much of a difference between them( suzuki shades handling, honda shades motor department IMO). so your only conundrum would be getting hold of a bike with correct legal registration.
    buying a bike with a number plate already would be the best option although make sure you dont hand over the full amount until you have been to the registration department, completed the handdover process and seen your name in the green book.

    i just did this process on monday, the bike was checked all over. emissions, frame number and engine numbers were all thouroughly checked. only when this is complete can the bike be changed names.

    if you know someone who can register an invoice bike legally then all the better as that opens up your options in terms of bike choice. however it remains risky as there is no real guarantee you are getting a legal plate.

    if you know someone who reads thai. get onto the dirt bike section of and check out the listings there. 100's to choose from.

    my opinion would be an xr400 in conclusion. the rest of it concerning the plates is a personal choice i reckon.

    good luck

    p.s concerning parts. air filters, sprockets, chains, brake pads,OIL( pretty much the only things that you will need to change on a modern xr) are all available in thailand. anything else you may need to get hold of should be easily available from M-technik in singapore. mr. chan down there got me parts for a rusty old 2002 xr650 that i used to own. so a 2005 xr400 should not be a problem.
  7. Paul1212

    Paul1212 Active Member

    Thanks to everybody for their replies. They're very helpful. I'm checking into getting the xr400 - I'm going to take another look at it this weekend, and test ride it on the highway. I'm hoping I can get a mechanic over to check it out, since I don't have enough experience to know whether any of the parts have been switched or whether it's been in an accident (though I didn't see any sign of that the first time I looked at it).
  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    You finally got me & I have to ask - where's the photo taken?

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