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If I might I will throw in my two cents worth. Great choice on the XT. I am 61 years old and have reasonable off road skills. I am 6’1” 204lbs. I chose the WR250R and regret it. The bike is tall (even after lowering links), heavy, top heavy and refuses to be tuned for slow chugging. It has a really annoying dead spot just off idle that makes slow trials like plonking a frustrating, jerky experience. It’s a buzz bomb when blacktop speeds get over 100kph and has to be geared down from stock to work properly in single track. (Which kills it’s road manners a bit). I understand that it is impossible to find a bike that does everything well so to that end, it’s going up for sale with hardly any mileage on it and a boat load of farkles thrown in as well. The new plan is to buy a TW200 for plonking and a Vstrom 650 for adventure touring. I am pleasantly surprised by my 78 dt175. I loved the 125 I had but there wasn’t enough power between trail heads for me. The 175 has just enough power to make secondary blacktop doable for short blasts. It has enough power for trail work and is light and easy to throw around when the going gets tough and the mud gets deep.
As for gear:
Get a good riding jacket with armour in the back, shoulder and elbows. Replace the armour with D30 armour inserts. It’s cheap and WAY ahead of any armour that comes in cheap to mid priced jackets. Select a jacket with the most venting possible and a waterproof liner. Joe Rocket touring stuff is nice and can be found used for reasonable prices. If you plan on riding with a jersey in the summer get quality strap on body armour with shoulder protection and a good pair of elbow pads. Buy proper adventure style gloves NOT motocross gloves. Motocross gloves are designed to be light and give a great feel for the bike but don’t offer the palm and knuckle protection that an ADV glove will. You will probably end up with a few pairs depending on the conditions you ride in anyway. Buy a quality ADV helmet with a flip up face shield that when up will allow for goggles. DON’T buy a motocross helmet as the visor will catch way too much air as your blacktop speeds increase. I personally like my Bell MX9 adv helmet but every head is different. Don’t buy a helmet with flip down sun shields. As the mechanism and the shield take up room in the forehead area of the helmet compromising vital strength. Get a quality boot. Preferably waterproof. Work boots suck at preventing twisted ankles or calf damage when your bike lands on you.(and it will) I bought a pair of Klim Tactical Shorts to give me some thigh and coccyx protection as well as a bit of padding to help with that ironing board Yamaha calls a saddle. (Think about getting an Airhawk seat pad!)
Buy a small tank bag and/or tail bag to carry a tow rope, some repair bits, lunch, water, visor cloth, etc.
The stock OEM tires on the XT SUCK at everything. Really look at what percentage of blacktop vs gravel vs single track vs mud you will be riding in and spend the money on a quality tire that better suits your needs. They will make a huge difference in how the bike feels. Rim locks are a must. Consider having your wheels balanced.