Pros: e-start, bullet proof motor, tried and true design
Cons: not fashionable or trendy
Out of dirtbiking for 20 years, I recently bought a New "old stock" 2001 XT 225 to chase my 9yoa step son on his TTR 125. I guess Santa was good to both of us. I was skeptical of the "little" 225, as I come from a motocross background (years ago). But, at 5'9", 195#, 35yoa, My racing days are far behind me, but I have the knowledge to pass on to an eager nine year old. Let me say that the bike has done nothing but impress, so far. A few minor mods have made a big difference, and the bikes few shortcomings can be overcome for next to nothing, and you have a strong performer off road, that you can ride to town for errands and take right off and go to the woods, right down the highway.
For anyone who wants to ride and have a good time, rather than try and impress others with that race bike that few have the ability to use proficiently, then the XT 225 is a solid choice.
As for the mods, I added a Uni air filter, Drilled out the air screw plug in the carb and ended up with a 3 turns out setting , replaced the front sprocket with a J/T 14 tooth, cranked up the rear shock to the "hardest" setting (ownwer's manual required). I also removed the snorkel from the airbox, and opened up the spark arrester with 5/16 holes in the end. (Arrester still works but flows now)
What I have ended up with, is a light, agile, quick bike, that will run 65 all day, 80 top end, willingly wheelie in first and second gear, with enough grunt down low to haul my big butt up some pretty nasty sandhills, and thru some rank mudholes, and enough suspension for small to moderate jumps.
The best part of it all though is being back in the dirt, with my kid and making a new biker, when most of his friends just look at bikes on TV, or play them on video games.
Add to this, that the XT has been around for many years, with good reliability, durability, and parts availability, and it is near impossible to go wrong.