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I've been poodling about on bikes for about 20 years now, and my wife has just caught the bug and is working her way through the L-plates. We're having an absolute blast together! We've also hatched a plan that we'd like to ride together from our home town of Adelaide to Darwin, then across to the East Coast and make our way back home, wherever possible along byways rather than highways. I'm mostly a city rider with occasional trips to the Flinders Ranges or Coonawarra and obviously my wife has less experience. We're looking for some advice on what type of bikes to get that will take us comfortably on the trip. We're realistically about 18 months out, so we've got time to get into riding shape and get used to new bikes. Do we go the big BMWs? Thoughts and advice in general would be gratefully received.
You don't "need" a big BMW. Any 500cc or more bike will do but, if you can afford it, a BMW is in my opinion, a very good, reliable and very comfortable touring bike.
I ride a R1100GS and it is the best bike I ever had (and I have had many bikes) I is a fine bike on the German Autobahn, but I also enjoyed it very much on dirt roads in Morocco.
If a GS is a little to big, try the R (the naked) model. A few years ago, on a trip in the US, I rented a BMW R850R and rode about 4000 km in a week and it was great.
Get the bike you fancy. Gold star, Enfield bullet, C90, Harley, they've all done big trips and the riders loved them more than any 650-1200cc identi-kit charlies adventure bike. If you fancy the bike on the front cover of the touratech ccatalogue that's the reason to get it, not some story that involves the risk of not being able to use one pannier lid as a heliograph while BBQ-ing on the other.
The trick is to know what your weapon of choice likes and does not like.
if you fancy the bike on the front cover of the touratech ccatalogue that's the reason to get it, not some story that involves the risk of not being able to use one pannier lid as a heliograph while bbq-ing on the other.
something tells me Braille aint guna work too well on a screen
Anyway OP question re bikes:
In short it don't matter. the one thing you must do is find what your wife likes and is happy riding and get the same or similar yourself. 50cc, 125, 250 500..... what ever. Suitable tyres for the terrain you wish to travel and your away. ENJOY !
I remember being a beginner woman rider myself.
My main issue at the time was having flat foot on the ground.
It does not sound that you will be going extreme on trails or river crossing, so, you really don't need a big tall tourer. Any comfortable low (and light!) bike will be ideal for your wife.
For me my first "big bike" just after doing my licence was a Yamaha 535 Virago. It had a very low seat and was very light so easy to handle. Managed to get round France on it (sticking to tarmac on those days).
As Bertrand said, chose a light, small and easy bike. Not sure what is available in Oz but should be plenty of choice. Just go have a look around with your wife...and as you will stick to Oz you can have different bikes. Although they both should have same capacity in term of speed, imho (it will avoid a LOT of arguments!)
Just remember alot of the replies here are from overseas, so they opt for smaller bikes as the difference between places is Jack Shit. But when you start those distances that your talking then the only advice I am going to give is get one with a Bloody Comfortable seat, I would not get a dual sport bike either unless it's a V'Strom or a BMW F650gs twin. As if your wife is just starting out your not exactly going to do 500km of corrugation are you. The roads are great
and those Suzuki stars (I think thats there name) look comfy. But if you do opt for a dual sport then get one that is a twin cylinder, as 6 or 7 hours of riding a single will not be fun.
My 2 cents from a fellow Ozzy !!!
Agree with Paul. Biggest 'killer' in Oz is the distances. Smaller bikes (especially trail bikes) are great off-road, in sand, or shorter distances. But they require more frequent servicing, can be damned uncomfortable and are all over the place when you pass a roadtrain. Not to mention fuel range if you go outside the Metro.
You've been to Flinders- use that as your guide. What did you use? How did you feel on it? (i.e. If you were on a grand-tourer and preferred something more off-roady. then look at a dual sport etc.)
I also agree with the 'both feet on the ground' comment made earlier. That is my wife's single biggest requirement.
That said- do decide where you'll be going. My wife can ride the 650 Strom very capably around town (with a lower seat), but she refuses to take it off the sealed stuff. Mostly she enjoys her CRF250L. She uses a fuel bladder top get over the fuel range issue. and has some small saddle bags for her personnel stuff- The rest of the camping gear, tools and kitchen has to travel with me. She's had plenty of friends with bigger bikes (e.g. 650 Dakar, KLE500, etc), but she believes that if you can't pick it up by yourself (or handle it yourself), it's a risk for you. That's worked well for her so far so I don't argue. Her other favorite bikes included a 250 Virago and an XR350.
My single biggest requirement for traveling with my wife- both bikes need to be from the same stable. i.e. Honda parts tend to be interchangeable, tools are interchangeable, spark plugs are the same, tire sizes are about the same, so that all equates to less gear I have to carry and makes for easier maintenance on the road.
Lastly- consider where you'll be going and whether you'll get support there. BMW does not have the same support in the country. Our nearest BMW dealer is 400km away- bloody long way for small maintenance items. KTM, Husky, Aprillia all the same. If you're going into the country- sticking with a Jap brand like Honda or Suzuki is a safer/better bet.
Some great response posts.. and this I guess has been answered but I'll add my 2 bobs worth.
Like you I've been on bikes for well over 30 years but am not the most seasoned of long distance tourers, yet have completed quite a few long distance trips over the years.
These trips have been done on the likes of XT550 and 600, 1000J, FJ1200, FJR1300.
As has been mentioned, big chookys are great on the dirt and trail but can be very uncomfortable on those long trips, they can also be a great deal of work to ride in the wind and rain, and of course over taking a road train can take some time when your 600CC's a trying to push you and all your gear along at 100KM/h
When your on the black top I don't believe weight is necessarily an issue and I would not give weight significant weight when coming to a conclusion, once you are moving weight isn't necessarily an issue.
Dropping a 180 KG bike and dropping a 220 KG bike is equally a disaster, they are both very difficult to pick up.
On the open road (black top) I would be looking for 1. Comfort, 2. Protection (a nice fairing), 3. Carrying capability, 4. Performance, 5. Handling. 6. Parts availability.
In my mind this really limits the choice to Tourers and Sports Tourers. These are all bigger bikes, with larger capacity engines therefore good performance and generally comfort.
The Triumph ST is a good example but parts maybe an issue.
Kawasaki GTR (Concours)
I'm sure there are others..
The FJR competes directly with the likes of the, Honda St, Kawasaki Concours "GTR", BMW K1300GT but parts are an issue with the BMW and as a friend of mine can contest the BMW has some reliability issues. As far as I'm aware this is also primarily why the police have stopped using the BMW's and are now using the FJR.
The better tourers and sports tourer have features like electric screens which can be raised and lowered, a wide low seat, big faring, heated grips Panniers, etc.
Here's a youtube clip on 3 of the mentioned bikes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnkpM-OsyZg.
I may be somewhat influenced by the fact that I have an FJR at the moment but for the money I reckon they are the pick of the bunch in the sports tourer range.
Another though there, the Police have been using FJR's for a few years now therefore you do get late model bikes quite cheap.. Generally if it's white it's an ex police bike.
Maybe go test ride some bikes. (remembering those vast distances in the saddle require comfort)
Happy to share my experience with my bike on long and not so long rides.
I ride a 2012 DL650 and other than the seat height being a little high for us vertically challenged for city riding, the bike has performed exceptionally well on long distance interstate roads & on days of riding on unmade roads. I believe there is a low seat option, but the bike is well priced to purchase, light & easy to manage, fuel efficient & easy to do basic maintenance.
Bike - Light and low. And the same bike for both of you.
Limit your riding distance. Say 400 km per day. You don't want to do 1,000km per day so don't. This means you don't need a big heavy large capacity touring bike. By limiting your distance you can stop anywhere and look around. And you don't need to do 100km/h either.
The biggest comfort factor on these trips in not a wind screen .. it is the seat! If that is uncomfortable .. change it. All sorts of options here ..requires money but it is worth it.
I've toured on a bicycle, a 175 two stroke, 250 - 650 singles, twins, a triple, fours etc .. all were good trips. If someone says you 'must have this'... walk away. There are lots of options, I'd pick the one that the wife physically likes best. Get a test ride in even around the car park.
I'd not worry about what brand and the dealership coverage in remote areas. The fact is that in remote areas there are not dealerships .. even for 4WDs .. you make do with what is available, same as the locals. The more remote the area the better the locals are at fixing stuff. Whoever you buy off .. get the spare parts guy on side so he/she can send you parts by post quickly, even if he has to source secondhand parts for you. If they cannot do that .. buy elsewhere? Or at least find out who is best to get parts for your bike (in stock or very quick to get in), sometimes this is overseas!
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