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North America Topics specific to Canada and USA/Alaska only.
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  #1  
Old 10 May 2012
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Location: Atyrau, Kazakhstan
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What choice for riding Canada and USA

HI All,

I am thinking of spending at least 6 months between Canada & USA. The question is what bike?
I currently have a BMW 1200 Adventure, but am thinking of a DRZ400. I would like to take in as much off the beaten track as possible but as the distances are huge which would be the better.
Pro's for the 400 are better off road but, if I do need to do highways then not so good but I believe speed limits are low so maybe not such a problem.
Pro's for BMW, no lack of carrying capacity comfortable, already have it so no outlay except shipping.
So if anyone out there has done a big trip similar I would be interested in what bike you think best.
I am no off road hero but have riding the GSA to Kazakhstan 5 times but to be honest there in nothing that "off road" on that route.
Cheers,
Mike
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  #2  
Old 10 May 2012
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Location: Bassett, Nebraska
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Hi Mike,

North America is huge. I have ridden all over on large and small bikes. The bike you own would be an overall good choice for covering hundreds of kilometers of road between the best out of the way places. Or a DRZ would be fun in the western states of the US and backcountry British Columbia. There is no perfect bike.

Because bikes are relatively cheap by world standards in the US and the cost of shipping is so high from Eurasia, you might consider flying to the US and buying a DR650, DRZ or similar and riding the fun off-road areas of the western US and Canada. Elsewhere on the HUBB I believe Wheatwhacker in San Francisco has offered to help foreigners buy and register bikes in the US.

Some areas would favor the DRZ. For fun suggestions of off-road adventures you can check here or on advrider.com and search for ride reports of the the Trans America Trail (TAT), Continental Divide Route (CDR), Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route (OBDR) or similar. Also Rocky Mountains jeep trails in Colorado, Moab area in Utah. Check out the pictures on the ride reports and see if that is what interests you.

Other people enjoy traveling mainly on paved and gravel back country roads and visiting the National Parks or other points of interest. Plenty of those to choose from. Your GS12 would be perfect for that kind of riding.

Cheers,
John Downs
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South America and back on a 250 Super Sherpa Minimalist Adventure http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=831076
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  #3  
Old 10 May 2012
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Hi Mike,

Well as you no doubt know, it's pretty much a personal choice so no right answer for all folks.

Having said that, IMHO that the best default decision for most people is to ride what you already own and know.

I'd stick with the GSA. You have already done plenty of long trips on your bike, are used to how it runs, sounds and feels, and have adjusted your riding to the weight. It's not a small bike by any means but as you point out the distances are huge and there are plenty of freeways and good paved roads to ride between the highlights where a big bike will shine.

The other thing about Canada and the US (how's that for a broad generalization) is that you can also get off the beated track and generally ride good quality gravel roads (forestry roads, etc.). Many of these roads see little or no traffic but are great riding in their own right and would pass for major roadways in some developing countries. Your bike will be fine for this type of off the beaten track riding.

Now if you are really seeking to go off road (trail) riding and think that would be a large percentage of your trip, then perhaps considering a very light bike would be worthwhile. If you expect that to only be a small percentage, you could probably make do with your big bike and some small amount of suffering. If you were really going to go hard core for a period of time and need to go ultra lite, I'd look at renting or borrowing for that brief period. If you come to B.C. to do this, I could lend you a 650 single.
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  #4  
Old 10 May 2012
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Thanks

Thanks for the replies, think I will stick with the GS. Am thinking of getting a cruise over for a bit of a break and see if any of them will throw the bike in the hold, worth a try, but not holding my breath!
Thanks again,
Mike
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  #5  
Old 12 May 2012
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: NorthVancouver Island
Posts: 63
NA Travel Bike

Quote:
Originally Posted by gs1200mike View Post
HI All,

I am thinking of spending at least 6 months between Canada & USA. The question is what bike?
I currently have a BMW 1200 Adventure, but am thinking of a DRZ400. I would like to take in as much off the beaten track as possible but as the distances are huge which would be the better.
Pro's for the 400 are better off road but, if I do need to do highways then not so good but I believe speed limits are low so maybe not such a problem.
Pro's for BMW, no lack of carrying capacity comfortable, already have it so no outlay except shipping.
So if anyone out there has done a big trip similar I would be interested in what bike you think best.
I am no off road hero but have riding the GSA to Kazakhstan 5 times but to be honest there in nothing that "off road" on that route.
Cheers,
Mike
Hi Mike,

If your wanting to do a lot of the off the beaten path stuff as well as travel long distances then a 650 class bike would be the best compromise...

The 1200 GS is basically a streetbike that you can ride on gravel, great for eating up miles on easy terrain but tiring and slow in the rough going... After a while you may shun riding in to some prime spots because of the difficulty and effort it takes getting a hefty bike in there... Also if you drop the thing the effort required in getting it back up will get old pretty quick...

The DR 400 is a great machine which performs well in a rough terrain role, but for long days and lots of distance it will for sure be lacking in the comfort department... The bike is reasonably light so you can pick it up even with full luggage aboard which is a plus... The stock seat should be replaced with something wider and more cushy and the fuel tank is small so that should be addressed... The downfall is that the engine will be more stressed at freeway speeds and running an engine closer to peak capacity for hrs on end becomes tiring in a hurry...

Looking at a 650, the KLR fills the role quite nicely... Right off the get go the bike is set up well enough that you could go with it... It has less dirt ability than the 400 but much more than the 1200 and also does pretty good on the pavement... The engine runs pretty comfy at all posted speeds so unless you are into blitzing it should do well for long distance...
The DR 650 may even be a better choice as it does better in the off road and is lighter than the KLR but requires much more setup to be travel ready...
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