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Old 12 May 2008
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Question Choosing a bike for traveling DR Congo

This is my first thread.

I'm having a hard time choosing a bike for my stay i DR Congo.
The roads in the northern part of the country has quite bad standards. In other words there are no roads in some areas, just tracks.
The rain season is between April and November and the roads/tracks gets indeed muddy.
I'm looking for a bike that can suit me well in these conditions.
Its no option for me trying to buy a bike in Kinshasa. I'm looking for one in Germany and then import into to Congo.

The bikes weight is important. Crossing rivers is done by canoes and the timber bridges is often in poor conditions.

I will have to carry all of my luggage on the bike.
The distances I will have to travel is between 100 to 500 km on gravel/muddy roads.

My question is what kind of bike/mark/model is most suitable for me.

I have been looking for a Suzuki DR350. Is this a good choice? If not, what chould I go for?

I really need help.

Last edited by lefranck; 12 May 2008 at 00:52.
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Old 12 May 2008
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Originally Posted by lefranck View Post
This is my first thread.

I have been looking for a Suzuki DR350. Is this a good choice? If not, what chould I go for?

I really need help.
Well welcome is what most people say!

Dr350 is a good bike to consider if you can find one in good condition, but they are old nowadays.

Take a look at the Yamaha TTR250 which is a rugged reliable workhorse and still in production - do a search in here on the Yamaha tech thread and you will find some information about it.

Also, read the "what bike" forum - it has enough in there to keep you reading for the next month!
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Old 12 May 2008
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Thank you Walkabout.

The ride comfort is also an issue for me. I'm little bit afraid that the seat on the DR350 (and TTR250) is too hard and narrow and that my back will hurt just after few hours on the road.
The problem is that I have not tried it out jet.

I also want to mount a "luggage rack" on both sides on the bike.

If a moderator thinks that my thread is misplaced, please move it to "Which Bike?".
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Old 12 May 2008
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Originally Posted by lefranck View Post
I'm little bit afraid that the seat on the DR350 (and TTR250) is too hard and narrow and that my back will hurt just after few hours on the road.
The problem is that I have not tried it out yet.
Try it out first. Then if it is not to your liking then get another seat .. I assume that you have one that you like? Get the seat from a wrecker and bolt it on where the original seat was.

You may be able to buy luggage racks to suit the bike, if not make them yourself.
Regards Frank Warner
motorcycles BMW R80 G/S 1981, BMW K11LT 1993, BMW K75 G/S
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Old 20 May 2008
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Yep the DR 350 is a superb bike and good for trans-africa adventures providing you don't carry a pillion or overload the bike with equipment. The problem is will you be able to find one where you are? Good examples are now getting quite rare in Europe, most have had a hard life.

Personally I'd get something as light and agile as possible. Something thats simple and reliable. If cost is an issue look at the XT range from Yamaha, you can still get a good example for less than £2,000. A similar BMW will be very very expensive... If you're looking for a new bike then you need to look at the Kawasaki KLE500 which can be purchased in the UK for £3,000 (a cracking deal for such a good bike).

Yamaha XT 600, XT660 - Probably the most widely used African Adventure bike to be found (closely followed by BMW's). There is nowhere on earth an XT hasn't been. It's quite simply legendary... The XT600E has electronic ignition and can be found for less than £1,500. The XT660 is the new version which will set you back £2,300 or so for a good secondhand example.

Recently (Jan 08) I paid only £1,600 for a 2000 XT600E with only 4,000 miles on the clock. It's superb condition and has had an easy life. I have since seen good examples for £1,200ish. You can't really go wrong with an XT providing it's been looked after. Before you go, make sure you give it a complete full service and renew Oil, Oil Filter, Air Filter, Chain, Sprockets, Sparkplug ect... Oh and pick a good new set of tyres. I have Michelin SIRAC's on mine. They are a good all-rounder. If you envisage mostly offroad stuff then go for specialist offroad tyres (something like a Trelleborg or Pirelli MT21's).

Other good alternatives include -

DRZ 400 - (a great little reliable and bulletproof offroader but the seat is like a cheese wire!)

BMW's - Look at the Adventure models, all are capable RTW tools but they are all damned expensive compared to Japanese alternatives.

These are outsiders -

Honda XR650 - Fast and furious!
Kawasaki KLR 650 - Big Kwaka Trailie with good pedigree
Kawasaki KLE 500 - cost £3,000 new in UK and a good all-rounder.
Triumph Bonneville 800 (2004), Yamaha XT600E (1999), Honda XBR500 (1986).

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Old 21 May 2008
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Just having spent some time in DRC, I would advise to think about spare parts. About all the bikes mentioned above are not found in the DRC. Thus no parts available. The only bike that is seen frequently is the Yamaha DT (125 or 175). You can buy relatively cheaply in Kin or Lubum.

A 600 would be too heavy, go small.

Haven't been in the Kivu's, other bikes might be available there because of the proximity of Uganda/Rwanda.
2006-2007-2008 : Brussels - Cape town - Tokio - Lubumbashi - Brussels

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Old 26 Jul 2008
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I agree with Fred's comment above: The key issue is not so much suitability of the motorcycle, it is availability of parts for the motorcycle.

I was in Goma a few months ago, and the streets were absolutely jam packed with cheap and nasty 125 cc Chinese motos. It seems there was some kind of program to disarm the population whereby anyone could hand in a weapon and be given a small motorcycle in return.

I'm not sure how suitable these bikes would be for cross-country travel, but I am certain that the locals have already tried and found the answer. The key point is that you will be able to find parts, tires, service for these things anywhere in Eastern DRC.
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