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  #1  
Old 11 Apr 2012
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Big bike, little bike.

There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm for small bike travels on here and elsewhere these days.

You'd be hard pressed to convince me that I would enjoy a long trip on anything less than a 600. Certainly don't think you need a 1200 but at the same time I can't see any benefit in grinding along at 70/80kmph on a main road with fast moving traffic and trucks whizzing past.

Pros for a small bike:

Good fuel economy
Easy to transport by other means (van, train etc)
Often easier to get parts locally (in SE asia & S.America)

Cons for a small bike:

Small fuel capacity
Difficulty fixing luggage
Inadequate power to carry much weight
Cramped riding position
Tedious to ride on good roads out of town
Less safe

Tell me I'm missing something
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  #2  
Old 11 Apr 2012
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I'm with you on the personal preference for at least middleweight bikes for long trips.

Having said that, I do see that for certain riders for certain trips a lightweight bike makes perfect sense.

I do think however, that this is a fairly small niche and small bikes will always only be a minor percentage of the total used by overland riders.

There is what seems to be a lot more discussion about smaller bikes these days, which is good to keep people aware of all their options and is a fairly interesting topic (or at least different than some of the same old tired debates), but when push comes to shove, most riders will stick with the middleweights or bigger IMHO.
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  #3  
Old 11 Apr 2012
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Not this old chestnut again... Having done big trips on both larger (1150) and smaller/mid weight (650) bikes, if travelling solo overland again, it would be the smaller bike everytime. I never struggled with power, even when back in Europe as it sat at 120kmh no problem. You fix the smaller fuel capacity with a larger tank (20L is adequate for most of the world), same with fitting a more comfortable seat and higher bars. It was never tedious to ride as anywhere I went in the world, rarely did I feel the need to ride somewhere fast, in fact its generally not possible/safe to do so.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnon View Post

Cons for a small bike:

Small fuel capacity
Difficulty fixing luggage
Inadequate power to carry much weight
Cramped riding position
Tedious to ride on good roads out of town
Less safe

Tell me I'm missing something
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  #4  
Old 11 Apr 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeS View Post
Not this old chestnut again... Having done big trips on both larger (1150) and smaller (650) bikes, if travelling solo overland again, it would be the smaller bike everytime. I never struggled with power, even when back in Europe as it sat at 120kmh no problem. You fix the smaller fuel capacity with a larger tank (20L is adequate for most of the world), same with fitting a more comfortable seat and higher bars. It was never tedious to ride as anywhere I went in the world, rarely did I feel the need to ride somewhere fast.
For small I'm talking sub 250, and I'm not criticising just curious.
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  #5  
Old 11 Apr 2012
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Everyone has their preferences, but many folks are tight on funds yet still want to travel the world. Riding a relatively small dirt bike when traveling in the third world has a lot more positives than you list. Especially when fitted with a larger fuel tank and relatively light weight soft saddlebags.

I can follow the pizza bikes threading through rush hour traffic in the busy capitol cities.

It is easy to hop the curb and ride up the steps of a guest house to park in the lobby.

So much easier to park in a room with outside access through a narrow door for the night.

Easier to lift into a canoe when the bridge is out.

Easier to blend in with the locals and get waved through military roadblocks.

People think you are poor so less gringo tax in Central America when negotiating room rates etc.

Cheaper to buy tires for and easier to find.

Less oil at 5.00/quart doing oil changes every few thousand miles.

Way cheaper to buy.

Easier to sell in the third world and fly home.

Easy to pick up.

Easier to ride down goat trails that a big lardy bike would choke on.

Now if you are a large person or are riding mainly in developed countries in Europe or North America on improved highways, then yes a bigger bike makes sense.
Small bikes aren't for everyone. I thought they were lame until I tried one. It helps if you are short on funds and not too bright.

There is no perfect bike.

Kindest regards,
John Downs
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  #6  
Old 11 Apr 2012
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What goes around, comes around ...................

................. but it is only a day ago since this discussion started up in a different thread:- http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...or-heavy-63661

I think the other thread takes a small bike to be sub-250cc and I can't disagree with that; a number of the discussions appear to take a small bike to be around a 650cc, maybe because it kicks off by naming 1000cc bikes to be large.
- perspective is everything.
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  #7  
Old 11 Apr 2012
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Popular misconception

My experience is that big singles are less cramped than "big" adventure bikes.

When you have a F800 or a R1200, the footpeg to seat distance is FAR smaller than on my Xchallenge or on many other big singles.

Riding an F800 or a R1200 standing on the pegs all day, day after day, is going to give you back problem, because of the lack of vertical space on the bikes. A tall big single is less cramped sitting down and less cramped standing up.

Its certainly not the same with all big singles ... but most I have ridden have a higher footpeg to bottom of the seat measurement than twins - ergo less cramping. I was advising a guy on bike selection the other day ... he was a short guy ... so i told him forget about the 650cc singles, you wont be able to touch the ground. Youre a little guy so you need something smaller, like an 800cc bike. Which again, illustrates that the big singles are less cramped for the bigger gentleman than 800 or even 1200cc bikes.

And I also wonder how these weight things are defined ... For me I reckon that a big single - a 140-180 kg 600 - 650 cc bike is what I would term a mid-weight.

Anything above 180 kgs dry, to me, is a heavy adventure bike. And F800 for example is almost identical in weight and capability to the 1200 ... it wont really do anything a 1200 cant do. Whereas a big single is a very different kettle of fish from a 800 / 1200 cc twin / triple bike ... and a light single (below) is a totally different kettle of fish again. I dont really get the labelling of 190 kg, 800 cc adventure bikes as "mid weight".

And a lightweight would be the sub 120 kgs bikes, be they 250s or even the 570 Husaberg I have been on in South America recently ... 114 kgs, but cruises at 80 mph and tops 100 mph. Goes to show you cant really categorise it by cc ... cause that 570 is lighter than many 250s.

So to me it makes sense to categorise the weights by breaking down what they can actually do.

Ive owned and toured on 1200cc 230 kg dry weight adventure bikes and I have owned and toured on 114 kg adventure bikes ... and everything in between. But for me, nothing beats the injected 650cc singles for a combination of durability, range and all road performance.

I am off to Magadan again this year, with a group of 5 other guys ... and thankfully everyone in the group has some form of 650 single, apart from one guy joining for a short stretch on an old, heavily modified and much lightened airhead BMW boxer.
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  #8  
Old 12 Apr 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Downs View Post
I can follow the pizza bikes threading through rush hour traffic in the busy capitol cities.

It is easy to hop the curb and ride up the steps of a guest house to park in the lobby.

So much easier to park in a room with outside access through a narrow door for the night.

Easier to lift into a canoe when the bridge is out.

Easier to blend in with the locals and get waved through military roadblocks.

People think you are poor so less gringo tax in Central America when negotiating room rates etc.

Cheaper to buy tires for and easier to find.

Less oil at 5.00/quart doing oil changes every few thousand miles.

Way cheaper to buy.

Easier to sell in the third world and fly home.

Easy to pick up.

Easier to ride down goat trails that a big lardy bike would choke on.
Some real benefits there. Getting an airhead BMW in and out of hotel rooms was always testing!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Walkabout View Post
................. but it is only a day ago since this discussion started up in a different thread.
Yes, sorry about that should have looked before posting

Quote:
Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
My experience is that big singles are less cramped than "big" adventure bikes.

When you have a F800 or a R1200, the footpeg to seat distance is FAR smaller than on my Xchallenge or on many other big singles.

Riding an F800 or a R1200 standing on the pegs all day, day after day, is going to give you back problem, because of the lack of vertical space on the bikes. A tall big single is less cramped sitting down and less cramped standing up.

Its certainly not the same with all big singles ... but most I have ridden have a higher footpeg to bottom of the seat measurement than twins - ergo less cramping. I was advising a guy on bike selection the other day ... he was a short guy ... so i told him forget about the 650cc singles, you wont be able to touch the ground. Youre a little guy so you need something smaller, like an 800cc bike. Which again, illustrates that the big singles are less cramped for the bigger gentleman than 800 or even 1200cc bikes.

And I also wonder how these weight things are defined ... For me I reckon that a big single - a 140-180 kg 600 - 650 cc bike is what I would term a mid-weight.

Anything above 180 kgs dry, to me, is a heavy adventure bike. And F800 for example is almost identical in weight and capability to the 1200 ... it wont really do anything a 1200 cant do. Whereas a big single is a very different kettle of fish from a 800 / 1200 cc twin / triple bike ... and a light single (below) is a totally different kettle of fish again. I dont really get the labelling of 190 kg, 800 cc adventure bikes as "mid weight".

And a lightweight would be the sub 120 kgs bikes, be they 250s or even the 570 Husaberg I have been on in South America recently ... 114 kgs, but cruises at 80 mph and tops 100 mph. Goes to show you cant really categorise it by cc ... cause that 570 is lighter than many 250s.

So to me it makes sense to categorise the weights by breaking down what they can actually do.
I agree re 1200s and 800s having less height between the pegs and the seat, this is probably due to trying to get the seat height as low as possible to suit a larger number of people.

I use handlebar raisers to avoid back problems but mainly because my knees aren't what they were.

For serious off road travel a 650 is probably the best compromise weight versus usability on the road.

570 cc in a package weighing the same or less than many 250s is a good option but I'm sure there's a downside.

Anyone here done a 20,000km + trip on a 250cc or less?
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  #9  
Old 12 Apr 2012
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Two years ago I rode 11,000 miles to Panama and back on a 250. I'm not good at kilometer math but I think that's close.

I post on these threads more to give encouragement to young folks reading along who think you need a pile of money to travel around the world and meet nice people.
If someone like me with limited funds who isn't too sharp on the uptake can do it, anyone can.

Don't get me wrong. I don't care what other people ride. Not everyone likes riding around on a motorized mountain bike. I'm old and poor and it brings a smile to my face. Cheap to buy, cheap to run, bulletproof motor and it goes 65. Ticks all the boxes for me.

If more young people were encouraged to travel and experience different cultures I believe the world would be a better place.

Cheers,
John Downs
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  #10  
Old 12 Apr 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnon View Post
Anyone here done a 20,000km + trip on a 250cc or less?
If you search you'll find many folks here have. Just off the top of my head:

From Chile to Texas on a Small Motorcycle | Ondrej Jurik 30,000 KM on a CG125 from Chile to Texas.

73-year-old Simon Gandolfi rides through South America | Travel | The Guardian Simon Gandolfi rode from Veracruz to Tierra del Fuego and back north to New York on a Honda 125.

http://www.honda50.cc/ Two Danes ride a pair of Cub 100s from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.

http://www.thepostman.org.uk/ The 'Postman' from Australia who rode 35,000 KM on a C110 postie bike from Australia to the UK overland.

Is a sub-250 the ideal bike for a long distance tour? Maybe not, but there are people travelling around the world on bicycles, so why not a small motorcycle?
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  #11  
Old 12 Apr 2012
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Don't forget purchase price and insurance cost while in the west.

If I could go back 20 years and take the knowledge of how to travel light and on a 5 year old 90-590 cc bike with me I wouldn't be posting this from Leeds. Cash is better spent on petrol and ferries and not minding where the boss shoves his job , not at the bike dealers or shiney panniers catalogue.

Andy
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  #12  
Old 12 Apr 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnon View Post
570 cc in a package weighing the same or less than many 250s is a good option but I'm sure there's a downside.
Yes but nothing that doesnt seem work-aroundable ... with the exception that you are never going to be able to bolt 3 huge metal boxes to the back of it - if thats a downside

Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnon View Post
Anyone here done a 20,000km + trip on a 250cc or less?
A good one was EdteamSLR on this forum ... whose previous trip was down Africa on an Africa Twin, then got the weight issue, and switched to a Yamaha WR250R for a 3 month ride from London to Magadan via Mongolia last year, including parts of the BAM Road and Road of Bones. The bike, from memory, had zero problems.
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  #13  
Old 13 Apr 2012
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I think it depends on the countries you travel through, crossing into Thailand from Cambodia and suddenly you can feel under dressed on a 110cc honda, Similarly a 350 Enfield in India can be too fast if you forget where you are.
I prefer small, but if my travels included a large range of countries, up goes the ccs'
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  #14  
Old 13 Apr 2012
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For me big starts with the Yamaha XT660 Tenere ,probably more because of its design more than its cubic capacity. It seems to be the first of the adventure bikes, something capable of being both comfortable on the long roads of Europe and capable on the gravel tracks of Africa while still carrying all the gear needed for roughing it in the wilds of Siberia.

Almost everything under that doesn't have the all round capabilities. Its either a trail bike with a seat ill-suited to long hours of tarmac, a road bike built for the abuses of the city (and probably the learner riding it) or a work bike be it delivering pizzas round London or post round Sydney. All-purpose adventure bikes, baby GSes are rare as hens's teeth so it's no wonder that most people ride bigger bikes, there are fewer compromises to make, there are more accessories readily available. There are a few tiny engined all rounders (date I say Derbi Terra Adventure one more time on this forum) but they're almost unknown to the majority of riders and below the radar of the bike media. So a lot of us buy into the dream offered by the manufacturers, big bike, big panniers, big adventure.

Riding small means thinking differently from what we're offered in the Western world. I can't help but wonder if there's a connection between the fact that many of the small engined adventurers listed above bought their bikes in the developing world and their bike choice, and that many of them weren't bikers, seeing the bike as a tool for independent transport, not something to be accessorised, researched, blinged. They bought what was on offer and rode into the unknown.
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Old 13 Apr 2012
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[QUOTE=Alexlebrit;375221Riding small means thinking differently from what we're offered in the Western world. I can't help but wonder if there's a connection between the fact that many of the small engined adventurers listed above bought their bikes in the developing world and their bike choice, and that many of them weren't bikers, seeing the bike as a tool for independent transport, not something to be accessorised, researched, blinged. They bought what was on offer and rode into the unknown.[/QUOTE]



Very good point made here, Nathan(postie) was and still is pretty young, but reading Simon Gandolphi's book I got the distinct impression that he was not a biker.
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