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Travellers' questions that don't fit anywhere else This is an opportunity to ask any question, and post any notice you wish that doesn't fit into one of the other sections.
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  #1  
Old 10 Apr 2012
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Best bike: light or heavy

FIRST OF ALL: I'M SORRY FOR THE MISLEADING TITLE OF THIS THREAD. WHAT I REALLY MEANT WAS:

-WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF RIDING A BIGGER (HEAVIER) BIKE?


I really like light bikes but it seems that the heavy bikes (Varadero 1000, R12000GS, Tenere 1000, V-strom 1000) are the way to go for travelers these days.
I can name some advantages of the small bikes like maneuverability, fuel economy, you can pick it up yourself after a fall. For the people whom have seen The Long Way Round there is even a good example when Claudio drives a local small bike and can travel much faster than Charlie and Ewan.

Can somebody explain the advantages of these 'monster' bikes?

Last edited by duive01; 20 Apr 2012 at 12:21.
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  #2  
Old 10 Apr 2012
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Originally Posted by duive01 View Post
I really like light bikes but it seems that the heavy bikes (Varadero 1000, R12000GS, Tenere 1000, V-strom 1000) are the way to go for travelers these days.
I can name some advantages of the small bikes like maneuverability, fuel economy, you can pick it up yourself after a fall. For the people whom have seen The Long Way Round there is even a good example when Claudio drives a local small bike and can travel much faster than Charlie and Ewan.

Can somebody explain the advantages of these 'monster' bikes?
GLAMOUR -> The actor rides the big bike, while the cameran films him riding the (sh*tty) light bike.

PS: If next time the actor swims wearing boots and the cameraman swims with fins...
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  #3  
Old 10 Apr 2012
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2 factors

1. Covering longish distance, at high speed on major highways (and stopping quite frequently along the way for fuel).

2. Carry a pillion in the comfort that the passenger expects, and needs, if the relationship between the rider and pillion is to survive the journey.

That's it really.
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Old 10 Apr 2012
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You can travel on anything, just read some of the stories on here.
Bigger bike = more comfort, maybe better fuel range, higher speeds on larger roads, good for pillions.
Small bike = can go places the big bike cannot.

So if you want to travel with a passenger or plan to stick to roads mostly, a big bike is good but if you want to get off road, are happy to travel a little slower & are riding solo a small bike is better.
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Old 10 Apr 2012
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Originally Posted by Walkabout View Post
1. Covering longish distance, at high speed on major highways (and stopping quite frequently along the way for fuel).

2. Carry a pillion in the comfort that the passenger expects, and needs, if the relationship between the rider and pillion is to survive the journey.

That's it really.
These are 2 good points but still...many of the riders I see on the internet do a lot of offroad and hardly ever carry a pillion!
But it reminds me why I'm not a heavy bike user, I always travel alone and I really don't like highways.
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Old 10 Apr 2012
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Originally Posted by holodragon View Post
You can travel on anything, just read some of the stories on here.
I absolutely agree that you can travel on anything, a Harley, a Vespa, a R1200GS. Just wondering why so many times the 1000+cc bikes are chosen for trips that (in my opinion) can easily be done by a 250.
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Old 10 Apr 2012
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Originally Posted by holodragon View Post
...but if you want to get off road, are happy to travel a little slower & are riding solo a small bike is better.
I agree 100%. But isn't that what most travelers do or want to do? Travel slow and get off road here and there?
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Old 10 Apr 2012
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Originally Posted by duive01 View Post
I absolutely agree that you can travel on anything, a Harley, a Vespa, a R1200GS. Just wondering why so many times the 1000+cc bikes are chosen for trips that (in my opinion) can easily be done by a 250.
They can be done by bus or bicycle too. The Western biker can be one big fashion statement and practicality doesn't seem to enter in to it. Getting half the riders out on anything under a litre is like getting my wife to leave her hand bag and use the pockets provided in her jacket, practical but not going to happen because they just aren't comfortable with it!

Andy
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Old 10 Apr 2012
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This has been discussed a few times already, but here we go....

I can see a lot of great things with heavy bikes (range, power, security, ability to carry water and food, funfactor, comfort, some are reliable etc). I can only see one downside and that's the weight, with the right driving-technique weight is a manageable problem.
My bike has been on all kind of odd places, only once I had to turn around (vann Zyyls pass) because I couldn't carry enough fuel. It still nags me!


Personally I use a 200kg bike for traveling, if you can find a lightweight bike that have a range of 700kms, can carry all my gear without behaving like a overloaded bicycle, manage 150kkm without major rebuilds and still be able to blast through the gravel in 160km/h I might have a look.
In my experience small bikes generally come to short and follow the main-routes because of lack of range (fuel, water, spareparts and food).

I'm not saying that all heavy bikes are great for touring, I'm saying that we have different preferences. There is nothing wrong with that.


Btw: I also have a 250cc and a 400cc
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Old 10 Apr 2012
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Yep, horses for courses for sure. Take the bike that you think will be best for the job. If you're doing lots of small trails and really enjoy the off pavement experience then get a small bike. If you're doing lots of long distance riding on pavement a big bike is best. Another factor is how much you're going to pack (a big bike can handle big loads very easily) and your own personal dimensions (I find I'm too cramped on most smaller bikes at 6'4").

Actually the best bike for your trip is the one you already own, just get out there!

As a point of reference, when we rode from Germany to South Africa on the East side and then across Canada back home we covered approximately 45,000 km. I had sold my R1150GS Adventure before the trip because I wanted something lighter. Of the 45,000 km I would guess that about 1,000 to 2,000 km (Nubian desert in Sudan, Northern Kenya)was better with a lighter bike, the remaining 43,000 km would have been better (or perhaps the same) with the big Adventure. I'll be taking an R1200GS Adventure on the next trip (and probably hating it in Mongolia) because for the majority of our riding we're on half way decent roads where a big comfy bike is quite nice.
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Old 10 Apr 2012
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Originally Posted by estebangc View Post
GLAMOUR -> The actor rides the big bike, while the cameran films him riding the (sh*tty) light bike.

PS: If next time the actor swims wearing boots and the cameraman swims with fins...

They set off on 3 fat bikes. While welding one of the fat bikes they fried the electrics on it. Hence only 2 fat bikes left = 2 actors (actually one actor and one unemployed carpet fitter, but that's another story )... Claudio ends up on the little bike.

I'm on a trip this summer (Central Asia/Rus/Mongolia) where I had the choice between a (medium) fat (Transalp) and a little (DRZ) bike (both already in the garage). I've gone for the Trannie:

Why
1. it's expendible
2. I need the DRZ for trail riding in the UK
3. everything's a compromise
4. my definition of hell on earth is riding 100s of miles on a screaming DRZ and sitting on THAT seat.

I am going with soft and minimal luggage though: That's my contribution to the mantra of light is right.

cheers
C
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Old 10 Apr 2012
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Different strokes for different folks: I've read of people going RTW on everything from 50cc scooters to Goldwings or Harleys with sidecar rigs. If you want to cover a lot of ground quickly or have a lot of cargo/pillion to carry, a bigger bike is of course the way to go. If you have more time and want to travel at a relaxed pace without a lot of cargo, a smaller bike will do fine. I've always thought something around the 250cc-400cc range is ideal for riding solo in most of the world.
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  #13  
Old 10 Apr 2012
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Originally Posted by Walkabout View Post
2. Carry a pillion in the comfort that the passenger expects, and needs, if the relationship between the rider and pillion is to survive the journey.
Which is why I've reluctantly binned the idea of a small bike. Many things in their favour but two-up comfort's not really one of them...

I don't see the need for any more than a 650 though, unless you really WANT it

Whatever floats your boat.
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Old 10 Apr 2012
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Another Angle

Just another angle on it:
A small basic dual sport bike can be compress packed into a crate of under 1.8m2. A bike like a DR, XT660, KLR etc can be stripped down to fix, clean or service very quickly. The above bikes can also be squeezed through a 2'6" door of a hotel/house if needed. Sand is a pain but manageable for one person on a small loaded bike but a GSA loaded is a two man job.

For me some people just need to decide what trip they want to do more than what bike to take. Once you know you will be either mainly on the road or doing more than gravel tracks the bike type choice is easy. When Yamaha build a 750cc twin, shaft drive XT750R - I'm having one !!
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  #15  
Old 10 Apr 2012
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Originally Posted by Threewheelbonnie View Post
They can be done by bus or bicycle too. The Western biker can be one big fashion statement and practicality doesn't seem to enter in to it. Getting half the riders out on anything under a litre is like getting my wife to leave her hand bag and use the pockets provided in her jacket, practical but not going to happen because they just aren't comfortable with it!

Andy
Maybe that's my problem, being to practical!
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