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  #1  
Old 14 Aug 2012
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which option buy an OLD bike or travel in 4x4

General question to everyone on the Hubb
If your 6month adventure was cut short (by 3 months) because your motorbike seized and you had one of two options:
1) buy a second hand bike in Kazakhstan namely Suzuki DR 650 (year 1993, price usd3800, millage 49000km) or a Kawasaki KLE500 (year 1996, price usd3900 millage 45000km)
2) continue the trip as a passenger in a friend’s 4x4
What option would you take? And if option 1 which bike would you choose?
Just brain storming at the moment and curious to know what everyone else would do
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  #2  
Old 14 Aug 2012
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Personally I would do neither. A seized bike is kind of vague, but I could probably fix it if it only ran out of oil. With only 3 months of time left to travel I would either ditch most of my gear, buy a cheap throwaway 125 or 250 for under 1000 and ride the wheels off it before selling it cheap to a local or giving it away and flying back to North America or find a helpful machinist in Astana or Almaty and tear the motor apart and replace or fabricate new parts with whatever was available to get my old bike back on the road.

Your story is light on details. Not sure where you're from but it sounds like North America and you sound inexperienced mechanically if you ran a bike out of oil. If you're not an ace mechanic the prudent thing for you to do would be to save your money, catch a ride with your friend and enjoy some car camping for a couple months. I would never pay those high prices for used bikes in a third world country with only three more months to ride.

Maybe you are not poor like me, and live in the EU, you're a decent mechanic and your original bike seized for reasons beyond your control. If you are rich and don't mind spending money like a drunken sailor no reason you can't buy the DR650 and enjoy the ride home.

Either way, I wish you safe travels. I would rather be in Kaz with a dead bike than going to work like I must do right now to save up for my next trip.

Kindest regards,
John Downs
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  #3  
Old 14 Aug 2012
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more details

Hey John

THANKS for the reply, food for thought.
Swiss based South African J
Yes inexperienced mechanically but no did not run my bike out of oil
No I’m not rich, not even close

Bike seized due to hole in radiator in middle of Siberia, tried to limp it (no other option) to closest bike mechanic 1000km away. Filling up radiator as often as needs be / possible. Never had a problem with oil that was checked every day. However bike over heated dramatically. Would take 1 month to fix, needs new piston and piston rings (to start with, and it’s shipping the parts that will take so long, as none are available here, spent 10 days trying to get parts / fix bike), but Russian visa expired (and after 2nd visa and a court appearance could not get another extension and am banned from entering Russia for 6 months) so had to leave bike with very good Russian friend once I made it to his city, Irkutsk. Will try sell / fix it at a later date, it will cost too much to ship it back to Europe.

Now in Kaz and trying to work out next plan of action
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  #4  
Old 14 Aug 2012
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I see what you're dealing with. I imagine that used Kaz bikes are pretty beat. It sounds like you are good at routine maintenance. And all my friends from darkest efrika are pretty stubborn, thrifty and resourceful, so you have that going for you. And working in svitzerlond means you make more francs in a month than I make in a year. And since Kaz isn't that far to ride from, I would probably buy the DR and ride it home if I had the money and the bike ran well enough. It's only 3000K or so back home.

You still have August, September and October. A great time to be camping in Turkey, Greece, the Adriatic coast, Slovenia, the Dolomites et al on a slow ride back home.

Now if the 4x4 friend is a beautiful lonely single woman that changes the equation. 3500 swiss francs would be better spent on fuel, liquor and kebabs than a beater Kaz bike. But if the 4x4 friend is a portly farting fellow who snores like a logger then I would buy the beater Kaz bike and continue your two wheeled adventure!

And I would suggest if possible not running a car or bike with a holed radiator. Cheaper to get a tow or throw the bike on a truck to get to the nearest junkyard. Any radiator that you can adapt to fit will do. A car or truck heater core, truck transmission cooler, or any available good used motorcycle radiator can be zip tied to a water cooled bike if that's all that's cheap and available in the third world and hoses adapted to fit your bike to get you home or to a place where you can buy a radiator that fits the bike or repair the holed one.

Happy trails,
John Downs
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Last edited by John Downs; 14 Aug 2012 at 16:18.
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  #5  
Old 14 Aug 2012
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The DR650 is a bit beat up, the KLE500 is in mint condition wow the guy really looked after it, but I rode it and if I was doing tarmac from here to Singapore I would not hesitate it’s comfy and nice bike, however I will be riding a lot of rough roads especially going back to Mongolia again and for this the DR is far better it felt really good. HOWEVER have now been given the option of another DR in better condition … watch this space J
>And working in svitzerlond means you make more francs in a month than I make in a year.
Not quite true, I saved for 2 years to make this trip happen

>You still have August, September and October.


If we (the bike and 4x4 group I am joining ) don’t get through china that is exactly what I will do but so far paperwork for china is looking good

4x4 is driven by a very nice couple

Trust me when I say there was no option but to ride the bike, remember I was alone in Siberia at this point. When it did seize the most amazing Russian couple towed me and my bike 250km with their GSX650 over 2 days. We tried everything to get a truck to take the bike but no go and they spoke Russian unlike me.
>Happy trails,


THANKS

Cheers
Lorraine
www.lorrainespence.com
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  #6  
Old 15 Aug 2012
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Hi Lorraine,

Thanks for the link to your blog. Very helpful to know what you're up against. Also that you are Lorraine and not Larry. I better mind my manners.

I say Lhasa or bust. Sounds like a fun trip. The world is your oyster. Haven't heard of anyone making it into Laos from China without spending a metric ton of cash for drivers and guides. But if you are travelling with nice folks with 4x4s to split the cost that could be fun. Riding with a group isn't my cup of tea though.

Personally, instead of buying a bike in Almaty, and riding with a bunch of people and Chinese driver/escort, I would fly to Dehli and catch the train and bus to the Kulu Valley and Manali and buy an Enfield for a few hundred bucks and ride the high passes up through the Himalayas to Leh. This is THE time of year for that. August through September is the bees knees in the Himalayas. Spectacular riding and plenty of cheap mechanics and flat fixers.

Or just fly to Bangkok and explore Southeast Asia for three months. Buy a cheap step through Honda dream or small dirt bike and go exploring. I sent all my camping gear and clothes back home when I hit Singapore coming the other way from New Zealand. No need in the tropics down there. You can travel light doing a circuit through Thailand hill country, Laos, Viet Nam, Cambodia, down through Malaysia to Singapore. Plenty of cheap guesthouses to stay in and yummy street food to eat so you can ditch a lot of that pile of stuff you are dragging around. Other than riding boots, riding gear, a couple pair of shorts, couple tops, some underwear and some flip flops most of the rest can get sent home for that segment of your trip.

Just some thoughts. Mind you, I can see you in a picture on your blog riding a beater Kaz DR into Lhasa with Nunu the screaming banshee strapped to the front, so there is that to consider.

Kindest regards,
John Downs
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  #7  
Old 15 Aug 2012
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Plan A and B

Hi John
Yup I’m a little ol’ lady and apparently the first foreign woman to ride the BAM in Russia so I’m kinda proud of that even if it did kill my poor Dizzy. Ah well life on the road eh’
Although the idea of flying to Deli appeals the whole point is to ride to Singapore and that is still the dream. The group going through china 1 4x4 and 8 (now 7) bikes are a great bunch and we’ll have a blast (but yup group travel can have its down sides)
So the Plan A is as follows (bike in Almaty did not work out, I liked the DR a lot but it is not well maintained has a LOT of rust on it and gut feeling is saying nah) there is a bike in Bishkek DR 2001 model cheaper than in Almaty. If that works out in the next 24 hours (deadline for paperwork for china needing to be faxed) then woohooo I’ll have wheels again (you don’t know Sambor on HU do you I am trying to get an email / phone number for him?)
Plan B if Bishkek bike does not work out I hop in the 4x4 and have a blast with Lyn and David HOWEVER only doing the China part1 trip 18days from Kyrgyzstan to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia (I love Mongolia so am looking forward to seeing it again) then 16th September flying into Laos meeting up with my friend Eric who has a DRZ400 he can hire me (he does bike tours etc in that part of the world ) giving me 6 weeks to jolly around SE Asia to Singapore and back to Laos, I like your description and am looking forward to it, especially the food bit. Then I am off to Myanmar with Eric, he is one of the only commercial groups allowed to take bike tours in Myanmar so an exciting 2 week trip with him. Then back home a week before reality strikes.
Yup china is a bit of a nightmare. You can only do a self ride with a proper tour company and they must supply a full time English speaking guide. Bla bla all sorts of paperwork, but with 10 people the cost is doable Our original plan was Tibet then we were banned, plan B was a different route then one province refused paperwork so now we must go into china and ride up to Mongolia i.e. china part1, then through Mongolia to a different border Ernholt (so as to miss out this one province can’t remember the name now) and then back into china i.e. China part 2 total trip just under 2 months. What people will do to ride through china hey! But I’ll just do part 1 so as to do some overland travel in china with my friends. (I have already paid 1k deposit and will lose that if I don’t go and this will more than cover the cost of part1, part 2 is a new plan I won’t now sign up for so fortunately won’t lose any money not doing it)
Will let you know the outcome
THANKS for the posts, it’s nice to chat and get feedback and ideas, even if you did think the overheating was my fault, also remember it was raining for weeks so I never noticed the slow drip drip of the antifreeze running out the radiator from the tiny hole I did not see on my daily inspection, and my temp light never went on, all the other lights work but fate decided that just that one wouldn’t. BUT the adventure continues
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  #8  
Old 15 Aug 2012
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I don't know Sambor personally, that is if you mean Krzysztof Samborski the Polish rider who leads central Asian tours. Just have read his luscious ride reports mostly over on ADVrider.com. His business website with contact info is:

Wild, wild world, Sambor&Izi motorbike heaven

I see on the home page that his dear friend and business partner Izi died on the tour two weeks ago in Tajik. Must have been just before they closed the Pamir due to fighting. Yikes. He could use some kind thoughts and words about now.

Congratulations on successfully riding the BAM. Killing a DRZ is a small price to pay. Sorry if my posts seemed accusatory in the beginning. I just call them like I see them with the information given and try to give helpful advice while I sit here waiting to head off to South America in a couple months. I like to take the trip of a lifetime every couple years. And HU advice giving kills the time in between trips.

Back to your original question. With the info you have given it seems that you would save a lot of cash riding the 4x4 to Mongolia rather than buying a bike that you would have to get rid of in Mongolia and have to hassle with getting Chinese plates just to ride a few thousand kilometers. China trips can go pear shaped and that would give you the flexibility to bail and catch a flight to SE Asia at any time in case the 4x4s break down or get wrecked by crazy Chinese drivers.

You seem all in on the China trip and have the 1k deposit that needs using. I get it.

Personally if I had a nice friend named Eric who had a kick-ass DRZ waiting to rent in Laos and then over to Burma I'd be all over that.

You sound a lot more goal oriented than I am. The travel goddess had to kill your bike and send your plans off the rails before you met that nice couple in Russia that towed you and the Russian Orthodox bike club. When you look back on it in your later dowager years it is the kind hearted people and interesting nutty characters you met along the way that will bring back fond memories and make you smile.

Have fun where ever your travels take you!

Ciao,
John Downs
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  #9  
Old 15 Aug 2012
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roses :)

It’s ok Sambor got hold of me, damn sorry to hear about his friend.
>> Congratulations on successfully riding the BAM. Killing a DRZ is a small price to pay.
Thanks best thing I have ever done most challenge not so much the riding (very few technical bits, and they are the best parts) but the stamina mental and physical and those Bloody mosquitoes, and the constant rain
>> Sorry if my posts seemed accusatory in the beginning.
That’s ok you’re forgiven you had very little info to go on. I’m already jealous about your S America trip, that is one on my list I’m hoping 2014, if I can save enough in the 18 months after this trip
I wouldn’t get rid of the bike in Mongolia, if I got a bike it would go all the way to Singapore. I’ll only fly out of Mongolia if I do the 4x4 option so as to gain max time on Erics DRZ
>> China trips can go pear shaped
This does worry me and if it does happen options would be good.
If I’m meant to get the DR650 in Bishkek then I’ll get it and if it’s not meant to be then so be it.
>> You sound a lot more goal oriented than I am.
Yes and no I’m not one of those people who doesn’t stop and smell the roses - I have enough pictures of the wild flowers and butterflies in Russia to prove that However this my first big trip and I wanted it to be a trans Asia, so need to get to the other side J
I met many awesome people along the way, even on the BAM as a group we met a fantastic couple who put us up in the house they are fixing up to move into. Russia is just full of Russian angles. Even the people I just met and chatted to on the ferry out of Yakutsk where great and interesting. The guy who helped me at the petrol station when I was trying to find out where I can get 10-40 oil (without speaking Russian) who got in his car drove out of his way making me follow him to the store because he knew I would not understand the instructions he gave me. The list goes on and on…

>>Have fun where ever your travels take you!
THANKS and you too
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  #10  
Old 15 Aug 2012
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You will have an interesting adventure no matter which option you end up taking. Unfortunate that Tibet and Xinjiang are now closed to foreigners due supposedly to upcoming elections. Will be interesting to see if you make it from Mongolia to Laos on a bike. Many people end up selling their bike in Mongolia and flying to Bangkok when they find out the hassle and cost to transit China. I will check your blog next month to see how it ended up. With your tenacity of spirit you just might make it.

You still have many years of dream rides ahead of you. Hope to see you down the road.

Cheers,
John Downs
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  #11  
Old 15 Aug 2012
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Cheers mate

Thanks John

yup keep an eye on the blog there is no telling what will happen on this adventure

yup maybe I'll bump into you in S America

keep those wheels on the ground
cheers
Lorraine
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  #12  
Old 6 Sep 2012
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Quote:
Personally, instead of buying a bike in Almaty, and riding with a bunch of people and Chinese driver/escort, I would fly to Dehli and catch the train and bus to the Kulu Valley and Manali and buy an Enfield for a few hundred bucks and ride the high passes up through the Himalayas to Leh. This is THE time of year for that. August through September is the bees knees in the Himalayas. Spectacular riding and plenty of cheap mechanics and flat fixers.
Yeah definitely. This is really wild, very awesome trip. Especially if you've got time to go to Kashmir via Zanksar.
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  #13  
Old 12 Sep 2012
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Originally Posted by 7055 View Post
Yeah definitely. This is really wild, very awesome trip. Especially if you've got time to go to Kashmir via Zanksar.
I think I will have to put this on my list of trips to do, it sounds great
However I took the DR650 option and am now in Mongolia and LOVE THIS BIKE I am also extremely happy to be back in Mongolia again as I think it is the best country to ride in
Will be heading back to China on the 20th September
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L
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  #14  
Old 13 Sep 2012
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Any bike over any cage anyday, anywhere...

Out of the two bikes, get the one that looks as has seen the moste love and TLC from previous owners. If it looks rough on the outside, then its innards are probably worse.
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Old 25 Sep 2012
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Originally Posted by Wheelie View Post
Out of the two bikes, get the one that looks as has seen the moste love and TLC from previous owners. If it looks rough on the outside, then its innards are probably worse.
Managed to get a DR650Se from Sambour and I am LOVING it

Completed China part 1, Kyrgyzstan to Mongolia, Loved riding the DR in Mongolia, China part 2 cancelled - Chinese government revoked our self ride permits now flying to Bangkok via Korea

Ah well the adventure continues by begging borrowing and stealing (ok not really) funds from family and close friend

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