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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
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Old 11 Sep 2013
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 33
525 or F800

Hi all,

I am faced with a dilemma and need, some input from the more experienced overlanders out there. Please,your comments are most welcome!<br />

I am fortunate enough to have a choice of two bikes to use on an overland trip to Africa following the West coast route from Morocco to Cape Town. One is a 2005 KTM 525 with almost 15000km on the dial that has a big Acerbis 23 litre tank. It's in great condition. The other is a 2013 brand spanking new BMW F800GS with no more than 10000 km on the dial.

Things I know already:

The BMW is new, it is less likely to break down.
It's more or less a proven machine and capable of the trip
It's heavy and will make you sweat in the mud and sand....you will drop it and you will curse it.
It's expensive and a the Carnet will be pricey though how much I don't actually know yet.

KTM 525
It's an older machine and will need more maintenance on route but probably no more than an oil change every 2000 Km or so if you don't keep the throttle open on full revs all the time. Oil should be available anywhere there is a mechanics work shop.
Has a carb and no electronics which is an advantage in Africa.
Uncomfortable on the black tops.....in fact uncomfortable all the bloody time.
Very limited room for luggage. Best solution: Giantloop bag strapped to the pegs.
Will glide through sand and mud and I will not mind dropping it.
8 year old bike worth not much more than a couple of thousand Euros should be easier on the wallet for a carnet.

I guess my real query is: has anybody embarked on an overland trip with a 525 out there for what could potentially be a 6 month trip? If so, has it been ok or a total and utter disaster ?

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Old 21 Sep 2013
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Location: SW France
Posts: 266
Quite a lot on advrider.com about using the 525 as an adventure bike - not sure if anyone has taken one around the world. If I were you I'd be looking at something between the two such as a KTM 690 enduro or Tenere.

PS. You don't need a dirt bike in Africa although accepted it could be fun in places.
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Old 22 Sep 2013
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Location: Back in Europe
Posts: 172
I would take the GS800, comfort is pretty important for a 6 month trip, but there are a few bits where the 525 would be nice to drive. You talk about changing the oil every 2000 km, I think that would get very tedious and you would have to use car oil, as it's near impossible to find any motorbike oils. Also think about tyres, I guess the 525 would eat tyres.
If you do go through with the KTM, I could give you a contact in Abuja, lot's of expats there drive KTM's
EnduroRide Abuja - YouTube
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Old 24 Sep 2013
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Location: Victoria, BC, CA
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I prefer smaller, lighter bikes, especially on rough roads.
Just my opinion, but if it was down to these two bikes I'd lean towards the KTM.

Truth be told, I would stay away from both and go for a Japanese machine.
Bruce Clarke --- 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 250R (black)
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