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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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  #1  
Old 2 Oct 2011
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A bike for me and a bike for her

My wife has a Transalp 700 but finds it on the heavy side and usually needs help with manoeuvring it. I have a Varadero 1000 so we are also a bit mismatched on the power and tank range side of things which has caused a bit of frustration and angst on some tours when tiredness and irritability has kicked in. Soooo, we are slowly coming to the conclusion that we need to get 2 new bikes, the same. Currently we do 2-3 Euro or Scottish/Irish tours a year plus several weekend trips, but some big life changes loom in the next 2-3 years should see loads more time for greater exploration - turkey and beyond, south America etc.

Wife wants light, lowish seat - the Transalp is ok, it's the weight that she can't cope with. I want reasonable Power. Both want comfort, decent fuel range, and options for ready made luggage and accessories. Options seem very limited:

ktm690 - light, powerful, luggage and accessories available. Exciting and I NEED one Expensive and poor fuel tank range. Skyscraper seat height, rare as hens teeth it seems.

BMW G650GS. cheap, Loads of options. Should be good Mpg. It's a BMW.

Yam Tenere. Getting heavy again. Good mpg. Lots of accessories. Tall.

The BMW is the obvious choice, but I just can't bring myself to want what is billed as a beginners bike.

Anyway views, opinions, other options more than welcome.
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  #2  
Old 2 Oct 2011
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If you think you might like the BMW then take one for a test ride and forget what BMW marketing department or anyone else thinks of it, it is your trip to enjoy on whatever bike you think best. Taking the same bike as each other is a good idea, common spares, tyres and swopping parts to help with fault diagnosis, especially with electronic parts all helps on a longer trip.
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  #3  
Old 2 Oct 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Austin View Post
My wife has a Transalp 700 but finds it on the heavy side and usually needs help with manoeuvring it. I have a Varadero 1000 so we are also a bit mismatched on the power and tank range side of things which has caused a bit of frustration and angst on some tours when tiredness and irritability has kicked in. Soooo, we are slowly coming to the conclusion that we need to get 2 new bikes, the same. Currently we do 2-3 Euro or Scottish/Irish tours a year plus several weekend trips, but some big life changes loom in the next 2-3 years should see loads more time for greater exploration - turkey and beyond, south America etc.

Wife wants light, lowish seat - the Transalp is ok, it's the weight that she can't cope with. I want reasonable Power. Both want comfort, decent fuel range, and options for ready made luggage and accessories. Options seem very limited:

ktm690 - light, powerful, luggage and accessories available. Exciting and I NEED one Expensive and poor fuel tank range. Skyscraper seat height, rare as hens teeth it seems.

BMW G650GS. cheap, Loads of options. Should be good Mpg. It's a BMW.

Yam Tenere. Getting heavy again. Good mpg. Lots of accessories. Tall.

The BMW is the obvious choice, but I just can't bring myself to want what is billed as a beginners bike.

Anyway views, opinions, other options more than welcome.
Import some DR650SEs. Build them mild to wild. Seat height can be adjusted from below 30" to above 36". Swap on fully adjustable suspension, 780cc big-bore, big-valve head, Web cam, FCR-MX carb, '01/'02 GSX-R1000 titanium muffler, and a comfortable seat.

If you want more cylinders, take a Triumph Tiger 800XC for a test ride. Research the aftermarket to see if it has enough for your wants.
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  #4  
Old 2 Oct 2011
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Weight Distribution

I am not BMW fan but in terms of weight distribution they have always been very good and this is something that I have found effects slow speed manoeuvrability more than pure weight. I think a low seat goes a long way to help with this. A long way.

Finding and test riding a bike with a low seat no matter how heavy you think it is what I would recommend. Also include what you will be doing with luggage in this test or at least bear it in mind.

My bike recommendations:
Suzuki DR 650 SE
Yamaha XT600

650 VStrom ? Not sure about the seat height on those.

Last edited by gixxer.rob; 3 Oct 2011 at 01:24.
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  #5  
Old 3 Oct 2011
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I agree with the comment about the G650GS. It can be called a beginners bike for "off roading" by their marketing people but it is whatever you want it to be. I have ridden one for a few hours and it feels very much like the F650GS single, twin spark, that I am well used to riding, + it has similar fuel economy i.e. 70+ MPG.
Perhaps because it was brand new, but I liked it better than the F650. It seemed lighter in some way and maybe a bit more "compact". I do wonder if the wheel base is very different. Certainly it felt to me a bit less top heavy than the F but it still has the same dry sump engine with the battery and oil where the fuel should be.
Around £5200 brand new.

For the new DL650, the standard seat height is quoted as 835mm (32.9 in) and the "curb mass" is 214 Kg (472 Lbs). Those figures are straight out of the dealers' brochure for the new bike, and not for the earlier model. Incidentally, it can be bought only with ABS fitted as standard which seems to be the way that all sales in the UK are expected to be if we listen to the noise of the motorcycle press.
As for all Jap bikes the price has escalated, in this case to somewhere beyond £7000.
Strange thing, but the Suzuki brochure makes no mention of "DL650". It is "V-Strom 650 ABS" throughout.
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Old 3 Oct 2011
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The BMW is a solid bike and/but has a very low seat - I found it far too low compared to the Honda Dominator I was also riding around the same time.

Brakes were way better than the Honda, on-road manners were better but not as good off-road (but not by much). I did have to take back everything I've said abou the beemer after riding it back from Greece - fantastic piece of kit. True though, it doesn't have that rip-your-face-off acceleration and wouldn't wheelie compared to the Dommie (mainly involuntary!)

All the bikes I can think of with decent power and a light weight have a high seat and small etank (thinking WR450 etc). I'm not sure that a perfect solution exists that will take care of both your requirements. How about a CCM SR-40 for the wife and a DRZ 400 for you - that way they at least share an engine?
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Old 3 Oct 2011
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Have you thought about the F800GS? Weight wise, the 650 is listed as a 199kg kerb weight, whilst the 800 is 207kg. It also has a little more go! These might both be too heavy, perhaps?

On a recent European trip, I regularly got 230+ out of the tank. There are lower seats and lowering kits, and (like the 650 I'm sure) it doesn't bat an eyelid when luggage is attached.

I agree with the previous poster that worrying about image (learner bike) will only lead to regrets later. The achievable dream series seems to be littered with 650's!!!
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Old 3 Oct 2011
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I'm in the middle of testing my next 'adventure bike' - it's a 125 step-through, and it's actually an awful lot of fun. Rather than having 'moped factor' I seem to be getting more Kudos than scorn. Like the old Sprite advert said 'image is nothing'
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  #9  
Old 3 Oct 2011
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The aprilia pegaso trail runs the engine from the yamaha tenere, with a low (820mm) seat height.

In my experince less is more when it comes to travel, I'd go for a lighter smaller bike and sacrifce top speed.
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  #10  
Old 3 Oct 2011
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Hi, i do not have the bike specs to hand but will the Bmw & tenere not be similar in weight to the Transalp?
i cannot think of a bike that matches both your needs and suggest an XT600E + acerbis tank for your wife and the Tenere (or BMW800) for yourself. Andy
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  #11  
Old 3 Oct 2011
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Hi Austin,

There is no perfect bike that will fit your stated needs.

In my experience a happy wife who is comfortable riding a light bike she loves versus getting kick ass heavier bikes that your wife hates is a tough choice. Your needs are quite different.

While the thought of riding a lighter less powerful bike may make you sad in the beginning, your wifes smiles will possibly make up for it as time passes. Riding a slow bike fast can be a hoot!

Good bikes are easier to find than good wives.

Cheers,
John Downs
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  #12  
Old 3 Oct 2011
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Thanks for the advice and views all. Son #1 has an XT600e and it was the wife having a go on it that set the seed that lighter and bit less powerful would be the way to go. I would be happy with an XT600 too. That would probably mean I could keep my Transalp 650 as well as the Vara.

But, I spent a couple of hours browsing the Internet and soon concluded that nobody makes a decent light moderate powered comfortable trailly style bike anymore. .
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Old 3 Oct 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Austin View Post
Thanks for the advice and views all. Son #1 has an XT600e and it was the wife having a go on it that set the seed that lighter and bit less powerful would be the way to go. I would be happy with an XT600 too. That would probably mean I could keep my Transalp 650 as well as the Vara.

But, I spent a couple of hours browsing the Internet and soon concluded that nobody makes a decent light moderate powered comfortable trailly style bike anymore. .
Austin
The thread is following a rather familiar route in that the 650cc bikes have gone to around, or more than, 200kg while the 1200s weigh in as about 1/4 tonne beasts. Partly because of Euro emissions regulations and extras as standard, such as ABS, as I tried to show with the example of the new V-Strom. At first glance this will not go away anytime it seems.
But, it is said that Honda have a new "lightish" 700cc twin on the way, with a low seat. In fact they seem to be making a virtue of low seat height in their current crop of products such as the Crossrunner. It is rumoured that Triumph will come out with a 300cc "tiger cub".

But, for riding around Europe the 200-250 Kg bikes are OK, I would surmise, judging by the amount of such bikes in use. In other words, they sell. But, the standard seat height for the "new" XT600 is 895mm - I am referring to the XT660Z of course.

As per many other threads in here, when riding other than in Europe, you mention SA specifically, then consider not shipping your own behemoth and get whatever local bike is the machine of choice. That way you will find light, low-seat-height bikes that cost next to nothing to both purchase and run in comparison with so called 1st world costs. With the obvious savings made there you can afford to write them off over the trip; maybe donate them to some local worthy cause or sell at the going rate. At worst, write them off and walk away.

One of the more interesting ideas in some thread or other in here, is the rider who owns 5 different bikes in storage on the 5 continents, all suitable for the riding that he does in the different parts of this planet (and we haven't even started to deal with that question of how much knarly-off-road-riding you will do!)

ps How about a RE 500 single for the wife and Bonneville twin for you to deal with Europe??
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Old 3 Oct 2011
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Versys?
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Old 3 Oct 2011
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I have never seen the MG Breva 750 mentioned here. yet they are lightish ( 189 Kg) not tall and have a low ( ladyseat) option. do 75mpg, and have a trouble free shaft drive. True not exciting performance, but they are reliable. biggest down side is the 18 litre tank as that barely gives 200 mile range before reserve.

Maybe someone knows more? I have never owned one but a riding companion has one and he is absolutely delighted with it, actually like going to work because it means a ride on the mg.
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