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Location: Now Alberta, Canada! (originally the Netherlands)
Africa Twins or not......
I'm quite new to the HUBB, but already a difficult question.
Last weekend we've visited a HU-meeting in Germany, which was the last push we needed to decide to really go on a world trip.
We already have two Africa Twins (RD07 '93 /RD07a '96), with crash bars, panniers, etc. Also the spare fuelpumps and voltage regulators we have ;-)
At the meeting some people advised to to really go for a lighter bike, like the DR-Z400.
I am about 1.83 cm tall, weighing around 70kgs. My girlfriends specs are sort of the same ;-).
We would really like to ride with those bikes, but it is hard to determine "the problem".
Although it is quite heavy, it is comfortable though on roads and gravel tracks.
Who has experience with AT's going round the world, without extreme-offroad-driving-skills? I understood from some 1100GS-drivers that the road into CopperCanyon is a nice challenge with a big bike, but without having experience there I cannot decide whether this would be a problem for us.
We want to leave around December 2010 the latest, so there is some time left to improve our driving skills!
I'll try to drive a DR-Z400 this weekend; perhaps I really like it! But it seems way to much a motocross-bike to me!
However, people who have seem to think them very capable bikes on road and off.
Meanwhile there is one thing worth remembering that seems regularly forgotten. When these threads come up about RTW on a boxer GS or other big bikes everyone says go lighter: better off road etc. But who does RTW off road every KM of the way? Not many.
A bigger bike with a bigger engine and a larger chassis, seat, tank etc will make your road miles more comfortable. When you use it off road you'll wish it was smaller.
A smaller 400 single enduro bike will make the off-road sections a far easier experience for you, but you'll dream of a bigger bike on the long open stretches of tarmac.
You can RTW on anything: it's just a question of what sort of riding will you be doing most of the time.
If it's dirt all the way, go small, but if it's a lot or roads and some off-road, you can't do much better than an Africa Twin, so perhaps think on that before you ditch two great bikes that are well up to the challenge and already equipped to go at the drop of a hat.....
IMHO: Go with the bike(s) you've got. The AT is one of the best bikes for the job.
10 years ago, I sold a RD04 to buy a different brand for my RTW. One of the biggest mistakes of my life. I bought a 1995 RD07 2 weeks ago as a sign of atonement for this error.
PS. You can take a streetbike into the Copper Canyon with a minimum of fuss
As the previous posters have mentioned, the bikes are very well suited for a RTW ride, pretty hard to find something much better.
The question remaining is are you both well suited for the bikes. You mentioned that you likely have until the end of 2010 to practice your riding, don't know if that means that you are both new to riding, one of you is, or are just new to these bikes. Either way, just make sure that you are both comfortable, together and individually, riding through some mixed terrain fully loaded and falling off and picking up your bikes if you have to.
It's not rocket science, but once you get comfortable then that would remove any niggling need to look at a smaller bike. If your partner has less kms under her belt and maybe struggles a bit too much with a fully loaded bike at slow speeds (they can get a tad heavy for all of us at times), then you may want to at least entertain the idea of something lighter or smaller that is easier to flat foot. Otherwise just out on as many kms on the bikes you have and you'll be good to go. Enjoy the ride
Location: Dreaming of travelling and riding bikes in general..
This is the same feeling that everyone suffers when planning an RTW from scratch (ie without a pre-existing love affair with a bike). Mountain man has some good advice. I went to CapeTown with my buddy Dan on Africa Twins. Not my first choice and much heavier than anything I'd ever ridden but there was no doubt that it would be comfortable on road and I had thousands of miles to get used to it before we reached Africa. Fully loaded I doubted I could ride it off tarmac at all. Then came the gravel, then came the sand, then came the ridiculous mud and all of the above and at each stage I just rolledup my sleeves and got on with it. No regrets.
Going RTW is not a 9-tenths endeavour like Everest or MotoGP. Obsessions with optimising kit and routes go out the window as soon as you set off. It is something that you take at your own pace, building gradually and satisfyingly towards an end goal with plenty of opportunities to fail and still try again.
In many ways, AT and DRZ's are just different ends of the same stick
I owned an AT and did a 6 months trip in SE europe/asia with it and I loved the bike. But fully loaded with boxes and spare tyres (don't know why I took them) it was quite a heavy beast off road. I have similar specs like you 180cm/70kg. I sold the Africa and bought a DRZ400E a couple of weeks ago and its really fun off road and I'm planning a longer trip with it in Australia. Lots of dirt and gravel road riding.
So, both bikes a really good for travaling around the world. If your focus is off-road riding go for the DRZ, on-road with some gravel roads keep the Africas.
Go with whatever you feel comfortable with, the AT should do just fine. As others have mentioned before it's more a question of what you like to ride and where you want to go. Nowadays I recon you can go round the world without ever doing anything more hardcore than gravel roads (every bike can do gravel).
If I were you, I would start by doing some Offroading/Dirtbiking in a controlled environment, preferably with someone who knows his stuff. Oh wait! That's exactly what I did too.
You're based in Germany, right? If you feel like it check out Dirt4Fun , they do offroad training and also offer classes specifically ment for bigger bikes ("Dickschiff Training"). I can totally recommend them, you learn a lot and it's a lot of fun.
After that you should have a good idea if you do need to get lighter or if your ATs will suit you fine.
Edit: Just realized you're actually based in .nl but there's probably someone offering similar trainings somewhere near you.
I cant really add more then what the others say. Except I have seen people of AT ride them like they were 250cc, I have taken mine off road a lot and it is more capable then i am (but then i have seen people on 1200gs that are pros off road to.) .. My advice is you have two bikes with all the gear save the money and keep em...buying any other bike you will have to spend money to get them set up..
BTW we leave on our trip in 6 weeks 2 up on a AT.. so i am a bit biased
I was also at the HU Germany meet, and both Peter & Kay's as well as Sjaak's story left a very strong impression on me - to the point where I would be (almost) ready to circumnavigate the world on anything with two wheels, so long as it has an engine. I'd even consider going on my FZ6 - except I like it too much to risk dropping it ;-)
You have one of the definite top 5 overlanding machines on this planet, you know the machine, you prepped the machine and you love the machine - why consider anything else? Whatever you pick, it'll always have a shortcoming. With time and cash to spare I'd rather do an Enduro course at ENDURO PARK HECHLINGEN to give you more confidence in the dirt. Chances are that there'll be a lot more tarnac or gravel than anything else (unless you specifically search for it), in which case the AT will be better than a nimble 400. This is coming from a guy who just bought a KTM400 - but I'm ~1.70 and I don't deem my feet long enough for a fully loaded AT, it's like one toe tip at a time! Otherwise I probably would've gone for it, as I had a pretty good offer for an AT ...
The AT is around the same weight (give or take) as some similar class bikes, but it's not as well distributed as on the old GS, which of course places the C of G lower. The AT is modestly tuned which pays off in reliability.
The AT reputation is well deserved as a fine bike, but people have done big trips on any bike.
Watch out for drive shaft spline wear before a long trip. It's worth removing the front sprocket cover to have a good look. Or you might be looking at a total engine/gearbox stripdown. You can fix up a homemade oilfeed to this shaft/sprocket area. Few people do this.
Location: Now Alberta, Canada! (originally the Netherlands)
Tnx for all the replies!
The driveshafts of our bikes are okay.
(for the people who read this: it costs about 230 euro's in parts to exchange it in The Netherlands, but you'll have to take the gearbox/engine apart......)
Our experience is not very much I think:
Me: 3 years, 30.000 km (of which my girfriend was on the back for about 10.000 ;-))
Girlfriend:1.5 years, 10.000 km
We did some basic offroad-trainings and have been offroading a bit in the Alps.
This year we will go to Marocco with full luggage on, as a sort of testdrive.
We do have courses for offroading in The Netherlands aswell. (because of the lack of mountains, some holes have been doug out in the south ;-)).
Another nice point of discussion: tyres! For these hardcore-trainings offroad-tyres are needed. My brother in law has been driving a lot of offroad with the AT, I understand that TKC-80's are not lasting very long....
We both drive on Anakee's now. What would be suitable for a RTW?
Perhaps we go to Marocco with TKC's on one of the AT's, and Anakee's on the other bike.
About the amount of offroading during "RTW": I just cannot extimate how much it will be! ;-) Personally I thing the trip changes when you go on a DR-Z400, because wou'll make other descisions along the way and in the end it will probably be just as hard! Probably 95% of the roads we'll travel will be suited fot the AT's, and those 5% will be a lot of sweat. (as long as it doesn't get into sweat &tears, we'll be fine!)
No one said it would be easy......
Heidenau K60 tyres are said to last a very respectable distance, and are probably the cheapest Dual Purpose tyres you will find for a motorbike.
I had bought a set for my 1150GS, but it was sadly written off before I could fit them. I will be buying a new set next week to fit to my XR 400 so I can at last start touring Estonia on two wheels this summer.
After that I will be able to give a first hand account. So far the positive things I've heard have all been second hand views.
A quick check online confirmed that these were €122 a pair (delivery and fitting not inc). And that is €65 cheaper than the next pair: the TKC. They also last longer than the TKC, from my own experience of the TKCs.
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