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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 1 Jun 2010
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Airhead in Central America

Hi all,
(this was also post in Regional/Central America, so sorry for readers of both for the repeat)
New to the forum so if you know of threads relating to this query please advise.
I'm in the planning stages of a two up trip from Portland Oregon to Panama. I just turned 62 and am retired. We want to retire in Panama and being a long time biker(haven't had a car in 20 years) I want to ride there! Our funds are very limited, but I'm hoping with ample planning we can make this dream trip possible. Also, the bike at the destination would serve as transportation.
I've traveled throughout Mexico and some in Guatemala in my younger days, but not on a bike. I'm looking at older BMWs for the trip. On pavement I know one can ride about anything, but for limited dirt road places in Central America and riding at a slow and steady pace can a BMW Airhead like an R80RT or R100RT handle it?
I'm also looking at say a 2002 R1150R as a possibility, but more cash involved. Better bike, but about 50% more in cash outlay.
Any and all opinions welcomed and appreciated.
Tnx all and ride on.............

Jim
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Old 3 Jun 2010
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go for an airhead

I have travelled many parts of the world on airhead BMW's and think that they are great for the job, reliable rugged and easily fixable. I have used GS but they are all up to it although an RT will be more top heavy and it might get a little warm behind that fairing.
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Old 4 Jun 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbooregon View Post
I'm in the planning stages of a two up trip from Portland Oregon to Panama. I just turned 62 and am retired. We want to retire in Panama and being a long time biker(haven't had a car in 20 years) I want to ride there! Our funds are very limited, but I'm hoping with ample planning we can make this dream trip possible. Also, the bike at the destination would serve as transportation.
I've traveled throughout Mexico and some in Guatemala in my younger days, but not on a bike. I'm looking at older BMWs for the trip. On pavement I know one can ride about anything, but for limited dirt road places in Central America and riding at a slow and steady pace can a BMW Airhead like an R80RT or R100RT handle it?
I'm also looking at say a 2002 R1150R as a possibility, but more cash involved. Better bike, but about 50% more in cash outlay.
Any and all opinions welcomed and appreciated.
Tnx all and ride on.............

Jim
What is your budget for a bike? What bike are you riding NOW?
The most commonly available Air head for reasonable money is the R100GS. It's decent on mild dirt roads. But in Mud, Sand or rough going you're wife may have to walk. The RT is OK if you stay on pavement.

You say your funds are "very limited". IMO, very limited funds and BMW don't mix well together. Even older worn out ones sell for too much money and cost a fortune to upgrade and maintain ... and they are generally not as reliable as "modern" bikes, IMHO. The old Air Heads need lots of up grades to survive over the long term. Most you find could be 15 to 20 years old.
If you have some nostalgic attraction toward old BMW's then can't really help. Buy the best you can find and good luck,
and remember ... BMW = Bring More Wampum!

RT's are not well suited for rugged dirt roads. On the plus side, there are a fair number of BMW shops and knowledge down there on Air Heads. Guat. City for example. Good parts availability too. But all the Japanese are there too.

But if you want a newer, inexpensive and practical bike that will make the trip, then plenty of more modern bikes offering better reliability are out there for the same or equal money.

If your partner rides, maybe buy two smaller dual sport bikes? Better once you get there, and great on dirt roads. KLR650, DR650, XR650L, F650 BMW. At a modest pace these bikes are totally capable on the highways too and are probably the most popular bikes out there today for travel in that region.

Good, cheap alternatives to the R100RT or R100GS:
Suzuki Bandit 1200S or 1250 (made for about 15 years)
Honda ST1100 (early 90's one)
Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom (2002 to 2003)

All the above bikes are roomy and bullet proof. The ST would not do well in a crash or on dirt but would be as good as an RT on dirt and better every place else. The Vstrom is best of the group. Ones from '02 or '03 go cheap now. ($3K to $4K usd) Very reliable bike. Plenty of other choices out there.

Check the local Craig's List ads for Oregon and California. Tons of bikes cheap now.

Here's one I've ridden behind! (smokes!) Honestly, this is a POS. Guy lives in my neighborhood.
Rare 1986 BMW R80 GS Paris Dakar 75K miles

This is more like it! A super deal!
1995 BMW K75-ABS - low millage

2005 Suzuki Vstrom hard luggage
NICE bike, near you.
2006 Suzuki Vstrom DL650
DL650 Vstrom .. not bad.
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