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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 17 Jun 2008
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Alternative to Royal Enfield?

I guess I'm after suggestions of bikes...... It's something I'll look to keep long term so will hopefully travel various places and conditions........

I really like the idea of an old Royal Enfield, I'm not sure how I'd get on with right hand gear change though - I know you can buy left hand gear change Enfields. I know they're not great offroad as standard but that can be changed with new forks, high level exhaust etc.

I like pre 1972 bikes as they're tax exempt (benefit of an Enfield), what other old style bikes are in a similar vane to an Enfield but with a left hand gear change and is fairly reliable with easily obtainable parts and with good fuel consumption...... is there anything else old style? Or should I just get an Enfield and put on a left gear change gearbox!
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  #2  
Old 17 Jun 2008
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what about a unit single?
Reliability is good, spares supply in the UK is great and cheap, lots of common parts, widely available. The problems that came with the bikes have been well identified and it was common for owners to fix these themselves so there are a lot of upgrades. Wiring loom is very simple, all the mechanics are very simple, sound great and handle fairly well.

I wouldn't worry too much about the left-right gear problem, you get used to it pretty quickly
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  #3  
Old 17 Jun 2008
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Originally Posted by henryuk View Post
what about a unit single?
Reliability is good, spares supply in the UK is great and cheap, lots of common parts, widely available. The problems that came with the bikes have been well identified and it was common for owners to fix these themselves so there are a lot of upgrades. Wiring loom is very simple, all the mechanics are very simple, sound great and handle fairly well.

I wouldn't worry too much about the left-right gear problem, you get used to it pretty quickly
Sorry, I'm not sure what you mean or what is a 'unit single'?

Thanks for the reply.
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  #4  
Old 17 Jun 2008
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The unit single is the replacement for the pre-unit single. That cleared things up much?

Unit singles (Unit Construction Singles) are from the days when BSA and Triumph were operated on a sort of collective basis, sharing a lot of parts, mainly the engines. Good examples are BSA Starfires, Triumph Trophies, BSA Bantams. Most 250 - 500 cc bikes from the 60's and early seventies. The complete list of unit singles is
- From Triumph - TR25W (like mine), T25T, T25SS, TR5MX
- From BSA - C15, B40, B25, B44, B50

The one to get if you can is the B44 Victor Special (500cc). Later bikes tended to get less con-rod issues.
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  #5  
Old 17 Jun 2008
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Why not try to find a pre 1972 BMW. An R60/5 for example, is a very reliable bike, comfortable on long trips, can carry luggage easy and is easy on fuel.
They are reliable and spares can still be found AND they have the gearchange on the left side.
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  #6  
Old 17 Jun 2008
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The enfield is not just right hand side, but upside down. Nevertheless it is quite easy to get used to. I have an XT and an Enfield which means swapping between the two types regularly and it's not a problem. I certainly wouldn't let it influence your choice of bike.
You said you'd like a pre '72 bike as they are tax exempt. Is saving £40 a year really that important?
As 'old' style bikes go the Enfield is a good choice as there is a HUGE amount of tuning mods available, and they can be tweaked towards being not too bad off-road. Hitchcocks do trials conversions that include small tanks, high exhausts, 21" front wheels...the list goes on. You can also pick them up quite cheap. The down side is that they have fairly poor performance by modern standards. The 350 Classic is an 18bhp engine and cruises at about 55mph. Tops you are looking at 65mph unless you are riding down hill with your moustache sucked in. The 500 doesn't have a great deal more poke, so I understand. The Enfield also needs looking after, it's not like a modern jap bike that can go forever on a sympathetic smile, you need to check and adjust and tweak stuff all the time. If you don't like getting your hands oily don't buy an enfield. If you do, they are superb tinkering bikes!
The Triumph Bonnie looks like a nice alround bike which could cope with a bit of green laning etc. There is some chat elsewhere on the HUBB about using them as adv-tourers and the general impression is that they are pretty good. You'd be getting modern performance/reliability with that too.
Another alternative might be a BMW R80 (the one sans fairing). Quite capable off-road apparently and good, solid reliable bikes I understand. (A mate has one).

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Last edited by Matt Cartney; 17 Jun 2008 at 14:00.
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  #7  
Old 17 Jun 2008
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Originally Posted by Matt Cartney View Post
The enfield is not just right hand side, but upside down. Nevertheless it is quite easy to get used to. I have an XT and an Enfield which means swapping between the two types regularly and it's not a problem. I certainly wouldn't let it influence your choice of bike.
You said you'd like a pre '72 bike as they are tax exempt. Is saving £40 a year really that important?
As 'old' style bikes go the Enfield is a good choice as there is a HUGE amount of tuning mods available, and they can be tweaked towards being not too bad off-road. Hitchcocks do trials conversions that include small tanks, high exhausts, 21" front wheels...the list goes on. You can also pick them up quite cheap. The down side is that they have fairly poor performance by modern standards. The 350 Classic is an 18bhp engine and cruises at about 55mph. Tops you are looking at 65mph unless you are riding down hill with your moustache sucked in. The 500 doesn't have a great deal more poke, so I understand. The Enfield also needs looking after, it's not like a modern jap bike that can go forever on a sympathetic smile, you need to check and adjust and tweak stuff all the time. If you don't like getting your hands oily don't buy an enfield. If you do, they are superb tinkering bikes!
The Triumph Bonnie looks like a nice alround bike which could cope with a bit of green laning etc. There is some chat elsewhere on the HUBB about using them as adv-tourers and the general impression is that they are pretty good. You'd be getting modern performance/reliability with that too.
Another alternative might be a BMW R80 (the one sans fairing). Quite capable off-road apparently and good, solid reliable bikes I understand. (A mate has one).

Matt

I guess road tax isn't a huge issue...... I have a fair few cars..... mostly tax exempt and love the overall savings!

To be honest I really don't know what I want anymore..... I've been looking pondering for a couple of months. I love older vehicles, more character, easy to work on (I love tinkering with cars and bikes). I have a Ducati 996 which is my fun bike, but I want something I can take the other half out on, when I get some time have a tour around England and eventually (hopefully) go further afield..... hopefully maybe one day! Russia would be great but whether I'll be able to ever go....... anyway, going off topic.

An Enfield seems good.... cheap, cheerful, simple, but maybe I should be looking for something completely different, not tax exempt, even a trials bike? I don't want to spend much....... I don't want anything particularly heavy, preferably easy spares potential in other countries if I ever get to disappear? As I was looking at an Enfield you can tell speed doesn't worry me! I imagine you're right, a right hand gear change probably wouldn't cause me any problems but being used to left hand, I would rather that.....

I used to be indecisive but I'm not sure!
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  #8  
Old 17 Jun 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkrijt View Post
Why not try to find a pre 1972 BMW. An R60/5 for example, is a very reliable bike, comfortable on long trips, can carry luggage easy and is easy on fuel.
They are reliable and spares can still be found AND they have the gearchange on the left side.
A good suggestion but they seem to be around the 2 grand mark....... I'd preferably rather something sub £1000.
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  #9  
Old 17 Jun 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henryuk View Post
The unit single is the replacement for the pre-unit single. That cleared things up much?

Unit singles (Unit Construction Singles) are from the days when BSA and Triumph were operated on a sort of collective basis, sharing a lot of parts, mainly the engines. Good examples are BSA Starfires, Triumph Trophies, BSA Bantams. Most 250 - 500 cc bikes from the 60's and early seventies. The complete list of unit singles is
- From Triumph - TR25W (like mine), T25T, T25SS, TR5MX
- From BSA - C15, B40, B25, B44, B50

The one to get if you can is the B44 Victor Special (500cc). Later bikes tended to get less con-rod issues.
I'd never considered some of these...... a fair few are likely to be more than I'd like to pay, there are affordable models there though....... I've been trying to look more into these models....... easily modified which is good!
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  #10  
Old 17 Jun 2008
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Originally Posted by dsj1979 View Post
easily modified which is good!
I could even tell you what part of the crankshaft you need to drill out to balance it properly... Proper working on bikes, you can get them very very good by yourself, and if it's for travelling then you only need work on the mechanics. My Trophy is a bit of a 'rat bike' - it looks like it has been stood in a barn for 30 years (it has!), but the carb and engine have had a decent fettle. They do vibrate a fair bit and power is limited so a twin might be better for doing distance on (I think someone mentioned the Bonnie). True you can get very reliable 'modernised' bonnies as well as the new ones but they tend to have lots of very expensive aftermarket engine bits.

If you have no real pre-conceptions but want something interesting just go shopping and see what you end up with!

I guess most old bikes have the same big advantage (can be fixed anywhere, mainly with a hammer) and disadvantages (must be fixed everywhere, especially if you used the hammer last time)
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  #11  
Old 17 Jun 2008
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Originally Posted by henryuk View Post
If you have no real pre-conceptions but want something interesting just go shopping and see what you end up with!

There are some great bikes out there....... It's amazing some of the things to be found on ebay. I've seen some nice old bikes but couldn't buy as it seems a shame ruining a nice original bike. A nice ratter that I can build on and make how I want it would be nice!
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  #12  
Old 17 Jun 2008
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Originally Posted by henryuk View Post
I guess most old bikes have the same big advantage (can be fixed anywhere, mainly with a hammer) and disadvantages (must be fixed everywhere, especially if you used the hammer last time)
LOL yep!!!!!!!
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  #13  
Old 17 Jun 2008
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I think the question raised 'is saving £40 a year really that important' is a good thing to ask.

a trawl round some of the independent triumph dealers (if you can find any) may turn up the odd gem. The triumph/enfield dealer in Northfields always had old Tiger's and stuff lying about.

personally I think there's little point in buying a road going enfield and converting it to a more capable off-roader. just get a more capable off-roader in the first place. obviously it depends what kind of off-road you are talking about. mine was very good in sand and deep mud, and didn't even think twice about gravel/piste. lumps and bumps is where I had problems, and had to be cautious. but then that style of bike can't take the geometry of long travel forks.

something like an XT500 probably appeals more (to me) now, with the benefit of hindsight. Still old style, still requires care, but more capable off-road. I'd pay the £60 road tax, but save £200 by not having to get new rear frame parts which I busted on the enfield (twice) while on the lumps and bumps.
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  #14  
Old 17 Jun 2008
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Talking

Quote:
Originally Posted by DougieB View Post
something like an XT500 probably appeals more (to me) now, with the benefit of hindsight. Still old style, still requires care, but more capable off-road. I'd pay the £60 road tax, but save £200 by not having to get new rear frame parts which I busted on the enfield (twice) while on the lumps and bumps.
Dougie, you class traitor you !

200 Quid for parts you can by for a 10nner? I just bought a set of mudgards and rails front and back for 10 quid each.

Get a bullet a new 500 and mod it is my advice. Mine has MX bars from HMC, a 20l tank 100.00 pounds delivered to the door from India. Sports silencer and airbox, hagons on the rear and the brake upgrade for the rear. My plan is to build an overlander version.
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  #15  
Old 17 Jun 2008
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yes, I'm a complete sell-out. :-)

but try getting those parts sent to Mali for £10! I should have upgraded the rear shocks before leaving, which I would do if I was leaving again on an enfield.
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