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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 28 Jul 2006
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Any recommendations for dirt bike to bring to Gabon

Our family is moving to Gabon, Africa and I'd like to take this opportunity to get into some dirt biking and exploring so I'm thinking of bringing a couple of dirt bikes for my son (9.5 yrs) and I to use. We both will be learners on motorbikes. I think it also makes sense to pickup a dirt bike as I can use a bike to go to work on the dirt/mud roads as we will only have one car. I hear over there that in the rural areas, you don't need to have a street legal bike. I'm wondering which is a good bike to get for our few years in Gabon. I only want to buy used bikes as I want to minimize the import duty that I may have to pay and, since we are newbies, I don't want to worry about damaging new bikes. My employer will pay for the move of our goods so it makes sense to buy the bikes in our home country. One thing - the gasoline is leaded there. I don't think there are any implications but I'm not 100% positive. Does anyone out there have any suggestions? I looked at a Honda XR200 on the weekend that saw a few years of riding in Baja but when I sat on it, I found that I had trouble with my feet reaching the ground (I'm 5'7" and have a 30" inseam).
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Old 28 Jul 2006
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I'd go for a 125. That's what's typically used in Africa. I don't remember seeing much bikes in Gabon, but in most of west Africa they have chinese 125's. I've seen one XR 125 with such a chinese motor built in. The XR 125 might be the right choise.

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Old 29 Jul 2006
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Congratulation on taking a job in Gabon, and getting into dirt biking!
>>>I would take an Honda XR600, or XR400, 1996 model or so.
great off-road capability, and a good value. In Europe you can find then for 2200EU or so.
Personally, i don't like the local bikes, they are cheep made, and don't offer much performance.

Enduro and motocross is fairly developed(in African terms) in Gabon and neighboring Congo. In Libreville and Point Noire you will find bikers, and even a small bike shop. They have riding groups, and rally.
Like you've said, it's better in my opinion to go for second hand bike. Cost much less, and lets remember, we're talking Africa here, some revolution can happen any day, and you just have to leave, leaving all behind...sorry, but this is haw it is.

Good luck, and safe riding.
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Old 30 Jul 2006
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Thanks for all your input. For my son, I'm thinking of a used PW80, XR70, and maybe the DRZ110.

As for the leaded gas, any idea if this is a problem?
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Old 30 Jul 2006
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I'm not 100% sure, but i think there is no Unleaded fuel in Gabon(like most of Africa).
From my experience, this was never a problem.
The problem IS with "old" fuel, the one you will buy on the side of the road, from jerrycans...the octane level is low, and it may be mixed with Paraffin water...you name it...
This will make your engine "Knock"- another reason why I like the old XR's, with 9:1 compression ratio you can run on any fuel Africa has to offer.
Mind you, a lot of residents have high compression bikes like KTM, DRZ400, WR's, and don't seem to have a real problem.

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Old 30 Jul 2006
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Leaded gas

My approach at tackling the "leaded gas" issue when I was in Nigeria was the following: I bought a bike old enough to have been designed for leaded gas. In my case it was an '89 Aprilia Tuareg 600. You'll struggle to get a 15 yr old bike in good nick, bot once you do you'll pay peanuts for it and be sure that it's leaded gas friendly. Remember to take some parts along. Parts in West Africa are usually second hand and sometimes adapted from other bikes.

I had a friend visiting Gabon (Libreville, Port Gentil, Gamba) a year ago and was told that roads are generally in good condition. Not too much traffic outside downtown as well. Of course unpaved roads will get muddy when it rains, but if 30 yr old Peugeot 504s on bald tires can cope, so will any trail or enduro bike. Probably a CG 125 will cope as well as long as it has knobbies on it. Or if you ride slowly enough.

Now the question you need to ask yourself is: a) do I want to to be able to cope with bad roads or b) do I want to get into serious off road driving.

The bike for a) will be almost any trail bike. Or even a 100cc Chinese bike with proper tires. Agricultural type bikes will excel at this, albeit at low speeds.
The bike for b) you need to get a closer look into everything else: suspension, breakable plastics, seat height, power delivery, etc.

My personal opinion would be: get an NX250 or XT225Serow or KLR250 for you. The reasons are: reasonable seat height for a learner (except the KLR), lightweight to pick up in the mud, Not too much power but not underpowered (you can hold 55 - 65mph steadily on tarmac). Decent tire choice. Easily serviceable. Cheap. Should exceed your offroad capabilities along the "learning curve". Can carry some small luggage. Disadvantages: suspension is too soft, you'll struggle to get to 75 mph on tarmac, not designed for pillions, overpowered for a 10 yr old.
DT125 may be an option, too.

I'd suggest an XR80/100 for your kid if he can get both feet on the ground. Or else a CT-70 "monkey bike". CT70 is 3 gear clutchless and its seat height is almost non - existent. It's an ideal bike for teenagers IMHO. However, if you are counting on his becoming the next Richy Carmichael, you need to get him on an MX CR/YZ/KX/RM 80 small wheel pronto.

Hope it helps. Cheers.

Note: i've had no actual experience on any of the bikes I mentioned apart from the Aprilia and CT-70. I'm writing this based mainly on other people's posts or comments.
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Old 29 Mar 2011
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Adamiko, do you happen to have the contact information or coordinates for the bike shops you mentioned in Libreville or Point Noire?
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