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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 21 May 2009
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Which Bike before I buy? and other advice please

I'm starting to get very curios around a fantasy trip of mine which I hope to make reality within 2 years and I am stuck with 2 choices for Bikes.

XR600R
XR650L

The aim is go to dakar and back. I will be riding off-road at least 50% of the time when I get to Africa (I live in Holland) with hopefully a couple of good sand dunes.

My initial idea and what ive read on this site is that its paramount to keep everything as light as possible. And therefore the XR600R seems the obvious choice.
So i have a few questions about the XR600R which I couldnt clearly find using the search:

- whats the fuel consumption on tarmac/gravel/sandy dunes on average.
- Is it a lot less comfortable than the 650L? Or are they comparable.
- Is it a lot better in de sand dunes and off road or just marginally?
- How much weight do you put on it total (excluding rider) for over landing?
- Are the vibrations any issue for the longer rides?
- Without a battery, how do you have your GPS and such fitted and charged. Believe the 650L is better for this?

Thanks in advance!

Brakke

Last edited by Brakke Gaid; 23 May 2009 at 20:50. Reason: removed the 'sorry to intrude' bit as post moved from other section
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  #2  
Old 22 May 2009
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The picture I posted was of my 600R. I've never ridden a 600L but on paper it reads like an R with all the annoying bits sorted out. Both bikes have a high seat but if you're 6'+ that shouldn't be a problem. At 5" 8" I could just about deal with the seat on the R but I think the L seat is higher still.

I dealt with no battery on the R by adding one. I bought a small 12v battery and made a small cage on the rack to hold it. I put the ac output from the bike through a rectifier (about £3.00 from Maplins) and a switch to the battery. Regulation was by turning the switch on when the battery was flat and off an hour or so later. Did it work? Well enough to run camping lights and other low power items over a period of a few months.

Biggest annoyance with the R was having to kickstart it all the time. The top of the kickstart is quite high for someone of my height and it required a "whole body" approach to get the thing going. Not something you want to do every few mins in 35C heat, particularly as it can take (quite) a few kicks sometimes to get things going. The kickstart lever itself can be quite fragile and snaps near the pivot point.

I had no problem whatsoever with vibration. Every big single vibrates but the balance shaft reduces it sufficiently for it not to be an issue.
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  #3  
Old 23 May 2009
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Hi mate,

Thanks for the info.

Just an update from my side as well:
Apparently the XR650L is really hard to come by in Holland. The XT600E is very comparable to the XR650L, so now I have the choice between the XT600E and the XR600R.

I have read indeed several times concerning the kickstart on the 600r. Can be a handful to say the least, but I dont know if ONLY having a electric start (XT600E) is such a great idea. How the hell are you supposed to run it on in sand?

I have 2 more questions though:

- The XR600R manual states that the oil needs to be changed every 1000 Miles. Have you done this??? Or was it okay to prolong the mileage between oil changes? I dont know if its such a great idea to have to change the oil this often in places where you might not even get quality oil.

- I know the XR600R is lighter than the 650L&XT600E, about 20-25 kg in fact. Thats one of the biggest plus' it has (plus more power), but was it doable to ride on it for longer periods of time. Or did you make extra modifications for the seat and such.

Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions. And if someone else has some more comment dont hesitate to put your experience here as well.

Many thanks!

Brakke Gaid

Last edited by Brakke Gaid; 23 May 2009 at 20:52. Reason: small stuff
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  #4  
Old 23 May 2009
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Ow yeah, before i forget.

Can someone also tell me what the oil change intervals are on the xr650l and XT600E?

Cant seem to find those.

cheers

brakke Gaid
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  #5  
Old 24 May 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brakke Gaid View Post
Hi mate,
- The XR600R manual states that the oil needs to be changed every 1000 Miles. Have you done this??? Or was it okay to prolong the mileage between oil changes? I dont know if its such a great idea to have to change the oil this often in places where you might not even get quality oil.

- I know the XR600R is lighter than the 650L&XT600E, about 20-25 kg in fact. Thats one of the biggest plus' it has (plus more power), but was it doable to ride on it for longer periods of time. Or did you make extra modifications for the seat and such.

My 600R is a 1987 model which I bought as a US import in 91 and it's still in my garage now, although I haven't used it for a couple of years. I changed the oil on it (mineral 10-40) once a year, (whether it needed it or not ) and never when it was on a long trip (although long is a relative term - the furthest it went was 2 trips to west africa). To date I haven't had an oil related problem with it.

I've no idea how many miles its done as the US version only came with a 100 miles and reset trip meter and my make it legal UK Sigma bicycle speedo loses its mileage record when the battery goes flat, but I'd guess I've done between 30 and 40,000, plus however many it did before I bought it.
I really wouldn't worry that much about changing the oil every 1000 miles. It's not going to grind to a halt at 1001 and as you're likely to buy one secondhand you'll have no idea how often the previous owner changed it. Check it often though and keep it at the full mark.


The std 600R seat isn't that comfortable for more than about an hour at a time. I put a 40L Acerbis tank on mine (too big tbh) and the std seat wouldn't fit so I had to make one.
I used the plastic base from a YZ Yamaha MX bike cut it to fit, made brackets etc and refoamed it to be wider (and lower). After a couple of rehashes it worked ok and I could ride all day with it.

The weight issue is a bit of a trade off. You really do notice the 600R being lighter than something like a Tenere - even when loaded up, but you're also aware of everything feeling a little fragile. When you're on your own in the desert this isn't great for your peace of mind.
I'm not sure there is an answer. I replaced the Honda with a CCM 600 which is closer to an XT in weight but there are times when the extra 25kg feels more like 125.
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  #6  
Old 24 May 2009
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Hi Brakke Gaid

Too much planning :-)

You'll change your mind regarding bike choice within 2 years.

Go with what you really want at the time.

These comments reflect my personality which of course may be totally at odds with yours.

What I'm trying to say is you can make a list of pros and cons for doing / buying anything but I would always go with what my gut feeling is. Do I get a "wow I must have"
Shallow and impulsive maybe and I may regeret the decision later but I always go with what it feels like right now.

This may not help you to decide, just saying what I do :-)

All the best
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  #7  
Old 24 May 2009
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Originally Posted by roxxo View Post
Hi Brakke Gaid

Too much planning :-)

You'll change your mind regarding bike choice within 2 years.


All the best
HAHAHAH

I think ive already changed my opinion concerning the right bike more than 10 times already. I know exactly what youre saying.

Just to give you an idea...Im currently 24 years old and I have already owned more than 20 different bikes. Some call it restless, others call it passion.

My heart says XR600R, my head says XT600E or XR650L (the latter one is difficult to obtain in the Netherlands).

Ill keep both in mind and hope that within now and 6 months I can make up my mind based on how I still feel about the bikes and peoples experiences.

Thanks for the input.

Brakke
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  #8  
Old 24 May 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by backofbeyond View Post
I changed the oil on it (mineral 10-40) once a year, (whether it needed it or not ) and never when it was on a long trip (although long is a relative term - the furthest it went was 2 trips to west africa). To date I haven't had an oil related problem with it.

I'm not sure there is an answer. I replaced the Honda with a CCM 600 which is closer to an XT in weight but there are times when the extra 25kg feels more like 125.
Thanks again for the reply.

So you went with an old model XR600R from the UK to west-africa (and back?) without changing any oil at all during the trip? How heavily were you loaded up on that trip if I may ask?

I still believe from everything that I have read that weight is going to be a main issue for travelling through Africa, especially if I want to see some dune action. Im not too concerned about the bike being too fragile as I am confident my mate can fix that for me (Studies at the Technical University of Delft, specializing in car engineering).
Im going to do this together with my best mate, so we already agreed to buy 2 of the exact same bikes which is of course an advantage with spare parts etc.


Looking forward hearing from your west-africa experience on the xr600r!

Cheers

Brakke Gaid
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  #9  
Old 24 May 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brakke Gaid View Post
HAHAHAH

I think ive already changed my opinion concerning the right bike more than 10 times already. I know exactly what youre saying.

Just to give you an idea...Im currently 24 years old and I have already owned more than 20 different bikes. Some call it restless, others call it passion.

My heart says XR600R, my head says XT600E or XR650L (the latter one is difficult to obtain in the Netherlands).

Ill keep both in mind and hope that within now and 6 months I can make up my mind based on how I still feel about the bikes and peoples experiences.

Thanks for the input.

Brakke
Just like me.
We are bike-aholics.

There's no cure :-)
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  #10  
Old 24 May 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brakke Gaid View Post
So you went with an old model XR600R from the UK to west-africa (and back?) without changing any oil at all during the trip? How heavily were you loaded up on that trip if I may ask
Brakke Gaid

The first time I went it wasn't that old! (mid 90's). Both trips were one way with the bike being shipped back from the Gambia and me flying back. I didn't change the oil during either of those trips but it was changed just before departure.

I've had bad experiences in the past with oil I've bought (in Morocco mainly) being not what it was supposed to be, eg 2T oil turning out to be gear oil or something industrial diluted with white spirit, so rather the devil I knew. I took 2L of oil with me (last time, can't remember on the first trip) but I only recall using one of the bottles.

The picture I posted with an earlier reply was the 600R loaded up in Western Sahara. The one below was taken in Spain at the start of the trip. The panniers are about 10kg each and the bag on the back about 15kg. Add another 6kg for water that I started carrying in the desert and whatever 40L of fuel weighs.



A few others have said that the oil change interval on XR's is really when you're using them in competition and that with a better oil and slower riding you can extend it. My Rotax CCM takes a similar amount of oil and has 4K changes.

I'm not aware of anything that is so vastly different with the 600R that would warrent reducing that to 1K. Most bike trips involve riding long distances with the engine up to temperature - conditions where the oil is having an easy time. If you're going to go dune bashing though ....
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  #11  
Old 24 May 2009
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WOW!

What a monster tank that is!

Gosh, that must have been quite a handful to ride like that I think.
You have informed very well indeed. I think i have a good feel what I can expect with a XR600R. Especially if i can find some addresses in advance for motor shops for any route I might take, than that shoudlnt be too big of a problem.

There is something to say both for the XR600R as the XT600E. I will be looking to buying one of them coming fall.

Thanks for all the help and advice.

Brakke
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  #12  
Old 31 May 2009
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hi Brakke,

you might want to consider the Yammaha TT600R, also light, a bit more modern, very bullet proof. The last year for me anyway.

My first choice was the XR650L, but as you said: not available in NL.

There's lots of aftermarket to make it a good long distance tourer, i got the parts from Startseite, guy who ows this shop is sort of an TT600 expert.

Shout if you need more info.

Groet,
Sander
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