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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 29 Dec 2006
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Location: Melbourne, VIC
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Bike for Northern Europe (+ Iceland) and North America

Here's the deal - 6 months annual and long service leave (basically an Australian legislative requirement giving you a fortnight's leave at half pay per year of service) and travelling around Scandinavia/UK, Iceland and Canada/USA from Apr - Oct 07 (at least that is this week's plan!). The question is what bike?

My biking experience is limited - had a GPz250 as the learners bike.... for five years, had a Z500 (mid-70s) for two months riding from Seattle to LA in the early 90s, had a GSX600F (95) for 18 months when living in DK in the late 90s. Not much since then, so a bit rusty in the riding stakes...so was looking around the 650cc mark.

Like the look of semi-nakeds, although reading through HUBB adventure/dual purpose bikes seem to be the go - albeit that most of HUBB is focussed on the more adventerous Paris to Dakar and RTW type trips (call me a wuss!). However I would've thought the roads where I am going are pretty good - which means that a true road bike could be better/possible. Obviously riding the bikes before you buy is a nice fundamental, but would appreciate any comments, especially from riders that have ridden around Northern Europe/Iceland and Canada. (I'll leave the Paris-Dakar trip until there's a few more ks under my belt!)

In addition to the bike, at this stage I am weighing up what I see as the two alternatives:
1 - buying the bike in AU and shipping to EU -> CA -> AU
2 - buying and selling in both EU and US
The fantastic import laws in Australia would appear to eliminate the option of buying in the EU and shipping home....(yes I've read the numerous threads!) Current preference is option 1 (esp given some of the comments in other threads about foreigners owning bikes in various countries), but would appreciate your comments.

Anyway to the bikes:

Adventure/Dual purpose: VStrom 650 appears the best taking into account $$ (F650 and Tiger seem a bit exxy, depsite me being quite partial to the Tiger)....Versys sounds good but doesn't exist in AU.

Semi-nakeds: Z750 or SV650S. From what I can read on the net, there doesn't seem to be a huge support for the FZ6 or ER6n (maybe I could use the can of Dulux Mission Brown paint in the back shed to give it racing stripes with a true 1970s colour scheme, as I have only seen the ER6n in orange in AU).

Anyway looking forward to your thoughts.... and giving you some bikes to talk about apart from VStrom v KL650.....

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Old 30 Dec 2006
indu's Avatar
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Let's get straight down to business: Looks is the name of the game. Don't mess around with cheap KLRs or DL650s or Trans Alps or any that stuff. Face it: When you choose to make a trip like you plan to, you don't want to compromise. Do your tour with style and a bit of statment. You should get one of these:

It's readily available at most BMW and/or Touratech dealer in Europe. If not, buy a BMW F650 GS and a conversion set to make this statement of a bike. It may cost you a bit, but it gives you all the necessary credibility.

Have fun!

Last edited by indu; 30 Dec 2006 at 13:37.
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Old 30 Dec 2006
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Tak for det. Jeg vidste ikke at de norske gader var så dårlige!


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Old 30 Dec 2006
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Yeah, I reckon this is a never ending story/question ;-)

Rob, it probably depends, how much you want to spend on your bike. Half a year's travelling isn't for free, but a long trip is easier done on a comfortable bike.

Pro for option 1 is that you can customise your bike at home just as you want it. When buying a bike overseas you will most probably have to organise rack & panniers etc., loosing time to get your bike fit for travelling. I just returned from Southern Africa & Oz after a year's travelling, dragging my bike from one continent to the next, which was quite expensive :-( But I know this bike and I consider it as perfectly customised for long distance travelling.

Regarding the type of bike, it is really up to you: What roads do you want to take, what amount of comfort is essential to you. Iceland eg. can easily be done on a streetbike if you stick to the mainroads. When traversing the Icelandic 'Outback' you will require knobblies, because the tracks are usually sandy jeep tracks plus river crossings. With water barely above freezing point ;-) After meeting several guys in the Oz Outback with V-Stroms I have changed my mind, thinking that these bikes are rather enduros for sealed roads. So witha a bit of practice you should have absolutely no probs going on dirt roads with the V-Strom, provided you fitted adequate tyres. What is most important regarding this bike: It is comfortable and the Suzies are known to be reliant. If you intend to go seriously off-road, then I suppose a DR 650 or F 650 would be the better bet.

Only when we pause to wonder
do we go beyond the limits of our little lives.
(Rod McKuen)
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Old 30 Dec 2006
indu's Avatar
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Originally Posted by rob_melb_au

Tak for det. Jeg vidste ikke at de norske gader var så dårlige!


Vi har alle typer veier etter ønsker og behov ;-)
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Old 30 Dec 2006
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The choice of bike is very much depending on how much money you want to spend.

For a not so high budget, I would recommend a BMW R850R or a Yamaha Diversion 900.
Both have shaft drive, are economical with the very expensive fuel (in Europe), are comfortable on long trips, reliable and have no problem with an occasional dirtroad.
Get a set of panniers, a tankbag and a GPS and you are ready to go.
I have no experience in Iceland and Canada but for driving in Scandinavia/UK, and the USA you don't need an all-road or dirtbike unless you like the "adventure" looks of it (I do :-).
Jan Krijtenburg

The bikes I ride are a Honda GoldWing GL1200 Aspencade and a 1978 Honda CB400T
http://jkrijt.home.xs4all.nl/ (my personal homepage with trip reports)
http://www.krijtenburg.nl/HU_BoZ/ (The HU Motorcycle Travellers Community in my area)
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Old 30 Dec 2006
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A couple of possibilities if you're buying in Europe:
  • Yamaha Fazer 600 : half fairing, fairly cheap to buy/run, decent handling/performance
  • Honda CBR600F : loads of choice depending on budget, excellent handling, reliability and easy to sell on when you're done
  • Honda VFR750/800 : same as above
  • Yamaha 600 Thundercat : cheaper than similar CBR's, though not as popular
If, as you say, you're happy to stick to tarmac'd roads then any of these will do a good job, and shouldn't cause you any hassle. Any decent dealer will be able to kit you out with hard or soft luggage, or check out ebay for used stuff.
Anything under 600cc won't be as comfortable on a long tour, and if your buying used the cash savings won't be that great.
If your budget is a bit tighter then consider the Yamaha Diversions, Suzuki SV650 or GSX600/750.
For something with an off-road look that will tackle a bit of light off-roading then look at the Honda 650 Transalp.
BMW's are expensive for what you get, even the F650 singles - you can get a better machine for less money elsewhere for you sort of use.

The most important thing is make sure you buy a popular, mainstream bike that's going to be easy to sell at the end of the trip, without losing too much money.
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