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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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  #16  
Old 24 Oct 2012
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I have always ridden Meriden Triumphs Up until I retired and moved to France. The warm weather inspired me to take up biking again so I bought a BMW r80rt. good bike but after four years I just had to give it up.
Too heavy, too tall and just plain unergonomic. was always a clumsy thing.
I went to Uk to buy its replacement, I had two bikes lined up. an Enfield electra and a 1970 Triumph. as it happened I got to the Enfield first and bought it. Specifically it was an Electra. These have a good gearbox ( Quicker changes than with the BMW although there was nothing wrong with the BMW box, just slow to change). front brake as good as or better than the BMW, rear brake 100 times better. low speed handling and offroad handling is better but think past 70 the BMW is more stable on motorways,, But then 70 is approaching the speed limit for the Enfield
The Electra can easily be changed back to having the gearshift on the right and rear brake pedal on the left where they should be. This made the bike very ergonomic for me. gearshifting and braking now just happens without any thought on my part. I wrecked my right knee twice in car accidents and spent a few years learning to walk again. There are days when I would rather not have to kickstart a bike. I liked having electric start on the BMW so chose the Enfield model which also had an electric start. Since having the Enfield I do miss the virtually maintenance free shaft drive of the BMW.
What I also discovered in the couple of weeks before I fitted the RH gearshift kit was that the BMW was just awkward for me and much that I had blamed on having the gearshift on the wrong side was in fact due to the bike being unsuitable for me and not just the gearshift.

I have since ridden a friends MG Breva and have to say if I ever change the Enfield I would probably get one of those.

What I do find is although the Enfield is slower than the BMW in mph I seem to get more miles per day with the Enfield. This is partly due to it being easier to ride for longer and also I don't have to stop for fuel half as much. With a cheap (£200) aftermarket bigger tank I can get a 400 mile range from the same sized tank on the BMW that only gave me 220 miles.
People moan about having to check tappets every 3000 miles, but that takes less time than it does to stop and fuel up the BMW. It is also a LOT cheaper.
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  #17  
Old 16 Nov 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodger View Post
Motorcycles are like wives.Some men are happy with just one .Some have to trade in from time to time as newer models come on the market and requirements change .
Yep, that's me.
I go out and pick up whichever "slut" takes my fancy, where ever I happen to be at the time.

Putting that another way, I get a bike local to where I happen to be in the world and ride that - then walk away when it is over.
I think this is a growing trend with the price of intercontinental shipping and the associated paperwork and miscellaneous costs (such as a CDP). Whether it be a local purchase or a hire bike, it makes sense to me.
Besides, there is so little time and so many rides out there.
As for which bike - well there is a forum for that, right here, but I like to play the field when overseas, but I have my regular rides in the garage back home
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  #18  
Old 18 Nov 2012
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BMW R100GS and Moto Guzzi

For me it's my R100GS PD. These bikes are versatile, comfortable and easy to ride over a long distance. Also airheads are well suited to shade tree repairs. For example, I've had the gearbox out of an R100RT and repaired it in a day on a Pyrenean campsite, when my brother's gear change spring broke on the way to Portugal a few years ago.

My bike has covered a huge distance (343000 miles). The engine has been completely apart once, because a pin that retains the front main bearing came out, allowing the bearing to move and shut off the oil supply to the heads. No damage was done and although I replaced the mains and big-end shells as a matter of course; it was not necessary to grind the crank. Apart from that it has consumed two sets of valves and guides, a set of rockers and a couple of cam chains. Oh and the cylinder heads have been dual plugged and gas flowed.

The gearbox has consumed three sets of bearings and one set of gears, and the drive shaft replaced three times; the last time with a shaft that has u/js that can be replaced. The final drive has never needed attention apart from an oil seal replacement. The clutch has been replaced once. The starter was replaced with one from a Japanese truck. The alternator was up-graded to 450W about 200000 miles ago.

The other make I like is Moto Guzzi. These have many of the attributes I admire in BMW airheads: comfortable, long-legged and easy to maintain. Overhauling the clutch or gearbox is quite a protracted procedure; I'd take on a clutch in a campsite, but I'm not so sure about a gearbox overhaul. But I guess with any bike, if your far from home you just have to get on with it, whatever bike you have.

On my way to Siberia earlier this year, in a Polish campsite I removed my paralever because I thought I could hear a gearbox output shaft bearing rumble developing. It turned out to be a false alarm, but my travel buddy PW took this picture to remind me not to be anal.......
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  #19  
Old 18 Nov 2012
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I currently have 3 motorcycles:

A 91 Honda XLR 250.
This is my green laner, bought it because it was cheap and simple and forgiving. It'll go every where but not very fast.

An 07 Triumph Tiger 955i
I love this bike, it's my main road bike works as a commuter and a tourer and the triple engine just brings a smile to your face. As previous people have said I don't have a car so this can be a bit of a guilty pleasure.

A 2010 CCM SR40
This currently under prepareation to be my travel bike for my round the world adventure next year. the main reason we bought it was as because of the low seat and low weight combination and alsot he fact that it is one of the best looking bikes since the XT500. However if the tiger is a guilty pleasure then this is all seven deadly sins all in on little package with a short wheel base and punchy DRZ 400 engine it is the most fun i've ever had on two wheels.

More detail can be found here: The Bikes
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  #20  
Old 18 Nov 2012
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Don't analyse

Back in the day, we bought our bikes because we liked them.
That was about it.
Advertising played a bit of a part and so did what your mates said and how they got on with their bikes.
They all broke down now and again and all needed servicing so I don't remember those things ever being a consideration.
After 'do I like it?' the other question was 'can I afford it?'

Anyway, pretty well all the bikes I've had, I bought them because I liked them. Liked the looks and how they felt when I sat on them. Particularly things like Ducati 900SS and the early Aprilia RSV Mille. And the Honda CB750 early in 1970.
With all those bikes, when the makers brought out newer versions with new cosmetics I always thought - 'what a crazy thing to do, they've made it pug-ugly! I'm glad I bought the earlier version.'
During all that time, I commuted to work in London by motorbike everyday, so that was in my mind as well. I did usually have a little 'commuter bike' but I always considered when buying a bike, including the CB750 and Ducati, 'will this be fun to ride to work on?'

There have been only two bikes that I bought for other reasons.
First, a Norton Commando. I started racing the CB750 and had great fun with that, and half-decent results. But in the early days of that bike there were no 'go-faster' tuning bits and I felt I could do better with a better bike.
I looked at the stats - who was winning the races I was in? It was always the Commando. At least 3 in the first 4 normally. And those stats led me to the worse bike-buying decision I ever made.
I swapped the CB750 for a Commando and immediately did better. It was like an express train on rails compared to the Honda.
Then it broke down in a race, my first ever did-not-finish.
And broke down again.
And needed a full week of work between meetings.
And broke down again.
It did finish races as well, and I always got better results than on the Honda. But the breakdowns were demoralising.
So being an engineer I looked at the stats again.
I had forgotten to look at the non-finishers - there they all were, mainly Commandoes!
I still wish I'd never sold the Honda - another year and tuning bits appeared on the market.

The other bike I bought without just deciding 'I like that' was the TTR250 for my African trip. I read Lois Pryce's book and that was enough for me, I went out and found one.

I'd say, go by gut instinct. Do you like the bike a lot? If you do, and then find there's a problem with it, well, liking the bike a lot will bring some enjoyment to fixing the problem and you'll learn more about it at the same time.

There's a saying, don't know where it's from: 'What gets analysed, dies.'
Analyse too much and your enthusiasm can die.
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  #21  
Old 3 Jan 2013
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I currently have a Tiger955i and a Tiger800XC.
I bought the 955 after an horrific 7 years of grief with a BMW R100GS. The BMW let me down so often that I gave up getting it fixed and took a gamble on the Triumph. Bought the 955 new in 2002 and it's turned out to be the most reliable bike I've ever owned and is still sweet with 67000 miles on it. The only thing it didn't do too well was dirt. Although it's got me to the top of the Col Sommeiller and Fort Jafferau etc. I would never do it on my own because of its weight.

The 800XC came along, bought new, in June 2011 because it's the bike I was looking for before I bought the BMW. Fast on road. Good off road. Reliable so far (18K up). It is IMO the best all round bike on the planet.
Also, once you've been trippled you'll never go back.
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  #22  
Old 3 Jan 2013
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I have had a lot of bikes (Jan Krijtenburg homepage (My bike history)) bit now my bike is a BMW R1100GS and I think it is the best bike I ever had.

I was looking for a BMW R80GS but found this R1100GS from 1997 with only 22000 km on the odometer and looking like new for the right price.

This summer I went to Barcelona in Spain and enjoyed it very much. I just want to change the original BMW awkward shaped panniers for aluminum boxes and I just ordered a spoiler on the windscreen to reduce windnoise.
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The bike I ride now is 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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  #23  
Old 4 Jan 2013
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This discussion will never die, as long as there are different bikes there will be a discussion about which one to choose, or which one not to choose.

I doubt the perfect bike exist (then we all would have one of them), the TransAlp is probably one of most endurable bikes ever make - especially the 600cc, not fast, not really pretty (in my humble opinion - would still like to have an 93 model), but they worked, and one can get spare parts for them all over - and you can fix them with a big hammer.

The African Twin is also a major contender, unfortunately it's as heavy as a truck (or a GSA), but they last (which is why one see so many of them).

Then there is the whole GS range from BMW, I've had the R12GS and GSA, on good roads, gravel, they are absolutely awesome, but not so fun when you have to pick them up. If you know what you do you really can get that bike to do some amazing things (and as I'm not one of these people, I suck).. The old R80GS PD, and possibly the R100GS are the best ones. If you really have hair on the chest get an HP2e (and money)... not as good as the old GS's, but in a league by it self. Currently I have an F8GS which I find suites my riding, can do highway, backroads, and if one wants a bit of adventure it can do that also - some people push them way over the limit, and live to tell the tail (see Adv. Riders F800 forum).

Then the Orange stuff, awesome, expensive to keep on the road, but ultimately everyone would love to have on - I still think the 950/990Adv. is the best designed adv. bike (the look of it), they are stilly expensive to service if one can't do it them self ... just ask an owner if they take it in to an KTM dealer for service. The 640Adv. is probably at the same league as the R80GS PD, unfortunately no long in production. Now they have the 690R which seam to be the ultimate thing, but not problem less. They are all made for massive amount of fun, but maybe not all for the long milage (I say some, not all).

Then the BMW X series, the xChallange was BMW's mistake, they produced something no one wanted (like the HP2e), then stopped producing them, and now everyone would like to have one (ok, maybe just me). Light, adequate HP, and a good engine... (Rotax in general rocks).

Then there is suzuki, yamaha, etc. they are not trying to take a mouthful out of BMW's cake, I doubt that it will even register in München (they need a LWR/LWD - unfortunately). Ok, the DR's great bikes, not really pretty, and they never really made it to Europe...

Triumph might be a contender with the 800, I just don't like Triump, I've had one, and don't want another....

Then there are the singles (ok xChallange was covered), but there is the XT's TT's, etc. interesting, and the XT660 is without a doubt a great bike.. just slightly underpowered for the size of it. The XT600 and TT600r are great bikes, and there is a reason why there so many of them - they work... One bike I would like to see in Europe is the Honda XR650 (not the old model), but Honda for some odd reason think differently.

Some mates and I have been discussing the perfect travel bike on/off at HUM (and on the road when meeting up), and right now it's 2v, ~160-180kg, 21" front, 18" back, (abs), maybe 650-800cc, 65-80hp, good seat, good suspension (or option to upgrade to some really good stuff), good for the eyes (like the KTM 9xxADV), and no silly stuff, like ugly plastic in odd places, etc. just a plain bike which is easy to fix - oh forgot not too much electronic, or at least something which does not stop working in middle of f... all no where. Oh, as I am slightly longer than most, high ...

I forgot one, the Dutch Diesel bike - excellent idea... only 3 (maybe 4) problems with it - 1) no clutch (really shitty idea), 2) no dealership support, 3) some of the more vital parts stick out in the wrong places. And it's a turbo diesel, which can make it difficult to fix, but hey, it's not slow. And it's silly expensive, way too expensive for any normal human being to buy on (same price as a BMW GSA..., guess what people pick)

So all in all, I think one could say that there isn't a perfect bike, or the best bike - they do not exist, what exist is the bike we have in garage... and it mostly always end up putting a smile on our face, no matter what.

Casper
(and I talk even more ...)
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  #24  
Old 5 Jan 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by casperghst42 View Post
....
I doubt the perfect bike exist ...)
It does. The trouble is, you don't buy it you grow it and it will only stay perfect for as long as it lasts. This doesn't fit well with current thinking and is heartily discouraged by marketing people.


Andy
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  #25  
Old 5 Jan 2013
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Casper, I agree with a lot of what you say and as you point out, it is possible to build the perfect bike, or at least a bike that 80% of travellers on here would agree is the best, but if it's too expensive to buy and doesn't have the international dealer network and spare parts back up it's no good for the overland traveller.

I still think that old ones are the best (TA, AT, 80 & 100GS). They come from a time where bikes had 2 wheels and an engine but didn't have all the unnecessary junk that seems to be responsible for most of the breakdowns. Of course, they also benefit from owners having many years of experience and devising suitable remedies for their weak points.
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  #26  
Old 5 Jan 2013
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Originally Posted by Magnon View Post
I still think that old ones are the best (TA, AT, 80 & 100GS). They come from a time where bikes had 2 wheels and an engine but didn't have all the unnecessary junk that seems to be responsible for most of the breakdowns.
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  #27  
Old 5 Jan 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnon View Post
Some mates and I have been discussing the perfect travel bike on/off at HUM (and on the road when meeting up), and right now it's 2v, ~160-180kg, 21" front, 18" back, (abs), maybe 650-800cc, 65-80hp, good seat, good suspension (or option to upgrade to some really good stuff), good for the eyes (like the KTM 9xxADV), and no silly stuff, like ugly plastic in odd places, etc. just a plain bike which is easy to fix - oh forgot not too much electronic, or at least something which does not stop working in middle of f... all no where. Oh, as I am slightly longer than most, high ...

I still think that old ones are the best (TA, AT, 80 & 100GS). They come from a time where bikes had 2 wheels and an engine but didn't have all the unnecessary junk that seems to be responsible for most of the breakdowns. Of course, they also benefit from owners having many years of experience and devising suitable remedies for their weak points.
You've just described the F800GS and XT660Z haven't you? Don't forget that eFI was pretty much forced on manufacturers due to emissions controls but offers significantly better mileage and power....
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  #28  
Old 5 Jan 2013
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Originally Posted by Docsherlock View Post
You've just described the F800GS and XT660Z haven't you? Don't forget that eFI was pretty much forced on manufacturers due to emissions controls but offers significantly better mileage and power....
I would accept that the benefits of EFI outweigh the downsides but the F800GS is still too overburdened with (unnecessary) electronics and exceeds the 180kg. 65hp from an XT660Z - you'll be lucky!
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  #29  
Old 5 Jan 2013
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Originally Posted by Magnon View Post
I would accept that the benefits of EFI outweigh the downsides but the F800GS is still too overburdened with (unnecessary) electronics and exceeds the 180kg. 65hp from an XT660Z - you'll be lucky!
Well, you can keep dreamin' while the rest of us are out ridin'!
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  #30  
Old 6 Jan 2013
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Casper wrote the spec. that you have quoted as mine but I do think it is about right although I would want at least 25 litre fuel capacity as standard.

I think the F800GS and the Tenere are probably the best options for 'out of the showroom' travel bikes available - your choice depending on which side of the off road/road compromise you want to be. Neither would match an AT or R100GS in my opinion.
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