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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 16 Jun 2007
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Bike Size Question (for a short guy)

A friend and I are getting our trip together and are just in the beginning stages. He's not the sort of guy that's gonna spend hours looking on the web scouring sites like this, so being that I am that kind of guy, it has fallen to me to get the info together.

anyway, from everything I've read it seems like something like the KLR650 is the usual sort of and size of bike that is used on these sort of trips (we are going to south america) My buddy is sort of short (around 5'7", I think) and I'm wondering if a smaller guy would want to go with a smaller bike. any thoughts? I'm over six foot myself and have very little perspective on the limitations of having shorter limbs (that is, you know, not since I was a kid).
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Old 16 Jun 2007
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lamorder,

I'm not much bigger myself and have no problem with managing an XT600 in all riding situations. My wife who also rides her own XT600 is a mere 5' 5" and manages. It's all about riding with confidance.
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Old 16 Jun 2007
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Thanks! I've heard of people doing well on something like a Honda XR 250, but I understand the limitations of the smaller bikes. Just trying to sort out all our options before making some serious decisions.
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Old 16 Jun 2007
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One answer is the much-underestimated DR650. I'm 5'7" and have lowered the bike (it's a built in feature - no need to buy any parts). While I could cope with the bike in its heightened state it was a struggle to keep upright in difficult terrain. Since I use the bike mainly for touring, I've been glad of the lowered seat, especially at the end of long days in the saddle when I'm stiff and tired - very easy to drop the bike in those circumstances. Lowered the bike handles better on the road too - less yawing.
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Old 16 Jun 2007
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Some will say , if possible get two bikes the same. It helps with parts and repairs. It is also better if your bikes are compatible in performance.
Some bikes offer a 'low' sometimes described as 'lady' seat Moto Guzzi for instance. But given that you are likely to be loaded with gear, I think you ought to be able to -easily- support your bike on an uneven surface. Unless you intend lots of offroad I would take a road bike. Also one than can handle and maintain slow speeds comfortably. Remember too that fuel economy often equates with range.
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Old 17 Jun 2007
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Good advice

I'd go along with what oldbmw says, take two bikes the same. To me, it's probably item one on the check-list. Also, don't be afraid to consider smaller bikes. Once you are south of the boarder, there will be more times a small bike is an advantage over a bigger bike than vice versa. XR250 Honda, TTR250 Yamaha DR250 Suzuki are all bikes with long development times and even longer pedigrees.

Regards

Nigel in NZ
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Old 17 Jun 2007
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Smokin Lizard mentioned his wife easily handling the 600 Yamaha, but consider that women usually have longer legs at the same height. A 5'5" man might not be able to handle the exact same bike as Smokin's wife.

All three of the previous posts bring up valid points. Suzukis are built to be lowered at the dealership, getting two bikes the same is a good idea (one in which I had never thought about before), and smaller bikes make sense in the tougher to travel areas in which a more off-road oriented bike proves superior over the big-bore counterpart. However, if you are buying new bikes, we in the US don't have the luxury of choices as far as smaller, enduro, street legal bikes go. If you are registering them in NY, and your state's motor vehicle division allows it, you could find the off-road versions of the 250's and add a street lighting kit to them.

The KLR 650 is a good all-around bike according to many posts here. One rider who owned one rode down from Canada last year and stayed at my house for a couple nights. He is about the same height as me, approx. 5'7" and had no problem with it. He had owned it for a few years, and was used to it (but you two would do the same, yes? You might not have years to get used to them, but you should give yourselves several months to sort them out and get used to riding them). He had some difficulty in several parts of Baja Norte, Mexico, due to the more extreme sandy terrain where a smaller displacement bike would have proven to be a better bet.

As far as handling his large enduro? Whenever he rode around town or anywhere for that matter, he put on his riding boots, which should be mandatory riding gear for anyone, and those helped him dramatically with his tall bike. Find boots that are tall, but of course, comfortable, too, and your friend should be able to ride most any bike.

If boots still don't help, and your bike choice is leaning to the big-bore enduros, seriously consider the Suzuki due to its ability to be lowered.

Last edited by yuma simon; 17 Jun 2007 at 11:46.
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Old 18 Jun 2007
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Smile Good points,...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mollydog View Post
The other thing to remember is that any bike, when overloaded is hard to handle. So don't over pack. Most stuff you can pick up along the way if needed or have it mailed to you. (use DHL in Mexico) The amount of useless crap most guys take simply boggles the mind.

Of all the current USA available bikes, I too am a DR650 fan. It's the best short guy bike of the 650's.

You could take a 250 (I ride a XR250 in the dirt) but honestly its a pain anywhere where traffic is moving over 55 mph.

Perhaps a DRZ400S? Not that comfortable but certainly up to the task. Reliable, tough, but won't match the 650's on a long day or luggage space.

The DR is comfortable, strong enough for luggage and easy to handle. Rides great in the dirt and on bad roads and is plenty fast even at 14,000ft. Ask LoisontheLoose about riding her 225 Serow in Bolivia. Can you say walking pace? Thanks, but no thanks.

Moab, Utah
Some very good points Patrick.
I don't know ANYONE who hasn't has done a big clear-out and sent stuff home or just given it away. I think it's inevitable.
I have a copy of "Lois On The Loose", and bought it after following her trips on her blogs. I know why you said "walking pace" to make a point but that IS a bit of an exaggeration. And when you look at the total amount of time she or anyone else is in the saddle on a trip like that, the time at a slow pace like about 20-40km/hr would be only 1 or 2% of the total time. If there is one thing an extended trip through somewhere like South America will teach one, it is patience and learning to take life at an easier pace.
I have had many travelers over the years stay with me, and turn down an offer to be guided into some of the many wonderful gravel roads and mountain track around here in the South Island of New Zealand because their bikes are too big to be easy (not I say easy, not possible) to ride there. The last trip my wife and I did away, we rode two-up on an XL350 and spent some of the best times on little two-track trails, and jungle walking tracks. It's my opinion that small bikes actually open up opportunities rather than limiting your travels.

I think I learned more from one comment from a young 20yr old German traveler (actually it was Oliver Kams) who stayed with me many times while he was in NZ, than from all that I have ever read here on the HUBB. He had traveled overland from German through Asia. It was the second time he had come back to stay after a couple of months of traveling around the South Island. I asked him where he went to when he left my house the first time and he replied that he had spent a couple of nights by camping a river at Loburn. As this was about 40km from my house, I asked him in a puzzled voice why he he stopped so close to where he started from? He replied in an equally puzzled voice "But it was a really nice place".

Kind regards

Nigel in NZ
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Last edited by Nigel Marx; 21 Jun 2007 at 06:43.
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Old 21 Jun 2007
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"But it was a really nice place".
Amen to that!!
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