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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 7 Mar 2011
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Bikes for couple (185 cm and 170 cm).. and kids two-up?

What would make good bikes for a RTW for my wife and I, me being 185 cm, and she being vertically challenged at 170 cm?... and maybe with a couple of kids riding two-up???

Preferably the bikes should be of the same make and model, or very similar, like the BMW F650GS Dakar (for him) and the regular F650GS (for her). Less parts and tools to bring, same service intervals, same mileage and fuel stops, same performance, etc.

Personally I really like the following: BMW F650GS Dakar, The newer BMW F800GS, and the new Yamaha xtz Tenere 660 (but this one will be far too tall for her... can it be lowered enough for her? If so, any significant drawbacks?).

The bikes should not be very heavy as she is not the strongest gal in the world, and she is also quite inexperienced, so the bike also needs to be easy to ride and add to her sense of safety and confidence. I would however be sceptical towards anything less than 350 cc.

Reliability is a given requirement, and it should also be a popular make/model so that parts and service is readily available (BMW, Yamaha, Honda, etc). We will be doing some light off-roading - slow and easy. And for the last spec requirement::::: our kids will be riding two up (a few years down the road when they are plus minus 8 yrs of age).

Money is not the biggest concern, but I have no need to be flashy either.

I know that any bike will get us RTW. Next winter me and a couple of pals will be participating in the Budapest to Bamako Rally on a classic Vespa scooters. But, although wiping ones ass with grass will do the job, and maybe offer some novelty also (like on our scooter adventure), soft toilet paper is what my wife and I are looking for on an RTW. We are looking for the ideal bikes!!!


We are also contemplating a side car, but I have really no clue about these things. I've only tried a poor setup on a vintage Vespa - and it was like riding a motorized wheel barrow. I've heard that they can be a handful to handle. But everything is relative. Would an Ural be a great option, or would it be too much to handle? Would it add to the sence of safety and confidence when riding with kids or would the poor handling be more scary than riding on two wheels only?

My greatest concern is to find something which she will enjoy riding and be comfortable with - something that feels safe and easy to ride and something which adds to her confidence (her nerves are a bit fragile).

I am aware of the dangers and responsibilities riding with children. So please don't turn this thread into a moral lecture - I just need the best advice to make it happen.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 7 Mar 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheelie View Post
What would make good bikes for a RTW for my wife and I, me being 185 cm, and she being vertically challenged at 170 cm?... and maybe with a couple of kids riding two-up???

Preferably the bikes should be of the same make and model, or very similar, like the BMW F650GS Dakar (for him) and the regular F650GS (for her). Less parts and tools to bring, same service intervals, same mileage and fuel stops, same performance, etc.

Personally I really like the following: BMW F650GS Dakar, The newer BMW F800GS, and the new Yamaha xtz Tenere 660 (but this one will be far too tall for her... can it be lowered enough for her? If so, any significant drawbacks?).

The bikes should not be very heavy as she is not the strongest gal in the world, and she is also quite inexperienced, so the bike also needs to be easy to ride and add to her sense of safety and confidence. I would however be sceptical towards anything less than 350 cc.

Reliability is a given requirement, and it should also be a popular make/model so that parts and service is readily available (BMW, Yamaha, Honda, etc). We will be doing some light off-roading - slow and easy. And for the last spec requirement::::: our kids will be riding two up (a few years down the road when they are plus minus 8 yrs of age).

Money is not the biggest concern, but I have no need to be flashy either.

I know that any bike will get us RTW. Next winter me and a couple of pals will be participating in the Budapest to Bamako Rally on a classic Vespa scooters. But, although wiping ones ass with grass will do the job, and maybe offer some novelty also (like on our scooter adventure), soft toilet paper is what my wife and I are looking for on an RTW. We are looking for the ideal bikes!!!


We are also contemplating a side car, but I have really no clue about these things. I've only tried a poor setup on a vintage Vespa - and it was like riding a motorized wheel barrow. I've heard that they can be a handful to handle. But everything is relative. Would an Ural be a great option, or would it be too much to handle? Would it add to the sence of safety and confidence when riding with kids or would the poor handling be more scary than riding on two wheels only?

My greatest concern is to find something which she will enjoy riding and be comfortable with - something that feels safe and easy to ride and something which adds to her confidence (her nerves are a bit fragile).

I am aware of the dangers and responsibilities riding with children. So please don't turn this thread into a moral lecture - I just need the best advice to make it happen.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

I rode a Yamaha xtz Tenere 660 for a couple of days and really like it, but I'm not sure it is the right bike for a pillion, regardless of size. My wife (she is really small-154cm) spent a couple of hours on the back and said it wasn't very comfortable.

My only other experience is what I ride now - a Suzuki DL650 V-Strom. It will handle light to moderate off-road stuff no problem, and reliability is DEFINITELY not an issue. Height should also be fine - the only thing might be the weight when loaded - it should be fine to handle during gravel travel and normal roads, but for a bit of technical stuff, maybe not.

For me, the other main contenters would perhaps be the xt660 or Dr650, but both singles...
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  #3  
Old 7 Mar 2011
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What about the new TransAlp XL700 from Honda? Might be worth a test ride...

Afterall according to general concensus the easiest parts to get are for Japanese bikes.

From a 2up standpoint we're both extremely happy with the 1200GS it's comfortable enough and still fun to ride all terrain and all conditions. But you're talking about riding two up with children I can't see that making a big difference to your choice as an 8yo will not be more than 50kgs. The factor might be a higher rear seat and possibly harder rear spring and extra luggage.

I've heard mixed reviews from riders of the Ténéré about it's build quality.

I wouldn't personally go with the KLR650 as it has carbies, I personally prefer FI.

Failing that and as you said yourself money isn't the issue then the Dakar is a very comfortable and reliable buy.
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Old 7 Mar 2011
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I take it that both you and your wfe ride and that you'd each have a kid as pillion?

If so, then cool!!

I should also say, that I agree with the DL650, or a Transalp 650/700.
I've never ridden the Suzuki but owners seem pleased. You'll be glad of the seats with either, and you won't need the power of a bigger bike with only kids as pillions rather than another grown up, so you can benefit from the lower weight of these smaller bikes.

Personally, I would look at twins for that smoother and higher power output and these are also typically more pillion friendly in my experience. I have, however, heard people on the Dakar 650 traveling 2-up, seemingly without major complaints.

Have a test ride on a few models: only way to really have any idea!
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Old 7 Mar 2011
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Words of wisdom right there... and yes, I´d also take at least 1 cylinder for every person on board the bike. Not to say you could not do it two-up on a 1-cylinder bike, and it´s been done... but a twin, (or triple or four for that matter) is just happier with that weight. At highway speeds the difference becomes so obvious.

BTW, a 650 Transalp does show its age, when loaded. A very good bike no doubt, and can do any trip, but for 2-up I´d take the 700 with FI and a bit more power.

Our 2-up trip: [url=http://www.moto1.fi/blog]MOTO-Ykk

(damn, I dont know what´s up with those direct links... must be the Scandinavian alphabets. But www dot moto1 dot fi/blog should do the trick!)
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  #6  
Old 7 Mar 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheelie View Post
What would make good bikes for a RTW for my wife and I, me being 185 cm, and she being vertically challenged at 170 cm?... and maybe with a couple of kids riding two-up???

The bikes should not be very heavy as she is not the strongest gal in the world, and she is also quite inexperienced, so the bike also needs to be easy to ride and add to her sense of safety and confidence.

My greatest concern is to find something which she will enjoy riding and be comfortable with - something that feels safe and easy to ride and something which adds to her confidence (her nerves are a bit fragile).

Depends a lot on the places you want to visit and the roads but ditto for including the DL650 in your considerations.

Kudos to you for wanting to travel with your kids. Trip of a lifetime no doubt.

I may be biased, but I would think that a vehicle with a couple of bikes strapped to it would be a better option for almost any family. Almost everyone loves travel, but not everyone loves motorcycling to the same degree. Couple of small dirt bikes (eg. 125/250cc) will allow you to access the best of the riding, and use the vehicle for the rest of the travelling (and living).

A good starting point would be to get some serious rides in by your wife and to see if she catches the biking bug as well. Next, some trips with the kids. The more experience that everyone has the better.
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Old 7 Mar 2011
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We're similar (sans kids) where we each like to ride rather than pillion.

We are pretty strong on the BMW 650/800 bikes either singles or twins which are great all-around tourers. We've ridden a number of post '04 models through Europe, the US and Australia.

Their strengths are Dual-Sport capability, Comfort (800 needs seat mods though), Reliability, Power and Power to Weight ratio, Practical design, global Access to parts and mechanics, and Resale Value.

If we don't sell it we'll probably ship our US-based '05 F650GS to Europe to join a Silk Road trip.
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Old 8 Mar 2011
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Go and test ride as many bikes as possible.

You can probably exclude the DR650 as you cant buy them in Europe.

Suzuki V Strom, definitely worth a look - lowish seat high and centre of gravity. but find whatever your wife is comfortable with handling/picking up The same engines on both bikes mechanically will make spares and repairs much easier for a RTW.

2up with kids, dont exclude a single - weve just done 17500 kms around SAmerica on a DR650 2up, a little tight for 2 adults, but with a kid on the back it would be a good compromise and a lot lighter than a twin.

An XTZ 660 Tenere and a lowered regular XT660 maybe.....

You can ride most places on most bikes, we thought we were doing good 2up on the DR until we met a Czech couple on an original Enfield Bullet 350 in Uyuni in Bolivia!
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Old 8 Mar 2011
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I actually prefer the KLR because it has carbs. Mind you, that's the only thing I do like about it. The Tenere is a great bike dogged with poor finish. It's built in France, if it had been built in Japan it would have probably been a better bike. Also the engine is dated, poor fuel economy compared to more modern bikes and it doesn't make enough power in the Tenere frame.
The BMW F800gs is a nice bike but has issues too. Clutch, gaskets, chains are all on the watch list and there are other problems too. The seat and screen are also useless so factor in needing an old one.
I like the Dakar, it's well proven but how much offroading are you going to do 2 up? The Strom is ok on fire-roads and if you're carrying a pillion then it's probably fine.
I would steer clear of BMW Twins after my own experiences and judging from the forums they are now showing more issues. The singles are good though, got one myself and love it.
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Old 8 Mar 2011
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Some good advice coming my way. But let me specify a bit more:
  • As for riding with a small kid, singles don't put me off at all, not even smaller ones
  • As for off-roading, we won't be doing much, nor fast, but the little we will be doing ought to go as smoothly as possible. The Dominator for instance is not as capable as it looks. As we will be riding with kids, we won't be going fast anywhere and be riding way within all limits - so top speed and lots of performance is less important than being nimble
  • Being able to pick up the bike on her own is a must. The Transalp and the Africa Twin are both a bit on the heavy side. Not sure about the F650GS (single and twin) and the F800GS, but they are a bit heavy as well - though with a low center of gravity. The new Tenere, fully fueled is also a bit heavy. If these are too heavy, I don't know???
  • Being able to put her feet safely on the ground, and peadle a bit is a must. Especially on sideways inclines, in ruts, sand, mud, uneven terrain, etc, where she may have to come to an unexpected stop with a child on the back - a perception of confidence and safety is key in this particular case

My wife is 170 cm and weighs 58kg - so not really a big girl. She needs a bike that she can ride with confidence. This includes being able to navigate it in the rough and be able to pick it up when dropped. A bike that is easy to do barrel turns in, pedal forward, push, reverse, etc. That the bikes we ride being the same is less important than finding the right bike for her. I have no clue as of how much a girl weighing in at 58 kgs can pick up without blowing an artery. Any experiences to share here?

I'm a bit sorry to hear that the twin bimmers are getting a bad rep as they seem like such a great option.

The f650gs singles though, I'm hoping that this won't be too big for her. The Dakar with a kid on the back would be perfect for me. But for her, I'm not so sure. What do you think?

As suggested here, I'd like to get a bike now and do shorter trips and get her into the groove of riding an offroader with a kid on the back. We rode Cape Town to Nairoby in 2006 on two heavy loaded classic Vespa scooters, but with no kids...
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