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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 15 Oct 2003
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BMW F650GS vs KTM 640 LC Adventure

I,m trying to figure out what bike to buy. I plan to drive North Africa (and some of Sahara) one-up, and are unsure what bike to pick. I have a lot of riding experience, but very little offroad. My technical capability is also quiet limited. When I read about KTM, I,m left with the impression that they are great bikes, but perhaps not very reliable. They apperantly also need to have their valves adjusted every 6000 km (wich might be a problem riding around in Africa). Looking at the BMW F650GS Paris Dakar, and the comments on this web, I get the impression that its a rather heavy bike and perhaps not so reliable either.. That german quality never reached as far as the F650GS.

What would be the best choice ...?

[This message has been edited by Dizzie (edited 14 October 2003).]
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  #2  
Old 15 Oct 2003
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I've owned both bikes. The GS (not a Dakar)was the most un-reliable bike I've ever owned. The bike, which I'd bought new, would cut out when I had just throttled off to negotiate a hazard then attempted to accelerate away. It would then take several minutes before it started again. I owned he bike for three months during which time it spent more time at the dealer than in my possession. Each time I took it back the re-mapped the fuel injection which had no effect what so ever. On the last time I picked up the bike from the dealer they stated that the fault had definately been rectified and I would have no more problems. Less than ten minutes later it cut out in lane 3 of the M25 in heavy,fast moving traffic. I called the dealer and told him to come and take the flipping (not exactly the words used)thing away. The dealer offered me another bike or my money back, I took the money. I later read, in Motorcycle Sport & Leisure, about a guy on a Dakar who was using his bike in a rally who had exactly the same problem. The bike itself was a fine to ride, but a bit gutless compared to other 650 singles. The seat height was nice and low and was very comfortable for long journeys, had I managed to complete one. I'm suprised that alot of people say that the bike is well made. The dash is cheap painted plastic which lost its finish in the short time I owned it. The heat deflector on the exhaust seems to be made of half a baked bean can and one of the lugs on the side panel snapped off when I was, very gently, trying to put it back on. It seems to me that all the new BMW's are built down to a price.

The KTM, a 2001 640 Adventure, was a great bike. Plenty of power, huge tank range, slick gearbox. I would have used this bike for my trip if I had gone solo, but it was not a good 'two up' bike. My only critism of the bike was the seat which was uncomfortable after anything more than half an hour and the vibes through the footpegs. I sold the bike to 'ktmwill' who as posted on this site. He has ridden the bike through Europe and Asia and is now in Australia. The only problem he had were leaking fork seals (common on KTM's probably due to a lack of fork gaiters, easily rectified by fitting them before you leave) and the clutch needed changing in Oz.

I'm sure there are alot of 650GS riders who have nothing but praise for there bikes and many KTM owners who have had problems. The above are only my experiances. The main thing is to take what your happy with. 'To throw the cat among the pigeons' when we set off again I wouldn't take anything other than a jap bike. Relability, spares availability and build quality being the reasons.



[This message has been edited by mcdarbyfeast (edited 15 October 2003).]
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  #3  
Old 16 Oct 2003
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Thanks for sharing your experiences. I have read anekdotes here and there that are something like yours.

The concern I have about the KTM, is that its perhaps to much offroad, and to little road-friendly. I really like the 28l tanks, but are uncertain how the vibrations will feel like after a few weeks. KTM claim their bike is better and more reiliable than the BMW.... but they only offer 1 year warranty, compared to BMW,s 2 years..

Concerns on the BMW are things like the tank capacity and performance..... I hoped reliabilty wouldnt be a topic on a BMW, but appreantly it is.... hmm
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Old 16 Oct 2003
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If you haven't checked it out yet there is a forum and faq about the F650(old and new) on www.f650.com

Have fun!
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  #5  
Old 16 Oct 2003
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Hi,

I have a 650 Dakar and my partner 650GS. We are planning to ride to the Uk early next year. We have had no surging or stalling problems. We spent a long time choosing our bikes and made the decision based on the following:
1) low seat height and comfortable seat
2) BMW reliability (no problems yet!!!)
3) Fi - no messing with the carbs/better economy
4) Fuel filter- not just a little bit of gauze sitting in the tank as in the carby bikes (technician told me they will filter liquids of different viscosity - i may be gullible here!!!!)
5)Option of large tanks (extra 22L-39L total) from Touratech, however, very expensive.


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Old 16 Oct 2003
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I actually dont think the KTM seat comfort is as bad as people say and i didnt modify mine at all for 40'000 ks in just over a year. Its not the most comfortable bike in the world no, but that also means your not inclined to do massive mileages in a day and in effect skip through places, having said that, many times through necessity i have had to spend eight hours in a day on it... ya bum just kinda gets used to it i suppose!

As regards reliability, i did have an electrical problem and a fueling problem as well, but you meet alot of people on the road and whatever bike they have from whatever manufacturer you hear good tales and bad tales... personally, i think it is as much down to the luck of the draw and not getting a "friday afternoon" bike as anything.

I think its road manners are very good, i had never ridden an off road type bike before and had spent my biking life on litre sports bikes. The engine has more than enough poke and the cycle parts are real top quality stuff which shows itself whatever surface your ridng on. Dont forget the KTM is also the basis for a super motard track bike i believe.

As regards its off road abilities, its worth remembering that even the best off roader is gonna be compromised most of the time your riding it, simply cos of the weight of your luggage, which does greatly effect weight distribution and therefore handling. Although talking of weight, the nice thing about the KTM is its light, even fully loaded up if i dropped it i could pick it up on my own without haveing to unload it, alot of people i met often had to get help, not always posible, or unload half the bike before it could be righted, and i have yet to meet the overlander who hasnt dropped his or her bike!

Know very little about the BMW so wont comment on that, but i would also say that if i was doing uk to oz again i may well plump for a jap raod bike, sort of fazer 600 or something like that....

Will
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  #7  
Old 17 Oct 2003
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Thanks for usefull info.... I,m closing in on the KTM 640 LC Adventure..... I think.

One major reason being the 28l tank. I have read about kits to extend the capacity on BMW,s but it sounds expensive and complex...

...and the vibrations on the KTM cant be that bad.
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Old 30 Oct 2003
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Isn't there a problem with the front spokes breaking and puncturing the inner tube on the front wheel on recent models of the KTM? I'm also interested in these two bikes as a possible replacement for my Transalp. I've heard the Dakar can manage 70 mpg. Does anyone know how the KTM compares with that?
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  #9  
Old 14 Feb 2004
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Hi!
The 640 adventure seems the stronger bike even if you have to service I am currently looking at these two bikes. I went to the bike show and found the sales staff very arrogant. The KTM boys on there stand were great. I went to see the staff at braken motors the next day they were pucka(speak to jeff) well impressed!
it every 3000 miles. i tried the F650 dakar. A very heavy bike and very expencive,once you start putting larger tanks and upgrading the suspention. If im to go round the world on a bike, i also want a bike company that i feel will go out of there way to supply parts at the drop of a hat in case im stuck in the columbian jungle or some where like that. The ktm has a carborator. Its not that i dont like computers, but with injection its not just the microchip that you have to worry about its all the sensors all over the bike as well. A corborator you can take appart and see it to fix. and wont fail if the bike takes a quick dunking!
If theres someone at BMW that is willing to actually talk seriously about the bikes they have to offer ,then please let me know.
Thanks
Dan
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  #10  
Old 14 Feb 2004
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The Africa Twin also needs servicing every 3000 miles or is at least recommended so by honda
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Old 14 Feb 2004
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See the maintenance-log from 3 F650 on worldtour;
http://shaun.munro.com/maintenance/index.htm
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  #12  
Old 15 Feb 2004
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I owned an F650 Dakar for almost three years and 16,000 miles. I rode that bike all over the southwest including numerous dirt road and desert trips. We also did the horizons event in Mexico. There have been many, many F650 used on RTW events without significant problems. My experiences were extremely positive and if I weren't so big, I'd probably still own it. I moved up to the big KTM a few weeks ago.
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  #13  
Old 15 Feb 2004
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Hi,
dont think much, buy Adventure; once you get used on it and when realize KTM offroad capabilities, you will see that KTM is offroad bike set up for road use, and F650GS is road bike set up for offroad use. Count that offroad handling and suspension is much better on KTM and on Adventure you dont need much to add-on to prepare it for full overlanding.
Regards,
AnteK
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  #14  
Old 15 Feb 2004
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Regarding Africa Twin Service intervals, Honda recommend 4000 miles on all post 96 bikes.
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