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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 6 Mar 2011
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Change a f650gs for Dakar?

Hi all, myself and a good friend have been planning a RTW trip of the Northern hemisphere for this time next year, across US/ Canada into Russia and back through Mongolia and Easter Europe. We have been around the block and back trying to choose a bike and at present we both own f650gs with various farkles and luggage racks etc. As such it makes sense to do it on these bikes but what I'm wondering is whether or not it would be advisable to try and trade our two f650gs for two f650gs dakar bikes.

Is the 21" front hoop and extra suspension travel worth the hassle of having to trade in our bikes that we've both owned since new. Both are low mileage i.e. under 5k.

Would really appreciate any info or endorsements from people who have been through rough terrain on the regular 19" f650gs.

Thanks in advance.
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  #2  
Old 6 Mar 2011
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Have you considered uprating the suspension and either getting a new front wheel or having a bigger one built on the same hub? This way you get the benefits of knowing what the bikes been through/quirks etc and when you get back you can go back to the original setup, a decent engine service or overhaul and hey presto back to a good-as-new bike?
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  #3  
Old 6 Mar 2011
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I'll stick to the topic and not mention water pumps

I did a fair bit of sand and gravel on my 19-inch front wheeled F650. No complaints here. I rode a Dakar briefly and couldn't tell the difference. My main experience of 21-inchers is a post-waterpump event XT600E which was better off-road not so good on-road, but obviously different in many ways. I wouldn't rush to change the wheel, you can buy 19-inch TCK-80's for most of your route and there is a lot of tarmac to cover. Spend your money on waterpump kits

Go for it and have fun.

Andy
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  #4  
Old 6 Mar 2011
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Thanks for the response folks, the waterpump has been accounted for in the contingency budget alright, I believe it's the chief culprit in causing headaches with these bikes along with their chunky weight for a single.

I've considered the fork upgrade/ replacement as well as adding a 21" hoop upfront but again I wonder whether or not this is money well spent for an additional 2" travel and an extra 2" on the wheel? Considering this is the chief difference I wonder if it will have a worthwhile impact on the types of roads we will cover given they are going to be predominantly sealed roads? Having said that I'd rather have the extra bit of support / suitability when things do get tough in the east?
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  #5  
Old 7 Mar 2011
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consider that if you go up to 21" it will be slightly better off road but if you stick to what you have it will be slightly better on the road. You'll probably be spending most of your time on some kind of paved roads. For my money, I'd leave it just as it is.
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  #6  
Old 7 Mar 2011
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If you're not actively hunting out the dirt then the only place on your itinerary likely to give you grief is Mongolia. The price you will pay in losing some road handling probably won't be noticeable and at the same time the benefits although noticeable in w. Mongolia shouldn't make the difference between being able to do it and not being able to.

I met a couple from Rotherham who went through central asia and mongolia, she was on a funduro and he was on the 650 dakar. Neither of them had major suspension failure or anything like that but the heat generated from a lot of off-road did manage to blue the metal on the legs and subsequently knack an oil seal. They had more problems with gearbox selector shaft seals by the sounds of it.

In short I have no useful advice to offer whatsoever! It's six of one and half a dozen of the other.

Do your bikes have oil-in-frame. I know this caused premature headstock bearing failure on the earlier F650s, spares are small!
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  #7  
Old 7 Mar 2011
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Keep your bikes


...that is unless you want to be hitting the trails, and hit them hard at the same time. And even then, I would consider doing some modifications to even the Dakar bike (gearing, crash bars, bash plates, larger fuel cell, etc).
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  #8  
Old 7 Mar 2011
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Thanks again folks,
to the best of my knowledge it isn't an oil-in-frame, the oil is held to the left side of the faux tank, just beside the left knee when riding. Really appreciate the feedback, my gut feeling was that the bikes were ok but I guess I needed the endorsement of those with some on the road experience.

Like I said it's been a long affair trying to whittle it down and despite a long list of bikes that are more than likely more competent/ reliable and cheaper we couldn't ignore the fact that we both have these bikes in the shed.

Thanks again
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  #9  
Old 9 Mar 2011
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Change a f650gs for wee strom?

Sorry, I'm moving the goal posts here a little bit just wanted to put it out to alleviate any possible doubt in my mind. Same question as before but with changing the two gs' for a wee strom. We ruled the wee strom out because of it's offroad ability and size but it seems we don't necessarily need a massive amount of offroad potential? I'm wondering if anyone thinks the wee would be a better option than the f650gs for this trip given our proposed route?

Thanks again
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  #10  
Old 9 Mar 2011
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It's less about how much skills the bike has off road, and more about how much skills the rider has off road. I know that there are not many opportunities in NE Europe to run about off road compared to Australia for example. So this is typically a debate on bikes on this site. In the end I ride my DRZ400 on single trails in Australia. Coming from NE Europe myself, I didn't grow up riding off road. Where as my mate rides that same terrain on his V-strom. Everyone laughs at him when he rocks up on Adv ride, but he's usually at the front and doesn't come off.

There is no real reason to worry about off road though. Mongolia maybe, but with good weather and sticking to the main route it's very easy. I like riding off road though and look it up. Bitumen bores the crap out of me. But you need the right equipment and an adventurous spirit to enjoy it. No hard luggage, light bike, minimalist gear etc.

The F and the strom are pretty much the same I'd say. I'd stick with the spoked wheels and well documented F myself. Maybe buy a TTR 250 to go trail riding and sell it before you go. Study the bike you take and learn how to do ALL the maintenance yourself. Which for the F is a lot easier as there are DVD for it on F650.com that take the whole thing apart. You dan also get diagnostic tools for them.

Never mind the nay sayers on the quality of the F. A well prepared knowledgeable owner should have no problems on the road. The fact that some posters think it has the oil in the frame means they don't know the thing from a bar of soap. Only the old Funduro has oil in the frame.
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  #11  
Old 10 Mar 2011
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In my opinion, you already own a bike that falls into the broad category of perfectly acceptable bikes for such a long trip.

Since you already know it well, stick with what you have. If you already owned a Wee, then I would recomend you stick with that. I've got a Vstrom and as you probably would guess, it would be perfectly fine as well.

In the end, bike selection doesn't usually make a huge difference to the trip. The time and money spent on searching and switching would be better spent on honing on road and off road skills and importantly defensive riding techniques on a fully laden touring bike in countries where the driving is quite often suspect. (like over here in Canada)

Happy planning.
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  #12  
Old 10 Mar 2011
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Much as I do not rate the F650 after my own experience (Load bearing water pump seal, dodgy regulator, chain and forks sized for a Chinese 125, painted by kindergarten students, fasteners made of cheese, Tubeless tyres with a tube that need a bead breaker etc.), there is nothing like using a bike you know. I hear great things about the V-strom but would expect to take 2 years and a couple of shorter trips to be sure I agree with these. Much as I'd love to get the Austrian prat who designed the thing alone with a cattle prod for half an hour, I can deal with an F that has chocolate coloured goo in the oil in about 2 hours, while any odd noises from the V-strom could be the start of a pretty vertical learning curve. The basic capabilities are going to be so similar you have to rate what you know about the F as a big factor IMHO.

Stick with the Rotax POS for this trip and learn Triumph, Suzuki or Yamaha while you save up for next time. Plenty of people have had F's that've made trips like this, so no resaon to assume the worst, just plan for what you know.

Andy
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  #13  
Old 10 Mar 2011
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The F650Dakar and the F650GS are not so different that I would spend a lot of money to change the one for the other.

You write the bikes are low mileage and already have luggage racks etc. so in my opinion you could better spend the money on good preparation and some spare parts instead of buying a Dakar that needs preparation too.

Have a good trip.
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  #14  
Old 10 Mar 2011
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Thanks to all who've replied. Seems as though all are in agreement on this one.

Thanks again,

Paddy
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  #15  
Old 10 Mar 2011
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Lube the bearings (SHB, rear suspension. The factory doesn't do this.), clean out the water pump weep hole, change to a flexible hose by cutting the OEM and get a 1/2" barb silver soldered and just put a standard rubber hose on it, put some foam between the frame and the radiator, put some chicken mesh in front of the radiator, change to a AGM battery of even better LiFePo4 battery, add a volt meter and allow plenty of ventilation for the VR, rip of the possum scraper and you're away.

Do that and let us know how it goes. To many people report bad 'issues' that are for the most part totally preventable. If you have a recent model you have the upgaded forks. But I recommend upgrading to the emulators. It's basic suspension. When loading it up, it's all about the suspension. Forget about all other things. The things is super reliable. Imagine having a KTM with a failing waterpump but no bleed hole.
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