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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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Old 13 May 2008
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Choosing a bike for traveling DR Congo

This post is a duplicate from a misplaced thread:

I'm having a hard time choosing a bike for my stay i DR Congo.
The roads in the northern part of the country has quite bad standards. In other words there are no roads in some areas, just tracks.
The rain season is between April and November and the roads/tracks gets indeed muddy.
I'm looking for a bike that can suit me well in these conditions.
Its no option for me trying to buy a bike in Kinshasa. I'm looking for one in Germany and then import into to Congo.

The bikes weight is important. Crossing rivers is done by canoes and the timber bridges is often in poor conditions.

I will have to carry all of my luggage on the bike.
The distances I will have to travel is between 100 to 500 km on gravel/muddy roads.

My question is what kind of bike/mark/model is most suitable for me.

I have been looking for a Suzuki DR350. Is this a good choice? If not, what chould I go for?

My budget is sparse.

I really need help.
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Old 20 May 2008
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Yep the DR 350 is a superb bike and good for trans-africa adventures providing you don't carry a pillion or overload the bike with equipment. The problem is will you be able to find one where you are? Good examples are now getting quite rare in Europe, most have had a hard life.

Personally I'd get something as light and agile as possible. Something thats simple and reliable. If cost is an issue look at the XT range from Yamaha, you can still get a good example for less than £2,000. A similar BMW will be very very expensive... If you're looking for a new bike then you need to look at the Kawasaki KLE500 which can be purchased in the UK for £3,000 (a cracking deal for such a good bike).

Yamaha XT 600, XT660 - Probably the most widely used African Adventure bike to be found (closely followed by BMW's). There is nowhere on earth an XT hasn't been. It's quite simply legendary... The XT600E has electronic ignition and can be found for less than £1,500. The XT660 is the new version which will set you back £2,300 or so.

Recently (Jan 08) I paid only £1,600 for a 1999 XT600E with only 4,000 miles on the clock. It's superb condition and has had an easy life. I have since seen good examples for £1,200ish. You can't really go wrong with an XT providing it's been looked after. Before you go, make sure you give it a complete full service and renew Oil, Oil Filter, Air Filter, Chain, Sprockets, Sparkplug ect... Oh and pick a good new set of tyres. I have Michelin SIRAC's on mine. They are a good all-rounder. If you envisage mostly offroad stuff then go for specialist offroad tyres (something like a Trelleborg or Pirelli MT21's).

Other good alternatives include -

DRZ 400 - (a great little reliable and bulletproof offroader but the seat is like a cheese wire!)

BMW's - Look at the Adventure models, all are capable RTW tools but they are all damned expensive compared to Japanese alternatives.

These are outsiders -

Honda XR650 - Fast and furious!
Kawasaki KLR 650 - Big Kwaka Trailie with good pedigree
Kawasaki KLE 500 - cost £3,000 new in UK and a good all-rounder.

Good hunting...
Triumph Bonneville 800 (2004), Yamaha XT600E (1999), Honda XBR500 (1986).

Last edited by kentfallen; 20 May 2008 at 16:48.
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Old 20 May 2008
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I can say YES to ALL of kentfallen's recomendations. I, myself, prefer the Suzukis, the Yamahas or the Honda as they are more "dirt" oriented. The Kawasakis are smoother on the long haul pavement routes, but in the softer stuff they are very "head-heavy" and bog down or slip out as they have more forward weight.

Another thing to consider (not necessarily for Africa tho) is if they have automatic carb and timing compensation for altitude. Makes a HUGE difference in grief if you are constantly changing altitude! Here is the DRZ400 at 13,000 ft waiting for a Honda XR450!
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