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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 29 Jul 2013
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Classic vs Modern Machine? How old is too old!

So I'm torn between choices here...

I'm purchasing a motorcycle and riding through the Americas, putting it on a boat to Europe and living there a while before riding further on to South East Asia and I can't for the life choose whether it would be better to go with a modern day motorcycle or a classic motorcycle? So I'm looking to get some votes that may help me decide.

Classic Pro's and Con's. (Royal Enfield, Triumph, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha)

Sex appeal? You know you're getting around on a classic adding to the adventure feel
Engine capacity? 250-400 would benice
Fuel consumption? Possibly worse than a modern motorcycle
Parts availability? Can stockpile somemyself the US/Canada
Easier to repair? Less electronics to screw up

Modern Pro's and con's.

Electronics? more expensive/harder to repair in 3rd world country?
More attractive to thieves? A flash new dirt bike looks expensive!

Any further pro's and cons or recommendations would be great!
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Old 29 Jul 2013
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My recommendation would be an airhead BMW twin, classic bike, as reliable as anything if you don't buy a dog, good spares availability and a reasonable price if you don't go for an overpriced G/S or GS model.
The biggest downside is petrol consumption but they can still manage 50 mpg, imperial if driven steadily and 5000 mile service intervals.
If gaffer tape doesn't fix it then you haven't used enough tape
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Old 30 Jul 2013
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Air Head

Using an Air head, with a simple single cylinder engine is the easy way to go.
Less things to go wrong. Easy to fix on the road. A Carby is easy to work on as opposed to EFI.
I'm not getting older; I'm just progressing through LIFE!! Harleys do not have a throttle- they have VOLUME control!!!
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Old 30 Jul 2013
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Do you know where to find the air bypass o-ring on a diaphragm carb? Can you balance a pair of bings by ear? I can but it is less natural than starting a flash code display. Do you have the time, skill and money to put a quarter of a century of previous owners fiddling right before you set off? Do you have the patience to track down classic parts or deal with importing them?

The "get an airhead BMW" plan is too simplistic IMHO. Get the bike that suits your knowledge, background and what you want, or plan the learning experience around the trip.

I've had mz's since before the wall came down. Motorway performance from a 250 , no valves and oil changes/chain adjustments at 10000 mile intervals. I could be happy getting one ready for a big ride, or I could just fill the wee's tank and go. The mz would break down and need parts from Germany, the wee would have a dealer network. It's all just part of the trip.

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Old 10 Aug 2013
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Another vote for an older BMW


I wish I could remember who said it on one of the HU DVD's, but the advice given there was to buy the motorcycle of your heart. That's the best advice anyone can ever give you. I was fortunate enough to come to that conclusion on my own several years ago and found myself a '75 R60/6. I've put 70,000 miles on it... from the top of Alaska to central Turkey. I love it. It's an easy bike to become your own mechanical expert on, all parts are easily available on-line and there are some excellent maintenance-oriented websites to help you understand what's going on.

I'd have to say that the only drawback is that it seems to be a real heart breaker. People come up to me all the time, gaze at it and sigh. It seems that a lot of people had them in their youth and regret ever having gotten rid of them. Many have told me that it was the best bike they've ever had. Makes me feel bad. Sort of.

But follow your heart, and you will not regret your decision, no matter what it is. Once you decide, shop carefully, get one in good condition, and learn it inside and out. It's your horse. Take good care of it, treat it nicely and it will always take good care of you. Good luck!
Samuel Longiaru
Kamloops, BC Canada
1975 BMW R60/6
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Old 11 Aug 2013
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Originally Posted by Sam I Am View Post
I'd have to say that the only drawback is that it seems to be a real heart breaker. People come up to me all the time, gaze at it and sigh. It seems that a lot of people had them in their youth and regret ever having gotten rid of them. Many have told me that it was the best bike they've ever had. Makes me feel bad. Sort of.
That's very true. This year I've been running around on a couple of mid 70's bikes - a 125 Suzuki and a 400/4 Honda, and each journey seems to take quite a bit longer because of people coming up to me and chatting about the bikes. Usually I'm not in much of a hurry (I wouldn't be using them if I was) so I'm happy to chat but I never get it when I'm riding anything modern.

Whether it's a good idea to do a long trip on a classic bike comes down to how spanner friendly you are. Older bikes need more looking after because -

a. they're old, so different parts are at different stages of their life cycle and it can be hard to tell what's likely to fail next.

b. back then a more hands-on approach was expected.

Whatever you choose it might be an idea to check out the spares situation first as some makes (Honda springs to mind) seem to be better served that others.
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Old 11 Aug 2013
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As eluded to by others, the major downside of using a classic bike is finding one that hasn't had dozens of invisible bodges and make do repairs carried out over the years by miscellaneous owners.

You can still find 1/2 owner airhead BMWs with low'ish mileages which might be a good prospect.

My 1989 R100GS, which I've owned from new, is for me an ideal travel bike but then I know exactly what has been repaired and replaced. If I were to buy one today with a view to setting off on a long trip I would strip it down to large parts and get each part (engine, geabox and final drive) refurbished by a specialist. When rebuilding it I would fit a new clutch and rear shock and all new consumables. Stripping and rebuilding the bike yourself will allow you to familiarise yourself with it and fine tune your toolkit for when you're on the road.
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Old 11 Aug 2013
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I did own old and new BMW and many other bikes , for me going back to a classic will be very difficult . The new bikes perform way better than many old bike and as far as reliability some of them are bullet proof (vstrom . ,dr650 , xrl650 ,xtz660...) you will not have to worry much about repairs and part are easy to find . ABS can be also available , tubeless wheels, injection (in high altitude you will enjoy it. Old bike have sometime more character but they are heavy are just not as easy to ride .( I did cross Africa years ago on a old air head , deep sand was not fun , I will take an XR or DR any days over a bemmer )
Hendi Kaf


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Old 12 Aug 2013
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Originally Posted by HendiKaf View Post
( I did cross Africa years ago on a old air head , deep sand was not fun , I will take an XR or DR any days over a bemmer )
As this dude mentioned a light bike is best, i currently own one DRZ which is in central Asia and one back in the UK i am prepping for another trip but i still feel at around 140kg dry weight I could go lighter?

What you need to concern yourself is the following-

Weight of bike= 110kg to 160kg

Fuel range= if you can add aftermarket tanks easy or you need to fab some up?

Protection needs/bikes weakness= what the common problems of your chosen bike are and how easy it is to fix them before hand.

Before i went on my trip with my DRZ i took it out my back garden fully loaded ready to go and whilst running the engine i dropped it on both sides to see what damage was done and to see how easy it was to pick it back up.

After dropping it i needed one new clutch lever and the cheap plastic bash hand guards snapped on one side, i then brought small levers that bend back and heavy duty bash hand guards before i started my trip.

i did this as it was easy to fix back in the UK rather than finding out what would snap of in some remote area, i have had numerous offs/drops on my bike since then with no real issues and levers are intact due to the changes i made whilst drop testing it in the UK
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Old 12 Aug 2013
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Airhead fans I think you're missing the point, one of the OP's requirements is a smaller capacity engine in the 250-400cc range, that's hardly BMW territory.

Given that the sands of Africa seem not to be on the itinerary, which means that the majority of the journey could well be on at least semi-paved roads and given the idea of something classic I'd suggest something like the late 90's retro-styled Honda CL400.

Yes, it's a faux classic and yes it's a Japanese only model and yes you'll have to kick the thing into life instead of pushing a button, but the engine's straight out of the XR400 the frame is simple and robust and there's a thriving, and cheap, custom scene not just in Japan but wherever they're to be found (the example in the photo was built in London).

They're also not that expensive, a low mileage bike shipped from Japan with all the paperwotk completed and ready to ride in the UK can be had for £2500-3000. No doubt that would be the dollar figure in the US.

I reckon a few hundred spent on tweaks to the bike and then a bit of fabrication work on luggage racks and you could have a great bike to make you smile every time you look at it which would be both classically stylish while remaining happily unthreatening when you're in lands where the knackered 125cc is king.

If I had the cash I'd buy one in a shot.
Happiness has 125 cc
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