I am in the same dilemma as many others but please bear with me and give me some piece of advice for it is needed and will be greatly appreciated.
Even if the post is so long (kind of an article), I have numbered the questions and tried to keep everything organized.
I intend to do a RTW, starting end of may 2008, on the following path: E Europe-Turkey-Iran-Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kazachstan-Russia-Mongolia-Siberia (to Magadan)-Anchorage (I kind off figured out the flight way for this year, there are options)-Alaska-Canada-SUA-W Europe.
I am 1.70m, 60kg, 29 y.o., so not a very big person. My current bike is a Yamaha TDM 850. It’s a tall, top heavy bike, I like it a lot and I can handle it on roads. It’s hard for me to lift if I’m tired but than.. that’s 220kg when the tank is full. It’s the second bike I’ve ridden (After the sovietic 125cm Minsk in the driving school, with only 1st and 2nd gear working). I don’t have any offroad experience but with care, respect and trust, anything can be achieved.
I assume I will have around 25-30kg of personal luggage (clothes, toiletries-10kg; foto stuff-4kg, camping stuff-7kg, papers&books 2-3kg, food/water – 3-4 kg), 10kg of bike related luggage (spear parts, bike clothing and helmet for me, 1 extra tire, oils and grease) and maybe 2x10kg of canisters with gasoline. This will come to a total of around 50+kg of luggage. Plus the weight of the panniers and bags, it should take me to 60kg. I’ll do my best to lower this 60kg towards 50kg or even lower and I think I can manage.
Q1. Do I really need the extra tire?
What if I use inner tubes and I take 2 spare inner tubes with me (1front and 1rear), would that be ok? I’ll fix the puncture in the evening and just change the inner tube on the road. Will I find spare tires (17 R, and 19 or 21 F) on the road? I believe so.
I would like to take 1 rear rollbag, 1 tank rucksack and 2 AL panniers (or 1 AL topcase instead of the 2 panniers).
Q2. What would you recommend?
The 1 AL topcase or the 2 AL panniers? The panniers would keep the weight lower but all the things might fit in the rollbag, topcase and trunk tank and the lack of panniers will provide better aerodynamics in open road, and there will be a lot of open road. Will the lack of panniers really help me? How about in off-road?
Thus being said this thread has to do with the bike to choose and any other piece of advice.
Here I’ve made a comparison between the models I consider of interest for such a trip. The lines were the only way to make it look readable. Maybe it can be useful for other people in the same dilema:
Make/Model/Year_________DryWeight Power Torque __SeatH _Tank
Honda NX650 Dominator-95-99 __164/167 _43.5-6k __55-5k ___865,liaj
BMW F650GS Dakar -01_______177 _____50-6.5k __60-5k ___870,liaj _17.3
Suzuki 650DR SE – 96 ________147 _____43-6.4k __54-4.6k __845-885
Suzuki 650DR RSE-94-96 ______170 ____46-6.8k __56-5k ____885 ____20
Yamaha XT 660 Tenere – 94-96 _169 _____48-6.3k __56.9-5.3k _865 ____20
Yamaha XT 600E – 96 _________156 _____45-5.6k _48-5.25k __855 ____15
Yamaha XT 600 – 03 __________156 _____45-5.6k _50-5.5k ___855 ____15
Kawasaki KLR 600 – 95-01 _____168 _____42-7k __46-47-5k __870 ____14
Kawasaki KLR 650 – Tengai _____________42-7k __46-47-5k __870 ____23
Suzuki DR 350 -94 ____________122 _____30-7.6k _29-6.2k ___900 ____9
Here I go with some pros and cons of each one of them:
+ reliable engine, good build quality but nothing at it that would particulary draw my attention. Average all over. Not best or worst on any criteria.
Yamaha 660 XT Tenere
+ has a water cooled engine; probably healthier for the bike in high heat.
+ Best option for highway, open road and pillion travel after the BMW.
+ I’ll stay “in the family”; TDM’s engine is derived from the SuperTenere.
- heavy – 169 Gg, but rules out the KLR (similar weight) and the BMW(heavier but also water cooled),
- 19in front rim, smaller and maybe less suited for offroad than the other ones. Q3.Can anybody comment on this?
- Suzuki DR650 RSE would be similar with the Tenere, but it’s air cooled and about the same size and I think it doesn’t have the compact engine of the SE. Please correct me if it’s not so.
+ high community owning on it, a lot of aftermath, a lot of advices on it, known faults
- underpowered, heavy, no fairings, ruled out by the Tenere
+ has fairings
- heavy, ruled out by the Tenere
BMW F650 Dakar
+ Powerful, good comfort, water cooled engine, the tank will only require 1 extra canister
- heavy, the heaviest out of all of them
+ Seems to have some sort of fairings. Q4.Do they do any good?
+ easier to find one with an already installed Acerbis big tank than to find a SE with such a tank so the overall price of the bike will be lower; good variety to choose from in Europe.
Suzuki DR650 SE
+ the lightest of all (leaving aside the350 Suzuki, which is another class), only 147 kg
- no fairings, not to much power, I don’t know how will it behave with luggage
(Will a 1994 SE with 40.000 km on board do the job? Of course, it depends how it was used and how it was taken care of but.. as a general rule of thumb, how does it sound to you ? is there something that would generally rule it out?)
Suzuki DR 650 RSE
+ has some fairings and the windshield. Looks better for road than the SE and it’s not that much extra heavy. Q5. what would you recomment between RSE and Tenere? Does the RSE have the compact engine like the SE or not?
Q7. How can I differentiate between RE and SE from the photographs?
Is there a way? Often people just put DR in the announcement. If it has the windshield than it’s RSE or RS, but how do I leave RE aside?
- I think it's to small and can't handle e pillion, can't ride fast enough on the highway and maybe to fragile for the road to Magadan. Q8.Can anybody blow this?
- to small and to tall.
+ very light
My bets for now go to Suzuki DR650 SE and Yamaha 600XT but I would very much want to get the Tenere J
. I’m a bit scared of it’s weight. Q98. How does it feel? How does it handle off-road?
Please don’t tell me to ride all of them and see how I feel. It’s simply not possible. I am offshore most of the time and in the rest of the time I’m traveling and working to make up for the 3 months of holiday that I would be getting. I would even get someone-else to get the bike for me from Germany (I guess that’s where I’ll buy it since there are so many on-line websites with German bikes); they are specialized in getting second hand bikes, they know what the bike would be used for, don’t charge much and even offer some warranty (of course, this won’t help in my trip). So I’ll have to get the bike and than .. “if Mohamed doesn’t go to the mountain, than the mountain will go to Mahamed” (I’m not a muslim, I just like the saying J
I assume that most of the bikes presented here would be reliable and if maintained will do the job fine. My main issues are:
- low weight so that I can handle it in the muddy/swampy Kolima road
- good offroad capability (for the same “road to Magadan” reason
- decent comfort and speed while on the open road (because I only have 3 months to complete the journey, this including the 1-2 weeks that I would need in Istanbul to get all the visas); I will also have a pillion till Ankara or till Teheran and she needs to have a minimum comfort. It’s just gonna be good roads and highway and we’ll afford often stops, but it should be a bike that would not rule out the pillion if it will have 2 panniers and a rollbag attached.
- why isn’t anybody mentioning canisters as a solution to small tanks. It’s so simple.. In the areas where you know you’re not gonna have gas so often, you just use 2x10L canisters (special plastic or metal). Of course, you have them in the lower part of the panniers to keep the weight low. Well isolated and in the pannier with gear, not clothes or food, they should be fine. What are the big problems associated with this solution? To me it looks much better than doubling the price of the second hand bike that I’m gonna buy.
- fairings – how important are they? I guess quite muck for the riding comfort. I only have my TDM’s experience, but I have the feeling that if you wouldn’t have fairings, your knees are quite exposed to the wind, rocks, etc. I would take a bike which has them, but many people seem not to mention them when they make their choice for RTW. I fell very bad for the Suzuki SE, but this might rule it out. Anybody has a real suggestion to keep it in the cards?
- windshield – to me it looks essential. There are long open roads, asphalt or gravel. On these segments (about 60-70% at least of such RTW) you need a proper windshield. Does anybody agree? Any bike, should be fitted one in such a trip. On the last kms to Magadan it can be taken off and strapped on the top-rollbag. Any contra-arguments will be well listened to because I really want to keep the weight to a minimum.
- Fuel Injection / Carburator / Engine tolerance to bad gasoline – Many people talk about riding BMW F650 GS Dakar’s to Magadan, but I don’t know how their engines can handle the 70 octane gasoline in Siberia (or in Africa). Can anybody comment on that? BMW recommends high octane. I’ve written several to BMW repress and asked about the effect of bad gasoline. Just one answer from US talking about ethanol in the gasoline but not about the octane; I have no idea how much ethanol is in the Russian gasoline, but I know they write the octanic number when they sell it. So… in conclusion, which are the engines that can better handle bad gasoline? Because the answer can easily rule out injection BMW’s from a RTW.
- Helmet – I am thinking of using Arai – Tour X. It’s said it’s light, and behaves decent in highway conditions and very good while off-road. Are there any noticeable differences between Arai Tour X and Arai Tour X2? Is the 50-40 Eur difference worthed?
So, please give me your opinions. They will be well listened to.