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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 23 Feb 2008
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Comparison between DR650SE/600XT/660Tenere/F650GSDakar/KLR/Dominator - Which one ? :)

Hello friends,

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:

Honda Dominator
+ 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.

KLR
+ 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
KLR Tengai
+ 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

600XT
+ 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?

Suzuki DR350
- 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.
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  #2  
Old 23 Feb 2008
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Did you ever...

...consider the Honda TransAlp? I own an old one, I mean real old, model 1992, made for the Japanese market so only 400ccm. I am 186 tall, veeeeery lightweight (below 70 kg), but got long legs. So the TA really suits me very well. It is also not that heavy, gets good gas-milage and maintaining it is also no problem - people say that it got one of the best engines (mine has now 45.ooo kilometers on the clock and is still running smooth). I don't know about the new TA model - but.... maybe you want to about this option, too?!?!
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  #3  
Old 25 Feb 2008
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I cant speak to all of this but get 2 side AL panniers one big top box is a pain in the wind. A good water prof bag on the back and 2 panniers are grate for travling, also a tank bag with tank panniers will help to center the bike.

Not knowing how much you want to spend on the bike or how much true off roading you will be doing I cant realy help much but know this people have done RTW trips on bikes much less worthy than any of the ones you listed.

The DR and older KLR are much them same old tech used for years. cheap and reliable more aftermarket items for them than most bike. If your looking to go off road a lot a light DR or KLR is hard to beat.

The BMW F has had problems with its FI in the early years after switching from carburetors in 1999. For some real info on the bike try the chain gang The Chain Gang


You dint have the DL650 on your list or BMW R80GS to R1200GS bikes on your list. You may want to do that.


My concern is your getting a bike for one road the road of bones the Kolima road. If its that bad gust dont go there. And your doing a RTW in 3 months with a know down time of 2 weeks. You can take the trans Siberian rail to Vlad and ship from there to save some time but still your going to need to be moving.

To keep things light and fast go with waterproof bags on the seat and tail. No real food gust food bars. No cooking stuff 1 change of clothes sleeping bag ground cloth no dam pillion you dont have the time/speed to take one. A tarp for a tent but spend most sleeping in a bed eating out of road side places you will not have time for a sore body.

Canisters are used all the time for gas many people strap them on the back or on a pannier. I dont like to put them in a pannier because of the fumes if the fumes build up it may start a fire or exploshion. Venting the pannier can be done but its going to leak after that. Also the canister may leak or get hole rubed in to it. just some thing to look out for. But unless your going to be using some realy big ones you still want bike that can get to next gas fill up on its own tank.

Fairings and windshield may be need by you more than most RTW gust because your going to on that bike day in and day out hammer down all the way. Fatigue will make you weak and do some odd things like trying sleep and ride at the same time.

Fuel Injection vs Carburator depends who you ask. The new FI reset them selfs for the gas and air mix Im told. The carbs can be done by you. BMW F650 have done RTW trips with the funny FI they have not grate but they did it. So have most all makes and models.
Tools and spare parts well keep it small as you can replace any thing that looks like it has seen ANY use replace before you go. For tires you will need have spares for any place that dose not sell your bike by the truck load. Like Turkey - Iran - Turkmenistan - Uzbekistan - Kazachstan - Russia - Mongolia - Siberia - mabe even Alaska. Add to that some tires are used up faster than others. be open to useing odd sizes for the bike think about sending them to people on the way before the trip. I have a DL650 and even thow it sold by the 100,000's in the USA I had to go to a few places to get a new set when I need it.

In the end It not the bike or the kit you will have most problems with its the time you have to the trip in. See if you can get a bit more time off or if they will let you do some work on the weekends now to get a more. Even if you cant make it fave fun in trying to. Oh and take a camera Id love to this trip.
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  #4  
Old 25 Feb 2008
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tyres......

On that route one set of tyres should get you to Almaty no probs, this might be the last place to get them replaced before Ulan Batur. If you are not going off-road deliberately this section is doable on road tyres (mongolia less so!!)

Afraid the only bike I can advise on is the Cagiva Elefant, so no use to you there!
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  #5  
Old 25 Feb 2008
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Hi Maguest,

There are some good replies in here that point out a few relevant facts about your intended trip, but here is my take on your post, following my reading of it.

10 Bikes in your shortlist:
That is not such a short list really.

Most of those bikes have not been manufactured and/or available for sale in Europe for some years. The newest is the F650GS which went out of production just a few months ago.

Can't understand why you have named specific years of certain models, unless you have already found specific bikes on sale.

Why is every bike a single cyl? There are quite a few twins that you could consider, including the one that you own at present.

A useful summary of key data about the bikes - discounting the 350cc, they vary in weight by far less than the weight of the luggage that you intend to carry.

Departing end of May 08:
3 months away and you still don't know what bike you will own, never mind getting used to that bike and doing the modifications and prepping the bike.
In the meantime, you are working away from home, so you have even less "free" time available in the next 3 months - yes, you have ideas about how to deal with this, but they rely on other, unknown persons.

3 Months to travel the world:
You are flying around most of it, and shipping the bike with you?

You want to carry a pillion:
On a single cyl bike across 1000s' Km of Europes high speed(ish) roads.

On road/off road:
Your TDM 850 can do a good job on the road and it will carry a passenger in some comfort.

Relate the amount of offroading you wish to do with your 3 month time limit for the whole trip.

All up weight:
Camping in Europe is a good option for cost reasons alone - thereafter, ditch the camping kit (7 Kg less) - post it home - and go for cheap accommodation.

Your pillion will want to contribute to the pannier loading, big time.

clothing - 10 Kgs of what? All of the personal protective clothing counts toward your own body weight while riding - it is not in the luggage.



Not trying to burst your bubble! Just a few points to think about.
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  #6  
Old 25 Feb 2008
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An extremely interesting thread indeed....

I see you have identified the venerable DR350 as a possibilty. The problem is that there aren't many good low mileage ones left (around here anyway). Bearing in mind your height and stature I wouldn't forget the DR350's immediate replacement -
Suzuki DRZ 400
This is a terrific offroad performer and has the necessary stomp on tarmac too (even if fully loaded). The only place it might get a bit mundane is on high speed motorways.

As you know the DR350 was for many years THE no1 lightweight bike for African adventures. I believe that "Mondo Enduro" team used these bikes in the late 1990's for their epic RTW trip.

Your proposed helmet a Tour X is enormously expensive! You have better cheaper options? Your post gives the impression that costs are tight (like the most of us), why waste money like this...

Whatever bike you finally take, make sure it's expertly and reliably serviced - new tyres (Metz TKC80, Pirelli Scorpion), new air filter, oil change, oil filter, new brake pads, new brake fluid, new chain (gold quality) & sprockets, fork oil, new wheel bearings etc.... Go down the soft luggage route...

I know many fans of the DRZ400. It's an excellent, bulletproof, reliable little bike. Whatever you decide, I personally wouldn't go over 600cc's. The lighter the better. Remember how damned stupid those LWR/LWD boys looked to most of us riding those huge overloaded beasts! Don't make the same mistake. If you go with a larger capacity bike then my recommendation is stick to a Yamaha (XT600E/XT660). You can find good low mileage XT's (5,000 or less) throughout Europe for about £2,000 in the case of XT600E's. No need to say anything more about XT's here as their past history speaks for itself...

And oh yes, I've got one!!!!!
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Last edited by kentfallen; 25 Feb 2008 at 13:25.
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Old 25 Feb 2008
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DRZ 400 Forum - DR-Z 400 - ThumperTalk
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  #8  
Old 25 Feb 2008
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IMHO going two up through Europe with a small single cylinder bike will not be fun – or safe.

As a rough guide the weight you put on the bike (you, girlfriend, luggage ++) should not exceed the weight of the bike. Check the technical data for the bike.
I’m sure you can find single cylinder bikes that fit your need but don’t underestimate how long days wear out the driver and the bike.

You will also find that a lot of the smaller bikes don’t have frame (esp subframe), suspension and brakes suited for this task.

How many kms are you planning to go? Divide it by 60-70 days and think…
You are planning to travel a long distance in short time and need a bike which helps you to do this.
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  #9  
Old 25 Feb 2008
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Thumbs up Just go!

Hi Dan, would like to help you, but there are so many questions and doubts....

The important thing is to set a date to leave!

Then everything somehow works out. You should use a bike that was sold a lot and maybe not a new one...they make sometimes strange problems. You should know it a little before you leave. I prefer little bikes, I don´t need 100 horsepower.

I did several trips on my xt 600 Tenere(86)but I used a newer engine in the bike. Transalp is also very reliable. Maybe the best bike I think is Suzuki DR 650 SE, but I don´t know if spar parts available all over. In the States they have a lot of KLR 650, good too(and cheap).
In USA around 5000 Dollars new...

Good luck! Maybe you show up at the 1st HU Meeting in Germany(22.5.-25.5.2008)

Jens
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Old 25 Feb 2008
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I'm a pillock! I didn't see the bit about a Pillion!

In that case you know you want an XT...
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  #11  
Old 26 Feb 2008
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I found the bike !!!

Guys,

here is the bike!

KTM 400 LC4 MILITARY EDITION!!! 1.HAND 6776 KM BJ.06/04 bei eBay.de: KTM (endet 26.02.08 17:16:38 MEZ)

I just won the auction. I'm extremely pleased now .. gotta party for a few hours.

It's a German Army KTM, 400cm LC4 engine, reinforced frame, 6700 km on board, 2004 year of fabrication, has panniers and tankrucksack.. 158kg weight. Heated grips, 18L tank, I'll come back with the reasoning.

It's happening. !!
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  #12  
Old 26 Feb 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maguest View Post
Guys,

here is the bike!

KTM 400 LC4 MILITARY EDITION!!! 1.HAND 6776 KM BJ.06/04 bei eBay.de: KTM (endet 26.02.08 17:16:38 MEZ)

I just won the auction. I'm extremely pleased now .. gotta party for a few hours.

It's a German Army KTM, 400cm LC4 engine, reinforced frame, 6700 km on board, 2004 year of fabrication, has panniers and tankrucksack.. 158kg weight. Heated grips, 18L tank, I'll come back with the reasoning.

It's happening. !!
Congrats and a nice buy!
There is another thread in here about that bike - I think it is in the KTM tech forum - you don't have to "reason it" with me!

Good luck,
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Old 26 Feb 2008
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I don't know anything about KTM's but I must say it looks pretty well looked after for an army bike. I can't help but thinking that you would never see a British Army motorcycle being flogged off in that fantastic state! The British Army RLC / Royal Signals riders normally ride the things into the ground. The last time I looked the MoD was selling a load of knackered old Armstrong 500's and was replacing them with Harley Davidson 250's. I understand that the Special Forces guys (SAS, SBS, SRR) now often use Motorcycles and Quads too.

Are you 100% sure it's ex-army and not just a standard KTM painted Green? Or perhaps a bike originally prepared for Army use but never actually used for that purpose. Not being able to speak the lingo, I'm not able to make out any detail on the Evilbay page.

I wish you well. It appears to be a fine buy and looks pretty good to boot...

Stay Safe.
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  #14  
Old 26 Feb 2008
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I found the bike !!!

Guys,

here is the bike!

KTM 400 LC4 MILITARY EDITION!!! 1.HAND 6776 KM BJ.06/04 bei eBay.de: KTM (endet 26.02.08 17:16:38 MEZ)

I just won the auction. I'm extremely pleased now .. gotta party for a few hours.

It's a German Army KTM, 400cm LC4 engine, reinforced frame, 6700 km on board, 2004 year of fabrication, has panniers and tankrucksack.. 158kg weight. Heated grips, 18L tank, I'll come back with the reasoning.

It's happening. !!
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  #15  
Old 26 Feb 2008
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Wink Yes, heard you the first time.............

...........or maybe you have bought 2 of them?

Here's that other thread about the bike:-

http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...military-32531

When you have got your hands on this bike, if you can add any more information about the bike, how it performs etc etc, I am sure we will all be very interested.

ps How are getting it from Germany to Norway, as a matter of interest?

Cheers,
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Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!




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