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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 17 Mar 2006
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Decisions, decisions.

I know these types of questions have been beaten to death on these boards but I have to ask.

I am in the early pre-planning stages of an Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego ride and I'm in need of dire help. I say early pre-planning since I'm shooting for a departure date sometime in 2009/10 due to personal commitments.

My primary issue at this time is picking what bike to buy.

I am fairly young so comfort is not that large of a concern but price is. In addition, I should mention that I have never owned or ridden a motorcycle and my technical skills are somewhat limited. While I can't say I'm able to do an oil change on a car, I have changed brake pads so I'm confident that with a little effort and a lot of trial and error I can learn. Based on this criteria I plan to buy an older, learner bike that I can learn to ride and take apart during my planning stage and if possible, take with me for the ride or upgrade to a newer edition of the same model. I figure this will give me the skill to ride and the know-how needed to jury-rig the bike in the case of an emergency. I've narrowed the list of potential candidates for bikes based on these requirements to the following bikes:


I'm also considering the BMW F650GS but this would be more of a long term investment due to cost and I'm not too confident on fiddling with the electronics.

NOTE: I also have an errant thought that has been festering in the back of my mind. There is a local '77 goldwing for sale and they're asking less than $1k but the bike doesn't run. This seems like a good fixer upper and would provide plenty of flavor for my trip in the choice of vehicle but I'm not sure if it is up to the task. I'm not intimated with having to fabricate racks/pannier for it if I can't find something to fit and it is a tourer so I might not be too bad. I know the route through central/south america tends to be mostly paved, does this bike sound like a viable opion?

Any input that you can provide would be fantastic and welcomed.

"Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken." -- Frank Herbert

\"Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.\" -- Frank Herbert

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Old 17 Mar 2006
Riq Riq is offline
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As has been stated many times any bike will make the trip if you are willing to live with its limitations. This includes 1977 goldwings. You will be limited on some roads but not as badly as you would be with a newer goldwing as the 77 will be smaller, lighter and easier to repair.

One thought is that you can check with your local community colleges to see if they offer public interest courses in motorcycle repair and maintenance. I know that they offer them at the local technical school here.

What ever you buy I suggest that you ride, ride and ride some more as a long trip is not the ideal place to learn.

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Old 17 Mar 2006
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Since your departure date is so far into the future, what ever bike you end up purchasing, I'd suggest that you buy it early this season. Purchase a repair manual and a parts manual and get to know it by servicing it and repairing it yourself. Join a forum for your bike and spend lots of time there. It isn't as difficult as you might think, and it is worth risking messing up. Worst case is that it will cost you some extra cash by having to put the bike on a trailer and bring it to a professional.

Ride your newly acquired bike arround in different terrains, weather, distances, with different loads, etc, and this way reveal which types of modifications you would like to do.

As for which bike to choose, this is greatly dependant on emotions and the type of adventure you would like. Regarding the first issue, decide whether the type of bike is more to you than just a means of two wheeled motorised transportation? Any bike will get you anywhere on the planet with enough preserverance... you might have to carry it rather than the other way arround, but to some people that is just a minor inconvenience.

Taking the practical approach, I'd say that the first thing you should decide is to what degree you want to explore the off-roads or areas so remote that you won't have a choice but to hold on to your kidneys as best you can. Except for tiny stretches, sticking to the main routes, you can cross any continent failry easy with any reliable bike. This is not the same as to say that all bikes are ideal, they are not. I'm only saying that if you want to do an RTW and have a special love for a certain bike, or is limited by funds, it can be done, even on a 50cc moped.

In my opinion, following only the practical aspects of choosing a bike, my ideal types of bikes for different RTW scenarios:

1) As a rule allways sticking to main roads, but wanting to be able to do some shorter stretches of half serious offroading if one should feel so inclined (though with some strain and difficulty): A 1200cc Adventure type bike, such as the BMW 1200 GS Adventure.

2) As a rule, sticking mostly to main roads, but also a bunch of really poor roads and paths every now and then, even a bit of some serious offroading once a blue moon: A one cylindered enduro bike of approximatly 650 cc, such as the BMW 650 GS Dakar, Yamaha XTZ Tenere, Honda Dominator, etc. Only a few weeks ago I allmost decided for A BMW 650 Dakar (my favourite motorcycle).

3) Going offroad wherever you can, using main roads only as a unavoidable means of transportation between the boring bits: A one cylindered MX bike with approximatley 350 cc and a strengthened sub frame, such as the Yamaha XT or Honda XL.

So what will I be riding for my next trip? June my wife and I will be riding two classical 200cc Vespas from Cape Town to Nairobi... Why? I love Vespas, and for the route I plan to ride, Vespas will do just fine.
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Old 17 Mar 2006
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I have extensive experience with all three bikes you mentioned (own or owned 6 DR650 1996/2000/2001, 6KLR650C 1997-1999, 2KLR650A 2004/2005, 1 F650Dakar 2002 and 1 F 650GS 2002)
My personal choice would be the DR650SE (model SP46A from 1996 but avoid 1998 and 1999 as well as the earlier ones) Strong, good quality, reliable, capable to handle bad terrain, light, does not need a lot of modifications for overland travel.
The KLR is very nice as well but maintenance on long trips requires a bit more skills and knowledge (Valves) than the DR.
Don't go for any BMW F 650 if you want to do dirt roads.
Have a look at the specific DR and KLR forum
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Old 17 Mar 2006
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Originally posted by lecap:
My personal choice would be the DR650SE (model SP46A from 1996 but avoid 1998 and 1999 as well as the earlier ones)
I had a 1995 DR and it was very reliable...Dunno why I'd avoid it!

As already said, buy whatever you look and LIKE! You'll have plenty of time to get on with your bike, and the bike you buy now won't necessarily means the bike you'll do the trip on.

Don't panic yourself with the right bike.

As a brazilian though I can say that a DR/XR/KLR/650GS would be more fun to ride, but that is MY PERSONAL choice, so why not buy this Gold Wing now, fix it, run it and then save a bit more and buy an OLD DR/KLR/XR run both for a short while and then decide which one you'll take, sell the other one and hav fun!
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Old 17 Mar 2006
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If you have few mechanical skills ,then leave the fixing up to other people .Don't touch that Gold Wing it will only be a lesson in frustration and a waste of money !
Any of the 650 singles will be great , get lots of experience riding them in the next couple of years and learn their foibles .
Then you will have the experience to tackle the roads and the distance with ease .

Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light. - Spike Milligan
"When you come to a fork in the road ,take it ! When you come to a spoon in the road ,take that also ."
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Old 17 Mar 2006
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First Things 1st .Eldy paco,
1st you need to learn to ride. If you're a tall guy then learning on a tall bike might be all right.A heavy one like the wing less so.If you can find a street or street trail bike under 500cc and put 10,000 to 15,000 miles safely on it you'll be ready for most anything.Get out on sand roads to learn handleing on less than ideal surfaces.Practice panic stops until you don't feel paniced.

I like your choices of travel bikes. Commonly available is the way to go.I got to take a spin on a DR650 once, it impressed with its handleing and the mostly air cooled motor apeals for simplicity.
That said the KLR650 has more range,bigger after market support,and no questionable year models. It has also been produced virtually unchanged for almost 20 years and faults are known and fixable.
My 2cents.

ride,smile,repeat as nessasary
ride,smile,repeat as nessasary
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Old 20 Mar 2006
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fcasado: The SP46A has a coated aluminium barrel which is virtually indestructable and lasts a lot longer than the cast iron sleeve barrel of the older DR's. Stainless steel exhaust is also a big plus on older bikes. The SP 46A is also a lot lighter than the pre 1996 DR650.
Apparently the 1998 / 99 models lacked the torque limiter in the starter gear which can result in spectacular engine problems. Ask Beddhist for details.
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Old 21 Mar 2006
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It's easily fixed. See the topic in the Suzi forum here on HUBB.

Europe to NZ 2006-10
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Old 22 Mar 2006
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As you have som much time I would do the following:

1. Get License
2. Buy el cheapo bike with low insurance to learn to ride on and get the feel for what you like/dislike about it.
3. After 6 months go around and test ride at least 10 different bikes on your wish list. You will be surprised how many times you will think "This is the bike for me" and then once you just sit on it it just feels wrong.
4. Then buy the bike of YOUR PREFERENCE (not what everyone else thinks) with confidence and get familiar with it's personal quirks so that you know it intimately by the time you ride off into the sunset
If there's a will there's a way so I will anyway!
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Old 24 Mar 2006
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I want to thank all of you for your help. The replies have been very informative and have dispelled a couple of ideas I had.

After reviewing the replies and reading one of Grant's posts elsewhere on the site I've decided that all these bikes are capable but none really move me. Since I plan to make this trip more than just a jaunt since it is something that holds a special meaning for me, I've decided I would like to try my hand at a bike that strikes a chord with me: A Triump Bonneville. I know this may not be the most practical of choices but I'm willing to ride it out, no pun intended. Besides, I plan to test it out with full gear sometime in '07 doing to TransAmerican trail. No heavy off-road stuff but plenty of dirt & gravel. Plus, Metal Mule has a pannier kit for it.

Anyone know something of grave importance regarding this bike before I go to my local dealership? I would like to get some input, if available, since you folks know what your talking about (from personal experience) and I find this site to be invaluable.

Thank you all.
\"Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.\" -- Frank Herbert

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