The Achievable Dream 5-part series - the definitive guide on DVD for planning your motorcycle adventure. Get Ready! covers planning, paperwork, medical and many other topics! "Inspirational and Awesome!" See the trailer here!
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So you've done it - got inspired, planned your trip, packed your stuff and you're on the road! This section is about staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure. And crossing borders, war zones or oceans!
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Ladies on the Loose! For the first time ever, a motorcycle travel DVD made for women, by women! These intrepid women share their tips to help you plan your own motorcycle adventure. They also answer the women-only questions, and entertain you with amazing tales from the road! Presented by Lois Pryce, veteran solo traveller through South America and Africa and author of 'Lois on the Loose', and 'Red Tape and White Knuckles.'
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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.
i'm deliberately keeping this thread very focused. i had all but settled on the DR, having eliminated the honda XR because of its height, and the KLR because of it's weight. then i spotted the KTM. i've looked into both and see advantages for both.
i figure the cost of a new DR, plus the money to get the suspension uprated and a larger tank, bring it roughly in line with the cost of a late-model used KTM.
my question is, are there any factors about the KTM (parts availability, mechanical reliability, etc) that are so glaring as to disqualify it for RTW riding?
i'm definitely down to these two, and am not interested in posts recommending other bikes (hear that bmw guy?). you can also discern from my two "finalists" the type of riding i'm looking to do: paved, gravel, dirt, limited offroad.
if you have experience with the KTM, please advise.
right now, a major concern for me is the seat height which is essentially the same as the honda, and is too high for me. is it possible to get a custom seat which will lower the seat height to around the suzuki's height (approx. 2" lower)?
I have owned a couple of 640 AdventureR's and recommend them I don't want to try and alter the way you want to do things and a lower seat will let you feel the seat base just nicely but why not just instal a lowering link on the suspension or even shorten the forks and shock.
regarding the lowering links/suspension adjustment: both good ideas i will consider. i had read that the stock seat was pretty bad, and was planning on buying an aftermarket seat for either bike. since corbin doesn't make a seat, i figured a custom was the only option, and an opportunity to adjust the height.
Patrick has made a number of good points, but with care a KTM 640 Adv R can get you a very long way around the world. If you are going for a more off road biased trip, i would take the KTM. If you are doing a lot of tarmac, it would be a toss up between the DR and KTM based on personal preference.
The earlier 640 Advs were more off road focused. The general consensus is the 03 is generally the best second hand model to get if you like the dirt. More recent models (04 and beyond) have gone a little more road biased, with a low front fender and dual front brake calipers. If you plan on riding in very muddy / rocky conditions you might want to revert back to a high front fender.
The LC4 engine does require some TLC, and there are certain service jobs, such as changing the oil (which requires filling both engine + fork) etc, that are more difficult than on simpler machines. But, with practice, you can do virtually everything yourself. Earlier models seem to need a rebuild around the 50-60,000km mark.
Parts availability depends entirely on the region. Europe, Australia or Nth America shouldnt be a problem. In Africa, aside from Morocco, Togo, Kenya and South Africa, parts are very difficult to come by. But if need be you can always have parts DHLed to you if you get stuck. Cant comment on Asia or Central/South American parts availability.
The 640 vibrates a lot and the stock seat is hard (just stand on the pegs a bit more...). You will either love these features or hate them. I personally love them, but it can take a little getting used to.
Adventure Rider is the best place to go for more LC4 info.
If your RTW trip will consist of mainly on-road riding and you're going to cover a lot of distance (50K~60K kms or more) than I would definitely opt for the DR, like Patrick suggested. Of the two, the DR's engine is IMO the more reliable one and will outlast the LC4, and will definitely require less maintenance. LC4 engine’s power greatly exceeds the DR’s, but the LC4 also requires significantly more TLC than a DR. But for doing a RTW trip both bikes have more than enough of power, and the LC4’s HP surplus is just that: surplus. Which will only lead to the rear tire wearing faster if you like wicking the throttle. The difference in power should not be a criterion in choosing either bike for a RTW trip. On the other hand, reliability, longevity, and simplicity (important for maintenance and road-side ‘repairability’) should feature on top of your criteria list in selecting a RTW bike. If that’s the case, the water-cooled LC4 is just no match for the air-cooled DR. And this statement comes from a KTM aficionado who currently owns four KTM’s (though admittedly all EXC models with RFS engines).
This said, I have enjoyed riding both bikes tremendously on extended 'hard-core' offroad trips in Mexico (Baja, Copper Canyon, Central Mexico). The Adv640’s WP suspension is in stock version far superior compared to the soft-sprung DR’s OEM suspension. However, if trail riding at speed is your thing (which I do), than both the Adv and DR will require spending $$ on suspension upgrades, the latter far more than the former. While the WP will perform like a dream with $1K in internal upgrades (valves & springs), similar performance from the DR will require more than just a respringing & revalving job. You would basically have to replace the OEM stuff with second-hand forks and triple clamps taken from a mx bike and an after-market shock absorber in order to get the DR suspension to perform at the level of the KTM's WP. This upgrade will cost a lot more than fine-tuning the WP front & rear. But again, doing a RTW trip is usually not so much about racing down a rough track at break-neck speeds.
Without hesitation I would prefer a DR on a long-term RTW tour, but not without seriously upgrading the suspension (my DR’s OEM shock absorber’s seal blew with less than 3K miles on it). But that’s about the single biggest modifying expense you’d have to consider in prepping a DR for a RTW trip.
As for the parts availability, it’s probably going to be easier, or rather less hard, to source parts for the LC4 as KTM dealers worldwide can supply or order them. It will be harder to find DR parts, as Suzuki importers in many countries/markets have discontinued the DR650 in their model line-up long ago.
Have a safe and troublefree RTW trip, whatever you'll end up riding...
I have an 02 Adventure, my riding buddy has a DR. I paid more for the used KTM then he paid for the almost new DR (had 50 km on the clock when he bought it used).
KTM component quality is much better. Where it is most noticeable for day to day is body plastic. Suzuki plastic is flimsy, easily damaged in a fall or even assembly/disassembly for minor maintenance.
On the road they are pretty evenly matched. The Suzuki is much smoother, but has no weather protection. The Adventure has excellent weather protection, especially below the shoulders.
The stock DR tank is unacceptably small for touring, you will need a bigger tank or be packing a spare can of fuel. The Adventure has a huge tank, range is not a problem.
If you are short or don't like tall bikes, forget about the KTM. The DR is easily lowered so that even very short riders will have no problem.
Both bikes have top speeds well in excess of 100 mph (160 km) and can handle any kind of traffic situation. You can ride either all day long 110-120 kph no problem.
The KTM has way better suspension components, but both bikes are up to light off roading. Brakes are up to the job on both. As far as handling, top speed, suspension, braking, extreme off road performance, the KTM will outperform the DR, but this is nothing you will notice on a regular tour, when your main objective is to get there and get back on your own, and you are unaccompanied by a team of race mechanics and a spares truck.
The KTM already comes with everything you need to go from wherever you live to Dakar, Patagonia, or Tuktoyuktuk. You don't have to change or add anything, except possibly adding a sidestand (makes it much easier to mount and dismount without doing a pratfall, this is a verrrry tall bike), or you want to mount hard luggage. The DR will need quite a bit more to make it long distance tour capable.
Motech makes excellent luggage racks for the Adventure, they also make a side stand that lets you keep the center stand. I am not aware of any off the shelf luggage racks for the DR, but it would not be hard to fit or adapt something if you wanted to add luggage.
I love the KTM seat, it suits my butt better than the seats on any bike I have ever owned (I may have an unusual butt, YMMV). I don't like the DR seat, it actually makes the tiny tank more of a blessing than a curse.
KTM (18") rear tires may be harder to find and there are fewer choices than DR rears (17").
Neither bike has had serious mechanical problems, both have been on long rides, The DR has about 14000 km the KTM about 40,000. I did have to replace the KTM clutch mainshaft bearing, I did it myself, no biggy, but this job could cost a lot if done by the dealer. This is only a problem for pre-2003 LC4 engines. The KTM is a joy to work on unless you are doing the valve clearances, which is the job from hell.
If I had to choose again, I would still go with the KTM, but I could be happy with a DR, it is a fine bike. Suzuki did cheap out on non mission ciritical stuff, but nothing that will leave you by the side of the road.
All the respondents have excellent feedback and it has been an interesting read for my as well. I'm in the process of prepping 2 x DR's for a long trip as well.
For more info, pm Mark (mrg46) another member here - really nice guy - I like the fact that I'm offering his services. Anyway, he just finished a London to South Africa trip on his 640 and can give you some excellent feedback on how his bike performed.
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