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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 9 Mar 2009
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DRZ 400 S (modded) or Dakar

Hi, First post here. My brother and I are taking a long trip through the US, Canada, Europe, Middle east, and across north africa. We hope to do a lot of off road.

I currently have a modded DRZ 400 (FCR Carb, Big Gas Tank, all the protection mods, corbin seat, new pipe, etc. No internal engine mods). Runs great, easy to work on, great off road. Can carry what I want. But vibes a lot at more than 60 mph.

I think I can swing buying a used BMW Dakar 650. But no experience with them. Will this be a better bike for the trip? Doesn't look that off-road capable, even though it's more so than the regular 650. It also doesn't have any bigger fuel tank, still only has five gears, and only 9 more HP than my modded DRZ. To me the main selling point is that it looks more comfortable.

Anyone care to weigh in to help me make this decision?

thanks!

n
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  #2  
Old 9 Mar 2009
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Comfort and offroad don't really mix mate. You'll have to find out where you want to make the compromise. The Dakar is a travel buddy that will take you everywhere in comfort and warmth while having a blast and in the right hands can handle itself offroad. Providing it's still a road of some sort. Fire trails are probably the last bastion which it will handle well, but you won't break any records. Too heavy for horse and single trails. It'll be tough going in the sand, but that goes for most adventure bikes.

That's where the DRZ will shine. I've got both but haven't taken the DRZ (E) out yet, but want to do tight trails on it. You can kit it out for adventure rides easily.

Check out my blog (click on the signature) for Dakar mods. Some are must, some are not. Just took it to southern South America. Had a blast in Ruta 40 (dirt) and Bolivia. Although my luggage setup was too heavy for these conditions. I'm going soft now. Luggage that is.
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  #3  
Old 10 Mar 2009
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DRZ or Dackar

I took a friend of mine along for a 10000 miles in central america and his DRZ did really well on and off road, now the dackar will be better for the HWY but for the trip you are planning HWY will not be the priority. You could carry a spare set of sproket while doing HWY and change for the rough stuff, learning and equiping a use 650 doesn't seems to be the best choice to me.

Good luck
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  #4  
Old 10 Mar 2009
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Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by HendiKaf View Post
I took a friend of mine along for a 10000 miles in central america and his DRZ did really well on and off road, now the dackar will be better for the HWY but for the trip you are planning HWY will not be the priority. You could carry a spare set of sproket while doing HWY and change for the rough stuff, learning and equiping a use 650 doesn't seems to be the best choice to me.

Good luck
Thanks for the input. Nice website and photos by the way!
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  #5  
Old 10 Mar 2009
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Yes, it is not comfortable at speed, but you don't have to go fast. What bike your brother takes? I nicknamed my DRZ400S "Pain of ass". If you know it's limitations then it is OK and on rough stuff you'll be glad you have smaller bike.

However, one thing is that are you sure you are off-roading "a lot"? I have noticed tendency that even if I would like to drive smallest tracks when travelling abroad, I often don't. Reasons are that there are usually no detailed maps available or I don't have them or as I'm usually alone I don't want to take too big risks in remote areas or I'm just "tired" and keep away from rough stuff. This is a bit different to the driving I like to do at home.


Ahto
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  #6  
Old 10 Mar 2009
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Hi there, I'm new too.


I'm thankful for this thread as I'm also planning to travel to around the whole of Europe on my DRZ-400sm (2007). My target is to take as many of the smaller roads and really take my time around the continent (I hope to go no more than 40mph whenever I can help it). Can someone confirm if the DRZ would do the job as I've got an 'experienced' Harley driver telling me I need something bigger?

I haven't started modding it yet like griffnova here so I'd like to ask him and any other owners a question - how long will the big gas tank last (I've read it's about 13 litres?) I'm looking to buy one myself.

Following on from what Rebaseonu has said about going off-road, I certainly do plan to go offroad on mine. With a bigger tank, would it be worth carrying a jerrycan still?

Thanks again for reading guys.
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  #7  
Old 10 Mar 2009
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You can basically drive DRZ anywhere bigger bike goes. People go around the world on mopeds and bicycles, so why can't we on DRZ? It is just that driving fast is not comfortable. Slow down, stop now and then, and you are fine.

I have Aqualine 28l tank, it gives ~600 km range. In most of Europe something like 17l will perhaps be more practical. BTW, if my 28l tank is full then the bike is much more stable at speed, with small stock tank wind blast from big lorry may really cause some stability problems, but with big tank it is much more solid.

About off-road. What is off-road? I think people have different ideas when they say they like to go off-road. For some, gravel is also off-road. When I say off-road I mean rough 4x4 tracks, something like that:



And some really mean off-road is single-track or no track at all.
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  #8  
Old 11 Mar 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rebaseonu View Post
About off-road. What is off-road? I think people have different ideas when they say they like to go off-road.
That’s good point what is offroad to you and how big part of the trip will be offroad? 1%, 2%, 5%?
The 650 uses 20% less petrol, it’s more comfortable, carries luggage better and I would also say that it’s more likely that it will last the trip without problems (other people will tell you the opposite).

The DRZ is better for hardcore offroad, but do you need it? The 650GS is pretty good, took this picture of a friend last year:









But you have a DRZ now, and if you are satisfied with it that’s a very strong argument. For a test you can run 1000 km two days in a row and see…
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Old 11 Mar 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AliBaba View Post
The DRZ is better for hardcore offroad, but do you need it?
Exactly! And even if you imagine doing a lot of hardcore off-road, it may turn out otherwise on different reasons.

Quote:
The 650GS is pretty good, took this picture of a friend last year:
These 4 were all downhill, lets now see how he went back up!

Quote:
For a test you can run 1000 km two days in a row and see…
Well, that is somehting I really would like to avoid on DRZ S as much as possible. My longest day so far with 14/44 gearing has been 800+ km in EU transit and that was really memorable.

People who are aiming to ride long distances per day should not consider DRZ, for sure.

But biggest issue with high speed, besides pain in the ass, is that going fast on highway with DRZ S is just plain dangerous, because of high center of gravity and relative light weight of the bike. It is not stable. I find 75 km/h to be reasonable. But that is of course my personal opinion.
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Old 11 Mar 2009
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Originally Posted by Rebaseonu View Post
These 4 were all downhill, lets now see how he went back up!
Why should he go back up? Did he forget something?
We are focused, we don’t drive in circles
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  #11  
Old 11 Mar 2009
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Thanks for the replies relating to my queries guys.

Yes, I already own a DRZ now. The way I saw it, it was cheaper, lighter, less money to insure, probably cheaper/ easier to repair than bigger touring bikes and indeed I plan to take my time around Europe.

I've got some time before I go on the trip so if I find it too uncomfortable when going around the UK then I'll have to consider getting something easier on the bum.

Especially thanks for the links towards the tanks. I think the 17 litre tank would be enough for Europe. Only, the 27 litre is only £100 more so.... I'll think about it.

Quote:
About off-road. What is off-road? I think people have different ideas when they say they like to go off-road. For some, gravel is also off-road. When I say off-road I mean rough 4x4 tracks, something like that:
Quote:



And some really mean off-road is single-track or no track at all.


That's the sort of off-road I could be taking so it's comforting to see pretty much the exact same DRZ as mine coping with it.
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  #12  
Old 11 Mar 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terramax View Post
That's the sort of off-road I could be taking so it's comforting to see pretty much the exact same DRZ as mine coping with it.
A DRZ will do anything you ask of it off-road. One finished the Dakar Rally this year. They are bloody good trail bikes but without the fragility of more modern enduro bikes. On tarmac however, not that great. If you are happy to toddle along at 60mph with an odd blast up to 80 to overtake then it'll be fine. Fuel consumption isn't that great and the seat will have you doing the cheek-to-cheek shuffle pretty quickly. Best bet, do a trial run for a few days and see how you get on.
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  #13  
Old 11 Mar 2009
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We went to South America with the same view of taking in as much off road as possible. How much did we end up doing? Maybe 10%, and only dirt roads good enough for truck. Ruta 40 (parts off), Carreterra and Bolivian Altiplano National Park. Reality is that for the real off road there is never enough time, because on anything more challenging than than a 4WD track, you might only cover 200km when camping.

The Dakar can certainly do. This is a picture of a 66kg girl going up a rocky/ rutty trail.



It is going up, but you can never get the grade on the photo. A husky struggled with this one.
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  #14  
Old 11 Mar 2009
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Drz400

I did all Central and South America twice and to my experience any bike can do it , but if you like dirt there are so many great trail to do and many are very challenging even for a light off road bike, the problem is when you are loaded with gear you may not want to do them .I will say that if you are up to the challenge you will always find great reward in road less travelled.I love the confort of a bigger bike but I got stuk in deep mudd and wasn't happy to push it and I am not talking about river crossing.
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  #15  
Old 12 Mar 2009
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Thanks for all the responses. Definitely food for thought... I think I'm leaning toward the DRZ at the moment (though I'm going to look at a dakar tomorrow).

The reason is that I already have it, know it, and know how to work on it. Plus, by taking what I have, I can save the money I'd spend on the dakar, and use it for the trip. I've done all the fixes and upgrades to make it adventure-worthy (Loctite Fixes, MCCT, Main Nut Fix, etc.) I've added case protection and bash guards and rad guards.

Really, the only drawback I see is comfort. Ouch. I DO have the corbin saddle, which is more comfortable and wider (and lower) than the stock saddle. Any input from anyone on what specifically makes the bike uncomfortable? I added a windscreen to keep the wind off my chest on road.

I have the FCR carb and FMF full system Q pipe, so going 65/70mph isn't really a problem. I've done 350 mile days, mostly on highway. I could do more, as long as I could take breaks. I also am deciding between the IMS 4 gal (17l) and Clarke 3.9 gal tanks. I think I'm going to go with the IMS because it carries the fuel lower, and provides better radiator protection.

As for WHAT we'll be doing. Well, we say we want to do 'a lot' of 'off road', and those are good observations about what 'off road' is. We are seeking to do as much difficult 4x4 track as we can. Like you showed in the pic. Of course we will be doing highways sometimes, but we are planning our route around smaller roads.

I know the dakar can handle it, i'm just not convinced that the gain in comfort is worth the extra cash, when I could use that cash to travel farther/longer, and possibly buy a new camera :-)

Here's a pic of the bike (before new headpipe and heatshield)
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