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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 7 Apr 2008
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Europe and Austrailia, which bikes?

Hello all,
I know this gets asked frequently but I have been pouring over these forums for days and I feel I am a little closer to an answer but still have questions.

My wife and I are planning on doing a tour of Europe and Australia starting this September. Neither of us have ridden a bike before so our plan is to buy our bikes in the next month to ride all summer here in preparation for our trip. I am 6'1" and my wife is 5'2" tall. We also have a Jack Russell that will be accompanying us on this trip. I have narrowed things down to the BMW F650GS, Kawasaki KLR650, or the Suzuki V-Strom 650 (DL650). I would expect we will go down some dirt and gravel roads but not a lot of offroading hence the Suzuki choice.

I want us to have the same bikes for ease of repair but I do not know if there are lower seat height options for the Suzuki and Kawasaki, the BMW seems to address this issue easily. Also my wife is only 95lbs so I want her bike to be light.

Has anyone traveled with a dog in one of these?
Pet Carriers

Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.
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  #2  
Old 7 Apr 2008
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Testride !

If I had to choose, It would be the the Suzukli V-Strom or the BMW F650GS.
Both are comfortable enough for long trips on tar roads and still capable of some offroad.
I think the Kawasaki is more offroad oriented but can also do tar roads.
All three bikes are reliable bikes that are capable of doing Europe (I have no experience with Australia). Also the availability of accessoires and parts should be no problem for neither of these bikes.

I ride a BMW F650GS and I like it but I think the Suzuki is just as good. The best you can do is try to make a long testride on all three bikes and then make your choise.

It wont help you that I like my BMW, or someone else likes his Suzuki or Kawasaki more. You and your wife will be doing a lot of kilometers on the bikes that you choose so they must feel good for you.
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  #3  
Old 7 Apr 2008
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Hope you have read http://www.daff.gov.au/__data/assets...on_Package.pdf
about bringing a dog into Australia?

How long will you have held your motorbike licences? I have a very dim recollection about an overseas licence holder must have the equivalent of an Australian full licence (held it for 3 years) to be able to buy the compulsory third party insurance. But for the life of me I cant remember where/when I read it. It might be a good idea to ask the question of the State transport authority where you intend buying the insurance. I maybe barking up the wrong tree but I'd hate to see you get here on a licence that would nt be accepted by some bureaucrat.
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Old 7 Apr 2008
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Roger,
From what I can see our license is valid. On the dog front that is good information. I appreciate the heads up.

Matt
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  #5  
Old 7 Apr 2008
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I'd suggest one of these:

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I went with Suncorp here for my insurance as they didn't seem bothered I didn't have an Australian licence. Most of the other insurance companies required me to have one but I think you can only apply for one if you have a work visa.
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  #6  
Old 8 Apr 2008
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KLR650
A tough off-road machine, but (among these) not the right choice for the need you describe, because it will suffer on straight highways. If you're thinking doing Europe AND Australia, not Europe TO Australia, then its too gravel-road oriented.

F650GS (and I assume you mean the old 1-cylinder model, and not the new 800cc 2-cylinder one, which BMW has for some reason decided to call 650.....)
Better than KLR for highways, but down on power to the DL, some 15-20 hp. If you load the bike up heavily, the difference will become even more obvious. Very nice bike for riding 1-up, though, and it can do bad-condition roads quite nicely. A bit lighter than the DL, too.

DL650
Nice engine with plenty of torque, and more power than 1-cylinder bikes. Also a great frame, almost similar to the 1000cc version, so it can take anything you will throw at it, like loading it up with luggage like you wouldnt have believed. All in all, a very capable touring machine, though it wont be a winner in tough dirt or mud. Its basically a streetbike with allroad suspension and tyres.

I've actually just finished a trip from Europe to Australia with this bike, some 34000kms in 6 months, and ridden 2-up with my girlfriend. There were plenty of long, empty highway stretches on this trip, and thats where the DL excelled. And it is enjoyable on twisty mountain roads, too.

We were carrying 3 panniers, a tank bag, plus 2 bags for tools/spare parts, plus an extra set of tyres (!) so let me assure you the bike was loaded to the fullest! It would need some suspension tweaking for something like this, but generally Im surprised how well it handled the whole trip. It never broke down, not once (ok, the battery went dead, but that was probably just a faulty one) and thats something I really appreciate. Its very reliable. Tubeless tyres are also easier to repair on the road, and its cast wheels are tough.

BTW, why not think about a Transalp 650/700 as well? People seem to do big trips with them quite succesfully, too.
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  #7  
Old 8 Apr 2008
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Thanks Pecha,
We are thinking Europe and Australia. I was thinking the new 800cc twin F650GS, the old model is all gone in Canada. Also the problem with the Transalp is we can't get them in Canada . I am liking the look of the DL650 V-Strom more and more. The problem is the ride height. with my wife at 5'2" it is way too tall for her. Is there a 450cc bike with low ride height suitable for this trip? Is there a way to mod a DL650 to make the ride height more suitable?
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Old 8 Apr 2008
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You can get low saddles and suspension lowering links for the DL650 .
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Old 8 Apr 2008
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How big is your dog btw? If it's a small dog then the best option is to put him/her on the tank - it's the most less shaking/vibrating spot on the bike.

Can't find the pic, but I saw some guy on R1150RT 2 up and he had a nice comfty bed made on the tank for their dog - so she was nicely behind the windscreen too.



if bigger then here, but it's not a perfect place to be on the bad roads - top box is the most shaking and vibrating spot on the bike:


The best spot to be, but probably not exacly very comfty for a such a BIG dog:
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Old 8 Apr 2008
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Question

Hi there
I've got the same question for the road Australia to europe. Same probleme I'm only 1m60 height. Will the V-storm be possible to drive ? Wich of this 3 bikes you talked about will be cheapest and easier to maintain ?
Thank you
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  #11  
Old 8 Apr 2008
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Hi
Take the Suzuki.Its a cracking bike,really reliable and easily fixed.it can also carry loads of stuff and when you drop it which you will(a lot) its pretty easy to pick up.You can get lowering kits for it and lower seat options so you can pretty much tailor it as you like.The old BMW 650 is a bugger to work on and the new ones too new so no one really knows.I did a rtw on a XT660 and it was brilliant,comfy,totally reliable(20000 K before I changed the oil and chain!) but it is a tall bike.If most of your riding is going to be on tarmac then you can take what you like (all bikes can handle a gravel track!) and that widens your choice (one of my friends is currently on a RTW on his 2002 Moto Guzzi California!!) I even met people in Laos who had travelled from the US on Harley Sportsters and I met a group of people in India who were touring the whole country on 125cc 2 stroke scooters!!You dont need an "adventure" bike but since Ewan and Charlie burst(unwanted)into everyones life its hard to avoid them!!An alternative would be to go two up, the main advantage is one bike and a lot less hassle (only one bike to worry about), your costs are effectively halved ;the main disadvantage is that only one gets to ride the bike while the other stares at the back of their head.The main thing is enjoy the trip.
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  #12  
Old 8 Apr 2008
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Thanks for the advice! What are some good suppliers of the lowering kits and low seats? Also what do the 2008's go for in the US at the dealer? If it is worth it we can always drive over the border and buy one there.
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Old 9 Apr 2008
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Do note that the DL is fuel-injected, so basically it is not as 'easy' to fix as, say, a KLR, which has carburetors. But if you stay in Europe and Australia, you'll be within the dealer network, so workshops and spares will be available.

The same goes for all fuel-injected bikes of course... and Suzuki's system seems to be very reliable, have heard very few complaints, and my own experience backs this up completely. I had an SV650 before the DL, done over 100.000kms with the two (its basically the same engine) and never ever has the FI light come on indicating trouble.

When buying such a bike second-hand, however, I would try to find out its history as best as I could. They do need regular maintenance, too.
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