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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 8 Mar 2011
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Europe to Siberia... A GS?

Hi all,

I have been hitting the same question for a long time now and still seeking for advice. I am currently re-thinking what bike I should get for a trip from Europe, through central Asia, Mongolia and then Siberia. Potentially going even further (Japan, etc...). Note that I would like to keep the bike for going "anywhere" after that trip (South america, etc...)

After a first analysis, I think the following criteria are important for me:
- reliability
- fuel injected
- a decent confort/power for the open road touring and long days of riding
- a good dual-purpose bike that can handle trails
- ABS would be a plus
- A bike I like to have fun!
- etc...

I see that people going through his road have lots of different choices, going from R12GSA to DRZ400.
Having ridden BMWs for years, i am quite comfy with those bikes.

My latest retained possibilities would be:

1. F650GS Dakar
+ reliable
+ confortable
+ low consumption
+ easy to "adventurize"
+ 21' front wheel
+ not too high seat (I'm 5'8)
+ ABS
- monocylinder

2. F800GS
+ more power
+ 21' front wheel
+ ABS
- comfort?
- what is the reliability on those bikes compared to a Dakar , is it a frequent choice for this type of trip? How many people REALLY had problems travelling on that bike?
- too heavy?

3. R1200GSA
+ power
+/- shaft drive (advantage or risk?)
+ ABS
+ comfort
- reliability
- expensive (but less money to be spent on adventurizing the bike and high resale price)
- heavy! (but is it that heavy compared to F800GS once fully equiped?)

4. KTM? which model, what is the reliability of the brand?

I know this question has been asked a 100 times, but still haven't found my own answer. Any advice on the bikes listed here?

Cheers,

Kickaha
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  #2  
Old 8 Mar 2011
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I'm doing my RTW in 2012 opposite your direction of travel, from the US to Germany on a '09 GSA. I have started a blog on the prep-work of equipment and bike.

Hope that helps
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  #3  
Old 8 Mar 2011
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Gsa

Hi Thomas,

I have been spending a good part of night reading your blog last night actually. Great prep report! I like the way you prepared the trip and the kind of info you provide.
I fancy the GSA but i am quite worried about lifting it from the mud if I ride alone i have to say.
As I saw your blog, I was thinking of getting in touch with you. Anyway i can reach you?

Kickaha
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  #4  
Old 8 Mar 2011
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Myself and a friend are off RTW heading west from the UK starting april 3rd 2011 we are both on 07 R1200GS . The reason is because a majority of the milage is tarmac , and what off road there is like Mongolia i am sure the GS is capable .
We have fitted bespoke suspension from ohlin and pretty much standard for the rest of the bike .As for breakdowns, well can happen to any bike spares and repairs maybe a little difficult but we do have a 911 diagnostic tool with us , and we are comfortable with the bikes.
We have had a go on KTM and for us the range is poor and the service intervals short, but still a very capable machine.
There is no right or wrong bike whatever you feel happy and comfortable with . Just enjoy the journey !!
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  #5  
Old 8 Mar 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kickaha View Post
Hi Thomas,
...
I fancy the GSA but i am quite worried about lifting it from the mud if I ride alone i have to say.
...
I will be riding alone as well. No doubt, the GSA is a heavy bike. But, IMO manageable without being a "Hercules" or "Arnold". I have "resigned" to the fact, that, when the bike goes down, I will not be in a hurry. Just pause, evaluate and devise a plan. Take the luggage off the bike, position it correctly and use proper technique. Not saying, that a situation may not arise where you'll might have to wait for help...
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  #6  
Old 8 Mar 2011
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Hey Kick,

You have experience and are comfortable with the Beemers, so that is one reason to pick from the top three on your list.

You might also want to add the standard 1200GS to your list, some prefer them to the Adventure as they are lighter and cheaper.

Of the remaining three, if you are going to be sticking to the main roads, it's paved all the way to Vlad now so the downsides of the heavier bikes (1200) will be reduced to specific sections like Mongolia.

If you intend on riding a lot of off highway and off road, then the weight and setup of the 650 could be a good match. The Dakar is a single though and some years have better reputations than others, so you would want to research that here to determine which of the years you would focus on.

The 800 is a good compromise between the two. Better screen is a must, some complain about the seat but for many it's perfectly fine. The longer the trip, the fatter you get so it gets more comfy with every passing mile. Happy planning.
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  #7  
Old 9 Mar 2011
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...in my opinion....

hiya
well...in my opinion take the F65GS Dakar. it will be a great bike to do the Stans and Mongolia. yeah - I may be biased but my F650GS did brilliantly...always has! it was easy to work on and repair but had no major problems throughout the whole of this area.
I know that Simon (on his R1150GSAdv) wished that he had a lighter bike for some of the sections we did in Central Asia. although he loves his bike and knows it inside out (quite literally!)

although as MountainMan said its paved most of the way now to Vlad. though Mongolia is still limited in the amount of tar it has. the main road down from Ulan Ude to Ulaan Baatar is now tar...but the rest...forget seeing any until you get back into russia. (its great!)

so - if you want to see some of our photos and diary of these countries you can visit here
2ridetheworld.com : diary
and then just select the country you want to read about.
we also have a fully downloadable GPS track log with Ref on the front page of our website which is now stuffed full of GPS ref for Central Asia (the Stans, siberia etc) and Mongolia.

feel free to send me a PM if you want to.
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  #8  
Old 9 Mar 2011
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I've had the bikes on your list. I have to question why you want ABS. On the F800gs the ABS is positively dangerous. If it's on while on any kind of rough road it cancels the braking, this includes potholes and frequently my brakes would simply not be there when i needed them. Fuel injection also is not as reliable as carbs in my opinion. It's my firm belief that manufacturers switched for the sake of FI being a cheaper option and then sold to it an uninformed public. I've heard both sides of the argument but of the bikes I've ridden the carbed ones behaved better and were cheaper to run. Of course that only effects the Dakar as very early ones had carbs.
The 1200gs is a heavy bike, nice to ride but starts to get very awkward off the tarmac. It's also unreliable despite what BMW would have you believe, so is the F800gs. I had all the various problems on both. Only the single saved my opinion of BMW and I still have one today... with ABS but I switch it off.
As for KTM, which one is most reliable? My brother had a toy one on a shelf and even that broke down.
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Old 9 Mar 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jtw000 View Post
The 1200gs is a heavy bike, nice to ride but starts to get very awkward off the tarmac. It's also unreliable despite what BMW would have you believe, so is the F800gs. I had all the various problems on both. Only the single saved my opinion of BMW and I still have one today... with ABS but I switch it off.
You always get lots of opinions on the 1200 GS...mine have been very reliable, including the fuel injection and ABS. I would certainly want ABS (at least on a 1200, don't know about the 800) if most of my riding would be on pavement.

I definitely agree that the 1200 is kind of a bear off tarmac, and the GSA even more so, although my off road skills are admittedly pretty weak.
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Old 9 Mar 2011
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Hi all,

Thanks for your replies. I haven't planned my detailed route yet, but the idea would to be able to ride off road and get out of the highways whenever possible. I am also a bit concerned for Siberia off road on the road of bones after reading colebatch's reports.

Well i guess i have to keep on thinking and reading a bit, but not too much!

K.
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Old 10 Mar 2011
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Colebatch generally deliberately takes the more difficult routes, the new federal route between Yakutsk and Magadan doesn't sound hard, and I understand that the road to Vladivostok is paved all the way now...
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  #12  
Old 13 Mar 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kickaha View Post
Hi Thomas,


I fancy the GSA but i am quite worried about lifting it from the mud if I ride alone i have to say.


Kickaha
You can easily learn how to pick up a GS from the ground I think
I am only 60 kgs and slim but can/do pick my GS up !
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  #13  
Old 13 Mar 2011
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If you already have an F650gs it a no brainer take that for all the reason Lisa mentioned and in particular the fuel economy.

If you haven't purchased a bike yet a DRZ400 is worthy candidate for that kind of traveling,(after you've changed the seat of course)

I have a big GS as well as a KLR650, The GS is quite simply a pig. The KLR is pretty porkie. The DRZ is a bird in comparison.
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Old 23 Mar 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kickaha View Post
Hi all,

Thanks for your replies. I haven't planned my detailed route yet, but the idea would to be able to ride off road and get out of the highways whenever possible. I am also a bit concerned for Siberia off road on the road of bones after reading colebatch's reports.

Well i guess i have to keep on thinking and reading a bit, but not too much!

K.
Bear in mind if taking a big bike across Siberia (like 100 - 120 hp BMW or KTM) that you are very unlikely to ever use more than half that horsepower. The speed limit is 90km/h (56mph) on highways and radar cops are everywhere ... and a modern 650 cc bike can push you along at 120-130 km/h (75 - 80 mph) easily on a dirt road - do you need more?

If the penalty for carrying 60 extra hp, is 60 kgs of extra weight, then you need to ask yourself whether or not its an asset or a liability to your travels. Put it this way ... you always have to carry the extra 60 kgs - every muddy road, every river crossing, every time you pick up the bike that 60 kgs is there ... but how often will you actually use the extra 60 hp it gives you? Thats the equation.

There is no doubt that weight will restrict the possible routes you will be able to take.
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Last edited by colebatch; 25 Apr 2011 at 23:41.
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Old 28 Mar 2011
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Quote:
Bear in mind if taking a big bike across Siberia (like 100 - 120 hp BMW or KTM) that you are very unlikely to ever use more than half that horsepower. The speed limit is 90km/h (56mph) on highways and radar cops are everywhere ... and a modern 650 cc bike can push you along at 120-130 km/h (75 - 80 mph) easily on a dirt road - do you need more?
Hi Colebatch,

Yes, this makes sense to me. What about the Dakar? Already too heavy for that kind of trip? (if I am not alone, I may want to consider some section of the old summer road to Magadan).

About lighter I do not think I can afford a bike preparation like your X-challenge and that bike is too tall for me anyway. So the Dakar sounds like best compromise for me. I just found one that has 40'000km on the clock and well equipped. I wished I could find one with less km, but still may be a good opportunity.
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