Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Technical, Bike forums > Which Bike?

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.
Contact Overland Solutions for all your custom modifications and setup for overland travel.


LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 16 Jun 2005
Contributing Member
New on the HUBB
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Posts: 10
F650 Dakar Vs KTM Adv Vs everything else

hi all

I'm plannig a rtw trip with my fiance in about two years time (pretty much eveywhere but southern Africa), I have been intensively reseaching bikes (as you do when you can't actually go anywhere) and didn't intend to purchase for a while yet, however we now need a second car, so a trip bike will have to be bought early!

I've narrowed it down to the Dakar and the KTM, but am having trouble deciding.
I was thinking about GS adv initially but they are a little too big for my fiancee and I can see alot of merit in taking too identical bikes. (would love a big GS though)
Which leads to my question:
I expect to do in the region of 1oo,ooo kms a lot of which will obviously be on sealed roads, although some of the dirt sections we intend to tackle maybe quite difficult, and thats just getting out of Oz!
So, how long do KTM engines tend to last? Who's got the highest mileage out there? and how are people finding them on the long haul? the really, really long haul?
I like the comfort factor of the BMW and from research, speaking to mechanics etc, the motors tend to be fairly long lived, anyone got any good info on this?
However beefing up the Dakar for decent off road work (suspension, tanks etc) makes me think about buying the KTM.
Thers no chance of me getting a day test ride on either and I not entirely confident a basic test ride will answer ny concerns.
I don't really like the idea of multiple engine rebuilds mid trip, but I don't really like the idea of spending big dollars to make a BMW into a KTM when it already costs the same new. Also the KTM is close to 15kgs lighter as standard, and strokes a male ego by looking the business?

So ladies and gentlemen, opinions please!

thanks in advance
PS I just wanted to say how useful I've found this site to be!
Reply With Quote
Old 16 Jun 2005
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Posts: 138
Hi Luke,

I'm not sure I can answer your questions specifically, but I can offer a few opinions FWIW.

If the big GS is too big for your girlfriend, I am guessing the KTM will be too - I assume height is the issue.

Don't under estimate what a quick ride will tell you about these bikes, maybe not everything, but perhaps a few important things. My first impression was KTM vibrates much more than I expected and the seat is same as a trail bike - narrow and hard. The KTM is more dirt oriented, the 650 Dakar more road in comparison. I bought the Dakar and owned it for 20,000 km (sold it recently for a v-strom 1000, but that's another story) and had no problems at all except expensive servicing. Its a comfortable & capable bike in most road/dirt situations, but its not a true trail bike (I am primarily a trail rider, so I also have a few dedicated trail bikes) and neither KTM or Dakar are high performance road bikes.

I think the Dakar would be perfect for an overland or RTW with luggage but not quite as perfect with pillion & luggage (hence the change to v-strom). Several have done or are doing RTW on BMW 650's (classic, GS, Dakar ect),so its worth reading up on their experiences.

It is difficult/expensive to increase fuel capacity on the Dakar if that is important to you. Your girlfriend may even have trouble with the height of the Dakar, but don't worry, the 650 GS is basically the same bike with lower suspension and you can lower it further if needed. So you could have a Dakar and 650 GS like a few other couples have done.

My opinion is the Dakar is much more comfortable for 90% or more of most riding, but KTM is more off road capable. Depends on your priorities, ride them both (bikes not girlfriend) then sit down and assess your needs honestly, then choose.

Reply With Quote
Old 16 Jun 2005
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Switzerland
Posts: 104
Hi Luke

Although I own a KTM Adventure myself (and I enyojed every minute on it) I'd advice you not realy to concider one unless you have test-riden it.

It is an excelent bike as soon you leave the tarmac - but it's also a beast on tarmac. Not that it's not capable to do it - I crossed eg the Nullarbor Plains on it - but it doesn't feel home. The engine doesn't like long turns at same speed, your bottom is in serious danger and every other part of your body is still vibrating when you lie down for the night.

As Skillo already mentioned, the seat height is a problem. I'm 1.77m and I spend a lot of effort and money to lower it a bit. On the other hand side, a friend of mine, she's about 1.70m, surrounded Oz on one without any mods - you eventualy get used to the height.

The vibes are another thing. It realy DOES vibrate. Realy! Even if the new engines might be a bit smoother and there are a few things you can do about it (eg. handlebar weights and saddle mods) you will have to live with it, especialy your bottom and the hands.

I'd say the average engine life before it needs a rebuild is 25-30k. The main engine bearings need an exchange after aprox 20-30k (the factory says IMHO 20k) and there are several other things which need to be replaced after a certain distance. In general, IMHO, it's a bike which needs constant care and you have to like to do that. There are people out there on 100k+ trips but all of'em I think are at least hobby-mechanics ;-)

Don't get me wrong, I love my KTM and I never had a doubt it was the right choice for me. But I can understand why it might be the wrong bike for other people. If offroad rinding is not one of the main targets of your trip then I'm shure there are better bikes than the KTM for you. I fell in love with her the second I touched sand for the first time. But I had a seriousely hurting bottom at the time :-)

Just my 1 1/2 or so cents...

Cheers, Kudi

Ride Your Dreams
Ride Your Dreams
Reply With Quote
Old 17 Jun 2005
richardb's Avatar
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: guildford, surrey, UK
Posts: 139
I have a Dakar.. done 50,000 miles (80K KM), all on stock suspension, fork springs. Fair amount of dirt tracks in SOuth America.

Steering head bearings are soft (4 sets so far). Otherwise its comfortable and reliable.

It is a bit heavy, but I reckon as long as oyu can pick it up - you can tackle most terrain - and there are two of you.
I wasn't experienced off-road before my trip, and found consistantly that the bike could handle anything I was prepared to tackle alone.
I'm about 5ft 9in and with a low seat the height is fine - remember with luggage even at maximum pre-load, it will sit a bit lower.

Engine still runs great - I met a German guy on a KTM and he had his rebuilt in Bolivia after barely 40,000 KM.

I has a wide arse thanks to the pipes. I had 41L touratech panniers, and they stuck out wider than the handle bars - recommend going for smaller than that, or something that exploits the space underneath the pipes.

I reckoned on getting 250 miles to a tank (about 400+ kms, and didn't go for the expense of the extra tanks - carrying a plastic fuel can is cheap and simple.

Not sure I would recommend the BMW top box - it leaks in heavy rain, and the mounting is not entirely secure. After admittedly a lot of vibration, it recently popped off driving in London, and broke into lots of pieces.

all I can think of for now, hope this helps.

Reply With Quote
Old 17 Jun 2005
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 60
The KTM is an awesome offroad capable bike and with the big tank it's got a good range. The standard componentry is high quality (handlebars, suspension, wheel rims) and they go like stink and are a blast to ride. KTM's do need a bit more looking after than a BM in terms of servicing and general maintenance. That said they don't crack up and fall apart after a fall. There is a lot of travel gear available for them - panniers, tank bags, headlight protection etc etc.

Personally I have done London-Cape town on a KTM adventure and loved it. I've put down over 40,000km on the bike and aside from normal maintenance only had to replace my front fork seals - and that has included several crashes in the Sahara. KTM also comes with both electric and kick start - I did end up needing the kick start when I drained my battery in the Mautitania desert whislt trying to jump start a Super Tenere. Ever imagined push starting a bike in thick soft sand - I was pretty glad I didn't have to

The downside of the BM's for me was that it has a smallish tank (which costs a good wack to upgrade to a long distance size) and on off-road days bits would shake off them. They are much more comfortable though and are capable off-road. From other reports the reliability seems really good.

If I were to choose again I'd still go for the KTM - mainly because I like getting off the beaten track and the KTM gives me confidence offroad that I didn't get from the BM.

As everyone says - it's personal and it really depends on what you intend to do on your trip. Because you intend covering some serious mileage and are likely to be spending 95% of your time on a road of some form the responsible voice in me says you should take the safe option in the BM ... but the one that really wants to have fun shouts KTM louder for me.
Reply With Quote
Old 17 Jun 2005
Contributing Member
New on the HUBB
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Posts: 10
Thanks very much for the info guys.
It is much appreciated.
What has been said pretty much confirms what I had thought. I used to own a 640 LC4 about five years ago and remember it being pretty vibey, but very competent off road. Which is making the decision a bit harder as I know just how good it is off road. I found some info about f650 engines, after a thorough search around the chain gang site, which suggests they are capable of about 80,000 mile before a rebuild (obviously every bike is different) which kind of swayed me until I found this site:
were a guy went 70,000 kms around the world on his KTM before it was rebuilt, although this definitely appears to be the exception rather than the rule.
Anyway I am hoping to be able to back to back test ride in the next week or two which should help with some aspects of the decision.
So thanks very much to everyone, and keep the info coming!
Reply With Quote
Old 20 Jun 2005
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Oslo, Norway/ Provence, France
Posts: 99
I was going through the same as you 2 years ago. Dakar og KTM Adv. I really wanted the KTM. I was trying to minimize the problems with it, and overestimating the need for offroad capabilities.... because i reeeeally wanted it. I bougth the Dakar, and have been pretty happy with it. Glad I didnt take the KTM. Parts availability, service intervalls, vibs and less than average onroad capabilities would have made it a poor choice for me. But it shure looks good........ Like yourself I have been thinking about a GS Adv.... again, it looks good.... But the Dakar gets the job done... in comfort. Happy hunting!
Reply With Quote
Old 8 Jul 2005
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 9
hey Luke,

i guess the KTM adventure would be much too tall for your g/f unless she is an amazon...

its way bigger than the GS once you're on it -(i test rode both).

I reckon either would do the job but decent Dakars and 650's are cheaper second hand than 640 adventures and i think as a mule...the BMW may be a better bet.

Reply With Quote
Old 10 Jul 2005
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: scotland
Posts: 11

i had the same choice to make couple of weeks back and ended up ordering an adventure

when i went to see about the f650 what they offered fo my bike made me think i wouldnt be able to afford the adv, but when i went to ktm they offered me another £600 for my bike plus the bmw guy added £150 pound to the rrp. cheeky twat, also he was gonna get it without the abs to save hhim even more.

still waiting on the ktm though2 1/2 weeks :-( any one know how long it usually takes?
Reply With Quote
Old 10 Jul 2005
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: UK
Posts: 17
Just to head off in the "Everything else" direction - have you considered the Honda AT?

The engine is good for over 100,000km - recently met a german chap with a 1999 AT with over 120,000km on the clock. They are comfortable for long distance work, and fun enough for short trips.

Honda reliability is fantastic with much thought given at the design stage for reliability issues. The bike is not too heavy - with good ground clearance so it's good for offroad work. You can get parts everywhere, and they are pretty good on fuel.

Should get about 200 miles (300+km) before it hits reserve.

Not cheap, but certainly cheaper than a BMW - and a lot more capable for any offroading that you might want to do IMHO.
Ignor me please I crave attention - and white chocolate.
Reply With Quote
Old 11 Jul 2005
Smellybiker's Avatar
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Missing, presumed fed
Posts: 302
Originally posted by ewano:
Just to head off in the "Everything else" direction - have you considered the Honda AT?
Dont get me wrong, I like my Dakar, but getting BMW parts outside of Europe is a pain.

BMW parts are usually insanely expensive and never in stock, I suspect its the same for KTM. Finding Honda parts is a lot easier.

For the Honda AT, bring a spare fuel pump and voltage regulator.

If you want to know 'what breaks' on the Dakar take a look at :-

Hope that helps.

Last seen in S.America, missing presumed fed.
GPS Maps & Motorcycle Shipping
Reply With Quote
Old 11 Jul 2005
mollydog's Avatar
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: california
Posts: 2,297
No way can I talk a confirmed BMW guy out a BMW.
At the last HU Copper Canyon Meeting
the KLR was the most represented bike there.
Out of 105 bikes about 30 were KLR;s, Now why is that?

Last edited by mollydog; 22 Mar 2009 at 00:19.
Reply With Quote
Old 11 Jul 2005
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 42
Sorry Mollydog,

I owned a KLR650 until a couple of months ago and have just sold it for a Dakar. The KLR was cheap and simple yes, but I couldn't stand it. Rust prone, not great build quality in my opinion and I never felt that I trusted the bike at all - all I ever had with it were problems. Having owned a Dakar for the first time I would NEVER go back. Miles more comfortable, capable off-road, not too heavy and I really trust the thing to not break down. I would favour the Dakar instead of the ktm for all the reasons outlined by others above.
Reply With Quote
Old 13 Jul 2005
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Idaho, USA
Posts: 212
The two posts immediately above may be discussing two different bikes. Let's not forget that the KLR 650 sold in Europe (the "C" model) and the one sold in N. America (the "A" model) are significantly different machines. I've never seen the C model, but it's described in the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook as "...not suited for an overland biker's needs" whereas the A model is described (by a different author) as "In my view the original KLR 650 as still sold in NOrth America makes the best adventure tourer." These model differences may account in part for the radically different views of this bike expressed in the two posts above.

My experience with the A model KLR 650 is very different than that expressed immediately above, which may be the C model since the author lives in the UK. I have about 8K miles on mine and have had zero problems - it's been absolutely reliable thus far. I've also owned a F650 GS which wasn't a Dakar but had a WP shock and fork and was thus even more capable off road than a Dakar. Even after these almost $3000 suspension modifications, the KLR was somewhat more dirt capable than the BMW, although not dramatically so. The F650 was somewhat more comfortable for highway riding (a bit less vibration) although again not dramatically so. In short, as I see it as someone who has owned both, either bike can do anything the other can do without major differences in comfort or efficiency.

I put 24K miles on the BMW and had no major mechanical problems so I would consider it very reliable also and don't believe there is a major advantage in reliability either way between these two bikes (as long as the timing chain tensioner on the KLR is upgraded, approximately $40 in parts).

IMHO, there are two main differences between these two bikes. One is cost, a huge advantage for the Kawasaki and one which allows for expenditures for upgrades, accessories, etc. with the total cost still being less than the cost of a bare BMW. And, KLR replacement parts are considerable less costly also.

The other difference is in the simplicity of the KLR, making it much easier to work on, especially out on the road when tools may be limited. I've worked on both and much prefer the KLR in this area.

At the time I began planning my RTW trip for this summer, I still owned both bikes (the BMW has since been sold), and because of the simplicity factor it's the KLR which is now on an ocean freighter somewhere out in the Pacific bound for Vladivostok.

Reply With Quote
Old 13 Jul 2005
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: bristol, uk
Posts: 60
i work for a kawasaki breakers. it is our considered opinion that klr engines are sh1te. they break. and not just the doohicky. the top end is soft and the barrells are suspect!

and why has no one mentioned the transalp? small, light, ultra reliable...

Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

Next HU Eventscalendar

See all events


HU DVD Autumn Special!

Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!

Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).

The first in an exciting new series, Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers."Inspiring and hilarious!"

"I loved watching this DVD!"

"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."

"Wonderful entertainment!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.

Scottoiler automatic chain oilers. The most important accessory for your next motorcycle adventure!

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 04:06.