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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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  #16  
Old 25 Jun 2010
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longest distance without fuel was omorate in southern ethiopia to marsabit in kenya i.e. eastern side of lake turkhana. think the western side might be less distance but more sand. in omorate fuel is 2 bucks a litre (black market).

i have a 12L liquid containment fuel bladder (made in australia) and bought 5L empty cooking oil bottles in ethiopia (also avail in omorate) for about a buck each so i was carrying 22L extra fuel. also had load of water.

contact chris at jungle junction nairobi to confirm but the story is something like this - group of 6 (family) from SA rode north on F800's and all 6 needed new rear shocks in nairobi. chris has a bucket with at least a dozen BMW shocks at his place (i have a pic i can email u if you want...). i believe this group had not ridden the moyale to marsabit road which is apparently the worst section on the east coast. i avoided this section by going lake turkhana which might not have been a great idea.

personally i think the f800 should be ok if you don't overload it - 10.5" clearance against the 8" on my f650 twin.

i carry 2 panniers and a half filled 20L drybag so when not carrying extra fuel, with panniers at 6.5kg each luggage is about 50kg. i ride solo so have all tools & spares for my bike - if you have a group you can share these around to reduce individuals weight.

problem with the rear shock is the top bolt. read on adv rider beasts forum. i changed mine from the 10.something to a 12.something grade bolt (had a ethiopia made bolt shear after the stock failed, so don't get local parts - chris at JJ's gave me the new one and a spare) but from what i read, the overlander problem is the bolt failing then the rider continuing (because they didn't have a spare) and the shock and mount doing serious damage. so - upgrade and / or carry a spare. i cut a hole in my fairing (the black plastic part) so i can use an allen key now to remove the bolt and check its ok rather than removing the airbox, cable ties etc as per bmw manual.

kit the bike with the crash bars... they will save you $$$. best comment i read somewhere on hubb website was "why take a 10,000 euro bike to africa when a 3,000 euro bike [(eg DR650)] will do..." personally i am shipping the f650 home from cape town and buying a DR in SA for my ride up the west coast.

happy travels
dave
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  #17  
Old 25 Jun 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dajg View Post
personally i am shipping the f650 home from cape town and buying a DR in SA for my ride up the west coast.

Trade it for a F800GS

Congo-light: YouTube - Unterwegens's Channel

Here is what BMW says about the wheels:

Quote:
Originally Posted by BMW
The cast iron wheels with moderate dimensions are ideal both for city cruising and for covering lengthy straights at speed.
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  #18  
Old 25 Jun 2010
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Hey Dave,

That's one tough ride to cut across to Marsabit from Omorate solo, we went straight down to Loyangalani. I'm not sure what Omorate-North Horr-Marsabit section of road is exactly like but I wouldn't think that it would be any better than the Moyale-Marsabit road. I know the road to Loyangalani wasn't.

In regards to the west side of Lake Turkhana, I have met one biker that did it but that was years ago and most are put off by the hassle and uncertainty of negotiating with the boat owners to ferry your bike across the river in their canoes. One pedal biker I met had a tough negotiation to get them down to even a bearable price. The roads are supposedly somewhat better on that side though.

As for the African west coast roads, depends on the season and route but in general they aren't that much worse that what you have already been through if you stick to the main route. I just came up from South Africa to Nigeria and while there is definitely more bad road than the east coast, I'm not sure that it is enough to need to switch to a different bike. I was riding a DL1000, which also falls into what I would consider the category of street orientated dual sports, and has about the same clearance as yours and while at times I wished I had a bike that was more dirt orientated, in general it was perfectly fine.

As a side note, I also met a rider from the UK in DRC who had completed a RTW the year before on a new Tenere but had heard that the roads were rough on the African west coast and as such went really light and bought a slightly older XT for a trip down to SA. In short, he didn't find the roads nearly as bad as expected and wished he had brought his other bike which he had already put the time and effort into setting up.

Sorry to hear that your bike has given you some trouble thus far but sounds like you now know your bike inside and out. Knowing the weaks spots of the bike you are riding (and all bikes have weak spots) is probably one of the most important things. Your bike already has the dents and scratches of the road so isn't really going to depreciate much more. Once you factor in the cost of shipping your bike home ($1,000-$1,250) and the depreciation on any different bike that you buy, (and other small items like the costs of temporary import permits at some borders if you don't get a new carnet), it'll cost you a fair bit to switch and I'm not sure that the roads really require it. For the incremental cost vs. benefit, it's probably very debatable.

Anyways, just my two cents. Drop me a line when you are heading north and maybe see you somewhere on the road.
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  #19  
Old 3 Jul 2010
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mountain man, thanks for the advice. i have had similar thoughts.

my main consideration was - if i get to a point where there are two roads, one leading somewhere cool and the other leading somewhere dull, the choice will be dictated by the condition of the road simply due to what i consider the f650's lack of off road utility.

the cost of shipping isn't a huge concern - i would have to ship the bike home from the UK otherwise. also, my carnet expires in october (i'll be in SA in september) so will need to either renew or replace at that stage.

the following parts of the bike failed due to premature?? wear:

fuel pump - 51,000km
top bolt to rear shock - unknown, noticed about 53,000km
rear wheel bearings - 55,000km

everything else, i broke. however i expected several components to perform better - specifically the bash plate, bash plate mounts and sump cover.

regarding the f800, other than clearance i don't think my experience would have been much different. actually - i would have been travelling faster each time i stacked it....

safe riding.
d
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  #20  
Old 3 Jul 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dajg View Post
best comment i read somewhere on hubb website was "why take a 10,000 euro bike to africa when a 3,000 euro bike [(eg DR650)] will do..." personally i am shipping the f650 home from cape town and buying a DR in SA for my ride up the west coast.
happy travels
dave
I think the above statement is emblematic of a trend showing more travelers going away from BIG heavy, expensive road bikes (R12GS, F800GS, R100GS et al) to less expensive, more expendable bikes that crash better and generally are reliable. More going with 250s and 400's. More buying "in country" local china bikes. Things are changing fast. I still like my DR as a versatile travel bike but I'm in California now, not Africa.

With a few good mods the DR650 is surprisingly good on the road, even comfortable on long paved stretches at high speed. (Good seat a must, heavier springs will help) Try not to overload with too much stuff. Off road on tough tracks the DR is easy to ride if not over loaded. It's even good in sand (firm suspension helps), rocks if not too technical.

I'm sure once your F650GS is put right you can re-coup a good bit of your investment from the sale. Good luck with the DR.

I've read the ADV thread on the broken shock bolt as well. Some seem to speculate it's a design flaw from BMW.

BTW, you don't need any sort of Carnet for S. America, but if you're going back to Africa after that then I guess you would need one.
Safe travels, take pics, have fun!


Too much of a good thing? .... or "Why I Don't Camp". This guy really needs a GS.
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  #21  
Old 8 Oct 2010
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moyale to marsabit

it was good to read your blog. we are in adis at the moment and heading to moyale, to hopefully head to marsabit and on to nairobi. we are a group of four 2 guys on f650gs's and 2 women one a f650gs and the other on a yamaha 250. we are a bit cncerned about getting through in a day and the girls handling the terrain and the bikes handling the road (shockies) etc. the bikes are all new low clicks, just thought you could give us some info. maybe we try and put them on a truck.
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  #22  
Old 29 Oct 2010
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Which Buke?

Yes modern BMWs do seem to give trouble!

I have had two before; a R60/5 and a K100RS. Neither did give much trouble - although neither were happy on a gravel road; hunting and weaving and generally feeling nervous.

I have wanted to find a R80 GS in any condition, here in Queensland, to be rebuilt if necessary for overseas travel. But they all seem to have vanished from the roads.

There are plenty of the more modern öilhead"GS models, and they are at a good price.
Plus, their reliability seems to be acceptable. However I have other reasons to look for an old airhead.

The first is that my wife could never feel safe on a modern oilhead. Even with my Sportster, she is on tip-toes to sit astride. An old airhead would be much better for her. If/when we travel overseas, she would be on her bike, I on mine. But time comes when it is necessary to swap bikes. And it thus necessary to be comfortable on the other's bike.

The next reason is sentiment. When the R80GS came out, I was church-mouse poor, and could not even dream of such a beautiful bike.

Time moved on. My finances got better. I now own a '04 Sportster, which I love and which I would be loath to sell, especially to buy a hideous GS oilhead, which would quickly lose value, as well as be unridable by my wife. I have put 100 000km on the Harley but could still resell it at a profit.

But my affection does not blind me to the Sporty's shortcomings. 1000km range? As if! I am looking for fuel a little more than 200km! Suspension is OK, now, and for reasonable roads only. Africa? I'd rather not. And I have a drive belt. MUCH better than a ghastly chain, but prone to damage on a gravel road.

Yes I am aware of the ElectraGlide Harley of Peter and Kay Forwood, to date the only vehicle of ANY KIND to be ridden/driven in every country in the world. So I could use my Sporty. With suitable modifications. Some of which may decrease the pleasure I currently get while riding it!

Meantime, the search for a rebuildable R80 GS or R100GS continues.

Rob Hall


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  #23  
Old 29 Oct 2010
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Location: Little Mountain Qld Australia
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Which Buke?

Yes modern BMWs do seem to give trouble!

I have had two before; a R60/5 and a K100RS. Neither did give much trouble - although neither were happy on a gravel road; hunting and weaving and generally feeling nervous.

I have wanted to find a R80 GS in any condition, here in Queensland, to be rebuilt if necessary for overseas travel. But they all seem to have vanished from the roads.

There are plenty of the more modern öilhead"GS models, and they are at a good price.
Plus, their reliability seems to be acceptable. However I have other reasons to look for an old airhead.

The first is that my wife could never feel safe on a modern oilhead. Even with my Sportster, she is on tip-toes to sit astride. An old airhead would be much better for her. If/when we travel overseas, she would be on her bike, I on mine. But time comes when it is necessary to swap bikes. And it thus necessary to be comfortable on the other's bike.

The next reason is sentiment. When the R80GS came out, I was church-mouse poor, and could not even dream of such a beautiful bike.

Time moved on. My finances got better. I now own a '04 Sportster, which I love and which I would be loath to sell, especially to buy a hideous GS oilhead, which would quickly lose value, as well as be unridable by my wife. I have put 100 000km on the Harley but could still resell it at a profit.

But my affection does not blind me to the Sporty's shortcomings. 1000km range? As if! I am looking for fuel a little more than 200km! Suspension is OK, now, and for reasonable roads only. Africa? I'd rather not. And I have a drive belt. MUCH better than a ghastly chain, but prone to damage on a gravel road.

Yes I am aware of the ElectraGlide Harley of Peter and Kay Forwood, to date the only vehicle of ANY KIND to be ridden/driven in every country in the world. So I could use my Sporty. With suitable modifications. Some of which may decrease the pleasure I currently get while riding it!

Meantime, the search for a rebuildable R80 GS or R100GS continues.

Rob Hall


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  #24  
Old 10 Nov 2010
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Just my 2 cents worth but while riding up to see a friend in Luxembourg last week,the throttle cable broke on my 100,000 mile VFR, in the break down lorry and I ask the older guy, what 'bikes does he pick up the most and why ? BMW's he said and electronics are the problem... So there you go
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  #25  
Old 10 Nov 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Hall View Post
Yes modern BMWs do seem to give trouble!
.....
Meantime, the search for a rebuildable R80 GS or R100GS continues.

Rob Hall
Unfortunately: Yes. I love riding my 1150GS on good roads in Europe. Comfortable, fast, great suspension, but when it comes to off-road rides in the Balcans or eastern Europe I prefer my old 80GS any day.

In the mean-time she has 150 kkms on the clock (usually with lots of luggage) and hardly any probs so far. Low ground clearance is a point, but the bash plate does a great job And yes, the standard rear shock was the biggest crap on the bike, a secondhand rebuilt Wilbers now works reliably for well over 70 kkms.

The only semi-modern Beemer I'd buy is the older 650 GS Dakar single....
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