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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 Jan 2012
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From F800GS to DR 650 SE?

Hey all,

Last year I was traveling in South America with my F800GS. Personally I was very happy with the bike. I'd take it on another trip any time, although I'd upgrade at least the rims & hubs and probably suspension too. Also I wouldn't mind if I could shed a couple of pounds which proves to be difficult though.

Anyway since that trip I have been inspired to do a RTW some time in the future. If I'd go just by myself I'd consider taking my current bike, but I'd like to take my girlfriend along with me. 2up is no option for us, so we need a second bike. I'd like us to ride the same bike for obvious reasons. Getting a second F800GS is no option though as it's too expensive and too high and heavy for my girlfriend (to be honest I find it difficult to put it on the center stand when fully loaded).

So after some research I was thinking in the line of DR 650 SE (maybe sell my 800 and get two of those instead) since it is the lighter bike, goes for a good price, has good reviews, and can be lowered easily. I'd do the most common upgrades (tank, suspension, seat, maybe rims). Couple of questions though.

- In Germany we can only buy them used as the current models are not being imported. What's the max mileage I should opt for? Bikes with 20-30k (kilometers not miles) go for about 2.500-3.000 Euros (before negotiating).

- Will it be a huge difference in regards to power compared to my BMW? It's basically half the horsepowers. Related to that question, would you recommend a big bore upgrade? How does that mess with the reliability of the bike?

- How big is the difference from fuel injection to carb? I quite liked the fact that with my BMW I could ride at any height without any significant powerloss for example.

- How much kilometers do you get per liter? Before and after a big bore upgrade? Question is which tank would be suitable and which one is over the top maybe (I think the biggest one would be the Safari). Fuel bladder could be an option.

- I yet have to aquire some mechanical skills... Is it an easy bike to get around with without any previous experience? Maintenance effort onroad compared to the BMW? Only thing we needed to take care of was with the BMW was tires and chain really and then the regular 10.000 kilometers check up.

- In regards to weight, I think it's about 40 kilograms less than the BMW, so is it reasonable to assume that when fully loaded I should be maybe just of 210, 220 kilograms maybe? Also with the big tank?

By the way I've also looked at comparable Hondas and Yamahas (don't like the KLR too much), but the Suzuki seems to be the easiest one to get a hold of for a reasonable price.

Thanks in advance for your input,
Thomas
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  #2  
Old 21 Jan 2012
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Dr650se rtw??

I just picked up a lightly used DR650SE here in Canada, my first such bike after years of owning and running older BMW GS's (Airheads, not the modern kind).

I was caught in a similar decision, as I really like the F800GS. However, after taking a closer look I have concluded that it is just too big and heavy for me - off road anyway.

As to the DR650, I have been doing a lot of research into modifying this bike for RTW. If you haven't already, check out this thread on the Suzuki forum (last few pages)
http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...-haul-23847-13

With a relatively few and simple modifications (air box, muffler, maybe a different carburetor, upgraded seat, tank, springs) , the DR can be made to run much stronger and will be significantly lighter and better 'off road' then a F800 every will be. I am finding that the modifications and parts are both plentiful and cheap compared to BMW stuff. This bike has been largely unchanged for 16 years now, so lots of support.

Power is adequate for solo, the bike is light and small (feels like a 250cc bike to me coming off the G/S), and the seat is low. I believe most people are reporting between 15 and 20 km per liter, which is not exceptional, but not bad either. A few extra jets and you are good for any elevation. They are pretty cheap new in the US ($5000 right now). What about starting here with new bikes rather then trying to find good used ones in Germany?

In any case, I am just learning about this model, but from my current experience I would give that plan (two DR's) a big thumbs up
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  #3  
Old 21 Jan 2012
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Guys,
You may not be aware, but over there on the left side of your screen is this:
Suzuki DR650 Travel Preparation | Horizons Unlimited
It was started some years ago but it does not seem to have been updated recently. Actually, that section of the HUBB about prepping bikes has not developed for a while.

I think Timo has gone to the central point with the question "What about starting here with new bikes rather then trying to find good used ones in Germany?" (or anywhere else in Europe for that matter).
For me, the pricing of products in the Americas is far better than the over-priced state of Europe.
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  #4  
Old 21 Jan 2012
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Defenitely the DR is pricey in Europe!

I have been looking for one the last couple of months. Prices ranging for a decent one between 2000 and 3000 euro's with 6000 to 25000 kilometers and build untill 2001!

For the same amount you can a newer second hand with low mileage in the USA, with plenty of money left to farkel it the way you like.

The price difference to buy new is rather large, for example a 2011 model; 4995 + 498 dollar dealer fee (excl. state taxes): http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/NEW-2...item43aca19d2e

Wipe-out, you can take a look to compare: Every Suzuki DR650SE dual sport for sale

or For Sale Suzuki Dr650 Usa - Yakaz Motorcycles

or dr 650 motorcycles and powersports site mash : combined site search+

or craigslist: california - classifieds for jobs, apartments, personals, for sale, services, community, and events

I decided to start my trip in the USA because of this.
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Last edited by noplacelikehome; 21 Jan 2012 at 12:46.
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  #5  
Old 21 Jan 2012
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Hi Thomas,

Slightly different take on your question, but to me the biggest question is where you would be planning to ride on your RTW and what type of road i.e. highway, offhighway(unpaved) or off road altogether. From there the type of bike selection becomes a bit more clearer.

Your South America ride is a good proxy so you know what you would ride when alone, but that may change when riding as a couple. Not sure what riding experience your girlfriend has, but riding with any bike fully loaded for long tours can be difficult for anyone, so that may change where you go.

Because of the fully loaded factor (and due to other reasons), most people stick to a pretty standard route and when given a choice, will choose the better roads. For most, dual sport bikes cover the broad range of necessary riding conditions but I would say that in many cases, the more highway orientated dual sports (eg. DL650) are better suited for what people actually ride than the more off road ready dual sports (enduro types such as the KLR650).

As a side note, I met a guy in the DRC a couple of years ago riding down the east coast of Africa. He had left a new model XT660 that he had recently finished riding around the world on back at home and had purchased an older 600 because he wanted something lighter and more off road ready for the tough roads of East Africa. Once he was fully loaded though, he didn't find the advantages of the smaller bike to be that great but he certainly missed the advantages of the bigger bike on the long stretches of decent to good roads.

Anyways, I can understand the logic of getting similar bikes for the two of you, but probably have a bias toward:
a) riding what bike a person already has and knows (if it is at all compatible to the intended road conditions)
b) if you do need a different bike, then getting a more road orientated dual sport than a dirt orientated dual sport
c) buying what makes and models are readily available in your area (if you can buy overseas in your intended arrival country, then buy what you can get there).

So anyways, I'm interested to hear where you are thinking of heading and let us know how the planning goes. In the meantime, you may want to look at some DL650s as well if there are any around where you live and also the F650GS which shares many parts with your current bike but is less high and heavy.
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  #6  
Old 24 Jan 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walkabout View Post
Guys,
You may not be aware, but over there on the left side of your screen is this:
Suzuki DR650 Travel Preparation | Horizons Unlimited
It was started some years ago but it does not seem to have been updated recently. Actually, that section of the HUBB about prepping bikes has not developed for a while.

I think Timo has gone to the central point with the question "What about starting here with new bikes rather then trying to find good used ones in Germany?" (or anywhere else in Europe for that matter).
For me, the pricing of products in the Americas is far better than the over-priced state of Europe.
Walkabout, I've looked at that post, but didn't post the link because it has some information, but as you say is incomplete. Deserves some work tho'!

I agree with Mountain Man, the F/G650 is also a great choice, and comes in the low option as well. However, the DR650 can be had much cheaper and the parts needed to make it a true overlander are also 'relatively' cheap and certainly available. You have a choice of after market tanks ranging from $350 to $700 (the F650 large tank it how much - ~$2000?!), several choices of decent seats, the bike can be lowered easily and cheaply, and for the same $ you can easily find a much newer bike. Not to knock the F/G 650's I think they have advantages as well (about the best fuel economy, ABS, better power, better resale?). I've also looked at the DL650, and again a great choice but definitely more road biased. I just find them very large in person and am put off by the amount of plastic in the headlight assembly. I'd hate to crash one.

In my opinion (can I say anything else? ) If I was wanting to buy a bike in the US that I could quickly find, purchase, deal with 'known issues' (there are always some..) and set up for overland work, the DR would be a top choice. Not the best choice for all, but I think it is worth considering. In the last 2 weeks, I've been able to quickly make a list of the work needed for this bike to be a contender, and it is not long nor expensive. Used bikes are plentiful, and kept cheap by the fact that new bikes are remarkably affordable.

Keep us posted on your decision, and good luck. It is indeed a happy problem, as there are quite a few good choices.
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  #7  
Old 25 Jan 2012
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2011 bmw g650-gs

We ride Honda's NX400 Falcons with custom racks and soft luggage... in South America, but for our tour from Spain to Turkey and return (including north and south coasts), we purchased 2 new BMW G650-GS with BMW panniers, bash plates, engine bars, heated grips, cubre manos, optional touring windscreen, ABS, BMW tank bags and BMW soft tail bags.

During our 3 month 2011 ride of 14,000 + K I had a head gasket replaced and Elisa had her starter replaced twice, at no cost to us. BMW service was great, even in Istanbul, but BMW has been slow in covering our hotel stays during authorized repairs. Hesitating on paying for the second starter replacement stay.

The G650-GS handles great, period .... Easy on the curves and effortless to ride... enough power for me at 91 Kilos or so and all my gear for extended touring. When the G650-GS is set up correctly, it is hard to beat. The gas milage is over 300 K per less than 15 liter tank. Very, very inexpensive! Purchase price was very reasonable too.

The stock BMW panniers for the G650-GS are a little weak (thin skinned) and indeed Elisa knocked one off on a slow downhill fall, but it seemed to have been designed to pop off instead of break, so we popped it back on and with a little duck tape over the release mount rode on. Elisa was fine.

Apparently, other G650-GS have had starter problems too. Overall, the bike is comfortable and safe. Plenty of go whether off road out running Turkish Kengal sheep dogs or leaving a swerving lorry in the dust.

Hope this helps, we plan to keep our G650s in Europe, not sell. Anyone interested in a report on the Honda NX400 Falcons we keep in Argentina, let me know, we did 34.000 K in South America over 6 countries.

xfiltrate
Attached Thumbnails
From F800GS to DR 650 SE?-dsc01288.jpg  

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  #8  
Old 25 Jan 2012
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Hi all,

Thanks for your replies. Lots of info.

Maybe let me start with the planned tour - to be honest no clear picture yet, it's just the feeling that I want to do it. I've met several guys on a RTW while in South America and have been thinking about it since (came back myself only about 4 months ago). Now I have a huge world map hanging in our kitchen pinning down places to go to. That's about it. Oh and saving up money...

As for style of riding. In South America I would say it was about 70/30 in favor to onrad. I had no previous riding experience whatsoever, I got my license for the trip. Wasn't a huge problem, learning by doing. I don't think the ratio would change a whole lot, but if it would then in favor to offroad riding.

I liked the F800GS a lot as I mentioned (works very well for 70/30 I think). Main consideration for DR is price (two fully eqipped overlanders can cost some money, especially beamers) and weight. Weight not necessarily only for taking it offroad, but also for making it easier to handle for myself and my girlfriend. To be honest I had a very hard time putting my bike on the centerstand when fully loaded, 40 kg less would make that difference. Also I was in a situation twice were I was caught under the bike in a way I couldn't lift it off my foot due to the angle in which it had fallen to the ground and my friend had to lift it off my foot (luckily no injuries). I'd like my girlfriend to be able to do that in emergency situations.

So for me it's not only the way it handles offroad when thinking about weight, it's also other things.

Someone on ADV Rider already mentioned buying them overseas and I wouldn't mind, the route would just have to be planned accordingly. But I'm still concerned about registering & insuring the bike, haven't had time to reasearch on how to do it as a non citizen and especially cost also. If anyone had information or links on that I'd appreciate it. Just point me in the right direction.

And by the way thanks for the links, I have read the most common threads on prepping the DR for overland I think, but keep them coming.

Cheers,
Thomas
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  #9  
Old 26 Jan 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wipe-out View Post
Hi all,

Thanks for your replies. Lots of info.

Maybe let me start with the planned tour - to be honest no clear picture yet, it's just the feeling that I want to do it. I've met several guys on a RTW while in South America and have been thinking about it since (came back myself only about 4 months ago). Now I have a huge world map hanging in our kitchen pinning down places to go to. That's about it. Oh and saving up money...

As for style of riding. In South America I would say it was about 70/30 in favor to onrad. I had no previous riding experience whatsoever, I got my license for the trip. Wasn't a huge problem, learning by doing. I don't think the ratio would change a whole lot, but if it would then in favor to offroad riding.

I liked the F800GS a lot as I mentioned (works very well for 70/30 I think). Main consideration for DR is price (two fully eqipped overlanders can cost some money, especially beamers) and weight. Weight not necessarily only for taking it offroad, but also for making it easier to handle for myself and my girlfriend. To be honest I had a very hard time putting my bike on the centerstand when fully loaded, 40 kg less would make that difference. Also I was in a situation twice were I was caught under the bike in a way I couldn't lift it off my foot due to the angle in which it had fallen to the ground and my friend had to lift it off my foot (luckily no injuries). I'd like my girlfriend to be able to do that in emergency situations.

So for me it's not only the way it handles offroad when thinking about weight, it's also other things.

Someone on ADV Rider already mentioned buying them overseas and I wouldn't mind, the route would just have to be planned accordingly. But I'm still concerned about registering & insuring the bike, haven't had time to reasearch on how to do it as a non citizen and especially cost also. If anyone had information or links on that I'd appreciate it. Just point me in the right direction.

And by the way thanks for the links, I have read the most common threads on prepping the DR for overland I think, but keep them coming.

Cheers,
Thomas
You might want to get in here quick, before Wheatwhacker gets inudated:-
http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...sier-usa-59241

Yea, "lifting" onto the centre stand can feel a bit difficult, especially at the end of a long, hard day - I guess you realise that it is at least as much a pulling action to the rear as a lifting action (keeping your foot placed so that the bottom of the stand does not slide backwards).
As for lifting a bike that is dropped, it is surprising what folks can do when the adrenalin kicks in - I've been trapped under one or two and in some cases total strangers have pulled the bike back upright.
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  #10  
Old 26 Jan 2012
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Great things can be achieved with a rush of adrenaline, but I don't want to count on it when I can minimize the risk. You might drop the bike in an area where nobody is around to help...

I'll contact Wheatwacker, but it's not so much the buying part I'd be worried about but the formalities (license, registration, insurance, border-crossing...). Thanks for the hint though!
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  #11  
Old 28 Jan 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xfiltrate View Post
We ride Honda's NX400 Falcons with custom racks and soft luggage... in South America, but for our tour from Spain to Turkey and return (including north and south coasts), we purchased 2 new BMW G650-GS with BMW panniers, bash plates, engine bars, heated grips, cubre manos, optional touring windscreen, ABS, BMW tank bags and BMW soft tail bags.

During our 3 month 2011 ride of 14,000 + K I had a head gasket replaced and Elisa had her starter replaced twice, at no cost to us. BMW service was great, even in Istanbul, but BMW has been slow in covering our hotel stays during authorized repairs. Hesitating on paying for the second starter replacement stay.

The G650-GS handles great, period .... Easy on the curves and effortless to ride... enough power for me at 91 Kilos or so and all my gear for extended touring. When the G650-GS is set up correctly, it is hard to beat. The gas milage is over 300 K per less than 15 liter tank. Very, very inexpensive! Purchase price was very reasonable too.

The stock BMW panniers for the G650-GS are a little weak (thin skinned) and indeed Elisa knocked one off on a slow downhill fall, but it seemed to have been designed to pop off instead of break, so we popped it back on and with a little duck tape over the release mount rode on. Elisa was fine.

Apparently, other G650-GS have had starter problems too. Overall, the bike is comfortable and safe. Plenty of go whether off road out running Turkish Kengal sheep dogs or leaving a swerving lorry in the dust.

Hope this helps, we plan to keep our G650s in Europe, not sell. Anyone interested in a report on the Honda NX400 Falcons we keep in Argentina, let me know, we did 34.000 K in South America over 6 countries.

xfiltrate
An interesting comment about the G650 xfiltrate.
This is going off topic quite a bit (sorry wipe-out!!!) but I can't help asking this question:-

The luggage in your pics looks exactly the same as the BMW panniers for the F650GS.
So, does this luggage fit to the G650GS in the same way, with a single "snap-on" type connector on top and a couple of lugs, lower down, that slide over a restraining bar?
Put another way; will F650GS panniers fit a G650GS?
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  #12  
Old 28 Jan 2012
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GS Panniers and buying in South America

Walkabout, don't know about the fit of 2011 G650GS panniers on a F650GS, but the description of the mount release and lower bar with 2 slide ons sounds spot on.

I seem to have noticed an F650-GS with a black, more boxy looking more solid pannier, but it might have been after market. Overall I do not recommend the stock 2011 G650GS panniers (pictured) as the bigger box type would have been my choice if I could do over.

Sorry Wipeout, can't help but talk panniers with other BMW folks.

As for South America, the Honda NX400 Falcon is available brand new (0 kilometers) in Buenos Aires for purchase price of around $7,000.00 dollars U S (EXCELLENT PRICE FOR EXCELLENT south American duel purpose) It is light and custom racks can be manufactured in Argentina (also very inexpensive) easily that will support any soft luggage.

As a foreign tourist you can purchase a new or used motorcycle in Argentina with a minimum of run around and very easy if you buy new and the dealer handles registration etc. You will need about a week to 10 days for paperwork. Down side is that it is illegal to leave Argentina with your Argentine purchased and legally registered motorcycle as a foreign tourist. You can store it, park it or sell it to Argentines or to another foreign tourist.

One idea is to buy second hand in Argentina - ride Argentina, sell in Argentina and then repeat in the next country. Each time fixing up the bike and selling for a profit. I have met several over landers who have done this with great success and at the end of their tours flew home with a pocket full of money from the sale of the last bike purchased.

xfiltrate
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  #13  
Old 16 Mar 2012
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Update on 2011 G650-GS starter repair Istanbul

I am very pleased to report that Elisa has been fully reimbursed by BMW MOTORRAD MOBILE CARE for hotel stay (4 nights) in Istanbul while the faulty starter on her 2011 G650-GS was sourced and installed by an authorized BMW agency.

A question was raised regarding the fact that she was able to ride to the BMW agency and not "towed" in as required by BMW Motorrad Mobile Care for reimbursement to be considered.

A polite letter to BMW Motorrad Mobile Care explaining the situation enabled the reimbursement, payment did arrive with a caution that payment was made as an "exception" and that no hotel stays will be reimbursed if the BMW is able to make it to an authorized BMW agency unassisted.

So, anyone needing emergency road service and wanting to have BMW Motorrad Mobile Care, cover hotel stay during repair, MUST have had the bike "towed" to the BMW agency identified and located by calling the BMW Motorrad Mobile Care road service tel #.

Hope this helps. Both our G650-GS have performed flawlessly since Elisa's double bout of starter problems - see previous post. BMW was more than fair, and even apologized for the breakdowns... "Big Mama" AKA: BMW treated us well! Elisa has even volunteered to do an "unscripted commercial" for BMW.

xfiltrate
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  #14  
Old 16 Mar 2012
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Thanks for the information about the G650GS panniers Xfil and the update about BMW service standards, presumably under warranty.

OK, still not totally on topic, but those standards of service could be a factor toward keeping a F800GS. After all half of the title of this thread is "BMW"
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  #15  
Old 17 Mar 2012
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Wipeout: Have you had any further thoughts about the DRs?

I am in a similar situation in that I rode a KLR from Canada to Buenas Aires a couple of summers ago and am now planning a new trip.

My girlfriend and I are planning a trip, possibly South America and then Africa. She currently rides a DR. She chose the bike largely based on that it fit her budget as well as height. She is about 5'7" and I am about 6' so her DR probably feels to her like my KLR does to me.

As we know, there are a lot of reasons to use the same bike on such trips. I am also considering the DR but am very used to the KLR, and fairly used to non-stock DR-Z. I like the ergos of the way I have the KLR and DR-Z set up. I do not like the ergos of her DR and find it hard to ride off-road. Would adding risers to her already taller bars help? Lowered foot pegs? Certainly not the lowered seat...

From working on the DR, I can say it is much easier than the new generation KLR: clutch work, valve clearance, steering bearing replacement, chain adjustment, etc. Suzuki seems to do some things better. And there is less plastic so quicker access.

Food for thought:

The rule of thumb says take the same bikes, if not only to reduce the needs for spares. Now if both riders are the same stature, you also have a "level playing field". Each can carry the same gear, get similar gas mileage, isn't leaving one in the dust, etc.

Now what if one rider is considerably taller and/or heavier? Putting aside the previously mentioned "rule of thumb", what now are the advantages of riding the same bike?

Assuming I get the ergos sorted out so that it reminds me more of my KLR, or even my DR-Z for posture (ignoring the cramped legs) -- are we on an "even playing field"? I don't thinks so.

The bikes are going to handle differently. She is going to leave me in the dust on the road. I am going to carry more weight (because I can handle a heavier bike) and I am at least 50lbs heavier.

I am also probably going to find that the rougher stuff which I can do on the KLR is going to become much easier on the DR. So as I boot up volcanoes and fly over sand tracks exuding confidence because the bike feels much more capable than the KLR and because I have more experience, she is left in the dust as her DR feels like a bit of a porker to her, as did my KLR to me. I might think that I might as well be on the KLR having taken advantage of its much superior wind / elemental protection and (possible) relative comfort. Or...maybe I find myself riding both bikes through short gnarly stretches that would have been less achievable on the KLR to catch that 1-in-million vista.

Anyways, my CAN$0.02.

Cheers,

Adam
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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

amazon

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!






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