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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 19 Jul 2010
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Getting rid of my SV? Probably for the best... but debatable! What else to ride?

Hello,

(Thanks in advance for reading and replying if you do! I know I’ve written a fair old amount but due to my friends differing interests I don’t get to talk bikes often! And you wouldn't be reading if you didn't like bikes too )

I currently ride an 2001 SV650s. Now, I know that it’s possible to do the trip I’m going to do on my present bike (Nick Sanders did a much harder trip on an R1 after all) and I know that people have gone pretty much everywhere on everything from Vespas to Harleys to a free GS1200, however I think that just because my SV can do the trip, doesn’t mean that it should, and it’ll probably end up limiting me in what I can do, or at least what I feel comfortable doing, which seems like a good enough reason to change for me!

That said I haven’t ruled out the SV, many people say just go on what I’ve got, and to some extent I agree, why mess around? In fact it says “any bike will do” in the subtitle of the “which bike” group of threads! But primarily my thinking on this one comes down to money.

The resale value of my SV will drop far more sharply after being put through a trip like this then bikes that are made for the job, and resale and money is something I have to be aware of.

I intend to go off-road, and whilst I have some small experience in this area I’m hardly an expert (yet... give it a year or twenty). The thought of having to heave my SV up out of dirt, water, mud and gravel when I inevitably fall off isn’t a pleasant one, not when there are bikes out there that would breeze over terrain that will grind my SV to a crawl, and bikes that will be much easier to move if it all goes wrong.

Add to that the ease of getting parts, actually being able to fix it et cetera, as much as I love the big yellow, thing the odds stack up against the Suzuki.

I’ll be spending most of the time on roads as the planned trip is Europe-Russia-Iceland but I want to spend as much time off road as possible. So for this first trip, I need a bike that’ll mainly be on roads with some (hopefully a minimal amount of) motorways but is well prepared go off road as often and as dirty as possible.

Baring this in mind, and as strange as it’s been to stop gazing lovingly at bikes like the Ducati 916 (oh!) I’ve turned my eye to more practical machines - I like the look of these so far:

Suzuki DR650 (my favourite so far... read good things, from many people on here)
Kawasaki KLR650 (I like the look of it, but have never previously been a Kawasaki fan...)
Suzuki DRZ400 (engine to small for motorways and fast open roads?)
Yamaha XT660 (seems popular, there’s usually good reason...)

I’m a little concerned that they’re all single cylinder; heard about vibration on the road and restricted motorway cruising speeds. It’s probably just me being wary because I’m so used to having to endure long motorway commutes and know what a pain they be without a good high cruising speed and good comfort, another worry on those narrow seated bikes. But I suppose I won’t be doing much motorway cruising on this trip... (still if anyone can recommend a twin that’ll do the same as the bikes above, I’d love to hear about it haha)

It’ll hopefully be at least 25-35% off road but the better the bike can cope the more off road I’ll probably do. I’d like to do as much as I can!

Reckon I can sell my SV for around £1650 to £1400 based on other priced bikes out there at the moment. Hoping that’ll cover the cost of a solid bike, can spend a little more if I need. Then about £200/300 on some basic gear... have to be basic though, the length of the trip is more important then panniers...

Any suggestion on bikes not mentioned is welcomed as I’m pretty new to the whole dual-sport thing! Any suggestion on anything really...

To be brutally honest I know I should probably just get a DR650 shut up complaining and get on with it... But I don’t leave for 11 months, and these decisions are keeping me occupied, it's this or my dissertation!

There, done! and thanks again!

Cal
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Old 19 Jul 2010
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DR650's are not currently sold new in the UK and haven't been for ages, as I understand it. Don't buy some old POS, and remember pre 1996 DR's are really not worth messing with.

I have owned 3 DR650's ('97, '05, '06) all good bikes. But in England probably more chance to find an XT660 or the like. Also, very good bike from what I've heard ... we don't get XT's here in USA.

I prefer the DR650 for its simplicity ... air cooled, very easy to work on, tough, can be bashed hard with no cracking frames, sub frames, very strong wheels unlike BMW, KTM, and Husqvarna. Reliable motor, stays in tune for ages, very little to do.

The KLR is also not sold in the UK. Another good bike if set up correctly.
All these bikes need work to make a good travel bike. A good seat is one of the most important things. A sheep skin pad ain't gonna cut, IMHO.

I agree, you don't need fancy panniers. Improvise ruck sacks or what ever.
Trial and error.
Your SV's problem would be the 17" front wheel/tire. Not good off road, especially in sand, mud or very steep up or downhill. A 21" front wheel will change your world off road. Much easier and safer. Great on wet roads, great on gravel and dirt roads. Actually fun instead of TERROR !

So save up and get any bike on your list. Maybe buy in the EU? or USA? USA is about 50% less for Japanese bikes than the UK. Check Craig's list ads in USA and shop for bikes you're interested in. You could also buy a bike somewhere else abroad like Thailand. (KLR's are made there!)


A really NICE KLR!
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Old 20 Jul 2010
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cheers for the info. I was wondering why I was finding it difficult trying to find DRs - them not being sold in the UK explains it haha same with the KLR, a shame because that picture looks like a beast!

Been looking pretty hard at XTs... think I'll probably go down that route because there seems to be quite a few of them over here so aftermarket odds and ends should be easy to pick up.

Will probably end up buying in the UK but only I'm tempted with how much cheaper you say bikes are abroad, I'd be tempted to buy one and get it shipped in if I'll get a better bike cheaper!

Don't have any experience with buying abroad and getting shipped in so I'm a bit lost at the minute. any tips on good ways to go about importing bikes -dealers, shipping costs, etc. - would be very welcome!

Thanks

Cal
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Old 20 Jul 2010
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Importing to the UK will quickly erase any savings from buying abroad. My suggestion regards buying in the USA would be to find a bike for sale on line,
make a deal, fly to USA, pick it up and go.

This of course depends where you want to start your trip. No reason to start in the UK really. Start in USA and ride to S. America. Then ship to Africa or where ever ... or sell it off locally.
I would buy a nice, used bike that is already TOTALLY set up to travel. You fly in, get the title, hand over the cash, load up your stuff and ride away. Its nearly that simple. You can see dozens here on the HUBB who have done exactly this.
Good luck!
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Old 20 Jul 2010
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XT660R does seem the bike compromise for what you want....

Where are you going ??? Mostly paved roads ?
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Old 20 Jul 2010
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the plan so far (still very open to change) is through, Europe starting west and then hitting as many eastern European countries as possible, then up into Russia to Moscow (may go from the Ukraine across into Kazakhstan for a while first... might save the trouble and do it properly another time) then from Moscow around Scandinavia and catch a ferry to Iceland and ride across to Reykjavik and back before returning to Europe. the order of that trip is likely to change according to weather and when it’s best to travel, got that left to arrange.

So I reckon that trip will be mostly roads, hoping Iceland and hopefully Eastern Europe will offer some off road travel though... from what I gather if you really want it, you can find it almost anywhere outside of Western Europe, hoping that's the case!

I’ll then be stopping somewhere in Europe where I can work, more then willing to move around to find work for quite a few months, even a year or so to save and then tackle something like Siberia/Africa, something a little more difficult. I have no desire to live in the UK and no commitments forcing me to return after the trip so since I have an EU passport there’s nothing to stop me working around the continent! (love the EU haha)

So that trip at least will be mostly roads. But I’ll probably be using the same bike for at least 1 more trip which will be a bit more difficult off-road wise - I think the XT seems like a good bet!

gonna look about picking up a bike in France or Holland though for sure! somewhere I can get a ferry to, pick the bike up and start from there seems like a good idea!

all going to be a bit a of learning curve this first trip
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Old 20 Jul 2010
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Buying in Europe

Just incase anyone is in a similar situation to myself, I found this thread -

http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...n-europe-19310

Seems buying a bike new is cheaper in Europe but used bikes are often cheaper in the UK. obviously going to look into that myself but as I'll probably be buying used seems like a good thing to be aware of.

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