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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 15 May 2006
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Help me with a short list of possible bikes to look for.

Hello everyone! I am new to this site and extremely stoked about the new world that it has opened up to me. Recent life experiences have caused me to reevaluate pretty much everything in my life and I am ready to start living and seeing all that the world has to offer.

Done some reading but really am drowning in info overload. Can yall help me put together a short list of bikes to look for locally. I have a fair amount of cash to spend but really want to get the most value for my money. The less money I spend on equipment the longer I can travel. For the time being I do not have any immediate travel plans but plan on riding and getting experience on the bike for a couple months. We have some awesome gravel roads in the local National Forest so I am really looking forward to riding some of those also.

Location: Asheville, North Carolina (US)
Travel plans: Canada, US(Alaska), Mexico (in the future SA, and Europe)
Budget: not sure ($5000 US)
height: 6'3"
weight: 195 lbs

Thanks for the help.

Edit:Bikes on my list so far:
Honda XL
Yamaha XT

Last edited by GTdrew; 15 May 2006 at 02:31.
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  #2  
Old 15 May 2006
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In short, my top preferences are:

High budget: BMW F 650 GS Dakar, probably a Bike of 6 years or less. This is my personal dream machine, if it wasn't so expensive. The regular F 650 GS for those that are vertically challenged.

Medium to high budget: Honda Transalp or Africa Twin... though, I know that if I would be willing to stretch myself this far, then I would be willing to stretch myself all the way to the BMW. Besides, these bikes are abit heavy.

Mid budget: Yamaha XTZ 660 Tenere, probably a ten year old bike. This is the king of the 90's, and also by many admired as the most beautiful overlander of all time. Of the older bikes, this is my favourite. Other Tenere options are the the older XT600Z or the XTZ750 super Tenere (which in my opinion is too big). There is also the Honda Africa twin to conscider, but is also a bit on the heavy side.

Medium to low budget: Honda Dominator, probably a ten year old bike. This bike gives a lot of value for money, but I'd probably regret not going for the Tenere.

Low Budget: Yamaha XT 600. Probably a bike 10-15 years. Honda XL would also be concidered if it was cheap enough. With these bikes you will need to strengthen the subframe to carry panniers.

Poor mans bike: Yamaha XT350R or Honda XL350R. As with their big brothers, with these bikes you will need to strengthen the subframe to carry panniers.

My best bet would be the Tenere or the Dominator.


Some short tips:
  • The older the bike, the more difficult it will be to get parts.
  • Even if it has been just sitting arround, with only a few km on the clock, the engine will still soon need splitting for new oil seals, etc.
  • When buying a one cylindered engine, you should really go out of your way finding a bike with less than 50k km on the clock. The reason is that these one sylindered engines often need major work at 100k, and I mean major.
  • Try to get a bike which has not been off road a whole lot as offroading often leads to engines running hot (most relevant to air cooled engines), reducing the longivety of the engine innards significantly.
  • Go for one that looks good, has all the original stickers, plastics, paint job etc., intact.
  • Another thing to consider is that aging offroad bikes, with a lot of kilometers on it, which has done a bit of offroading, will be experiencing metal fatigue in the frame. So, even if you've found an old frame with a new engine, it might not be such a good buy.
  • Many tachometers on offroad bikes only run to 100k. If you find a 15 year old bike that looks shabby, but with only 20k km on the clock, I'd be suspicious about it having gone round the clock atleast once (120k). I see a lot of these advertised, and people are getting ripped off.
  • Hondas is the number one motorcycle brand accross the world (sales), with both parts and tech know how widely available accross the globe, with Yamaha as a close second. Japs are also reknown for their reliability and value for money.
To sum it up, your rules of thumb: A bike ten year or younger, with less than 50k on it, in original condition (avoid engine tuning), pristine cosmetics, not offroad ridden, preferably japanese, a one cylindered offroader of less than 650 cc, full service history, is optimal.
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  #3  
Old 15 May 2006
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Question What bike for $5000US

Wheelie has some good ideas. Unfortunately here in the US the only bikes currently available are the 650 honda, the 225 yamaha the BMW's, KTM, the suzuki 650 and the KLR 650 kawasaki, plus a few exciting but hard to find others. If you are just starting down this road get a brand new KLR 650 kawasaki and ride the wheels off it. Ride it to alaska then in june ride to the riders meeting in NC then come on out to colorado to the riders meeting in july..... leave a few days extra and come on up to montana and I will show you some neat riding. I gaurantee after talking to some other travelers and looking at their photos you will understand a bit more about this whole motorcycle/traveling experience.
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  #4  
Old 15 May 2006
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I know that I can't say enough about these bikes, but the truth is, unless you have any experience, you will want to consider one of these to learn on. Since you will most likely go with an adventure tourer for your long trip, look into one of the many Chinese-made 200cc enduros that are available in the US on Ebay and elsewhere. Lifan has one model, the LF200GY-5, that I have seen going for $1399 shipped to your home. These are lightweight, use the standard transmission pattern (one down, 4 up), and as far as the Lifan, are EPA/DOT certified. They can be registered for the road in every state but California. The resale market is soft, and you could probably get maybe half back when you are ready to sell it, but for the price, it is worth it to keep around as a second bike. There are three groups on Yahoo that deal with Chinese bikes; ChinaBikes Group which discusses all kinds of Chinese bikes, Jetmotogroup which discusses the Jetmoto enduro and other brands' enduros, and the LF200GY group which discusses the Lifan branded enduros specifically.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ChinaBikes/
http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/jetmotogroup/
http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/lf200gy/

Join our groups and see if these would be good learning bike alternatives for you.
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  #5  
Old 15 May 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Ryder
Wheelie has some good ideas. Unfortunately here in the US the only bikes currently available are the 650 honda, the 225 yamaha the BMW's, KTM, the suzuki 650 and the KLR 650 kawasaki, plus a few exciting but hard to find others. If you are just starting down this road get a brand new KLR 650 kawasaki and ride the wheels off it. Ride it to alaska then in june ride to the riders meeting in NC then come on out to colorado to the riders meeting in july..... leave a few days extra and come on up to montana and I will show you some neat riding. I gaurantee after talking to some other travelers and looking at their photos you will understand a bit more about this whole motorcycle/traveling experience.
Bill,

You had mentioned that you dealt with those SA made bikes. Do you still work with those, and would those make good alternatives to Chinese bikes?
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  #6  
Old 16 May 2006
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Klr 650

Cheap, light, parts easy to get & cheap, easy to work on, love you forever if you know the faults. Not the most comfortable ride I ever had, though.
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  #7  
Old 16 May 2006
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You can't beat the KLR 650. If you ride S.A. it is the ideal machine IMHO. Mine ran 30,000 miles with barely a hiccup to ToF and back.

Lightweight 331 lbs.
Generous 6.1 gal gas tank
$5199 (I think) MSRP, low mileage used models for $3500 or so
Abundance of aftermarket parts

It's a tall bike and ideal for a 6'3" frame.

More info at the www.klr650.net community & in this FAQ http://www.bigcee.com/klr650faq.html
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  #8  
Old 16 May 2006
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Klr 650

Get a KLR. I am hiring them to all kinds of people here in Cape Town and even the idiots struggle to break them. Minor problems are very easy and cheap to cure.
Never get a BMW F 650 (any year model / version). They 're crap (my oppinion / my experience).
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  #9  
Old 16 May 2006
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Cool Huppa

Huppa...

Now there's a lot to be said about individuals and it is not nice from gringo to bash the chinese bikes with uninformed statements (I don't know a thing about it, so I believe whatever is said).

But, on the gs500, that's a sincere piece of advise if you ask me. And although I like those chinese bikes because they're running around all over west africa, I'd like to think that ownership of the gs must be so much easier with a dealer around the corner, and second hand, they're cheap, and don't depriciate that fast anymore, and while they're easy enough for a first bike, they still have enough ooomph to keep you satisfied for a while, and after that while, you still get some bucks back, because pink and purple will be cool in 2009, or maybe not, but then just because the first owner took most of the depriciation at his charge, while it'll still be too early to get bucs for your chinese bike because it will take at least till 2020 before they get cult.

I think those chines bikes are cool though.
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  #10  
Old 16 May 2006
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Talking

Well, I think Flying Gringo may have a point - to a certain extent.

I own a Chinese-made single, and I don't think it's 'junk' - but I don't think it's proven either. The fact of the matter is that for the most part, the new wave of Chinese imports are unproven one way or the other. Take a search on the internet. The fact of the matter is that you will find next to zero information, either good or bad.

I bought mine because I know a fellow with an identical model. He commutes on his daily and does the occasional weekend trip. In his first year he put just over 13,000 KM on it without a single problem or flaw. That's great as far as it goes, but I'm still waiting for someone to put up an internet page about his Chinese single going RTW, or from Alaska to Argentina.

Hmm. No one else has done it... maybe it'll have to be me...
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  #11  
Old 16 May 2006
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Robbert, thanks, and that is my point. Earlier, I just said to consider them for learning on. GTDrew wants to do just that, and I feel that these are very capable and good quality bikes for under $1400 US shipped to your home (if you live in the US, which GTDrew does). I had already mentioned the depreciation issue. Flying Gringo took it upon himself to use gossip and stereotypes to bash the bikes. GT does not want a bike to go RTW next week or next month. I simply said that these are great bikes to break oneself in on...especially for riding on easy forest trails and if one is leaning toward an adventure tourer. I do agree with Flying Gringo that a GS500 is a fantastic buy and a good bike to learn on, but you wouldn't want to take it on any gravel trails, no matter how little it cost you!

Last edited by yuma simon; 16 May 2006 at 23:42.
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  #12  
Old 17 May 2006
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Talking What bike?

Yuma, be carefull what you say about not taking street bikes on gravel. Some of us ride the oddest bikes the strangest places. Here is a shot of my latest sub $1000.00 US bike on a little ramble.

Last edited by Bill Ryder; 16 Aug 2006 at 05:56.
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Old 17 May 2006
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Cool

Yuma, I don't think you're going to convince FG that he's wrong by arguing on the internet. Instead of arguing, why not prove him wrong by logging some miles on your bike? You're in Arizona, right near the border. When's your next long weekend or holiday? Strap a bag of clothes to the back of the seat and hit the road!

As for me, I have some holidays coming up in late July. I plan to ride from here to Campeche, about 2700 miles round-trip. It should make for a nice little journey.
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Old 17 May 2006
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Flying Gringo, I was in a bad mood when I referred to you as an idiot. (From an earlier posting you had a few weeks ago, combined with the issues I was dealing with at the time, plus your putting down my opinion). I was extremely harsh, and should not have called you an idiot. Plus, I lumped you into a category of dealers without having ever dealt with you personally. I apologize for that. (I deleted that posting, too, as I felt it was too insulting).

I will be taking trips into northern Mexico starting next month, and Mr. Clarke, it would be great if we can meet up somewhere in Mexico.

I still stand by my advice about the GS500 for GTdrew, if he is indeed a novice rider, and wants to ride on the gravel roads. However, like putting a beat up old car in a demolition derby, it would be fun to see how much abuse an old street bike could take in the dirt!

Last edited by yuma simon; 18 May 2006 at 02:10.
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  #15  
Old 17 May 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flying Gringo

Now that we understand one another, it still comes down to the deal, not the bike. Every day I run into someone who got a great deal on a bike that is suitable for a RTW trip. Don't make a list of bikes, decide what you want the bike to do, and start looking for the cheapest bike that will do that. Just today I found a TDM850 for $2000 that would be more than up to the task of carrying two people to the end of the earth and back. Sunday it was a 1992 GS500e for $1200, equally capable. For less than $1000 I could put a hepco becker trunk and panniers on either of them.
Excellent advice for a used bike. Look for the ones that "no one" wanted when they were new, and buy them cheap used now. Thanks to my credit, this is the option I will probably use to find an additional bike in a year or so. (Drew, I take back my advice about dealing with Mr. Gringo, but only if you can put up with him...)
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