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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 8 Apr 2009
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How far off the beaten track could you go with a CB500?

I'm debating a world tour sometime soon and only have my trusty '02 CB500S at present. It's got Givi panniers and a top box so all ready for a round-the-world adventure?!?!

Seriously though, if I headed off from London how far east would it be viable to get to? Moscow presumably easily, Beijing at a push, Sydney with quite a few moments of help...

What prep would a very standard bike like mine need to have done before going on such a trip? Too much to think about or are commuter bikes like this built to handle tough conditions (i.e. being dropped a lot!) and so not too bad out in the sticks...

I'd love to hear peoples' thoughts on this slightly crazy idea of mine!

Last edited by Charlie_Chalk; 11 May 2009 at 12:45.
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  #2  
Old 9 Apr 2009
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Your bike will do fine. It is all how you ride it. It is not a off road bike so do not ride like one. People have been there on 50cc scooters and 1800cc hogs.

It is not the bike, it is the rider.
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  #3  
Old 9 Apr 2009
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Hi Charlie, your idea is not in the least bit hare brained.

I recently rode a Burgman 650 from Australia to Europe via Russia / Kazakhstan and including a month's ride (8,000km) around China on a local 125. See Across the universe

I've also ridden many moons ago from Canada to Argentina two up on a CX500 and before that Australia - Europe - Africa (including x-Sahara and Zairoise mudpools) on an RD350.

The CB500 will do well - not too heavy and plenty of load carrying capability. Don't believe the pundits who tell you you need a 1200GS or Japanese 650 offroader to make such a journey. The reality is that 90% of your riding will be on bitumen, and even a bike such as my Burgman (which has absolutely NO ground clearance) covered over 3,000km of dirt without a single incident.

Garry from Oz.
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  #4  
Old 9 Apr 2009
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+1 on the above.

I've taken a Triumph Bonneville to some honestly stupid places. The looks on the faces of trail bike riders who think the bloke wearing a union jack helmet and goggles is some sort of ghost from a 50's ISDT is priceless, the dings in the exhaust rather easier to put a monetary value on!

Three things I'd look at:

1. Knobbly tyres make the difference on snow and mud and these days do OK on tarmac. If the CB has 19/18/17 inch rims, the sort of rubber that GS's use is available. Check out the likes of Heidenau; manufacturers based East of Hannover seem to have a bigger choice.

2. Look at what'll break if (ok when) you drop it. No need to go to town but a metal luggage rack with soft panniers that'll break a fall, mirrors that'll fold back, inboard/flexible indicators will save hassle. You can do this as part of your luggage plans unless you do fancy the plastic boxes.

3. Have a look under the sump. If you've got an open oil filter cartridge, exposed lines etc. knock up a sump guard. Simple bit of 3mm aluminium held on with hose clamps will slow down the smaller bits that might otherwise give hassle. If nothing else it keeps crud out. Pictures of mine are about 3/4 of the way down here:

https://sites.google.com/site/threew...d-improvements

Apart from that, just get used to your bike then go.

Have fun,

Andy
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  #5  
Old 10 Apr 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farqhuar View Post
I recently rode a Burgman 650 from Australia to Europe via Russia / Kazakhstan and including a month's ride (8,000km) around China on a local 125. See Across the universe
Nice going! I couldn't for the life of me work out what a Burgman 650 even was until I saw the photos... NOT at all what I'd expect to make such a trip! Fantastic to read about it.

Quote:
I've also ridden many moons ago from Canada to Argentina two up on a CX500 and before that Australia - Europe - Africa (including x-Sahara and Zairoise mudpools) on an RD350.
Again, re: amazing to hear about those trips on a bike that I doubt many thought would make it! I suppose there is the question of whether the trip would have been better/easier on a perhaps more suitable bike? Do you think so or is it really pretty similar no matter what you're on? (By the sounds of it, you've never done the long-distance touring thing on a perhaps more suitable bike so can't really answer that question from experience but I'd love to know your thoughts!!)

Quote:
The CB500 will do well - not too heavy and plenty of load carrying capability.
I suppose my only real fear is the weight thing. My CB500 weighs, I think 170kg without fuel. A little 250cc trail bike is closer to 120kg. That's a bike advantage in my books as my legs aren't too strong and with a fair bit of kit on top picking up even my CB500 could be tough... especially if on my own in some deep sand somewhere!

Thanks for your thoughts.
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  #6  
Old 10 Apr 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Threewheelbonnie View Post
I've taken a Triumph Bonneville to some honestly stupid places. The looks on the faces of trail bike riders who think the bloke wearing a union jack helmet and goggles is some sort of ghost from a 50's ISDT is priceless, the dings in the exhaust rather easier to put a monetary value on!
Priceless!!! The good old crazy British adventurous spirit coming out in true form... I'm delighted to hear about it!

Quote:
Three things I'd look at:

1. Knobbly tyres make the difference on snow and mud and these days do OK on tarmac. If the CB has 19/18/17 inch rims, the sort of rubber that GS's use is available. Check out the likes of Heidenau; manufacturers based East of Hannover seem to have a bigger choice.
Good tip. Hadn't really thought about this too much... Is it easy to get hold of these makes of knobble tyres in more out of the way places around the world?

Quote:
2. Look at what'll break if (ok when) you drop it. No need to go to town but a metal luggage rack with soft panniers that'll break a fall, mirrors that'll fold back, inboard/flexible indicators will save hassle. You can do this as part of your luggage plans unless you do fancy the plastic boxes.
The plastic boxes are lockable whic his reassuring when arriving somewhere slightly more dubious late at night (although an electric drill will easily get through the lock).

Quote:
3. Have a look under the sump. If you've got an open oil filter cartridge, exposed lines etc. knock up a sump guard. Simple bit of 3mm aluminium held on with hose clamps will slow down the smaller bits that might otherwise give hassle. If nothing else it keeps crud out. Pictures of mine are about 3/4 of the way down here:

https://sites.google.com/site/threew...d-improvements
Good to see the photos highlighting what you meant!

A few great points to think about there... I suppose that right now it's more of a debate about whether my 2002 CB500 with 26,000 miles on the clocks and very much a London courier-esque rat bike is in good enough shape to make any significant trip!!

Last edited by Charlie_Chalk; 11 May 2009 at 15:15.
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  #7  
Old 10 Apr 2009
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Go for it!

I rode the CBF600 over to St Petersburg from London this summer and it was ideal - definitely not your standard round the world ride. I also had givi panniers!



The only thing I changed from this photo was removing the rear box and water carrier and replacing it with a standard ortlieb (scroll down to the Ortlieb Rack-Packs) on the back seat for better weight distribution.

The only time I had an issue was on the roads in Kaliningrad and into St Petersburg - wow, they were bad - I caught the underside of the bike more than once on dodgy railway crossings too - just remember what the bike is capable of and chose a suitable route.

The CB is a solid little machine that you'll have no problem with - the only thing I'd suggest is make sure you go with a new set of real wheel bearings - they're the only weak point when you start loading up the back - especially at your millage. I ended up changing mine on the road - and that cost me dearly.

m
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  #8  
Old 12 Apr 2009
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Thanks for asking the question Charlie, I've been wondering the same thing myself; I'm thinking of taking my '02 CB500 to the Himalayas, but have never ridden outside Europe before. I'd be very interested to hear what mods you make.

The only concern I have is that my bike now has 45K on the clock, which isn't too much for an old trooper like the CB500, but I'm just wondering what preventative maintainance I should do before setting off? I guess new chain / tyres / oil / wheel bearings are obvious, but is there anything else I should watch out for? I've been riding for four years and I only know techy stuff about things I've already had trouble with. In particular should I do anything about the electrics? I dont know much about bike electrics because beyond replacing the battery recently I've never had any trouble with them.

Ta,

Chris
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  #9  
Old 12 Apr 2009
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Originally Posted by Englebert View Post
In particular should I do anything about the electrics? I dont know much about bike electrics because beyond replacing the battery recently I've never had any trouble with them.

Ta,

Chris
The CB has fantastic electrics - the only trouble I've seen is when you mess around with them and add stuff. The Honda CB range is really designed to cost - it's exceptionally reliable of course - but if you differ from the design then you start to see problems.

I can't keep my hands off my bike, so the electrics have had a few problems - but as soon as I had the extra stuff removed - it's all come good.... it wont hurt to get to know your electrical system though, a quick glance through the manual and removing the panels to see what's wired where will help you diagnose issues if they occur on the road.

Standard advice prevails in this situation of course. Before you leave check all of your earths are clean and solidly attached - give them a little Vaseline to protect them and you should be good.

m
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  #10  
Old 12 Apr 2009
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I've taken a Triumph Bonneville to some honestly stupid places. The looks on the faces of trail bike riders who think the bloke wearing a union jack helmet and goggles is some sort of ghost from a 50's ISDT is priceless, the dings in the exhaust rather easier to put a monetary value on!
That's excellent! For me, off roading IS that style of bike and THAT mode of helmet/clothing.

As far as whether your CB500 (sweet bike) will make it, if your still having doubts (given the responses on this thread I presume not) just remember the two Vespa PX 200's that completed the Dakar Rally in ?1988? If that is possible then ANYTHING is!
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  #11  
Old 13 Apr 2009
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26K miles, tyres and plastic boxes

The choice of an exact bike is always difficult. At 26,000 miles a CB500 is about 1/4 of the way through its life. If you've had it since 16,000 miles, changed the oil and learnt all about it, it's perfect. If it's courieresque style comes with courieresque maintenance records from the bloke who put the last 27,000 miles on it (we all have speedo cable failures!), then I'd want to put it on obs for a month or six. Knowledge of your own bike is worth more than (dare I say it) a new BMW, KTM, Tenere etc.

Tyre availability worldwide seems mixed. I've bought 120 or 130 section 17-inch semi knobbly rears as far afield as Turkey and Norway. I assume the same shops could have got me a 90 section 19-inch front. These sizes seem to come third after narrow tyres for the locals commuter bikes and 21-inchers etc. for full on trail types. You never get a choice of brand and they mix construtions and styles. If I ever got chance of a RTW, I'd prefer to have a pair of tyres at a mates ready paid to DHL to me. That way I'd know in 24 hours plus customs hassles I'd have what I needed. If the locals have what you need, you come home to new tyres.

The Givi boxes are secure enough for anywhere outside the UK. Major criminals in the rest of the world have guns and you unlock the boxes for them (not that they'll bother you, you can't carry enough on a bike to be worth having more than your wallet), minor ones steal things you leave in sight (GPS on a seat in Morocco was my only, second hand, experience). I wouldn't worry about security beyond keeping camera and GPS in a bag that never leaves your side. The problem with plastic is in a drop. If they smash you are stuffed. Expensive tin boxes bend but tend to still be usable, soft bags bounce (until they split). The rack is the important bit, it supports the bikes frame and acts as a crash bar. Push comes to shove, you buy ex-military rucksacks or a suitcase to replace damaged boxes, but a destroyed cast-unobtanium wing rack type thing can't even we welded.

Good Luck and stay in touch,

Andy
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  #12  
Old 15 Apr 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie_Chalk View Post
I'm debating a world tour sometime soon and only have my trusty '05 CB500S at present. It's got Givi panniers and a top box so all ready for a round-the-world adventure?!?!

Seriously though, if I headed off from London how far east would it be viable to get to? Moscow presumably easily, Beijing at a push, Sydney with quite a few moments of help...

What prep would a very standard bike like mine need to have done before going on such a trip? Too much to think about or are commuter bikes like this built to handle tough conditions (i.e. being dropped a lot!) and so not too bad out in the sticks...

I'd love to hear peoples' thoughts on this slightly crazy idea of mine!
I'd fit some rugged tyres, rebuildable rear shocks, check for common faults and take spares, check if frame needs bracing for rough roads with luggage but do everything possible to keep weight down. Some kind of sump guard, lever protectors and crashbars might be a good idea.

The rest of it is down to your determination. If this bike can do it then anything can
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  #13  
Old 19 Apr 2009
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I've just picked up a very similar type of machine for a long trip (for all the good reasons stated above) and agree with Andy & Mag that sump protection, tyres and something like crash bars are the basics. All the rest is regular touring stuff.

Havent addressed my sump yet - the pipes are lowest which will be a pain. Re: tyres, yours are 17s like mine which are hard to find out in the world I am told. I like to be able to head along dirt roads so, after scouring every manufacturer and available sizes with useful treads, have ordered Bridgestone TW302s. Same 4.60 size front and rear + a spare ought to give a tyre autonomy of 15,000 miles. I looked at the H60s and considered MT21s, but decided a TW was the best compromise between the two I could find. You want a bite on the edge for dirt bends, but a normal, 'dense knob' profile for roads.

I've never used them but I'm not convinced a Givi set up will survive a long tour beyond Europe. Depends of course on the weight they carry, the roads and your speed.

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  #14  
Old 20 Apr 2009
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Ha I nearly nearly took my CBR600F out to Mongolia , Sjaak style, I would probably find some Africa twin forks and change the front end and maybe get a longer chain and have some more movement on the rear.

I'd probably also turn the radiator cooler thing side ways so it is verticle rather than horizontal. And maybe stick some side bags on the tank , my old bike was crashed many times on the road and the tank had huge dents on both sides the tank capacity shrank from 21 litres to just over 14 litres.

I think the biggest factor is in taking a CB500 what bits will you have to give a miss to be able to safely take the bike out there?. Its why I got rid of my Africa twin sure its capable off road but not in my hands , I would sure hate to have to skip certain areas because I was afraid the bike would not make it.

That said I'm biased I have an XT600E which was heavily upgraded before I bought it.
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  #15  
Old 30 Apr 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DLbiten View Post
.... People have been there on 50cc scooters and 1800cc hogs...

WHO? Have been trying to find out if a RTW has been done on a 50cc as I currently work for Pizza Hut and my current next trip plan is to abscond with a work bike - they come with a sort of "pannier" as standard. One question I havent been able to answer is if I can get across EU borders with a 50...
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