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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 27 Jan 2010
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I doubt you've seen this before...

Hi guys!

New to the forum, but pumped to be a part of it!

So here is my situation...

In 18 months 3 of us will be doing a 3 to 5 month tour around the Black Sea - Ex-Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Romania... etc.

The 3 of us being:
30 y/o male... lives in Austria - 1 year riding experience on a 250 & extensive time on a mtn bike.
25 y/o female... lives in Austria - still no license & is very short 5' 3" or so
59 y/o male... lives in USA - never owned more than a 125 but a full license

1st question:
Does the female go 2 up or get her own bike? She will get her license in the next 6 months... but if she may never get comfortable riding herself...

2nd question
What bikes do we all get to get more riding hours under our belt?
(the 2 in Austria live together, but will probably want different bikes given height differences)
(also smart to take into consideration is if the female never gets comfortable then the 30 y/o will have to have a bike big enough for both of them to fit on)

3rd question
Which bikes do we take on the trip?
(ie does the guy living in the USA ship his bike or buy a bike in Austria upon arrival & sell it before going home?)

I hope this is the right forum........

looking forward to your responses & tips!
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  #2  
Old 27 Jan 2010
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oh, & I forgot to mention... the bike the 2 living in Austria get should be capable of riding accross Asia/Africa...

they will have another year to travel there after & the 1st 5 months around the Black Sea wil decide if Asia/Africa is via motorcycle or plane...
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  #3  
Old 27 Jan 2010
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I suggest lots of luck



This is the sort of thing that makes a great adventure and usually ends up in being an example of how not to do things.

Wish I were there
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  #4  
Old 27 Jan 2010
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On a more serious note
the answers will revolve around whether the lady wants to ride or not.

If not, and riding 2 up then a BMW GS is ideal.
The 1100 / 1150's are cheap in Germany / Austria

I would suggest larger than 400cc for riding in Europe in general particularly if you are carrying your own luggage.

Style of bike is more of a personal choice
But given your plans; just pitching up with cash and buying something available could be a good choice.
Buy the cheapest and Flog it afterwards!
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  #5  
Old 28 Jan 2010
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Hey there.

If the lady does decide to ride her own bike, I would suggest the Yamaha XT660R. It’s a very good and durable bike that would take any terrain with ease, so they will have no problem completing their journey after the USA departs from them. The nice thing about the bike is that it’s got a good ground clearance of 210mm (8.2 inch) but still a relatively low seat height of 865mm (34 inch / 2.8 feet). So she will be able to reach the ground with no problem. The bike is also light with a wet weight of only 181kg (399 pounds). The Xl700v Transalp from Honda will be a bike to conceder for her as well seeing its seat height is 25mm (0.98 inch) lower than the xt’s. However it is much heavier weighing in at 191kg (421 pounds) dry weight.

If you are in the main menu of the hubb’s forum, and you scroll down almost to the bottom. You will fine a tread for woman only, it may be a good idée to ask them about a bike for the lady, and what will be the best option 1up or 2up for her.

If she wants to go 2 up the recommended BMW’s will be the best choice.

For the guys, if you have limited experience with big bike I’ll go for something in the 600 class. The XT660Z; KLR600; Transalp700 or maybe even the new 800GS depending on your cash situation are all good candidates to look at. I just think if you all ride on your own bike the smaller bikes will handle easier for you.
Hope you will get the right info you need and keep us updated about your trip
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  #6  
Old 28 Jan 2010
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Agreed on the "a lot of luck"....

I had been looking into the transalp myself. Honda's seem incredibly reliable to me & every country we are going through sells them.

But I'm 5'8" and I don't stand flatfooted on one... which would make it almost impossible for the female who is 4"-6" shorter to also be able to ride...

I am not totally turned off by the BMW's... I have a bad taste in my mouth from a friend who snapped a clutch cable on his GS & to replace it more complicated than heart surgery & took longer too...

Some of my fears are:
- Honda doesn't make the TransAlp in the US for the old guy
- if we get the female a bike she can stand on without problem it will probably be a 250ish class (and not too good in bad conditions) & we will be zipping around on monsters
- I think I am leaning towards a TransAlp when riding alone, but if I have to double the female then as I understand it, a GS is really the only option? I don't want to buy 1 bike and then sell it for something else
- plus I can't get it out of my head how much easier a light weight bike 125 / 250 is in the nasty stuff (Claudio on the red-devil)... why not line all 3 of us up on little bikes? Varadero 125?
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  #7  
Old 28 Jan 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Popex View Post
plus I can't get it out of my head how much easier a light weight bike 125 / 250 is in the nasty stuff (Claudio on the red-devil)... why not line all 3 of us up on little bikes? Varadero 125?
yes, but chances are you will spend relatively little of your time in the "nasty stuff". Any of the bigger bikes mentioned will handle dirt/gravel roads easily, how much of your time do you expect to spend in deep sand or mud?

It obviously depends on what you want to do on your trip, but I think it would make sense for you to go two-up with the girl on a largish (650+) bike.

As for the American, as I understand it, it will be difficult for him to register a bike in his name in Europe...
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  #8  
Old 28 Jan 2010
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The other ting you can do is to let the girl ride a smaller bike, and have either you or the other dude take her luggage on your bike's. You must just remember if all of you go for smaller bikes it can get very tiring and one can get very frustrated on the open road. It may be frustrated for you aswell if 2 are on 600+ and the third is on a smaller bike. I know the 600cc aren't superbikes but they still are a lot faster then 250cc, even if you don't really speed.

It would be easier to help if we know how tall the lady is?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Popex
25 y/o female... lives in Austria - still no license & is very short 5' 3" or so
Quote:
Originally Posted by Popex
But I'm 5'8" and I don't stand flatfooted on one... which would make it almost impossible for the female who is 4"-6" shorter to also be able to ride...
The good thing is you still have lots of time, so take time and go test drive all the bike's you consider. Tell the sale's person what you intend to do. In my city there are a few dealers who let you take the bike offroad to see if you can handle the height and weight of the bike
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  #9  
Old 28 Jan 2010
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Are you actually intending riding much or any off-road?

Road orientated bikes will be closer to the floor and there'll be a much wider range of bikes available with lower seat-heights. Plenty of women ride anything up to the biggest BMW and Harleydavidson motorcycles, so no reason why you shouldn't be able to take bigger/faster bikes.

As someone said above, if the lady in the group doesn't carry any/much luggage then this will help even out any differences in riding competance, or more importantly mean she won't struggle to control the weight of the bike when stationary or at slow speed. And riding with two people's luggage is still far more easy than riding with two people's luggage and a pillion.


Loads of people buy 'off-road' orientated or styled bikes then never take them off asphalt or gravel roads. There seems to be some kind of obsession with using big trailbikes or 'adventure' bikes for any and all motorcycle tours, irregardless of whether they're ever going to leave normal roads behind. There have been great examples in other threads of people using 'road bikes' for long distance bike trips to every popular bike touring destination conceivable.
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  #10  
Old 28 Jan 2010
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Since you have 18 months to prep, I'd suggest you ALL get on bikes NOW and start riding! None of you have any serious riding experience. Riding in strange E. Euro countries could require a solid riding background, good defensive driving skills and excellent bike handling skills in all weathers, on all surfaces, from 160 kms. on Autobahn, to slick cobble stones to gravel, mud and technical Alps roads. Not really for beginners!

One of the best bikes for female riders is the Ninja 500. Low, light, powerful
and never needs any maintenance. Find a good used one and buy it for her.

It's funny to hear guys suggest an R1100GS for a women 5'3" tall. Guys .... better do the conversion to cm's or whatever to understand just how short 5'3" is.

The American guy should buy the bike in Europe. Use a local address and do whatever is needed, with help of local friends. This is not a big deal and has been done before.

If the Female takes well to riding and is "inspired" and loves it, then go for it. If she is like me, she may refuse to ride pillion. I certainly would never ride pillion. Too scary for me.

But if she likes riding motorbikes, let her have a go. But DON'T put her in danger if she is hopeless at it. Don't Push it on her!

Face it, riding a bike is pretty simple. Just takes seat time and serious practice. With a good coach, she can learn it all in a few months of constant riding.

Start now. See how things progress. Buy the bikes that work for you once you know your ass from your elbow about travel and bikes. In a year of research here and riding practice and looking around bike shops, you're knowledge base (and riding skills) will expand 10 fold.

McD
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  #11  
Old 28 Jan 2010
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Mickey D,
Thanks for the advice, I too was a little confused with people recommending bikes for a newbie female where she couldn't touch her toes on the ground... I think she need a bike she can stand flat footed on that can keep up with whatever bikes the guys are on... I will look into the Ninja... How would that be on long distances?

Regarding the E-Europe countries you kinda side-swiped me... I expect the roads to be just good enough... and actually less cars on the road than in W-Europe countries... hence one of the reasons for us newbies... We had planned to always park the bikes on the city-skirts & then use public transport in, as I totally agree with you on the cobble stones & crazy big/inner city drivers.

Regarding buying a bike in Europe... When crossing boarders are there problems if 1 guy has 2 bikes in his name? If not then this won't be a problem...

Nath,
To be honest, I have no idea how much of my path will be off-road... but we want to leave the door open if we like it to head across Kazakhstan if we are loving traveling by bike & I don't want the bike to be the reason we don't.

I do agree with you that 2 people's gear on the back is better than 2 people & 2 people's gear... I am coming to accept this is the most likely situation...

houbie,
I wish test riding here was like in SA... here they charge you €20 Fri & Sat and €10 M-R... and that is certainly not off-road inclusive...

I can however rent... at the same shop... weekend for a TransAlp costs €240 (400km +€0.30 per K thereafter)... absolute robbery... not to mention it is snowing here at the moment...


I am feeling like pulling the trigger on a 1-2 y/o transalp is the best idea... this way we can double if need be & I can start getting the hours under my belt... what are the negative points to the TransAlp?

Also if the US guys buys a TransAlp on arrival, what is a US comparable bike?
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  #12  
Old 28 Jan 2010
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Little info:
Ninja 500 is known in europe as the gpz500. Well-known here in the UK as a very reliable and capable bike, and often recommended as a good first "big bike". They also made a 'big traillie' style bike using that same engine, the kle500.

Definately start riding regularly as soon as possible, preferably everyday commuting to work.
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  #13  
Old 29 Jan 2010
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Quote:
It's funny to hear guys suggest an R1100GS for a women 5'3" tall. Guys .... better do the conversion to cm's or whatever to understand just how short 5'3" is.

First off I would just like to say me and photographicsafaris didn’t suggest that the lady get her self a GS1150 or GS1200. If you read carefully you’ll see that we suggested the BMW’s for 2up. So unless the lady is going to lift you or the other guy she’s not going to ride a bike 1000cc+.


The GPZ will be a good choice, but then you have to work out your route to be on tarmac for most of the time, seeing it is a road bike and not a semi off road or dual purpose bike. If you still intend to tour through Africa after you did the black sea, I will not recommend it.



I don’t really know much about the kle500, just that it is the bit more tuned down version of the KLR600. The only thing is that it’s seat height is higher than the Transalp, and it is a mere 12mm ( 0.4 inches ) lower than the XT660R. The KLE is also the same weight as the XTR except that it is dry weight at 180kg (399 pounds ) and the XTR is wet weight.


Sorry to hear you have to pay to go for test drives, but rather pay then to find out halfway through your trip you bought the wrong bike

Once again keep us updated, will be nice to hear what bikes ( hopefully 3 ) you bought at the end.
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  #14  
Old 29 Jan 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Popex View Post
I think she need a bike she can stand flat footed on that can keep up with whatever bikes the guys are on... I will look into the Ninja... How would that be on long distances?
She does not need to "flat foot" her bike. Tip toes are just fine. She will learn to slide over to one side of the seat to get more security. The Ninja (GPZ500 in EU) will be a godd long distance ride with a few mods. Very easy on tires, chains. Very light weight and tough as Hell.
Mild dirt roads no problem. I would ride one any where a BMW GS or Transalp can go. Heavy bikes break off road, light bikes, not so much. Too wit: Karizma bikes in India.

A dual sport may be better off road but finding one low enough is hard. Perhaps an
old Yam Serow 225? (Lois on the loose) or the like could work? Lowering links can help. Look at TT250, XR250L,XT350, KLR250, or perhaps DRZ250? All are decent dual sports, but taller than the GPZ 500.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Popex View Post
I am feeling like pulling the trigger on a 1-2 y/o transalp is the best idea... this way we can double if need be & I can start getting the hours under my belt... what are the negative points to the TransAlp?

Also if the US guys buys a TransAlp on arrival, what is a US comparable bike?
The 2 year old Trans Alp would be good bike but a 2 year old Suzuki Vstrom 650 is better in every way. The more you read here (and elsewhere), the more you will discover this fact. The Trans Alp is reliable and many have done RTW. But it's a 20 year old design.

The Vstrom is not only tough and reliable but also modern, light and strong. So much has changed on modern bikes in the last 20 years, so much for the better! What does that really mean?

=More power, =better fuel economy,= more range,= better handling and suspension (very important), =better brakes by far. =Easy to service.

Don't fall for the romantic idea of the Trans Alp, Africa Twin or BMW. None can touch the Vstrom in the real world on bad roads over years of hard use. The Africa Twin was good twin 15 years ago because there were not many good alternative twins except BMW. Now, the game is different.

For Two Up either will be OK. Ride both and decide.

Last edited by Mickey D; 30 Jan 2010 at 19:30.
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  #15  
Old 29 Jan 2010
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Originally Posted by houbie View Post
Hey there.

If the lady does decide to ride her own bike, I would suggest the Yamaha XT660R. It’s a very good and durable bike that would take any terrain with ease, so they will have no problem completing their journey after the USA departs from them. The nice thing about the bike is that it’s got a good ground clearance of 210mm (8.2 inch) but still a relatively low seat height of 865mm (34 inch / 2.8 feet). So she will be able to reach the ground with no problem. Tp
One of the reasons I traded in My BMW was my 29" legs would not always reach the ground from the 31" high seat that 34" is ridiculous! Just try pulling up at a set of traffic lights on an adverse camber or alongside a pothole with traffic all around. Back in the old days if you could not flat foot with both feet the bike was considered too tall. I still subscribe to this.
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