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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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Old 22 Oct 2004
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I'm new here & a little confused ........

Hi All,

First let me say how very much I have enjoyed reading all you wonderful stories of travel and adventure ! They have been a great source of both entertainment and insight. I am a bit confused about one thing though: It seems that most folks here have somewhat smaller bikes than I would have imagined. My first thought (though, I'm not an experienced long distance traveller on a motorcycle) would be to have as big a bike as possible (for both comfort, and reliability, assuming a bigger cc motor won't have to work as hard). I have a Honda Shadow ACE 1100, and think it would BARELY be big enough to take on a long journey. Do you guys know something I don't ? Thanks for entertaining a question from a novice.

Stay safe
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Old 23 Oct 2004
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Hi and welcome!

Keep reading and you'll get the idea. As has been said many times before: you can travel on any bike. But the best bike is the one you are comfortable with - on your chosen journey.

But that last part can be important. You wouldn't dream of taking your 1100 custom onto fire trails, for example. Some people here travel places where the main roads are no better than that, so they choose a lighter bike, perhaps a trail bike, as they will be more comfortable with it under these conditions.

But an "1100 BARELY big enough"? Most brands don't come any bigger than that. When you travel in places like India, where you hardly ever exceed 80 km/h, and 60 not that often, engine size doesn't really matter any more. Except, it makes your bike heavier...

Horses for courses. Happy reading and travelling!

Salut from Southern France, the bikers' paradise,


Europe to NZ 2006-10
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Old 23 Oct 2004
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I guess I was seeing things from a narrow point of view. Being used to good highways, I forgot how bad the roads can be elsewhere (I've travelled throughout Latin America, but not via motorcycle). That, and being in the US where the motto is "My bike is bigger than yours" ............
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Old 19 Nov 2004
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I had replied to a similar question on another website, so I will cut and paste the original quote and my reply. It addresses some of your questions.

QUOTE "Keep hearing similar things from people who say that taking a "small" bike on tour is not a good idea. It doesn't have the power, ride stability, and round-the-clock saddle comfort of a bigger bike. Been skeptical of that, especially when it comes to the f650. Inspiring to read about all the long-haul adventures on the site." END QUOTE

I have been on the road for 18 months with 2 years to go, and 95% of the bikes out here (currently south america) are 750cc or less. Most of us out here doing RTW or longer trips in general are quite budget minded, that means that fuel economy is very important, but the other part of that if we are not camping, we stay in cheaper hostels or hotels, often without a garage. The bikes are always parked inside the hotel lobby or courtyard. Manouvering a 1150ADV up a curb up two steps, down a hallway into the living room of the family that owns the place would not be inviting night after night. The other fiscal componant is when travelling in Africa and many other coutries, a carnet is required, which is a type of passport for the bike that assures the country that you are going into that you will not sell it on the blackmarket and skip away with the money. This means a cash deposit (or line of credit assurance) worth (depending on the countries that you are going to) up to 150% of the value of the vehicle before you leave on your trip. So in my case, if I took at USD$18000 1150GS, I would have to leave $27,000 as a deposit on the bike since I don`t use a LOC. (You get the money back once the bike is back in the country of trip origin, but no interest.)

Having said that, even if our budget was unlimited, my choice would still be a "small bike". Bolivia, where we are now, has something like 5% paved roads, and 100% of them are sprinkled with dogs, ducks, potholes, cows, missing lanes, people, horses and buggies, and loony bus drivers. From a common sence safety perspective, going fast just isn´t smart here. So why would one need all the extra power? And for ride stability, it has been my observation that one of the contributing factors to that is the big bikes haul too much shite! Its a downward spiral: big bike means you can carry lots of luggage, and since you have lots of luggage, you are convinced you need a big bike. Same old More is Better western thinking drone.
And for the final "round-the-clock saddle comfort", if one is riding around the clock and not stopping to see anything, then they are a tourist, not a traveller, and would be best advised to hang out with the nice folks at Iron Butt. They like big bikes, too.

I have toured on a 1150GS to Alaska and loved it, and if one wanted to do a Big Cities of the World tour, connected all by tarmac, then ´giddy-up and happy trails. But there are so many remarkable places with incomparable people and hospitality that live far away from the cities and the chaos of all the "benefits" of being connected by pavement, that if you really want to experience a life away from most of us, get to another country, find some dirt roads and go say Hi.
And if I may, I would suggest you hurry, as this place is getting smaller and smaller all the time.
Go slow, be well.
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Old 20 Nov 2004
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Hi Jim

I too thought that big was beautiful until I went to Patagonia on my R1100GS. Not being an ex-motocross champion I bit the gravel/sand a good few times before I got the hang of it. I'd originally intended to spend a year in S. America but came back after seven months with the intention of switching to something lighter and more manageable before returning. Come spring I'm selling the 1100 and getting an F650 Dakar which comes very highly recommended.

I met a couple from Australia in Viedma on Honda CT200 farm bikes c/w pull cord starters who were managing perfectly and packing a fair bit of luggage too.

The point made above regarding speed is also very relevant; assuming you want to maximise your travel enjoyment there's little point in going over about 100kph, you'll see so much more and avoid stress as well.

Good Luck.

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Old 21 Nov 2004
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Yep, I always link big and heavy bikes to how you felt first time you went backpacking and ( almost certainly ) took the biggest rucksack filled to the brim.

A week later you junk the lot!

Although it's not as bad as far as the bikes are concerned, it's more about those times you need to pick the bike up, the extra miles per gallon you can expect, the lower running costs.

On a long trip, these things become important.

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