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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 31 Jan 2013
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Leaving for RTW in 4-5 months! Short rider.

I just got back from a 4 month backpacking trip in China and now I'm back in California and eager to get my bike and equipment for my first RTW trip, starting from CA, going south all the way to the southern tip of South America, going back up north, shipping my bike to South Africa, going up north, etc.

A lot of these will be riding through third world countries and not cruising on perfect highways at 75mph. I expect 55mph to be the average and I want to definitely go on some gravel roads, dirt roads, and pretty bumpy roads. I want to occasionally get out to where people don't usually go.

I'll be doing a lot of camping and hostels. I don't have the budget for hotels, or even 1st world hostels, every night.

I'm 5'5" with an inseam of only 27". I rode a Ninja 250R and could not flat foot it.

Before China I was really interested in the DR650. But after riding around in muddy and potholed mountain forest roads in China on a lightweight 125cc Chinese scooter, I'm rethinking everything. It was an absolute joy to ride:

1. I could flat foot it, which was critical for maneuvering around tight spaces like crowded streets and really rough trails.

2. Center of gravity was very very low. No tipping over threat.

3. SO LIGHT.

4. Fuel mileage is practically infinite

Most Chinese use these 150cc to 250cc red motorcycles that are very much like the IZH Planetas:

http://classic-motorbikes.net/images...-planeta-5.jpg

These ones are EVERYWHERE, and they're all red.

http://twofiftymag.com/wp-content/up...e-hj150-6a.jpg

They ride them everywhere, off road, on road, etc. They haul everything on these things. True work horses.

I find that our 1st world view of bikes is very different from the views of 3rd world locals. No, we don't NEED 650cc, not even close. 250cc is more than enough. Bikes like the Planeta don't have nearly the ground clearance as a dual sport like the DR650, but they take them off road just the same. The Planeta even rode through Mongolia's muddy, potholed roads much better than the BMW dual sports in Long Way Round.

So, I'm completely rethinking what bike I should get after having witnessed the actual bikes that are used by the locals.

250cc or lower, flat-foot-able for a short 28" inseam rider, lightweight, low center of gravity, good for off road use.

Honestly, at this point I think the DR650 is too much bike for something like me.
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  #2  
Old 31 Jan 2013
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I guess Suzuki Van Van is the bike you are looking for. 125 or 200cc.
A little power horse, will take you every where.
I met 2 guys on them who drove from Ireland to Mongolia and back through the stans and east europe.
It is low enough, you should be able to put your foot down.

It has the reliability and longevity that the chinese bike lack.
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  #3  
Old 31 Jan 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YGio View Post
I guess Suzuki Van Van is the bike you are looking for. 125 or 200cc.
A little power horse, will take you every where.
I met 2 guys on them who drove from Ireland to Mongolia and back through the stans and east europe.
It is low enough, you should be able to put your foot down.

It has the reliability and longevity that the chinese bike lack.
I'm a bit apprehensive about going 125cc. The scooter that I rode was fine, but that was with no luggage or anything.

I can't get the 200cc in the US, it seems.

If it was available, I would jump on it.
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  #4  
Old 31 Jan 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fuzzybabybunny View Post
I just got back from a 4 month backpacking trip in China and now I'm back in California and eager to get my bike and equipment for my first RTW trip, starting from CA, going south all the way to the southern tip of South America, going back up north, shipping my bike to South Africa, going up north, etc.

A lot of these will be riding through third world countries and not cruising on perfect highways at 75mph. I expect 55mph to be the average and I want to definitely go on some gravel roads, dirt roads, and pretty bumpy roads. I want to occasionally get out to where people don't usually go.

I'll be doing a lot of camping and hostels. I don't have the budget for hotels, or even 1st world hostels, every night.

I'm 5'5" with an inseam of only 27". I rode a Ninja 250R and could not flat foot it.

Before China I was really interested in the DR650. But after riding around in muddy and potholed mountain forest roads in China on a lightweight 125cc Chinese scooter, I'm rethinking everything. It was an absolute joy to ride:

1. I could flat foot it, which was critical for maneuvering around tight spaces like crowded streets and really rough trails.

2. Center of gravity was very very low. No tipping over threat.

3. SO LIGHT.

4. Fuel mileage is practically infinite

Most Chinese use these 150cc to 250cc red motorcycles that are very much like the IZH Planetas:

http://classic-motorbikes.net/images...-planeta-5.jpg

These ones are EVERYWHERE, and they're all red.

http://twofiftymag.com/wp-content/up...e-hj150-6a.jpg

They ride them everywhere, off road, on road, etc. They haul everything on these things. True work horses.

I find that our 1st world view of bikes is very different from the views of 3rd world locals. No, we don't NEED 650cc, not even close. 250cc is more than enough. Bikes like the Planeta don't have nearly the ground clearance as a dual sport like the DR650, but they take them off road just the same. The Planeta even rode through Mongolia's muddy, potholed roads much better than the BMW dual sports in Long Way Round.

So, I'm completely rethinking what bike I should get after having witnessed the actual bikes that are used by the locals.

250cc or lower, flat-foot-able for a short 28" inseam rider, lightweight, low center of gravity, good for off road use.

Honestly, at this point I think the DR650 is too much bike for something like me.
.
Hi Fuzzy,

China really opens one's eyes to what sort of bike is more suitable.
As you say, a 125cc is just about right , but carry some luggage, adn you need to "up" a bit to a 150cc or a 175cc.
Just so predictable, and always feeling in control.

And as you say, even at 55 mph, which is circa 90kmh, that is quite fast for our part of the world.

In fact, I would 90km/h is scary fast in this part of teh world.

Glad you enjoyed China.
Where is your write up, and the ever important photo's ?

vette
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  #5  
Old 31 Jan 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fuzzybabybunny View Post

I find that our 1st world view of bikes is very different from the views of 3rd world locals. No, we don't NEED 650cc, not even close. 250cc is more than enough.
Very true.
When living/working in central Asia for a while I owned a Chinese manufactured 250cc which was the top end of the range in terms of engine size and the "farkles" fitted to it.
Your point is valid all over Asia. Of course, this is an enormous bike sales market which dwarfs that of western nations.

For "1st world" riders there is often a schedule involved in their trip, deadlines to be met, things to be done within a certain time frame. Basically, we all tend to be in a rush, hence the perception that CCs are essential.
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  #6  
Old 31 Jan 2013
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It's a common dilemma for lots of short folk - me included.
I have an old Yamaha XT225 Serow - the new versions are 250cc and there are plenty around in the US (I think they're built in Brazil).
It's not a perfect tourer as it struggles on hills but it's a good little trail bike, lightweight and fuel economy is good. You may wish to make the seat more comfy.

Good luck with finding a bike and the trip & do let us know how you get on
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  #7  
Old 1 Feb 2013
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i wouldn't take a chines bike fore such a long ride, reliably ect.
i thought about a honda xr250...but that might be to high.
the suzuki rv125 (vanvan) is realy low and in the andes, at altitude, 125 will struggle. you could also consider a yamaha tw200, basicaly the same but "more" power. but don't worrie to much, there are lots of people traveling the world on a honda cub. Lois (on the loose) did the world on a xt225, it doesn't go fast on these bikes but you will not considderd rich so people will help you more often.

When you travel on these light bikes consider buying thing when you need them. the extra sweater when it is cold and the flipflops when it is hot. when you don't need it anymore donate it to the poor. That way you travel light, the lighter the easyer.
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  #8  
Old 14 Feb 2013
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Xt250

Hi

I did Oz to UK in 5 months on a 2008 XT250. It was great. Stuck an airhawk and little homemade screen on it and off we went. Husband was on a DR650 with big tank. XT very good on fuel but need the DR to supply some a few times.
Must change front sprocket to 16 tooth to up gearing then 60/70mph is fine. Bit underpowered for Europe and across big roads in Oz but for Asia. India, Pakistan etc it was bloody great. Check website below for photos. I am 5' 6" tall and size/weight of bike is no problem

Good luck.

Kate
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  #9  
Old 15 Feb 2013
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You should get bike soon so that you can get more familiar before you start your trip (get at least most common tools needed to make some service/fixes).
It is quite important that you know your bike before the start of the trip.
Also you should know the "weak" points of the bike and try to improve them before the trip.
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  #10  
Old 16 Feb 2013
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Is Chinese bike quality & reliability up to it for RTW? Sparepart availability in other continents?

No matter which bike you get, get it pretty soon so you've got even a distant chance to get familiar with it, before you set off. Small cc maybe ok, but really depends on you, your trip plan, and how much time have you got.
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