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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 10 May 2006
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London to Cape Town - KTM 640 Adventure or BMW F650GS Dakar?

Hi, I am contemplating a London to Cape Town/Johannesburg overland trip in March/April 2007 and would like some advice regarding choice of bike. I am 6"5 tall and weigh about 240lbs, and have never ridden a bike before. The two bikes I am considering are the KTM 640 Adventure and the BMW F650GS Dakar - I would be interested to hear your opinions/recommendations.

Many thanks
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Old 10 May 2006
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1) Sac up and just make a decision to do it, dont spend to much time contemplating it.
2) Buy an older bike to learn how to ride before you cross 20,000 miles of Africa.
3) Get the KTM to do the trip, mainly just because orange is such a pretty color. You will probably hear about a 1000 reasons why to choose one over the other and really all of them are as subjective as just likeing the color of the bike.
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Old 10 May 2006
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I would take the Dakar 650 GS,the KTM is too fragile and parts can take forever.Almost all of the companies doing overland tours thro Africa use them,mainly because they are pretty reliable,easy to ride and have "adequate" off road ability,you can also get fitted luggage.The Yamaha XT600/660 is a good bike and you can pick them up cheap,Ive done acouple of long tours on a 600 and it was ace(and easy to fix).650 GSs hold their value but you can pretty much guarantee its never been more offroad than a muddy puddle so should be in good nick.Whatever you pick it will breakdown!dont worry..you can also guarantee that there will be someone who can fix it withih shouting distance.Enjoy
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Old 10 May 2006
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tough choice

i'm doing the same trip and going for the ktm

logic has nothing to do with it

i want the ktm, and am aware that if and when it breaks down it'll take a little longer to get parts (if required)

but who said life should be easy hey!
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Old 11 May 2006
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First of'll buy THIS BOOK and an old bike, then test ride both bikes (I'd include the XT660 on the test as well) and then you'll be fine to make up your mind.

Ahh, and you'll realise that choosing the m'bike was the easiest part, wait till you get to the Visas....
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Old 11 May 2006
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Hi All,

Thanks for the advice - slightly less cut and dried a decision than I'd hoped, but then I suspected a much! I just wonder how much of an explicit factor height and weight are in the decision?

Thanks Again
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Old 11 May 2006
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One more question - I like the suggestion of buying an old bike to learn on; in this regard, is it necessary to get a 600cc (this is what I would intend touring on) or would something smaller suffice (350/450?)?

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Old 15 May 2006
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Thumbs up

Considering you live in London and can use the bike to commute the smaller capacity bike will be an absolute pleasure. I commute up with my XJ900 every so often and london traffic on a big bike sux. I did once use a TW125 to get through London and it was fantastic in comparison. If you are really stuck behind a car you can just lift up the front end into a gap, jump kerbs etc. Small capacity is more than adequate for city riding especially considering you will never get above 30mph anyway.

I'm not saying get a 125...but get a dirt cheap 350, ride it for 3-6 month to get the confidence/experience and then go ride as many of the bikes on your wish list as you can before making the final decision. You will be surprised at how your dream bike might just feel wrong and a bike you never considered will feel perfect.

Then again if you have no intention of commuting and want to get into serious distances straight off then I would consider getting a bigger capacity mile eater.

happy hunting
If there's a will there's a way so I will anyway!
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Old 16 May 2006
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The KTM is like the Land Rover 20 % park at home, 80 % did not make it so far.

The BMW has is very economic but who will fix a fuel injected bike in the deepest Africa?

for me the Yamaha XT 600 Kickstart (3TB) is the best bike. Even a broken battery can not stop it. Runs also without any battery fitted.

And in Africa i want a bike that runs, and is easy to ride.

And better a 20 year old XT 600 than a brand new KTM.


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Old 17 May 2006
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How about an Italian?

In a few weeks I could be persuaded to part with my beloved Cagiva Elefant in the UK for an appropriate sum of money, only 35,000km on the clock, many new parts, spare tyres etc.

Its a fantastic bike, lots of power, great fun to ride in the dirt, awesome noise. Unquestionable reliability.....................
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Old 18 May 2006
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Originally Posted by StroppyJoe
[I ... have never ridden a bike before.
Ummm ...never riden before. How are you at mechnics? Electrics? If something goes wrong with the bike will you be able to fault find it and order the correct parts to fix it?

You need to get riding experience first - both road (traffic) and dirt. London? - Do the BMW off road course in Wales.

I'd think the bmw would be less likely to breakdown. And possibly easier to fix?

As far as EFI is concerned - very reliable if not extremly reliable. Would not be too worried by the EFI. THe KTM has electronic ignition - so equally likely to breakdown form this cause.
Regards Frank Warner
motorcycles BMW R80 G/S 1981, BMW K11LT 1993, BMW K75 G/S
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Old 18 May 2006
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Thanks guys - very informative. Frank - nope, no mechanical or electrical experience. Plan in my head has been pretty much as you suggested; get to grips with London traffic and do the BMW off-road course - definitely level 1, hopefully level 2 if I'm sufficiently advanced by then. Also plan on doing basic motorbike repair course to try and get to grips with some fundamentals. The fact that it is a challenge is kind of the point for me; I've never done anything like this in my life before - but please let me know if you feel ther may be any glaring ommissions in the above. As for the bike for sale suggestions - thanks Henryk/Flying Gringo; I'll certainly give it some thought, and do a bit of digging.
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Old 18 May 2006
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You've opened a can of worms. In short though, with the two bikes you've listed, choose the one which moves you the most. If you're unmoved by either, and you are purely pragmatic, the Bimmer is the way to go.

As for experience, I disagree a bit with those that say you need it before you go. In my opinion, although you will be somewhat at a greater risk, you will get plenty experience en-route, and can allways adjust your route and riding to the prevailing conditions and your experience. Besides, none of the bikes you talk about are overly heavy, be careful and you will do just fine. I just read about a New Zeland couple doing 60.000,- km with two children, and the woman rider had no prior experience what so ever, getting her first experience in South American riding conditions. My wife will join me on a trip from Cape Town to Nairobi june 7th. She will only just have gotten her license one week in advance!

You might as well get experience some place exiting and exotic, as in a place familarily boring. You're driving lessons from obtaining the license is all the prior experience you need to do a trip like this. Although an unfamiliar place will pose extra challenges for a newbie, extra caution will get you through just fine. Just don't expect to be doing some hardcore off-roading anytime soon.

I do however agree that getting in as much varied riding as you possibly can before you leave, will serve you well. I also do agree that starting out small, increasing in size as you gain experience, is optimal. But, I hardly feel that it is absolutely necessary, only preferably. If time for departure is in the near future, I think it is far more important to get to know the bike you will be riding on your trip, than to gain all your experience on a smaller bike.

As for choice of motorcycles. In my opinion, the KTM offers the most nosatlgia and centimental value, but the Bimmer will offer you far greater comfort, reliability, longer service intervals, etc. Your heart says KTM, your brain says Bimmer... who you want to listen to is entirely up to you. Both will make it, and both will offer their unique experiences... (You can compare this to Land Rovers vs Toyota Land Cruisers - the first is simply just supposed to be there, but the latter is still the more sensible choice). By comparison, myy wife and I will be crossing Africa on classic Vespa scooters.

My favourite? The BMW F650GS Dakar, by far... and I hope to buy one soon. Overlanding by classic scooters is simply mental, and I'm missing my motorcycle (though I don't like to admit it... so hush).
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Old 8 Apr 2010
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Bmw F650 Vs Ktm Adv 640

i was doing searches on the net regarding this over discussed topic, but still never ennough.

how was your trip? your thread is like 3 years old, so wanted to know which bikes did you use, how was the trip, any online diary i can have a look at?
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