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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 15 Jan 2002
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London to Capetown

Hi, My wife and I are planning a trip to Capetown from london, at the moment I ride a ducati and she has a CBR600, neither of us have any offroad experiance but have decided to do this before the kids roll along!

So the question I have is what bikes should we go for? I am getting very confused as some are saying anyhing and others are saying bmw or ktm. bmw for comfort and ktm for the desert? we just want reliabilitiy over and above anything else. this is a 6month tour so speed is not essentail.

I am concerned about parts should they be required. Getting 2 of the same seems a good idea so that spares can be doubled on without a problem.

Would you recommend new or used bikes? I have a budget of 5K a bike but would rather go lower so if there are any deals around let me know.

Any thoughts?

Thanks on advance


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Old 15 Jan 2002
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Hi Jez

Well I'm doing the same trip sometime in 2002, and I've decided to use a 1989 R100 GS. I was considering a Yamaha XT600, BMW F 650 or Armstrong.

I've ridden the K series BMW for a number of years - ideal for tarmac touring/commuting, etc - so I like BMW bikes. The deciding factor for me was that the bike was very cheap and low mileage, so I bought it and rebuilt it to my specification. Have a look at my website if you are interested. Charlie Money has nearly finished the same trip and his journey is detailed here on the Horizons website and on his own website. Charlie uses a Cagiva E900 Elefant. There are quite a few other people planning the same trip who use the Horizons website - have a look in the Sahara Travel Forum and other bulletin boards for details and use the direct email link to contact them.

No bike is 100% reliable - even the R100 GS :-)

There is good discussion about the R100 GS in the BMW Tech bulletin board 'Road test' : 1989 BMW R100GS

Good Luck - and see you on the road somtime/somewhere maybe?

Fuzzy Duck
(I'm quackers about bikes)
Fuzzy Duck
(I\'m quackers about bikes)
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Old 15 Jan 2002
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Hi Fuzzy,

Thanks for that nice bit of impartial info, the problem I seem to have is too many people wanting to sell me bikes!

I have been offered 2 Yamaha TTR600's (raid or rade) for 3,800 each new otr seems like a good price, but the BMW's still seem a safe bet.

Will check out the sites

Thanks again


[This message has been edited by jezwilson (edited 15 January 2002).]
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Old 16 Jan 2002
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I think the most important consideration is that whatever you choose is comfortably rideable by BOTH of you. All too often what happens is he gets the bikes he likes and she makes do, even though the bike is, strictly speaking, bigger than she would choose for herself. (You haven't said what size you both are, so I will assume average - in other words you're a lot bigger than she is

I think some time wandering through shops with your lady doing the "test sitting" on the bikes will rule out some of the options, and perhaps narrow it down enough. One important test - can she pick it up herself unladen? Remember it will be much harder fully loaded, so if it's too hard bare, forget it.

A bike to think about is a DR350. Adequately fast, light and easy to ride, and reliable. Astrid rode hers from Alaska to Ushuaia, where we met her, and she loved it. And she's quite small. Her boyfriend had an Africa Twin, which was much heavier, and harder to ride. And it's speed was wasted.

Average speed on-road in Africa is no more than 60mph if you have any brains at all. So a big bike is a waste.

Smaller is also cheaper, and you can then get something much newer and probably more reliable, and still spend a few quid getting it well-sorted and equipped.

And yes, definitely without a shadow of a doubt have two identical bikes.

Also well worth seeing about an off-road course for both of you - I guarantee it will be the best money you spend on prepping for the trip. And it will even make you into better street riders.

Grant Johnson

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at: www.HorizonsUnlimited.com
Grant Johnson

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Old 16 Jan 2002
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Thanks Grant,

Yep you are right, I do not think that I could lift a BMW unladen!! so thats gone, we are both average height I will take a look at the DR350's thanks.

We are not going for about a year (how about that for planning!) we want to get used to the bikes 1st. An offroad course sounds good, any suggestions for UK courses?

I was looking at the Bigtrailbike.com some club that ride out round wales, have you heard of them?

Many thanks for the advice/pointers


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Old 13 Feb 2002
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Now back having made it to Cape Town from Bristol on a Cagiva Elefant. So if you are partial to Ducati engines, there is a good option for you. No way I'm selling you mine though!

In terms of reliability, the key is really good preparation of the bike in the first place, followed by huge doses of good luck.

People suggested I was mad taking an Italian bike, and I had a nagging feeling that they would probably be proved right. But the bike was superb, with only minor problems which would not be unexpected on a long arduous trip.

To be honest though, as long as you are not carrying a passenger, you don't need the sort of power that an Elefant or any of the other big-traillie bikes have, never mind the weight on such a trip. It is all a compromise in the end, but a solid 600 single that is easy to work on is probably the most sensible option.

Then again who wants to be sensible

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