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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 24 Sep 2010
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Low weight bikes, with reasonable power

Hi,

I'm looking into changing bike & setup to something a lot more light-weight for another trip in the near future. (Currently on a BMW F650 with hard luggage).

I'm not too worried about the brand of bike, but it should be lightweight (but with reasonable power & torque). About 350cc minimum. And it should be reliable for the core parts (engine/gearbox/... I don't mind if there's some minor issues that would need carrying small spare parts, such as bearings/seals/waterpump/piston rings...).

As long as it's good on gravel/tracks/some sandy patches, that's enough. I'm not aiming to race over sand dunes...
Soft luggage would be around 20kg.

Aircooled would be good (easier to work on – though I'm open to easy to work on watercooled bikes).

Two bikes that came to my mind so far are:
Suzuki DR350 (old, but proven, easy to work on)
KTM 640/LC4 (though I heard some not-so-nice things about engine/cam-chain)

Any other ideas?
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  #2  
Old 24 Sep 2010
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Another option

250 is the new 350

WR250R for me all the way. Depends on how open minded you are. Might want to wait for the 4.5gal IMS tank though.
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  #3  
Old 24 Sep 2010
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the DR350 engine is still brand new in the Beta Alp 4.0
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  #4  
Old 24 Sep 2010
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The Honda Ascot VT500 is an en excellent choice and its shaft driven...so no need to go messing with chains. It also has tubeless tires, so no worries about having to change tires, just plug and roll.
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  #5  
Old 24 Sep 2010
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You might consider the Suzuki DRZ400. It's available in 2 road legal models. The S is more dirt oriented and the SM is the Super-moto version. There are a couple of trips currently underway on the bikes. HUBBer TourTed is on his way to Africa ( Touring Ted ) and DaveG is going RTW west from the US ( daveg travels ). Their web sites have information about why they chose the bikes and the mods they made for the trips. Both of them made previous journeys on larger bikes and chose the DRZs for a lighter weight way to travel.
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  #6  
Old 24 Sep 2010
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It sounds just like the characteristics of a XR400. I´m considering one but don't have any experience with it yet
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  #7  
Old 24 Sep 2010
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DRZ400S, my girlfriends riding hers across South America at the moment:

Pumpernickel on Tour

They're readily available with a good selection of aftermarket parts. There's fixes for the known faults, they're easy to service & although the valves are bucket & shim, they only need checking every 15,000 miles.
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  #8  
Old 24 Sep 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Pickford View Post
DRZ400S, my girlfriends riding hers across South America at the moment:

Pumpernickel on Tour

They're readily available with a good selection of aftermarket parts. There's fixes for the known faults, they're easy to service & although the valves are bucket & shim, they only need checking every 15,000 miles.
Sorry, I forgot to mention Pumpernickel. The site has an excellent page on transforming a DRZ into an adventure tourer - pictures & all! Then you can follow her trip as it unfolds to see how it all works out.
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  #9  
Old 25 Sep 2010
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Some good options (as always), and I'm pretty open-minded to any suggestions from any brand.

One thing that's important to me is: end speed on long paved roads with mad drivers. Getting away from inner-city traffic is never really a problem on bikes anyway – but a friend who was on a 250 in S-America was 'clipped' by an overtaking truck. Bike and him are OK, but I'd like to think a 350 is just that little bit more powerful.

Shaft-driven bikes are not really my thing. I look after my chain, and don't mind changing them every now & then. And a chain allows for different sprockets/set-ups for off-road and long straights. Spare links for emergency & off you go.
I personally know 4 overlanders who've had shaft-problems in the middle of nowhere. (Compared of course to lots of people who NEVER had a shaft problem).

I looked at the DRZ400. Nice bike. Easy to work on??

Perfect bike for me would be:
- low weight, reasonable power, comfortable top speed of 110-120
- aircooled (easier to work on – though I might be wrong. And of course, pretty much EVERY bike is easier to work on than my current F650GS
- spare/service parts such as valve-shims/filters readily available in S-America/Africa (i.e.: NOT a BMW or KTM
- fuel injected (=less petrol; I'd carry a spare injector needle for emergencies – lightweight enough anyway)

Will definitely watch Pumpernickel's website. Looking good so far!
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Old 30 Sep 2010
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Smaller thumper's aren't going to have a 100+mph top speed... otherwise you've just described a WR250R.

- Its got enough power, and its more powerful than the DR350 you're considering. No really, it has enough power. I had a DRZ before it, and I don't miss the vibes or the super short gearing at all for the slight torque advantage. Cruises 70mph all day long, will hold mid 80's if you feel like killing the gas mileage. And you won't have to constantly fiddle with the chain or sprockets, the gearing spread is really good on this bike so what works well in the woods in 1st and 2nd will still work on the highway at 70mph.

- water cooled, but only one radiator to protect. Rad guards are available and work, I hit a tree with mine when I got bumped out of a rut at about 30mph on a dual sport ride and didn't even budge it. I've dropped it on rocks, I've drowned it in creeks, I leave it outside and ride it in the rain, snow, and sun, and its never not started or ran like a top, from sea level to 14,000+ft elevation.

- Bullet proof. First one had 17k on it before it was stolen, current one is crossing over 10k this weekend. All I've had to do is change the oil, keep the air filter clean, and adjust the chain occasionally, and keep tires on it. Valve shims are the same as the WR250F and many other common Yamaha's. Its fuel injected too btw. A few early '08's had the fuel pump fail, but Yamaha is replacing them under warranty. Both of mine have been '08's and no problems. Get an '09+ and don't worry about it.

Its also more comfortable than the DRZ by a long mile, better seat and a longer seat to peg distance. Feels lighter than it is on trails, and still stable on the highway. I've had ~60 pounds on the back with no real ill effects than slightly dulled handling and a cadillac ride.
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  #11  
Old 30 Sep 2010
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Suzuki DR 650

You might want to have a look at the Suzuki DR 650 K (2000) model onwards.

It's an older design but it hasn't really changed much for a reason, it works.

The DRZ-400s are great, DR 650 is just a softer approach.

heaps of off road spares and accessories.
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Old 30 Sep 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skierd View Post
Smaller thumper's aren't going to have a 100+mph top speed...
I'm pretty sure he's talking about km/h. Are there any ride reports with WR250R's? While I'm going to stick with my DR650 for a while longer, the idea of an even lighter bike is tempting.
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Old 30 Sep 2010
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Russia

Not until the spring. When I give mine an outing...
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  #14  
Old 1 Oct 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan45 View Post
I'm pretty sure he's talking about km/h. Are there any ride reports with WR250R's? While I'm going to stick with my DR650 for a while longer, the idea of an even lighter bike is tempting.
Super long HUBB type trips? None that I know of yet (get off your arse eddie!) Shorter trips (under about 6500 miles), plenty...

mine from last year

How I spent my summer vacation, or 6000 miles on a WR250R - ADVrider

2000 miles in alaska
1950 miles in 7 days on a WR250R in Alaska? - ADVrider

10cup's Continental Divide ride
Continental Divide Ride August 2009 - ADVrider

and Western TAT
10Cup & Oleary at Moab, Western TAT - ADVrider

BigDog's Shadow of the Rockies...
BigDog--ShadowOfTheRockiesTrail/Colorado/Wyoming/Idaho/Utah - ADVrider

...Poncho and lefty...
BigDog----Poncho and Lefty - ADVrider

...and Mexico to Canada, and then some
BigDog/DingWeeds-Mex/Can AndThenSome - ADVrider
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  #15  
Old 1 Oct 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bjorn View Post
I looked at the DRZ400. Nice bike. Easy to work on??
Perfect bike for me would be:
- low weight, reasonable power, comfortable top speed of 110-120
- aircooled (easier to work on – though I might be wrong. And of course, pretty much EVERY bike is easier to work on than my current F650GS
- spare/service parts such as valve-shims/filters readily available in S-America/Africa (i.e.: NOT a BMW or KTM
- fuel injected (=less petrol; I'd carry a spare injector needle for emergencies – lightweight enough anyway)
The Suzuki DR650 just about fits all your requirements .... save F.I.
Its a 650 too but lighter than your F650, 60 lbs. lighter.

Very easy to work on, screw adjuster valves, Oil/Air cooled. Ten minutes to clean air filter. Big tank available cheap. Super strong rear sub frame so no worries about bending or cracking sub frame on rough off road.

Suspension stock is a bit soft but easily ... and cheaply upgraded. Needs a seat, but once that is done expect 600 kms. days without discomfort.

The DR is quite smooth for a single. Cruises very nicely at 70 to 75 mph, all day, everyday, in 45C heat. Motor is very solid. The rubber isolated foot pegs and rubber isolated handlebars help make long riding days easy.

50 MPG. I run an IMS 5 US gallon tank. 230 mile tank range.

I've ridden my DR a couple times in Baja and some in the Mojave. It is actually quite good in sand with knobby tires on. Great on rough two track
and desert tracks. Great on rough paved roads ... you will never, ever slow down for a ToPE ... and very fun on fast twisty roads.

Positives:
Crashes very well, needs only a couple simple and cheap guards.
Tough Wheels, no Dents, loose spokes or failed wheeled bearings.
DR's have been tested severely off road ... and they passed.

Bearings in general last a long long time. (Koyo)

Minimal spares need to be carried. Its Japanese. Get used to it. In 33K mine has never let me down. Not one time. Just basic maintenance: (tires, oil change, plugs, valve adjust, air filter service)

Uses no oil, 4000 mile oil change interval.

Uses 525 chain, at 12k miles I went with DID VM2 X ring chain, this chain is now at 22K miles. I will renew at 25,000 miles.

Relatively light weight and handles very nicely off road once set up right ... even loaded up with gear.

Negatives:
Stator output is just 200 watts, but stator output can be upgraded.
Only 50 mpg (your BMW does better no doubt)
Suspension needs up grading (stiffer)
Change battery every 3 years ... no matter what.
Weak Headlight (go to 35 watt HID and LED tail light and signals)
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