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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 25 Mar 2012
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Modern sophisticated vs old simple technique

Hello everybody,

I'm new here and I'm planning a 7000km (about 4400 mls) trip from Hoogeveen in The Netherlands to Tarifa, the most southern point of Europe in Spain and back. It's gonna be a trip completely on small roads, mostly scenic. Camping along the way, cooking in front of my shelter so pretty heavy packed.

The bike I have is not really the right one for the job so I'm looking for another one. I've been doing a lot of research and have brought it down to two choices.
1. Bike with modern technologies: Fuel Injection, digital dashboard, plastic, etc.
2. Bike without much extras: no plastic, easy accessible engine

My question is: what is preferred to make extensive travels with? A modern bike with the newest technique (which maybe never breaks down) of a bike with older simpler technique which can be easily repaired by mechanics in every little village in every country? (I must say I have no mechanics skills whatsoever, changing oil poses a problem already!)


Thanks a lot for your reactions!

Last edited by duive01; 25 Mar 2012 at 18:21.
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  #2  
Old 25 Mar 2012
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It's down to personal choice and what you are used to.

For a trip in Europe you'll get equal hassle waiting for a dealer to open and diagnose a problem on a 6-cylinder mega-tourer or waiting for bits to turn up for your Enfield so you can fit them yourself. A new bike badly set up by a dealer that expects 600 miles in the first year or a 30 year old hack that's been used as LEGO by 12 previous owners are equally bad. The advantage in Europe is that when they close the old road a new bike can take the motorway without the trucks wanting to murder you. New in this sense can be an air head BMW or this years Ducati.

I can't live with the thought of dealer only service (they all break down eventually if used) but am equally at home with PC diagnostics or mucking about with 1950's technology. I run a 2004 Bonneville, 1994 MZ and 1984 BMW K100 outfit. There is maybe a Tiger XC in my future and at some point I will get another Bullet, they all have their own charms. The only thing I'd rule out would be something that hasn't been in production for a year and in my grubby hands for at least six months.

Get the bike that matches your riding style and learn the rest.

Andy
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  #3  
Old 25 Mar 2012
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Thank you Andy / ThreewheelBonnie

Maybe it is indeed a personal choice. I have absolutely no understanding of the bike I drive at all and so a bit insecure on that part, depending on the nearest mechanic shop when the bike breaks down.
What I'm actually asking is the following: is the nearest mechanic shop better capable of helping me when I turn up with a carbed naked bike than when I come with a fuel injected plastic covered motor scooter? Or are most mechanics these days good with things like fuel injection?

I will try to learn but never been any good with my hands except for repairing computers. And I'm not that young anymore so learning is a bit slower. But I agree, it would be the best to learn your bike but I'm not sure that's an option for someone who cannot hammer a nail in wood without bending it.
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  #4  
Old 25 Mar 2012
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OK let's try to look at this logically .

You have no mechanical ability .
You will be at the mercy of dealers and repair shops .
You'll be a long way from home ,so they won't be too bothered about what you think of them and whether you will do business with them again .


So to counteract this you must ;
Buy a reliable bike in good condition .
Buy a modern bike [ less than 10 years old , so that the repair shop is familiar with the bike and can get parts for it , carbs or fuel injection are irrelevent here ].

Unless you are extremely unlucky ,the only parts that will fail are chains, sprockets , bearings , tyres .Which are normal wear and tear items and can be done cheaply by virtually any bike shop.

You don't appear to be focussed on any particular brand or model .
So .
My advice is to buy a Vstrom [ which is an affordable , reliable road bike with no hidden vices ] in good condition and learn how to;
change the oil ,
lubricate the chain,
check the tyres for wear [ and pressure ].

Ride and enjoy .
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  #5  
Old 25 Mar 2012
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Thanks a lot Dodger, that's helpful.
The things you mention are things even I can (and will) learn.

Gr Edwin
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  #6  
Old 26 Mar 2012
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Bikes

When I started out on my RTW I had no idea what to ride, & knew absolutely nothing about mechanics ( I still know the same amount now !) I had a Bonneville I was going to take, but then changed my mind and went for a V-Strom did a test run and fully loaded & was just to dam heavy (for me anyway)
So I then went and bought a BMW F650gs twin & 20000km has not done a thing wrong. But I have just ridden a new 500cc Royal Enfield in Nepal for the last month.... so now I have absolutely fallen in love with it & I am thinking of sending the beemer home & riding the Enfield from now on. I think you are looking into the mechanical issues to much for this trip as you stated it was about 7000km which is not that far, so my advice is get one that you love to ride not what you think you should be on. I'll think I'll be riding off in the sunset on a Enfield tho !!!!!!
Cheers
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  #7  
Old 26 Mar 2012
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Remember that on the road you are not alone, even now days bikers will stop to help fellow bikers.
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  #8  
Old 26 Mar 2012
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I'm with Dodger but wouldn't be so specific about a model this early. IMHO you want a "Universal Japanese" Motorcycle. The technologies vary, but the support stays roughly the same. Any small town bike shop that sells the scooters the locals ride will have the means to get Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki or Kawasaki bits in a day or two. The stuff that goes pear shaped, broken levers, busted indicators that sort of thing gets sorted easily in most places in Europe. You could throw in a lot of Triumphs, a host of BMW's, the odd Guzzi etc. although if the badge doesn't fit the posters on the workshop wall you will get more resistance.

The only ones to avoid are the truely weird (Demonic valve L-twins etc.), things with CAN electrics that may suffer "Computer says no" moments regarding the interaction between the starter interlock and onboard capachino machine and "hobby" bikes where the parts people only work two days a week and the boutique owner won't understand that you rode further than the Starbucks near your house.

Plastic panels aren't an issue, but you do get charged by the hour to take them off and put them on. I'd be more interested in tyre choice on the basis that punctures are more common than needing to get at the top of the gearbox. 130/80-17's with nails in the sidewall get fixed the same day, 5.6-16's involve couriers from another country.

Enfields could be called the "Universal Indian Motorcycle"! Actually not a bad choice for the home mechanic even in Europe (parts available at 24 hours notice from Hitchcocks etc.), but try explaining the decompressor cable to a teenage scooter mechanic in a language you don't speak. A CB250 has the same performance and the kid will have seen hundreds of them. That said, on a modern Bullet you'd just use the electric start until you got home.

Andy
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  #9  
Old 26 Mar 2012
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This thread raises an interesting point. I would always opt for old technology for travels in remote places (which includes much of Europe), but then I have 'old tech' bikes that I've either owned for a long time or that I've completely rebuilt myself. Old tech also has the advantage that the generic faults are well known and aftermarket solutions are generally available and with care, you can create a very capable bike customised to your particular travel needs.

If you don't already have a suitable bike with a known history or the mechanical skills to prepare one for a long trip (from which you would become familiar with the bike making it easy to repair) then perhaps you should fall back on modern tech choosing a model that has a very good reputation for reliability or you could go the old tech route and learn the mechanical skills necessary to maintain it. If buying an older bike I would say that the number of previous owners is more important than mileage - I would always choose a bike with 2 previous owners and 100,000km over one with 10 previous owners and 40,000km.
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  #10  
Old 26 Mar 2012
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Getting back to your original question, I don't think it matters whether you buy a new tech or old tech bike. What does matter is that you buy a proven reliable bike in excellent condition.

It is also important to remember that with a fresh set of tires, new chain and sprockets, recent tune up and newish battery, you have many bikes to choose from for a 4000 mile trip.

With full camping gear strapped on, a mid sized bike makes sense. It doesn't matter if it's a DL650, DR650, Tenere, KLR, airhead beemer, F650, or any of the other popular reliable long distance midsize overland bikes.

The less maintenance required the better if you are mechanically challenged. Which is why people have suggested the DL650. Newish water cooled, fuel injected, electronic ignition bikes require less fettling. It would be nice to know how to do an oil change on a trip of that distance, and it would be helpful to know how to adjust chain tension and fix a flat. Other than changing oil, fixing one flat, lubing and adjusting the chain, and putting on a new rear tire in Panama, I didn't have to do anything other than fill up the gas tank in 11,000 miles on the last long trip I took.

There are a lot of good used bikes out there. I prefer to buy from a perfectionist who doesn't have time to ride with a garage floor so clean you could eat off it.

Happy bike hunting!

Kindest regards,
John Downs
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  #11  
Old 26 Mar 2012
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Hi,

I think it allways depends on where you want to go. Right now im traveling southamerica on a small 125ccm bike with very basic technic. This bike is used by moast of the people in the countrys im visiting so whatever i need can be bought round the corner and people know how to repair this kind of bike.

Motorrad Reise durch Ecuador und Columbien - Teil 4

Africa i traveled around 50.000 km with a trustfull 20 jear old Honda Transalp. This bike did not need any serios repair along the way.

Riding the rough west coast through Africa part 3

For Europa just take whatever you prefere. Big bikes are very comon there. Modern bikes with fuel injection are not allways more relayable then old bikes. A friend of my allways breakes down with his brand new & very expensive Ducati but my old Honda Transalp never fails and for that bike you can even get used parts in Italy and Espania as well if needet because it is comon there as well.

I would recomend you not to bay a exotic bike but one that allready proofed his quality for years: XJ 900, Transalp, Tenere, DRZ400, XT600 etc...

Greetings, Tobi
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  #12  
Old 27 Mar 2012
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I recommended the Vstrom for a number of reasons .

You mentioned you'd be carrying a lot of luggage .
It's very easy to find companies that make panniers , racks and boxes for this bike .Other accessories won't be a problem either .

The Vstrom is quite a large bike and there's lots of room to pack stuff on it and you can easily carry a passenger .

The Vstrom uses parts that are found on other Suzuki products , so finding bits and pieces will be easier .Suzuki dealers are common .

It's an all round bike and will handle any kind of road and even some mild off road if you want .

It's a popular bike and after you finish your journey , you should be able to sell it easily , if that's what you want to do .

The bike has a great reputation and personal experience tells me that it is a reliable bike and will do the job .
As you gain more experience you may find that you want something else ,but in the meantime keep it simple .
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  #13  
Old 26 Apr 2012
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its all in your head

Check out the guy travelling whose travelled to nepal on a honda c90, i think that pretty much sums it up. Ive travelled by foot, bike and motorbike it all comes down to the same thing.....once youve set off it doesnt really matter what you take, it really is the journey that matters.

Listen to your instincts not your ego. Ego's love new shinny new things and will persuede you into something you know is excessive, youll then spend your trip worrying about it.
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  #14  
Old 26 Apr 2012
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Given that you don't have any mechanical ability I would advise getting a modern bike which is less likely to break down, although the breakdown will probably cost a lot more to fix.

Also as part of this strategy buy breakdown cover that will repatriate your bike.

Older technology will survive better, for instance on my run to Poland via Italy the big end on my Enfield started to rattle in the Czech republic. I was able to continue into Poland and back across Germany to leave my bike with a friend in Antwerp. So I could complete my journey and choose where to leave the bike. That is the nature of mechanical faults. Electronics however tends to work perfectly until it fails completely without warning. Of course these failures are rare.

I have been looking at the MG Breva 750, a shaft drive so no rear chain or primary drive to worry about, they seem to be a very capable bike with no known faults. They also suit me as to weight and seat height which cannot be said for the majority of today's bikes.
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  #15  
Old 26 Apr 2012
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You are going to get as many different answer's as there are poster's.

So I'll put in my 2p worth. I would go for a 10 year old mid range cc bike. I'm a Honda man. Know for there build quality, Lot's of outlet's for spare's. So it's knowing what to do when you get it. What ever it is, put some mile's on it where you are and that mean's at least 300 to 500 mile's. This will give you confidences in the bike, If any thing is going to go tit's up it will show before you leave. Get someone to look at it before you go. Telling them what you have in mind. Preparation before hand is half the battle. As for models. Have a look at a few Honda CB. They are all mostly built prof.
Hope this help's?
John933
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