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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 9 May 2006
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Quad for Girlfriend

After transversing 10 countries in Africa on the back of my GS my girlfriend has decided that she wants to do the next half of the trip on her own bike. The kicker is she doesnt want to do it on a motorcycle out of fear of falling off and getting hurt. So we came up with the idea that a Quad would be perfect for her.
I started looking into quads and there arent any street legal/modified quads made. I did find a company that makes radial street tires for quads at $100 a tire it seemed like a pretty good deal.
Other modifications I would have to make are 1)lights/blinkers 2) gas tank 3) brakes (disc brakes might be the best option)
I am thinking of a 2 wheel drive version just to keep it simple, less possible parts to break and also saves allot of wieght over the 4wd versions.
Honda will probably be the manufacturer I go with, Old Red always seem the most reliable.
I will probably step down to a 250 or 400 cc motorcycle for myself so we can travel about the same speed. On the GS or even a KTM Adv it would be too easy to pick up speed and leave her behind.

So if anybody has any advice or know of anyone who has done long distance on a quad please let me know.
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  #2  
Old 14 May 2006
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never heard of any long distance quads, and they have always struck me as more dangerous than bikes anyway for a few reasons:

If you come off they are more likely to land on you

They are harder to jump clear of

They can't keep pace with traffic so you will constantly have trucks roaring past and trying to force you off the road

you could always try and build her confidence by wraping her in good armour then dropping the bike (serious risk of this plan backfiring and seeing you travelling solo!!), or have you thought about a 4x4 - you can still get to some wild places, there is potentially a lot more comfort, and with a few modifications you can sleep in them, making the trip a whole lot cheaper (erm, apart from fuel costs). If you want a FUN 4x4 have a look at the Barber Wildcat - plus you can lways strap a scrambler to the back

that said I am a new biker, and have only had a machine for a few months (and clocked up 13000km - am stuck in siberia) so feel free to ignore me

happy travelling

Henry
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  #3  
Old 5 Jun 2006
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I'm of the opinion that quads are less safe than bikes for a number of reasons:
They tip over easier
They land on you when they do
You sit lower so have worse visibility and are not as easily seen
They don't handle as well or turn as tightly
And they are juicy.

If you do deciede to go for a quad, I'd spend the extra and go for a Honda. We have a 10 year old Big Red on our farm made by the big H and it just goes on. It gets used everyday in a foot of mud and hasn't missed a beat in all that time. The only things that have been replaced are a couple of wheel bearings and an exhaust (relient ones fit and are much cheaper than H ones by the way!)
Its just immortal.
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  #4  
Old 5 Jun 2006
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Talking 4 wheelers on the road

Here in Montana USA we can license any fourwheeler with lights a electric horn and a rear view mirror for road use. They fall under a standard auto drivers license so there is no special license required. Tires are a problem because the standard off road tires wear out crazy fast. If you convert to auto tires try to find the lightest wheels you can. Some conversions use trailer wheels which are super heavy and have been known to cause clutch/trans problems. Most people go with a 14" wheel and a all season type tire. I work at a yamaha/honda shop and the big honda and big yamaha will reach speeds of 100kph but they both weigh 600 pounds and push a lot of air so you will be lucky to get half as much gas mileage as the same engine in a two wheeler. That said the yamaha 660 with automatic with locking differential and 4 wheel drive will go places your two wheeler won't and carry 300 pounds of gear while doing it. We also don't see the 4 wheelers represented in on road accidents, at least here in montana the land of great gravel roads and low population.
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  #5  
Old 5 Jun 2006
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In Arizona, one can street register a quad, however, neighboring states won't recognize the tag and will cite you for riding on public roads.
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  #6  
Old 6 Jun 2006
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QUad in the UK

I've seen them driven on the streets of London!!! Also although don't know anything about them I've seen them in the Dakar race and if they can do that race they can do anything (it's both on and off road.

Good luck

Ken
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  #7  
Old 6 Jun 2006
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Talking Quads on the trail

As far as automatic CVT transmissions guess what all those scooters use.....a CVT transmission. If you Try a yamaha with auto trans you should have good luck. I say this from actual experience servicing 4 wheelers with 10,000 miles on them. Our shop has not sold a belt due to wear...oil leaks or physical damage only. Other brands don't have as good a auto trans setup. A big honda 650 2WD won it's mostly stock class in the baja 1000 and that rig runs a true automatic similar to a car.
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  #8  
Old 6 Jun 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KenButler
I've seen them driven on the streets of London!!!

Yes, unfortunately 'street quads' are becoming popular as posing items in the UK for people that want to make a lot of noise, think they look cool but don't have the pods or 'balance' for a motorcycle.......... what is Britain coming to?
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  #9  
Old 6 Jun 2006
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quads

yes, why not a quad to travel Africa?

one thing is for sure, your girlfriend will have a lot more attention on the quad in Africa than you have on the bike.

In Germany (I think one of the worst places with road and safety regulations) you can register a quad for road use, but you have to wear a crash helmet.

I used a Kymco quad 250 cc for five days in Hamburg, last week. Yes, it is noisy and you have a lot of attention. I dont know much about the technical details, but I did not like the automatic transmission (being a biker ...) and the thumb accelerator. The quad I used was nearly new (500kms) but the engine did not sound too good. So, I would say better go for a Yamaha or Honda quad for a long journey.

In Namibia and RSA you will find all the parts for your quad that you need, I remember even a good shop in Libreville (Gabon) - Wildrider - they work on quads and could get quad tires.

enjoy,

and I know most of the people here on the HUBB envy you for a girlfriend that has the guts to drive a quad thru Africa

mika
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  #10  
Old 6 Jun 2006
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Thanks for all the input on the quad, please keep it coming.
Great advice on the manual transmission vs automatic and also on thumb throttle (probably change that out to a twist throttle)
I definately have to say I am pretty lucky to have such an adventuresome girlfriend.
I got to ride a quad this weekend with road tires on it and it road pretty good. The main problem was high speed turning and the tip over factor but that is all just learning to ride and shifting your weight to counter the roll of the quad, easy for me but for 50KG's of Polish girl it may be a little harder. So I think we will just be riding a little slower which means more time to enjoy the sights.
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  #11  
Old 6 Jun 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henryuk
Yes, unfortunately 'street quads' are becoming popular as posing items in the UK for people that want to make a lot of noise, think they look cool but don't have the pods or 'balance' for a motorcycle.......... what is Britain coming to?
Read Flying Gringo's post a few up about shirtless hillbillies. Maybe that is the answer to your question...
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  #12  
Old 22 Jun 2006
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I have owned a few mx bikes like the KMX, Ts and many others plus i have had both 4x4 and 4x2 quads and i have to say they are all totally different beasts!

firstly a quad badly ridden is 10 times more dangerious than any bike, the more power you have on a quad the easier it becomes to flop over or roll.. my KXF quad was a 250 2 wheeler with a top speed of 70mph.. it could flip in second gear with no weight on the back and above 50mph it was more a case of steer.. pray.. steer a bit more and pray again! great fun for a day on the mx circuit but no way would i ride it day in day out, the big reds are more stable but then could you cope with a top speed of just 40mph!!

another issue to consider is spares, quad spares are not exactly off the shelf parts in a lot of places, and they tend to be twice the price of similar stock bike parts.

As for the Dakar quads there a special build most are twice the size of a standard quad with a lengthened rear arm to get high speed stability (top speed 90mph), the latest is KTM 900cc based and will set you back £20,000! not exactly what you might call cheap
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  #13  
Old 23 Jun 2006
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Well after much research I think I have found the quad we are going to use, it is the Honda TRX400EX. In fact I am seriously considering doing the trip on one as well now.
The engine is solid and just a basic 4 stroke with a carburetor. This is the same engine they have been using for about 10 years and is also found in their 400cc bikes. Actually parts arent such a big concern, anybody who has travelled long distances in the third world accepts that if anything major is going to happen parts will have to be shipped in via DHL. More important than parts is the availablity of a competent mechanic who can work on it. So it will be easier and cheaper to find parts for than my BMW for sure and easier to find a qualified (or semi qualified mechanic). But many people say these engines are pretty much bullet proof so hopefully it isnt an issue. The gas mileage isnt that great but again it is probably comparable to an 1150GS.
As far as weight it is 380lbs, again much lighter than the 525lb BMW and it has reverse.
I will have to change out the gears for more top end and less acceleration, better for doing about 70mph on the paved bits.
Modifications will include,
more lights and blinkers, new windings on the stator for more power, 12V plug, custom box (panniers), additional fuel, windshield, twist throttle, skid plates, GPS, sprocket change out.
Total cost should be right around $6,000 US.
The plan is to buy one in the next 2 months get it fitted and start rding it around and test it out, if i like it I will buy a second one for myself.
I have never heard of two people doing Africa on quads??? should be fun.
Josh
www.ridingtheglobe.com
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  #14  
Old 23 Jun 2006
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quads in africa

When we travelled in Mali in Jan-2005 we where passed, between Nampala and Lere, by a group of quads (during our lunch break!).
Later we met them several times (Tomboctou and Essakane) turns out to be a french group travelling on quads, out of my head 3 quads 5 persons, so 2 quads with 2 up. They we're fully prepped for travelling (they came all the way down from france!) with boxes, extra tanks (water/fuell) and personal gear.
Allthough they looked exhausted everytime we met or overtook each other, they swear by riding pistes and offroad desert on these quads. Some of them, experienced desert travellers (moto and car) assured me several times that these quads are much more easier to handle in the sand, especially on pistes with deep ruts.
As they stated, more relaxing then a bike, more thrilling then a car.

I think quads can make perfect desert machines, they sure draw a lot of attention, but I think that on pistes one has to make lots of little diversions because of the width of the tracks (made by cars/trucks) is different then theirs (seen their traces proving this) but because these quads are so light and powerfull this isn't probaply too bad. On tarmac is a different story like others posted.

Sorry I cannot recall the makes, models or cc, but I think two where yellow and one was red, I seem to remember one wasn't even 4x4, again not sure tho (Yeah...I know that is really helpfull....isn't it! )
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  #15  
Old 23 Jun 2006
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Slim, keep us updated with your quad plan. It sounds interesting. You shouldn't have too much to worry about with the Honda 400. Here in Arizona, you can street register quads, although California and Utah won't recognize them and will cite you for riding on the road if you try to venture out of Arizona. (Not sure about New Mexico) It wouldn't be as exotic as Africa, but a quad trip around Arizona would be fun.
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