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Old 13 Feb 2012
Guy Jinbaiquerre's Avatar
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Location: Tokyo, Japan
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Question Sakhalin island: Can I have fun on a R1200GS Adventure?

I'm planning to take the ferry from Wakkanai, Japan to Sakhalin island in Russia this summer and ride around. I currently ride a 2009 R1200GS Adventure and really love it. I take it on dirt roads and trails, but nothing "extreme". And my definition of "extreme" is a trail where you can't simply ride the darned bike; you'd have to either haul it across rivers, climb over big rocks, jump over logs, forge through deep mud, etc.

I'm wondering if there is enough "non-extreme" riding on Sakhalin for me to have fun on the big GS, or if it's a really bad idea and I should pick up a 250cc dirt bike for this trip.

Here is some more information about my situation for those of you taking a stab at offering advice. (I've tried to include all relevant information, but if you have a question, please ask!):

(1) I really like the GSA. It's very comfortable for me and I can ride all day on it.

(2) Skinny, hard-seat dirt bikes tend to hurt my back after only a little while unless I'm standing on the pegs.

(3) Some of the riding on Sakhalin does look "extreme" by my definition. I'm talking about the photos in ride reports like this one, where their bikes are sunk halfway into the mud or wedged atop broken log bridges. The question is, is that what most of the ordinary roads are like on the island, or are those unusual, little-used trails and locations that you have to really seek out?

(4) I'm going to have my camping and photography gear with me; obviously, the GS will haul it around better. On a little dirt bike, I would probably need to bring less stuff.

(5) I'll be leaving from Tokyo, about 1350 paved kilometers from the ferry to Sakhalin. It would be much easier to cover that distance on the GS. If I had a 250cc dirt bike with knobblies, I would probably want to haul it up there in my van instead.

(6) I'll be riding with some friends; at this point, some of them are planning to bring big "adventure" bikes like the XTZ 1200 Tenere, while others are going with smaller dirt bikes. Obviously there is a risk that we will all be limited by the least-capable bike or rider in our group. But still, I want to choose the best bike for me, regardless of what the other guys are riding.

Basically, what it all comes down to is that I would rather be on the GS... unless it will be so limited as to where it can enjoyably go on Sakhalin that it would be a waste of time taking it there in the first place.

So... will I have fun on the big Boxer (with knobbly tires, of course), or should I go with a lightweight dirt bike (and possibly pound the discs in my lower spinal column into oblivion) if I really want to have a worthwhile Sakhalin riding experience?
1997 Honda X4 2009 BMW R1200GS Adventure IBA #42657
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