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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 29 Jul 2006
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Serow or...?

Extremely new to the world of motorbikes, but extremely interested since I just finished two months in East Africa on the back of a Yamaha XT600 Tenere! Of course, I got hooked, and I'm now delving into the question of which bike I should get. Here are my specifications:

*I'm 5'4"
*I live in Colorado, so the lowest altitude the bike would ever be at is 5,000 ft, but would mostly be around 8,000 ft.
*Would ideally drive it from home to Argentina, so needs to be good for distance and a wide variety of terrain
*Want one that could take two people and their (backpacker's) luggage
*Looking for a used bike since I have a low budget
*Heard many good things about the Serow, but also interested in any other ideas

Thanks in advance,
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Old 29 Jul 2006
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Hi Sarah, and welcome to the forum. I've no personal experience of the Serow, but there's some inspiration for you here.

Regards, Mick
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Old 29 Jul 2006
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Hi Sarah ,
Welcome to the wonderful world of motorbikes .
Being an opinionated sort [ old fart ] I would have to say :
Buy a 250 or smaller bike like the Serow to learn on ,avoid mechanical problems and buy a new or a nearly new bike in very good condition and learn how to handle it ,ride everywhere and at every opportunity so that bike handling becomes instinctive .
Over the course of time find out what kind of bikes you like ,because the first bike you buy may not be the bike you would want to ride to Argentina .Your attitude and preference may be much different after a few months of riding experience .

After you have become confident in bike handling you will probably find that a larger capacity machine will better suit your needs .
Having the ability to open up that throttle and accelerate away from trouble ,of whatever kind , is a very nice feeling to have .

Visit a few dealers and try out some 250s, see what feels best .
Have fun .

Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light. - Spike Milligan
"When you come to a fork in the road ,take it ! When you come to a spoon in the road ,take that also ."
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Old 29 Jul 2006
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mollydog is right..
learning to ride on dirt is the best training you can have. It is much more slippery and safer than on tarmac. it will teach you to 'feel' the bike. on the road later you will be glad of that experience.

when you do choose your bike, maybe be agood idea to have one that is not a rarity in you destination country....
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Old 30 Jul 2006
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Thanks everyone for the excellent advice. This is definitely a long-term idea I have, so I'll have plenty of time to learn the ropes. I figured out quickly with my friend in Africa that knowledge of dirt riding is a key component! That bull-dust killed!

No one has mentioned anything about altitude, so is this not something I should be concerned with?
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Old 30 Jul 2006
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If your bike has fuel injection ,you don't have to worry about altitude.

But if it has a carburetor then you will have to make sure that it is jetted correctly .
Your dealer will make sure that the main jet is the correct one for your altitude , but only if you ask him .Also ask your riding buddies [if they have the same bike ] what size jets they are running .
The theory is that as you rise in altitude ,the air is less dense ,hence the engine cannot "suck"as much air in ,therefore the carb will be allowing too much fuel to pass .Hence a "rich" mixture and a telltale sooty deposit on the sparkplug .
You compensate for this by fitting a smaller main jet ,to bring the fuel mixture back to the optimum .It is a trial and error process ,so buy a few sizes of jets and experiment .
Your engine will produce less power ,but you can't do anything about it ,so don't worry
It's fairly easy to change jets these days as most carbs have a small threaded cap on the float bowl that you remove to change jets , You might need a stubby screwdriver or a jet tool .

Now the most important thing to remember is that if you travel down from the hills a few thousand feet and blast off for miles across the valley floor ,your engine will be running exceedingly "lean" .
This is serious ,because if you run for too long you will damage the engine [ overheating etc ] .Imagine trying to run a marathon and having to do your breathing through a straw ,that's what happens to the engine and eventually it goes kaput !
So jet up again !
It's not a big deal really and on a single cylinider bike can be done quite quickly .When you buy your bike there is bound to be someone on the 'net or HUBB who can give you more specific advice about what sizes to use with that particular bike .

Have fun
Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light. - Spike Milligan
"When you come to a fork in the road ,take it ! When you come to a spoon in the road ,take that also ."
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Old 14 Aug 2006
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Hi Sarah,

well I started off with a 175cc Kawasaki KE trail bike back in 1979, went for bigger and faster bikes, eventually ending up last year with a BMW R1200RT. However in October last year I did a total change around and bought a new XT250 Serow.

I can't remember having so much fun on a bike for years. It does everything I want a bike to do, will tour easily (OK slow at a comfy cruise of 58 - 62 mph but averages just over 90mpg), can carry loads of kit, loves the trails and I now use my trusty steed every day.

Many of my mates are coming to their senses and 'down sizing'.

The only time I miss the performance of the big BMW's is when blasting along the twisty roads of Norway. Other than that give me a Serow any day.


Reggie AKA The Cameraman
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Old 15 Aug 2006
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More good advice from Dodger.
One thing to keep in mind regards altitude. As an example: A
totally stock DRZ400S runs very very lean from the factory.
Most people re-jet for performance and go to a bigger main jet (making the
engine run richer...that is, use more fuel). This is well and good.
Bike will make more power.

But for you, on such a trip should leave that stock jetting in place.
Even at sea level and below (Death Valley) your stock bike will be OK.
Trust me, the Japanese have worked this out.

Now, since it is SO very lean at sea level this is a good thing as you go up
in elevation and you will still have really good performance up to about 6000 ft. After that you will notice a drop off in power and increased fuel use. And by 10,000 ft. even more lost power. But re-jetting won't bring back all the power. ALL engines lose power at altitude.

Like Dodger sez: if you do re-jet at high altitude and go to leaner (smaller) jetting, you MUST pull out those jets once you get down below 5000 ft. Critical to be aware of this. Running leaner than stock jetting at sea level would burn up the motor.

For the most part stock jetting will be just fine in most all situations.
Changing a main jet is not hard. Once you've done it a few times it
should only take a few minutes.


Last edited by mollydog; 15 Aug 2006 at 01:48.
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