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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 31 May 2008
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Short girl needs bike advice for South America trip

I'm new to the word of dual-sports and looking for a dual sport for a ride through Latin America (sticking mostly to non-highway/backroads). I'm only 5'3" and want something that I'll be able to reach my feet the ground on. Also, something on the less expensive side with parts relatively easy to come by.
I'm looking at a 1998 Suzuki DR650 Clarke. It has only 6,000 miles on it, appears to be in great shape, and is being sold for $2,000 USD. I sat on it and only my toes reach the ground. I don't know if I'll have better footing once I've added panniers and luggage....? Or if there's a way to lower the seat without making serious compromises in clearance/shock absorbance.

Also, I haven't seen many options for panniers for this type of bike. Know of any?

If anyone has thoughts on this or ideas as to what would be a great bike for this trip, please let me know!
Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 31 May 2008
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You could try a lower seat - Corbin Motorcycle Seats & Accessories | Suzuki DR 650 | 800-538-7035 I think you'll also find the rear can be lowered by moving the link bolt to another optional mounting hole and dropping the forks to match.
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  #3  
Old 31 May 2008
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Thumbs up

I am ninety per cent sure that the DR650 has a special lowering kit that actually works (as opposed to most of the lowering kits). Taking some foam out of the seat and wearing boots with a bit of a platform gets you a bit more.

Understandably, you don't say what you weigh. But if you are on the light side I would look at smaller bikes maybe. A Yamaha 225 serow or an NX250. The latter is pretty quick, more like a 400 - plenty of power for your route.

There's been quite a bit of talk about this matter on the site , so have a search around.

Simon
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  #4  
Old 31 May 2008
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I just did my South America trip on a KLR 650 and I am a pretty big guy (6'6 and 90 kg).

I would go for less next time I think!

Remember that you have to be able to pick the bike up, WITH A FULL TANK AND LUGGAGE. Also, a 650 is heavy to handle off road.

Go for something around 250, maybe the Brazillian Honda XR250 Tornado? The above mentioned are also really good choises.

Parts will be MUCH easier to find for 250 something bikes, since they are everywhere down here.

Google "lois on the loose" and you will find the homepage of another "small" girls who travels on "small" bikes.

I say smaller is better!


BUT if you really want the big bike, then the DR 650 is the favoured 650cc single for short people. As mentioned before it can be lowered easily and it rides well.

But I would still advice you to choose a 2XX... Especially if you are alone!

Good luck to you!
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  #5  
Old 31 May 2008
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Also a bike in great shape from 1998 with only 6000miles on it and at 2000$ seems maybe too good?

Could have been driven without the speedo attatched or rotten inside. Then again, maybe it is a good buy. Take it to a mechanic and have him check it out, if you are set on the 650 route.
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  #6  
Old 31 May 2008
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hi rachel, did you try the bike with normal shoes on? if you can just touch the ground in normal shoes then boots will give you a bit more. also like you said when the bike is loaded up it will sag some more.

agree with the 'lois on the loose' idea, lois isnt particularly tall and a yamaha serow 225 is a good bike
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  #7  
Old 31 May 2008
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The DR650 would be good and it can be lowered easily.
If you would like something smaller the Xt225 works great, it just doesn't have much power to pass slow trucks.

You can find luggage for both at Happy Trail. They even have a picture of my friend Aki on her XT225

happy-trail.... Yamaha XT225
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  #8  
Old 1 Jun 2008
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I can't believe my luck...a female poster mentioned DR650 and
Mollydog hasn't posted anything yet? WTF?
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  #9  
Old 1 Jun 2008
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Hi Rachel,
My wife just upgraded from a XT225 to a DR650. We had the bike lowered, factory lowering, as well as changed the seat to the lower gel seat. My wife is 5.4". So now she can have the balls of her feet on the ground. She would prefer to be flat footed. The seat is not the final solution as we would change the seat once we go with a larger tank.
Luggage - I got the universal racks from motosport int. & pelican cases; thinking that once fully loaded she would be flat footed - though we haven't ried this set-up as yet.
Good luck.
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  #10  
Old 1 Jun 2008
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DR650 lowering instructions? - ADVrider
here you go. seems you can move a bolt in the back and drop the frunt a bit.
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  #11  
Old 1 Jun 2008
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Ride the Tornado!

Rachel,

If you are really looking for something that will ALWAYS have parts ALL over Central and South America and is small enough for you to reach the ground on (and pick up when it falls over), then you want the Tornado.

I am 6'3" and 100 kg and ride a Honda XR650L, but due to this concern for economy and parts, my son and I decided to take the Honda XR250 Tornado (made in Brazil, but sold EVERYWHERE in C and SA). Buy it in Mexico and go south!

Our trip was only 10,000 km Around the Block 2007 | but we had minimal concerns and found cheap parts (stuff that normally does wear) at almost every stop. For spares we carried: a spark plug, an extra tube in each size and 2 smaller carburetor jets for the altitude. That's it!

The stock tank has a 180 km range, and the few times we needed more, we carried a small container trapped to our luggage. We started with soft side bags, but due to the rough roads and them tearing up; ended up with a single rear rack lockable box and a small backpack strapped to the tank, which worked great! (this is in La Paz)

The power was sufficient to climb to 16,000 ft and pass cars at the same time. Any more is just luxury and a temptation to overload the bike with too much stuff.
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Old 1 Jun 2008
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Hi Rachel, since you call yourself Hong Kong Rachel, I suspect you are originally from there, which is me too. Anyway, I agree with most of the replies which say that you can do it with the 250cc bike. I rode in Vietnam for two weeks on a Honda 125cc on all sorts of road or offroads with luggage, while I ride a big BMW R1200GS in Germany where I currently live. I had so much fun in Vietnam with the small bike that I am considering trading my GS for another bike that is half the size. I am convinced that any bikes with such big engines are really for developed countries such as US and Germany. Given the fact that you seem to drive from San Francisco to SA, I would caution your driving a small bike on highway. Perhaps you can plan your route avoiding those nasty highways. Good luck!
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  #13  
Old 1 Jun 2008
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A 250 can easily go on the highway, but it wouldent be comfortable for long stretches of time.

Then again who the hell want to ride through SA on the highway? Might as well stay home then.

If you dont like off roading then go for a roadbike. The big singles suck on pavement compared to a "real" pavement bike with 2-4 cylinders.
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  #14  
Old 2 Jun 2008
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Hope you have all seen teh Short Bikers List FAQ?

SBL FAQ
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  #15  
Old 2 Jun 2008
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Smile

HI Rachel ..here is the link for lois,s website ... she is about the same height as you .
Lois on the Loose
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