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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 27 Mar 2009
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Single..twin..triple??

My story is I am looking for a bike to some commuting in the city, some highway trips and ultimately a trip to Alaska next summer as a 40th birthday, mid-life crisis kind of adventure. I have been reading about bikes like crazy (I almost feel obsessive) and have narrowed things down a bit. Here is a list of bikes I am considering:

1) BMW F650 single

2) Suzuki V-strom 650 or 1000

3) Triumph Tiger

The bikes I am looking towards would be late 90's to early 2000's models, hopefully spending less the $5000. My motorcycling experince is limited over the last 20+ years, I grew up riding dirtbikes and such but really nothing much since then. As such I want something pleasant to ride and not too unwielding. A quirk of mine is I like different stuff (not the run-of-the-mill) hence the reason for looking at the Tiger.

So, I guess what I am asking is for some input into these models. There seems to be a lot of experience on this forum, might as well take advantage of it.
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  #2  
Old 27 Mar 2009
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Have you thought about an Elefant, some very good mid-90s examples about. In europe they were Cagiva but I believe they were sold in the USA as Ducati E750 or E900. Great bikes, great engines and much better handling (IMHO) than the tiger and a lot more character and better sound than the F650 (is that a sewing machine coming up the road?)
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  #3  
Old 27 Mar 2009
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I have never heard of it. Isn't Google great though? It is a nice looking bike, not sure how many of them are around these parts, but I will do some searching.
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  #4  
Old 27 Mar 2009
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Bearing in mind the availability and pricing of bikes in Canada -
Probably your best bet is the VStrom , 650 for economy ,1000 for power .
Much cheaper than a Tiger [ the Tiger is a good bike but you'll have to buy an older bike for the same money ] .
Avoid early F650GS they have front forks that are dodgy and are expensive bikes for what you get .
KLR 650 or DR650 would be a good choice if you want to do mild off road or lots of gravel .

Buy as new a bike as you can ,there should be some good trade-ins coming on the market about now [ or maybe not - recession blues !!!!!] .
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  #5  
Old 27 Mar 2009
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First of all, get out and test ride all of these if you can: you might decide that you like one model so much that you can live with the downsides it may have...

Secondly, if you can test ride others too, even better.

Still, purely at face value, I would say a twin of some sort. They develop respectable power for their engine size, good torque (fewer gear changes) and are generally economical (more so than a 4 cylinder equivalent, as a rule of thumb). For your uses, I would say that no less than 600 for a twin: makes higways a lot easier...

If you want unusual, then have a look at brands like Aprilia, and Moto Guzzi, although I am not so familiar with their range at the moment.

Having said that, if you want something easy to live with then I would say you can't go far wrong with any in your short list, even if they are not rare and exotic...
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  #6  
Old 27 Mar 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodger View Post
Bearing in mind the availability and pricing of bikes in Canada -
Probably your best bet is the VStrom , 650 for economy ,1000 for power .
Much cheaper than a Tiger [ the Tiger is a good bike but you'll have to buy an older bike for the same money ] .
Avoid early F650GS they have front forks that are dodgy and are expensive bikes for what you get .
KLR 650 or DR650 would be a good choice if you want to do mild off road or lots of gravel .

Buy as new a bike as you can ,there should be some good trade-ins coming on the market about now [ or maybe not - recession blues !!!!!] .
Good comment here IMO. It's the on/off road compromise which is always difficult.
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  #7  
Old 27 Mar 2009
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I have thought about the KLR and DR but have since decided against those. I suppose the F650 is in the same category, but from reading, they seem to be a little better on the highway, less buzzy.

I like the V-strom, it just seems that because of their popularity and the limited selection in Canada, they seem to hold their prices. It is tough to find a decent low-mileage one for less that $6-7000. I like that there is good support for them as far as accessories though.

From reading about the Tiger, people who own them seem to like them (a bias I suppose). I read a trip diary from a guy who made the trip to Alaska on his and he never made any negative comments about his bike throughout the trip. I don't know much about the triple, so I should do some more reading.
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  #8  
Old 27 Mar 2009
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Tiger every Time

Hi

I'm a big Pan European fan, but after using this Tiger for a couple of months, I'd recommend it over your other choices, as it does everything really well and the three cylinder engine gives it great character. Good looking bike too and I can squeeze over 220 miles out of a tank at 80MPH, with a few blasts through the twisties!

Keep the battery topped up and run it with fully synthetic oil though.

Cheers

Chris

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Old 27 Mar 2009
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What do you mean by "character"? Is it the sound, the performance? Personally, I think it is a nice looking bike.
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  #10  
Old 28 Mar 2009
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5 pints later!

It's the sound and soul, Hic!

Night all.
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  #11  
Old 28 Mar 2009
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Is there a definite advantage to the post-2000 bikes versus the pre-2000 Tigers? What kind of mileage is acceptable for a bike to be considered in good condition? I read a comment someplace about how a lot of used bikes go up for sale around the 20,000 mile mark, possibly due to boredom, but maybe also due to bikes needing maintenance. When do valves need to be set on the Tigers and is that type of maintenance difficult &/or pricey?
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Old 28 Mar 2009
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Originally Posted by D-Fuzz View Post
Is there a definite advantage to the post-2000 bikes versus the pre-2000 Tigers? What kind of mileage is acceptable for a bike to be considered in good condition? I read a comment someplace about how a lot of used bikes go up for sale around the 20,000 mile mark, possibly due to boredom, but maybe also due to bikes needing maintenance. When do valves need to be set on the Tigers and is that type of maintenance difficult &/or pricey?

Alan Kelly went round on his blog 'poor circulation' with Blue88 both with 2007 tigers , Alan's developed an oil leak once he got to the US, it was also big and heavy so shipping was expensive.

Pre 1997 the triple engine was carb , I forget when exactly they went to FI,

FI of course will cope with high altitude better but FI is more vulnerable due to the sensors all over the bike, and carbs can be fixed easily at the side of the road but will have problems with altitude and need jets changing.



Bikes get sold around the 20K mark because people consider motorcycles to be disposible much like cars.

YouTube - One Last Journey

Big Japanese 4 have twigged with this and post 2003 all Japanese motorcycles are not designed to be taken apart and fixed by their owners as they are virtually disposible. Watch the video and the can't be bothered mentality exists in our decadent societies.

But engines are designed to run at least 100K miles , there is a video on the tube where a CBR600F does 100K. The issue is that parts you wouldn't consider to be consumables start to become consumables.

My old bike went to 138,000 miles before I sold it (only have room for 2 bikes) , in its life time:

At 40,000K

The reg/rec went
The starter relay went
Wheel bearing went
A caliper pin broke
Its fork seals and bushes needed replacement

At 50,000K

One of the carb rubbers perished
Its head stock bearings needed replacement (though I did wheelie it hard sometimes)

At 55,000K

It caught fire due to the loom wire rubbing and decaying

At 57,000K

The indicator relay packed up

At 63,000K

One of the coils packed up

At 65,000K

The airbox cracked

At 71,000K

Needed new exhaust gaskets as they leaked

Etc and so on and so on, all of the above repairs cost me under £20 to fix but many people wouldn't have bothered and scrapped the bike. The best example is David Lambeth's XT600 which has done half a million miles. Although its often said low tune engines last longer ie the Transalp engine which goes into the NTV,GT,transalp and africa. Sports bike engines last even longer (the tiger post 2000 is based on the daytona engine) as it has to be designed for the seldom used 13000+ RPM red line.

My CBR is generally used around the 5-6000rpm mark, 2-3 weeks a year I take it to the 14000RPM red line.
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  #13  
Old 28 Mar 2009
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If you can find one at the right price in Canada, I'd definitely recommend the Honda TransAlp 650 V twin, as these bikes are virtually unbreakable and Honda's build quality is the best.

We rode one from the UK to Romania & Bulgaria and it never missed a beat. After 26,000 miles it still looked and went like new. Comfort is a big issue on long trips, and this bike is like your favourite armchair.

It is also possible to do long journeys on smaller bikes - both on and off road and with luggage - too. Check out 'Land Of The Long Wild Road' for an 11,000 km marathon on two Yamaha Serows! Timbuktu Publishing - Home
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  #14  
Old 28 Mar 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kennichi View Post

Excellent link and all very true.

I have often changed my bike just because I wanted somehting new, and all bikes sold were in good working order, so they will get used, not scraped, but with a change in job, I don't think that is financially viable for me any moreso we shall see when the bike becomes un-ridable/unfixable!
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  #15  
Old 28 Mar 2009
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So, what would be better...a single with 5,000miles on it or a twin/triple with 25,000miles? Is a bike with 25,000miles still a good bike to buy, as long as it has been properly maintained, etc? It seems in my price and age range, most of the bikes have roughly that mileage, regardless of model. I just feel if I am going to start going above the $5000 mark, I might as well look at new as the price of used bikes doesn't seem to drop much in the first couple years.
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