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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 12 Jan 2012
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Spending the Money Well

Hi guys,

first of all my riding background:

Back in the eighties I rode a Honda CB 550 Four. I bought it cheap from one of our corporals in the German Army and I had to spend as much times at the wrenches as I actually did ride. Not my cup of tea and I eventually sold the rig after dropping the dam* thing and watching the cable tree go up in flames!

Four years ago a friend let me ride his Vespa 125 ccm scooter for a summer and got me hooked on riding again. The times were good, I went to the local used bike dealer and he gave me this beautiful Honda FES 125 Pantheon scooter for a test ride. It was awesome and I bought the rig with low mileage at a decent price. Two years later I had to sell my truck in order to make it through the economical crisis and I had to resort to my scooter a lot. Riding got a bit old but I got pretty proficient again.

We are still in the recovering phase as far as our income is concerned and this year we will have a lot of extra expenses. There is no way I can draw money from our account. This leaves me with the odd job or selling some personal stuff.

Why do I want to get back at riding a motorcycle again?
First, I want to go on weekend trips, travel country roads and National Roads, ride a bit of gravel roads and do a bit of wild camping in the woods.
Second, I really enjoy riding the countryside at 80 to 90 kph, take up the scenery and smell the proverbial roses. We have a lot of winding roads in these parts so there is quite some joy in riding even with my lowly scooter.
Third, I want to get back to travelling again. I would love to visit Eastern Europe, Russia or Turkey! For starters I could imagine a round trip southern Germany - Austria - a bit of Hungary and back. Ze wife does not object ...

So I am a bit of a touring guy but I also want the capabilty to ride bad roads and sneak up the occasional single track into the woods.

As a novice to touring I would not mind handling the touring aspect with my scooter, it is a good ride, though nothing for highway travel. Having ridden farm roads already I definately know my scooters s*cks on gravel and dirt (at least with the current tires).

As a second aspect I feel like I should invest some money into riding gear. Currently I own a helmet and protective gloves, which is good enough for the city but maybe not so much for longer trips. So add to the shopping list: riding pants, riding jacket, rain gear, riding boots?

My budget is pretty small. Seems like I could come up with about €1200 to €1400 until spring. OK, I could save until next year but I already saved enough in my life. I want adventure and I want it now!

To me my options are:
1. Buy riding gear, run my scooter and skip the wild camping / bad road part for the time being.
2. Buy a used Honda CG125 plus riding gear and use it until I have the funds for an upgrade. The CG125 would set me back about € 500.
3. Borrow the money for a somewhat decent used enduro between 400 and 650 ccm plus buy riding gear and panniers.

What do you guys think? Thank you in advance!
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  #2  
Old 12 Jan 2012
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It really depends on you, you could quite easily have a little adventure on your scooter, but like you say it'll be difficult when the tarmac runs out.

If it was me I'd go looking for a 250 dirt bike you probably will spend a little more than the cg.

in Britain you can get often find a working xr 250 for around £600 or dr 350 for not much more.

Hope this helps
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  #3  
Old 12 Jan 2012
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pete3,
In the circumstances you describe, I would stick with the 125 scooter for now and get out and ride - see how that goes, but definitely with some decent riding clothing for protection against spills and for wet weather.

Hein gericke have some good stuff and made in Germany still (I expect - could be China nowadays though).

That would be some kind of combination of your options 1-3 I guess.
Personally, I can't see why you think this is going to happen "skip the wild camping / bad road part for the time being".
Your scooter can go places.


These are my reasons -
1. The vast majority of routes for you, for now, are asphalt; the "tarmac" won't run out in Europe unless you deliberately choose that to happen.

2. I have seen scooters at the top of the Stella Alpina, on the Italian-French border, which is about 3000m above sea level at the end of about 15 Km of gravel track with lots of hairpins along the way.
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  #4  
Old 13 Jan 2012
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Yup- stick with the scooter. Spend some money on safety, like good riding gear, then just get out and ride - you'd be amazed where you CAN go with the right attitude!

As your finances improve and you have more adventure time under your belt you'll have a better idea what you really want too.

Just do it!
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  #5  
Old 13 Jan 2012
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Hi Pete,

I totally agree with Walkabout and Grant. Keep the scooter and get going. There is a LOT you can do with a scooter.

To add a little weight to their argument here are some pics from our trip in South East Asia:









More pics and stories of jungle riding in Asia with a scooter (Honda Wave):

What The Honda Wave Can Handle Or Laos Off-Road Adventure Time - Unleash Your Adventure
Lost In Cambodia: Riding Along The Mekong Part 3 - Unleash Your Adventure
Adventure Riding Along The Mekong in Cambodia Part 2 - Unleash Your Adventure

Cheers Patrick
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  #6  
Old 13 Jan 2012
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there's a couple right now riding India with two 100cc scooters.
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  #7  
Old 13 Jan 2012
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Yep, for 1-up riding in warmer parts of Asia, those small scooters are just amazingly capable (also keep in mind, that locals ride them all year round, the rainy season, too!) They´ll never match proper enduro bikes, but a good rider can take them surprisingly far. You´ll believe it, if you´ve ever seen a Cambodian "fuel tanker" (= a scooter with total 150-200 liters of gasoline cans strapped to the sides) ride the small, bumpy backroads along the Mekong faster than you could even without any luggage... and those damn things that they ride, are from the Stone Age, and if they´ve ever had any suspension to speak of, now they definitely don´t!! I wouldn´t try that myself, I think I´d soon get hurt.

And those are very cheap to buy and maintain, and parts can be found almost everywhere... and even if bad luck strikes, and your vehicle is somehow totalled (like my friend´s scooter was, when some idiot crashed to the back of it with a car in Thailand, and escaped – my friend is actually very lucky to be alive!) then your wallet will not hurt so much.

If I ever find enough free time to go and explore the more remote Indonesian islands and Philippines, like I´d want to, then this kind of "bike" will no doubt be my choice. Much easier to lift it into the boats with no car deck, etc.


my scooter trips (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia) here:
Chicken Chasers

(oh, sorry, the OP didn´t ask about Asia – I´d say a small 100-200cc scooter would be fine for Europe as well, if you´re 1-up, don´t need to show off to anybody, and are not in a hurry).
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Old 13 Jan 2012
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Whoa, a lot of good replies! Thank you!

Fantastic Mister Fox,
a nice Dr 350 would exactly be what the doctor orders. Most enduros in that price range ssem to have about 30000 km on their odometers. Someone told me the engines would be shot at mileage. Would you agree?

Walkabout and Grant,
your POV´s have plenty of merit. Do you think allweather / allterrain tires would help to deal with the traction issues? Right now, riding on wet gravel roads feels like driving on snot ...

OnkelKarle,
a fellow Swabian! Who would have thought that?
Impressive pics. The difference is probably that my FES 125 is a heavy pig for it´s class (149 Kgs) and the rims are not as big as those of your scoot ( mine are 13" and 12" instead of 17"?). You see that as a problem?
Love your trip report, BTW!

Cy,
yup, Underboning! Following their trip report closely.

pecha,
like your trip report as well! I am 1-up, have no need to show off and am not in a hurry, just like you said. Thanks for the encouragement.
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  #9  
Old 13 Jan 2012
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Interesting pics OnkelKarle

pete3,
I don't know if you could find such tyres for your wheel sizes - standard for your road scooter presumably at 12" and 13".
But how much distance are you riding on gravel compared with your hard surface riding? Are there any dual purpose tyres for your scoot? - I don't know.

We don't know how comfortable you are with riding on gravel (never mind sand/mud) but just let the back end of the bike do it's own thing - it will shake about but eventually follow where you are pointing the front wheel. Just watch out for potholes with those small wheels.
Can you stand up when offroad and still reach the bars?
Yea, the more like snot the surface becomes, the more interesting the ride.

The small diameter wheels will never perform like the 21" front on the DR350, but that comes down to the question above - how much off hard-surface riding will you actually do?
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  #10  
Old 13 Jan 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pete3 View Post
Whoa, a lot of good replies! Thank you!

Fantastic Mister Fox,
a nice Dr 350 would exactly be what the doctor orders. Most enduros in that price range ssem to have about 30000 km on their odometers. Someone told me the engines would be shot at mileage. Would you agree?
I'm not mechanically quailfiyed to answer that question but my xlr250 i bought 18 months ago is running fine and I bought it with 29000km and I have put a further 4000km since(although the head weeps a little oil). The way I see it is that with an air cooled single cylinder they can' go massively wrong, if you can get you hand dirty.

Like the rest have said you can enjoy yourself on your scooter why not do that until you can find the bike you want, but every cent spend on a bike is less to spend on your adventures.
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  #11  
Old 16 Jan 2012
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Fantastic Mister Fox,
thank you for the advice. I will definately keep it in mind when hunting for a bigger bike.

Walkabout,
seems like there are tires with higher traction available, even knobblies.

However, this weekend I took the scooter to the yard and started riding it standing up. It took a bit of try and error until I had my feet where they made sense. Then I rode out to my orchard ... off the national road it is about 800 meters of bad tarmac, then 400 meters of gravel road. Riding standing up made all the difference! Hung to the throttle and kept going like there was no tomorrow. I then ran the length of the orchard on slick grass and it was awesome as well! (300 meters)

Came home with a big sh*t eating grin. I think the situation mentioned above will be pretty much it where I live and I would like to thank you most kindly for your advice.

Not that I would not enjoy if the tarmac would run out, though ....
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  #12  
Old 20 Jan 2012
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If you get a CG125 you will never need or love another bike again. Do it. Use it. Give it to the Grandkids thirty years down the line.

Birdy
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  #13  
Old 20 Jan 2012
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Great!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pete3 View Post
Fantastic Mister Fox,
thank you for the advice. I will definately keep it in mind when hunting for a bigger bike.

Walkabout,
seems like there are tires with higher traction available, even knobblies.

However, this weekend I took the scooter to the yard and started riding it standing up. It took a bit of try and error until I had my feet where they made sense. Then I rode out to my orchard ... off the national road it is about 800 meters of bad tarmac, then 400 meters of gravel road. Riding standing up made all the difference! Hung to the throttle and kept going like there was no tomorrow. I then ran the length of the orchard on slick grass and it was awesome as well! (300 meters)

Came home with a big sh*t eating grin. I think the situation mentioned above will be pretty much it where I live and I would like to thank you most kindly for your advice.

Not that I would not enjoy if the tarmac would run out, though ....
Good stuff Pete3!
Just go easy on those small wheels!

When you get to ride a bike in that way it is even better cos you can grip the fuel tank with your knees and steer the bike with the lean of your body weight and the squeezing of your knees against the tank.
(It is easier to do than to put in writing).
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  #14  
Old 23 Jan 2012
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Birdy,
you are doing it again!! My lust for a CG125 has much been kindled by reading your posts and blog. You have quite the way with words!
One day I´ll definately add a CG125 to my stable, it is probably the pony of the bike world.

On a different note, last week I was fooling around a second time with my scooter. I find that I can grip the seat with my legs a bit. Anyway, I kept racing up the lawn besides my yard, the rear slipped and I took a dive, ending up under the Honda. I haven´t had so much fun on a regular weekdays´ evening for a long time!

Just sold my Herkules K125 BW in non running condition. With a heavy heart though, I loved that thing since my time as a conscript, but now I got 500 more Euros to spend on gear and fun!
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  #15  
Old 23 Jan 2012
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CG125 is a really good bike, but there are other really good options beside it. I have a Suzuki GN125 a really simple, tough and durable bike with not much to go wrong, just 2 wheels, a reliable engine and carb.
Yamaha´s YBR 125 are really good bikes too.
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