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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 28 Oct 2004
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Street legal Honda XR 650R in Europe?

I set my eyes on the watercooled Honda 650R to do the TransSiberian Hwy.

Here in the States it sells for off road use only and needs to be modified (blinkers, headlight, gauges, horn) and the paperwork is often tricky and difficult to get in some states.

I know Honda makes also a street legal version of the bike. Anybody knows in which european country they sell the street legal version with blinkers etc.?

Thanks! Any info appreciated.
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  #2  
Old 28 Oct 2004
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Hi there, they sell the XR650R & L over in Europe ready for the street in pretty much all the countries, the legislation you have is much more strict.
Can't see any new prices for a XR650R here in UK but you can pick up a used low mileage 2002 for £3000 or so - the XR650L are a little bit harder to find second hand but better for an overland trip.
You will probably find you can buy a new bike cheaper in Spain/France than UK.
If you wanted to Import a bike from Europe back to the USA it would be very difficult to get it registered - they only like stuff made for the North American Market !!!
Then you have the fun and expense of preparing it for a trip !!!
Keep an eye out for good prepped bikes in Europe which are ready to go, there was a fully loaded XR650 a while ago in the bikes for sale thread.
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  #3  
Old 31 Oct 2004
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Thanks Grif for the input!

Yeah, the U.S. legislature is pain and differs from state to state on the top of that.

650L versus 650R:
Which on is better for an overland trip (TransSiberian Hwy)?
I thought it was a slam dunk for 650R - more power, lighter. The price difference does not bother me. Any issues with the 650R other than the need for radiator fans and the street legal kit (in some countries)?

Thanks.
Snailster

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  #4  
Old 31 Oct 2004
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I guess I should have mentioned the 650R needs uncorking, too. And for long distance panniers, better light, better seat (does Corbin make one?), different gearing for tarmac (15/48 or similar).

Does the 650R have any fatal flaws to prevent it from being a great adventure bike?

Thanks
Snailster
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  #5  
Old 1 Nov 2004
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650R has an aluminium frame & sub frame - check to see if it needs reinforcing to cope with the extra weight of luggage etc? I think it's more of a competition bike rather than a RTW style bike.

650L makes less power but has a steel frame, making it easier to repair in the wilds. 650L also has an aircooled Dominator/NX650 engine which is probably easier to service yourself.
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  #6  
Old 2 Nov 2004
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Thanks guys for the input, great info!

Street legal 650R - http://www.xr650r.us/xr650r_faq/ almost half way down that long page there is a table regarding in which markets it sells street legal, at least as an option (pretty much everywhere except the U.S.)

Number of people seem to agree that it may not be the best bike for overland travel and I see their point. Have not found a manufacturer of hard luggage set for the bike and the number of modifications I would have to make on the North American model would likely affect the realiability. It would be nice to have the extra power, especially since after we get to Europe lot of riding will be done on highways.

A friend of mine, who will be traveling along, suggested Suzuki DRZ 400. Water cooled, power similar to 650L, lighter, reliable. Gets somewhat buzzy at highway speeds, great off roader though. Since he already owns one, it would save him a bundle. Panniers and other aftermarket goodies readily available.

Will keep you guys posted. Did I mention I like the KTM 950? :-)

Snailster
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  #7  
Old 2 Nov 2004
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fwiw...

It's very easy to get "sidetracked" into thinking you need an off-road bike for overland travel, but the reality is you need a good STREET bike that is capable of being ridden off-road a bit.

The Trans-Siberian is many thousands of miles of good pavement - with a few hundred of good to fair gravel.

It's been ridden by pure street bikes, even before the road was much improved. Hard then, but very easy now.

Think of two months on pavement on an off-roader, versus a week of good gravel/dirt roads on a street bike, and you'll quickly figure out which way to lean in your choice.

Bikes like the F650GS and KLR are popular overlanding bikes not because of their off-road prowess - they aren't great - but because they can do both adequately.

Bikes like the XR650 are great for crossing the Sahara and going down the west coast of Africa where the roads really are bad, not Russia. If you want to spend a lot of time in Mongolia following the cattle trails, the XR or XL is better, but the KLR will do fine too, and is decent on pavement, with the F650 not quite as good as the KLR off-road, but very much superior on pavement.

Remember that true off-road prowess is hugely compromised by a full load of camping gear, so the speeds and antics you might get up to unloaded are simply not sane when fully loaded - so the advantages off-road of an XR are mostly negated anyway. It's always going to be a smooth steady safe speed you'll ride at anyway, because major crashes are to be avoided at all costs.

Long distance comfort, low weight, easy maintenance, and load carrying ability will win the day for overlanding every time. (think why there isn't any overland gear for the XR, and there is a ton of it for the KLR and F650 and KTM640)

And no I don't think the 950 is suitable for solo long distance travel. The 640 is better. Lighter, cheaper, and easier to ride, and more stuff available for it. 1000cc power is a total waste in the third world - there isn't anywhere it's really sane to use it solo. Two up sure, just as the 1200GS is great for two up, but over the top for solo.

Just my opinion, but I couldn't tell you how many guys tell me that they find that the big bikes are a waste and a pain on long trips.

We all LIKE the big bikes at home, because let's face it, we ride bikes for the power and excitement - but for a long trip in the third world, you'll enjoy it a lot more on something smaller, cheaper, and easier to pick up.

NOTE I also recommend strongly that you ride the same bike as your buddy, or you'll end up with frequent "discussions" about the best speed to travel at etc. Also easier spares, maintenance and tools.

hope that helps...

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