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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 30 Jul 2010
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Time to stop reading the HUBB and actually get out there...

Have been lurking on the HUBB for three years now--your stories and photos have been my escape. It is still likely two more years until I am able to get out on any globe-conquering adventures, but I'd like to start preparing. Never owned a bike--managed to land a license years ago when a highschool friend wanted me to take a MSF course with her (I passed the course and went on to get my license and she failed ) Overall I spent three days on a bike and it has been burning in the back of my mind ever since.

I'd like to go for a dual-sport. I need one capable of the 400 miles on the I-5 heading home from school. I like the concept of ABS while I am learning the bike's limits and for winter weather in SF. By the same token, I would like a (relatively) simple bike that will be easy to learn to do maintenance and repairs on.

For a long time I have considered a DL650A. Certainly enough has been said in their favor on these forums as well as others, but I recently had a chance to read over Adam's entries and photos on Short Way Round and know that is how I ultimately want to travel. He chose a DR650 for his travels, after beating the hell out of a F650 in SA. He considered a DRZ400 as well, but it failed an important requirement .

Its been a while since I have been on a bike and no body I know owns one, so I am left with you all for help. If you were just begining to ride, how would you do it? Of the three bikes, the DL650/DR650/DRZ400, which would you chose?

I will head to the dealer in the next week or so, just to get a feel for each, but I would like to find a used bike as I am sure I will eventually drop it . I am thinking I will sign up for another MSF course. Are there more extensive courses available? Or do you recommend just getting out on a bike?

I am 6'1" and 190lbs (1.85m and 86kgs) for reference. Thanks as always.

--Chris
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Old 30 Jul 2010
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In the end it won't matter which bike you get, so try not to obsess. Any of the three will serve you well, and any will work for almost any trip you're likely to take, but none will be perfect. If you buy wisely, you should be able to sell without a significant loss by the time you figure out which of the three (or which of a half dozen others) you wish you'd bought.

Having said that....my first was a KLR, and it's carried me almost 90,000 miles in three years. I also bought a DL, and it's got only about 7,000, so you can see where my sympathies lie. Of course, there are times when I wish I had a DRZ....and I have to say that if my immediate goal was commuting on I-5 I'd garage the KLR and the mythical DRZ and rack up huge mileage on the DL. See why it doesn´t really matter?
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  #3  
Old 31 Jul 2010
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My recommendation is similar as above, but to add to that is to find out what type of riding you enjoy the most. Road, twisty road, dirt road, sandy roads, double track, single track. And if you're a speed freak on all of the above or not. Or more cautious enjoying the scenery on the way. Impossible to know before hand, trust me, and those preferences will change the more and different bikes you try out.

So I wouldn't buy a new one, but if you do try something that can easily be converted into something else. The F650 would be difficult to convert towards the more dirt type, and the DL even harder. But a DR is hard to convert to a road bike if you see where I'm going with this. Everyone is searching for that holy grail of do it all bike and most end up building their own but you need to know what you're doing. There will always be a compromise and it'll really show as soon as you ride your mate's specialist bike.
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  #4  
Old 31 Jul 2010
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Chris,
Since you are a new rider and long way from doing major travel on a bike, I would start with the smallest bike that works for you. Probably the DRZ400S would make good sense, but really, as a first bike any small bike would do.

I've got a little KLX250S in the garage now and its surprisingly good ... and would be a great beginners bike.

Small bikes help build skills and confidence quickly. They allow you to push the limits in your basic drills .... like emergency stops and avoidance. After a solid year of riding you'll be in a better position to know what suits you.
Move up from there or keep what you've got.

First up:
Take a MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) beginning rider course. You don't need your own bike, they provide one. This course really is useful.
Forms good riding habits or can break bad ones.

2nd
Then get out there and learn how to survive on a bike in real traffic. Dangerous world out there. You need eyes in the back of your head and a true six sense regards knowing what drivers are going to do next ... or not do. Be patient, hold your temper and it will all come your way in time.

Every bike has its own unique character that must be learned ... and respected. These things WILL HURT YOU. Most crashes happen to new riders or to riders riding new bikes they are not familiar with. MSF course a must.
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Old 1 Aug 2010
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Adam Lewis really knows his stuff, if he bought a DR650 then I doubt you could go wrong with it. Also this will bike will be very forgiving to your wallet when (not if) you drop it, unlike the DL650a. Put some barkbusters (that have a metal frame) on it and you should not have any problems.
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  #6  
Old 1 Aug 2010
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It will not matter what bike you get. It is the rider not the bike I know many that ride a DL off road not the best bike for that but it can do the job. Looking a all the shinny bikes on a lot is a grate idea but it will not get you ready for a overload overland bike. I say do not start with one. A 250 is a grate bike to start with cheap on every thing and get you on the right path of thinking small and light. And there fine for going around the world on as well. Not so much on the 5 but out of the 3 you list the DL is the best for that, you can take surface streets for the 400 miles so a DL is not a must.
You may want to look at the KLR as well some well known riders like them.
You are in luck there is a HU meeting in NORCAL! http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/meetings/California2010.php
There will bikes of all kinds all loaded down for you to look at. people that ride them some that have, are, or will ride around the world. Grant will be there he knows his bikes as will many of the people there you can ask to sit on other people bike and get a feel for them. You may even get to pick them up to get feel for doing that. That and it will get you set for a RTW like nothing else what to take, what not to, paper work, what to do when you are stopped and have no idea what the person wants. You know the little things you do not know that you do know.
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  #7  
Old 8 Aug 2010
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Gulfport, Mississippi USA
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as been said before... it doesn't matter what you get... just as long as you get OUT!

I traded in my 08 Honda CBR600rr in October 09 for a 09 DRZ400s. as of today I have 14500 miles on it (two months sitting in Omaha hurt me lol) not bad. I've done several 2k+ trips and one 5k+ trip and on the 19th will be leaving for what will probably be close to 10k.

it's not the greatest long distance bike, it requires some adjustments, modifications, parts... but hell I've done a 750 mile day all freeway on it... sore afterwards but no worse for wear.

get what you like... then modify it to fit you! we all want different things out of bikes... so no bike will fit one person perfectly.

I love my DRZ... it puts a smile on my face (literally) every damn day I ride it. it's more fun than my CBR any day... hands down! (and I put that bike through it's paces, no chicken strips, dragging knee)

I'm 6'3 190... so I'm sure you'll have no issues with any bike... though the DRZ may put you on your tip toes, depending on how you mod the seat (I used sweet cheeks and an AK leather sheep pad) mine now makes me tip toe unless I scoot way forward.(not in any way while standing)

get into the MSF course. then RIDE! RIDE! RIDE! nothing is going to teach you how to ride better than seat time! practice what they teach you in MSF... get to the point that you can do all the things back to back with out a foot going down or coming off the peg.

then try to do it all standing... (when off road this is how you'll ride)

if you can make it to the Colorado meeting in Aug... I'll let ya take my bike out for an hour or two... (nice thing about a dirt bike is it looks better after being dropped LOL)
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