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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.
For serious mpg you can't beat diesel.
I seem to remember someone here in the UK producing a diesel powered bike some time ago. It used Enfield running gear and a single pot compressor (?) engine of around 350cc. In the region of 120 -150 mpg seemed to be what was reported. Googling Enfield Robin should get more info.
A bit off topic. Visited your web site. Very impressed. Beautiful photography. You'll find so many opinions on bikes here. Some folks get quite sensitive about their choices. This is such a huge country. I know gas is important but don't let it outweigh comfort. My experience with the bikes as noted above is a bit different. My motorcycle is simply a means of transport. I do much of the maintenance myself as a means of safety and self-sufficiency. We must burn different petrol on the right coast as I get considerable different (better) fuel mileage than noted. Don't forget, compared to the EU, we practically pay you to burn our petrol. My F650 GS has taken me the length of North and South America and across the continental US and Alaska. I’ve ridden one in North Africa. My next long trip will be a circumnavigation of North America via the most northern route possible. I’ll still be on my trusty GS. I've not experienced any of the "unreliableness" noted. In my travels I have noted just about everything breaks sooner or later. I will say that there are more service centers and parts available for Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamahas, especially as you head south of the US border. Just one traveler’s experience. PM me if I can be of any specific help.
Thanks to all for the advice. That it differs according to where/who it comes from is all the more valuable, since I sometimes get more than one view on the same topic.
Patrick (MollyDog): Yes, I'm working on a freelance 'spec' idea, though at the moment it's very speculative -- you know how hard it is to get a pitch to the right person, eh? I don't want to get into too many specifics, because the 'idea' is still developing -- but it could involve 7000 to 8000 miles in different parts of the States, and doing it 'on the cheap' in terms of fuel economy would be a key element to the tale I anticipate telling.
Your point is well taken about long distances and sufficient comfort not to turn the trip into an agony endurance experience, which is why I lean towards getting the most out of a naturally-frugal 'mid-sized' motor like that of the F650GS or perhaps even the Suzuki 400 single (nobody has mentioned that -- is it not an option?), rather than suffering endless power shortages on an asthmatic Super Cub or a scooter.
I'm intrigued by the Alaska-Argentina story you mention, but cannot find a site at louisontheloose.com. Is the URL perhaps a little different? I've tried 'louise' and 'louisa' and 'luis', without any luck.
Cameraman: I have read elsewhere that the Serow, when taken out onto long-distance highways, is a misery because of lack of power. However, those comments could come from people who only measure fun by way of bhp; have you done any long highway journeys on your Serow, and if so, was it up to the task, or miserable? I mean, will it sit at 55 to 60 mph into a headwind without straining itself to death? Is it comfortable enough to do 200 to 300 miles a day in such conditions, or does it become cursed by its very upright seating position and dirt-oriented suspension? Also, do you or anyone else here know much about the 'new' 250 version, and however much it might have changed the bike, perhaps for the better?
GSing: I am very interested in your 650GS experiences, particularly the long-distance journeys you have done. Do you think there are ways that might further improve fuel economy on the 650GS? Would a small screen add to rider comfort and possibly reduce fuel consumption even a little, or would the extra weight just negate that benefit?
I'd be delighted to hear from any of you on this or other aspects of the notion. But with only a few postings on here, it seems I am limited as regards sending PMs -- so if anyone cares to make contact, please do so to the email address on my website.
I'll e-mail you later about trip specifics. Sending my wife off to Hong Kong this AM. I don't believe changing windscreens will make a difference in fuel economy. Makes a huge difference in rider comfort. Prior to changing to a taller version, I would end my long days pretty beat up. It would leave me wanting nothing but to go to bed, especially on long highway days. Kind of defeats the purpose of traveling. The heavier bikes can be a chore off piste however the extra weight adds to stability on paved roads = rider comfort. Stay off the major highways, and you should average above 70 MPG. It's going to be difficult to get much better. The 650 is well know for it' fuel economy. You will see a lot of them on RTW trips and with touring agencies.
One last point is to look at the ability of the bike to carry baggage. I can carry all my tools, spare parts, camping equipment, personal items and camera equipment easily. Obviously, the more I pack, the less fuel economy I get and the handling degrades. I've never felt my bike was overloaded. I keep careful records of what I use and my packing list gets smaller every trip.
By all means get a copy of Grant's video offered at this site. It can add years of experience to your knowledge base and save you a lot of money in wasted effort. Better yet, come to one of the HU meetings. I'm going to the Copper Canyon meeting in October. Probably spend a month in that area. Nothing beats looking at other people's rides and equipment. A good friend has a KLR 650. Another inexpensive long distance bike.
A note on the xt225. Louis stated that the max speed on the bike was 55mph. The freeways here are usually 65+ speed limit with most exceeding that. As for the4 blast it will do freeway speedand to be honest many people have said bad things about them, but most never rode one. When my Girlfriend got one I was quite doubtful, but she is samll and it was the bike that fit her best I was pleastntly surprised. I am well over 200 lbs and I have had it up to 80 mph. I have alo put on a diffrent pipe etc to let it breath and run better now, but stock it would do freeway speeds just not get there very fast. As for price they can be found for about $2000 with very few miles on them. The firat couple of years they were out they had a couple of issues that have been resolved. If you are a tall person tis will probably not be the bike for you since it is a small bike. Here is a link for some more info. Also the blast has a belt drive and hydrilic valves, that means no maint on these items. The only pain working on it is changing the transmission fluid. I will have my local dealer do it next time.
John: thanks for that information. I will definitely do more research on the Buell Blast as a possible bike for my needs. Apart from anything, it would be somehow appropriate to do a big American trip on an American bike.
At the moment I'm leaning towards the Blast and the BMW F650GS, but the jury is still out on the new Serow, the 250cc model. Does anyone here have any experience of the updated Serow? Do the changes and the little bit of extra power make a difference?
I keep telling myself that one day, I'm going to visit the UK and bring back some of those most excellent bikes. I'm a fan of the older Nortons, BSA etc. The few I see here in the US have either been chopped up or outrageously priced.
I agree with Mollydog on the Yamahas. I grew up riding Yamaha dirt bikes. Something in the 600 cc range to go against the KLR and DR series would be fantastic. I'm starting to work up my baja/desert bike. Would love another option.
So far, the most convincing case seems to have been made for the BMW, though the jury might still be out on the Serow.
But the Buell Blast still interests me, at least partly because it is an American bike. I have made some enquiries around the UK for a contact name at Buell's Press/Media/PR division, but without success. Anyone got a name/email address that I might use to promote this nascent partly-formed notion?
well my Serow is the new 250 model and the maximum mileage I've done in a day (so far) is 546 miles.
The most comfortable cruise is around 95kph and she'll do this all day. OK I've been slowed down to 80kph when battling headwinds of around 90kph, so I'm sure she's got enough grunt for my needs.
The initial set up's very lean, so I released the main jet and installed it about 3 turns out. She still runs very lean so I plan to put a larger pilot jet in, which should aid in the low and mid range area's, as well as the top end.
Would an F650GS offer better long range comfort, well yes but can it go where the Serow can, NO WAY!!!!!!
It's horses for courses.
I've down sized from an R1200GS & R1200RT and don't miss either.
Don't do it on a moped or a scooter. Get a cheap Vulcan Harrier 125 ( a nice Yamaha copy) or similar. Mine does over 100 mpg, 60mph comfortably (70mph with a tailwind). Its got a very comfortable seat and riding position. Starts first and every time, ultra reliable ( once you beef up the micky mouse electrics and treat every nut and bolt with locktite!) Its got an electric AND a kickstart, gas rear shox and a cracking little engine. ( I've not had another 125 pass me yet).
You can pick up a good one for £500 - £700 depending on year and condition. As an added bonus, it is not too small, I'm 5'9", the previous owner was 6'2", and it is a very cool looking bike.. far nicer looking than most 125 commuters.
Sorry, you can't have mine, I just sold it for more than I paid for it. I'm now having a different kind of fun on my Fazer 600.
If you are hell bent on doing your own daft gig, don't let the armchair pundits put you off. If you can walk there, you can cycle there. If you can cycle there, you can get there on a cycle with a motor in it. End of debate.
I'm planning UK to Vladivostok then onto South Korea on a couple of old R80/7 police bikes. Complete with full fairing and panniers. Its a case of riding to your own and the bikes capabilities, so I won't be jumping sand dunes and climbing over rocks. You'll do it on whatever you got it might just take a little longer.
Whatever you choose, have a good gig.
The lean burn enfield is a new modern bike, do not confuse it with the old 1949 model, for which most of teh tooling is worn out. the new engine and gearbox is built using the most modern machines available, The engine and gearbox are all new, although they are physically interchangeable with the old engine and albion gearbox.
you might want to read this, one riders account of an older style bike.
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