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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 3 Aug 2008
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To use scooters or not to use scooters

At the risk of offending the blokes who only ride motor bikes....
has any one experience, or can direct me to anyone,of riding say the 400 cc scooters like the Suzuki Burgman for touring or the bigger Honda.
Elsewhere I'm considering buying an older BMW R65 but due to my legs being pain and difficult to get over high bikes im considering also step though scooter to tour on.
I have an old Honda super dream but im finding it to heavy and to high, although a relaible old bike.Also loaded up with luggage it seems to slow to a slow pace, as im not a slim guy, or light.
If i chose a scooter to tour i assume i could still fit luggage to it?
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  #2  
Old 3 Aug 2008
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Check out Simon Gandolfi's blog. He did a rather longish Central/South American/US tour on a 125cc Honda at 75 years of age. Note the crutches. simon gandolfi



Seems like the choice of bike is what suits you best, not what someone else thinks you should ride.

At the first North Carolina HU meet I met a young man who had ridden down from New Jersey on a 50cc Honda scooter. He was later spotted in California touring the redwoods.

Pick what you like and smile every mile.
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  #3  
Old 3 Aug 2008
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Hi,

I ride a Yamaha TMAX 500 scooter, I moved to it from a BMW R1100RS as I found the sports tourer riding position uncomfortable ( rheumatoid arthitis affecting my hip joints does not help). The feet forward riding postion is very good for comfort of the legs. Weight-wise it looks heavy on paper at 205kg but the weight is very-very low down. I use mine for two-up and longer distance runs, on the road excellent good handling and good engine. Picture below shows the TMAX fully loaded with camp gear for two at the 07 hubb meet (underseat storage, top box and also gear can be bungeed to seat), it also performed well on the road rideout that year keeping up with the lead rider who was on an XT600 through snakes pass.


Only gripes are the seat height is a little tall, the 400cc ones might be better. I chose the TMAX as it was the scooter closest to a motorcycle in terms of handling ( I also ride a home built 1984 Moto Morini Kanguro Special), as the engine is not mounted on the rear wheel and it has a twin cylinder engine. Most scooters being single cylinders. Very comfy and highly recommended.

Regards

Robin
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  #4  
Old 3 Aug 2008
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which scoter

thank you for your comment
Do you find then reliable..i have my eyes on a 400 Burgman, but im unsure whether this needs to upgrade to 650 or the bigger Honda..ive not seen reviews of the Yamaha.
I have an old Honda but find it hard to get leg over due to problems with legs so its why i was interested in scooter.
Do you find yu need panniers when touring?
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  #5  
Old 4 Aug 2008
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Hi,

The bike has been reliable with only one issue the battery, I fitted a new varta battery which failed 6 months in then got the warranty replacement and had a regulator failure a few months on which boiled that battery. As my scooter has an immobiliser/alarm I would recommend with any of these scooters the use of a trickle charger to keep the battery topped up. Regarding panniers, on most scooters they are quite wide so fitting of panniers would make them wider and may affect handling. If you are not travelling two-up I personally would get a big waterproof stuff bag and bungee it to the rear seat. The 400's seem very popular, the burgmann 650 is probably the heaviest of the scooters but I have seen only good reports and they seem better on fuel economy than even my 500. There is a maxi scooter group on yahoo that could give more info on these and more, link below:-

maxi-scooters : Maxi-Scooter Club

Regards

Robin
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  #6  
Old 24 Aug 2008
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My wife and I rode two Vespa PX200E from Cape Town to Nairobi, averaging 300 km/day for the entire 6.000 km distance.

Touring on scooters is fine as long as there are roads wherever you are going. The small wheels and the up right riding position make them very easy to navigate. Where you need to use muscles to guide a motorcycle, telepathy will do for a scooter. At reasonable speeds, I bet a scooterist will outlast a biker in the saddle before caving in from exhaustion. Unfortunately, these small wheels also means you quickly can get into trouble if the surface you ride on is badly potholed, wash boarded, rocky, muddy, snowy or sandy. You can still get by, but with much greater effort than if you had an off-roader, and at much slower speeds, and at a higher risk of getting into an accident or having your ride break down. Several Vespa scooters have for instance competed in the Dakar rally, though none very successfully.

Another drawback with scooters is that they do not lend themselves well to hauling around a lot of stuff. They do, but just not very well. I've seen scooters with four Givi boxes stacked on top of each other, scooters with trailers, scooters with side cars (I own one), and various other solutions.

As for hauling stuff, you have the following options:
  • A rack on the leg shield on front of the scooter. Due to our poor range, we had to carry two 10 liter Jerry cans, one which we kept here, the other which we kept on the foot board. This rack should however not be used for such heavy loads as it impairs the handling.
  • A day pack, like a backpack, which you can keep between your legs on the foot board, maybe on top of a small Jerry can. However, this defeats the purpose of having a ride which is easy to stride.
  • Top Case. A scooter is already very heavy in its rear as the engine and transmission is located here. Adding more weight on the back of the scooter will impair its handling. Therefore, I highly recommend that a top case is mounted in such a way that it does not hang out behind the scooter, but rather in such a way that it occupies the pillion seat. The drawback of this solution is that you cannot ride two-up, and it also reduces your options for adjusting your riding position. We still opted for this solution and had a specially constructed rack made to hold a 60 liter Zargas Aluminum Case. Just make sure you construct everything in such a way that you can refuel easily. We removed the bench seat all together and opted for a saddle type seat with spring shock absorbers. Although this solution makes the scooter a bit top heavy, the weight is still pretty well centered.
  • Side Panniers. As the rear of a scooter is often wide and low to the ground, side panniers don't work well. Racks for side panniers will need to be tailored specifically, which can be both difficult and expensive, and probably with som crappy device as the end result. Your scooter will not only become very wide, with greater effortrs having to be made to balance the scooter, but your luggage will also likely come close to the ground, making leaning into tight bends or riding on uneven surfaces a bit of a gamble. Another problem with this solution is that getting access to the wheel or engine can often be very difficult, unless you were abnormally clever in engineering your rack.
In my opinion, all the stuff you carry with you should you be able to store in a "safe" locked compartment or in a day pack which you take with you whenever you leave your scooter/bike - this leaves out soft saddle bags, open racks with your gear tied down to it, etc.

As for our ride, we are talking about a very unreliable 60's technology with extremely short range and with a tight time schedule which did not allow for lengthy stops waiting for things to get fixed. We had to carry half a scooter in spare parts, lots of fuel and tons of tools - these things alone weighed about 70 kg in total - fortunately divided between two scooters. If you were to ride a more modern scooter, with the time to wait for a rear part to be shipped in by DHL if you should need it, you would probably get away with a fifth of this stuff.

The reason I chose a scooter was because I have a special fascination for vintage Vespas. I would never have considered it otherwise. To bad I had to have a fascination for one of the most unreliable and poor performing scooters out there. You would do far better on something more modern and with more hp. I really enjoyed my trip though, and will do more touring on scooters in the future. My next really big trip however will likely be on a semi offroad motorcycle like a BMW 800 GS or F 650 GS Dakar
as I will likely have my son with me as a pillion. I know of people however who tour two up on old Vespas, with great success, so I know it can be done.

Considering your leg, the step in benefit of the scooter will surely serve you well. But, if you load that scooter very heavy, all those benefits will be consumed by poor handling. The places accessible to you by a scooter will always have food, shelter and fuel close by anyways - you won't go very far out into the bush with this type of a ride. You will not need camping gear, lots of extra fuel, etc, other than to get you through an emergency . even in Africa. Travel as light as you can, and you will be fine.
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  #7  
Old 25 Aug 2008
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... of course a scooter can do it.

Just finished riding a Burgman 650 from Korea to Italy (30,000km via Russia/Kazakhstan / Scandinavia) on lots (2,500km+) of dirt roads. Burgie pulled through fine - don't let ANYONE tell you that you need an offroad bike for these conditions, in many ways the auto box on the scoooter makes riding so much easier off road, only compromise is ground clearance but that can be managed too.

Garry from Oz.
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  #8  
Old 25 Aug 2008
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scooter hauling

hey guys thanks for your posts.I really do appreciate it.
Since i last posted i have bought a 2020 400cc Suzukie burgman.and i have to say im impressed with its turn of speed and ease of use.......took a bit of mind changing from working gears and clutch of the motor bike, but i did it.
Coped well with 200 mile jaunt each way to the north of england and around, although slight struggle on some of the steep gills of northern lands lol
On the way home went bang....but i hope it was only the belt as engine still running, so once fixed i now need to learn how to change this for future jaunts travelling.
The bike is fine on the road, although when the wind is blowing from the port or starboard bow the bike become twitchy, and needs a better screen to stop my helmet feeling the wind.
Now that i belive in the bikes ability i can concentrate on getting ready for the touring next year......although there is time for doing France i believe!
How do you cope with numb bums on the journey?
Also i have found that it will pull even with a load strapped to the bike.So as i will be one up im hoping there should be no problem with camping gear etc.
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  #9  
Old 26 Aug 2008
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Myself and a work colleague are leaving next february to do a full RTW on two 50cc mopeds, can't wait to go - it will be an absolute riot!!

Anyone else ever used a 50cc for a RTW? (hope not...)
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  #10  
Old 26 Aug 2008
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Good luck with the scooter.

As for numb bums, I can really recommend sheep skin. Cut a skin to size, make some holes for a bungee cord, and strap it to the seat. I used the type of bungee cord that one straps down the sail to the boom on a sailboat. It doesn't look good, but keeps you dry and cool in the heat as it breathes, and keeps you warm in the cold. It is soft and gives your seat a bigger surface area to distribute the weight. I would say that this was by far my most valued accessory through Africa.

It is also important to have underwear that doesn't bunch up, chafe, or crawl up your crotch/ass, or get too sweaty. Ridingpants should have a loose fit and should ideally not have rear pockets or seams in the wrong areas.

Adjusting riding position often, stretch legs while riding, stand up on the foot board, tighten your buns to get circulation going, and best of all, get off the scoot and walk around once or twice every two hours (there is always a great excuse to stop for five minutes; to have a smoke, snap some pictures of the scenery, refuel, have a drink and a snack, take a piss, clean your visor, warm your hands if cold, read a map, talk to some pretty girls, or just kick back in the grass and take a nap).
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  #11  
Old 26 Aug 2008
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[quote=Wheelie;203987
, talk to some pretty girls, or just kick back in the grass and take a nap).[/quote]

Now i like that idea, or the girls..trouble is at my age they don't stop lol.....mind you dont tell the wife .Not that she will ride on the back!

Thanks for that advice, it seems so simple but we do try and get there in one and end up with numb.or worse sore bums.
Others on here have sworn by airhawks or gel seats,,,,but i bow to you long distance experience!
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  #12  
Old 9 Sep 2008
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my mate has had a burgmann 400 and now a 650, both fine machines. i would have no 2nd thoughts about taking either on a long trip, except perhaps on the 650 if your tall the feet position gets a bit cramped and the adjustable backrest doesnt go back far enough (if you take it out altogether your still left with a seat with a step in just the wrong place, and a big hole to boot!)

performance, mpg, handling, comparable to most bikes.
the little front wheel is offset by being able to put heavy luggage underneath the seat for better balance, so fully loaded a superscoot probably handles better than many bikes.

there now, that couldve opened a can of worms..........
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  #13  
Old 10 Sep 2008
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A few years back I was riding with a bunch of friends from Thailand to Vietnam (or, actually, the border stations of it, as they didnt let us enter!) and spent most of the trip in Cambodia and Laos. We all had 115cc Yamaha Nouvo automatic "chicken chasers" (scooters) and while I´ve previously done some trips in those countries with a real motorbike, I must say they were surprisingly good.

They could cruise at 100-110kms per hour all day, were not perfect in bad-condition roads, but could manage them as long as you rode slow - remember, the locals ride similar machines all year round, even the rainy season. They were easy to lift into any kind of boat, which helped a lot when you want to cross some rivers or go to an island. Bigger bikes and small boats can be a problem.

They were bulletproof, except the tyres, wheels and spokes needed constant maintenance, but you can find spares and if needed, even a scooter-mechanic from even the tiniest villages in those countries. The thing cost about 1000 euros (new), and it uses almost no petrol at all, you can go 150-170kms without filling the 5L tank.

I see no reason, why you couldnt go RTW with a scooter, though I wouldnt go 2-up.
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  #14  
Old 22 Sep 2008
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well im enjoying the scooter, although a few teething troubles to do with the belt
it cruises well , although i want higher windscreen for comfort, and have to decide best way of throwing saddle bags over the back..i already have givi? box on it,
No i have to try get all the bits on before i take it to Europe next year.
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  #15  
Old 25 Sep 2008
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Scooter with a difference - it's got a 150litre boot

Just read a test of a new type of scooter (well actually a conversion) which I thought might be of interest. It's called a Cargobike. It's based round the Aprilia Sportcity - one of the bigger wheeled scooters. Apparently they don't even have to change a lot on the scooter itself - and there's a 125 and 250 currently available.



There's a test HERE.

I can see the obvious advantageis that any extra width is in front of you where you can see it, and the weight's nice and low. And 150 litres well packed should be more than enough I'd have thought.
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