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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 25 Jul 2014
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W800 (neo-retro) or F700GS (allroad)

Hi everyone

I want to buy my first motorcycle. I've been inspired to start riding by the stories of people buying a royal enfield in India and riding it back to Europe, people renting bikes in mongolia and just driving off into the steppes, Ewan McGregor's exploits,...

Those are the kinds of rides I also want to do. However, since I live in Belgium, I probably have to ride a long time over perfect roads and highways to get somewhere remotely adventurous. And because I don't have a huge amount of vacation days, I'd also like to do shorter, less adventurous trips. I'd also like to not get too far behind when I go on trips with friends with normal roadsters...

So I want a motorcycle that is comfortable and powerful enough to do long trips on roads but also something which perhaps can do a little off road, or let's say bad gravel roads...

So I had my eyes set on two (types of) motorcycles.

On the one hand there's the Kawasaki W800 (or perhaps other neo-retro's like the Triumph Bonneville), which I find incredibly beautiful and has been seducing me for half a year now. But is it any good to do bad roads/light off road?

However for the more adventurous type of riding, maybe something like a BMW F700GS or F800GS (or something like a Triumph Tiger 800) would be better suited? They also have a larger tank (the W800 only has 14 liter) and safetywise they're probably also better (the W800's brakes are not super, as I read, and it doesn't even have ABS). Of course they're more expensive (the F700GS is more than €1000 more and an F800GS would definitely have to be second hand; the others preferably too).

What do you guys think? The looks of the bike do play a role for me, as I'll be using it for pleasure, adventurous or otherwise, and a goodlooking bike is part of the fun. However it is not an all-trumping priority... So:

W800: cheaper and beatiful!
F700GS/F800GS: better suited? larger fuel tank, more power, ABS
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  #2  
Old 25 Jul 2014
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Hi Kazzimirski and welcome

Given what you plan to do with it all of the bikes you list should be suitable and I suggest that you take each one for a test ride at your local dealer and buy the one most enjoy riding, if none of them particularly stand out then take things like price, backup and available extras into account, the best bike for the trip is the one you will most enjoy doing it on.
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  #3  
Old 25 Jul 2014
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Hello and Welcome to the Hubb.


Apologies if this gets long and biographical and "what I did on my holidays" and probably a bit random, but if I save you a few euro's and the odd wasted trip maybe you will get the ten minutes of your life back.


My first "long range" bike was an MZ 301. Age 18 I was riding behind the old Iron Curtain, smuggling Levi's and fashion magazines (good start). This was just about when any bike would still do anything.


I then made the error of making excuses to myself about needing bigger (F650), faster (R1100R), more adventury (F650 with loads of Toura**** bling). I spent more on bikes and "stuff" than riding. I ended up with an XT600E (to get the must have 21-inch front wheel and because Chris Scott told me to in his book (Sorry Chris, sensible people do know you didn't write a shopping list)) but then gained a wife. Second bikes (Enfield, Ural and more MZ's) followed.


Wanting to ride two-up I tried a Harley Sportster (nice bike, salesman terrified me) and then found a Triumph salesman who'd had too much champagne at a launch. I had that Bonneville for 8 years. It went from the North Cape to Morocco to the Baltic states, two-up, on snow, on gravel etc. It would do anything except race. The bike was honestly ****ed at this point though, simply used and used. The best money I ever spent on a bike.


Logically a V-strom with it's nice big tank and tubeless tyres was better so that's what I bought. Lovely bike but utterly unchallenging to ride and a bit too tall for two up and if you want to be rude bland. I bought a Guzzi V7.


The Guzzi has the same tubeless tyres and 250-plus mile range (22 litre tank). As it is low and torquey on the power delivery it'll do any sort of road, just more slowly than say a KTM (Enfields too, ride them up the side of a house just expect to repair it afterwards). It'll tour with anyone who doesn't have a death wish or addiction to the smell of police stations. On a Sunday morning my neighbour (a 70-year old Christian lady) tells me it sounds like a proper bike and cheers her up (not as good as the Enfield mind, her husband had one that sounded like that). I hate to use the word but you could describe this as "Soul". As a short**** the road bike shape just works.


If you like the idea of a Bullet (slow, unreliable POS or mechanically interesting, engaging to ride depending on your point of view (I think both, it depends how late for work you are)), a Bonneville, W800 or Guzzi V7 may well fit your needs. By the time you are ready for the Road of Bones you'll either have decided to really slow down and take an Enfield or realised you do want that KTM.


I am no longer a fan of BMW, so lets leave the F800 by me saying if I were to get one that'd be the one.


Go for it whatever you choose. Just spend the cash on tyres and petrol IMHO. You need to like the bike to ride it so pick with the heart as well as the head if that's how you think of it.


BTW, How tall, heavy and mechanically inclined are you? V7's are better than Bonnevilles and W800's for mechanically inclined midgets, Bonnevilles have more dealers and feel bigger but include parts made of cheese, W800's should tick more boxes and have proper Japanese quality but Kawasaki dealers only want to sell you snot green road missiles.


Andy
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  #4  
Old 25 Jul 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kazzimirski View Post
Hi everyone

I want to buy my first motorcycle.

I've been inspired to start riding by the stories of people buying a royal enfield in India and riding it back to Europe, people renting bikes in mongolia and just driving off into the steppes, Ewan McGregor's exploits,...
Is this really going to be your first bike? Do you mean your first big bike or your first bike ever, never having ridden before? No criticism meant or implied or anything, just a question because I can understand the attraction of the Ewan and Charlie films or the stories of riding Enfields to Europe. It was prehistoric versions of those things that got me into biking in the first place and I'm still touring here, there and everywhere decades later. But.... there are practical considerations.

I don't know what the motorcycle licence requirements are in Belgium but in the UK it would take you some time and a test or two to get a licence suitable for any of the bikes on your list. If you've never ridden before none of them are suitable for catching the bus to the dealers, handing over a fistful of cash and riding away. Whilst riding isn't that hard there is a knack to it in the same way there is to driving a car but the consequences of getting it wrong can be much more severe (= painful). Most people start with something small, light and easy to manage, get used to that and work their way up.

If you're ok with licences, experience etc, personally I'd suggest you go with the W800. If you think it's a great looking bike (and I agree) you're much more likely to get on with it. Buying with your heart can be a quick route to heartache but the W800 has the advantage of being Japanese, cheaper, smaller and everything else good enough. Be aware though that retros attract more bigotry and prejudice than just about any other type of motorcycle (possibly 1200GS's excepted ). You'll be told it's a poor copy of a Triumph, that it's Japanese rubbish, you should have bought a modern Triumph retro, and loads of other stuff - all by people who've probably never ridden one. The salesman will be your friend though - he'll be happy to sell you one as I understand they don't move off the sales floor that quickly.

Ignore all of that stuff - apart from getting the best deal you can from the salesman, because the W800 will do everything you want of it. Like most road bikes it'll handle light off road - gravel, good quality dirt, that kind of thing, as well as tarmac - if you're a good enough rider. That's the secret, know the bike and know your own limits. I've gone along dirt tracks and along flowing river beds on a GoldWing when I had to - not many and not often but it would do it.

No doubt you'll get other advice saying go for the BMWs - and they'll probably be right. All I'm saying is that the W800 will do all you want from it and if the retro look floats your boat that's an important factor. Riding a bike you like beats riding one that has more ticks in the practical column but you're not that bothered about. I think so anyway.
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  #5  
Old 26 Jul 2014
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Welcome to the HUBB !

We have incredibly similar tastes in bikes I actually own both models in your question so here comes one of those rare occasions where I feel like I am maybe in a position to add to the discussion.

The short answer is : no contest, go for the W800.

The long version : they're both very good bikes. The F700 is easy to ride, with a peppy twin engine and has that GS family look about it that sits well in the current fashion fad of adventure biking. It is however really just a friendly upright road touring bike with very modest off-road abilities and that's what I bought it for (about 18 months ago). On a ride out with some friends in March, I ended up at a Kawasaki/Yamaha dealer who had a beautiful 2013 red/black W800 special edition demo with a good price and I just had to have it. Justified it to myself by saying they were very different bikes fulfilling very different "needs". In reality, the W800 does pretty much everything the F700 does (in a bit more "tuned for torque" kind of way). I absolutely love it and have taken it to all kinds of places since I bought it (including the fantastic HUBB UK weekend). It works very well in every environment (city, motorway, countryside) and works just as well for light off-road as the GS does (I have actually done this more on the W800 than on the F700). Some soft bags strapped to that very comfy seat and you're good to go.

To your specific questions: yes, the BMW has abs and better brakes, better suspension and more HP. A Bonneville also has more HP and better brakes (had one for a few years) but like Andy says "includes parts made of cheese".

My conclusion here : the W800 does pretty much what the F700 does but gives me much more joy/happiness. Nothing rational about, it just does !
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  #6  
Old 28 Jul 2014
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Thanks for all the advice and the welcomes!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark manley View Post
Given what you plan to do with it all of the bikes you list should be suitable
Hehe, that was kind of what I was hoping for...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Threewheelbonnie View Post
BTW, How tall, heavy and mechanically inclined are you? V7's are better than Bonnevilles and W800's for mechanically inclined midgets, Bonnevilles have more dealers and feel bigger but include parts made of cheese, W800's should tick more boxes and have proper Japanese quality but Kawasaki dealers only want to sell you snot green road missiles.
Well I'm not too small (1m80), but I'm rather light (65kg). I do hope to get some mechanical skills in the next years, but I doubt I'll ever become a proper mechanic. The Japanese quality is definitely a plus...

Quote:
Originally Posted by backofbeyond View Post
Is this really going to be your first bike? Do you mean your first big bike or your first bike ever, never having ridden before?
...
If you're ok with licences, experience etc, personally I'd suggest you go with the W800.
Yes, it'll be my first bike ever, but I have ridden before, be it not much. I have got my license, but my experience limits itself to 3 days in Tibet on a 125cc and the motorriding classes (obligatory in Belgium). I actually did my exam on a BMW f700gs, so I know that would be ok. It rides very easily, easier than the BMW f800r which was the other bike I rode during the classes. And so I know the f700gs is a bike I'd be happy to ride... but the W800 looks so much better (although I don't know how it rides, should try to arrange a testride).

Quote:
Originally Posted by backofbeyond View Post
Be aware though that retros attract more bigotry and prejudice than just about any other type of motorcycle (possibly 1200GS's excepted ). You'll be told it's a poor copy of a Triumph, that it's Japanese rubbish, you should have bought a modern Triumph...
Yes, I read that a lot too... I don't really care about it, and don't even agree. Although, I've got an uncle who has a f1200gs adv. And though he doesn't say it out loud, I do feel he's not too fond of the retro's either and rather have me buy a GS. :P

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridelightning View Post
The short answer is : no contest, go for the W800.
...
My conclusion here : the W800 does pretty much what the F700 does but gives me much more joy/happiness. Nothing rational about, it just does !
I can definitely understand. And after all you guys' advice, the only think making me doubt (I'm an endless doubter), is the larger range and the ABS (which my riding instructor really advised...)
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  #7  
Old 28 Jul 2014
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The W800 is a VERY easy bike to ride. As for ABS, it is more useful for a bike like the F700 which is both faster and more powerful for about the same weight as the W800. I tend to ride with a lot more pace on the BMW. The Kawasaki encourages a more relaxed way of riding. Range is definitely better on the BMW (it is a remarkably frugal bike). I would encourage you to get a test ride on the W800 because it will help you make your choice. Looks is one thing but you really need to like riding the bike. Keep us posted !
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  #8  
Old 28 Jul 2014
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My carbed Bonneville averaged about 50 mpg which with 13 litres usable in the tank gave a range of 140 miles (227 km) before you got worried and 170 miles before you were walking. This is not enough for the good bits of Wales or France on a Sunday, you end up lugging a 5 litre can about and coming off some of the better roads to make fuel stops.


The FI Guzzi is averaging 60 mpg and puts the (highly pessimistic) warning light on at about 200 miles (324 KM). I've put 20 litres in the 22 litre tank at 260 miles, so range before walking is at least 90 miles (145 km) better. The can is in the back of the garage somewhere.


I believe the W800's tank is also a 14 litre brochure figure with fuelly.com giving high 50's MPG? You'd need to talk to owners to get the actual usable range but guess would be 180 miles. The can is a cheap if marginally annoying solution, but one I would almost certainly end up using.




Andy
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  #9  
Old 28 Jul 2014
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I had a w650 the predecessor to the w800 and I rode it from Bristol to Dubrovnik and Back in 2009. I even did a couple of short dirt sections.

The bike did everything I asked if it and it was great fun and easy to ride. Ok the breaks arent fantastic but they are good enough.

It's alot easier to make friends on the w800
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  #10  
Old 28 Jul 2014
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I've never owned a W650 or W800 but I've long admired them and dreamt of buying one or the other so by that measure I'll be voting for the Kwak
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  #11  
Old 28 Jul 2014
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W800 yes
F700 no
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  #12  
Old 29 Jul 2014
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Ok, so I've made an appointment with a guy selling his 4 months old W800 with only 2700 km on the odo for almost €2000 less than new price. Seems like a good deal...
If weather permits, I'll be taking a testride this Saturday!

Any advice on what to look out for?
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  #13  
Old 30 Jul 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kazzimirski View Post
Ok, so I've made an appointment with a guy selling his 4 months old W800 with only 2700 km on the odo for almost €2000 less than new price. Seems like a good deal...
If weather permits, I'll be taking a testride this Saturday!

Any advice on what to look out for?
A massive grin when you ride away??
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  #14  
Old 2 Aug 2014
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Exactly
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  #15  
Old 2 Aug 2014
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And by the way, I sold my F700 yesterday. The W800 is just so much more what I enjoy about bikes.
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