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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 7 Jan 2010
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West Africa and Beyond on a Budget

I'm living and working in Senegal and am looking for a bike that would allow me to do some long-distance touring in the next couple of years. Specifically, I'd like to travel around West Africa in the near future and then eventually also take the road up to Morocco in to Europe and on East.

I'm on a tight budget ($1500 max) and have limited options so I'm willing to make compromises, but optimally I'd like something that can handle some of the tough roads while also giving me decent travel times on the pavement for longer distances.

Up till now I've been driving around a borrowed Chinese-model 150cc, which comes in various models and make up about 75% of the traffic down where I am. One option is to get a new one of these (roughly 700 dollars + another 300 for papers), but I'm reluctant because all of the ones down here are in terrible shape and seem to break down all the time. Definitely a consequence of lack of maintenance and constant use, but I still wonder if with better care it could last for 2 years without lots of issues. On the plus side, tons of parts are available and everyone in the region knows how to fix them.

Other option is to buy a pre-owned bike from someone in the expat community. These are real brand names and have papers but are mostly out of my price range. Also, all depends what people post in classifieds (listing here -> Expat Dakar - Le site incontournable des expatriés de Dakar) so a limited range of choices.

Ideas? Go with a cheap chinese and keep it maintained? Keep a look-out for a specific used bike in classifieds? Any info or recommendations appreciated.
Thanks,
Jeff
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  #2  
Old 8 Jan 2010
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Maybe look for the AG bikes, by a major brand. Yamaha's AG150, or 200, small Hondas?, or Honda's CTX200 is about a bit, but pricey I think. Don't go buying some big Expat bike as this will cost heaps in fuel and parts down the line. The AG bikes will take the tough stuff, comfortable, maybe not shit-hot on the fast roads, but that's the pay off.

On the other hand, plenty of Chinese bieks have been used successfully, and the parts for them are just about everywhere too!

Indian manufactured bikes are a half step up from Chinese, like the Payshun...I think? Still a bit shit though.

Any bike will go anywhere, obviously a DR400 will do it better than a Shitun 150.

If it were me, by something half decent, cheap, with a small engine to maximise your time on the trip....plus you'll need all that time to fix it ) Just kidding.
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  #3  
Old 8 Jan 2010
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Location: Pretoria South Africa
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Hi there

A good option to go for as well is the Kawasaki KLR. It is a good all round bike with a very straight forward motor, so even with little mechanical skill you’ll be able to DIY if something goes wrong.
In my country ( South Africa ) these bikes are dead cheap if you buy a used one. Sometimes the odometer may look down ting, but these bikes are never say day. Heard of KLR’s with well over 85000km on and still going strong. I just think for long travel the bigger bike might be more suitable than the smaller cc ones. Don’t get me wrong, some of the small bikes can hold their own out there, I would just go for a bigger model.
I don’t own a KLR myself but know some people who do, and they have only praises to sing about it.
Hope this helps, happy hunting
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  #4  
Old 8 Jan 2010
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What about the MBKs that are popular in Morocco and Mauri? They're not the hardiest, but they are cheap.

You get a fair few C90 and Townmate copies in Senegal too don't you? They would make a very affordable option, and almost everyone will be able to fix them.

I would definitely go with your cheap Chinese option, and just keep it going as long as possible. You'll get lots of experiences that way, and like Klous said, you'll save more money to get max time on the road.

Birdy
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