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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 16 Apr 2008
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West Africa on a X...T,L,TZ, which one??

Hi there!!

This is my first post, though i've been here for a while... I'm planning a trip to West Africa (I live in Spain) for next fall/winter. It will be my first motorbike offroad trip, and i'm thinking about the right bike to get (as everyone at first I guess!). Currently I own an Enfiled Bullet 500, but I'm not thinking about taking it there (I know some people do...) I'm 1.80m tall (6 feet), 23 years old.

After weeks of reading and researching I have come to the point of narrowing my choice to three bikes:

- 1987 Honda XL600LM (red engine, 28 liter tank...)
- 1999/2002 Yamaha XT600E
- 1988/90 Yamaha XT600Z Tenere 3AJ

The reason for this choice...well, I'm looking for reliability, relative lightness and, of course, not to empty my pockets!!

The pros and cons of each bike (not regarding luggage), as I see it, would be:

- XT600E (would get it with around 12000-20000km for 2900-3300 € plus "teneresing")

LIKE: easy to get here in Spain, newer than the other two (less km), lots of accesories, reliable, oil change every 10000km, light?? (156kg dry)
DON'T LIKE SO MUCH: need much to go (acerbis tank, bashplate, windshield...) so more money, it is more expensive than the other ones.

- XT600Z 3AJ (around 30000 km and 1000-2000 €)

LIKE: fairing, looks, reliability (even with age?), needs almost nothing to go, 23 l tank, cheap, cam get it in Spain
DON'T LIKE SO MUCH: heavier (165 kg dry), older and probably 2nd or 3rd hand (who knows how its been treated), hard to find accesories for it (racks!!)

- XL600LM (around 35000-40000 km and 1500-1700 €)

LIKE: big tank, kick+electric start, light (155kg dry), not expensive, doesn't need much to go, maybe a windshield

DON'T LIKE SO MUCH: hard to get (Germany!!), old, is it as reliable as the others?? oil changes every 3000km, no accesories (racks!!)

So...now the questions!! Basically, it is simple: What do you think? What would you do if you were me? I know every newbe asks the same thing, and some of the "experts" might be a little tired of the same thing again and again... I hope it's not a nuisance anyway...

Thanks guys!!

nadir
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  #2  
Old 17 Apr 2008
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I have an '02 XT600E. It's been easy to 'tenerise' with 40 litre tank, rack, bash plate and even a xenon light. I find all the important bits easy to access. Anyone you speak to says it's 'bullet proof', compared to other bikes. Whatever you throw at it overlanding, it'll take the punishment. As for being air-cooled, high quality oil won't let you down if it gets extremely hot in the engine.
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  #3  
Old 20 Apr 2008
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tenere or not tenere?

Thanks a lot for your answer...the only one up to date! That's more or less what I've read, XT600E seems to be quite reliable. Anyways, I think that it might be useful to turn my questions upside down, since I know every bike will have its good points and probably all of them are up to the job. So, maybe it is better to ask this:

Will any of these three bikes be WORSE than the other two for overlanding?? Is there any particular reason NOT to choose any of them?

Lately I'm somehow leaning towards the XT600Z 3aj TENERE, since there is one readily available, so, please, if anyone has some reasons why I should NOT choose this bike for my first overland trip, I'd be pleased to hear (or read) them.

Thanks a lot again!

nadir
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  #4  
Old 21 Apr 2008
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I know little about these. I think the Honda sounds interesting, but as you say availability...

That said, if you count the money it would cost to kit up a XT, would that not cover the cost of a custom made rack for panniers? I am making a set of pannier racks for my Ural using 30mm x 5mm steel bar: cheap and quite easy, so far.

Other wise, have you considered smaller bikes: XR 400, DRZ 400, DR350 etc. All these are a little less powerful, but so much lighter, and can be cheap to buy a nice recent model (€3000 for a 2004 XR?) Worth considering. My XR has a 22 litre tank now, a trailtech computer and I am upgrading the headlamp: cost: €300 for the lot!!

Think about this too. Good luck
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  #5  
Old 22 Apr 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warthog View Post
...I think the Honda sounds interesting, but as you say availability...
Yes! It was my first choice, but then flying to Germany to get it..-might be if I don't find anything before summer, when I will have the time. At least it's the lightest of all three, and with a huge tank!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warthog View Post
...That said, if you count the money it would cost to kit up a XT, would that not cover the cost of a custom made rack for panniers?
Sure it does, that's the reason why I thought about the Tenere (1900 € plus kit). The racks...mmhh, I don't think I know how to make them, but someone could probably do them for me...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warthog View Post
...have you considered smaller bikes: XR 400, DRZ 400, DR350 etc. All these are a little less powerful, but so much lighter...
Yes! and they are indeed a very nice option also. It's only that everyone seems to be travelling in bigger ones, so I thought there must be a reason... I don't know too much, but some of them have shorter maintenance intervals, don't they? And, is reliability allright? If that's not a big problem, they could be a good option of course, since one of my fears is WEIGHT!! I even had a look at those military KTM, just wasn't sure about KTM reliability...can anyone say a word about that??

I'll take a look anyways. Thanks a lot Warthog!!

nadir
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  #6  
Old 22 Apr 2008
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KTM reliability is supposed to be getting better, and the military KTMs have been detuned to improve this further, so down on power but down on maintenance.

Also if a modern military force has been using the vehicle they may well have standardised a lot of the fixings in line with NATO initiatives, reducing the number of tools you need to work on the vehicle and making it more serviceable in the field. There are only two groups of people ever likely to be cowering under a flysheet in a sandstorm trying to strip a vehicle, us lot and the military!

Based on what you have said so far I would go for the Tenere, but check the engine etc when you get it. Even a bike that has had an absolute hammering could be in A1 condition as long as the owner has been looking after it correctly. A visual inspection, ride and compression check should let you know if its a lemon or not.

If you are only really going for the off-road part (rather than having to go off-road because the tarmac ran out) then a lighter bike might be a good option, but a big lad like yourself should have no great problems handling the XT in sand or mud
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  #7  
Old 25 Apr 2008
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and, if an XT... which one?

Hi again! Thanks to everyone who answered some of my questions. Anything helps with this!

I'm trying to decide, in case I finally get an XT600E, if it's worth the extra money of buying a newer one (95-03 - around 3000€) or it will be not such a difference compared with the model 90-94 (around 1800-2000 €). I think the main differences are the rev counter (re)introduced in 1995 and the size of the tank, which increased from 13 to 15 liters. But, the rest is almost exactly the same in both models, isn't it?

When it comes to "teneresing", Acerbis makes a 20 liter tank for the 90-94 model, while it holds 23 liters for the 95-03 one. How important is that? How many km could that be? Around 60?

So, once again, what do you think of all this?

thanks a lot to everyone here, you are pretty much the only people I know in the motorbike "business"!!!

nadir
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  #8  
Old 26 Apr 2008
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dont worry too much about a few litres of fuel. Whilst it's nice to have more there comes a point where it is too much weight too high up. If you are in a place where you need more range find somewhere to add a jerry can or the classic empty drink bottle
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  #9  
Old 26 Apr 2008
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Originally Posted by henryuk View Post
dont worry too much about a few litres of fuel. Whilst it's nice to have more there comes a point where it is too much weight too high up. If you are in a place where you need more range find somewhere to add a jerry can or the classic empty drink bottle
I do agree with this point. 20 lites on a bike is a pretty respectable volume anyway. Also these single cylinder bikes are generally pretty economical compared to thirstier twins etc.

Going back to my point about the 400s earlier, I think they should be just as capable as a 600 bike, especially if you are not carrying a passenger. Why does everyone get 650s, probably because you keep reading about 600-650s and end up assuming they are the only ones for the job: I was guilty of that to a point when I bought my old 1150GS (RIP)

Fuel economy should be even better too. Reliability? I have heard only good things about these bikes and the Suzuki DR and Honda XR are air-cooled so even less to go wrong with no radiator to puncture, coolant pump to fail etc. The only down side some may feel; strongly about is the lack of a electric start, but I can start my XR pretty easily. With its 22 litre tank and a consumption of about 60 mpg (100 for 4.5 litres, you can see that I should be close to 400-450 km for a tank! Not bad for a smaller bike!
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  #10  
Old 25 May 2008
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At the end...Honda won the bet!!

Hi there!

As it always seems to happen, at the end I've found a very nice Honda XL600LM in very good condition right here, near home, so afeter thinking a lot, and re-thinking, I said: "why not??" And I've decided to get it.
It looks like a very nice machine: 28 liters tank, kick and electric start, center and side stand, nice suspension, even a little windshield...
I'll be getting to know it for a while this summer, and preparing some things for THE trip to West Africa next fall.
Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks to everybody for their contribution to my decision. Now it is all about tyres, equipment, racks... but that will be in the Honda Tech forum, I guess...


see you there!!

nadir
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  #11  
Old 25 May 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nadir View Post
Hi there!

As it always seems to happen, at the end I've found a very nice Honda XL600LM in very good condition right here, near home, so afeter thinking a lot, and re-thinking, I said: "why not??" And I've decided to get it.
It looks like a very nice machine: 28 liters tank, kick and electric start, center and side stand, nice suspension, even a little windshield...
I'll be getting to know it for a while this summer, and preparing some things for THE trip to West Africa next fall.
Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks to everybody for their contribution to my decision. Now it is all about tyres, equipment, racks... but that will be in the Honda Tech forum, I guess...


see you there!!

nadir
Pictures!!! We want pictures!
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  #12  
Old 25 May 2008
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You really can't go wrong with an XT6

You will be able to source a good late XT600E in the UK for less than £2,000! This is amazing value for money when you consider what you're getting for your money - The XT600 is quite simply legendary in terms of reliability and simplicity. As an example I procured my own XT600E in February this year for only £1,600, it's a 1999 model and has done only 5,000 miles. It's better than most later examples I have seen.

The XT600E is capable of most things including full blown RTW trips. The only thing it struggles with is high speed motorway work. Providing your happy plodding along all day at 60 MPH it's fine. The bike comes into it's own when you hit the rough stuff. Although not as flickable as a lighter and smaller specialist offroader, it holds it's own well on the dirt.

If your looking for a good reliable, simple, air cooled, load carrier then you can't go wrong with an XT6. It will easily hoard huge loads over long distances and the seat is quite comfortable compared to other big trial bikes. In fact if you're not carrying too much equipment, it can carry a pillion rider quite happily too although it won't be very comfy for either rider or passenger over distance.

Finally, it's probably the most widely used Trans-Africa option out there (followed closely by much more expensive BMW's).

My advice - GO FOR IT!

PPS - Just noticed you've sourced a good XL600! What a plonker I am.... Oh well, sounds like you found yourself a goodun. Not many gooduns still exist here in the UK which is a great pity, it was such a good bike...
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Last edited by kentfallen; 25 May 2008 at 18:34.
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  #13  
Old 26 May 2008
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Xl600lmf!!!

I did the west coast on an XL600LMF 1986 model.(2007/2008)
Not a single back fire, not a single miss, no problem starting, not even a puncture!!
H&B make racks for the bike.
the bike is a legend!!
If you decide on this bike I can give you a little advice.
Good luck
orrin
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  #14  
Old 4 Jun 2008
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pics at last!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warthog View Post
Pictures!!! We want pictures!
Okay...there we go with the first pictures I took on the day I picked the bike up (actually last sunday!!) I don't think I have to say it was an incredible moment... My other machine is a Royal Enfield Bullet 500, so the difference is...lets say just BIG.
Anyway, hope you enjoy the crappy pics!! There will be some more as soon as I get any time to play around with her.

Kentfallen, the XT is the other model I was seriously considering, and I still think sometimes that maybe it was even better, but now I own a nice looking Honda, so... Maybe next time...

Thanks again for the advice, and, of course I will ask for some more, orrin.

Actually I can think of a first question...Do those H&B racks fit right in place?? I've read somewhere that they did not work too good on the XL... But your experience seems to say another thing... tell me, tell me, I want to hear everything...hehehe!!

So, see ya guys!!!

OK, I don't manage to put the pictures here, so if you want to take a look to my machines, please, feel free to click here and go to my web album




Last edited by nadir; 4 Jun 2008 at 23:12. Reason: how the hell do I put the pics!!?
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  #15  
Old 5 Jun 2008
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Originally Posted by nadir View Post
OK, I don't manage to put the pictures here...
Well, I guess everyday we learn something, don't we? I hope everyone can see the pictures now... if not, you can always go into my web album clicking the link above...

see ya!

nadir
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Last edited by nadir; 18 Jun 2008 at 19:17. Reason: remove couple of oics...too much hubb space!
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