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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.
I want a bike (as cheap as is reasonable) for a trip across both continents, something like US, canada, alaska, mexico, central america, south america down to brazil at least, and then back along a different route to US again.
I live in the US, so i have trouble finding some bikes that you euro-cats can find. I dont PLAN on going off road intentionally, but I would like a bike that can if I need to, and i expect that i will need to some time or other. I really like the BMW 650 GS, but it seems like even a used one is gonna be USD$6 - 8,000 around my area (north carolina) and they are hella hard to find.
So I'm willing to compromise, I would ideally like to spend US$4,000 or less on the initial purchase, and i plan on bringing minimal cargo, but i will have a tent/camping equipment, and i will be going solo at least at first, so it needs to be able to hold a reasonable amount of stuff.
What do you guys think i should try to find in my price range???????
The general notion is that any vehicle will do, wether it is a moped, a harley, a bicycle, a vintage scooter, an offroader, a street bike, a vintage car, a land rover, or whatever else. A lot of people will tell you this as all have been used on trips through Africa, Americas, and just about anywhere else.. This doesn't help you much now does it? Some bikes are more ideal than others. The following is my top list when offroad capabilities are important:
Honda XL 600 or 650 Transalp
Honda xl 600
Honda XL 350
Honda Dominator 650 NX
Honda XRV 750 Africa Twin
BMW F650 GS
BMW F650 GS Dakar
Yamaha XT 350
Yamaha XT 600
Yamaha XTZ 660 Tenere
Yamaha XTZ 750 Super Tenere
Many will suggest KTM's, but from what I've heard, they have uncomfortable seats and vibrations causing discomfort... and considering the price, I don't even concider the bike.
A rule of thumb for reliability concerns when purchasing a one cylinder offroader, choose one which has travelled less than 40.000 kms, is less than 10 years old, starts easily, looks good and is otherwise in good nick. If your budget is restrained, then you might even concider bikes that are nearly twice as old and which has been ridden nearly twice as far. Remember that some bikes will be more expensive to modify for this type of travel than others, such as the sub frame, and some bike's handling will be more severely impaired by these modifications than others. Sometimes going for the bike that is a little bit more expensive may end up costing about the same as the cheaper one when all the modifications have been done to it, and it may also offer much better handling and comfort. If I was to shorten the list a bit for you, then I'd go with one of the following:
Honda XL 600 or 650 Transalp
Honda Dominator 650 NX
Honda XRV 750 Africa Twin
BMW F650 GS
BMW F650 GS Dakar
Yamaha XTZ 660 Tenere
Personally, my wife and I are planning on riding two vintage Vespas on a trans Africa trip.
I agree with the last post, go for a Jap, preferably Honda or Yamaha. Greater availability of parts and competance around the world.
As you plan to stay away from offroading, normal touring bikes may prove a great option. As gravel and paved roads will make up virtually all your travels, sacrificing off road capabilities for performance on normal surfaces may prove wice. A regular touring bike will get you through pretty severe conditions, but may offer far better comfort on regular roads than most offroaders (more power and higher top speeds, better seating, less vibrations, better handling on sealed surfaces, etc).
I would look for a klr650, they are cheap, reliable (a couple of well-known easily cured flaws) and have good highway manners but are still decent off-road. They also get great fuel mileage coupled with a 6 gallon tank. You can get a fairly recent one with low miles for $3,000, check cycletrader.com.
i think i may have been misleading before, I am not ONLY considering off road bikes, like the hondas and yamahas lots of you are suggesting, in fact i would PREFER a bike that is more street oriented, i just dont want it to shake to pieces if i have to go down a "bad" dirt road for 100kms.
but with a bike like the 660 yamaha, and the 650 honda, what kind of fuel economy do you get???? is it still capable of getting good gas mileage at highway speeds????
also, what do you guys think about a ninja 250 kawasaki. that is something that i can find for relatively cheap around here, and it seems like a very fun bike on the street. Is a 250 too small to pull me and my stuff??? does it require too much maintenance???? etc.
i know that it definitely CAN be done, but i would like your opinion on why another bike over the ninja, or at least what type of bike to look into (for low maintenance costs, good fuel economy, and ability to take me and all my stuff wherever i want to go) thanks
Off roading, a light one cylindered bike is ideal, between 350-650 ccm with lots of torque and high acceleration. But on roads, carrying lots of stuff, a larger engine with several cylinders is ideal, from 500 cc to 1200 cc (with the ideal some where in the middle). A 250cc will sure get you where you want to go, but so will a 50 cc... but neither is ideal.
What you want is something with an upright seating position, several cylinders and more than 500 ccs. You should stear clear of crotch rockets or hybrids such as sport tourings as the forward sitting position will kill your wrists in about 20 minutes (these are only comfortable when riding at speeds of excess of 140 km/h with your chest resting on the wind).
I know little about Kawas. As for Suzukis, they used to be called Screwzukis around here (Translated, the verb "screw" being the equivalent of "to wrench"). The two main reasons for this was that they were not as reliable as other japs and were a pain in the ass to repair (according to my mechanics teacher in junior high). Whether the name is warranted I have no idea. As for Hondas, they are the world's most sold brand and are reknown for their reliability. Yamaha is the second most sold brand (I think) and also have great reliability. The Yamaha XT and XTZ was the king of its class during the late 80's and the 90's and offered better reliability than the Honda equivalent XL (according to a mechanic who has worked a lot on both). The fact that a brand is sold all over the world makes parts and know how more accessible.
The Yamaha FZS 600 Fazer offers lots of power in a light bike with superior handling and comfort. Sitting position is sligtly forward, but is still upright enough for comfort at slow speeds. Not only will it tour like a dream and carry all your gear, but you can drive it like a MoFo. This thing will corner like anything you have ever ridden, take you so fast it will give you night mares, and accelerate so fast it will give you a whip lash.... I really really want one! It was concidered a revolution in bikes when it was introduced. I bought a Honda CBR 600 F (sports touring) and came to regret I didn't choose the Yamaha (when it came I thought it looks were odd, now i think they are radical).
In short, if you want life to be easy, then go for a Honda or Yamaha... unless you get a really good deal on something else.
[This message has been edited by Wheelie (edited 13 February 2006).]
What about a used Honda 650 Transalp? Although out of production, you can still find one in Cycle Trader every now and then.The 650 engine is well proven and simple to work on. Honda used this engine design in various models for many years. The bike is designed mostly for pavement, but any bike can be used on dirt roads.Ther are Honda dealerships, and good mechanics available in every city in The Americas.
the past 3-4 postings different people suggested the Fazer, cb500, and translap; none of these are widely avaiable in america. I have never even heard of the cb500 and i am pretty sure the fzr was discontinued in america in the early ninety's, however there is a yzf 600 which seems very similar, the translap can be found (like 2 for sale in the country) but they want an arm and a leg for a used bike.
the bandit is available in us and fairly cheap (i think i saw one online for around $2000US and it was fairly new 2001 or so). Is that a good bike to look into for long term travel????
i would really appreciate the comments of some people from the states as to what is available here, although i can always use some advice on what kinda bike to get from you overseas cats.
If you're still reading this thread; Hyosung seems to have a few good choices. Their Comet 250 GT is cheaper than the Ninja and seems to have the "goods" for a long trip. They have a few decent bikes besides this one, including in the 650 range. If you want to be truly adventurous, look into one of the Chinese-made enduros that you can find on Ebay. I would consider the ones made by Tank, Lifan, Roketa, Jetmoto, and Zongshen for any kind of distance riding, and you will be holding up traffic as they are only 200's. In spite of my financial state, had intended to have one in the next few weeks, but will have to wait a couple of months. I am seriously considering the Lifan GY-200-5 model. They have one on www.hooperimports.com for $1495 including shipping to a Forward Air hub, or $175 shipping to your address. Its cheap, and the Lifan engine has a "top of the heap" reputation among the Chinese manufacturers. Just an alternative suggestion to a used bike...
"Top of the heap" amongst chinese manufacturer sounds to me like the dentist telling me it will "only hurt a little bit".
Being in the motorcycle trade for 20 years and on two continents I still don't give a penny on hte chinese if it comes to after sales customer care and spares availability.
My recommendation: Get a KLR 650. It's simple to service and reliable and it's got a big tank. Forget road bikes. You will regret travelling on one as soon as you have to do the first 20km on dirt roads. Even riding a road bike over the wet lawn of a campside is a pain compared to a semi-offroad.
I'd echo that - the KLR is cheap and cheerful. It'll do the job, and has done dozens of times. There is plenty of readily accessed expertise around for the few (necessary) modifications.
A Transalp (available briefly in the USA) in good nick would be nice, but finding one is a problem. The DR650 and NX650 are around in the US too I believe. And - here's a left field one if you want to go small - how about the NX250?
I think the advice above about a multi-cylinder road bike is sound, but I would add that, for a great deal of time, you wont be going too fast. And hell, what's the hurry anyway? You're doing this to breath the air and see the sights. So sit happily on your thumpity thump thump KLR at 59 mph. They seem to favour this cruising speed (I found this out sitting behind one all day. Happily, I should add).
Have a look at a KLR. (I think the Canadian version has a slightly bigger tank, if this option is open to you). If you don't like it, don't buy it. The route you are taking, and way you're doing it leaves your options pretty open. Rest assured - you can't buy the *wrong* bike.
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