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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 18 Mar 2009
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What bike for Africa?

Hey guys,

first post on here, so i'm sorry if i screw it up in some way..

been researching for my trip to the soccer world cup in june 2010 for a while but the big question i need an answer to is... Which bike?!?

I'm not very experienced so don't really want anything too powerful or big (i know what you're all thinking - what the **** is this guy going thru africa for if he's not experienced, but i like a challenge )

OK.. so i've determined that the KTM and Beamers are too expensive - even though the BMWs looked great on the Long Way series'.

So i'm thinking it's between Honda, Kawasaki or Suzuki?? any other suggestions? I like the KLR650 as it seems tough enough but is pretty cheap compared to the others. Seen a couple of guys that have gone through Africa on the Africa Twin, don't really know much about it though?..

I'll be starting in Nairobi and making my way overland (solo) to Cape Town.

Need a bike that's reliable, not too expensive, tough enough but most of the trip will be on road, possibility of getting spares (dunno how easy that will be for anything in Africa)

Thanks for any of your responses and happy travelling!!
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  #2  
Old 18 Mar 2009
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Anything you fancy

You could do the trip on pretty much anything you fancy. No experience isn't an issue if you ask me. Experience comes from doing.

Are you looking for a new bike? Or second hand?

I guess you'll buy a bike in europe somewhere, right? There aren't to many KLR's here, but a lot of alternatives.

I'd start looking for something like:
- a Late suzuki DR 650
- Honda NX 250
- KTM military (comes with all the lugage you need)
- Yamaha XT 600 or XT 660
- Honda Dominator, transalp or Africa Twin

Or
- Suzuki v-strom 650
- Honda CB500
...

I'm sure there's a whole list of other options following soon...

Keep it light!
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  #3  
Old 18 Mar 2009
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Yamaha XT 600E. Grrrrrreat bikes! Tough, simple, reliable, relatively capable in the dirt. IMHO the ultimate adventure tourer for one up in the third world. Although I'm sure many people have their own ideas on this!

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*Disclaimer* - I am not saying my bike is better than your bike. I am not saying my way is better than your way. I am not mocking your religion/politics/other belief system. When reading my post imagine me sitting behind a frothing pint of ale, smiling and offering you a bag of peanuts. This is the sentiment in which my post is made. Please accept it as such!
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  #4  
Old 18 Mar 2009
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Go looking for condition and features rather than a particular model. A DR with a big tank, pannier rails and under 20,000 miles on it is going to be a way better prospect than an XT you've got to fit out yourself. I wouldn't even worry about the capacity too much. A good 350 has lots going for it over an abused 650 or twenty year old 900 and considering range and a nice steady 40-50 mph is what you are looking for any can work.

What's your mechanical background? I have a personal hatred of twin carbs and anything electrical or water related from Munich, so I too would pick an XT all things being equal, but if you used to work for the local dealership I'm sure you'd have a different view again.

If it's light, well maintained and you understand what it'll do and why, that's your bike. Could be a C90 or an Enfield as much as a KTM.

Andy
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  #5  
Old 18 Mar 2009
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I'm going to try to sell my bike this year, or else i'll be shipping it to Oz in December from the UK.

I was riding to Oz, but a baby's on its way!

Anyone interested can see it at Touratech Travel Event in two weeks or at the HU meeting at Ripley in June.

Will put spec into the 'For Sale' section in a while.

It's fully farkled.

Mike

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  #6  
Old 19 Mar 2009
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Hey guys,

thanks for all the quick replies

I'll be buying the bike in Australia (where i live), and shipping it over to Nairobi / Mombasa. So i think KLR's are pretty common here aren't they? and yes, i'll be buying it 2nd hand, can't afford brand new.

The XT sounds like a pretty decent choice, but so do other bikes.. ahhh what a dilema to have I'm thinking it's probably between the KLR, XT, Africa Twin or the DR650.. hmm i haven't really narrowed it down much have i.. lol

Threewheelbonnie, thanks for the help mate. My mechnaical experience isn't great, but one of my mates is an apprentice mechancic so he's slowly teaching me what he knows and i'm getting better i think by the time of my trip i should be pretty good.

discoenduro, your bike looks impressive! how come your shipping it to aus? My trip isn't until next year so if you have any trouble selling it let me know as a December purchase would probably suit me pretty well. Nice christmas pressie for myself

One (or two) more question(s) while i'm here, how old and how many km's do you think i should be looking at? I really need reliability but obviously the bike will be cheaper if i get an older version. i was thinking like 5 years old max, but is that a bit snobby? because i'd rather save some cash and get a slightly older bike if you reckon it'd be up to the job.

Thanks for all the help, Happy Travelling
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  #7  
Old 19 Mar 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aussie_bluey View Post
One (or two) more question(s) while i'm here, how old and how many km's do you think i should be looking at? I really need reliability but obviously the bike will be cheaper if i get an older version. i was thinking like 5 years old max, but is that a bit snobby? because i'd rather save some cash and get a slightly older bike if you reckon it'd be up to the job.
As Threewheelbonnie suggests above, I would look at the overall condition rather than age... an older bike that has spent most of it's life on the street would be ideal, conversely, a bike that has already been prepared and used regularly overland will (hopefully) have also been well maintained by the previous owner...?

Either way, you want to check that it is not using oil, that the gearbox is still sweet, and factor in changing the wheel (and quite possibly steering and suspension) bearings anyway as a precaution. If the bike has been used off-road, check the wheels/rims for damage and buckles (as these can be pretty expensive if you need to replace them). You can freshen up tired suspension relatively cheaply too.

Hope that helps,

xxx
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  #8  
Old 19 Mar 2009
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Condition is the thing, but if you go look at every suitable bike on e-bay and auto trader you'll be getting to there for the wrong world cup.

Over a year and with at least 5000 km on the clock would convince me it wasn't a bad a day in Yokohama when it was made, but rather that the seller should have gone straight out and bought the K1200 he really wants. Under 5 years old and less than 50000 km would have me go look. Something maybe 10 years old would need to have a lot of nice items already on and I'd need the owner to convince me he knew what he was doing. It's very nice that the previous owner replaced all the bearings, but if he's a muppet that had to do it because he doesn't bother using any oil, walk away (quickly). You are looking for something well maintained but fairly mechanically original rather than someone's abandonned project IMHO. Cosmetic damage can be your friend BTW, think of how much the price will drop with a nice ding on the tank that you might just bin anyway

One advantage in buying from a dealer is that if you get time you can put a few km's on while getting other bits and pieces together and if there is anything serious you've a chance of some redress.

Andy
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  #9  
Old 19 Mar 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aussie_bluey View Post
I'll be starting in Nairobi and making my way overland (solo) to Cape Town.

Need a bike that's reliable, not too expensive, tough enough but most of the trip will be on road, possibility of getting spares (dunno how easy that will be for anything in Africa)
By spares, do you mean replacement parts - or tıres?

If you're buyıng the bıke ın OZ, put new tıres on ıt before shıppıng and you don't need to worry about spare rubber. If you mean parts - you should have replaced all bearıngs, spark plugs, chaın/sprockets, brake pads, got the shock rebuılt/replaced ıf ıts never been done before, replaced all the fluıds (front fork, gear etc.) and you shouldn't need anythıng before hıttıng South Afrıca (where you can get practıcally anythıng and everythıng). You don't even have to worry about carryıng replacement parts - ıts not that far to rıde, and you can do ıt all on pavement (except, watchout for them potholes).
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  #10  
Old 21 Mar 2009
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Hey guys, thanks for all the suggestions.

quastdog, i was refering to spare tyres but i wasn't really sure wot other parts i'd need just as a precaution. What tends to go wrong on these long journeys? But sounds good if you reckon i can do most of it at home and won't have too much trouble over there.

Thanks for the tips about the condition guys, will definitely be thoroughly checking the bikes out.

Is it me or is the XT600 a really rare bike? or is it just rare in aus? kinda weird cus we get heaps of asian cars / bikes over here.
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  #11  
Old 21 Mar 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aussie_bluey View Post
Hey guys,

first post on here, so i'm sorry if i screw it up in some way..

been researching for my trip to the soccer world cup in june 2010 for a while but the big question i need an answer to is... Which bike?!?

I'm not very experienced so don't really want anything too powerful or big (i know what you're all thinking - what the **** is this guy going thru africa for if he's not experienced, but i like a challenge )

OK.. so i've determined that the KTM and Beamers are too expensive - even though the BMWs looked great on the Long Way series'.

So i'm thinking it's between Honda, Kawasaki or Suzuki?? any other suggestions? I like the KLR650 as it seems tough enough but is pretty cheap compared to the others. Seen a couple of guys that have gone through Africa on the Africa Twin, don't really know much about it though?..

I'll be starting in Nairobi and making my way overland (solo) to Cape Town.

Need a bike that's reliable, not too expensive, tough enough but most of the trip will be on road, possibility of getting spares (dunno how easy that will be for anything in Africa)

Thanks for any of your responses and happy travelling!!
DR650, DR650, DR650!!!Easy!!
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  #12  
Old 21 Mar 2009
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Hi Auz

As well as the informative views expressed here and elsewhere on HU, have you read Chris Scott's Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, particularly on bike choice for Africa?
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  #13  
Old 21 Mar 2009
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I think it depends on what kind of trip you would like.

Nairobi to South Africa can be done on tarmac; a Gold Wing might be the most comfortable option. If you want to go the tarmac route you will need a bike that will last for 6-7000 km and have a 200 km range. Guess most bikes fit this description.
If you start with decent tires they will last the entire trip. Parts are hard to find but you probably don’t a lot if you have an okay bike.

If you like to leave the beaten track you will need a reliable offroad-bike with long range, but it doesn’t look like that’s your plan.
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  #14  
Old 21 Mar 2009
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Originally Posted by Matt Cartney View Post
Yamaha XT 600E. Grrrrrreat bikes! Tough, simple, reliable, relatively capable in the dirt. IMHO the ultimate adventure tourer for one up in the third world. Although I'm sure many people have their own ideas on this!
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  #15  
Old 22 Mar 2009
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Originally Posted by Caminando View Post
Hi Auz

As well as the informative views expressed here and elsewhere on HU, have you read Chris Scott's Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, particularly on bike choice for Africa?
that's pretty funny i was just looking at that yesterday after reading my long way round book and seeing that Ewan n Charley used it for research. looks heaps good i'll be ordering one soon

Sooo many choices on these bikes!

Thanks for all the help guys
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