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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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  #16  
Old 18 Jul 2005
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Hi Maria,
I have had my license two months and took a fair while reading up on bikes and what might be the best option for me. I am 158cm tall (bare foot, so riding boots help out with a few extra cms). After riding a few bikes (well, more like sitting on them and moving very very slowly forward) before I got my license I was able to cross a few off the list.
I eventually bought my beautiful Honda Dominator (NX650T). I debated A LOT between a 400 and a 600, and settled on the 600 so that I would be able to combine some off-road with some longer road trips. I actually went in to buy an XT that I had seen (a Yamaha trail bike), and came out with my Dominator. Ha!

I'm loving it, but still need to adjust the preload and make it a bit 'shorter' (not as stable as I would like to be because on having to be on tip toes too often - if only we didn't ever have to stop!). The 600s are big old bikes, but are definitely still fine for women. I am perfecting the art of picking my biek up too - all 158kgs of her!

Do your research, nag all your mates to let them give you a go on their bikes, go to some sales places and sit on every one that takes your fancy and think about what you want to be using your bike for. (if I had the option I would get three bikes! )

Happy hunting!

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[This message has been edited by Shells (edited 18 July 2005).]
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  #17  
Old 19 Jul 2005
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Boots - don't forget to have a look at the Daytona LadyStar boots - they have an extra 1" added to the heel but built up inside the boot itself, practically invisible.

Preload - don't go too soft on the preload when trying to lower the seat height. It's not designed as a ride height adjuster, it's a crucial suspension setting. Too soft will lead to a saggy rear end. The steering will be slower, not recomended when oaded with luggage.
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  #18  
Old 19 Jul 2005
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Thanks Steve - point taken about the preload (there is plenty of room for movement on mine, so won't be making the hadnling difficult).
I love the boots idea - stilettos for biking
Again though, it comes down to deciding what kind of biking you will be doing so that all of your gear (including your bike) are fit-for-purpose (lovely marketing phrase!). I have dual Oxtars at the moment - a good compromise between big mean motorcross boots and not quite as mean touring boots.

Maria - it looks like you are allowing yourself time to decide on what to get, which is a good thing. I have found that in the beginning it is an easy mistake to make to get stuff and then later have to re-buy because of not having exactly what you need (all part of the learning unfortunately). It's all good though - excellent fun!
Enjoy your shopping!
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  #19  
Old 19 Jul 2005
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Thanks guy for your input! This is an important buy for me as it will be my 2d bike, and I will use it to tour around South America in a year or so. Also probably I will keep it for further adventures ;-) So I have to put a lot of thoughts on it. Seat Height is one problem (really only when parking/riding off and moving the bike as it make impossible to "paddle" or difficult to put the bike up straight if the side stand is on lower side of the road!), however for a long trip where we will be mostly in the wilderness I don't think it will be a major draw back. I'm leaning toward the F650 while my partner would ride the big 1200GS (or 1150). I did a test drive on Sunday and had a really nice ride!

Maria
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  #20  
Old 19 Jul 2005
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Platform Socks for the budget conscious amongst you..............
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  #21  
Old 19 Jul 2005
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One of the most common recommendations we make is for BOTH to ride the SAME bike - not different: "her on the little bike and him on the big bike".

Many travellers have set off that way, and almost all will agree it was a mistake. Some, such as Erin and Chris Ratay, http://www.ultimatejourney.com, sold the big bike bike and bought a second F650 so they were on equivalent bikes.

Same bike means one set of spares, tools, and service manual, and one procedure to learn for servicing, not two.

Another common recommendation that goes with that: solo travellers do NOT need a 1200, a 650 is more than enough in most of the world - and he will effectively be a solo traveller. Anything bigger than a 650 is a waste - and a pain in the butt, and costs a LOT more - money which could better be spent travelling.

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  #22  
Old 20 Jul 2005
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Grant, I 100% agree with you, it makes sense for both of us to have the same bike but it will be difficult to convince my partner to "downgrade" to a 650! I will try though, we have time!

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  #23  
Old 20 Jul 2005
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Good!

Perhaps another approach: the MOST dangerous and difficult position to ride in pairs from, is fololowing! So therefore (assuming he's a gentleman protecting you as best he can) the smaller bike should lead, and the bigger bike follow.

(Think about it; a hole in traffic opens, leader zips through with all the extra power of the bigger bike, hole closes up, follower gets anxious and stressed because the leader is disappearing, and makes an unsafe pass - consistently and too often. Or, as also often happens, gets left behind - and highly stressed.)

maybe that will convince him to have an equal bike at least...

Oh yeah - and load up the big bike ready to travel and make him pick it up himself...with a full tank of fuel...

Note that we rode around the world two-up on an R80G/S - which has about the same, or less, power than an F650 - and it was completely adequate - two-up.

A big bike is just plain silly and far too expensive in most of the world, as anyone who has DONE IT will tell you.

Best of luck with the convincing - let us know how you do.
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  #24  
Old 20 Jul 2005
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I own a 1200GS, which I got 8months ago.
Although I have not yet taken it across the continent I have taken a few long distance off-road excursions.
The 1200GS is a great tourer for two people and luggage. I love it to bits but it is total overkill as a solo adventure machine.
My fiancé and I will be riding up to Nairobi soon as practice for our eventual RTW. We will either both go on the 1200 or each get smaller 400cc – 650cc bikes. I personally believe that Japanese bikes are much more reliable than European bikes but the F650 has certainly proven it’s ability to conquer the world. Go for it!

Him riding his 1200 with you on a 650 will remind of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza!
Just kidding… but as a precaution, stay clear of windmills

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  #25  
Old 20 Jul 2005
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Cyril, you got it spot on! My maiden name being Sanchez!!!! Seriously!

Maria
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  #26  
Old 2 Aug 2005
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Quote:
Originally posted by ekaphoto:
Take a look at the Suzuki DR650, a very unappreciated bike IMHO. It has the lowest seat height of an stock dual sport, and is designed to be lowered with no aftermarket parts. It has been around for several years, very reliable, and inexpensive. Also you can get a gel seat that is an inch (25mm) lower than stock I believe.
We bought a couple of these and have just about completed the first part of our trip, a loop around Scandinavia. At this point I woudn't recommend them any more, despite the low weight and seat height: lots of problems with one of them, mainly engine. They don't like running at low revs. Uncomfortable. Poor build quality, especially electrics.

Almost none available in the UK.

The gel seat is only sold in the US. I tried ordering it in France with the part number, no go.

Take a look at the XT225.

(I want my shaft drive back!)
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  #27  
Old 2 Aug 2005
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Another issue to consider is what you want to do with your bike.

I mean, we know you want to travel to / through South America, but depending on how you plan your trip, you can cross the continent entirely on paved roads, motorways, etc. or you may stay on gravel for many days.

The route you choose will determine if the optimum choice will be a sports - tourer, a cruiser or a dualsport / trailie.

G'luck.

PS: I highly recommend Ruta 40 in Argentina. It runs from North to South, besides the Andes for about 4,000 km.

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  #28  
Old 2 Aug 2005
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Well I think I made pretty much my mind! I'm going to be boring and get the F650GS! I did a test ride few weeks ago and it was fine.
Good points of the bike: Seat can go very low so that when I need I can "paddle" and handle the bike easily (on-off hotels / boats whatever!); it's good for a bit of off-road if needed; comes with good reputation, low center of gravity so again easier to handdle. Hubby will get the same one for the big trip! Not plannning to do lots of off-road but want the option just in case!
Lepium: I heard ruta 40 can get quite tuff at some point? We will probably take it. Planning to ship/flight the bikes to Buenos Aires and head south to Tierra del Fuego, then from there up North through Chile etc.... Nothing precise, we have time until end 2006! :-(
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  #29  
Old 3 Aug 2005
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Maria, congrats on your purchase.

Yes, Ruta 40 has some tough stretches. But you do not need to travel it complete, just choose a section and if tired head back to the nearest tarmac, which can be far away as you approach Ushuaia or a few minutes drive further North.

I recommend the following book (I checked and it's available at Amazon UK)
Quote
Title: Magica Ruta 40 - Argentina de Norte a Sur
Author: Federico B. Kirbus
Unquote

Not particularly oriented at bike travelling, but good enough for trip planning.

Even if the description at Amazon says it is in Spanish language, it has some translations (albeit not 100% accurate nor as comprehensive). Additionally, to make matters worse, the price in the UK is about 50 quid, whereas in Buenos Aires is 50 pesos (about 10 quid).

If you are heading from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, you'll probably get bored of Ruta 3, so why not head west to Mendoza and join the southern half of Ruta 40 from there?

Either case, g'luck.

Hopefully by then I'll be back in Buenos Aires so keep in touch if you need any help.
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