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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 6 Sep 2008
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Wich bike is immortal

Im looking to buy a bike for my 2010 worldtrip Since my lack off mechanical skills i need a bike wich never brakes down i know that every bike is good and at the best bike there could brake something bust still wat should i buy
the 1200gs or the 660tenere or an old xt600 or DR400 or what can you advise for me
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  #2  
Old 6 Sep 2008
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No bike is immortal, unfortunately!! However, if you are travelling alone, I would not bother with the extra power and weight of a 1200 (two up is a different matter). 650cc or less should be ample. Personally, I quite like the aircooled singles from Honda (wot I got!!) or Yamaha (popular with many members on here). Air-cooled means one less system to worry about as well as being lighter (the radiator and cooling jacket coolant pump etc) and, being aircooled, they are usually less tuned up and so possibly more relaible (?).

More importantly, they can be bought quite cheaply. Just be prepared to change the seat. My Honda XR400 is not bum friendly. It is, in fact, bum-phobic...

Would help other members if we had an idea of your destinations, chosen terrain, weight quota for luggage etc, not to mention budget (its a lot of miles and hostel stays in the price difference between a 1200GS and an old XT600!!): helps narrow things down.

But whatever you do, REGARDLESS WHAT ANYONE SAYS ON HERE: TAKE YOUR POTENTIAL CHOICES FOR A NICE LONG TEST RIDE!!!

You will be the one riding it, so you must a) be comfy, b)enjoy riding it and c) be comfy. Did I mention enjoying it???
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  #3  
Old 7 Sep 2008
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Hello Ivan,

I almost fell off my chair laughing when I read that in your quest for an ‘immortal’ bike, you had shortlisted the 1200GS... You must be either joking or completely ignorant! Do yourself a big favour and spend some time reading up on the travelogues hosted on HU and on other web sites (e.g. ADVRider.com) and it won’t take you long to figure out that the GS is far from being an infallible bike. Your naïve belief in the GS’s reliability is only the result of BMW’s clever marketing strategies. I made the same mistake a few decades ago when I bought into BMW’s marketing hype fueled by their victories in the Dakar rally. I was also convinced that the then-new-on-the-market R80G/S was the ultimate adventure/RTW bike.

After a few years travelling across Africa together with my girlfriend (now my wife), my dad back home in Belgium was puzzled why I never asked for parts (apart from ‘consumables’ like chains & sprockets) for my girlfriend’s XT350 while I regularly send him requests to mail me parts for the RG/80S. He thought she had parked her XT somewhere and was riding pillion across Africa… It didn’t take me long to realize I had been fooled into the wrong choice, and that I should also have bought a XT350, as it turned out to be stone-axe reliable.

This said, keep in mind that the air-cooled R80G/S was a far simpler and more reliable bike than the modern GS oil-heads. And then we’re not even considering the ‘weight’ factor. If the itinerary of your RTW trip includes long distances on sandy/muddy dirt roads (inevitable when crossing Africa), riding a heavily-laden GS is anything but fun. They are already overweight behemoths before you even start adding any luggage. Just borrow or rent a 1200GS for a few hours riding in deep sand (e.g. in northern Limburg) and see if you still want to short list it as the ideal bike for your RTW trip.

Regardless of which year GS model, they all suffer from grossly inadequate suspension that won’t last long when the bike is loaded up and ridden on bad roads, contrary to what BMW’s fancy publicity portrays. I can’t even begin to recall the number of GS owners that I’ve met on my travels stranded somewhere waiting for a replacement shock absorber to be shipped to them (including myself). The drive train is also not without weaknesses, and that is putting it politely.

My comments here might draw rebuke from die-hards that swear by the GS, as BMW has its fair share of fashion-victims, similar to what you’ll find with H-D or Ducati fans. I don’t care about brands, I’ll ride anything that suits my riding style (preference for off-road) and fits my criteria and road conditions. (I currently own more than a dozen bikes, all ‘singles’, ranging from the XR650R, KLR650, XT350,… to KTM EXC’s and even a … BMW F650 (with the reliable Rotax engine, although the water pump seal is known to be problematic)).

I fully agree with Warthog’s advice to opt for simple, proven technology, especially since you’re not technically inclined. I would also opt for a Japanese air-cooled single with carburetor and kick-starter if I were to head off again on a year-long trip across Africa. But with the increasingly stringent emission and noise regulations, I admit that it is becoming difficult to find a new or good second-hand air-cooled trail bike, as the manufacturers have been forced to adopt water-cooled fuel-injected engines. They are mostly quite reliable, but also more complex. And since you're not an experienced 'spanner man'...

Like Warthog mentioned, you should give us a bit more information on where you intend to go, how much luggage you want to carry, whether you prefer to ride off-road, budget, etc. before we can recommend particular bikes. If you prefer the offroad end of the adventure riding spectrum, forget about big twins like the GS1200.

If riding lots of offroad is part of your game plan, you should consider bikes like the DR650, XR650L/R, XT600/660, KLR650, 640Adv, TE610 etc., or even lighter bikes like the XR400, DR350/400, XT350 etc.

I’ve become a firm believer of the maxim that captures best my travelling style: the ‘less = more’ approach: less ‘stuff/luggage/hi-tech’ is more ‘riding fun’. But I realize I’m part of a small minority when one considers the number of ‘big heavy Touratech-on-GS catalogues’ on the road.

Drop me an email if your RTW trip takes you to my part of the world, dan ben je altijd welkom om bij ons frieten ‘op zijn belgisch’ te komen eten. In elk geval wens ik je een goeie reis.
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  #4  
Old 7 Sep 2008
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Forgot to mention one thing. Since your RTW trip will only start in 2010, you still have enough time to learn how to do maintenance and repairs on your bike, even if your knowledge of bike technology is very poor. Ask a knowledgeable friend or even pay a bike mechanic to be your instructor or let you watch when he works on bikes. Study the work shop manuals.

Even if you leave future road-side repairs in the hands of a mechanic, at least you'll be able to understand and check what he is doing. Being able to do the regular maintenance and diagnose and repair most faults by yourself will make a major difference in your level of confidence and peace of mind and hence in your enjoyment of your RTW journey.
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  #5  
Old 7 Sep 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivandebruyn View Post
Im looking to buy a bike for my 2010 worldtrip Since my lack off mechanical skills i need a bike wich never brakes down i know that every bike is good and at the best bike there could brake something bust still wat should i buy
the 1200gs or the 660tenere or an old xt600 or DR400 or what can you advise for me
You've plenty of time to fix that! Regardless, you'd be best to get the bike you want to take early as possible to give you time to get to know the bike and it's quirks, and also start doing the basic servicing yourself and then if you feel more comfortable start doing more. In the end though as long as time is on your side while on the road ( and a bit of $) anything can be fixed by you or someone in the area..
Most on here will agree as already said that a KTM 950 ADV or a 1200GS is overkill for a solo trip. And not exactly the most trouble free bikes in the world The older 1100GS has plenty of cases of 300,000-600,000km on the clock. I have one myself because I'm just north of you in Tilburg,NL and often jump on the motorway and "cough" "cough" make good progress down to the southern Ardenne and Germany on the weekends etc. She runs brilliant and is a plessure for this and some mild single track. I did a week trip to the Alps with borrowed big heavy camping gear ( mine is in NZ) and i hardly even noticed the luggage on the bike - once moving.

But I'm looking at getting a cheap transalp or xt600 for a trip through the stan's for these reasons;

1 Cost. the bike will get a beating and with no insurance in alot of those countrys I'm not made of money to go and drop another 5-6000 eur on another bike if it gets stolen or heavily damaged. 2-3000 is less of a trip stopper!

2 Power... When taking it offroad or down rough tracks I'm only using 10% of all that power no point of having all that grunt if you can't use it on a rough country road. And at any rate ..power.. for what? it's (not normally) a race. 300km per day max is more reasonable than 800km per day ( though those days will sometimes happen) taking a bit more time to look at the country you're riding through

3Weight... your bike will lie down... often! if it be that it fell off the stand or a slip on loose sand. If it breaks down or or you simply decide a particular section of road is not for you..getting the bike onto a pick-up truck or a train.. al the extra gear and luggage will be enough weight without starting off with a 250kg bike!

Go for a light japanese single cylinder if you plan on doing the "less developed" countrys or maybe a older transalp twin if you plan to stick to the hard stuff
more. The africa twins, Transalps, XT's and KLR's are all popular and very reliable. But not failproof! But as has been said test ride! test ride! test ride!

Something to keep in mind if you haven't already... Belguim has no import tax so once you narrow down what you want; have a look at mobile.de - Deutschlands größter Fahrzeugmarkt. Suchen, kaufen oder verkaufen Sie Neu- und Gebrauchtwagen and AutoScout24 Europas Automarkt für Gebrauchtwagen und Neuwagen for bikes for sale in Germany. There's a massive selection for sale and for very good prices
Success!
PS if you want to meet up for a coffee and a chat PM me!

Cheers
Steve.
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  #6  
Old 7 Sep 2008
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Thanks for the advice and quick reply

As mentioned i still have a year so still some time i now follow a cours in russian reading and speaking .After reading your comment i have decided on a yamaha Xt600 from 86' for one its cheap and according to owners it should keep on riding with basic spare parts .The plan is to drive from Belgium to Germany ,Czech republic ,Poland ,Lithuania ,Latvia ,Estland ,Russia Stpeterburg to Vladivostok and with boat to Japan and home and if finance allows it i would not go to Japan en go down true Mongolia to China then Vietnam Laos and Thailand and then home and in ther best case i could go on to Timor to then cross to Australia after that going home but i think its going to be Japan bringing the yamaha to Yamaha seems challenging enough
En die frietekes als ik Thailand moest halen zullen tegen dan echt goed smaken
ik zal echte belgische mayonaise meebrengen voor jullie
Greetz to All on and off the roads of Mother road
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  #7  
Old 7 Sep 2008
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OK. I still get the impression that you are travelling solo, Ivan, so I stick to my original advice. However, its a shame that Gypsyrider didn't have much joy with his BM, as our 1150 GS did really well for us in Chile and Argentina with a mixture of tarmac and dirt (although most on tarmac). It only needed oil filters oil and rear tyres for spares.

As with Steve, if you are going two-up, I would quite happily recommend you try the 1150 or 1100 GSs, having owned both (although most miles were on the 1150). Bottom line is, though, its your trip so test ride those you think would suit your needs, and go from there.

I also agree with the various advice about increasing your technical experience. You do not need to be able to strip an engine using nail-clippers to be able to keep your bike ticking over nicely. That said, the fewer cylinders, the easier its is likely to be. Basics like changing you fluids, adjusting chain (if you have one), changing filters and even doing the valve clearances and balancing the carbs (if you have more than one) are pretty straight forward once you have had a go, and passed the fear of taking a casing off the engine! Doing some basic jobs regularly can help avoid the need for any major work ever being necessary.

You can always buy a general motorcyle maintenance book to get faimiliar with the systems and some of the procedures and once you have chosen a bike, you can get a maintenance manual specific to that bike. I am not a garage guru, by any means, but the sorts of jobs listed above are fine, and are quite feasible for most people...
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  #8  
Old 7 Sep 2008
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the immortal bike is the push-bike. rather then that, all motorbikes have problems on long rides. the question is which is more reliable. i am sure there are more experienced people then me. if you are travelling solo go for a air cooled japanese single like xt600 or dr650. just my 2 cents worth

have fun
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  #9  
Old 7 Sep 2008
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when things go wrong as they invariably will at some stage, and you are stuck with a dead bike, what can you actually push, pickup on your own, and fix with a 10,12,13,17mm spanner? keep it as simple as possible.
in my opinion, forget anything with a computer (cdi's are good sometimes), fuel injection and bigger than 600cc.
I have always lusted after a gerbil (djerbil), but thats another story....
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  #10  
Old 7 Sep 2008
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Immortality = Memories

Bikes are just like human beings. They can only be immortal if they've lived a memorable life. I can say that the immortal bike will be the bike you will have your RTW trip whatever the problems will arise. Sometimes the magnitude of the troubles also increases the immortality span.

Cheers from Izmir, Turkey.
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  #11  
Old 7 Sep 2008
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..bikes close to be immortal are: 1. Honda XR650L 2.Suzuki DR650SE 3.Kawasaki KLR650. If you check who is travelling around the world you will understand, that they are using simple single motorcycles as the above. You can travel everywhere and you can do everything, with and on them.
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  #12  
Old 7 Sep 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mollydog View Post
Wow! Nice post, and you even speak Flemish
Or Dutch even.



Know whichever bike you choose. It sucks being stranded with a broken down bike when you look at it thinking 'What does this do?'. Haynes manuals are good for explaining the basics in remarkable detail.

We've done a large part of that route on our last/ first bike trip and travelled a lot of the other without a bike, so feel free to drop me a line or have a look on my blog.

We're away on our own trip in a few weeks, but should be back in Oz during yours. Dus mocht je naar de Gold Coast komen, dan is er hier een garage beschikbaar.
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Old 8 Sep 2008
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If you are going to stay on paved roads and good gravel roads .
If you cannot or will not learn about your bike's mechanical and electrical components .
If you want to keep up with traffic in the the developed world ,
If you want a reliable bike ,
Buy a 650 VStrom .
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  #14  
Old 8 Sep 2008
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WOW Gypsy that was such hate on the BMW. But hes right about the maintenance the 1200 needs so do many of the "high end" bikes the dealers call it cost of ownership. If you like the idea of the BMW GS consider a DL650 by the sounds of your trip It will do you well.

Now about the trip Japan will not want you to import your bike and ride around. It can be done but more of a problem than it may be worth. Much of south east Asia is the same way. Then there is China you had better start the applications now if you must go. The price of going threw China you can ride North America and South America perhaps.

My recommendations get a cheaper bike like a KLR (it dose not realy mater as much as you think) ride Europe and Asia It can be shiped home sold or just given to someone. Rent bikes in China and SE Asia. Fly to the USA get a lightly used bike ride Norht and south America.
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  #15  
Old 8 Sep 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivandebruyn View Post
Im looking to buy a bike for my 2010 worldtrip Since my lack off mechanical skills i need a bike wich never brakes down i know that every bike is good and at the best bike there could brake something bust still wat should i buy
the 1200gs or the 660tenere or an old xt600 or DR400 or what can you advise for me
Welcome!
The fact that you want to travel the world on a bike but expect it never to break down worries me. May i sugest you choose your bike now and start preparing it for travel. You see, it doesn't mater if you get the BMW, Kawasaki, Honda or whatever, they ALL BREAK! They all need their short comings remedied and you need to create an intimate relationship with the machine which will become your most important possession in the entire world.
I work as a BMW mechanic part time and have built a few travel bikes. Having owned a 1200 GS, i would not recomend this bike for world travel, for reasons that were stated earlier. On the other hand, an older airhead, like the R80G/S or even the R100 GS, with the proper preperation has proven to be an excellent choice, along with the KLR's, DR's, XR's and XT's, but remember, ALL these bikes need to be studied, scrutinized and prepared for travel before you can proceed. There is only one simple answer to your question, buy a bike that makes you comfortable and puts a smile on your face, research it's shortcomings and prepare it for travel. Make sure you build a proper toolkit and try to get informational CD's on your model. Prepare your luggage and make sure the sub-frame is up to the task, otherwise re enforce it. Low horse power air cooled motors are usually an excellent choice. No bike has a real advantage for parts availability so consider using cleanable air and oil filters. Try to stick to the more common tire sizes, like 21" front and 17"-18" rear, the oil head BMW's have a big disadvantage in this area. Never under estimate the importance of a good skid plate! Make sure your charging system is ready for all the accesories you plan on bolting on, like lights, GPS, heated grips (i recommend them) and heated jacket. Trust me on the heated jacket, you won't regret it
If you buy a chain drive, carry lots of master links and only use a good chain like DID. Toss the alloy sprockets and replace them with steel or stainless steel if you can. Learn how to lubricate it properly, there's lots of opinion there! If you choose a shaft drive, make sure you get a greasable drive shaft and learn how to maintain it. I have around 100k km on mine now,. but i love to work on my bike
Prepare your suspension! Most bikes come with junk non-rebuildable shocks, except for KTM's WP. Ohlins has a good reputation, along with Wilburs, which is my favorite. Wrap your shock spring with a Shock sock to keep out dirt, this is the #1 killer of seals. I like to also cut a piece or rubber from a tire tube and drape it over the shock using a hose clamp to attach it. Protect your front forks with Gaitors to protect them from rocks and such. Consider your bike will be heavily loaded with stuff, adjust or replace your forksprings accordingly.
As reliable as the Japanese bikes are, their handle bars and brake lines are for the most part junk. Pro taper or Magura and stainless lines are a good investment, along with aluminum insert hand guards to protect your fingers and handles.
Do some research on your brake pads and rotors, they will cross reference with other makes of bikes making it easier to get them in foreign countries. I met a guy who thought he could only get brakes for his BMW from the dealer! Spoke wheels are superior to cast and usually repairable. I love the tubeless spoke rims from Behr of Akront used on the BMW GS's, very strong and reliable along with the ease of tubeless repair using a plug. Regardless, you must carry a tube in the event if a side wall puncture which is sometimes unrepairable. Purchase an air-pump, i like the Slime pump. Cheap and good! Practice repairing your tires, you'll need it down the road!
Finally, don't read too much into the bike bashing that goes on here, it's a waste of energy and really doesn't help you. One bike is as bad as another if neither are properly prepared for travel.
Enjoy!
BTW, i really like that new 660 Tenere, it just might be my next one. I'm looking forward to some good reviews in the future.
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