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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 7 Dec 2013
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Which Would You Choose? KTM Or Honda??

Hi guys and gals new to this forum and the amount of information and knowledge on here is absolutely great for a budding adventurer like myself.
I am 31 years old and after spending 3 years in New Zealand and touring both islands on a 1996 Yamaha XT225 Serow I am now back in the UK with plans to tour both Europe and Asia on a motorcycle in 2014.
I have purchased a 2005 KTM 640 Adventure and I have fitted the bike with pannier racks (I have some Magadans that will be fitted on there) and also a headlight guard and a high mudguard kit.
Now I really enjoy the bike on the road but haven't done too much off road with it and herein causes the problem...... I am only 5ft 7in tall and I can just about get one foot on the ground.
I met Austin Vince at the NEC last week and it got me thinking is a Honda XR 400 a better bike for me??
I am worried about the weight and size of the 640 off road where as a XR400 with a big tank will be alot lighter and more nimble??
I hope you can help me with any advice/opinions as I this is going to influence my trips that I have planned for next year and the years to come..
Thanks,


JJ
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  #2  
Old 7 Dec 2013
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Honda
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  #3  
Old 7 Dec 2013
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I'd keep the KTM since you already own it. Why would you swap a bike just 'cos someone else thinks it's a good idea?

How much off road are you realistically going to do? Not much in Europe, I would suggest. Asia - maybe a little more? Not worth swapping to a more off road oriented bike for that reason IMHO.
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  #4  
Old 7 Dec 2013
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Go with what you have already got. As long as YOU feel comfortable with it.

The 640 Adventure was one of the best bikes Ive owned, bit vibey and fiddly to service, but great suspension and not too heavy for a 650 class bike, lower it a bit if you like to make it more manageable if it feels too tall.

Just make sure you service the LC4 engine well.
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Old 7 Dec 2013
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Posted Dec. 7th, 12:23 pm PST

A well sorted KTM could do EU ... It's not much heavier than the XR400R, IIRC. The Honda is more bullet proof but not good on motor ways in EU over about 60 mph. (higher gearing would help) The KTM is not great on highway either, IMHO, as the 640's vibrate a lot at speed. Newer 690's much better.

Neither much good riding highway. Better off with a street bike for EU travel.
If you're headed to Mongolia ... well that's another story as when you get there you'll need a good off road Enduro bike. But if just EU ... neither KTM or Honda are ideal, IMHO.

Off road? Not sure how or where you'll find much true off road in EU. Maybe some dirt roads? .. or Erzberg? Dunno. Other than parts of Spain, Portugal and Andorra I've not seen or heard about many wide open off road areas (like the Western USA or Mexico) ... until you get to Russia.

Asia
I've done Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. I would never consider shipping either bike over there. Big $$$$. Best buy or rent a local bike there. Some countries allow you to pass from country to country with your bike, others do not. Some decent 125's and 250's there. I stuck mostly with 125's.

Rented bikes in Thailand, did a buy back in Vietnam. Rented in Cambodia. Bringing in your own bike is troublesome and expensive far as I know.
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Old 8 Dec 2013
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Thanks for the response guys! Well I am looking at going to Spain for a shakedown trip just to get myself used to the bike and all my gear more and wanted to incorporate that with some off road riding. It was someone elses opinion it was just a thought that I would do better with a lighter bike. Apart from trying it i guess I will never know just wanted to know other people thoughts and views to see what they recommended. Gipper do you know or have any tips to cure and of the vibes? Im thinking of a sheepskin seat cover or maybe a Renazco gel seat?
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Old 10 Dec 2013
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I never found the vibes through the seat too bad, the vibes through the bars are normally most peoples problem.

you can use a bar snake or fill the bars with lead shot to reduce the vibes, also some softer grips too.

Barsnake

the stock seat is not good, Id upgrade it for sure, adding a sheepskin wont hurt either.

Make sure the cooling system is working perfectly, fresh coolant and the fan cuts in early, if the LC4 overheats they can fry the head gasket quite quickly.
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  #8  
Old 6 Jan 2014
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Transalps

Mate, get a Honda Transalp, any year. Bike is bullet proof. Me and a friend, rode from London to India in two Transalps, one 2005 carbureted and one 2010 injected. Almost 9500 miles covered in 45 days, using all sorts of petrol along the way and riding in all imaginable roads. Not a single problem, not even a chain adjustment. Just changing oil regularly and topping-up the petrol tank every 200 miles.
Another friend bought a 1995 model and rode 2 up from Zurich to Katmandu, they didn't have even a puncture.
Bike is very affordable, reliable, economic (specially the injected models) and easy to fix.
Forget about KTMs mate, it is a very good looking bike for sure, but, honestly, try to have a break down in the middle of nowhere in Asia and see if you will find someone able to fix it. Your chances will be almost null.
Honda is widely respected in Asia, most of the 125cc bikes around there are honda made (or fake hondas), because of that, seeing a foreigner riding something familiar for them will make your possible problems even more easy to get sorted.

Good luck!
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  #9  
Old 7 Jan 2014
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Well it depends on what you expect from your bike. If it's only reliability and ease of maintenance, yes go for a transalp.

Personally, I am a motorcycle freak first, and traveller because I want to ride different bikes on the other end of the world.

The Transalp felts very boring to me. I own a 640 Adventure as well, and I confirm that it's not a good pick for highway and street, but as soon as you go off-road, wow it's a blast! I even participate to the Tuareg Rally with mine, everything stock, and the bike mad it to the finish without much problems.

For europe I can recommend Cagiva Gran Canyon and Navigator, those are fantastic road bike with little off road capacities, they are cheap because nobody wants them (totally unjustified if you are a little bit of a mechanic and if you are able to use ebay to buy spare parts), and I haven't tested many bikes better than these for road use... Honestly.. The Gran Canyon is a little bit more a pain in the ass because of the Ducati Engine, that requires valve checking every 10'000km, but the Suzuki engine from the Navigator is bullet proof... I got mine for 1200$. And I have a Gran Canyon as well. And for those who gonna say that the ducati engine is not reliable, I had for a while a Cagiva Elefant 750 with 145'000km and the engine was never opened!


My advice, keep your 640. At least in Switzerland, they are getting very hard to find now. you will likely find a 950 for the same price.

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Old 8 Jan 2014
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Try starting a hot XR400R once it's been dropped. You will be there all day with the kick start. Don't do it.

It's basically why I sold mine. Also it's not comfortable over 60mph on tarmac bits.
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  #11  
Old 19 Jan 2014
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Thank you for all the info guys! I shall be keeping the 640 Adventure and touring on it very shortly!
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  #12  
Old 26 Jan 2014
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KTM all day long, not even close IMO.
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