Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Technical, Bike forums > Which Bike?

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.
Contact Overland Solutions for all your custom modifications and setup for overland travel.

AMERICA’S PREMIER MANUFACTURER OF MOTORCYCLE SUSPENSION

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 5 Jan 2009
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 3
Yet another "Which bike should I get?" thread

I'm 31 y/o and I've been riding (either street or off-road) since I was 12. I'm looking for an adventure travel, dual-sport motorcycle. I'm 6'-3" and 160 lbs.

The first trip I've decided on will be the Trans-America Trail... not really challenging trail riding, but definitely off-road. Subsequent trips will most likely be international and involve more highway travel. So, I need something either street-legal (preferably), or easily convertible into SL. I want true dual-sport behavior, so nothing leaning strongly towards either extreme...

Based on my own research I'm thinking 500-600 cc. I don't want it to under-perform on the road with a load, but I don't want it to be unwieldy off-road. What do you think based on my body size? I also plan on doing alot of solo travel, so I'll need to be able to pick it up myself a few times a day.

Also: Everything dual-sportish is four-stroke these days, right?

Last edited by TheEngineer; 5 Jan 2009 at 04:31.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 5 Jan 2009
Big Yellow Tractor's Avatar
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: England
Posts: 608
Sir, methinks thou seeketh the Holy Grail


You will have to make compromises somewhere. This question has, as you say, been asked many times before. Yet, no one can ever really achieve a definitive answer.

Some of the answers you get are trying to justify the bike they own or the bike they aspire to own. It is possible to tour the world on everything from a Monkey-Bike to a Bavarian Super tanker and everything in between.

Sorry, not very helpful. Wait for the more constructive suggestions to come in or better still, trawl the Hubb, then maybe start a “for and against” list. Have a look at some of the bikes “in the flesh” to help you decide. Also, in the long term if you make a decision, you are allowed to change your mind. Most second-hand bikes don’t loose their value very quickly so don’t be afraid to buy something and ride it for a few months.

BYT
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 5 Jan 2009
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Somewhere west of Laramie...
Posts: 479
Any of the 650cc dual sport bikes will do what you want - Suzuki DR650 / Kawasaki KLR650 / Honda XR650L (although the R is much nicer, it's not street legal out of the shop) / BMW F650 (or G650X if you can find one)... KTM 640 Adventure is another option...

I'd pick one you like the look of and try and get a test ride... most people use such bikes as a basic machine and modify/accessorize it to the way they want it anyway, and all the above have plenty of aftermarket parts and options available...

xxx
__________________
JennyDakar.com
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 5 Jan 2009
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Bassett, Nebraska
Posts: 277
Hi Engineer,
Most engineeers I have known tend towards logic and reason. So you have that going for you. That counts out all of the romantic and impractical bikes or the ones that go like hell and tend to blow up or are impossible to find parts for in Uruguay. You are also over six feet and setting your sights on the TAT so that counts out all the small, low ground clearance practical bikes. Knowing what I know now I would buy something cheap and reliable preferably from a meticulous anal type person on Craigslist or Advrider with garage floors clean enough to eat off. Maybe a KLR650 or DR650 in your case. Rather than spend a lot on a new bike I suggest buying a nice well maintained used bike which leaves more money for traveling.
Mind you I have worked my way down the food chain and am a minimalist. So a big RTW bike is overkill for me. When I was younger I didn't mind picking up a big BMW in the mud and rain out in the middle of Guatemala. Later this month I'll head down to Central America on a Kawasaki Super Sherpa. You'll have a blast no matter what bike you choose. Noboady much cares what bike you took to Tierra del Fuego. Your relatives will think you're nuts no matter what you end up buying.

Have fun!
John
__________________
South America and back on a 250 Super Sherpa Minimalist Adventure http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=831076
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 5 Jan 2009
Moderated Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 502
If you could get one in the US, a new Yam XTZ660 would fit the bill; in the absence of that I'd get an F800GS BMW now the gremlins seem to have been sorted.

SW
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 5 Jan 2009
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: West Yorkshire UK
Posts: 1,227
All of the above

I'd suggest not really worrying about the brands and models and simply go looking for the best deal you can get. As yet another engineer, set your specification then talk to the suppliers if you get my drift.

The big things to me are range (not fuel tank size anymore, now FI can be so efficient), tyre choice and the dealership network. If you take in second hand bikes as well, there is also the condition. With a blank cheque I'd probably go for an XT derivative, but if someone wants to fit an F650 or KLR with all the toys, have the first service done and sell me it for half the list price that'd be okay too.

To answer the final question, just about anything anyone will offer you will be a 4-stroke. Much as I love my MZ's, for hopping on and turning out a 500 mile day or riding a rough road , day after day, you won't beat the 600cc singles and the odd twin.

Andy
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 5 Jan 2009
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 3
Good points and advice everyone, thank you.

Well, I guess what I was really looking for was displacement suggestions more than specific models... which you guys and gals have already provided. Overwhelmingly it seems that 600-650cc is the mainstream opinion on displacement.

Beyond the displacement I'll make the final 'specific brand/model' decision based on cost, availability, necessary reinforcements/repairs, availability and cost of add-ons, availability and cost of parts, and of course, a few test drives.

As much as I'd like to go BMW, I'm going to save that extra $$ for the road.

I've heard some horror stories of not being able to locate tires outside the U.S. Are there any sizes that are fairly universally common? Or any sizes I should avoid like the plague?

I've actually never owned a fuel-injected bike. Does FI increase mileage enough to be a "gotta-have" feature? What percentage increase could I expect between identical bikes with carbs vs. FI?

Thanks for helping me answer the "unanswerable" question of which bike...

John

Last edited by TheEngineer; 5 Jan 2009 at 15:28. Reason: forgot to sign it...
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 5 Jan 2009
kentfallen's Avatar
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Isle of Sheppey, Kent, England, UK
Posts: 668
My advice is go for a YAMAHA XT600E. You simply won't find a better "bang for bucks" bike anywhere and thats a fact. It's probably the No1 African adventure bike ahead of the costly BMW's.

I procured a mint 1999 model with only 5,000 miles on the clock for only £1,600 ($3,200) in January 2007. I presume even better deals can be found across the BIG pond?

The Yamaha XT600E is about as straightforward, reliable and solid as an old school trail bike gets. The Yamaha XT600E was the last of a long line of 4-valve air-cooled Yamaha singles, starting off with the original, much-loved XT500 of the mid-70s. This is a true trailie: decent off-round and straightforward and ujn-fussy on. Don’t expect any frills or motorway plushness. But you won’t find a more honest workhorse than the Yamaha XT600E.

Completely trustworthy and about as straightforward as motorcycle engines get. The world may now have moved on with liquid-cooling, fuel injection and multi-valve systems, but for honest, trustworthy poke you could drive across deserts, I know which I’d take. The Yamaha XT600E is limited (to about 90mph) as a road bike, though…

The Yamaha XT600E definitely isn’t dripping in thick paint and lustrous chrome, but it’s rugged, durable and reliable – besides, all that shiny stuff never lasts long when riding on the much. No mechanical issues to speak of on the Yamaha XT600E, otherwise it’s a case of how well it’s been looked after…

The XT family of motorcycles are simply legendary...
__________________
Triumph Bonneville 800 (2004), Yamaha XT600E (1999), Honda XBR500 (1986).

Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 5 Jan 2009
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Bassett, Nebraska
Posts: 277
Hi John,

Everyone here has gone through this same process. There is no perfect bike.
The 650s get the nod in the U.S. quite often. It is seen as a middle of the road displacement. It is important to remember though that this is a huge bike in Latin America where a Honda XR250 Tornado is considered a largish bike. There just isn't a lot out there in Atlanta in smaller displacement. Suzuki DRZ400, Kawasaki KLX250S, Yamaha WR250R come to mind. You might want to at least check those out. Good information over at ADVrider.com in the thumper section. The WR250R gets 80+ mpg, is fuel injected and cruises at freeway speeds. Those are sexy numbers to a cheapskate like me.
Tire availabiliy is more of an issue in third world countries. But nowadays the capital cities are more likely to have 17" rear and 19"fronts in decent sizes for bigger bikes. The easiest sizes to find are 18" rear, 21" front that fit the 125/250cc honda/kawa/zukis that most people zip around on. You can get those tires everywhere.
Fuel injected bikes get better gas mileage for a given displacement as a rule. I don't know the percentage but at least 25 percent better fuel mileage would be my WAG. You might be surprised to know that fuel costs are very steep in some countries. 9 or 10 bucks a gallon when I was in Ireland last spring. Over 10 bucks a gallon in Turkey. It makes 4 bucks a gallon from last summer seem cheap. Okay, enough rambling.

Have fun!
John
__________________
South America and back on a 250 Super Sherpa Minimalist Adventure http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=831076
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 5 Jan 2009
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Bassett, Nebraska
Posts: 277
The Yamaha XT600E was never brought into the U.S. so isn't available over here. Go figure.
__________________
South America and back on a 250 Super Sherpa Minimalist Adventure http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=831076
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 5 Jan 2009
pottsy's Avatar
Gold Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: london, uk.
Posts: 365
Considering your size (heightwise, that is), perhaps the KTM 640 Adventure. If you've mechanical ability to keep it going if it's an iffy one.... Just an idea!
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 6 Jan 2009
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 3
Thanks for the input everyone - great advice and insight. I think I can now make a sensible decision based on your advice and the wealth of knowledge floating around the forums. This was my first post. I'll be around here and adv poking and prodding for various bits of info, and will hopefully, one day be contributing wisdom back into this estimable community.

I'm thinking Suzuki as a top choice with Honda at second. While I won't rule out klr's, I've never really liked any Kawasaki's I've ridden. I've obviously left out KTM and BMW, which I do regret, but I so value the fact that I have no debt that I want to stretch my funds, and the horizon, as far as possible.

I'm thinking I'll go for a 650. I haven't completely eliminated 400's yet, but I need assurance they can handle long distance asphalt with a decent load. I'll base my final decision off some riding. I've ridden motorcycles, played guitars, heard sound systems enough after pre-over-researching to have learned that nothing replaces your natural response.

Neil: This will be my 5th motorcycle, and my first non-Yammy. Makes me weepy-eyed. I so love my Yamahas, but there's just nothing in my range available here.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 6 Jan 2009
kentfallen's Avatar
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Isle of Sheppey, Kent, England, UK
Posts: 668
Sorry I wasn't aware that the XT6 wasn't ever imported into the states! What a shame.

In that case what about a -

1. Honda XR650
2. Kawasaki KLR650
3. Kawasaki KLE500
4. Suzuki DR650
5. Yamaha XT660

All the above are fine bikes by any measure. The KLE500 is currently available new in the UK for £3,000 ($3,000 now that Sterling is FCKED) which is a absolute steal (less than half the cost of an equiv new KTM or Beamer).

Now tell me that the US didn't get the KLE either

If you want a 400 then have a look at the venerable little Suzuki DRZ400.

You will need to get rid of that awful thin "cheese wire" OEM seat and fit a Acerbis fuel tank. Most would urge you to pick at least a 600cc bike though.
__________________
Triumph Bonneville 800 (2004), Yamaha XT600E (1999), Honda XBR500 (1986).

Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 6 Jan 2009
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Somewhere west of Laramie...
Posts: 479
Kent - the US market is very different to the UK, the bikes I listed above are all US models, while as you surmise, the Yamaha XT 600/660 range were never imported into the States, and the KLE500 wasn't a US bike either (understandable really, as it's pretty sh!t)...

The KLR650 is a very popular US machine, and continues to be one of the best selling dual-sport bikes, for some unknown reason!... actually, the reason is clear - you can pick up a brand new XR650L for around $4500, and a DR650 for well under $5000 too, same goes for the current KLR650 - these all cost significantly less in the United States than they do elsewhere...

Makes you weep doesn't it?

xxx
__________________
JennyDakar.com
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 6 Jan 2009
Gold Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 612
F650gs

Hi Engineer, given your height I think I'd be right in saying forget a BMW F650 GS, I mean the older 650cc model. It's too small. The one I did a 4 week test drive on vibrated far too much to live with on highways. For long times on a bike, think about the angle between back and thighs as this affects discomfort a lot. You need the thigh supported to avoid pressure. Best of times to you, Linzi.
Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Getting a bike in the "Stans" kw_bike Northern Asia 1 16 Jul 2008 09:17
Do we need a "How to get a bike in the states" sticky here? peter-denmark North America 0 1 Jun 2008 18:31
Bike as "sports baggage" on a Airplain spooky Trip Transport 4 9 Nov 2007 03:03
Getting a "non-compliant" bike into the US BruceP North America 16 24 Mar 2007 18:16
"Lending" my bike to my brother in South America rhinoculips South America 4 12 Sep 2006 09:22

 
 
 

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!


HU DVD Autumn Special!

Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!

Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).

The first in an exciting new series, Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers."Inspiring and hilarious!"

"I loved watching this DVD!"

"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."

"Wonderful entertainment!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.



Scottoiler automatic chain oilers. The most important accessory for your next motorcycle adventure!


Renedian Adventures


Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!




All times are GMT +1. The time now is 13:14.