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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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Old 18 Jun 2009
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you've heard it before, I am sure

Planning a trip in South America, and I own both an 05 R12GS, and an 00 KLR650. Which bike? It is time for me to start outfitting them, and I need to know which to take.

The both offer great things here in my little corner of the Western US.

The GS: great on road, already has a lot of add-ons that make it close to ready (Wilbers, alu panniers, new seat, etc.) I like the low centre of gravity. On the con side, I have had 3 (!) clutch slave cylinder failure, and one final drive. When the GS fails, it fails BIG!

The KLR: seems real rugged, like nothing could phase it. Nice fuel economy, and with an IMS tank, I can go real far now. The lighter weight allows the thing to bounce against all kinds of rough terrain. On tarmac, it does OK, but it is not as comfortable. When the KLR fails, I can usually get around...but it does not fail very often.
Tough to pick up that sucker once on its side - if I am alone, this can be important. Also, at 1m92, my friends tell me I am the only men they know that can make a klr look small. When I stand on the pegs of the GS, I don't feel like I am riding a kid's bike.

When the GS is in the mud, I can't handle it very well...have not tried on the KLR yet.

Opinions anyone?
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Old 18 Jun 2009
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  1. 2-up, take the GS.
  2. Riding mostly tarmac and doing longish days in the saddle, take the GS.
  3. Erring toward the beaten track, take the GS.
  1. Planning on taking tracks, riding off-road, take the KLR
  2. Want fix it yourself simplicity, tak the KLR
  3. Parts, tyre, fuel and shipping costs an issue? Take the KLR
Adventure: it's an experience, not a style!
(so ride what you like, but ride it somewhere new!)
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Old 18 Jun 2009
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If it's a road trip where you don't need to worry about the odd bit of mud take the BM. If it's an off road trip where you need to get from one bit of mud to the next take the KLR. Both will do the miles, it's just how fast and how hard you want to work.

South America seems to have everything from deserts to six lane highways, it's your mix that IMHO should set the choice. I took to a big GS on sand and mud quite easily, but an F650 or XT600 are noticably lighter and once you've tried both I think you'll see how a 600 is the logical compromise between a true trail/mx bike and a true tourer for a lot of people. I think you need to find some rough stuff and ride both bikes on it if thats what you'll be doing on your trip.

BTW, are you mechanically familiar with both bikes in equal proportion? Starting from scratch I'd be happier with KLR technology, but there are plenty who know their BM's. It's you and your bike that counts, not brand image or past performance, but you'll know if your GS and it's hydraulic cylinders are a one off or not by now I guess. How many miles since the last failure? Did you find a cause and remove it?

What's your insurance, import/export plans? The KLR is obviously worth less, so should leave more in the budget after it's actually sat on it's own wheels and ready to ride, but I wouldn't worry enough to switch bikes if you are planning Sierra del Fuego to Mexico City in a fortnight. Likewise the KLR will be cheaper to replace if you trash it.

My own choice is of course much harder. An MZ that makes nice blue smoke and can be left in any city in the world with the keys in the ignition, or the Triumph-Ural that doesn't fall over when I forget to put my feet down

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