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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.
Photo by Josephine Flohr, Elephant at Camp, Namibia

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!

Photo by Josephine Flohr,
Elephant at Camp, Namibia

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Old 5 Dec 2016
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Can't Decide so building my own Adventure Bike

Hi everyone,

My name is Dan and I've been looking at buying an adv bike seriously for about a year now. My background? I am in my forties, been riding off-road on-and-off since I was 8 and on the road since my early twenties. I've been through the Sports Bike era and survived, and came to adventure bikes via a slightly circuitous route. I had done a fair amount of touring on sports bikes through Europe but it was only when I had to commute twice-weekly from London to Devon on a bike that I realised that a ZX-9R wouldn't cut it; and neither would just about any other sports bike. My relationship with adventure bikes was born.

So, hooked on adventure bikes and having returned to the UK after 7 years in the Middle East I fully believed the hype that I must have a bike with a capacity somewhere north of 1000cc, if I wanted to go on any kind of adventure. Over the last few months though, and prompted by the likes of Austin Vince, Walter Colebatch, and even Steph Jeavons, I have come to realise that you don't have to have a massive adventure stallion. And in many ways they can restrict your fun. In perusing this line of thought I had to examine what I would use the bike; what I wanted it for. This boiled down to:

The bike will mainly be used on tarmac but I want the capability to take it on logging roads, green lanes, etc, and it needs to do all this whilst carrying a reasonable load.

In addition to this, I reckon it needs to be:

- Light enough to pick up myself.
- Comfy (I'm not getting any younger!)
- Capable of carrying luggage and the occasional pillion.
- Easy to mod (as that is half the fun).
- Simple enough for me to maintain it myself.
- Malleable enough in its design to allow me to replace the suspension, wheels, exhaust, screen, etc and for me to perhaps have additional welding done for luggage, power sockets, etc.

For me there is no rush to select the bike and I had been thoroughly enjoying the research phase when it hit me. None of the current crop of bikes was what I wanted. They all look great and I am sure are all very, very reliable. However, none of them are ideal for me and their fault lines range across some pretty fundamental territory; weight, comfort, range, reliability, cost. The interesting thing is that even if money were no object, there is nothing out there which is perfect for me.

So, sod it! I'm going to do my own thing and build my own.

I'm going to start with a donor bike as I have neither the skills, time nor garage space to start assembling a bike from the frame up. But apart from that I am going to start from first principles, source the right second hand bike, and gradually trick it out with the kit I want. Make the mods I want and see what I end up with. My thought process is that I will get it to a minimum standard: taller screen, intermediate tires, soft panniers, maybe bigger tank, and then just take it on trips two or three times a year. As I gain in experience and do some bigger and bigger trips, I can mod and adjust the bike as I go along.

In sharing this initial thread I want to get as much feedback as possible from you all, as I think I'll need it. I really am starting from the fundamentals however. I don't even have a garage at the moment so will need to source some space in which to store and work on the bike! Candidate bikes at the moment include:

Yamaha XT660R
Suzuki DRZ-400
Honda XR650L
Suzuki DR650
BMW F650 Dakar

But, any advice is well-received. As this is a long term project - although I want to have something in the garage/shed/lock-up by late spring 2017 - cost is less important than the eventual result. That said, the less I pay for the source bike the more chance I have of modding it as I want to. I would like to stay below £4K for the initial cost of the source bike.

So, thanks for reading this so far. I look forward to your comments and advice (if any) and I'll update this periodically as and when things start moving.


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Old 5 Dec 2016
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Hi Dan,
One suggestion I would give is try and start with an older, low mileage bike to keep the value down for the carnet, something about 10 years old with less than 10,000 miles should be fairly easy to find and be a good basis for your project.
Any of the bikes you list will be perfectly capable with little more than a bash plate and luggage but I find customising a bike to my particular taste part of the fun.
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Old 5 Dec 2016
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Hi Dan,

I'll just poking my nose in at this stage to say that this is potentially a great thread and I really look forward to hearing how you progress.

I, like Mark, lean towards the idea of a low mileage older bike which, apart from probably being more solidly built, should offer you more scope for mods/upgrades.

Keep us up to date and good luck.
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Old 5 Dec 2016
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If you can graft a KTM690 motor into a 640 adv Chassis, I will buy one off you.
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Old 6 Dec 2016
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G'day Dan, it wasn't till I'd finished the build, that I realised how damn good the "slightly modified" DR650 was! So much so that I think this is the future for me, I currently ride a KTM 950 Super Enduro R!

A friend who's a beginner found the DR650, I looked at it, he bought it and off we went! It had been sitting for years, it was cheap, had all it's service history, low K's and stock standard. It was woeful to ride home and Ol mate agree'd even after new tyres and a thorough going over, it needed a bit of everything. I'd read a few DR650 mod posts on Adv Rider, the DR650 thread, so I put forward what I'd found and got stuck into it.

We sourced an 05 RMZ 450 front end fitted the DR wheel & disc, Fat bars, bark busters, YGTR top triple clamp, re molded dash & key, Cogent rear shock, a full Staintune exhaust, re jetted it (140) air box mod too, lowered the pegs, Acerbis 25lt tank, Barrett pannier racks, Andy Straps bags, Tank bag and screen, second hand B&B bash plate and rear rack, now they're exceptionally good people at B&B, they supplied and sent a missing mounting bracket and hard wear free of charge, nice one guys!

I had to make a caliper bracket and spacers. The axle needs to be turned down to fit the DR wheel into the RMZ forks, had to turn up a internally threaded axle top hat also. The DR needs the bigger disc for stopping power. I used the RMZ caliper, its smaller, lighter and uses the same pads. I sourced headlight clamps off a DRZ 400SM and fit new smaller front indicators. Also pressed the triple clamp stem out of the DR's enlarged the RMZ's by 0.5mm and pressed it back in. New DR head stem bearings and job done.

The build was reasonably straight forward and it's well worth the effort, the thing is a beast. It'll sit on 120K's easily all day and soak up any terrain, it's plush, has plenty of adjust-ability, travel and it handles perfectly! It's also light (maybe 140 Kg) and reliable as the day is long! It'll also do 400 odd K's on a tank! Most of the parts were sourced second hand or made. Including the bike the build cost was about 6K AUD.

Ol mate kept my fridge full as well, he's one happy hombre and 5000 K's later he's still buying me 's
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Can't Decide so building my own Adventure Bike-20160405_121859.jpg  

Can't Decide so building my own Adventure Bike-20160504_140352.jpg  

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Can't Decide so building my own Adventure Bike-20160512_132203.jpg  

Last edited by Drwnite; 6 Dec 2016 at 12:17.
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Old 7 Dec 2016
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Location: holland-canada
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Hi Dan, i more or less have the same ridingbackground as you, so i understand what you're trying to built, and wanted pretty much the same, about 8 years ago.
I started with a low mileage XTZ Super Tenere, and modified as i rode it, to work,every day, and enduro club outings in the weekend, later further trips, to France, Spain, Canada, and Morocco.
Rode the shit out of it, and still enjoy riding it, lots, although 80.000 km's later its to worn out for far journeys.
To give you some details, i just toke the used front end of a Yamaha YZ and asked a suspension builder, which i knew from my mx and and enduro years to built a piggy back mx style rear shock for the bike.
And wound up with the ride exactly what i had in mind, after the mods i was surpised the twin 750 only weight a mere 170 kg's. and it has 320 mm and 300 mm travel, it took about two years, to ride and built, but i guess it takes some time to try what you like, good luck, any bike will work, if you like it

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Old 9 Dec 2016
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Dan, would a Yamaha 660 Tenere be of any interest ? We've just taken one in part exchange at work - from memory it's about a 2008 with 12,000 miles on the clock. It will probably go up in the shop at about £2,000 but we would take a little less for a quick sale.

We are, however, located in Jersey and the bike is registered here - 20% VAT would need to be paid on import to the UK and it would need to be re-registered on UK plates.

If you are interested, drop me a message with a contact email address and I can send some photos over
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Old 12 Dec 2016
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Excellent thread; I look forward to reading all about your choices along the way.
I agree with all the comments made. I would add that depending on the trips you have in mind, do you wish to avoid a water cooled engine to keep it even simpler?
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Old 13 Dec 2016
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Love your idea!!

I would search for a KTM 640 Adv. Or maybe a BMW X-Challenge if you prefer comfort over feeling, but you probably wanna exchange the rear damper (air).

Personally I love my 950 Super Enduro and would never sell it but I'd still love to have one of those mentioned above as well.

For me my next bike will hopefully be a Husaberg 570, 70 degrees and then make an Explorer edt. but from what I read I guess it's a bit extreme in the comfort area for your preference (?).

Some say the LC4 is no good, but I know of one that has passed 190 000 km, so...


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