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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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  #16  
Old 16 Jun 2013
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I am sure the bike is more than up to the task.
The only real caveat I see is that it is a brand new model.

What will parts support be like in countries where Honda doesn't import this bike?
?
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  #17  
Old 16 Jun 2013
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Originally Posted by Threewheelbonnie View Post
My 2012 Weestrom (DL650X) is averaging 65 mpg with a confirmed high of 77 (next tank did 67, so it wasn't a bad reading). The Glee (Gladius engine) is supposed to be fractionally more efficient. I'm riding a mixture of motorway commutes restricted to 50-55 by tax cameras and UK/West European back roads. Tank range is practically about 280 as while the theory says 320 the flashing light joins the voices in your head and you go fill up with 18 litres not the full 22. I have nailed it half the length of the M62, fully loaded at illegal speeds and still couldn't get it to drop below 60 to the gallon. People getting 55 mpg aren't changing up soon enough IMHO.

I had a carbed F650 single and could get high 60's to low 80's mpg out of it. On the one tank BMW let me put through an F800 I got 76 mpg. Maybe I'm just a tight Yorkshireman but I wouldn't let the numbers put you off either way. All the modern 5-800's are way better than the 30-40 figures people are still reporting from 1000cc Vee's and the like.

47 HP is perfectly sufficient for two up and luggage. You only need the Wee's 67 for lazy gearchanges and breaking the speed limits. Having the option to autobahn cruise maybe does make the Wee/Glee superior? Wouldn't be a feature I'd really look for though.

TCK80's are decent all purpose rubber if memory serves. I last used them in about 2003-4 though.

Pity your ride got cancelled, I think this bike is a contender and wanted to hear how it went.

Andy
Hi Andy

As soon as I get to ride the machine I will report back and give my opinion (For what it is worth!)

Scott
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  #18  
Old 16 Jun 2013
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Originally Posted by brclarke View Post
I am sure the bike is more than up to the task.
The only real caveat I see is that it is a brand new model.

What will parts support be like in countries where Honda doesn't import this bike?
?
Hi brclarke

That is a very good question! I suppose at this moment in time it will be difficult to say. I am not considering setting off until 2015, so perhaps by then we will have a better idea of which countries will stock this bike/parts and perhaps, we will learn something about the reliability of the new 471cc engine.

I personally suspect this engine will be as good, if not better (Dare I say it) than the previous CB5 engine, which in itself is almost bulletproof!

Scott
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  #19  
Old 16 Jun 2013
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Originally Posted by Walkabout View Post
Not really a comparison with the small GS - more a comment about the single cyl Vs twin consideration (lots of people like a single for it's simplicity, but, nowadays, Honda don't have one in the 600/650cc category).

Honda were making a big deal of the A2 licence at the last UK bike show; their whole stand was full of it. I guess that is a key difference for them in differentiating the 500 from their 700.

As for the dealers; sure they will want to sell a fireblade rather than a 500/700 any day of the week.

In the meantime, the GS list price has risen a tad, or my memory is failing (I had it in mind as retailing at about 5.5K which is what the F650GS single cost back in 2005 by the way).

ps There is one common factor between the singles and this particular twin - in the fuel economy that you mentioned earlier.
Hi Dave

You are quite right, your pick if you want to stay in the Honda adventure camp below 1000cc is either the CRF250L (The only single cylinder machine), the CB500X, NC700X or Transalp (All of which are twin cylinder).

As for dealers, I guess a fireblade would bring in more commission!

Scott
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  #20  
Old 17 Jun 2013
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Originally Posted by scott_walker_1 View Post
I am not considering setting off until 2015, so perhaps by then we will have a better idea of which countries will stock this bike/parts
500cc is actually a ´big bike´ in most parts of the world (in fact anything bigger than 250 usually is). Locals in most countries, especially third world countries, do not ride big bikes.

That´s why spare parts, or tyres of the right size for that matter, will not be widely available outside of Western Europe, US, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and maybe a few other countries. (..and in this case probably also Thailand, because the 500 is assembled there).

MAYBE this bike is so cheap, that it could become popular in some countries, where you don´t see many other big bikes, and that would naturally make parts & tyres more available in those places, but at the moment that is unknown (and frankly I doubt this will happen on a larger scale, even though it does have a price advantage compared to some other options – it´s still too big, and has too much plastic around it).
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  #21  
Old 17 Jun 2013
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Originally Posted by scott_walker_1 View Post
Hi tigershel

Do you have any suggestions for good off rod tyres matching these specifications?

Front:120/70-17 radial
Rear:160/60-17 radial

I have spotted these "Continental TKC 80 Twinduro" but have had no previous experience with them.

Thanks

Scott
Scott, the sticker is the rear. The TKCs seem to be available in 150 and 170 rear sizes, I'd probably go with the 150/70.
They are usually the goto tire for the GS Adventure crowd for dirt tires, and not terribly bad on the pavement.
Continental also has a few more paved road oriented tires.

It all depends where you ride. I've done thousands of dirt road miles on standard road tires on sport tourers like the VFR, ZX12R and the old GTR1000. But once you get into loose gravel, mud or sand, something like the TKCs are obviously much better.

If you will be doing long trips into more 3rd world countries where you will need to replace tires, you will need to plan ahead to get tires of the right size, regardless of brand or type.

That's one of the reasons I like the smaller 250 dualsports and so on, you can find the standard 21/18" tires just about anywhere I've traveled.

Another plus for the CRF250L is that Honda seems to be selling it into a lot of markets, even in the 3rd world. It's even been introduced to the Philippines, where their previous wide distribution dualsport was the decades old X200R.

Sent from my Android chinaphone, please excuse the spelling
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  #22  
Old 17 Jun 2013
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Originally Posted by tigershel View Post
If you will be doing long trips into more 3rd world countries where you will need to replace tires, you will need to plan ahead to get tires of the right size, regardless of brand or type.
Either that, or you leave home with new tyres, and carry an extra set with you, and hope that´ll get you far enough, where you can find suitable tyres again. Doing some research should point you to a tyre, that´ll have long enough mileage (.....in fact the mileage of some new tyres, like 15-25 k kms from a rear, might mean that you don´t even have to think about carrying spares any more).

So, is carrying spare tyres needed in the first place, is another good question, and that depends on many things, but at least it is possible on most bikes. I´ve personally carried a whole set for about 30 thousand kms, while travelling two-up.
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  #23  
Old 17 Jun 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scott_walker_1 View Post
the CB500X, NC700X or Transalp (All of which are twin cylinder).
Only one of these bikes is a proven overlander right now: the Transalp. It has a very long and good record, too, during its long model history.

That´s why, if I had to choose between these three for RTW, it would be the XL700V in a heartbeat (or who knows, even older XL650V/XL600V).

I do not doubt, that the CB500/NC700X could be fully capable, but there are a few unknowns with them (and they are even more biased toward the street than the good old Tranny). I know Honda makes good quality bikes, but personally I would not want to set off on a long trip to test those unknowns of a new machine.
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  #24  
Old 19 Jun 2013
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Originally Posted by tigershel View Post

Another plus for the CRF250L is that Honda seems to be selling it into a lot of markets, even in the 3rd world. It's even been introduced to the Philippines, where their previous wide distribution dualsport was the decades old X200R.
Hi tigershel

This is quite interesting. I wasn't aware that the CRF250L was selling in such markets. The reason I perhaps discounted this bike was for four reasons as follows:

1. (And I may have misunderstood this so please correct me if so) It only has a 250cc engine, so it would be hard work (Physically) for both me and the machine to complete such a long trip.

2. I have not ridden one myself, but I have heard that they are not particularly comfortable. Can this be overcome?

3. There doesn't appear to be much space to carry equipment and supplies.

4. Although the mpg is very good 85-90mpg, it only has a 7.7L tank which will give only a 150 mile tank range. An issue when petrol stations become sparse.

All that as it is, I have heard they are relatively easy to work on and extremely reliable? And as you say, if this is selling into many markets worldwide, parts should not be an issue.
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  #25  
Old 19 Jun 2013
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Originally Posted by pecha72 View Post
So, is carrying spare tyres needed in the first place, is another good question, and that depends on many things, but at least it is possible on most bikes. I´ve personally carried a whole set for about 30 thousand kms, while travelling two-up.
I suppose this depends on the type and size of the tyre you wish to ride on. Carrying a spare set around the sorts of distances you described I would imagine is not ideal, but if you were not convinced you could get any more rubber en route, then your choice is made for you. Travelling two up will of course decrease the mileage you are likely to get out of (A rear at least) a set of rubber, so that would be a consideration. I suppose in an ideal world, having a "Full test", i.e. riding fully loaded on your chosen rubber until they require changing will give you vital info about tyre wear and life span. I accept however this is an unlikely proposition for most though.
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  #26  
Old 19 Jun 2013
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Originally Posted by pecha72 View Post
I know Honda makes good quality bikes, but personally I would not want to set off on a long trip to test those unknowns of a new machine.
I fully agree. But as I am not planning on departing until 2015, I was hoping many of these "Unknowns" will have been discovered and resolved!
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  #27  
Old 19 Jun 2013
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Originally Posted by scott_walker_1 View Post
I suppose this depends on the type and size of the tyre you wish to ride on. Carrying a spare set around the sorts of distances you described I would imagine is not ideal, but if you were not convinced you could get any more rubber en route, then your choice is made for you. Travelling two up will of course decrease the mileage you are likely to get out of (A rear at least) a set of rubber, so that would be a consideration. I suppose in an ideal world, having a "Full test", i.e. riding fully loaded on your chosen rubber until they require changing will give you vital info about tyre wear and life span. I accept however this is an unlikely proposition for most though.

This is how we carried our spare set (the pic is from Iran on the way to India actually, that´s why my GF is covering her hair):



We added home-made parts to the bike´s crashbars to ´hook´ the tyres on. I had lots of doubts about it first, and even after the first test rides, but in the end it actually worked really fine for us. There was NOT many extra centimeters of space available, though, both tyres were resting against my knees in riding position (actually that was comfortable – and I got so used to it, that when we rode without the spare tyres, it felt very strange!). And the front wheel of the bike could touch the spare tyres, if tilted to the extreme left or right. It will depend on the bike model, if you´re able to carry them on the sides or not. If I was not able to carry tyres like this, when traveling two-up, then I probably would not have carried them at all.

In fact we saw another V-Strom in eastern parts of Turkey, but the next one after that we probably saw in Australia, over 20.000 kms later. With this setup, I never had to look up for tyres anywhere after leaving Greece, but it appeared to me, that for these wheel sizes (same as most big GS´s for example) tyres were not widely available. Maybe you could find something in the big cities, but I was glad, that I did not have to search as when on a bike, I´ll preferably stay as far from the big cities of Asia as I can!! I´m sure somebody has a different view on this.

BTW, on this trip, we got about 16000 kms out of each set of Michelin Anakee I´s. I was positively surprised about that, as the bike was very heavily loaded, and most of the time the temperatures were also +30C and up on the daytime. Front and back were finished at roughly the same time. We used a maybe 10% higher pressures compared to the recommendation.

(sorry, this went a bit off-topic!)
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  #28  
Old 19 Jun 2013
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Originally Posted by scott_walker_1 View Post
Hi tigershel

This is quite interesting. I wasn't aware that the CRF250L was selling in such markets. The reason I perhaps discounted this bike was for four reasons as follows:

1. (And I may have misunderstood this so please correct me if so) It only has a 250cc engine, so it would be hard work (Physically) for both me and the machine to complete such a long trip.

2. I have not ridden one myself, but I have heard that they are not particularly comfortable. Can this be overcome?

3. There doesn't appear to be much space to carry equipment and supplies.

4. Although the mpg is very good 85-90mpg, it only has a 7.7L tank which will give only a 150 mile tank range. An issue when petrol stations become sparse.

All that as it is, I have heard they are relatively easy to work on and extremely reliable? And as you say, if this is selling into many markets worldwide, parts should not be an issue.
Plenty of stories out there of folks who are riding Honda Cub style bikes and 125s around the world, let alone 'big' the bikes like a 250...
I've toured 2-up around parts of SE Asia on my Yamaha 125 and a Chinese 200, and would have no hesitation RTWing either bike solo.

The space and load capacity consumed by a 50kg passenger should be more than enough for the usual spares, tools, additional clothing, camping equipment and so on, when added to the 60 liters of luggage I was already carrying (tank and Ortlieb saddlebags). My passenger also carried a small backpack.

When going on a smaller bike, it's counterproductive to load it up too much. The biggest joy of small bike touring is the ease with which you can go almost anywhere. Pack as light as you can, and you will retain most of that.

I see folks posting here about how a small bike won't make it in the mountains: they should see how much stuff the locals here haul into some pretty rugged territory on 125 to 155 cc bikes. It's more a matter of getting the gearing and tuning right, and being prepared to ride within the bike's limits.

In general, the question of big enough depends on where and how you ride.
In lots of SE Asia and many other 3rd world countries, a 250 is as big as you want, and much bigger than the locals ride.
I've started asking the opposite question: is it small enough? Some of the best trips I've been on in the last 2 years have been to areas where anything much bigger than the 200 would have been very difficult or impossible to go.

Folks take rented Enfield 350s and 500s up into the Himalayas all the time : I'd much prefer to use the CRF.

Most of the traffic in the 3rd world moves along at 40 to 50 mph, going much faster raises the risk level a lot.


2. Comfort: bit of an issue, but there is a good aftermarket developing and a custom saddle should be a first step. If you are iron-butting 1000 mile days, it's the wrong bike, though.
On my previous dualsport, I had a custom saddle, heated grips, handguards, electric vest outlet and a windshield, and that made all the difference.
I find the dualsport riding position to be the most comfortable for me, others may disagree.

3. Load: see above, but you should have no problem fitting saddlebags, a decent-sized duffel and more. There is a CRF250L thread over on Advrider, along with 250 touring and minimalist touring threads that should give you plenty of ideas.
I'd consider adding some bracing to the subframe and so on, but that is something done to many of the most popular RTW bikes.

4. Range: I'm pretty sure there are already aftermarket tanks available, probably around 4 gallons. My Husky TE610 was about the same physical size and weight (but much taller), and I had a 5 gallon tank on that.
Maybe I should persuade you to ride something like my YBR125G : that comes stock with 12 liters which takes it easily 400km. The stock saddle isn't too bad and long enough for 3 people, we've loaded the stock rack with 40kg of clothing, and it's gone everywhere. River crossings, rocky single track, mud over the axles, steep climbs in the mountains and more. Just about all of that 2 up...

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  #29  
Old 19 Jun 2013
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One other option to consider is flying out to one of the areas where you think you would like to ride and hire a local motorcycle.
In places like the Philippines or Vietnam you can have a blast on something like a 125 and rental and running costs are very low, as is accommodation and food if you stay away from the tourist hangouts.

I did that and it totally changed the kind of bikes I rode as well as the places and type of riding I enjoy.

Anything that you want to know about Philippines, drop me a PM.

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  #30  
Old 19 Jun 2013
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Getting back to the OP about the CB500X, I also think it looks like a contender for a real-world travel bike. Like many others it may only claim to look the part but it seems comfy and is economical, tubeless, <200 kilo dry with big tank, windscreen, ABS and adequate dirt road agility.

A few weeks ago an [at the time] local Honda dealer (Doble) was unusually offering day rentals of new bikes including the X. I enquired after an one but never heard back and I see now that all mention of rentals seems to have gone. So I haven’t ridden one or even seen one up close.

One can manage with less but I feel a smooth 500 twin is all the bike most people (especially larger, well-fed individuals) actually need for one-up overlanding while still having enough in hand to enjoy brisk biking when the fancy takes. I said as much here a couple of years ago when introducing a travel bike I was putting together (mixture of GS500/DR650/DL650) and which broadly speaking was trying to be what is now a far more refined 500X.

The major improvement a 500X has over Scott W's old CB would be fuel consumption which I'd expect to be up to 50% better while automatically adjusting to high altitude, unlike carbs.

Depends how well-off one is and if it's about the bike or the journey, but for a genuine RTW I’d consider sticking with an old CB which I’m guessing can’t be worth more that £2000 but is a reliable hack. Let’s say petrol is world average of £0.70p/litre: if old CB does 50mpg (17.7kpl) and new CB-X does 70mpg (24.8) - £3000 of fuel money works out at…. a lot of miles on the old CB. And that’s not accounting for new X depreciation.

As for spares out in the world, I was recently riding a CRF250L around the US to assess it as a travel bike (my conclusion here). SWUSA is hardly ’out there’ and the 250 had been sold for a year but things like rad hoses and even air filters had to be ordered in from Honda dealers, despite showrooms the size of an aircraft hanger.
My point being, once on the road in the places outside Pecha72’s list (what I call the ‘AMZ’) you’re on your own when it comes to specialist spares for the sorts of bikes most of us choose to ride - just like you always were and especially with 17” tyres. But we've always managed.

Talking of which, in principle I like my idea of running identical size hard-wearing front and rear trail tyres (likes cars, pushbikes and most scooters) and then taking one spare would give you at least 15,000 miles on a CB, new or old. Posting on or investing in long lasting tyres to avoid carrying spares is smart strategy that pecha points out, although Anakees are too ‘roady’ to be contenders for my riding prefs. I'd go back to a K60 any day.

Depends where you’re riding but I feel TKC 80s would be wasted on an X as the back may only last 5000 miles (as it did on a Tenere to Morocco). Better with some K60s or similar which will last more than double that.

Unless you're into hardcore exploration, I think true off road ability is an overestimated requirement for RTW, even if it helps sell adv bikes, just like 4x4s. Most of us are simply following occasional gravel roads which local 125s and 2WDs manage. It’s when things gets sandy, snowy or muddy that a 250 trail bike is so much easier to handle, but as long as the X seat is low enough (32” says the brochure) I'd be confident a 500X shod with K60s or similar could manage most tracks.

But as it comes off the same Thai-built ‘budget rrp’ template as the CRF250L, I'd expect to see corners cut on the X - possibly suspension (as it was on the CRF; let alone the XR-like subframe...). The older Jap-built CB may be better put together and less fragile. All I could find about the X was ‘9 preload settings’ on the back + non adjustable forks with no clear image of the subframe which didn't look that well triangulated for support. That doesn't really matter on smooth sealed roads where most ride but makes broken roads or corrugated tracks tiring and harsh which can stress other components, especially if you're a larger person or ride with a lot of stuff.

Both are plasticy, but I see the 500X as a 21st century Transalp, despite it’s 17-inch front. On any travel bike you’ll be adding 20+kg of stuff and although the V has surely got a nicer engine and is better for two-up, it’s already 20 kilos heavier and I suspect with higher CoG.
The X must be more economical too; my mate commuting with a 700 Trannie says mpg is unexceptional for an efi but Honda has got to grips with economy on some bikes in the last year or two. Shame it took a recession to get them to finally think like that.
V Strom also heavier and Versys.. a bit heavier, juicier, higher seat, better shock and £7k with ABS option.

Looking forward to actual impressions and close inspections from new X owners.

Ch
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