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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 20 Feb 2020
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Smile Need advice on first road trip

Hi all,
This is my first post on this site since I discovered it a couple of weeks ago. I am scheduled about 6 weeks of holiday during the summer months this year, and I want to go to Ireland (personal reasons). I passed my A2 about a year ago, and was planning on buying a bike at some point once I graduate, but I've got it into my head that I really need to motorbike across Ireland (I heard of a route called the Wild Atlantic tour around the coast). Its been a while since I've ridden, so I was thinking a Honda CB125F would be a good starting for myself. I've read on here that its pretty decent to go touring on (I don't expect to go off road, and I don't really need the 70MPH). So here are the questions going through my head;

1. I've only got a half plan in my head so far about the details, but the general jist is, leave London for Holyhead, Wales, take a ferry to Ireland, travel the coast by day and sleep at cheap BnBs by night. Is this the done thing or do you guys have any better ideas (I'm afraid I don't have much experience with camping, and I don't know how safe it'd be since I'm travelling alone)?

2. Is the Honda CB125F suitable for this kind of tour? I didn't want to buy a larger bike precisely because of my inexperience; I thought it might be better to buy a small, relatively safe bike for this trip.

3. Am I suitable for this kind of tour...? I basically just passed my exam a year ago, and dropped biking since I didn't have much time to take up riding until now. If this plan goes ahead, I intend on buying the bike a couple of months in advance, and riding in the UK a bit beforehand to get a good feel for it.

I'm aware I need to make preparations, but I'll deal with that after I can confirm from more experienced riders like yourselves that I'm not deluding myself and can actually manage this sort of trip
Any advice would be much appreciated

Sid
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  #2  
Old 20 Feb 2020
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You've got as much of a plan as you need! There is not much of a language problem and the road system is familiar, although road signs and speed limits differ. Accommodation is your choice. When it rains in Ireland, it RAINS - there are all sorts of apps to find places to stay rather than camp - do some random internet searches to see what sort of prices to expect. Carry a small tent and sleeping kit just in case if you want, but it's not vital.

Any bike will do the job as long as you are comfortable on it and it can carry what luggage you want. Back roads are fun on anything.
Are you suitable? How can we tell you that??? The fact you are here and contemplating a trip is a good start. If you like being alone that's fine, alternatively you'll never be short of someone to talk to if there is a bar or cafe in sight! If it's roadcraft you are worried about, getting from London to Holyhead will be busier with traffic than anywhere in Ireland except probably Dublin itself.
You're not crossing the Congo here (you can do that next year!) Preparations should include a full tank of gas, some money in your pocket and a paper map to look at on the ferry.

Go for it :-)
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  #3  
Old 21 Feb 2020
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Welcome to the HUBB.

There is a gentleman who bought a Suzuki 125 in the Congo and so far he has ridden it down to South Africa and is now working his way up to Tanzania. The bike has been pretty reliable from reading his blog and whilst it has been a little slow at times he isn’t in a rush - also it means that he sees a lot more. Speed is not necessarily an advantage when travelling.

If you want to read his blog - it is really good and some of the photos are brilliant - then it is on https://ukgser.com/forums/showthread...of-Father-Jack

Above all, have fun.
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  #4  
Old 21 Feb 2020
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Hi Sid:

Welcome to the forum community.

I don't think you should have any worries about your planned trip - you appear to have thought it out carefully, you'll not be too far from home (it's not like you are going to China or Ukraine or Zimbabwe on your first tour), and you have lots of time - your travel plans are not overly ambitious.

Personally, I think a fractionally larger motorcycle, perhaps 250cc, might be a better choice. 125s are generally considered to be "city bikes" and I think you might feel a bit uncomfortable on highways, where the 125 would be wrung right out trying to keep up with 60 MPH traffic. That is my biggest concern - having done a cross-Canada trip on a Honda 360 cc bike many years ago when I was much younger, I still clearly recall riding along at wide open throttle, with no reserve left, trying to keep up with the 70 MPH traffic. It was not a reassuring ride.

Don't forget that you will be carrying some luggage, and chances are the total weight of all your luggage, riding gear, etc. will come in somewhere around 50 pounds. That extra 50 pounds will have a significant effect on the acceleration & sustainable cruising speed of a 125cc bike.

There's not much weight or size difference between a 125 and a 250, so you don't need to worry about a 250 being more "difficult to handle". There's not much of a price difference either.

What is important to you is that you ensure that the motorcycle is fully inspected and serviced before you set out. This means having tires on it that will take you through your full trip, getting any and all "little gremlins" fixed, and having the engine, drive train (chain) and suspension fully serviced before you go. This is not a big concern if you buy a new bike, but it is critical if you buy a used bike.

Michael
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  #5  
Old 21 Feb 2020
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Go

Hi,
just do it.

Use what is OK for you.
Try it and change if/when needed.

Enjoy
Vaya Con Dios
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  #6  
Old 21 Feb 2020
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Go for it. Too much worrying can kill any plan. Practice driving your bike, never been to Ireland so I don't know the roads, but others here say they are good. Get a good(not great) rain suit, at least good enough to get you to shelter. I've ridden in rain with a suit and it really makes me happier.
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  #7  
Old 21 Feb 2020
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PanEuropean View Post
Hi Sid:

Welcome to the forum community.

I don't think you should have any worries about your planned trip - you appear to have thought it out carefully, you'll not be too far from home (it's not like you are going to China or Ukraine or Zimbabwe on your first tour), and you have lots of time - your travel plans are not overly ambitious.

Personally, I think a fractionally larger motorcycle, perhaps 250cc, might be a better choice. 125s are generally considered to be "city bikes" and I think you might feel a bit uncomfortable on highways, where the 125 would be wrung right out trying to keep up with 60 MPH traffic. That is my biggest concern - having done a cross-Canada trip on a Honda 360 cc bike many years ago when I was much younger, I still clearly recall riding along at wide open throttle, with no reserve left, trying to keep up with the 70 MPH traffic. It was not a reassuring ride.

Don't forget that you will be carrying some luggage, and chances are the total weight of all your luggage, riding gear, etc. will come in somewhere around 50 pounds. That extra 50 pounds will have a significant effect on the acceleration & sustainable cruising speed of a 125cc bike.

There's not much weight or size difference between a 125 and a 250, so you don't need to worry about a 250 being more "difficult to handle". There's not much of a price difference either.

What is important to you is that you ensure that the motorcycle is fully inspected and serviced before you set out. This means having tires on it that will take you through your full trip, getting any and all "little gremlins" fixed, and having the engine, drive train (chain) and suspension fully serviced before you go. This is not a big concern if you buy a new bike, but it is critical if you buy a used bike.

Michael
Plus 1 on the 250. Some extra power can get you out of a situation better than brakes at times.

Safe travels
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  #8  
Old 21 Feb 2020
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Agreed on the slightly larger bike (250 is what is usually used by riding schools here in the US in their beginner classes), and also on the importance of comfort if riding in the rain.

You are doing basically what many of us do--a tentative, gradual self-introduction to riding. In my experience it's daunting at first--just heading down to the corner market seemed fretful and exhausting--but rapidly gets easier if you stick with it. I remember my first "long distance" ride, 90 miles into Seattle and back, and my first genuinely long distance ride, ~1500 miles into a corner of Alaska and back. Within a year of getting my license I was scooting around comfortably all over Europe for months at a time, and have continued accident-free for 100k+ miles on five continents in the years since.

On that ride up to Alaska I discovered the key importance of preparation for rainy weather. It's surprisingly easy to get wet thru, then cold, then slightly hypothermic on a bike, a combination which is neither safe nor enjoyable. After that trip I invested in redundant rainwear, i.e., a "waterproof" layer of riding clothes plus a "waterproof" layer on top of that when it was actually raining. Don't forget to include boots, gloves, and neck/head protection when doubling up, and bring along a couple of visor-squeegees for clearing your vision while riding--the ones which fit over the thumb on a pair of gloves have been awkward but indispensable for me.

Hope that's helpful.

Mark
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  #9  
Old 21 Feb 2020
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Need advice on first road trip

Where are you based Sid? Suspect a coffee or with someone local with a few touring miles under their belt would be a good idea.

You’ll have no problems in Ireland - an easy start.

As others have said, go a bit bigger (250-600), not a 125. You’ll outgrow it in no time otherwise and its not the right tourer for most people. Not sure of your budget or likes but i’d have a look at something like a Transalp or similar.

If your not a camper i’d check out YHA or backpacker places. B&B is ok but if you are travelling alone might be a bit lonely - think of where other single travellers would go in a location. Probably a bit cheaper too.

Agree on the right gear - doesn’t need to be expensive. An all in one waterproof suit (£40) deals with rain and cold/windchill, and get decent gloves and boots (if it ain’t goretex it ain’t waterproof in my experience).

Use your phone as a sat nav - build your route in google maps and export it to maps.me so you can use without data.

A good roll bag is a good start for luggage (got mine for £10 from Lidl and 20,000 touring miles later it is still dry and going strong). Don’t overpack - less is more!

And enjoy - it’ll be a breeze. Setting off for the first time is the hardest bit.
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  #10  
Old 22 Feb 2020
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You *can* tour on anything. I know of one guy who's ridden a Grom from Sweden to SE Asia. And many people choose to travel on 250 trail bikes, because they're at home on or off road. But realistically going on a 125 for a road trip is going to be hard work, especially with luggage. You'll be caning it on every hill and out of your depth on major roads. A 250 would certainly make a better machine for the journey you're looking at, and I'd go further and say consider something maybe up to 400 for a more relaxed experience on the road.

Touring UK and Ireland is very straightforward if you're from one of those islands. The roads are all good (a few potholes don't count) and the rules of the road are pretty much identical. As a low key introduction to touring for a Brit I'd say it's ideal. Plan a route, work out where you'll be stopping and *definitely* plan for all weathers.


The Wild Atlantic Way is certainly a good starting point, and covers most of the west coast of Ireland, but be sure to visit Dublin, Cork, Bunratty and Belfast

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  #11  
Old 22 Feb 2020
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Temporaryescapee View Post
...go a bit bigger (250-600), not a 125. You’ll outgrow it in no time...
Hi Sid:

TemporaryEscape makes a very good point - although a 125cc bike might look attractive to you now, if you are a full size adult, you will outgrow it very fast - most likely by the end of your Ireland tour.

Like I said before, a 250 cc bike is probably the size you should be considering. If you find something with a larger engine that is still lightweight enough that you feel comfortable with it, you could consider it as well.

Michael
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  #12  
Old 22 Feb 2020
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My first bike was a 650. The class I took (here in Washington State you can pay ~US$120 to take a weekend class which, if you pass the tests, includes an unlimited motorcycle endorsement) was conducted on 250s. The 650 single I bought new for about US$5000 was a lot for me to manage for the first 1000 miles or so, but quite comfortable by the time I hit 5000 miles several months later. That seems like a reasonable expectation.

In the process of getting used to the bike and to riding in general, I basically parked my car and went everywhere by motorbike--around the corner, to neighboring cities, out on dates. I offered rides to neighbors, took the long way home whenever I had the chance, and thought of excuses to ride up into the mountains or across the border to Canada. This helped compensate for the ease of licensing here in the US, which basically allows you to operate whatever bike you can find after only a couple of days of practice.

What I neglected to practice during that phase was riding the bike carrying a lot of baggage, which turned out to be quite different from carrying a passenger. I had a few awkward moments before I figured the proper weight distribution on a freeway after dark during my first big trip. The other thing I should have done more of was riding around in bad weather--light rains on oily road surfaces, heavy rains, fog, side-winds, that sort of thing. If I'd paid more attention to this aspect early on, I'd have saved myself the aforementioned hypothermia on my way to Alaska.

Hope that's helpful.

Mark
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  #13  
Old 23 Feb 2020
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
Agreed on the slightly larger bike (250 is what is usually used by riding schools here in the US in their beginner classes), and also on the importance of comfort if riding in the rain.

You are doing basically what many of us do--a tentative, gradual self-introduction to riding. In my experience it's daunting at first--just heading down to the corner market seemed fretful and exhausting--but rapidly gets easier if you stick with it. I remember my first "long distance" ride, 90 miles into Seattle and back, and my first genuinely long distance ride, ~1500 miles into a corner of Alaska and back. Within a year of getting my license I was scooting around comfortably all over Europe for months at a time, and have continued accident-free for 100k+ miles on five continents in the years since.

On that ride up to Alaska I discovered the key importance of preparation for rainy weather. It's surprisingly easy to get wet thru, then cold, then slightly hypothermic on a bike, a combination which is neither safe nor enjoyable. After that trip I invested in redundant rainwear, i.e., a "waterproof" layer of riding clothes plus a "waterproof" layer on top of that when it was actually raining. Don't forget to include boots, gloves, and neck/head protection when doubling up, and bring along a couple of visor-squeegees for clearing your vision while riding--the ones which fit over the thumb on a pair of gloves have been awkward but indispensable for me.

Hope that's helpful.

Mark
Agree about the hypothermic. My worst time was in mountains in Mexico. It wasn't raining, it was a constant fog-same effect. When I got to a hotel, I took a one hour hot shower.I'm a slow learner, but I almost never forget a lesson.
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  #14  
Old 23 Feb 2020
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Well I'm an enthusiast for smaller bikes and with your level of experience I'd suggest you'd get on better with the weight and size of a 125. The only time you'll feel you need more power is on a motorway and there won't be many of those on the Atlantic Way. With up to six weeks for the trip it's not as if you'll be doing huge daily mileages.

When I compare my 125 and 250, yes the 250 is substantially faster but it requires a lot more respect. In essence it's a small big bike, it has 'presence'. The 125 in contrast feels like you can take liberties on it and is fun to ride in a way you don't get with the bigger stuff (and I currently have just about every size up to 1800cc). In your situation the 125 is the one I'd be pulling out of the garage.

If you've not been to the west coast of Ireland before there's a reason it's known as the wettest place outside of your bath tub - even in summer. Whatever you save on buying a smaller bike, spend on decent clothing.

Don't worry whether you're "suitable for this kind of tour". If you want to do it, do it. Break the whole trip down into small managable steps in your head and tackle each of them separately. If you're going on your own the whole thing can seem daunting but it's meant to be fun so look at it positively. Camping can be enjoyable (and cheap) but it requires a whole new level of organisation, not only to buy the stuff but to load it onto the bike. For Ireland I'd stick with prebooking somewhere online each day. At least you'll be able to dry out



A flooded winter in the middle of France on my 125:

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  #15  
Old 23 Feb 2020
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Another vote for taking your 125, I have travelled quite a lot on one and as long as you avoid motorways it should not be a problem. From what I can remember Ireland was a place for slow travel but that was 30 years ago but I am sure there are still plenty of small roads where your bike can keep up.
Have a good trip.
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