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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 Igor Djokovic, camping above San Juan river, Arizona USA

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  #16  
Old 4 May 2022
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It depends how 'Hardcore' your adventure is.

If you want a proper off-road capable bike then you can literally scrub 90% of the suggestions above.

I love DRZ's. The gearbox doesn't suit the road well. But it will do 65mph all day long with a few mods and gearing. And if you're in places with no real roads, then you'll be lucky if you're riding at 50mph.

It's old school. But not XT600 old school. It's watercooled, proven reliable, simple enough and comes with modern quality cartridge forks and a fully adjustable showa rear shock. There is a reason they're shooting up in price.

I think the CRF300 is a contender if you don't mind the gutless motor. It pulls the bike around fine but you have to wind them up. Suspension needs immediate attention if you're to ride it seriously. 6th Gear and FI are hard attributes to ignore. The Rally is more weight. If you're getting all that fairing and weight just buy a 600cc etc.
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  #17  
Old 5 May 2022
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If you fancy a trip over, look up ‘Nathan the Postman’ - he does days out on small adventure bikes, including on trails and you can ride the usual suspects back to back.
North Devon is lovely and he’s a top bloke into the bargain.
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  #18  
Old 4 Jun 2022
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You can't ride offroad on Iceland as far as I know, but you can find some terrible roads where choice of bike matters a bit.

Not a 300, but the Yamha wr250r is a really capable, light weight and reliable dualsport with an extensive dealer network world wide. This bike is not a commuter bike in wolf skin, but the real deal. It is not like the wr250f which is a racing beast that needs a lot of maintenance and is unsuitsble for travel even if you made it road legal, but the wr250r is based on this racing bike, but with a more road friendly engine, all the road legal requirements, and more comfortable suspension, etc. This is the bike I would have chosen as a second bike for weekend trail riding - if I was to do it often.

If it has to be a minimum of 300, then the Honda CRF300 Rally might be something to conscider, but if you want to ride it hard on the roughest stuff, then you might want to beef up the suspension. As for a travel bike that will see some really rough stuff, I think it is a better option than the yammie. Also the Honda, like the Yamaha, is a reliable bike with an extensive dealer network (even better). This would probably be the bike I would have chosen for myself for very long adventures - and keep it pretty much stock (even the suspension, except for s stronger rear spring). I would be happy to have this as my only bike.

If you want power and borderline out of the box race ready, then conscider either the Husqvarna 701 Enduro or the KTM 690 Enduro - pretty much the same bike. It is ofcourse in a completely different price bracket than the two above. (I know that if I was to purchase a bike in this price bracket, it would probably end up costing an extra 100% in mods to get it to be a "perfect". I wo (strengthened sub frame, larger tank, new cockpit...). Also, with the KTN/Husqvarna you don't get the reliability and the extensive and superior dealer network of the two Japanese options. When contemplating the KTM/Husqvarna, I would probably end up with a T7 Rally instead (which I am very glad I actually ended up doing), and maybe conscider a WR20R as a second bike if I were to go riding trails every other weekend. The T7 for me is the perfect compromise as an allround bike for me (touring, commuting, and the occasional one month adventure in Morocco or crossing Iceland, or just horsing around on a trail a seldom once in a while).

Now, for a really long adventure, like crossing both the African and South American continent, I might find that I'd want to get a Honda 300 Rally and sell it after the trip - or just take the T7, which is a bit heavy, but is all farkled out and tailored to my preferences, and is very capable even stock. The T7 is a bike I will own for many years and be racking up a ton of kms on - on all types of trips. I would only conscider something different for a very special need - like a one+ year RTW or weekend trail warrioring every other weekend.

I rode a BMW F650GS Dakar criss cross and around Iceland, fairly stock bike, and found it to be a very good bike for this. Some would argue that the lighter bikes would have been better here, but I would disagree - the going doesn't get so tough here that the 40 kgs less matters much, and the Dakar has many redeeming factors that made it an awesome bike for this trip.

I have been to Russia, but not in Siberia. As for Siberia, I have no experience, but I would assume mud would be something to endure - and that a Light weight yammie or Honda would outshine a heavy T7 massively.

In short, take a look at the Honda. I think it might be the best option.
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  #19  
Old 6 Jun 2022
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Declan View Post
What about the the KTM 690 but you like me also question the reliability.
I considered the 690 for my next planned trip across Asia, but discounted it in favour of the 790, for these reasons:
- As you mention, there are mixed stories of reliability, though I would expect later models to be better
- There is no "adventure" model available with big tank, etc, so I'd be looking at quite a lot of money to "adventurise" the bike.
- 90% plus of my journey will be on tarmac, and the off road sections I anticipate will not be extreme.
- That's what the 790 is basically built for right out of the box.

That said, you mentioned you didn't want to go that large. The suggestions for CRF300, CB500X or 390 Adventure are all worth looking into. Of course, they will get a bit breathless on road sections but there are no unicorns
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  #20  
Old 6 Jun 2022
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My experience of the KTM 690 is bulletproof reliability (I've had three, still have one) and it does everything on your list plus one... high-speed motorway liaisons if needed.

I stuck a Lynx cockpit on my London 690, but didn't bother doing that with my Spanish bike where the cockpit is a simple touring screen with a defector on top. Luggage is Metal Mule. I'm 5'8" so I bought 2012 and later bikes which are lower than the previous 'R' models.

Fuel range when gently exploring in Spain and Morocco is 275km average over 24,000+km, 360km best-ever on a single tank, so I never fitted a bigger tank, see Lucía's Fuelly log at https://www.fuelly.com/motorcycle/kt...mcullis/251250

But if you don't need the high-speed motorway liaison ability perhaps a CRF300 is more suited? Don't know as I've not ridden one, but I did have an XT660Z which given the large fuel tank and nice cockpit, at the time I referred to as the best 'out-of-the-box' adventure bike, but it's much heavier than the 690 and nowhere near as tractable.

The words below are something I wrote three years ago before test riding a KTM 790S (which I ended up buying for UK riding, though I have taken that also to Morocco.....)

Any bike by definition is a set of compromises, especially in the long distance comfort vs off-tarmac choices. The 690 is one of only a few bikes that you can stick 50 kgs of luggage on, ride 1000+ km, and then head off over a ploughed field or sand dunes without taking the luggage off.

Whilst not particularly comfortable, it swallows long distances and motorway speeds—I’ve ridden my London-based 690 from Aberdeen to London in a day which is 880 km (550 miles). In one 20-hour period I rode my Spanish-based 690 from Marrakech to Tanger, took the ferry to Spain then rode on via Granada to our cave in the mountains which was 1100 km (690 miles).

There are lighter (i.e. better) bikes for off-tarmac adventures, but they can’t carry sufficient luggage, would be excruciatingly uncomfortable for long distance, and have a service interval measured in hours rather than 10,000km. There are better (invariably much heavier) bikes for distance travel but unless you are an off-road god they are impossible riding in loose sand—I’ve been there and done it, with a BMW 1200 GSA, and have no wish to revisit the nightmare.

When I’m in Morocco I normally ride solo, often in very remote places, sometimes in 40ºC heat with no shade. Getting a puncture in tubed tyres in those conditions is a real downer so at the moment I run the Spanish 690 with mousses, an expensive solution as the mousses cost as much as the tyres and need replacing as often.

Consequently, the tubeless tyres on both models of the 790 are a huge positive as far as I’m concerned.




2013 KTM 690 R Enduro set up for adventure travel



Off-tarmac on the 690 with Rosie
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Last edited by Tim Cullis; 7 Jun 2022 at 08:13.
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  #21  
Old 7 Jun 2022
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomkat View Post
I considered the 690 for my next planned trip across Asia, but discounted it in favour of the 790, for these reasons:
- As you mention, there are mixed stories of reliability, though I would expect later models to be better
- There is no "adventure" model available with big tank, etc, so I'd be looking at quite a lot of money to "adventurise" the bike.
- 90% plus of my journey will be on tarmac, and the off road sections I anticipate will not be extreme.
- That's what the 790 is basically built for right out of the box.

That said, you mentioned you didn't want to go that large. The suggestions for CRF300, CB500X or 390 Adventure are all worth looking into. Of course, they will get a bit breathless on road sections but there are no unicorns

The CB500X, although a decent adventure bike, my number one concern with this bike in terms of "hard core" adventure would be the alloy wheels. The smaller wheel sizes, and the lower ground clearance could be an issue also - but may still be a good compromise for the vertically challenged. It is more the cast alloy wheels that I would be concerned about. Smashing one up in the middle of nowhere can put you in a very bad place to say the least, and it is quite probable if you don't take it easy in the rough stuff. The wheels can be upgraded with spoked, but IMHO it will come at a cost which simply isn't justifiable for a bike in this price bracket.

I bought a 390 Adventure, and it shares the same wheel issues as the CB500X. The KTM 390's ergonomics is also a bit aquard for offroading (still quite ok). The bike is quite a bit lighter than the CB500X, and much cheaper. The only reason I bought the KTM 390 and not the Honda 300 Rally was because the Honda had not come to market yet, and I also got a great deal on the KTM. The CB500X would however be the most comfortable ride of the bunch - on the road. Both the CB500X and The Ktm 390 Adventure are great options for the vertically challenged. If you are not vertically challenged, then I think the CRF 300 Rally is the more "hard core" option.

What someone considers "hard core adventure" is of course very different to that of another. To me "hard core adventure" usually involves a very long trip, with some long stages where you are completely left to your own should anyone your group get in trouble - and with a very long distance to walk out should that be your only option (no one to call, no one who will come looking, no one who will come around). Riding highly difficult trails for a weekend, far out in the boonies, and riding them hard - that for me involves a completely different set of "hard core" - to me that is maybe closer to motorsport than adventure.

For me, on a "hard core adventure", I wan't the equipment (bike) that will keep me out of trouble in the first place - a reliable bike that is very adapt to navigate the terrain I will be riding. Further, the bike should be able to take a beating and still be able to carry me out with some bush craft. Also, since "hard core" for me usually involves long distance travel, it also needs to be comfortable enough to ride days at end. Rider fatigue is also a sure way to cause injury to yourself or damage to the bike.

Depending on your skill, and your physique, the weight of your bike could mean a lot, but never nothing - for most it makes more than a little difference to have a low weight bike when getting into the rough stuff.

Most of my riding now is done on a T7 - which is quite heavy compared to the KTM/Husquarna. I'm no professional rider, but the T7's redeeming features still makes it the best compromise for me for the rides I am currently doing the most. For me, that means that when doing anything "hard core", I take more precautions and take it more slow and easy than I otherwise would. That also means, that if I was to be gone for a very long time, I would consider trading it in for a Honda CRF300 Rally.

Tim Cullins knows his stuff more than most - if he says the 690 is reliable enough, I would take his word for it. I also believe that many of the early issues has been ironed out. In the end though, all bike models have some common problems you need to be prepared to tackle. Some may be easy to prepare for - like bringing an extra fuel pump for bikes where this is prone to fail (the 690 reportedly being one), or carry out any preventative measures by upgrading fail prone items (i.e. strengthening the sub frame on the 701 or protect the wiring loom from chaffing on the 690). Bikes that have common issues that you can't prevent from happening on the road, or you cant readily tackle in the bush - those are bikes you really need to steer away from. None of the bikes mentioned so far belong in this category.

I often find myself drooling over the 690/701 - for its low weight, power and offroad capabilities. But like Tim Cullins says - in the long distance adventure department, it leaves much to be desired when it comes to creature comforts. For a much less expensive bike than the 690/701, I would be more willing to live with shortcomings - i.e living with the inconvenience of a fuel bladder over upgrading the tank. But, if I buy a bike in the more expensive price bracket, it is because I am trying to buy myself out of shortcomings. With the 690/701, there is still much that I would need to upgrade before I would have felt that I had ironed out the biggest issues - with crazy depreciation when it comes to resale value.

The KTM 790 is more adventure ready than the 690/701, and is a beast of a bike, but is also in the T7's weight bracket. It is more capable than the T7, but not by much - only a lot more expensive. The weight of either of these two bikes will make them more of a handful to manage in the rough than any of the other options mentioned.

All aspects of a "hard core adventure" considered, to me, the Honda 300 Rally or the T7 Rally are the two most rounded off bikes that would give me the most value for money today - right out of the box. They are at different ends of the same spectrum, but on the same spectrum non the less - each with their own set of redeeming factor where it falls short of the other.

Some good questions to ask - will this be your only bike or can you afford a second special purpose bike? How long do you intend to keep it?

All the bikes mentioned so far are very capable - you can't go very wrong with any of these.
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  #22  
Old 7 Jun 2022
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Originally Posted by Wheelie View Post
The KTM 790 is more adventure ready than the 690/701, and is a beast of a bike, but is also in the T7's weight bracket. It is more capable than the T7, but not by much - only a lot more expensive. The weight of either of these two bikes will make them more of a handful to manage in the rough than any of the other options mentioned.
I agree with most of what you say, but must put my hand up here. Although the T7 and 790 are similar on paper they are very different bikes. The Yamaha is much simpler electronically, arguably a better option for the middle of nowhere, has a beautiful engine, and runs tubes in the wheels. The 790 is a much better bike off road as stock, and carries the fuel weight low in the pannier style tanks (which also act as good crash protection). The low fuel gives it a low CG (unlike the T7 which caries 19L high above the engine, making it more unwieldy and a nightmare to pick up alone). The 790 has tubeless wheels (despite being spoked) which work very well, but could be harder to repair in case of a puncture. With up to 70mpg available, the KTM has a range of well over 250 miles.

Ultimately someone who wants a bike that will do a fairly specific job, they're going to end up modifying it. My 790 fits my needs well but I've spent money on mods regardless. And if cast wheels were the only stopper to an otherwise well suited bike I'd say get them built
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  #23  
Old 8 Jun 2022
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A point that havent been mentioned so far is the low octane gas that often seem to be the only available option in Mongolia and «far east/stans» country - and what bike is suitable and compatible with such fuels.

Arent the KTMs/Huskies quite high strung with high compression engines that requires relatively high octane gas? And if so wont these KTMs/Huskies get problems with the 80 octane gas you often get in Mongolia/Stans?
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  #24  
Old 8 Jun 2022
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Snakeboy that's a very good point and one that has concerned me too. I've spoken to KTM who don't do a low octane map for the 790, though I will ask again before I go. As it stands I'm packing a couple of litres of Silkolene octane booster, and I've invested in a Coober lambda manager so it doesn't run lean (for emissions) low down (were you spend most of your time). I'm cautiously confident we'll be OK, but it's not just a KTM issue - all of the new generation of bikes are designed to run very lean.
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  #25  
Old 10 Jun 2022
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomkat View Post
Snakeboy that's a very good point and one that has concerned me too. I've spoken to KTM who don't do a low octane map for the 790, though I will ask again before I go. As it stands I'm packing a couple of litres of Silkolene octane booster, and I've invested in a Coober lambda manager so it doesn't run lean (for emissions) low down (were you spend most of your time). I'm cautiously confident we'll be OK, but it's not just a KTM issue - all of the new generation of bikes are designed to run very lean.
Yes it seems all new bikes are set to run lean and are very tall geared too!
However it seems many KTMs have a higher compression than some of the other bike manufactorers/models….?
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  #26  
Old 30 Jun 2022
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Ajp pr 7 ?
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  #27  
Old 1 Jul 2022
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Originally Posted by Tomkat View Post
.... I've spoken to KTM who don't do a low octane map for the 790, though I will ask again before I go. ...
In another forum somebody published a screenshot that at KTM US a flash for low fuel is available at the KTM dealer.

So I am wondering what is the difference between a european and a us 790?
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  #28  
Old 18 Sep 2022
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@Declan how did this pan out for you with bike choice..?? Just gone through this thread and couldn't help but seek comfort from comments that bolster my decision to build a dual sports 'Unicorn' using the mighty CB500F engine. 140kg is asking a lot mind. Be interesting to see which way you went on this.....

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  #29  
Old 13 Nov 2022
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I currently have a BMW X Challenge. Before I bought it I struggled with whether to get a KTM 500 EXC or the X Challenge.

Are you planning on riding to Mongolia/ Siberia? If your plan is to ride all those miles to get there than get at least a 500 cc bike.

The X Challenge sounds like a good fit for you, but it does have a couple of annoying flaws. It has an aluminum sub frame, so if you break that in Mongolia, good luck. The original clutch cover has a flaw and that is a $300 fix, so make sure the previous owner has fixed it. The stock suspension sucked, so make sure the previous owner upgraded it. You check the oil under the bike's seat which is a super dumb design on BMW's part. Despite being a good bike, it came out in 2008 with the global recession, so hardly anyone bought the bike and BMW has stopped supporting it with spare parts. The good thing about the X Challenge is 3000 mile oil change intervals. It is good both off road and on road. It is light enough that you can pick it up by yourself.

The KTM500EXC has a great reputation but the largest problem is 600 mile oil change intervals because of a 1.5 liter engine. You can upgrade it to carry 2 liters of oil, so you can extend the intervals. At 240 lbs it does not have a sub frame, but it can be upgraded. 240 lbs!

I test drove a Yamaha T7 and it seemed like a good bike, but not a bike I would spend the $$ on.

I have owned a DRZ400 and I think you would really like this bike. They are a lot of fun "off road." The 400 cc's isn't enough if you have to ride hundreds of miles on highways.

The CRF300 rally at 300 cc's is too small.

The CRF450L looks like a promising bike, but it has the 600 mile oil change interval and used ones are still too pricey.

Rather then having to ride a bike all the way to Mongolia and back from the UK, a better idea might be to buy the bike there. Watch the Hubb for sale section and when a bike comes up for sale in Mongolia, negotiate a fire-sale price, fly there and ride it for 3 weeks. When you are done fire-sale it to someone else. If a $1000 bike breaks down in Mongolia who cares?
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  #30  
Old 13 Nov 2022
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AJP PR7. Period.

If you can grab one, sincere all production is sold in advance. Ticks all your conditions.

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Ajp pr 7 ?
I was looking for someone to mention it in the thread. And absolute knocker of a bike!

Ps: I would add in the requirements «*6th gear mandatory*»
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