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Old 03-02-2012, 07:46 PM   #1
Going_Commando OP
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Taking a trip, need some bike advice

I know this topic has been rehashed about a million times, and I have been searching like a fiend, but I would like to get some more current information. So, this July I am planning a moto-trip encompassing a good portion of the US, including Alaska, and 5 Canadian Provinces/Territories. I am leaning towards and "adventure" style bike for the versatility, and for the usability while in NH since our roads suck and are loaded with potholes. My first bike was a Honda XR-650L, and the long suspension travel was awesome, so I am looking for a bike with slightly longer suspension travel, comfort, ability to do longer distances, reliability, and serviceability. I currently have a 2007 BMW R-1200S and a 2006 Yamaha FZ-6, but the BMW is uncomfortable after a couple of hours and the FZ-6 doesn't really strike my fancy. So, the main contenders currently are the BMW R-1200GS (if I can afford it), Triumph Tiger 800XC, Suzuki DL-1000, and the 2012 Suzuki DL-650. The BMW would be a long stretch due to the price, and the 2012 V-strom 650 is a damn good looking bike. I want a reasonably light bike, and I would like something with a bit less power than what I have now in the R-1200S (125hp, 90 ft/lbs of torque). I am not yet mature enough to handle the torque of the S, so a Ducati Multistrada isn't really in the running (even though I lust after something like that). I still want a peppy bike that can accelerate faster than most traffic, is reasonably flickable, but can also carry a decent load.

I am figuring this trip to take about 2 months or so, which means I need to be able to carry a week or so worth of clothes, camping gear, some food, my netbook, my camera (Nikon D60), a couple lenses, and other small stuff. I am getting a pretty good idea on how I want to split my gear up, and am currently planning on a bike with 2 hard side cases, 2 dry bags on top of the bike, and a tank bag. So, whatever bike I will take needs to be able to accommodate said setup.

So, about me, I am 23 and have been riding for 3 years now, starting with the XR-650l, then going to the FZ-6, and then the R-1200S. I have found that I enjoy low end torque, but I also have come to the realization that I shouldn't have a bike that can wheelie in basically any gear. The boxer engine on my BMW is pretty fascinating, and I will own more BMWs, but am not dead set on getting one for this trip. My biggest concern is reliability. The last thing I want to have to worry about is if I am going to have a major problem on the trip, and honestly, the electronics on the BMW kind of scare me. Now, I am an electrician with experience in electrical control and PLCs, but its not like I am planning on bring a Fluke DMM and have to even think about plugging my laptop into my motorcycle on the trip. So, simpler mechanics are gaining a lot of momentum in my head, hence the Suzukis listed in my bike ideas.

I am also planning on financing the bike for the trip to free up some money to be able to ride for 2 months and not work. I have a job for when I get back, but will be job shopping on the way in case I see something better, but I still have to stretch my savings over quite some time, and it would be nice if I could shell out $500 or so for payments on the bike, versus shelling out $10k or so on a used BMW, or $8k for a Suzuki. Suzuki also has 0% financing right now, so a 2012 Vstrom 650 for $125 a month is looking damn good right now. I don't mind throwing a couple grand at whatever bike I buy to kit it out, but I am budgeting $12k for the trip, so the more of that I can do without putting it on my credit cards the better. This trip needs to happen, and this is how I am justifying, so please don't give me a lecture about staying out of debt.

So, with all this in mind, I am still a very open minded person, and I do have mechanical ability, so if you guys can throw me some ideas, advice, or whatever, I would really appreciate it. Those bikes are the frontrunners just because of what little I have read about them, but I am definitely open to other ideas. I did swing a leg over the KTM 990SMT, which seems like an awesome bike, but I am just a bit concerned about reliability with the KTM.

Thanks guys!
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Old 03-02-2012, 08:55 PM   #2
bomber1965
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Going_Commando View Post

My biggest concern is reliability. The last thing I want to have to worry about is if I am going to have a major problem on the trip, and honestly, the electronics on the BMW kind of scare me.......

.......but I am just a bit concerned about reliability with the KTM.

Thanks guys!
Get a used KLR, put saved money towards food and fun.
Sell said KLR at end of trip.
Next Question.



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Old 03-02-2012, 09:24 PM   #3
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Personally I would simply shift down a gear or two in the FZ6 and call it good.


But if that still doesn't do it for you I will happily pick you up at PDX and You can ride away on a new 800XC.

Wink Wink nudge nudge.

Like you, I used to want a big Adventure bike....(1200GS Adventurer) The more time I spent on lighter bikes the more the Large Adventure Touring bikes just seem like over-Kill.

The 800XC, 800GS or a 990 KTM are now the Largest Adventure bikes I would even consider.
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Old 03-02-2012, 09:28 PM   #4
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p.s.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Going_Commando View Post
the 2012 V-strom 650 is a damn good looking bike.


You really should visit the optician.
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:45 PM   #5
Going_Commando OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAKEZ View Post


You really should visit the optician.


It ain't no Ducati 848, but compared to the GS, it looks jaw-droppingly gorgeous.

Does the 800XC come with bags? I could always use another vacation...
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Old 04-30-2013, 11:29 AM   #6
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2012 V-Strom!

I have the new V-Strom, and I'm of the opinion that it would be spot-on for what you are describing. I have taken a few short trips so far, and find my DL-650 very smooth and comfortable, and a joy to ride. It has enough substance and power to give serious consideration to cross-country travel, unlike the KLR (which was my prior bike).
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Old 04-30-2013, 01:40 PM   #7
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DL650 or DR650SE, if you're looking to do it on a budget. DL650 if you don't really plan on any dirt more technical than a rough dirt road. DR650 if that dirt road turns to sand, mud, or logs/rocks and you want to keep forging ahead.

What's your height/weight/inseam? Do you always ride solo? What do you want to ride after your trip?
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Old 04-30-2013, 06:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bomber1965 View Post
Get a used KLR, put saved money towards food and fun.
Sell said KLR at end of trip.
Next Question.



It's funny, I was thinking klr the whole time I read his post.

Op, considering what you said about your finances I would look at the klr for sure. You might even be able to trade your fz for one, or sell it for enough to buy one.

That said I'd like to ride a v-strom 650, it seems like it'd be a good bike for this type of ride.

All typos and misspellings blamed on my phone.
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Old 04-30-2013, 07:58 PM   #9
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Maybe you could sell one or two of the bikes you have and pay cash for something else.
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Old 05-01-2013, 07:49 AM   #10
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The V-Strom DL650 will be the most reliable, or tied for most reliable of the bunch (plus lots of dealerships and other strom riders along the way for m&r). It will have the lowest total cost of ownership. And it'll be a fun ride. There are plenty of options to adjust the bike's ergonomics to better fit you, the rider.

Check in with the stromtrooper.com forum for more info and tips & help along the way.
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Old 05-01-2013, 12:19 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by jules083 View Post
It's funny, I was thinking klr the whole time I read his post.

....
Same here... they're cheap, and battle-ready. Can't go wrong on a KLR.

I've seen people do what OP wants to do on 1/4 litre bikes as well, but comfort would certainly become an issue (for me, at least).
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Old 05-02-2013, 12:29 PM   #12
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Sell one of both of those bikes you have now and buy a cheap bike for the trip, use the extra money for hotels, beer etc. on your trip.

Also you don't need any special dualsport bike for riding on Dirt Roads.

Every summer I go riding in VT and Upstate NY, and there's a TON of dirt/gravel roads up there. So it's not Alaska but you can log 50-100miles of dirt roads no problem up there in a day of riding. I've ridden all types of bikes on the dirt roads up there from my Old XR650L to a big ass ST1100.

People ride the Haul Road in Alaska on Harleys all the time too. I'd suggest getting a little seat time on a dirt bike and once you get the feel of sliding around on gravel, you'll be able to handle any bike on a dirt road.

If you like BMWs, why not look for an 1100GS? They're pretty cheap these days maybe someone would even trade straight up for the FZ6. I've done plenty of long hauls on the Super Slab and I understand wanting to be comfortable, some bikes can be painful after just 90miles others you feel like you could do another 600.
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Old 05-10-2013, 01:57 AM   #13
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Ktm 990. Seems like a good compromise between everything.
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Old 05-10-2013, 04:34 AM   #14
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Ah! The year old "Planning a Trip! Which bike is for me?" thread brought back to life.....by some unknown force...
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Old 05-10-2013, 05:59 AM   #15
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Trade or ride one of your current bikes. Any street bike will make the trip you are planning. Why make payments on a toy?

When I was 24 years old back in 1967, I rode a 250 cc bike to British Honduras (now Belize) with no problem.

I don't get the need to analyze these trips to the ninth degree. Get on a bike and go. Ain't no big deal.
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