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Old 01-13-2014, 07:17 AM   #1
NLD OP
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What to look for in my next dual-sport bike?

[n00b alert]

After being in the saddle of my '07 WeeStrom for several years, it is time to move on and I am looking to get a new (to me) bike for two reasons:
1) I want to develop my offroad riding skills and travel more off pavement
2) Because I can :-) I haven't found my perfect bike yet, so I change every couple of years :-)

But I find it hard to determine what to look for as there are so many dual sporting bikes. I cannot get a cheap offroader next to my Wee (because of space restrictions and Wife Acceptance Factor), and I do want to find a balance between offroad capable and allroad capable: I know I will often be riding it as a communter on the pavement. And in order to get to some good offroad conditions, I have to be able to cover some distance on highways.

I see so many factors that determine the balance, but I don´t know how to weigh them: 21" front, spokes/tubes vs cast/tubeless, horsepower, suspension, knobbies on pavement vs allroad tyre offroad,etc.

For example: I looked at BMW F800GS, Honda AT and Yam XT660Z Ten. BMW has many more horses than the rest, but (by looks/image) seems a lot less offroad than the Ten for example. The Ten looks really lightweight, but from what I can dig up, it weighs about as much empty and the BMW. The AT is a cult-classic, go-anywhere bike, but is big and expensive (here at least), yet I rode one briefly through some single track (slowly) and it handled a lot easier than my Wee. Coming spring I plan to ride several different bikes to see which one I like to ride (that fit the budget between 6k and 8k (euro), but I won't be able/allowed to take those offroad during a testride :-)

I know this is not necessarily about what's considered "beasts" here, but I figured this is a good place to post this.

Without this becoming a pissing contest, can the more experienced riders/adventurers chime in with their two cents on how to make a good choice?
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Old 01-13-2014, 08:06 AM   #2
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Seems to me if you are trying to learn to ride off road, you should be in the Thumpers section. Or if you want to learn it on a beast, stay with the 650 Strom for a while longer. I would hate to see what the beasts you mentioned would look like while you are sorting out your dirt prowess. Lots of crashes I suspect.

I realize you said you can't have two bikes. But it would sure help your pockets if you could buy a cheap used off road bike to learn on. Then sell it for what you paid for it after you were done.
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Old 01-14-2014, 12:32 AM   #3
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Question

Thanks MarylandStrom, that is pretty much my preferred way to go: get a cheap thumper that runs reliably but can be put on its side while learning :-) Unfortunately, I don't think that's gonna happen anytime soon

I have limited experience riding the Strom off pavement, did an allroad course on the Strom and had a day with ridiculous amounts of fun riding a GasGas trials bike at a friends house last summer. So now I *really* want to travel more off the beaten path.

But what I don't really get (and here's the n00b talking again): I rode 3 different AT's in the past, two of them on sandy and gravel trails. They were a lot easier to handle than the Strom. Is that mainly because of the larger front wheel? On road though, they felt a lot more like a boat when braking and cornering compared to the Strom. I have done two short demo rides on xt660z tenere's, only on road: really nice (with road tyres) handling, but very high saddle height, but a lot less power.

I haven't ridden the F800GS yet, but I am guessing I would like the more horses, and hope it handles as well as the Strom (or better) onroad, but I guess dropping it offroad would get expensive quickly ;-)

Tough choices ahead I guess... until then I guess I´ll keep reading all the great stuff in these forums!
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Old 01-14-2014, 03:28 AM   #4
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My experience

I had a VStrom with 18,000km on it and wanted to start exploring off-road, but had no off-road, or even gravel experience. I started contemplating taking the Vstrom offroad and added crash bars etc. But then sanity prevailed. I sold the Strom, and bought a GSX1250FA for road duty, and a DRZ to learn to ride off-road. The first time I went off-raod and crashed I was soooo thankful for the DRZ, because I picked it up and it was perfect, no problem. I could not help to think that, if that was the Strom, It would have significant damage.

I am still improving my off-road skills (2014 is the year of sand riding), and will be adding a few bits to the DRZ, because it is fantastic for that purpose. One day I will have a proper big adventure bike (my Multistrada will NEVER see dirt), but only once I have a LOT more dirt experience. Based on my experience (and others may be different), I do not believe it is a good idea to attempt to learn to ride off-road on an adventure bike, because it will fall over, and you will damage it, no question. As a result, I think it takes a lot of joy out of the experience, and you are less likely to try new things and push the boundaries.
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Old 01-14-2014, 02:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NLD View Post

But what I don't really get (and here's the n00b talking again): I rode 3 different AT's in the past, two of them on sandy and gravel trails. They were a lot easier to handle than the Strom. Is that mainly because of the larger front wheel? On road though, they felt a lot more like a boat when braking and cornering compared to the Strom. I have done two short demo rides on xt660z tenere's, only on road: really nice (with road tyres) handling, but very high saddle height, but a lot less power.

I haven't ridden the F800GS yet, but I am guessing I would like the more horses, and hope it handles as well as the Strom (or better) onroad
Hi NLD,
I would recommend throwing a set of TKC 80s on the Wee and see how you like it off-road. Heck, even airing down with regular tires makes a huge difference in traction. You already have the bike, and buying a set of tires is cheaper than a getting a different bike.

ADV bikes are all about hitting the right set of compromises for you.
AT= Africa Twin? We don't have those over here but I bet that you are feeling the effects of a 21" front wheel and much more dirt-oriented suspension geometry (rake/trail). The Wee has an on-road oriented geometry and a nice compromise 19" front tire--which makes it a nice handler on tar. I have not ridden one but I wouldn't bet on the F800GS being a better on-road handler than the Wee.

Re: castwheel vs spoked bikes. Bikes with cast wheels and tubeless tires are generally lighter (better handling) and can be repaired quickly with a plug without removing the tire. Spoked and tubed tires are (together) heavier, cannot be plugged, but the wheels are more readily repaired and the tubes can allow you to get somewhere even if you have a catastrophic tire failure.
Again, compromises.

HTH,
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Old 01-14-2014, 07:27 PM   #6
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Im still a noob. But I looked into the f800gs first. I wouldnt even dream of learning to offroad with that bike. Something like the drz is much easier to handle.

And Im actually on the cusp of buying a wee or '13 glee because it is thought of as a great compromise for on/off road.

Hope you get the right input and find the right bike.
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Old 01-14-2014, 11:58 PM   #7
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Thanks people!

Spacemanspiff: I learned something there: I was not aware (enough) of the importance of the rake/trail for onroad vs offroad. Larger rake angle and longer trail mean more dirt oriented (and knobbies, otherwise it might be thought of as a chopper )? And yes, AT = Africa Twin. For whatever reason, I really dig that bike although it has not been sold as new here for about 13 years. but I might be influenced by its cult-status and the fact that a friend of mine keeps sending pics of his travels on his AT

I did get anakee 2's on the Wee, lowered the pressure in the tyres and did an allroad course with it and it was an awesome experience! For the mild stuff I did there, the Wee was fine, though heavy to handle, especially when on it's side loaded with luggage. Only real problem I had was handling the thing in loose sand. I then spend some time on a G450X which was a big difference of course. Thing is: I don't think I want to handle the V-strom in such conditions for several days in a row, a few hours was fine but exhausting..

The reason for having one bike instead of two, is that my wife loves to ride her SV (as do I by the way, that thing is awesome), I have my Wee, and there is "project" CB which we decided to sell because there is really no space for it. Hence I'm looking into selling the CB and the Wee and getting one other bike in return. And for good road handling, I really like to ride the SV.

Anyway, I am off to google some more on rake and trail :-)

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Old 01-15-2014, 08:53 AM   #8
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NLD,

Fill out your profile so we can know what region you are in? --that might help readers with what bikes are available in that market and what the riding conditions often are like where you are (other than inside ).

But maybe some specifics will help you get some more targeted responses. How far do you commute? Is it year-round?

What ADV use do you imagine that this new bike will see? Day trips or loaded up with gear? Two-up? Lots of loose sand/gravel or mostly dirt roads? Long stretches of tarmac to get to the good stuff? Will you be riding alone?

(and yeah, SVs are sweet!)
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Old 01-15-2014, 09:50 AM   #9
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Well, over the last three or so years I have ridden 8000-12000 km per year, increasing a couple of k's every year though. My commute is about 25km, one way, so 50 a day of wich 40 are on the highway. However, I notice my riding style is changing year over year as I tend to try to get lost on purpose riding back from work every now and then, keeping off the highway, finding different roads home, but so far always on pavement.

In addition I ride daytrips with friends and family, but hardly ever 2up. What I have been doing more and more is multi-day trips: long weekends, to a week. Last year I did my first 3 week trip. When I go on multiday trips, I prefer to go camping as opposed to a hotel. When I travel, I almost always travel with friends.

The offroad stuff I imagine riding in the near future would consist of forrest-, some gravel and sand- roads, low speed single tracks through the forrests. I hope to get to Scottland, Belgium Ardenne, Mecklenburg in Germany. Knowing myself though, I am likely to start making more elaborate plans for future trips as I get the hang and confidence to ride more offroad. The Greece Your Own Arse trip, or Marocco reports from JaumeV sound very appealing but are way above my current skill-level (for now).

So it does come down to the right balance between the riding I know I will be doing (commuting, daytrips, road rides with friends) and what I want to be doing: further, off road, but certainly no dakar style :-)

Hence my choice (on paper) for the F800GS which I see as a bit more offroad capable than my Wee, but very capable of many long trips on pavement. On the other end of the spectrum (I guess) is something like the XT660Z Tenere which is more geared towards travels, more offroad capable. For some reason, the really big adv bikes do not really appeal to me: 1200GS, Multistrada, DL1000, etc are not my thing, nor can I afford those :-)

BTW This forum is an awesome source of inspiration for future travel plans. Ridiculously addictive!
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Old 01-15-2014, 10:59 AM   #10
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To me, the advice above [MarylandStrom] is wise: It's probably difficult [or just plain expensive with - crash damage] to learn off-road riding on a big adventure bike [and I think the F800GS fits here].

Disclosure, I have never ridden an adventure bike, big or small. However, I have ridden many hours on 125cc and 250cc trail [and trials] bikes back in the 1970s. Also, I've ridden hours and hours on snowy trails in Northern Ontario. And I've raced motocross. [And I had a Ducati 900SS WAY back…] All that experience on [small, well: 430cc MX bike…] true dirt bikes is, to me, difficult to replace by beginning riding a 200kg+ adventure bike. Perhaps I'm wrong on this.

The point of my post: I'm considering the G650GS Sertao. Reaching dirt roads and trails require roughly an hour riding from where I live, and then there is a truly vast network available. It's a matter of opinion whether the Sertao is desirable for multi-week-long touring on paved roads, I don't know. It depends on one's frame of mind: benefitting from better dirt-worthiness and giving up some road riding comfort, etc. Given the way I like to ride, I actually look forward to a trans-Canada Sertao trip [4,000+ km each way].

Something like an F800GS seems a great machine for huge distances at speed on roads [paved, gravel or serous dirt], with pretty darn good off-road capability. But I wouldn't want to be the one attempting truly gnarly wilderness stuff with that. Perhaps I need better skills and more confidence.

Further, I think the nature of one's "adventure" and therefore one's best adventure bike depends a lot on how much stuff you will carry on it. The less stuff you "need", the smaller and therefore more off-road-capable your bike can be.

Good luck, and I hope this helps a little.
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Old 01-15-2014, 12:44 PM   #11
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To me, riding off-road isn't mostly about the motorcycle - it is about learing how to ride: balance, weight shift, braking, sliding, traction, lift, mostly while standing on the pegs. I don't believe that you can learn even basic off-road riding technique on an Adventure twin (well, maybe on a KTM 950/990, but why?).

Chassis geometry, tire size and selection, torque curve, ergos (bars, seat, peg relationships) are all different on a true dirt bike: they can't be overcome riding an Adventure bike in the dirt, you can only "deal" with them, and poorly without strong dirt-riding skills.

Sell the Wee now. Buy a dirt bike (or DS thumper) now. Learn to ride off-road. Then if you want an adventure bike again later, buy one later. They will always be around. (Also, you'd be amazed how much touring you can do on a mid-sized DS thumper.)

In my opinion, given your lack of knowledge and experience, you will be both happier and safer learning on this path - but hey, it's just my opinion.
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Old 01-15-2014, 11:52 PM   #12
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Guess I'm really spoiled with my Wee now: the thing just eats the miles and I can ride it hours on end every day. I am not willing to loose that yet by replacing it with, say a DRZ400. Last summer I did a trip around the Baltic sea, riding to St Petersburg and back on the Strom and it did it without any problems, long riding days were a breeze (especially compared to my 6'6" long friend on his Z1000 ;-) )

I guess the solution will be to try and overcome the (lack of) space issue and W.A.F. and squeeze in a thumper :-) I do think you can learn the basics of offroading on a big bike. There are quite a few riding courses, trips, classes, etc here that are specifically tailored to those owning big adventure bikes (600+ cc) and wanting to go off the asphalt (I know there is a market, so money to be made, but still some great courses are offered!). However, that probably wouldn't qualify as "proper" offroad riding to those used to more extreme conditions. :-)

TKC's on the Strom might be a good idea for a next trip (I guess knobbies are eaten for breakfast by super slab, so I won't put them on yet), and in the meanwhile on the lookout for a thumper once finances allow it

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Old 01-16-2014, 10:26 AM   #13
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If ground clearance is not an issue, try TKC's or similar on the Strom.
I was very impressed at how much they improved the off pavement experience on my Strom.
Yea, you have to pay to play as they are pricey and don't last but 3-4000 miles, but it's the cheapest option.



Now if you want a bike thats a LOT better off pavement and almost as good on the street, see if you can still score a Husky TR650.
I have been outright impressed by how enjoyable a street bike mine is. 400 mile days dont kill me like other thumpers I have had.
It is nearly as smooth as the Strom, yet it is a lot easier to ride than any multi cylinder I have tried off pavement.



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