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Old 11-20-2012, 02:12 AM   #16
plibnik
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Weight. Road type. Fuel.

Hello there!
I've just done a very small trip from Ukraine to Italy and back (just 6.500 km long), but before that I had been considering the best bike's make and model for about half of the year, so here come my 2 cents :)

First of all, you say "circumnavigating", that means a lot of time on the road. Some months. How much luggage do you want to take? I suppose you have experience of autonomous hiking for 2+ weeks? It could be a fine idea to pack all the clothing, food, utensils, gas-burners, pots, water cannisters, mobile/satellite phone chargers, first aid kit and tyre repair kits in some bags and ... at least visually compare them to the size of bikes you are considering. I do agree with previous posters that for many 250's it would be an overkill: they're not designed to retain excellent offroad handling etc. with a passenger, or passenger's equivalent in weight of luggage.

Just in case, my luggage for strictly European trip with motorcycle repair shops and gas stations every 30 kms did weigh some 30+ kg (about 70 pounds). We took our own food and cooked ourselves. This also includes light tent, sleeping bag etc. And I really suppose that's what you really might need in Mongolia and eastern Russia, just in case.

Also, very insightful comment was to take a bike you can put up after an unfortunate fall in most adverse condition. For example, I took a Transalp 600 - and I could put it up after falling on wet grass anytime in the morning, but tired, in the evening after a day's drive, I had to take off all the luggage first - and that's while gas was leaking out of the tank :(

Regarding the fuel: take into consideration that in Eastern Russia and Mongolia, etc. sometimes you don't have any choice of petrol grade, and what you get is something like 92/89 octane. So it would be wise to read travel reports for the model you choose and find something like "It digested any gas I did put in and never choked on it", and also to be sure that your bike's ratio of compression is no more than 9.
Also, I'd vote for a carb (for the same reason, easier to clean, can be done with your own tools) vs. injection...

Look at some guys' Moscow-Kazakhstan trip: http://goryunov-alexey.livejournal.com/36399.html
No matter if you can read Russian, just see some photos at this page http://goryunov-alexey.livejournal.com/46329.html and this page: http://goryunov-alexey.livejournal.com/47227.html .

Is that "cross-country"?

If you are seriously about off-road, you're about something like DRZ400, NX650, FS650GS - of course, the ride can be done with 250, but this won't be as much fun.

If you are more about visiting places than wrestling with bike in dirt during heavy rain, you might get more fun with something like KLR650, Transalp, 1100+GS, just keep in mind fuel consumption - for us it was biggest expense article during the whole trip. 'cause when you have to do next 2000 km on a "highway" (Russian and Ulrainian roads are mostly ridden with potholes and bumps, but you still keep 100-120 kmh with no problems) - it's a pleasure to ride a stable bike with some wind shielding.

Good luck in your trips!
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:13 AM   #17
Superstar
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BMW XChallenge.

Light
Cheap
Simple
60MPG @ 60 MPH
Bulletproof
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:07 AM   #18
O'B
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Dr650 without a doubt. You should be able to find a nice used one and farkle it up for around $5000 give or take a few hundred. Price is important because after this trip the bike will probably be pretty depriciated and if you lose it or it is wrecked you won;t be out a large some. If money is no problem see Colbatch in thumpers thread. For reliability,.comfort,availability of parts,ease of maintanence and repair, power and weight,farkability I don't know what other bike compares. Sure their are a lot of better bikes out there but when you take into consideration all of the above criteria its pretty hard to beat. http://shortwayround.co.uk/
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Old 11-20-2012, 02:23 PM   #19
SCQTT
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superstar View Post
BMW XChallenge.

Light
Cheap
Simple
60MPG @ 60 MPH
Bulletproof

I have one of those too, shit bike for RTW unless you throw an extra $5K at it....and even then you are basically going to build yourself a 650 Dakar.

You are right good gas milage, but shitty range with a less than two gallon tank......Big tank option? $1K......I guess you can go the aux tank route, but there are already subframe strength issues aux tanks are only going to add to that. Hard bags almost certainly require a steel subframe. Very little wind protection. Very little extra electrical capacity for gadgets.

& they are kind of expensive.....a clean used one in going to set you back $5K for a 6 year old one year bike.....one year bike, good luck finding spares should something go wrong. Engine parts are easy, but the reast of the stuff not so much.

The shock, not many in their right mind would trust the oe air shock, it is another $1K minimum to step up to a real shock.

BMW had the chance to step up and make something special with the XCH, instead they chose not too. Want proof? They only offered the XCH for one year, but brought back the 650 Dakar, a 10 year old design....because it works!
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:14 PM   #20
Nath87 OP
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No love for the KTMs huh? I have had them at the to of my list I know they will be on the high side of my price range but, I do love German engineering. I could probably afford anything up to 10K but my concern with price is destroying the bike over the course of the trip or worse it being stolen. to answer a few questions that were brought up : I'm 6' 2 and 210 so handling a bike on the bigger side isnt too much of a concern Ihave no problem picking up my 11GS even with 75-100lb on it. as for weight I will be needing the bike to carry I figure myself (210) plus about 75lb in gear. my real concerns are getting input on the bikes that will:be least likely to break, be easyest to fix in the middle of nowhere, get 50+ mpg and handle the 275-300 payload I plan on having.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:05 AM   #21
O'B
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nath87 View Post
No love for the KTMs huh? I have had them at the to of my list I know they will be on the high side of my price range but, I do love German engineering. I could probably afford anything up to 10K but my concern with price is destroying the bike over the course of the trip or worse it being stolen. to answer a few questions that were brought up : I'm 6' 2 and 210 so handling a bike on the bigger side isnt too much of a concern Ihave no problem picking up my 11GS even with 75-100lb on it. as for weight I will be needing the bike to carry I figure myself (210) plus about 75lb in gear. my real concerns are getting input on the bikes that will:be least likely to break, be easyest to fix in the middle of nowhere, get 50+ mpg and handle the 275-300 payload I plan on having.
A KLR might be a better choice for you given your size. German engineering could be a real pain in the ass to deal with on such a long trip. But it has been done many times. One thing you should get out of your mind is any pose factor you have lurking back there. We all have it . The equipment you select should be chosen with a logical military mission in mind . Whats going to get the job done in the easiest efficent manner.
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Old 11-21-2012, 02:12 PM   #22
kellymac530
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Nath,
I am also a KTM fan. Just my street legal models I have personally owned include 3 Lc4 models, a 400, 620, and a 640. The RFS I had was a 520 and the Xc4 530 was my favorite of ALL.

This does not include any of my 2T or my race SXf models. While I have things I love about each one and things I have or would change, I do not think I would even consider riding one RTW even if I had $$$ worth of add ons and comfort fixes.

They are very high quality MX based bikes and awesome for connecting trails that require a license plate but none are any fun at speeds on the hiway.

As for a bigger model like a 950 or 990 I do not see finding one in RTW riding condition for anywhere near your budget, but I have been wrong before. A thing to consider is parts availability, although they are much more popular worldwide than they are here in the USA so that may be less of an issue that here. My biggest issue with a KTM for truely LONG haul is maintanace. They are definately higher maintanance that a DR, DRZ, KLR, XR.....I am fan and do not care what any other fan says, they just are. Remeber any single cylinder KTM is based on an MX bike and the maintanace on a Crf, Yzf, KXf, or RMz are all very high frequency of service and that is just for dirt use not LONG mile pounding sessions. You would EAT a CR450F engine in a week of highway use daily and that is much worse than a KTM would be, but they are from the same thoroughbred style of bikes.

The only bike I would in KTMs line up that MIGHT, just MIGHT fit your needs would be the 690 Enduro, but since that was only released in 2008 I still think your budget would be a big issue. I am not really familiar with that bike so I can not say it is comfortable or reliable on a long haul but I have heard good and bad reviews. It just depends on what a person wants out of a bike. You may look into one of those, ask around and see if anyone locally has one and will let you take it for a quick spin to see if it is even a consideration. Read up on them.

I personally think the GS you have would be you best long haul bike for sure on maintanace, parts availability, and comfort. The only issue left is really the weight then. Learn how to safely and propperly lift the bike in the event of a get off and better yet, dont get off....hard to accomplish I know in bad conditions but possible if you are carefull and ride when and where the weather is the best with good planning.

There is my input FWIW
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Old 11-21-2012, 05:18 PM   #23
Blue88
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Nath87 .. for what it's worth, here are some of my own findings:

... Don't over think it. The best bike for RTW or N to S America, is the bike you're most comfortable riding, and I'm not referring to the foam in the seat. I mean the overall experience of 'Riding', day after day after week after month, for as long as it takes. Any bike is capable of making it, but if you're not comfortable with the bike then you're sure as hell going to be uncomfortable about the journey itself.

... If you want the people you meet along the way to learn an awful lot about 'You', then choose a bike that stands out and adorn it with lashings of Touratech bling. On the other hand, if you want to learn more about 'Them', then choose a bike that blends in and becomes invisible in the social landscapes through which you're riding.

... Don't worry about fuel grades along your route. As you travel, fuel grades diminish or rise with the miles, as do road surfaces, they generally don't just fall off the edge of a cliff. By the time your bike is drinking 82 Ron in the depths of Siberia, it'll be used to drinking it and would probably run on anything with the combustive value of a mermaids fart.

... You're going to be the pilot and the navigator for the journey, so you'll be choosing the road surfaces that you ride. Outside of Mongolia where tarmac is a scarce commodity, you can choose to ride on pavement/partial pavement for most of the way around this magnificent world, or not, the choice is generally yours. As with the fuel grades, by the time the road surfaces become 'marginal', you'll be more experienced at riding on them.

... Relax, don't hurry or worry. You'll meet many interesting Border Guards, Immigration Officials and Police Officers along the way, but they're usually just people like us doing a poorly paid job for a government that they have absolutely no control over. They're generally unhappy in their work, but your on 'Vacation', probably the longest holiday of your life .... so Smile and Wave ... you're the luckiest man in town....

Ride safe .... Geoff
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Old 12-01-2012, 06:45 PM   #24
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Excellent words of wisdom Geoff - well said


Nath87 - I ride an 1100GS that fits and feels like a glove on my long trips. Planning on doing S America on it, but lately have been thinking of a lighter bike for the trickier stuff. I'm a big boy so I need large bike ergos - Tiger 800, XR650, etc.

Wanted to mention I have a riding buddy who rode around the world on an 1150GSA and upon return garaged it because of the weight and the resulting dumps / pick ups. He bought a newer BMW 650 twin that someone else had ridden partially rtw. He is happy with it and I can testify it will run 90 all day on the highway comfortably with loaded hard luggage. His thoughts after the trip were that a Japanese 650 thumper would be the best for weight, repairability and parts availability. That's pretty common wisdom it seems. If I were smaller framed I'd probably be on a 650 Dakar.

Since you're a German mc fan you might throw the newer BMW 650 twin in the mix along with the Dakar 650's and the other bikes mentioned
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:15 PM   #25
Pecha72
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Blue88 really hit the nail on the head.

No-one else but you can tell, which bike would be the best for you. It is your trip afterall, not theirs, and these trips, and people, can be so different. What works for somebody else, may not work for you, and vice versa.

I would advice to get the bike a long time before the trip, and really learn its ways, especially regarding maintenance, well in advance. Then you can also install all accessories, and see that they work, and if necessary, do some modifications to them at home. I know some go RTW with new bikes that are barely run-in, but that's asking for trouble. Unless you ride what the locals ride, it is better to be prepared to handle basically all maintenance by yourself.
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