2008 KLR or 2009 F800 GS for multi-year round the world trip?

Discussion in 'Parallel Universe' started by Raoul Duke, Aug 13, 2008.

  1. Raoul Duke

    Raoul Duke █║▌│ █│║▌ ║││█║▌ │

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    It's time for me to start selling/buying/swapping bikes around again. In about 27 months I'll be leaving for a 2+ year trip around the world. Right now the two bike options I've targeted in on are the new KLR and the new F800 GS.

    The main, main, main criteria for my purchase will be reliability since I'll obviously be in some pretty unpopulated areas and, to be honest, I'm not a mechanical genius. I DO NOT want this trip to end or break me financially because my bike decides to be quirky.

    So maybe my question should be - Which would you trust and why?

    The power of the F800 is really tempting and I have a feeling it would be a more comfortable and capable ride in the end.

    The reputation of the KLR for being simple enough to fix just about anywhere and cheap enough to throw away and replace with an Enfield if need be :D gives me second thoughts on the BMW, though.

    I know this is the GS section but I'm really hoping you guys can give me some unvarnished feedback. Help me out guys.

    Any other bikes you're recommend would be helpful too.

    Thanks!
    #1
  2. GodSilla

    GodSilla I did that.

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    A couple of things to keep in mind about the GS800.
    Firstly, as a new model you may well be doing the final R&D for BMW, finding out the hard way what they didn't get right. Secondly, you need to check dealer support for where you're going. One thing about BMW, if you can find communications and demonstrate you have the cash they will get the parts to you somehow, but you will pay.
    The KLR is a known quantity, but the dealer support caveat still applies.
    Which bike will tolerate crap fuel the best? Always worth a thought.
    Does either bike use an odd sized part? Tyre sizes, for example. Chain sizes (the DR650 here in Australia comes with a 525 chain, when most replacements are 520 or 530. See what I mean?). Just have a good look at both and I think the answer will appear. Good luck with your travels.
    #2
  3. chiba

    chiba FYYFF

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    I'd go with the longer-lived platform. The BMW is probably a great bike, but a brand-new model... the bugs aren't worked out and parts aren't as available.

    --chiba
    #3
  4. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

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    Since we're NOT talking about a boxer twin this don't really belong in GSpot, but we're comparing a "Beast" to a "Thumper" so it don't belong in either of those...

    Back to the point. The F800 S and ST have been around so dependability shouldn't be an issue for most of the parts. If it uses an odd sized chain-carry a spare. But you gotta draw the line somewhere. You can't carry spare shocks without leaving something else behind.
    Research the possible flaws of each bike and see what you might be likely to need.

    Obviously it would be much more fun on the F800, so if I didn't discover any serious fualts reported with them that is what I would be riding on your trip.
    #4
  5. Raoul Duke

    Raoul Duke █║▌│ █│║▌ ║││█║▌ │

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    That's kind of what I'm thinking. To me I kind of see the difference as:

    With a KLR there will be times when I wish I had more power, it was more refined, etc... I KNOW that going in. And I can do some things with money I save to correct them to some degree before departing.

    With the BMW everything *may* be fine the whole way through and I end up writing them a thank you letter at the end and running sales pitches for free from my home upon return. BUT, I could also be stuck in podunk South America or Africa and wind up blowing a huge chunk of my traveling money just "trying" to get going again.

    Basically, I can mostly know the general limitations and expected gripes with the KLR. And accept them and move on. Or roll the dice. I'm not sure this is the situation to be rolling the dice any more than necessary when it comes to equipment.

    I appreciate the good feedback and it kind of reinforces what I was thinking in my head.

    If anyone wants to make a strong case against the KLR or for the BMW I'm still very interested, though...
    #5
  6. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    I have to agree! Though the F800GS has not been around long, the F800 drivetrain has, and I am not worried about the chain drive at all.

    Jim :brow

    PS As a former KLR owner, I loved the bike, but it just doesn't compare to a BMW for quality, fit and finish IMHO!
    #6
  7. seriousracer

    seriousracer be a man dodge tree bark

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    i am not f***ng stupid,but i used too. niles mi.
    bmw gs100 pd.

    better then either of your choices and parts can be had anywhere.
    no chains to wear out or break at the wrong time an engine that has proven its self for years. and simple to work on .tubelss tires easy to plug or use a tube if you had to .
    #7
  8. JaySoy

    JaySoy Been here awhile

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    #8
  9. Signal

    Signal Cynical Idealist

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    Many KLR's have serious factory production/quality control issues.......

    If you get a new one, I'd make sure its well rung-out/gone over/re-torqued before hand.....

    Either bike will get you there in all probabilty.......HOW they get you there is the question
    #9
  10. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

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    #10
  11. Litre

    Litre AKA JimiChanga

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    F800GS has been out for a while in Europe. Are we getting a carbon-copy of their '08 model (rebadged as an '09), or are the U.S. and Europe both getting the 2nd model year?
    #11
  12. SalsaBoy

    SalsaBoy Been here awhile

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    I've got an 08 KLR and just got back from a 5k mile TAT trip. I know nothing at all about BMW so I'm just giving my experience. I had to carry spare tubes. No problems at all finding 21" front tires. The 17" rear isn't as popular as an 18" but they are around enough that I don't think you'd have problems finding one.

    Chain & sprockets are 520 so should be easy to find chain anywhere. Stick with stock sprockets and you should get over 10k miles easy. Changes in altitude and grades of fuel don't effect how it runs. My home is at about 700ft elevation and hour highest was around 12,600ft. My riding partners XR ran like crap everywhere except for 4-7k range.

    There is also quite a bit of aftermark parts for the KLR. I have a Corbin seat, engine guards, highway pegs plus you can get all sorts of racks and other bits for the KLR.

    You will need to beef up the suspension. I'm 240lbs plus I had heavy gear so I changed the shock spring to hold everything up.
    #12
  13. schlim66

    schlim66 Lone Rider

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    How long is the KLR warranty? If I was taking a world tour I would like to have the best dealer support and the longest warranty. I believe you might even get emergency warranty support from BMW auto dealers in citys that don't have a bike dealer, I'm pretty sure you can at least order parts from them. Anybody know more about this?

    Schlim66
    #13
  14. EvilClown

    EvilClown Reality show stunt double Super Moderator

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    Reader's Digest version: Neither.

    Explanation: (Disclaimer - have never done what you are preposing to do.) Bought my pre-'08 KLR from someone just returning from a Tierra Del Fuego/Alaska ride. 9 months and 35K miles I think. Bought it virtually sight unseen. First question when we met was "How do you take 9 months off to go for a ride?" Followed by "Are there any openings?" I would take that same bike and do the same trip in a heartbeat if I had the time.

    You have 27 months. You're willing to throw a bike away and buy an Enfield to get back so I assume for you this is about the ride and not about the bike.

    Consider a pre-'08. Take the 27 months and become familiar with the bike. Use the funds that would have bought brand new and set it up with whatever accessories you think you'll need - (luggage, handguards, larger front disc and doo for example.)

    Ride it. Ride it some more. Go on some ugly roads. Pick it up once and a while. Ride it some more. Make some adjustments now and then. Ride it some more. Fix broken things. Ride some more.

    Most of all, take your time and enjoy your trip.:1drink
    #14
  15. Wolfgang55

    Wolfgang55 Long timer

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    There isn't a lot I can say about the BMW & one else really can either.
    You are comparing a race horse w/ a mule. That mule has changed in the 08 mod.
    There are still some serious areas that need addressing. I honestly think I will put a 685 kit on mine & be done w/ the oil burning issue of the 08. This kit has been around for a few years and has proven itself to be not just more power at riding speeds but w/ a lighter piston it has really smoothed out the big single. I too have ridden the TAT & ate up my 17 rear tire. That can be replaced at several places to a more common 18 if you are that concerned. Kawi dealerships are world wide. They sell trucks too.
    You may want to go to an 18 up front too. The klr is a tractor of a bike. That may be why there is such a huge following. That 34.7hp at the rear wheel is pure grit. I earlier rode a 96 aka A10 klr, it is now carrying a good riding buddy around & still runs strong & keeps up w/ my 08. You may find support from riders all over the world so don't rule that network out either. Be sure to put the thickest tubes in your tires & always use Ride-On for the best flat protection. Here too you can get your rims sealed to use tubless tires as well. Let me know if you require anything in NE FL.
    #15
  16. RoadMinge

    RoadMinge Long timer

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    Ok why dont you sell your collection of misfits R1100RT, HD 1200N, Old Skooly CB750 Chop, and buy a used low mileage BMW F650GS and some touratech items and then read the new book by Dan Walsh " These Are the Days That Must Happpen To You". You will then realize your choice of motorcycle is really not that important, your motivation to just do it and get out there is.
    #16
  17. B.E. Coyote

    B.E. Coyote (Super-Genius)

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    Ya, I was going to ask why you haven't considered the F650GS? More power, better brakes than a klr. More proven, cheaper and simpler than an f800gs.
    #17
  18. CheckerdD

    CheckerdD Long timer

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    I rode a Honda 125 across Asia in the 70's. If your leaning toward the 800 for horsepower - you really don't need it in the third world. Are you going to spend two years on the worlds equilivant of the interstate? If I was making your choice I would get the bike with the least gizmo's. Also the 800 has a 12 to one compression ratio which means it aint going to like bad gas. By coincidence I was talking to Greg Frazier on this subject. He said there were only about 7 BMW dealers in South America. He has been around the world 5 times - mostly on a KLR. Go look at www.horizonsunlimited.com which is a world moto site. There is quite a bit of discussion there on which bike to use. David
    #18
  19. Raoul Duke

    Raoul Duke █║▌│ █│║▌ ║││█║▌ │

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    Thanks for the replies everyone. I started reading a lot on the Horizons Unlimited site lately. Hadn't really used it much before. You guys are right - it's a great site.
    #19
  20. Grad

    Grad Wannabe

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    If it was me I would go with the KLR. It is such an old design that you can fix almost anything out in the field. The new GS is more computerized and if something was to fry you might have to get it trucked to a dealership...which could be an issue in Uzbekistan.
    #20