Best adventure bike for an ole fart?

Discussion in 'Land of the Rising Sun: ADV Bikes from Japan' started by my3sons59, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. my3sons59

    my3sons59 Adventurer

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    I’m 50+ & considering my first adventure bike. I’ve ridden a Goldwing for years (which I'll most likely keep...unless the adv bike completely satisfies), but I want a bike that provides more opportunities for exploring back roads. I estimate that 80% (or more) of my riding will be on pavement, and the other 20% will be on relatively decent dirt/gravel rural roads. Only occasionally will I have a rider on back (less than 2% of the time). I like to take meticulous care of my bikes & keep them washed & polished, but at the same time, I’m not afraid to get them (temporarily) dusty or dirty while exploring. So, having said that, I’m not the kind of rider that’s going to be taking my bike down through the woods on narrow trails or slopping through the swamp with mud up to the axles…just the occasional pot-hole riddled dirt or gravel road…and, if I’m lucky, maybe a trip from the deep south where I live to Prudhoe Bay or some other once-in-a-lifetime dream trip like that. With that in mind, here’s my must-have (or what I feel are must-haves) list:

    * Relatively large motor (1000+ cc)
    * Relatively large bike
    * Shaft-drive
    * Electronic cruise control, if possible (the Goldwing spoiled me!)
    * “Lazy Boy” comfortable seat
    * Butter smooth engine with no handlebar buzz or vibrating mirrors
    * Very predictable off-road manners
    * Bullet proof & "stupid" reliability/dependability. Other than routine maintenance, I, basically, want to put gas in it & RIDE. No valve adjustments, no taking it to the dealer, or crap like that.

    Here are some of the bikes that I’ve considered, but most have been eliminated because they don’t meet the criteria on my wish list:

    * Triumph XC: I hear it has a s-m-o-o-t-h engine, but it was eliminated because it has chain drive & a relatively small engine (although I probably could have learned to live with the 800 engine).
    * Ducati MS: probably too fast/zippy for an ole fart like me (although I would welcome the opportunity to learn to live with that :-)), but eliminated because I read that Ducati has spotty reliability
    * Triumph Explorer: once again, smooth & revvy engine, but I read that it sucks off road…way too front heavy…front bogs down…goes where it wants to
    * Moto Guzzi Stelvio: I read several reviews, and it sounded great…until I read that it vibrates like a son-of-a-gun. Handlebars vibrate so bad that your hands go numb, and mirrors vibrate so bad that they’re worthless
    * KTM 990: chain drive
    * BMW GS/GSA: THIS WAS MY TOP CHOICE. I LOVE THE STYLING & LOOKS…but I won’t even consider one because of the absurdly high cost of ownership and maintenance (from what I've read).
    * Honda Crosstourer: Hondas have served me very well for decades, so the CT just might be the ticket...if they ever bring it to the US.
    * Yamaha Super Tenere: If Honda doesn’t bring the CT to the US (and even if they do), then I’m looking strongly at the S10. Some call it boring with “no soul”, but from what I’ve read, it sounds like a great bike that meets most of the criteria on my wish list.

    I welcome any & all comments. Don’t hesitate to “rake me over the coals” if you think my logic is flawed or for any other reason that you care to comment on. I look forward to hearing from all of you, b/c the more information that I have, the better decision I’ll be able to make on my bike purchase. Thanks.
    #1
  2. Blue&Yellow

    Blue&Yellow but orange inside...

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    I think what you could be looking for is the Yamaha Super Tenere.

    At first I was a little perplexed "gravel roads, shaft-drive, arm chair comfortable" - huh? :huh

    But I think I see where you're coming from now. Yamaha's are really reliable and from what I've heard the S10 is surprisingly able in the dirt despite it's size. You'd need to get some kind of custom screen like the madstad though since the stock one is pretty horrible for road use from what I've heard.

    If you can accept chain-drive the F800GS is also a great all-rounder: more user-friendly than say a 990Adv and much simpler and cheaper to keep than a 1200GS.

    Question though: will you be keeping the gold wing? Because if you're keeping the wing I would get something MUCH smaller and lighter instead to complement the wing. Buy if you're selling the wing I understand....
    #2
  3. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    I wouldn't discount the Ducati because of reliability. Both my 2010 MTS 1200S's (first one totaled) have been very reliable, closing in on 50,000 miles.

    Cost of ownership is not low, however. But cruise control is available.

    Just MHO.

    --Doc
    #3
  4. cug

    cug --

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    To me this reads like the wish list of a "spec buyer".

    You're coming from a Goldwing, don't even know the adventure bikes or how riding them (especially the "large ones with the big engines") feels, on road or on dirt.

    I think your list reads like you should just keep the Goldwing and put decent suspension on.

    Other than that: go to the dealers and test ride. Then buy what makes you smile. Not what sounds good on papers and in reviews/tests. Everybody is different, you are different from all of us and the description you're giving is in my opinion useless as it is build from dreams and wishes and not from riding experience on adventure bikes.

    Btw: I owned a 2009 BMW F800GS (great bike, annoyed me with buffeting), a 2010 BWM R1200GS (awesome bike, but heavy and big), and now own a Tiger 800 (Road version).

    I actually hate chain maintenance, but in reality I don't give it too much thought just keep it adjusted properly and put some DuPont teflon lube on whenever I feel like it, so I'll just have to replace it a bit earlier - big deal. I like big and comfy bikes, the Tiger is smaller and more agile, I like that better nowadays. Recently I test rode a 2013 R1200GS (water cooled) and the handling felt dog slow to me. And the (standard) suspension sucked compared to a Traxxion/Öhlins equipped Tiger. Sure, the bike had lots of power - I'd use that about 0.05% of the time. I have nothing to prove, no need for big power, I like having fun, cruising around, burning some rubber from time to time, but I mostly just ride, so I'm good with the "small" engine (still 95HP).

    Really, in your position, you seem to be able to buy any bike you like, so why do you limit yourself without even knowing ANY of them? All of them are great bikes and coming from a Wing, I'd rather try them out and buy what I like most instead of doing spec shopping.
    #4
  5. lmychajluk

    lmychajluk Long timer

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    I don't think your idea of 'Off Road' ("…just the occasional pot-hole riddled dirt or gravel road…") will really be a problem for the Tiger Exporer. Any reports of 'sucks off road' I'm sure refer to much more technical riding than a dirt road with a few pot holes. I wouldn't count it out based on that alone, as it seems to match all your other criteria nicely.
    #5
  6. Cloudhopper

    Cloudhopper Adventurer

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    Nope.
    Mirrors is a US problem, easily fixed by installing the EU indicators and mirrors.
    Yeah you can feel some vibration, but it's a motorbike not an electric scoot. Never had numb hands or anything.
    #6
  7. schrabs

    schrabs Adventurer

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    Since 50+ as you say makes you an ole fart I guess I'm almost there as well at 47... so my suggestion is: testride some adv bikes, even the ones you might have ruled out already and get the one that makes you feel 32 again. If it has a chain? So what, it'll take 5 minutes every other day to take care of it. We're both too old to waste our time riding on boring bikes, don't ya think?
    #7
  8. Blue&Yellow

    Blue&Yellow but orange inside...

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    All great advice!

    To further their point I might also add that some of the most die-hard adventure riders on this forum do serious week long excursions on nothing but a Yamaha WR250R and they love it. They think it's the best thing since sliced bread and that it tours at 65mph all day in absolute comfort.

    When I get old and wise enough I'm going to be that strange old dude riding a WR250R and I'm going to be blissfully happy doing it - I can feel it.

    Why not just keep the gold wing and buy something silly like a Honda CRF250L to play with? Several people in your position have.
    #8
  9. pluric

    pluric Gimpy Adventurer

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    I'm in my 50s as well. Originally my wish list would have been similar to yours.
    Sold my Strom and bought the Tenere. The thing that changed the most was
    the off road intent. These things are so surprising on the off road capability end.

    Been to Prudhoe on the Strom. The Tenere would have been a nicer bike all the
    way around to do that ride on. Destroyed the Strom chain in the mud. Got lucky
    on finding a replacement chain. I too wanted a shaft after that.

    It's no Gold Wing on the vibration end. Seems a little hit and miss. Some owners
    have complained of unacceptable vibration that got better with miles. I've always
    felt mine was fine....not vibration free, but comfortable enough to not be a consideration.

    Of course I'm biased. I've read good things on the big Triumph. If it were me doing it again
    I'd try one of those too. For now very happy with the S10.

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=809307
    #9
  10. my3sons59

    my3sons59 Adventurer

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    Thanks for your reply. Based on what you said, I take it that the F800GS requires MUCH less maintenance & fussing over than either a 1200GS or GSA? I can handle routine maintenance, but I have zero tolerance for any brand of bike that requires more than occasional trips to the dealer. Thx.

    #10
  11. Blue&Yellow

    Blue&Yellow but orange inside...

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    If you're interested in something like the 800GS this guy here does a great eight (8!) part review:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HsP32uel68

    It's a very nice bike for sure.
    #11
  12. Gillus

    Gillus High Desert Rat

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    What's your budget?? Your a youngster at 50, Keep in mind it is all downhill to 60 :cry.
    Wee and V-Stroms are fine, reliable, economical, comfortable with a few ergo adjustments if needed. cug had great thoughts on chains.

    I was in the same Goldwing cult syndrome, sold that hippo in running shoes for several sport tourers but could never get comfortable (I'm 6'3") and ended up with a "11 GSA and love it. Yes it can be heavy/top heavy if full of fuel but rides better than anything out there and is very capable if you are off-road. Is it butter smooth??, not as much as an inline 4 but has a nice feel for me and I like the torque. So far it has not given me a bit of grief and I do not expect any. I easily do all the maintenance myself, Yes it is recommended every 6k miles but not an issue for me.

    Go look in person, touch, feel, sit on them all and ride the ones you can. One of them will start to trip your trigger then you may need to find that lazy boy seat to fit it.
    #12
  13. my3sons59

    my3sons59 Adventurer

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    Thanks for your reply. About the vibration, I assume you're referring to the S10? If so, I'm surprised...because none of the S10 reviews I read mentioned ANY vibration. Me thinks that my Goldwing has spoiled me on lots of things, including vibration...which is almost non-existent on the Wing. BTW, did I understand you to say that you encountered LOTS of mud on the trip to Prudhoe?

    #13
  14. my3sons59

    my3sons59 Adventurer

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    Thanks for your reply. When you say maintenance every 6k, are you talking about anything other than oil changes? What about valve adjustments? Is that difficult? I'm reasonably mechanical (but definitely not a full-fledged wrench), and I can handle relatively small jobs...and could probably handle valve adjustments if necessary. But I'd rather have a bike that doesn't even require valve adjustments.

    #14
  15. pluric

    pluric Gimpy Adventurer

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    Yes LOL. Not the axle deep stuff just the most slippery surface mud I've ever been on.

    [​IMG]


    If you have a chance to read the link I provided above you will see several owners
    complained of high vibration levels. Very random. You can also check out the
    Tenere site and do a quick search yamahasupertenere.com. Most seem to find a
    solution with putting miles on the bike. I have done the reflash of the ECU as well and
    recommend that modification.
    #15
  16. Big Jon

    Big Jon Been here awhile

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    I have to agree with Lee on this one. Don't discount the Explorer because of some magazine article you've read. I don't put much stock in what some of the ride reports from some of these so called bike magazines put out. A lot depends on your physical size & strength not to mention your riding abilities. (No, I am not that great of a rider.) I won't take my TEX into some of the timbers that I take my KLR into, but she'll go anywhere else I want to take her as long as it doesn't get too technicle. Once these Tourances wear out & I put some decent 70/30 or 60/40 tires on her, she'll do even better. :clap By the way, I turned 60 last fall and I'm 6'4" & 240 pounds. Some of the best advice given here so far is to go to different dealers, take several test rides, and buy the one that puts the biggest smile on your face!

    [​IMG]
    #16
  17. Gillus

    Gillus High Desert Rat

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    Yes the valve "checks" are every 6K, On my '11 cam head, forum opinion is they rarely if ever adjusting. No parts involved to check them and maybe an hour to check both sides. Some guys check them every 12k if they have not needed anything for the first or second check like mine.
    A 6K service is engine oil and filter, trans and final drive fluid changes and valve check and a throttle body sync.
    An annual includes brake fluid changes.

    Jim Von Baden has videos and some initial tool purchases and you can do it all at home if you like tinkering. Buy the tools (you may already have some), maybe a GS911 to reset the reminder (a dealer will do this for $25.00), a twinmax and a harbor fright vacuum brake bleeder and it will all cost the same as one dealer service then the others are cheap DIY. I do two friends BMW RTs with the same tools and it works out well.

    If this process is too much too often, look into a Wee or V-Strom or some others suggested. I like my GSA and enjoy doing the services and like riding it as it does what I want, where I want, when I want with a feel only a GSA has, it is an easy bike to ride. :ricky
    #17
  18. TeepS

    TeepS Full Circle Rider

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    A. the bike does not exist that fits your criteria.
    B. riding a big bike on loose surfaces, is not the same as riding the GW on the street; and will end in tears sooner or later. don't ask me how I know...
    C. since you plan on dirt/gravel road riding, make sure you can pick the bike up when on its side.
    D. of all the bikes on your list the Yamaha is probably the way to go.
    #18
  19. Dubl-A

    Dubl-A SuckerDucker

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    And I thought I was a picky rider :ricky
    #19
  20. WitchCityBallabio

    WitchCityBallabio Guzzi weirdo

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    And to add, I'm 50+ and the Stelvio's vibration to me isn't even really noticable. I've done 1000 mile days and no ill affects on the hands.

    The U.S. spec mirrors are shit. I changed my directionals and mirrors to the Euro spec mirrors and directionals within a couple of days of picking it up.
    #20