best bike for circumnavigating?

Discussion in 'Land of the Rising Sun: ADV Bikes from Japan' started by Nath87, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. Nath87

    Nath87 Adventurer

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    This summer I did a cross-country ride on my 1100GS racking up 10,000 miles in 34days. I think the trip may have addicted me to long distance riding, since I got back all I can think about is the next trip. Next year I hope to do an even longer ride. Either Prudhoe Bay -- tierra del fuego or circunnavidating via: USA Canada Russia and Europe. I'm just starting to lay this trip out on paper and the first problem I see is my bike, I feel my GS will be too heavy for the amount of off roading either of these trips require, additionally Having something thats better on gas would be a plus. So I figured I'd take suggestions my price range will be 4- 7k including luggage and anything else to prepare the bike for the trip. personally im partial to German bikes, but I'm not sure how readily their parts will be in eastern Russia if needed.
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  2. keystiger

    keystiger rat on a roll

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  3. ThanatosF

    ThanatosF Been here awhile

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    I did 4,500 miles or so on my drz-sm this summer. Mostly on pavement but did some big off road sections, like the white rim trail in UT. Great adventure bike if you do a few add-ons and upgrades. I've never ridden a large bike like your GS, but just offering my opinion. Probably better choices out there, especially if you're a bigger guy, but imo the drz is light, maneuverable, great offroad, and super reliable.

    These guys are I believe about 3/4 of the way around the world on DRZ's. Sounds like they've had minimal problems. Check it out:

    http://toughmiles.com/
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  4. CordR

    CordR Been here awhile

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    I think the biggest thing that's going to hone your search is the budget.

    If you were looking to spend a bit more, there are numerous options. Read the first 15 RR's and you probably have 15 different bikes used.

    Some will do it with a Harley and not seek the road less traveled. Some will take a lighter, more dirt oriented bike and try to avoid as much pavement as possible.

    I think so much will depend on what you seek.


    You may also want to try posting in Trip Planning as opposed to Road Reports.

    Good luck.

    C
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  5. Wreckchecker

    Wreckchecker Ungeneer to broked stuff.

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    It's been done on a sport bike, moped, and Harley road bike.
    You've got the budget for a well-loved KLR or DRZ
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  6. Nath87

    Nath87 Adventurer

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    I should probably ask a question to those of you who have been through eastern Europe and Asia. how much dirt/pavement is there in Russia Mongolia and Kazakhstan ? And I realize there are many different routes that can be taken that will have more or less dirt so, I'm just asking for a general estimate. My only exposure to what its like out there is the few threads I have read about trips our there, Long way Round and Mondo Enduro. the bikes I have been considering are something along the lines of: DR-Z 400 or one of the larger displacement ktm or Hausenbergs, the KLR is slso in the mix but I have never been a huge fan of them. They have always felt like an old mans dirt bike to me. personally im a big fan of KTMs but I don't expect their parts to be readily available in that part of the world and I also have no idea what type of gas will be available out there I have never tried running anything with that high of a compression ratio on the low octane gas that I expect will be the only thing available out there.
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  7. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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    I dont think even RTW via Europe, Russia, Canada, USA will REQUIRE much "off-road" nowadays. Back in the days of Mondo Enduro it was probably a bit different. Its been done on Harleys, scooters etc. Mongolia is probably more challenging (but not mandatory on that route), and naturally the same goes, if you do a lot of backroads anywhere.

    I rode Europe to Iran to India to Australia two-up on a DL650 five years ago. If anything, the roads were surprisingly good all over. A bit bumpy, oily, sandy surface, and potholed for sure, but if you're a careful rider, that route could be done on a streetbike. I think thru Russia to Vladivostok following the main roads would not require to have an off-road bike either.

    Edit. There is no "best bike" to do the trip, or there may be, FOR YOU, but most likely no-one else will be able to answer for you, what that bike is, though I'm sure there are lots of opinions.
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  8. jphish

    jphish Been here awhile

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    I'm a 2 tiger owner, but... my pal has a Versys that he did a 3 month 20K trip, meandering thru Mexico / US / Canada (including Inuvik) last year, with no issues. For a few (but very few) dirt roads, wished he had a 19" front wheel - but made it fine with only 2 spontanious "naps". Found the kawi to be a good compromise between a road bike & dirt road bike. There is NO perfect adventure machine for what you propose - too many variables. But an appropriately equipped Versy's would probably be as good as any. Reliability, parts availability, fuel range, comfort, HP / weight ratio etc. Good luck in your quest...
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  9. jphish

    jphish Been here awhile

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    PS: and oh yeah...ability to pick it up by yourself, after a "nap", in inhospitable terrain, off the beaten path. Important!
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  10. SCQTT

    SCQTT Zwei Kolben

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    I personally think, KLRs if you are on a budget & the 01-06 650 Dakars are the best for solo RTW.

    They are similar but the BMW has better brakes, suspension & MPG.

    The KLR carries and uses more fuel, but its carb might be easier to work on if you have an issue.

    I think both are really relaiable, as long as your KLR is not one of the "smokers"

    I'm sure the DR650 crowd will chime in. Good bike, I'm sure very capable as well, I just do not have any personal experience with it.
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  11. Wolfgang55

    Wolfgang55 Long timer

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    For one up, look at the wr250r or x. Add a bigger tank & nothing can touch it.
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  12. SCQTT

    SCQTT Zwei Kolben

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    I also have one of those, yes better off road than a 650 Dakar, but I would hate to do hours & hours above 65 MPH, it would wear you out.
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  13. Dave.0

    Dave.0 Been here awhile

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    I did 5000 miles last summer on my 250x with shinko 244 knobbies, safari tank and wolfman bags - did the CDR and most do the UTBDR

    No problems on the dirt sections including some moderate technical stuff, strugglers a bit going uphill at high altitude, but can go 70 mph all day on the flat stuff. If your trip is mostly paved with some dirt roads I'd look at something else, a wee strom sounds like a good fit, but if you want to do more offroad the wr250r/x deserves a look.
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  14. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

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    I would point out , this is the one reply from someone who's "done it".

    (As compared to the posters who suggested a bike they personally like that probably could do it .....)

    Pete
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  15. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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    Note, that I have not done the route, that the OP is planning to do. Will most likely be a very different experience in many ways. Would be useful, if you can contact someone, who has actually done the Europe to Russian Far East bit.

    About the bikes in general, a 250cc enduro-type will be very capable in a challenging environment. But exactly how much of this will your trip include?

    That depends on you, as for some people it´s okay to just follow the main roads most of the time, while others want to explore the more remote places. Time is also an important factor right here – how many weeks, months, or years is your trip gonna last?? Because it´s a simple fact, that going around the planet, doing a lot of exploring along the way, will take you a LOT more time, (easily 2 or 3 times more time), than just following the most straightforward route. It is good to have lots of time of course, because then you may get to know the people and culture better, and enjoy the places you like for longer, but not everyone has all the time in the world for this.

    Things to also keep in mind, if planning to go with a 250cc, are your own weight with all riding gear, and the weight of your luggage, as well as the space that your luggage requires. Those bikes don´t have lots of space to fit luggage, and they aren´t very well suited for “overloading”. For one thing, their handling may suffer, and there may be even problems with subframes, they aren´t made to carry a lot of weight. The 250 certainly won´t be the best choice for long days on the highway, so once again, what do you plan to do.

    A 250, however, will naturally have an advantage, if you´re gonna have to lift the bike into a boat, or the backyard or hallway of your accommodation (doing this seems quite common all over Asia). And also, when you need to ship it across the oceans by freight, it´ll fit into a smaller and lighter box than, say, a 1000cc bike, so sending it should be a bit cheaper. But there are also many, many other variables at play, when shipping bikes.

    About spare parts in general, if you go on any "big" bike (I´d say over 250cc is considered a big bike in most parts of the world) then you can be almost certain that parts, or even tyres, will NOT be widely available except in Europe, North America, Australia and a couple of other countries. Only when you ride a bike, that is very similar to what the locals use, then you may find parts easily. So if you´d go on a modern Japanese bike or a BMW for example, and then you need parts in eastern Russia, you might have a problem. Though it could probably be solved somehow. Shipping parts in by DHL/Fedex can be done, but will cost you, and some countries have high import taxes for such shipments. And those shipments seem to have a nice tendency to be held by the customs. But I have been lucky enough to never have needed parts sent to me anywhere (I usually carry some smaller parts with me on longer trips). And also I do not know, how problematic Russia is in that respect.

    (maybe this whole thread should be moved to Trip Planning?)​
    #15
  16. plibnik

    plibnik n00b

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    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!
    #16
  17. Superstar

    Superstar Been here awhile

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    BMW XChallenge.

    Light
    Cheap
    Simple
    60MPG @ 60 MPH
    Bulletproof
    #17
  18. O'B

    O'B Long timer

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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/
    #18
  19. SCQTT

    SCQTT Zwei Kolben

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    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!
    #19
  20. Nath87

    Nath87 Adventurer

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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.
    #20