Big bikes vs. Small Bikes

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by mikem9, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. FinlandThumper

    FinlandThumper Has Cake/Eats it Too Super Moderator

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    I am a one bike person, with the caveat that I keep a bike here, and have one in America for when I am home for tours and visiting. The bike here is a BMW f650 and the bike there is a Harley Davidson. Long story on why I have the Harley but not relevant here.

    I consider the 650 single to be the optimum one-up adventure touring ride. They are comparatively cheap, but have good power and snap for one person. They are lighter and simpler, repairs are eary. They are easy on gas and insurance is cheaper. THey can take a fair amount of load (gear) but they still handle any legal highway speed basically anywhere on earth, which is better than bikes with even smaller enginers. Whichever brand you like is a personal choice, but for true adventure touring alone I would be hesitant to go larger.

    If in future we tour two up with my wife, I will go to something larger. Until then I don't see compelling reasons to do so.
    #21
  2. rivercreep

    rivercreep Banned

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    Where I'm probably the worlds biggest DR650 fan (I've owned a 91, 97 and a 2009) I've also owned a 2008 XT250 that had all the power I needed for anything I wanted to do, and I took that little girl places I NEVER would have thought to take any of my DR's.
    If it hadn't suffered from Yamahas cost cutting for suspension and finish, I'd have loved to have kept her.
    Point = I don't think there's anything that little bike couldn't have done, (solo riding) except survive another Pa. Winter, without rusting/rotting away.

    F.W.I.W. if Suzuki ever brings a street legal (has to be from the factory in Pa.) DRZ250S here...I'll be on it like flies on shit regardless of my financial state. I long for a mini DR650 in the worse way. ( the DR200 just isn't quite "enough" bike)

    The magic of a small bike is the ease in which you can get it out of jams, the flick-ability on tight back roads and tight trails where too much bike can become a chore and the lack of its ability to pound you into the ground like a tent stake. (although, it can still happen if you try really hard)

    I think the only place a "big bike" really shines, is on roads with heavy/fast (75mph+) traffic, and who wants to ride there?
    #22
  3. Soldier311

    Soldier311 Long timer

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    River, sounds like you're describing my DR350, yes? It would be great if they brought it back.
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  4. Aussijussi

    Aussijussi Long timer

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    #24
  5. Pantah

    Pantah PJ Fan from Boston

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    For adventure travel, I vote for the biggest motorcycle you can pick up out of the mud solo.
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  6. mfgc2310

    mfgc2310 Been here awhile

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    That's it - the one factor that determines it.

    Adventure is doing something that turns out not the way you expected but works out ok in the end. By that definition riding a 500 lb plus, 100 hp plus basically on one wheel, into the unknown, with untested abilities qualifies, as high probabilty adventure, but high probability tragedy too. If the bike is stuck, or you are stuck under it the bike adventure is over for you, unless trying to walk 50 miles, is the adventure you are looking for, or maybe it's a grown up game of hide and seek with emergency rescue. You don't need a motorcycle for those adventures.

    For most people though, it's about riding the bike, the adventure comes as a consequence of where you have to ride to get a type of riding experience. Defintely the lighter, and with sufficient power (60 hp, roads with traffic, 40hp no traffic), the bike is, the more fun, technical, challenging, and rewarding the riding is.

    The adventure is when unexpected uncontrolled things happen, big bikes on pavement at highway speeds tend to have very short adventures.
    #26
  7. Wraith Rider

    Wraith Rider Banned

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    Depends on what a "big bike" is for you. 100hp are just fine for speeds up to say 65mph. However, speeds of 65mph you easily reach where cages mostly go 25 to 40mph.
    Sure, my big girl doesn't "shine" on such a road, but she can keep the pace as far as I'm willing to risk it. I can live with the fact that the 600ccm class (sports bikes and SuMos as well) does better there.
    Where she shines are the fast sweepers at maybe 90 to 100mph where the cages mostly do up to 70mph.
    When getting faster than that, a bike asks for at least 200hp.

    I like to ride all of these roads, so to me my mid class powered VFR 1200 is a good compromise. But I'd surely like it if she revved 2000rpm higher and reached the 200hp mark - it would make her better on every of the above mentioned roads.
    #27
  8. tkent02

    tkent02 Long timer

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    Yeah like that's going to happen. :rofl
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  9. rivercreep

    rivercreep Banned

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    Me too but, with NikaSil plating and an oil cooler.
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  10. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    Am I the only one who enjoys abusing smaller bikes (less power) then loafing along on a bigger bike most of the time?

    I get to hit the power peak in every gear, speed shift, tuck in, brake late and hard, and go full throttle out of turns ALL THE TIME.

    If I had a bike that broke the speed limit in 1st or 2nd, I would just get locked up!

    I am the guy who could not resist lofting the front wheel at 80 mph.

    Yes, locked up.
    #30
  11. Soldier311

    Soldier311 Long timer

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    What does NikaSil plating do?
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  12. i_isntreal

    i_isntreal Been here awhile

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    It makes the (aluminum) cylinder wall last a lot longer. Kind of like chrome plated cylinders, but waayyyy better.
    #32
  13. basketcase

    basketcase lifelong reject fixer

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    +1

    Additionally, big is relative, to some degree.

    When I bought the DR in January 2010 and rode the CDT later that year, I had ridden only on pavement for the previous 15 years -- all on 500+ lb. road bikes.

    And for the five years immediately before that I had ridden Gold Wings. My GL1500 easily weighed over 1,000 lbs with my gear and me on board.

    So then I buy a DR650 and take it on a shakedown ride. When I got home that day I felt like I could throw it over my shoulder tote it in the house with me.

    Then I met a guy locally who regularly rode the forest service trails and fire roads on an R1150 GS.

    The same year I met him he rode that bike on the CDT. I thought he was crazy because riding the CDT on the DR650 I thought several times, "a DR350, or perhaps even a WR250, would be a better choice for the terrain I am riding."

    But the fact his riding skills were light years ahead of mine. He could ride circles around me on any day of the week on any kind of bike.

    So there's a lot more to it than simply a bigger or smaller bike.
    #33
  14. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    I had no problem riding a big bike in the dirt, right up till the helicopter ride.
    Before that, I thought it was great.

    A bigger heavier bike is just more of a workout, and I was up for that.

    Its very rare to read about somebody on a light bike breaking bones here, despite some bad crashes, but its very common with guys who ride big bikes off road.
    #34
  15. JohnnyWaffles

    JohnnyWaffles Been here awhile

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    It would be interesting to see how many big bike riders who suffered serious lower extremity injuries were wearing non-motocross boots lacking proper support, such as "adventure touring" boots.

    I'll be purchasing Sidi Crossfire's.
    #35
  16. Soldier311

    Soldier311 Long timer

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    You should add that to your signature line, Brett.:wink:
    #36
  17. rivercreep

    rivercreep Banned

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    Getting rid of the iron liner allows the alloy cylinder to cool more efficiently and it allows for tighter tolerances which can increase longevity. (some modern air cooled NikaSil lined bikes have tighter tolerances than older liquid cooled designs that still use iron liners)
    I'd compare two of the most popular 650CC machines but, we all know how that usually turns out.
    #37
  18. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    Yes, a plated bore runs cooler and quieter, will use no oil, makes more power, lasts longer, is lighter.

    The downside is you can not bore it out.
    You can replate or buy new, but if cared for, you would have to bore an iron liner 2 or 3 times to get the same miles.

    I like the not using a drop of oil part, abuse the bike and after 3000 miles the oil level is still good.

    I have an xt200, and after one 60 mile ride, the oil was half gone.
    Rings and bore were shot at about 5000 miles.
    Mostly due to dirt and neglect, but not having to worry about oil (ever) is nice.
    #38
  19. Wraith Rider

    Wraith Rider Banned

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    In fact there are many guys talking like you. While the "I'd get locked up" thing is an argument, I always wonder why it might be fun to turn the throttle and... nothing happens.
    I hit peak power in every gear as well, ok, I don't always use the highest two or three gears, but why should one have to? Braking late and hard can be done with every bike, in fact with the faster ones even more and full throttle out of every turn is possible as well, just a bit later when the bike's a bit straighter. In addition, the big bike - at least in my case - is more comfortable.
    Only the wheely thing - in my experience it's easier to wheely the smaller bikes.

    So for the fun of it, not for the legality of it, I don't understand why it should be better to do all of this with a small bike instead of a big one.
    #39
  20. Vertical C

    Vertical C Long timer

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    Have had a lot of both, small bikes are more fun.

    If I wasn't so tall I would only have 250s. I love the challenge of riding a bike to the limit which you just cant do on a big bike without serious risk.
    #40