First Bike Advice

Discussion in 'Land of the Rising Sun: ADV Bikes from Japan' started by vstateblazer, May 22, 2014.

  1. vstateblazer

    vstateblazer Adventurer

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    I need the best bang for my buck, the SUV of the motorcycle world. Here is what I need the bike to do with some reasoning behind it. Doesn't need to excel at either, but must be capable of doing them all respectively.

    1. Gas. I drive a full size 4x4 truck for my main vehicle so my gas mileage sucks. Knew that when I bought it so not complaining at all. The bike will however need to offer significantly better gas mileage than an 4 cyl car to offset the comfort a car provides.

    2. Highway. I want to travel from South Ga to Atlanta at least twice a month via I-75. Speed limit is 70mph but traffic avg is 80+ mph. Willing to add about 1.5 hr to my ride if the bike can't safely/comfortably maintain in that type of traffic or heck even ride the slow lane the entire trip.

    3. Off-Road. South GA is the country! There are dirt roads everywhere and plenty of rivers with atv trails along the banks. Not looking for a pure dirtbike by a long shot, because i have the 4x4 truck, but its just to wide for majority of the trails.

    4. Price. Used market value under $5000. Reliable, Low-maintenance, huge aftermarket/parts support.

    The gas mileage, highway ability and price are my must haves in this bike. The reason behind all this is a relationship gone south (or north should i say:rofl) and the distance between me and my son. Moving isn't an option for a while until I complete my Masters degree. Will be moving once complete in late 2015. The V-Strom 650, KLR 650, DR650 all come to mind from the countless hours of scouring this forum, the web and Youtube.
    #1
  2. WantToRideMoar

    WantToRideMoar Been here awhile

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    Wrong reasoning (IMO). Don't get a bike if you think you're sacrificing comfort. Get a bike because you love it and find it more comforting.

    With Interstate slab travel being a major component, I wouldn't recommend a thumper. No DR or KLR. Not if you expect it to do 80+mph with traffic. Yes, they'll do it, but it's not what they're designed for.

    Weestrom is a good idea, or a used Tiger 955 or 1050 though that's getting into a bit bigger bike. Maybe a used BMW F800GS or similar?

    With as much highway as you're talking, I really can't recommend a single cylinder dirtbike though.

    Also, something that a friend of mine in SC has amply demonstrated to me, is that an "adventure bike" is what you make of it. He used to ride a Versys all over the south: back roads, gravel roads, dirt roads, mud puddles, flooded sections, just about anything but raw overland or single track. Now he's doing the same stuff on a Kawasaki 1200.

    If you find a Honda Nighthawk 750 (for example) it'll do what you want and be nice and cheap to maintain, and as long as you respect the bike's capabilities it'll take you anywhere a typical pickup truck can go. May be slower on the dirt than a wee or F800GS... but it'll get there as long as you ride within your limitations.
    #2
  3. vstateblazer

    vstateblazer Adventurer

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    Try as one might and some do...a bike will never reach the comfort of a car. But for instance if I'm riding on the soft ride of a cruiser only getting 40 mpg, it doesn't offer me the VALUE I'm looking for and would rather get a car. I also understand that the likely hood of finding a small car still getting 30mpg at my price range and giving me long term value is unlikely. So I guess that statement was kind of taken in the wrong sense.

    The BMW i have looked at, but is out of my price range and the ones that are are well broken in. I have looked at the Nighthawk plenty of times before, but Im looking for that dirt component. Remember I don't mind taking smaller highways, more scenic (adventure) route with avg speed 65 and adding some time to my ride.
    #3
  4. WantToRideMoar

    WantToRideMoar Been here awhile

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    Vstate, I think you're mistaking my point. I hate driving my truck. It's booooooooooooring. Add the stop-n-go traffic during rush hour, and I freakin' hate it.

    My Tiger is a different beast altogether. I just jumped on it last weekend and did 350 miles up into the mountains and back home in a day. As well as all my weekly errands.

    My truck is reserved nowadays for trips where my passenger doesn't want to ride pillion, grocery shopping when I need more than I can carry on the bike, the odd run to Home Depot when I need to buy something I can't carry on the bike, and other random tasks. Trying to figure out how to get my golf clubs to the course, or my rifle and shooting gear to the range, while on a motorcycle.

    Even if I didn't have the Tiger, I would have elected to take my tired old XR600 on that trip rather than drive my truck. Partly because I'm a cheapskate with gas, but mostly because I just plain prefer riding. I'd do it even if it were 40 degrees, and I'd just layer up more. I'd do it if it were 110 degrees up in the mountains, and I'd just sweat and drink more water.

    I'm truly just happier on a bike.

    It's sort of like what a gun owner says when carrying a pistol... It's not supposed to be "comfortable," it's supposed to be "comforting." I'm more free on a bike than in a car. Maybe I'm not in the CaptainCommandotron8000 leather heated/cooled seats with every creature comfort I could dream of surrounding me... but I'd rather ride a bike than be in an Escalade any day of the week.
    #4
  5. vstateblazer

    vstateblazer Adventurer

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    See its crystal clear now your point of view! I have a strong desire to ride motorcycles....hell I watch/read countless videos and articles online for hours everyday about bikes. I go to drag races all the time and imagine how it would feel to let the clutch out just one time through the 60ft.....not bold enough to the 1/4 mile yet :rofl . Hell I'm dreaming of how I can take my fishing poles down to waters edge on a bike!

    Im no stranger in wanting to do things differently than others...I own a kayak and would rather fish from it than do it on a boat any day. I would ride a bike everyday if I could, just need help finding the right all-rounder.
    #5
  6. WantToRideMoar

    WantToRideMoar Been here awhile

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    Can't recommend a thumper for slabbing though, or sustained 80mph runs. You'll be changing oil every 2 weeks.

    IMO, your choices in your price range are going to be a weestrom, older tiger, versys, or something knocking on the "UJM" door that will still do fine on dirt roads if you treat it respectfully. Far more capable on the street/highway than a dirtbike.

    Thinking about it from a safety and handling perspective, I'd much rather be on something with street-oriented brakes while on the highway. I'm lucky having a great bike like the 800XC since it has switchable ABS, but even with ABS disabled the brakes are much more responsive than those on my XR600. Far easier to lock up the rear or front on the XR than the Tiger... it's still more controllable graduated pressure on the newer bike even with ABS off. I can lock the rear while on the dirt and have fun on the Tiger if I need to, but locking the front requires a lot more deliberate effort than the XR takes.

    Yeah, it's 20 years difference in design and also the difference between a bike that's new versus one that has 2 decades of wear and tear on it... but I think dirt brakes are designed to allow lock up a little more easily than street brakes even in non-ABS applications.

    With as much street as you're talking about, I really suggest sticking with something primarily designed for street and with multiple cylinders. If you did end up with a thumper, you'd just end up putting a 15 or 16 tooth front sprocket on it and street or hybrid tires to smooth out the ride on the slab and increase top-end availability (at the cost of low end functionality that makes a thumper interesting in the first place), along with probably a wind screen. I remember one all-day ride on my XR, most of it at 60+mph... I went up to see Grand Falls last year on that bike. I was running a 15T front sprocket and hybrid tires. Most of the ride was slab, but there was 50-100 miles of varied easy dirt along the way for grins and giggles. My man-junk went numb for two days from the engine vibrations.

    You couldn't get me to tour across the US on paved roads on a thumper. No way.
    #6
  7. vstateblazer

    vstateblazer Adventurer

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    Aw man I'm down with the looks of the newer dual sport/adventure bikes, but I want to buy/own outright and not have payments....especially being my first bike. Trust me if I did not mind having to make payments, there is this sweet white F800GS with the standard farkles on it for under 10k, a couple hours drive away. Plus I would rather drop a vstrom than the BMW since I am a noob. I would hate to see the price to replace those BMW plastics.

    I've seen videos on your tiger as well, I hate the looks of the older models. The newer ones are awesome though....but payments, parts availability/pricing puts it in the same boat as the BMW. Plus the Vstrom is practically unchanged for years before the 2012 redesign. So known issues have a fix for them, parts availability/pricing should be better.
    #7
  8. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

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    For that, the Weestrom, 2012 and later. There will be a few for sale now the new DL 1000 is out.

    It's capable, it gets insane mpg with that.

    Not saying it's not fun as well, but it's far and away the most SUV like of that set of bikes.

    Pete
    #8
  9. jasonc32amg

    jasonc32amg Hello Gubner

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    For what you described I'd say KLR. You can get one fully prepped for your budget. If you can locate a 685 the highway will be much more manageable. I think the KLR will be as street friendly as possible while still being fun off road. A DR could fulfill the same role. KLR's are cheap, reliable, and a dyslexic monkey can maintain one.
    #9
  10. dogjaw

    dogjaw plays well alone

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    DR over KLR for one reason: lack of plastic to repair when(not if) you drop it; both can be had for less than 3000 all day long, most partially modded at least.

    As far as the SUV of the motorcycle world, I would have to suggest the Nighthawk 750; no maintenance, solid as a rock, capable of running twisties, interstate, and gravel roads equally well. I picked one up for 1000.00, rode it to Colorado, across Monarch pass, then traded it for a CBX for the ride home... I still miss my 750 sometimes, great bike. [​IMG][​IMG]


    The Ride for Trevor:
    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=941454
    #10
  11. cug

    cug --

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    Choose any one of these. Real off-road, meaning small, narrow trails, you want a lightweight thumper. Real highway, longish distance, you will likely absolutely hate a lightweight thumper.

    Decide what you want more, get the best for that.

    Buy used and if you are a smaller person (<5'10", 160lbs), don't buy a bike too big, like the V-Strom. You'll drop it, but lighter and smaller will make it less likely, less painful, less expensive, and less dangerous for a beginner.

    If you are tall enough, the DL650 is about the best deal for touring, commuting, the occasional dirt road, and just general reliability. It's a nicer bike than the bigger DL1000, it's incredibly reliable, super comfortable, but it is BIG and HEAVY for anything that is smaller than a non-paved road. People do it but they mostly know what they are doing.

    I'd rather try to get 2006 or 2007 Wee (DL650) + a 250cc dirt thumper (like and old XT225 or DR200 or ...) and you might still end up around the 5k limit you have set there.

    Also, plan some money for riding gear. Especially if you ride longer distance, you'll want some safe, waterproof gear, good boots, gloves, helmet. If you buy budget items you can get that for under $1k. If you buy higher quality items, you'll likely end up between $1k and $2k.

    One last edit: get a good supply of ear plugs for the highway riding. You'll want them!
    #11
  12. vstateblazer

    vstateblazer Adventurer

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    I'm starting to lean towards the KLR 650. There are a couple of bikes in the right price range, less than 5k mile, luggage and crash guards, 2008-present year models with the right look. I really like the fact that its advantage off-road is better than the vstrom's on-road advantage. I can do things to the KLR to make it a better on-road machine like sprocket, fairing, seat. I can't fix the weight and ground clearance with the vstrom.

    Plus with you guys help I'm starting to understand what each machine can offer and how that aligns with my needs. Plus with me being a noob, a lighter machine is a plus on any terrain. I'm 5'9 220, former athlete, so inseam might be an issue but not strength.
    #12
  13. cug

    cug --

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    That might or might not be true. I've ridden a KLR only short distance and not often, but I have ridden a V-Strom on some significant distances. I would not ever trade a V-Strom for a KLR if I had to do two long highway trips each month.
    #13
  14. vstateblazer

    vstateblazer Adventurer

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    The undeniable consensus is that for road use the vstrom > klr....but what about dirt? Correct me if I'm wrong but when it comes to road travel any 250cc or better will get you there its just a matter of how fast & comfortable. The same can not be said for the dirt...either you can or you cant due to the difficulty of the terrain.

    Sent from my HTC first using Tapatalk
    #14
  15. cug

    cug --

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    The KLR is probably slightly better on dirt, yes, I have ridden neither a lot on something beyond a normal dirt road and there a VFR750F was probably not much worse. Both are way too heavy for me personally to take them on trails or even fireroads if I'm by myself, which I normally are. People do that all the time and I don't understand them. I enjoy riding off-road as much as the next guy here, but I prefer to take a bike that I can enjoy there. Not one that is a bit less worse than another one ...

    These are my 2c. If you were a great off-road rider, you had all the throttle control, technique, experience from years of riding on trails, MX, ... I'd say it doesn't matter. For me, I'm a casual off-roader, I prefer to make my life easy. The WR250R was perfect for me. Oh, and with a wheel swap I could go and hunt sport bikes on the really tiny and twisty mountain roads here. Not on the fast parts of course, but the tighter the better ... :deal

    This bike also did 70mph on the highway all day with the street tires/wheels I had. Two personalities in one bike:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A Suzuki DR-Z 400 can do the same with a bit more power but also a lot more vibration. I personally don't like the KLR very much as for me it combines awful road comfort with nearly awful trail handling. Of course, all a matter of personal preference and experience. I would consider a KLR for a round-the-world-trip for various reasons, but for here? No, thanks.
    #15
  16. vstateblazer

    vstateblazer Adventurer

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    That seems to be the case with a lot of people, why is that? From my zero riding experience I'm forced to look at this scenario for what it is with no bias. From my readings of adventure trip reports they all seem to have these traits in common: many miles in the hundreds sometimes thousands on mixed terrain (paved & dirt), lots of saddle & trip time, bike durability, ease of maintenance & parts availability. Now the only difference i can discern from US vs World trips is the quality & sheer abundance of paved roads being better.

    So i dont understand how a bike can be a favorite for the same kind of travel over there, but not here. I can however see that the quality of the roads here & cruise speeds would afford us the luxury of "choosing" the larger more street oriented bikes.

    Sent from my HTC first using Tapatalk
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  17. cug

    cug --

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    The only reason is simplicity and availability of parts and service. If you ride a KTM or a Beemer, getting parts can be hard, the electrics/electronics on modern bikes have become so complex, without a computer there is often not much you can do.

    A KLR (or a Suzuki DR650) you can often repair with a Leatherman Wave, a hammer and a bunch of zipties. Less exotic materials, cheaper parts, lower complexity, all leads to the point that you might be able to fix things yourself even in remote areas. Sure, a Canbus system is generally more robust to electric gremlins as the wiring is simpler and electronics rarely break, but if they break there isn't much you can do yourself.

    A single cylinder also makes services plain simpler as you have less complexity and less parts to deal with. I'm okay doing a valve check and adjustment on an inline four at home in my garage. Do I want to do that in Mongolia? Nope. That's btw. a thing the boxer engines make really simple: accessibility of the engine internals is exceptional. Just don't break anything ... :lol3

    Regarding riding, I gave you my personal opinion already. I ride for 25 years now. Everything from Vespa scooters to Honda ST1300 touring boats. Right now I have a 2014 R1200GS. I ride the GS because of the exceptional handling, the roomy seating position, the spacious luggage, and the aftermarket parts/toys support. I don't care one single bit about its "off-road capabilities" because I have no interest trashing a 250kg, 20k USD bike in places where I have more fun on a 140kg, 5k USD bike.

    If I could only have one single bike and if I wanted to ride road and technical dirt, I'd buy a used WR250X and get a set of dirt rims and tires for it. But I don't try to do that. I know that it doesn't me make really happy overall. I like long distance touring (1200 miles and more during a weekend ride) and my GS does that MUCH better, without breaking an expensive fairing if I drop it on the gravel parking lot ...

    On the other hand, having a 5k budget might also allow for a 3300 USD Honda VFR800 + a 1700 USD DR200SE ... both can be found for this in good to excellent condition. One for the highway, one for the dirt. Are you REALLY looking for the one thing that can do it all? You'll have a compromise on both ends. Not good on the highway and not good in the dirt ...
    #17
  18. vstateblazer

    vstateblazer Adventurer

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    Right now, yes i would like for it to do both. Now once i get the experience under my belt & a larger wallet...i would then look into getting a more dirt or road biased bike. But until then i can't see myself purchasing a primarly road oriented bike that can't take me any further than my 4x4 truck.

    I dont mind having to compromise on both ends as long as it can run atv trails that my truck is too wide for & be road worthy enough to make a 500 mile round road trip.

    Sent from my HTC first using Tapatalk
    #18
  19. cug

    cug --

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    You do what you got to do. Only you know what you want and what works for you.

    I wish you luck that you find something that works for you without too much money wasted on things that don't work as you expected. :freaky
    #19
  20. WantToRideMoar

    WantToRideMoar Been here awhile

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    One other thing to consider, and I really hope you do...

    Wind sheer is an absolute biyatch on a tall and lightweight bike.

    I rode cross-country last summer for 2 months on a 550 pound Honda Shadow cruiser. The only state that gave me any grief at all on lateral wind sheer was Oklahoma, and that was during tornado season and I was actively dodging storms on my ride through there... going 10-20 miles out of the way at a time in order to avoid nasty looking thunderhead clouds. That Shadow was low to the ground, but a 35mph gust would come along every now and then and push me so hard that I would be 6 feet sideways before I could respond and compensate, and I'd be countersteering/leaning into the wind a good 20 degrees... and then it would let off suddenly and I'd be 6 feet overcompensated in the wrong way again. Very glad those highways were practically empty when I passed through.

    There's no way I would go into the same type of wind situation on a dirtbike that is taller and lighter and in the weight class of the XR650/DR650/KLR. In some ways, weight is your friend on the highway. I've experienced some "interesting" wind here in AZ and it's nothing like tornado alley from Oklahoma to Georgia, but I've been blown hard on the road while riding my XR. Being exposed to 18 wheelers and their wind sheer, and gusty conditions, is not something I'd want at 75mph on a light thumper. Gimme another 100+ pounds and a few inches lower, please.
    #20