Help a n00b choose a bike!

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by Maliwal, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. Maliwal

    Maliwal Adventurer

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    Hey folks, Maliwal here! It's been a while since I had anything to say, but I'm back with a question that will probably either be kicked into the dusty corners or ignite a firestorm of argumentation... Either is cool, but the second would be more useful. :D

    So, here it is: Next summer I'm making a trip. The plan is to do a 4-corners of the US type thing. Starting at home in Southern California, to Florida, then Maine (and into New Brunswick Canada), then Washington state, and then home. Simple plan, right? Well, I don't know what bike I want!

    I'm pinching pennies saving for the trip, and it'll be done rice-and-beans style. Me and my buddy mike_a, who lurks around here somewhere, are doing this, and we're hoping to get the same or very similar bikes for it as neither of us has one worthy of the venture.

    This is going to be a 2-month long trip or so, so I'll need a bike that has the capacity for gear (I know that doesn't mean much when some creativity, determination, and aftermarket luggage is involved). There will be few, if any hotels involved. Tents it is! Though I may peruse the Tent Space thread and see about pursuing that avenue in a few locations; we'll see. I'm not sure who'd want a couple young 20-something guys raiding their back yard, honestly, lol.

    What I want:
    • Freeway speed comfortable (not triple digits, we ride 200-cc Enduros right now!)
    • Upright riding position preferred (though our experience is admittedly limited with others)
    • Decent fuel economy (Beans and rice guys, beans and rice. Two broke college students here, so 50+ would be awesome!)
    • Some offroad capability...? (We'll be in some of the best riding territory out there on this trip, I don't think we'll be able to resist the urge to go gallavanting off along that one random dirt road we see in the middle of god-knows-where)
    • Not TOO small (I'm 6'0 and have long legs, so it probably should be taken into consideration. However, I ride a KZ440 and an XT225... Can't get much smaller!)

    And last, but certainly not least, the price range... We're hoping to spend $3000 or less a piece on the bikes. That kills the idea of some badass GSAs, naturally. I've thought about everything from the SV650 to the NC700x [Payments might work, but I'd rather avoid it] (Super Scooter, ho!) to the DR650 or XR650. All have advantages and disadvantages and the simple fact of the matter is I don't have enough experience to know which direction to go! I've never even ridden a sport bike, though I have played with a 1980 XR600 bored to a 660. That was fun. Very, very fun.

    Thoughts, ladies and gentlemen? Give a n00b a hand?

    Thanks!

    -Maliwal :freaky
    #1
  2. Quedok

    Quedok Been here awhile

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    I have never owned an F650Gs but they get great fuel ecconomy (60+), good power, good hiway manners and are offroad capable. Another plus is very good factory luggage options. Although it's only a single I have been told they are great adventurer bikes and very reliable. Used ones are plentiful if you look hard enough and I think they are priced in or around your range. All in all a good compromise.
    Just a suggestion so look at as many different bikes as you can. Good luck and enjoy your trip.
    #2
  3. TrashCan

    TrashCan Scary Jerry

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    #3
  4. Maliwal

    Maliwal Adventurer

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    I have wet dreams about the f800gs; I imagine the 650 is right there with it, but more off-road friendly. I didn't think they were that cheap though, let the research commence!

    My main concern with the SV650 is its size. It looks kind of small, and I've never ridden that style of bike before. Need to sweet-talk someone local who owns one, lol.

    Thanks though, I'll mark both on my list of bikes to find in a parking lot and drool on :D
    #4
  5. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

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    Definitely going to go with TrashCan on this one.

    SV 650 would top my list, given price restraint ind intended use. It'll do good dirt roads, and is fun in the twisties.

    BUT...never ridden a sport bike? I had a Kz 440 and rode it all over the western states...a few decades ago. had several other UJMs too, and an SV650 is pretty much an evoloution of a "standard" motorcycle...with a sportier edge. Fun bike, acceptable fuel range, available windscreen and luggage.

    But if you're more dirt oriented (than I am) then a KLR or DR650 would b e a better choice for you. Any of the 3 can be had in good shape within your budget. Don't see why you both need to have the same bike though. Just similar capabilities if you're riding together.
    #5
  6. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

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    I assume he's talking about the older F650 thumpers, and they still ain't cheap
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  7. BanjoBoy

    BanjoBoy Been here awhile

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    FZ6 purdie much fits that bill, (Roomier than an SV) and they do fine off road. :D

    [​IMG]
    #7
  8. Maliwal

    Maliwal Adventurer

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    Yeah, you're likely right about that. I was simply thinking that it would simplify things, but it's not strictly speaking necessary. Slight power and handling discrepancies are part of the fun, right?
    #8
  9. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

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    Nothing wrong with the SV, but just as another option, there are plenty of low mileage EVO Sportsters available in the $3k price range. The 883s will get 50+mpg and the 1200 is not far behind. Both handle dirt roads just fine. Very reliable bikes but if you do have a problem, they are easy to work on and parts are available everywhere. Maintenance is simple and minimal. Any accessory you can imagine is available from someone in the aftermarket. I'm not a big fan of the current lowered versions, but up until '08 there were models available with longer suspensions that provided more ground clearance and lean angle. Lots of them came with mid controls but if you find a good one with forwards, they can easily be changed to mids with Ebay parts for ~$80 or less.

    Just a thought.
    #9
  10. heirhead

    heirhead Been here awhile

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    Hello,

    Did that trip in reverse in 1970. 1967 Yamaha 350 twin 2 stroke. 13,548 miles in 100 days. Was 17.
    Take your xt225, as I would take mine. You own it, great gas, parts everywhere, dual sport and goodies abound.

    DO IT and DO IT soon!!!!!

    Heirhead
    #10
  11. Maliwal

    Maliwal Adventurer

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    Oh man, I thought about it, believe me! That was my first thought, but I don't think I could do it in the timeframe I've allotted myself. Top speed of 55 (without flogging it to death) makes for a very long ride! I took my XT up to San Francisco back in March with Mike's DR200, and while we loved it to pieces and would do it again in a heartbeat, something bigger would be very, very nice. Particularly for crossing the Southwest's trackless wastelands, lol. :D
    #11
  12. Grainbelt

    Grainbelt marginal adventurer Super Moderator

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    15,000 miles. Your choice in bike will dictate whether that is:


    • 0, 1, or 2 valve adjustments
    • One, but probably two sets of tires
    • a handful of oil changes
    • half of a modern chain
    I mention this because you described a pretty tight budget. Any number of bikes can do it, but if you want to service them yourself, in a motel parking lot or some kind ADVers garage, you're going to want to mitigate the risk/cost of upkeep along the way.

    Any $3k bike is going to likely need all of the above before you set off on your trip, for peace of mind if nothing else.

    I've owned five bikes that fit your criteria, and right off the bat I lean toward the Yamaha FZ6. Five-gallon tank, 50+mpg, factory centerstand, 27k valve interval, decent wind protection, 10k miles out of good dual-compound touring tires. Plenty of 04-09 models out there, older ones right in your price range. I've put 25k of the 42k miles on my '06 in the last 2 years, with no surprises.

    There are any number of bikes that can do this. Keep the maintenance piece in mind - you'll make better time and spend less of it wrenching if you choose wisely.
    #12
  13. Coloradical

    Coloradical Long timer

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    With that many miles planned I would lean toward the more street end of the dual sport spectrum so I agree with the F650GS mentioned if you can find one for a good price.

    My wife has a 2005. It consistently gets great mileage (60+) and has decent power for highway riding. I'm 6'1" and my only complaint is that I feel a little cramped on it. My knees don't quite fit under the cutouts on the faux tank.

    But to stay within budget don't overlook KLR's.

    And if you come through Fort Collins, CO you can camp in my yard.
    #13
  14. BlueBlazerIrregular

    BlueBlazerIrregular Bike Punk

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    I rode a cx500 from Virginia to Iowa to Arizona to Nor-Cal in the '90's. Off-road? Yeah, but on trails, NOT true off road. You don't even need a tent, just get a Bivy sleeping bag http://www.rei.com/product/794292/rei-minimalist-bivy-sack-regular,-amber?preferredSku=7942920013&cm_mmc=cse_froogle-_-pla-_-product-_-7942920013&mr:trackingCode=DEA5A1E3-F810-DF11-BAE3-0019B9C043EB&mr:referralID=NA&mr:adType=pla&%7Bcopy:s_kwcid%7D=&gclid=CLOTuZnC87MCFaN_QgodPGMAUg

    or a hammockhttp://www.hennessyhammock.com/> Have used both on rides, BOTH work great and take up less space than a tent and sleeping bag.

    Off Road is REALLY up to the rider, NOT the bike, however BE SMART. Challenging yourself and your ride off road, is NOT the way to enjoy a long trip that is meant to be mostly on the highway.

    A shaft drive is ultimately the way to go if you don't want to be doing maintenance while on the trip. With that being said, I have several friends (male and female) who have or had sv650's and I have NEVER heard any of them say anything but how GREAT they are.
    #14
  15. Maliwal

    Maliwal Adventurer

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    I've given a good deal of thought to the maintenance aspect of things; that's one thing I've learned all about so far in my brief motorcycling career, lol. Newest bike is 20 years old, and the others are 30ish. I don't baby them, but hopefully the incredibly overdone maintenance counteracts the abuse... At least somewhat! :D

    The FZ6 does look nice, though I've never seen one in person. However, I drool over the FZ8s at Chaparral Motorsports in San Bernardino every time I'm in there (so like once or twice a week). I'll do some more reading on them, thanks!

    Coloradical, I appreciate the offer! Unfortunately you're nowhere near the planned route :cry or I'd take you up on that. I do want to lean more towards street-oriented, simply for practicality along the larger extent of the voyage. I just worry about scuffing up some pretty little street bike when I decide "Hey, that road doesn't look that bad!" and eat it in rock garden in the middle of nowhere doing something ill-advised because, let's face it, I'm 21 and male. There is a degree of inescapable stupidity which comes with those two factors, and by their powers combined they are quite potent!

    If only arranging test rides from dealers was easier (or at least possible!), that would probably help me in the decision-making process. As for other owners... If I was them, I wouldn't let me ride their bike, so I can hardly ask to take it for a quick spin to see what I think. :D

    A KLR was my first thought, actually. Cheap, good reputation (after some mods), etc. However, I've also gathered that they're really buzzy and don't act happy on the freeway. Input? Perhaps a 685 kit? I really don't know much yet; I'm just digging in to this.
    #15
  16. Maliwal

    Maliwal Adventurer

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    I haven't even begun to think about gear choices yet, but I've wondered quite a bit about both hammocks and Bivy bags. I'm going to start taking notes here folks, lol.

    I haven't even considered shaft drive, as I've only ever played with it once, and that's on Mike's project XJ650. Maintenance doesn't bother me in the least bit; it's sort of a way of life for me and motorcycles :rofl That is, if you count 'repair' as 'maintenance'. On that note, I suppose if anyone's interested in that, here's the thread on the last trip we took: You'll see why roadside service doesn't bother me; I'm used to it!

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=767496

    Hell, that reminds me! I'll need new ADV stickers! :clap
    #16
  17. JoeWannaB

    JoeWannaB Usually a nice guy

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    I wouldn't dismiss the KLR 650 so quickly. If you're planning on multiple days of running 6+ hours of constant highway riding at 80+ mph then you'll hate it but if you're routing yourself on 2 lane back roads and just using the freeway to connect the good stuff, then I can't think of a bike (in your $3000) price range that I wouldn't rather be on. Your $3000 bike budget is going to limit you considerably and the KLR is the best choice in that price range. IMHO Get 2 of them so you can carry just one set of spares.

    If you do get a KLR650, you could look at getting a 658 upgrade (not a typo) not much displacement change but a lighter piston really smoooths it out. I have 2000 miles on mine after the upgrade and am loving it. Used to burn 1qt every 500 miles at interstate speeds and now I drain the exact oil I put in it. Sounds like a great trip. Wish i had the time to do one. Good luck and enjoy!!!
    #17
  18. BanjoBoy

    BanjoBoy Been here awhile

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    Yer not gonna find an FZ8 in the $3K range, but you will find a lot of solid FZ6's.
    I had an '96 KLR, and it was alright on the freeways, butt I like the "buzz" 'n top end hit of the I4 more than the "shake" 'n flat torque curve of a single or twin. YMMV
    #18
  19. speedisgood

    speedisgood Adventurer

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    you can find 2006 -- 2008 FZ6 with less than 5k miles on ebay, for 3000. Also, scout craigslist in the large cities in your area. Basically, there are lots of new bikes that have been sitting in peoples garages for years, and need a new owner. I just bought one.

    If you buy an older japanese bike with low miles, you should be able to go light on maintenance -- basically oil changes only, skip the valve check, and as long as you are not flogging the thing continuously, your chain should last. I had a chain last on my last DL650 for 40,000kilometers. When I sold the bike at 60000 kilometers, the valves had never been checked. The bike was still running smooth. I did, however change the oil very regularly. To put this another way, if you are planning to light on maintenance, buy japanese.
    #19
  20. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

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