Leaving for RTW in 4-5 months! Short rider.

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by fuzzybabybunny, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. fuzzybabybunny

    fuzzybabybunny Adventurer

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    I just got back from a 4 month backpacking trip in China and now I'm back in California and eager to get my bike and equipment for my first RTW trip, starting from CA, going south all the way to the southern tip of South America, going back up north, shipping my bike to South Africa, going up north, etc.

    A lot of these will be riding through third world countries and not cruising on perfect highways at 75mph. I expect 55mph to be the average and I want to definitely go on some gravel roads, dirt roads, and pretty bumpy roads. I want to occasionally get out to where people don't usually go.

    I'll be doing a lot of camping and hostels. I don't have the budget for hotels, or even 1st world hostels, every night.

    I'm 5'5" with an inseam of only 27". I rode a Ninja 250R and could not flat foot it.

    Before China I was really interested in the DR650. But after riding around in muddy and potholed mountain forest roads in China on a lightweight 125cc Chinese scooter, I'm rethinking everything. It was an absolute joy to ride:

    1. I could flat foot it, which was critical for maneuvering around tight spaces like crowded streets and really rough trails.

    2. Center of gravity was very very low. No tipping over threat.

    3. SO LIGHT.

    4. Fuel mileage is practically infinite ;)

    Most Chinese use these 150cc to 250cc red motorcycles that are very much like the IZH Planetas:

    http://classic-motorbikes.net/images/gallery/izh-planeta-5.jpg

    They ride them everywhere, off road, on road, etc. They haul everything on these things. True work horses.

    I find that our 1st world view of bikes is very different from the views of 3rd world locals. No, we don't NEED 650cc, not even close. 250cc is more than enough. Bikes like the Planeta don't have nearly the ground clearance as a dual sport like the DR650, but they take them off road just the same. The Planeta even rode through Mongolia's muddy, potholed roads much better than the BMW dual sports in Long Way Round.

    So, I'm completely rethinking what bike I should get after having witnessed the actual bikes that are used by the locals.

    250cc or lower, flat-foot-able for a short 28" inseam rider, lightweight, low center of gravity, good for off road use.

    Honestly, at this point I think the DR650 is too much bike for something like me.
    #1
  2. frog13

    frog13 Long timer

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    DR650 @ 5'5"....on the U.S. roads,sure it's doable.....BUT, thats not where you'll be!. I'm thinking either a Yamaha TW200 or a Suzuki Van Van ( not sold in the U.S.).Also look at the Suzuki DR200 which has made a come back in the U.S. market.Have fun and good luck!.
    #2
  3. Murphy Slaw

    Murphy Slaw Long timer

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    I think you're on the right track considering where you're going.

    I'd like to wish you the very best of luck.
    #3
  4. Lost Roadie

    Lost Roadie Rider

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    Not sure if there was a question in you post, but having just bought a CRF250L for my 5'6" girlfriend, and taking on some short trips myself I can't help but recommend it if you're looking for a good small RTW bike.
    I understand now much better about less can be more and wouldn't hesitate to do a RTW trip on it. If we ever get our shit together to head to SA for a while, I'll but another and it's what we'll take for sure, not the big bikes we have.
    More than enough power, low center of gravity, fuel injected, economical, plenty of cargo capacity, with Honda reliability on a well proven, pretty smooth motor that's been in their cbr250r for some time with lots of folks putting lots of miles on it. IMS is soon to be releasing a big tank for it, and if it's too tall should be easy/cheap to lower it with just a cuba link.


    I don't know where you are at in Cali, but if you're near Ventura come on by and take it for a ride, I like your thoughts and plans and will be happy to assist in any way.


    Good luck!



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    #4
  5. Am.E

    Am.E Been here awhile

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    If you haven't seen the shortypants thread, check it out:

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=669666&highlight=shortypants

    That thread has expanded my view of what's possible:) At 5'4", 30" inseam, I'm a bit better off than you and a lot of the people in that thread, but I still think my dream RTW bike will involve lowering and suspension modification for my weight and riding purposes.

    While I don't "need" big displacement and horsepower, I also don't "need" a motorcycle. I've been riding for awhile, and more hp + less weight = more fun. The ability to cruise at highway speed is important to me (with the bias being towards twisty paved road capability, and then some off-road). There are lighter weight choices than a DR650 without going all the way down to a 250 (if you are willing to modify).

    But yeah, I'm with you. Big heavy bikes are no fun, and are just too much work. The "bigger is better" mentality sucks for us short people who want a fun, lightweight, small to mid-displacement bike.
    #5
  6. fuzzybabybunny

    fuzzybabybunny Adventurer

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    Thanks!

    The thing is that I'm a guy. Women simply have longer legs and a 5'5" woman will be able to flat foot a bike much easier than a 5'5" guy.

    I'm in San Francisco, quite a trip from Ventura, but I'll let you know if I'm in the area ;)

    Can she flat foot the CRF250L, even without any luggage?
    #6
  7. Lost Roadie

    Lost Roadie Rider

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    She can not flat foot it unloaded, but somewhere in between flat foot and tippy toes is where it is on her. She's fine with where it is for what we use it for. The photo of her is pretty representative of how high it is, there's only about 20 pounds of crap on back and she weighs 135 with gear.

    Should be easy enough to lower though and seems like a logical choice if looking for a low cost bike that does it all pretty well. With the $4500 brand new price, it should leave some room for getting it to fit you perfectly. Highway travel all day is no problem, tough trails are also no problem. Gravel roads and two track like lots of places you'll be are perfect on this bike. Wide spaced transmission, 3000 mile oil change intervals, Honda reliability and parts availability.

    I'm sure there's lots of bikes that would work well, I can only recommend this one based on first hand experience. There's some videos on my site of the bike in action if you care to see.
    #7
  8. 8gv

    8gv Long timer

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    Yamaha XT225...lowered.

    Just ask Lois:D
    #8
  9. fuzzybabybunny

    fuzzybabybunny Adventurer

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    How does it do on the highways, fully loaded? OK at 70mph? Any riding fatigue? My Ninja 250R had no problem doing even 85-90mph, but then it's a more sport-tuned bike...

    EDIT: this question is because I get guys in real life who ride 600cc super sports and liter cruisers telling me that "250s can't even maintain highway speeds" or "they can't make it up hills" and crap like that.
    #9
  10. Off the grid

    Off the grid Big Meanie

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    I absolutely agree with you regarding the smaller displacement bikes in foreign countries thing. When I go to Brazil I am amazed at the motorcycle culture there...it's literally 2 different types of riders, 50% of the population has a moto as their main mode of transportation, they are usually re-branded Hondas 125-250cc. They haul everything on them, including 2+ children. It's a way of life.

    Recreational motorcycling in places like Brazil is extremely expensive due to huge import taxes on "luxury" items like larger displacement bikes, Harleys, etc. I have a good friend who is a Pediatric Neurosurgeon in Sao Paulo who rides a BMW LT and a Harley. The BMW is about 4k here (it's a 93') and about 15,000 Brazilian Reals. (their money) :huh

    That said, they have a big problem with motorcycle fatalities. People do wear helmets, but there is massive commercial traffic and aside from the serious riders, the standard riding outfit is a half-helmet, shorts and flip-flops.

    That's where the rub on a smaller CC bike comes in...safety. Passing big trucks, keeping up with the flow of traffic, getting blown around (which is a huge problem in lower South America) and generally being able to accelerate away to safety.

    Have you looked into a 97+ DR350? E and kick-start (a must for a South America trip, I think) 6-speed tranny (another must, imo) and decent electrics to run gear with tweaking. Do the suspension, add some hard cases (street urchins like to cut straps and make off with bags on bikes-sometimes with the riders on them!) and it would make a really good South America bike. A woman I used to ride with back East had one, great little bike. She was 5'6" and it was her first Dual Sport bike.

    In any case, I wish you luck. You have serious cojones. Are you going alone? Please research your trip heavily prior to going, as a single woman on a bike in a foreign country....well, if it was my sister, I'd be worried sick.

    Ride safe and take lots of pictures!!
    #10
  11. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

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    You don't really need to be able to flat-foot, but it can make things easier when hauling luggage. A factory-lowered DR, with lowering links and slid forks, and wearing a low seat, would be pretty darn low. It'd still be around 367lb curb though.

    I'd look at the aftermarket for an XT250 or CRF230L. They're both lower than the CRF250L, have simple carbs, and are a bit lighter. There's also the KL250 Super Sherpa. You may want a bit more power than these bikes put out stock, especially on some of the mountain passes or longer highway stretches way south. See what accessories/mods are available.
    #11
  12. The Cameraman

    The Cameraman Been here awhile

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    Hi There,

    I'm 5ft 4in, with in inside leg of 28in and ride an XT250 with ease. Great, reliable and fun bike. I covered 75,000 trouble free miles on one, so they'll easily cover the distances. They're happiest at 55 to 60 mph cruise, so would suit you fine.

    Regards

    Reggie
    #12
  13. bmwktmbill

    bmwktmbill Traveler

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    In central and South America the road traffic moves much FASTER than in the USA or Canada.

    On a small machine you will be pushed to the side. That wll be dangerous.

    You can ride a scooter if you want and many have but at that price. You will not be shown mercy or respect by the traffic especially the truck and bus traffic.

    Also your suspension will fail with any load due to the roughness of the roads.

    How do I know?

    I have been.
    bill
    #13
  14. Fishfund

    Fishfund Been here awhile

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    My instant thought. Honda PCX 150. Why? 90 mpg. can hit 70 mph, and cruise pretty easy at 65 mph. Underseat storage is pretty awesome, low seat, cheap, auto transmission, fun, throw a givi case on the back and you have all secured storage with no wide paniers for easy lane splitting. Add a windshield too and you are good to go. That's my 2 cents, and it's what I would like to take on my next big trip. The last two bikes were a Husky TE610 and a KTM 690. I am one of those guys who is realizing that less is more.
    #14
  15. fuzzybabybunny

    fuzzybabybunny Adventurer

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    I rode a Chinese scooter kind of like this in China. I was amazed by the amount of punishment in the form of potholes and mud that it could take, even with a 175lb passenger on the back. But that was just for 2 days.

    A totally automatic scooter like this for a multi-year RTW trip... I don't know...

    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk 2
    #15
  16. Fishfund

    Fishfund Been here awhile

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    It's definitely an unconventional idea. I think it would be fine for this application.
    #16