Need advice on what bike to get for a 5,300+ mile ride

Discussion in 'Americas' started by TurkeyChicken, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. TurkeyChicken

    TurkeyChicken Been here awhile

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    Hey everyone,

    A buddy and I do annual rides around labor day. So far they've been about 3-4 days each for around 1,200 - 1,600 miles round trip. For 2012 we're planning on going all out and doing a tour of the NW united states (rough map here: google maps link )

    We've also been talking a lot about a future ride that takes us up into Alaska, which would require a bike that can handle rough roads well.

    I currently have a 2004 SV650N that I've made several upgrades to in order to make it better suited for touring. I've installed bar risers, a sargent seat, givi toprack, etc, but for the 2012 ride I would really like to upgrade to a nicer bike that will handle long distance rides much better and also have a little more power than my SV.

    I've been lusting after a BMW F800ST for several years now, but after doing a little more research I'm not sure if I would grow out of it too quick. The 1200GS Adventure looks awesome, and I really like the larger fuel capacity that comes along with it, but it's a little over my price range (trying to keep it under $10k if possible).

    Anyone have suggestions for bikes to go check out? My girlfriend and I share a car (which means she has it 95% of the time), so I use my SV for pretty much everything from getting groceries to touring, so I'm looking for a new bike that will also fit those needs. My buddy just bought a new KTM 990 Dakar, but it seems a little too focused on offroad riding for my likes.

    Looking forward to some responses. Thanks!
    #1
  2. wannaklr

    wannaklr Long timer

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    DL650. Best all around bike ever. Your opinion may vary though. :lol3






    20,000 on my 08 and it has been bullet proof.
    #2
  3. TurkeyChicken

    TurkeyChicken Been here awhile

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    I really do love my SV. Maybe upgrading to the DL1000 would be a nice choice. It would give me a little more power and still offer that improved touring and some offroad capabilities I was looking for.

    It's the second suzuki I've owned (started with a GS500) and I've had nothing but good luck with both bikes.

    //edit: It looks like there hasn't been a new DL1000 in a couple years?
    #3
  4. lvscrvs

    lvscrvs Been here awhile

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    If you're staying on roads i can recommend the FJR. Great sport-touring bike that is well-suited to the kind of trip you're planning. Plenty of power, handles well, reliable, good wind/weather protection, etc. I also like the fact that it is very stable and planted in windy conditions. I don't like bikes that get blown around a lot in the wind, and I think you'll have a lot of wind out west. No offroad, though. The DL1000 would be better for that and you can find lots of them with farkles well under your price range.
    #4
  5. Wolfgang55

    Wolfgang55 Long timer

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    If you are starting out, buy a good used DL650. It will set a high bar for any other bike to follow in MPG, easy of doing basic maintenance & power for the open road. I had one for 27,000 miles. Now I have an R1200GS w/ 13,000 miles & the DL out shines the BMW in trusted reliability. You can buy a DL650 in good shape here, for about 4,500 to 5,500.

    You'll be thousands under your 10K limit.

    You're going to have fun
    #5
  6. TurkeyChicken

    TurkeyChicken Been here awhile

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    I'm just wondering if I'd want something larger than a 650cc engine. I love my 650 now, but having a little extra HP would be nice for passing semi's on the interstate and stuff.
    #6
  7. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    You already have the right bike.

    Are you looking for justication/rationalization for spending money on another bike?
    Or did you just want to talk about your upcoming ride/
    #7
  8. TurkeyChicken

    TurkeyChicken Been here awhile

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    I'm just trying to explore options. half the time I think "screw it, i'll just invest in my SV" but the other half I want a newer bike that's a little better suited for touring.

    Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my SV650, but I just don't see it being able to handle some of the rougher riding that would be experienced on some of next year's trip and then subsequent trips up into Canada and Alaska.
    #8
  9. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    People go cross country on 50cc scooters so a DL650 should have plenty of power. If you really want a 800GS then go for it. Why would you outgrow it? How much power do you need? If you want to spend some time off road then lighter is better. Bigger is not always better. Bigger does tend to cost more, burn more gas, and is harder to pick up when you drop it. Bigger tends to be more complicated and harder to fix when it breaks. From my experience smaller lighter bikes tend to be much easier to ride fast anywhere except on straight roads, on and off road.

    I have ridden both the DL650and DL1000. IMO the 650 is a much better bike except possibly if you plan on touring 2 up. I have talked to a number of DL650owners, they all agree it's bullet proof. The F800 is a more capable bike than the DL650 but costs quite a bit more, is not as reliable (from the ride reports I have read), and if it breaks there are some states with only one or no BMW dealers.

    I would also consider the new Triumph 800 Tiger.

    The Kawasaki Versys would also be a consideration if it was me.

    Or if you want lots of power but plan on mostly staying on paved roads, the 1050 Tiger would be a good choice and seems like a comfortable bike.
    #9
  10. pilsener

    pilsener n00b

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    Since you're 95% pavement, have you looked at the 1200GS (non-adventure). You should give one a test ride. It's lighter and more nimble on road than the GSA, and you won't get bored easily. It will easily handle the trip you're looking at, has more power than the 800's and the boxer engine is only getting broken in at 20000km. And they're cheaper than the GSA, with better deals since they don't have the "cool" factor look of the GSA. When I was riding my GSA to S.A., I met lots of folks on the GS, and they were super happy with them, on the highway, in the city and on gravel. Might be a bit more than $10G's though.

    (Disclosure: I have a 1200 GSA but I'm looking to sell it, since around here in the last 4 years it seems to have become the bike of choice for rich dudes having a mid-life crisis. Sometimes I feel like I'm riding an SUV in 1995)
    #10
  11. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil

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    From the number of DL650's that come to Alaska every summer, virtually all with contented riders, I'd say that that bike would do everything you would need it to do. Despite having just 650cc's, it has plenty of performance, and if you can't get around a semi with that bike, you're going fast enough.

    Don't know why people think it's necessary to have a full-fledged go-anywhere dual sport to ride to Alaska, unless they intend to tackle the Dempster and the Dalton both, regardless of the weather. My Gold Wing, with standard street tires, has been back and forth on the Alcan, the Cassiar, the Denali, and to the Arctic Circle (the last two with a car snow tire on the rear) with no problem. Any bike can make it to Alaska, and plenty of riders have proven that any bike can make it to Prudhoe Bay/Deadhorse.

    If you really want to get another bike, just do it. Don't try to justify/rationalize the purchase with a trip to Alaska, because it isn't necessary. :nono Nobody will chastise you if you get the bike you want without a good reason - we all do it. :lol3
    #11
  12. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Forget my last post. Pretty much anything 250c or over will easily make the trip. Just get whatever bike you really want.
    #12
  13. Uglyprimate

    Uglyprimate UglyPirate

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    You don't buy a bike just based on one trip. Unless you plan to sell the bike after that trip.

    Any bike can make it to Alaska. Even Goldwings and Harleys have made the haul road. ANY bike can be ridden on dirt. Some just make it easier.

    Buy whatever bike fits you comfortably today and everyday. A long journey is just a bunch of day trips one right after other.
    #13
  14. john3500

    john3500 Adventurer

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    Should consider a used 06 oir later Yamaha FZ1 with the USD suspension. A new one is within budget but nothing wrong with a used one one adult owner with 10K miles or so. Factor into the price new tires, chain, and sprockets as they are not chep. A solid performer and an upright riding position along with Yamaha reliability.
    #14
  15. shezonit

    shezonit just a few more miles,eh?

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    Early 2008, I rode my ST1100 from Montana to Mazatlan and back- about 5200 miles. Although it was all pavement, there were rough spots ( not to mention crossing Lolo Pass in early March slush.....),topas, construction,etc. Got new tires in AZ and changed the oil in Mazatlan.
    The next year I rode my '08 KLR650 from Montana to Guadalajara and back by way of the Copper Canyon-about 6300 miles. This trip had highway and rough roads. Started with a new rear tire- it was showing cords when I got back to Montana. changed the oil in Creel.
    Both bikes were great, in two totally different styles. It's not the bike, it's rider determination. And a sheepskin pad.

    Use your SV, and use the money you saved to go father next time.
    #15
  16. Dark Helmet

    Dark Helmet Been here awhile

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    Well, as you can tell, many opinions here and all of them are right in one fashion or another, you just have to think about what is right for you.

    My bias is towards comfort and flexibility. All the bikes mentioned will do the things you want to do, but I wouldn't buy a bike for just this one trip. If this is the kind of travel you want to do long term (long distance trips, maybe including rough roads) than look for a bike that fits the bill long term.

    As I said, I look for comfort and flexibility and the GS's do both. Haven't ridden an 800, but have had an 1100 GS and a 1200GSA and I have done long trips on both and was exceptionally comfortable even on high mileage days (being defined ~ 650-750 miles). Also, I love the way they handle the twisties (have a place in the north GA mountains) and also do a lot of fireroads/jeep trails. To me its hard to find that kind of flexibility in another bike. By the way, I am 5'8" and many would say the bike is too big for me, but I have never regretted buying it and I put a lot of miles on it.

    I also have to say that the GSA, while big, doesn't give much away to the smaller GS. On the road I can't think of a more comfortable bike, and on gravel/dirt, the extra suspension makes it that much more fun. I really like having the 8.7 gallon tank for long trips.

    But if you don't do dirt and don't ride twisties much, and aren't going to be doing a lot of long haul rides, this bike probably isn't for you.

    Think about the long term use and then decide. You'll make the right choice, and if you don't, sell it and buy another one.

    Oh, I also have been buying used bikes and I think you can find some nice deals if you are patient and study up a little bit. I bought my last two from inmates here and have been very pleased.
    #16
  17. Cowgirl

    Cowgirl Cougar on the prowl

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    I thought the same thing. I seriously considered the DL1000 and ended up with the DL650. It'll do what you need. I've put over 21,000 km (13,000 mi) on mine in 10 months and it runs like a watch. I use it for everything - long distance touring, groceries, logging roads, commuting, interstate - I love it.
    #17
  18. Racer_man

    Racer_man 500,000 miles so far

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    I agree with the previous inmates who encourage you to keep your current bike. It will go everywhere you want to go. You don't need a dual sport bike to go to Canada or Alaska. Even if you wanted to ride the haul road, a street bike with good tires will do the job. There have been lots of Harley's, Gold Wings, FJR's, ST1300's, and even sportier bikes like VFR's and Ninja's make it to Deadhorse.

    But, if you are looking for an excuse to buy a new bigger bike, well hell son, that trip is as good an excuse as any. Vstrom, BMW, KTM, FJR, ST... lots of good bikes out there... And a used one that's a couple of years old will save you a ton of money.

    Garry
    #18