On the subject of choosing the right bike for the TAT trip.

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Yermo, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. Yermo

    Yermo Adventurer

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    Today's guest blog post on the advantages of choosing a smaller bike over a larger one got me thinking about smaller bikes for an upcoming TAT trip.

    The more I think about it the smaller the bikes I'm looking at are. I started out thinking F800GS, then G650GS Sertao (which is surprisingly heavy), then maybe an Xchallenge ... now I'm thinking DR650 or even smaller.

    Anyone done the length of the TAT on a small bike? If you've done the TAT, what problems did you run into with the size of bike you chose? Has anyone done it with one of the big adventure tourers?
    #1
  2. Mtn Man

    Mtn Man Been here awhile

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    I have used a DR650 but once west a DRZ or WRR would have been more fun! But the DR is bullet proof and did great, no regrets. IMHO
    #2
  3. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    I have done it on a KLR 650. I don't consider the KLR a really small bike. But I guess it is smaller and a lot lighter than some of your other options.

    I still have the KLR and will use it if I ride the TAT again. Actually we do ride portions of the TAT in New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah most years.

    I have about 28k of that type of riding on the bike and, while it is not the most techologically advance machine around, it gets the job done. It doesn't do sand well, but I get by.

    I think the WRR 250 might be a nice choice. I suspect it is a little small for me since I am 6'3" and weigh 225# and I rely on power to get me out of riding mistakes.
    #3
  4. One Less Harley

    One Less Harley OH.THAT'S GONNA HURT

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    Not listed in any particular order-DR650, DRZ400, WR250 are the best/ most popular choices.
    #4
  5. Sp4Mike

    Sp4Mike Been here awhile

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    Can't say much to what would be the best TAT bike, but I have no trouble picking up my DR when it's loaded. Also, if you have a few days to kill, the Mobius trip is a section run of the TAT on DRZ's by a fellow and his wife.


    BTW, I really like your blog. I have a new bookmark on my bar!:freaky
    #5
  6. Bumpaman

    Bumpaman Been here awhile

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    Done it twice on the same pre 08 KLR. First time it was a 650 and second time it was a 688. Liked it as a 688 better. The bike did great in all of it. Going to try it again on a KTM 690 next.
    #6
  7. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

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    At some point smaller isn't really smaller, it's just a smaller engine. Bikes in the 300 pound range like the DRZ and WRR would have me looking at XR650R's or TE610's at nearly the same weight and nearly twice the HP.

    Rode the TAT west from NM on a 610 and Utah west on an XR650R, I like horsepower and riding fast. Next time will probably be another XRR unless I can scrape together some cash for a new Beta 520.
    #7
  8. Pomo

    Pomo gonzo

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    I did the TAT from Jellico to Salina (UT) on an F800GS.

    For the east sections and OK it was perfect. Riding fire roads and wide open farm roads, I could take full advantage of the smoothness and power of a twin. Once I got into NM/CO I was starting to appreciate more and more the benefit of a smaller bike, even though I skipped Hancock/Tomichi. Once I got into Utah I REALLY appreciated what a lighter bike could do. Deep sand, especially when I had never ridden it, is not where I want to take a bike that I can only pick up 5 or 6 times before straddling exhaustion.

    If/when I get around to doing the rest of the TAT, I'll be taking my 450 (or a 6xx if I get afficted with Bike Acquisition Syndrome again).

    Riding the eastern section on a small bike would largely be miserable, IMO. Tennessee has been revamped, so I don't know what the new route looks like. The old route is 95% paved, which is a hard number to envision when you only ever see pictures of the 5% cool parts -- and to be fair, they are really cool parts -- but it was mind numbing. Even once you get to more dirt, the east is an exercise in navigation more than it is in enjoyment. I got so "into the groove" that I nearly got t-boned coming out of my thousand-something-th intersection in Arkansas because I had become accustomed to zero traffic.
    #8
  9. jwnsc

    jwnsc Hang in there.

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    The problem for those who live along the Eastern Seaboard is that the bike which is best for riding the TAT, is not the best for riding the 3000 miles of interstate to get back home, especially if you need to do it in less than a week.

    I'd be interested in knowing what bikes were chosen to ride the TAT when they had to be ridden back across country to get home.

    Also, how many detours were taken to avoid the more "technical" stretches found in the Western section?
    #9
  10. XC Rider

    XC Rider Motorcycle Vagabond

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    I rode a DRZ400S back to Virginia from California after completing the TAT in '09. :dunno Bike did fine, as did I. Hell, when going through Arkansas, I even decided to do a side trip down to Montgomery, Alabama for Thanksgiving with friends before heading back up to VA.
    #10
  11. jwnsc

    jwnsc Hang in there.

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    That's great! How long did it take to do the TAT and make it back as far as Arkansas?
    #11
  12. Beer_me

    Beer_me JY

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    #12
  13. Blakebird

    Blakebird r-u-n-n-o-f-t

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    That is most likely what I'll be doing it on. :nod

    I've had several bikes better suited to it... TE610 w/ 5 gal IMS, TE 630 with 6.6 gal Safari... but getting the time to do the TAT didn't come up while owning those bikes.

    The '12 TE 310 is EFI and has seen better than 60mpg, so even though the 2.9 IMS only gets you another 0.6 gallons over the stock tank, you can carry a few MSR fuel bottles and have close to 4 gallons. Range won't be an issue.

    My camping gear is lightweight and packs small, I'm a minimalist offroad traveler, and don't carry what I don't need. I don't carry a stove and utensils - just tools, tubes, fuel, and clean shorts.
    The bike is set up to do long trips offroad with zoot revalved/resprung suspension, a Seat Concepts saddle, 12v power for GPS, etc.
    #13
  14. Blaise W

    Blaise W Been here awhile

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    My WR250R took me 8500 miles round trip on the TAT, Oregon to Houston in four days on the Interstate going home. No problem, especially after toughening up on the trail. In fact, I enjoyed it, as well as the trip from Houston to Tennessee to start. Nice ride. Choose the bike for the trail and just ride it home. As far as detouring, you shouldn't have to unless you are riding a really big bike, such as the GS. That will be a handful in several areas, some of them not rated as "technical". Our group detoured just a few places due to weather or the time getting too late in the day. I also bailed one day because I was just plain old tired and headed for the barn right at the end of the days ride. All I can suggest is that lighter is better, and that goes for bike and for gear! You will enjoy the trip much more that way, and if you need to pick up the bike, it's a lot easier. Lots of miles on that ride, and you are more likely than not to drop it a couple of times. I'm ready to go again!
    #14
  15. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    I did the TAT in two stages East (backwards) and West from New Mexico on an 07 KLR. Both times we just turned around and rode home on pavement. We tried to use backroads and virtually never got on an interstate. We were able to do ~500 miles a day on the return trips.

    We just winged it for the East return trip and probably could have had a better ride with some planning. So we actually created a pretty good return plan for the West TAT.
    #15
  16. Beer_me

    Beer_me JY

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    Blakebird, that is exactly how I want to roll. I'm bummed because I was going to buy this sweet '08 TE250 with a 310 kit and all the right accessories. Dude was far away and I couldn't get there before it was snatched up. Anyway, thanks for confirming that I'm on the right track for bike choice.

    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk 2
    #16
  17. Beer_me

    Beer_me JY

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    Blakebird, what are you thinking on how to handle the recommended maintenance intervals?

    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk 2
    #17
  18. Blakebird

    Blakebird r-u-n-n-o-f-t

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    on the trip?

    I won't be able to do it in one shot, I can usually get a max of two weeks PTO between projects at work... so it will be done in 2 or 3 sections depending on where we start. We're leaning towards starting at the CO/NM border and not doing the OK panhandle and TN dirt roads, etc. I can do that section on the Stelvio :D

    I have a buddy from OR that will probably join me, so we're going to work out a way to have a haul rig on each end. Neither one of us wants to ride the bikes we've chosen out or back.

    In other words, I'll prepare the bike for a section, ride it....and do maintenance when I get back.
    I've got the bike ready to do a couple weeks in Baja, and the most I'd do on that trip is drop the oil and swap the air filter skin.
    #18
  19. AC909

    AC909 Great Job!

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    Check out my sig line :deal We are getting ready to start our second leg of the trip. Why wrestle a huge bike for 5,000 miles, or any amount of miles for that reason? Good luck in whatever you choose. Just remember you'll be riding a motorcycle so whether its a Goldwing or a Whizzer you should be having a great time!!!:happay
    #19
  20. Beer_me

    Beer_me JY

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    Yeah, I was asking about performing the required maintenance at the factory frequency assuming you were doing the whole thing in one go. It's still only a rough plan but I'm hoping to do coast to coast in 30 days. I'm in VA and my parents live in OR so I plan to ship the bike back at the end. The biggest wild card in making this happen isn't my job or the right bike...it's my wife. I have only briefly alluded to what I'm scheming. ;) I'm shooting for departure in June 2014.

    Back to the (minor) bike issue, although I'm loving nearly everything I read about the Huskies, the maintenance intervals might be a deal killer for me. But I'm not ready to completely rule 'em out.

    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk 2
    #20