Should I choose a thumper? Help me!

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by hansi, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. hansi

    hansi Teurer Abenteurer

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    Just about to sell my 03 Triumph Tiger 955i and ready to move on to the next bike (see sig-line). The Triumph is a great bike for long distance touring with very limited off the road capabilities. Great engine, 105hp, super smooth, 450 mile days two-up no problem. But when you get to that stretch of deep gravel,sand, ruts, wet ground it becomes apparent that it is a top-heavy pig. My wife got her own bike, a Versys with a 19" front wheel conversion, so there is no more need for a big two-up bike.
    Want to stay in a budget for my new (to me) bike, so choices are limited. Don't have money to go Triumph Tiger XC or BMW twin. Thought about Wee or Versys, they would be in the budget.
    Used to own a Yamaha DT125, a Yamaha XT350 and a XT600 and really did like the thumper thing before going to a Buell Ulysses and the Triumph Tiger 955i.
    So, how capable are modern 650cc+ thumpers?
    One of our usual ADV trips involves doing long stretches of Freeway at slightly higher than posted speed :D to get fast where we want to go, backroads with passing cars because our trip time is usually very limited because of work, a farm and kids. Our preferred camp-spots are usually out of the way places on dirt/gravel roads like that :
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    So what say you? Can a modern thumper do freeway at decent speed or pass cars on backroads, carry camping gear for a week and still can be fun off the road? Do I have to go twin for what I need?

    Anybody got a FI thumper for trade?
    #1
  2. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    I can not really help with the bike, but it seems like you are in a big hurry to relax.
    Speeding, passing, so you can get some place and relax.
    It just sounds kind of frantic...

    Its fun to go fast, but you make it sound sort of un fun...
    #2
  3. nigelcorn

    nigelcorn Wannabe.

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    I can only speak for the KLR. It is capable of illegal speeds on the highway, but it isn't very fun doing it. I was pretty happy cruising at about 70 or so. Constantly trying to pass people on the freeway would get old really fast.

    It would be much better than your current bikes off-road, so you'll have to decide what balance of off-road/on-road ability you want.
    #3
  4. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

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    Even an archaic DR650SE can manage 100MPH with a little tuning...barely, and it'll happily cruise at 75MPH+ across the whole continent.

    I'd get a 2nd Versys. Then you and your wife only have to carry ONE set of tools.

    If you want a dirtier bike though, get a thumper. The TE610/630, 690E, X-Challenge, and Terra 650 have more power than the likes of the DR or KLR. The DR/KLR/XRL can be easily upgraded though, and the inexpensive aftermarket is good. Stock, they make around 35WHP. 45+WHP DRs are getting more common, thanks to vendors like www.Procycle.us and www.kientech.com.

    I ride a DR. I love it. It's no big touring bike. It's no race-ready enduro. It has enough power, gearing, and stability to haul 2 of us and luggage down the slab. I can still ride it like a chunky-butt dirtbike when off the pavement, and I just started riding dirt semi-regularly a little over a year ago. I couldn't see myself doing that very easily on a much heavier bike. All it really needs to play off-pavement is armor, a front knobby, suspension, and some fuel:air work. These mods are common needs to almost any dualsport. I often run dirt without even swapping on a front knobby, but I do use a dualsport tire...Shinko 244. It's no knobby, but it does get me around.

    Shop used, when you can. Bikes and parts can be found cheap.
    #4
  5. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

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    I've owned 5 Vstrom's over the years and like the Tiger, it can do off road and I've certainly had mine many places I probably shouldn't have, but stuggling with all that top heavy weight gets old with such a big bike. With that said, coming from a multi-cylinder bike like the Vstrom, I tried the KLR650 as a bike that might replace the strom as something more off road oriented and I hated it. Although the KLR is certainly more capable off road than the strom, the horrible long distance manners didn't pay off for how much of a pig it really still was in the dirt. It will do the long distances and plenty of guys do, but I just don't care for thumpers for the long high speed hauls. Stay on 55-65mph back roads, and they are pretty nice. Overall though, they just wear on you too much on the interstate. I have a DR650 now and It's kind of my exploring bike on back roads, but I still don't care for running it on in the interstate or ever long sections of tarmac. I actually think my WR250R is more comfy on the longer hauls. I've decided I got tired of trying to make a big bike work off road and do use my little bikes for that, but its always a trade-off and I couldn't do with out my Vstrom for those really long distance rides.

    The only thumper I've found that I really don't mind on the interstate is my wife's F650GS single. Its a very smooth thumper and does fairly well on the open road. Its the dual spark model which makes a nice difference. I've often thought the Dakar version would make a nice addition to the garage.

    With that said, since your wife has the Versys with the 19" front wheel, are you looking for something to join her, but smaller than the Tiger? I would think certainly anywhere she can take a fully loaded Versys with bags, you could take the Tiger or any similar size Adv bike?

    Or are you really looking for a smaller 650 Thumper while your wife rides the Versys?
    #5
  6. Johnny Bouncewell

    Johnny Bouncewell Surly

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    Drink the orange flavor-aid and get yourself a KTM single. They're seriously capable in dirt and street I've ridden waaay worse bikes on the highway. Do test ride one on the slab though. The vibes seem to mellow out at highway speeds and I can get pretty comfortable during long days. Well, long is less than 500 miles though.

    The top end on one of these is enough to get you a whopper of a ticket.
    #6
  7. itsatdm

    itsatdm Long timer

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    #7
  8. Night Falcon

    Night Falcon Adventure NZL

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    YUP...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. bobnoxious67

    bobnoxious67 Baby steps...

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    Keep the Tiger...get a second dual sport.

    Wanting EFI narrows your choice(s) down to the best one(s)...Husqvarna TE610/630 (personal favorite) or KTM 690

    I recently sold my TE610 so I could purchase the Tiger. I still had the TE450, so all was right with the world. If I could only own 1 bike, it would be a Husqvarna TE610 or 630.
    #9
  10. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

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    That's the one I've been reading a lot about lately too.

    More off road oriented than my wife's F650GS and lighter, but basically the same motor hopped up with a bit more power so should be pretty enjoyable on the interstates too if you have to take them.
    #10
  11. hansi

    hansi Teurer Abenteurer

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    Thanks for all the thoughts and good advice! :clap Love the ADV-forum!
    It is hard to choose between a poly or single for me that are in my budget. I don't want to have a second bike, one bike will have to do it all - even if that means it will do none of them perfect.
    I ride quiet a bit more off the road than my wife, given that I live right in the middle of the best forest and dirtroads Nor-Cal and Southern OR has to offer, just 5 min away from my farm, so a not so chunky thumper would be a better choice than the voluptuous Tiger. Used to just hop on my XT600 after work and ride in the woods to blow off some steam.
    We also do quite a bit LD Adventure touring year round. Last February we wanted to go see Death Valley, but because of work only had 5 days to do the 1400 mile RT. So we had to do a fast run down and back to have some time to enjoy DV. The Tiger was nice for the Hwy part, but does one really need 105hp for running just a little above HWY speed?
    I'm thinking that I am pretty secure in my manhood to ride a motorcycle with less horsepower. :D
    For this winter we have a trip to Baja planned with just ten days time. Wish I had more time to ride, but I have to work for a living.

    I think I have my choices narrowed down to a Versys 650 twin with 19" front, 64hp and 445lb wet weight or the Husquarna 650 Terra with that dependable Rotax single at 58hp and 405 lbs.
    What do you think about these choices?

    Would love to own the KTM 690, or the BMW 800GS for that matter, but don't have quite the financial means and I don't like the short service intervals on the Katoom.
    #11
  12. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Plus one on the above DR650 comments. :thumb
    If you're going by the budget you claim ... then the DR650, KLR or XR650L might work for you. The Versys is no trail bike. :D ... great as it is as an all rounder.

    I too have ridden my DR650 on LONG highway rides ... at speed. Like 1000 mile day home from Baja ... average cruising speed ? 80 mph. Also from Nor Cal to Colorado and back. 3500 miles. 4 Mexico trips. Now at 50K miles.

    With the right seat and proper set up the DR is actually smoother than a KLR at highway speeds. But a well set up KLR is no slouch. A pack mule.
    Test ride a few bikes ... get a feel for them.

    The new Husky Terra / Strada are promising bikes but very new, unproven. That "Rotax" engine is Chinese. (not a bad thing) Figure your OTD cost to be around $8000 after tax/prep/fees. Is that in your budget? :ear

    A nice low mileage DR650 with farkles should run between $3500 to $4500. A great bike for our Nor Cal fire roads and Forest Service two tracks. A good handler. The DR ridden solo has ample power to pass on back roads. I do it all the time. I've ridden all the roads up your way for 25 years ... Highway 36, Trinity Alps and all the little roads in the area. The DR is ACE on these roads. Set up is the key. Not hard or expensive. :clap
    #12
  13. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

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    It's still a rotax designed motor, just assembled in China.

    Thankfully the motors are based off the well proven G650GS bikes, but tweaked up a bit for more power. But yeah, how they do in the long haul is still to be seen.
    #13
  14. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

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    Well, you obviously are very familiar with the Versys and how it does. The Versys probably has the edge up on the long distance riding and out right comfort, but I would say the Terra should do way better off road, especially if you want to play a bit. The suspension on the Terra will be way better and the fuel tank under the seat really makes a huge difference at keeping that weight low on the bike. It shouldn't be too bad of a long haul bike as long as you set it up for some feature comforts.

    The Terra does suffer from a small 3.1 gal fuel tank. I think the Versys is right at 5 gals.
    #14
  15. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Exactly. Jury still out but I predict it will be a BETTER motor than previous Berlin built F650 motors ... which had lots of problems. BMW have a lot riding on this to screw it up. Loncin is making motors for ALL their singles now. They will be good. Very good, IMHO.

    I still believe the Terra may be out of the OP's price range ... it starts at $7000 ... but as we all know ... gets more expensive as it heads towards the door. :lol3 Add some farkles? $$$ Cha Ching!
    #15
  16. Avi8tor

    Avi8tor ADV Poser

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    Since you mentioned "super smooth" when talking about your Tiger, mad vibration at highway speeds may be a concern with a big displacement thumper. It doesn't bother everybody though.
    #16
  17. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    I think a dr650 is very heavy in the dirt, and its the lightest of the bunch I think.
    Anything over 350 pounds is not going to be much 'fun' on anything but dirt roads.

    You have to be a manly man to ride a heavy bike through miles of soft sand, whoops, and mud holes and think its fun. Yes, there are a few sick people that do it, but for most, its not fun for long.

    Pick any bike you want if its mostly street and some hard pack dirt roads, just put the right tires on any bike, even road kings and Triumph scramblers.

    Big powerful bikes suck more gas, so need bigger gas tanks, lots of weight up high on tall bikes is a real treat in the rough stuff, and hard on the bones when you fall.
    #17
  18. mountaincadre

    mountaincadre Been here awhile

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    I wear rubber pants(shorts to you yankee imperialists):evil
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  19. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    I don't know of any modern singles that vibrate much.
    If you think they do, maybe wait for the electric bikes?
    #19
  20. Ogre_fl

    Ogre_fl Long timer

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    I am almost in the same boat as you.
    I have a non-converted Versys and thinking of doing the 19" conversion.
    I also have interest in the 650 Terra/Strada.
    The BMW involvement in those bikes are a major turn off for me (I have owned a BMW) along with the short valve service intervals (6000 miles) and somewhat complicated oil changes.

    I have owned several thumpers and a few adv type twins.
    When I have owned only thumpers I have wanted a twin for travel, when I have owned only a twin I have longed for the off road capabilities of a thumper.
    I will say a twin with proper tires decreases that longing some what.

    I too understand time limitations and how they effect the bike you want/need.
    I like to run up to the GA mountains for a 3 day run and the 400 mile trip up/back I dread on thumpers because I cant always take the "best" route and need to take the fastest.
    In the end I think the twins on road qualities outweigh the thumpers off road.

    Right now I think the converted Versys is the better & more reliable choice and definitely the less expensive one.

    Good luck with your choice.
    I am truly interested in what you decide.
    #20