Suitable smallish bike for a tall rider for RTW travel

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by pauldelft, Apr 23, 2013.

  1. pauldelft

    pauldelft n00b

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    Hi guys,

    The more i read forums like adv and hubb, the more i'm convinced a small bike (250cc-450cc) is better for rtw travel (blend in with the locals, better mileage, easier to handle, cheaper carnet etc etc).
    I however have a problem - i'm a tall guy (198/6' 6").

    What is a suitable bike or easy to adapt bike in this category for a tall guy like me? Eventual plan is to drive from Europe to SA.

    Thanks! :1drink

    Paul
    #1
  2. willys

    willys Long timer

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    I have a KLR650 but have sat on a KLR250 and it wasn't much lower than the 650 in hieght. It is a simple engine and bike, so repairs wouldn't be an issue. I'm sure there are more modern bikes out there in a higher cc range with better horse power ratios. But if you want to fit in, an older more reliable bike in the smaller cc range like you have stated is probably your best bet. Any bke will take you RTW if you look after it.....it's all personal preferance....nothing else.
    #2
  3. Stu

    Stu Buffo Maximus

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    Paul,

    You pose a question that has bedeviled many on this site. What bike is reliable, cheap to operate and has adequate comfort for very extended trips. Unlike Willy, I do think there are bikes you should definitely avoid (British singles come to mind as well as some contemporary Chinese bikes -- mechanical companions of very questionable reliability). There are bikes that are known for their RTW qualities (BMW & KTM dual sport singles, KLR 650 & 650 DRs are examples). I would look to one of these since they are built with this sort of extended travel in mind. Anything smaller than 500 c.c. will put more stress on the engine traveling at higher speeds for long distances. You can do it if you are less risk adverse than some people. My cousin bought a used and abused Zundapp 175 c.c. two stroke in India and rode it to the outskirts of Berlin before it finally had a terminal melt down.

    I doubt that you, at 6'6", and on a packed motorcycle, would really blend in with the locals. Perhaps. Are you considering making your gear look like crates of chickens, wearing flip flops, torn cheap pants and a worn out Harley T-shirt?

    Stu
    #3
  4. Spiritwalker2222

    Spiritwalker2222 Been here awhile

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    I'm 6'5", I feel your pain. But for a RTW bike, I'd just buy a DRZ400S, put a tall seat, tall handle bars and risers on the bike. I could be biased as I have a DRZ.
    #4
  5. holckster

    holckster dougholck

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    DR650se
    No radiator
    No valve shims
    No fuel Injection
    Huge availabilty of aftermarket stuff to set it up your way.
    http://www.procycle.us/bikepages/dr650.html

    BTW
    There is No Sizuki warranty outside of USA if that matters.

    If starting with a newer machine, would be wise to check warranty coverage area of the manufacture you are considering.
    #5
  6. Spiritwalker2222

    Spiritwalker2222 Been here awhile

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    DR650, KLR650 and KLX250, those are all small bikes. Good if you 5' 3". Better to start off with a bigger bike.

    Edit: when I say bigger, I meant bigger ergonomics.
    #6
  7. MacNoob

    MacNoob piney fresh

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    6'+ here. Have KLR650 with tall seat. Sat on new Suzi DR650 the other day. It seemed like a tiny little dirt bike compared to KLR. Seat was like sitting on a 2x4 but that's easily fixed.
    #7
  8. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

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    Have you looked at the WR250R? This is a tall bike and I have to say for small FI 250, I'm pretty impressed. I'm 6'4/250lbs by the way. The great thing about the WRR is its 26k mile valve check and 350w stator. That's unheard of on DS bikes. So not only are valve checks far and few between, you can run some pretty decent heated gear on it. IMOP, the WR250R would make a great RTW traveler. For comparison, we have the 2013 Honda CRF250L in our garage and I've spent time on the KLX250S. The WRR has the most powerful motor of these 3 and the FI is top notch, and for a tall guy, its the best fit of the 3 by far. The Honda is probably the most cramped of the 3. The seat to peg height on the Honda feels more like a sport bike than a dual sport, but it works for my wife who only has a 29" inseam.

    I've got the Renazco seat on my and setup for me as a tall person and I'm very comfy on it. I actually own a DR650 and my biggest complaint is its so much more cramped compared to the WRR.

    If you haven't checked it out, Mark at BigDogAdventures has a pretty good write up on his WRR bulid and he took his to AK and back and basically for the same reasons decided it was a good small light weight adventure bike. - http://bigdogadventures.com/WR250R.htm

    IMS makes a 4.75 gallon tank for it too which gives you a nice range. Safari makes a 3.7gal tank.

    This is a recent pic of my wife and I next to the CRF & the WRR. She's 5'4" and I'm 6'4". That's the Seat Concepts seat on my WRR in this picture. I was borrowing it from a friend and wasn't that impressed with it. I like my Renazco better.

    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. sea2sum

    sea2sum Adventurer

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    I'm 6'7" and fir perfectly on my 640 adventure. I have raised bars, and had the suspension correctly built by Race Tech. I'd do a RTW with it no problem. I've ridden it all over the US and Mexico, and I think it's the perfect balance of a great dirtbike, but the comfort and range of a bigger bike.

    Not cheap though:(
    #9
  10. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    Small and light is relative.

    IMO, the 650ish bikes are above that, being mid weight/size.

    125's are light weight...:D

    Then you get into the 250-400 size bikes.

    I'm a huge fan of air-cooled bikes. Mas simple.

    If you've never looked at a DR350SE, do so. The best year models were the last two - '98-99, with dirt forks.

    Just find any bike that fits your needs.
    Then load and go...
    #10
  11. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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    Air-cooling is basically more simple. But also more primitive. There are reasons, why almost every modern car and motorcycle has water-cooling.

    But yeah, some will always prefer to also have carburetors, contact breakers and drum brakes. Just keep in mind, as the bike gets older, everything wears more and more. I'm not so sure that's an advantage for RTW, when spare parts are not easily available, and you'll do most maintenance and fixing yourself.
    #11
  12. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    What would those reasons be, in your opinion, and how they relate to rtw moto travel?
    #12
  13. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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    In short, water-cooling allows to build engines with smaller tolerances, because heat expansion is more controlled.

    For RTW, it's not decisive either way, there are proven overlanders with both types of cooling. But nowadays it's getting harder to find new air-cooled machines, and the age of the bike you choose, could be something to think about. How big an issue it is, of course depends on your mechanic skills as well, and if you'll make a total stripdown before the trip, then an older bike could be an ok choice. If you get a newer bike, then that may not be necessary.
    #13
  14. thetourist

    thetourist Just passing thru

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    Good for you picking a small bike. I've always liked 350 size and notice some "big bike" riders are starting to get the message.

    I'm 6'1 and have a big butt, so I sit tall. My DR350SE fits me without modification. I sit at the back of the seat and that gives me plenty of arm and leg room. When I stand the bars are at the limit of my reach. You might need a seat and handlebar raise.

    I have the big tank and am going for a better seat soon. Going to raise the front a bit and widen the back, then all will be good.

    It is a proven round the world bike. Under 300 lbs, 6 speed, thrifty, reliable. Nice clean examples at $2000

    KLR/KLX/SuperSherpa 250 seems to be popular, also

    DRZ400 would be my choice if it had a 6-speed. That 6th gear is a miracle, on long trips.
    #14
  15. XRman

    XRman Long timer

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    THe DRZ400 ( mine is an E model) is tall in the seat . Add an extra inch and add bar raisers and it should suit your body.

    Other mods I have done

    1) 28 L fuel tank Safari tank ( 500 km range)
    2) heavier springs and plush valving.
    3) ACT wide ratio gear box or Nova gear box ratios give standard first with an over drive fifth. Much more versatile!
    4) Ralle-moto steering damper
    5) moto-racks rear and side luggage racks to carry gear in soft pannier bags.
    6) 40 cm windshield
    7) bark buster lever protection
    8) Force radiator and sump guards
    9) engine side cover armour ( B&B engineering in Oz)

    Much as I like the Yamaha WR250R ( I owned a WR250 F and loved it) for its handling and 6 speed box, the biggest drawback I can see for touring is the fuel tank size. The biggest tank Safari make for this bike is 14L. which is not enough for longer rides. EFI is a great idea and is efficient and altitude change friendly, but if it fails and you are in a third world country, it might be hard to fix. I know FCR carbies are not that easy to fix either , but probably more repairable in a low tech workshop.
    #15
  16. davidfrench

    davidfrench Been here awhile

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    I like the approach of "do with what you have".
    For example a woman friend of mine rode from NYC to Argentina on a... Honda Shadow.
    :freaky
    #16
  17. Teabar

    Teabar Been here awhile

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    The Mondo Enduro guys all rode DR350s with minimal issue (height for these addressed earleir in the thread). Check out the review of best choice of bike for RTW by Colebatch of Sibirsky Extreme fame. It's a good article. Hope it helps - http://www.sibirskyextreme.com/2013/08/bike-selection-101/

    I've always been partial to the XR400r as it's more comfortable than the DRZ400E
    #17
  18. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    My wife is 5'11" and rides a DR350SE. It has a practical top speed of about 70 mph. It fits her well, and MMoto makes a very heavy duty rack for it. They are in Ukraine, however, so I don't know how much trouble it would be to get one right now.

    http://www.mmotoparts.com/

    They make racks for other bikes too.
    #18
  19. longtallsally

    longtallsally Yeah I'm a chick

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    As another resident goon, I'll chime in. A while back I did a distance trip (relatively speaking) on my wife's WR250R (1400 miles in 10 days with all but a couple hundred off road and I was packed with camping, food, and water for the whole trip) and it was fine. This was on the stock saddle and honestly it wasn't too bad.

    I don't weigh too much at ~230 lbs. and 6'7" but with the little bikes, being a sail makes more difference than actual weight. Thus, the lack of displacement can really be a detriment when there is that much surface are killing aerodynamics. I used to get into a race crouch on the WRR and it would gain me a minimum of 5 mph. Also, when elevation comes into play, it hurts yet again.

    Now, if your trip will be spent at 50 mph most all the time, who cares. Those bikes are a known quantity by now and have proven stone reliable despite having a good deal of tech compared to a DR or KLR.

    The last time I was in Baja a couple old timers were there- one of whom rode his Super Sherpa from WA state and the other was on a TW200. Both were pretty small guys and in no hurry.

    So what would I take? I guess it would depend on budget, timeline, and desired course/terrain. Once those get figured out, a bike can be chosen. Personally from all I've seen, for a RTW trip, the bike is the least of your concerns/effort in a trip like that.
    #19
  20. davidfrench

    davidfrench Been here awhile

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    I love the TW (for the times when I wish I was shorter) and I second this "when in no hurry" a smaller bike will do the job. I actually dream about doing the GDR on a mountain bike, cause I'm not in a hurry.
    :wink:
    #20