(Very) Loud Exhaust- Pros and Cons

Discussion in 'Americas' started by wemmons, Apr 4, 2012.

  1. Dan Man

    Dan Man ex-adventurer

    Oct 5, 2009
    Atlanta, GA
    I personally think a DR650 would be an excellent choice, much better than the DRZ400. Bananaman may be harsh, but is right, you will be carrying a lot of shit at some crazy altitudes.

    I met and rode with some guys that were going from Bolivia to Ushuaia on some Chinese 125s. They made it, barely, but had a much shorter distance than you. Those things were shit by the end, and I think they had bolts and stuff falling off/out everyday. So it can be done, but me, I would go with a bike that has been tried and tested, unless you got some sort of sentimental attachment to the bike of your choice.

    You can do it on anything with the right amount of motivation and technical know-how.

    The best ride report I've read was Nathan's Going Postal. He did Australia to England on a scooter. I loved how un-traditional it was, and his writing and photos were top-notch.

    Good luck
  2. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

    Jan 18, 2010
    Passing ADV Stalkers in California
    I'll take that bet! :1drink If he doesn't make it I doubt the bike would be the reason. Have you ever owned or ridden a DRZ ... or any Suzuki? Many have done big distance on DRZ's: Africa, Latin America, Asia. Very reliable machine, easy to maintain, strong, plenty of power.

    Would the DRZSM be my 1st choice? No. But plenty or riders (like Nathan the Postman) and others have done great distance on smaller, even less capable travel bikes. 125's, 250's, 400's. Ever heard of Simon Gandolfi? More and more travelers are flying into Brazil/Mexico/Peru', buying a local bike and riding off. Lots on 250's. It's not about the bike ... it's doing the trip that matters. Speeds are generally slow with a few exceptions.

    If the DRZ is set up carefully and a light load taken, it can work just fine. It would need a better seat FOR SURE, sub frame re-inforcement? Probably. The SM can cruise comfortably at 65 mph ... if you'd ridden one, you would know that.

    But that said, to me the SM is NOT a great choice: why? you will miss a 21" knobby anytime you are off road. The "S" model would be better. A wide 17" road tire is not ideal in any sort of dirt, mud, gravel or sand. If you never, ever venture off road, then OK, you can do it. But in parts of Peru' and Bolivia this is not really possible.

    Power will be no problem ... just get the jetting leaned out for altitude. Once you cross into S. America you will consistently be up over 7000 ft. and can pass 12K to 14K ft. in Bolivia and Peru'.

    In a Drag race, the DRZ400 is about neck in neck with a DR650 up to about 70 MPH, then the DR pulls ahead. Not much in it. I've ridden thousands of miles with DRZ's both ON and OFF road in the USA and in Mexico, used to own a DRZ400-E model myself. Now have a DR650.

    Bananaman, you are being a bit harsh on the Noob. :D I'm surprised a good Union man would do that. (IATSE, local 16, 22 years). I salute your efforts in WI. You guys are admired here in San Fran by your IATSE brothers! :freaky

    No worries. Focus on your prep. You are doing fine.
    As said above, the DRZ400SM would not be my first choice. But if you don't have funds to make a change ... then GO WITH IT!

    If you can change ... then as some here know ... I'm a huge DR650 fan.
    It does everything well: it's inexpensive, super reliable and even comfortable. Very few weaknesses or drawbacks. Very good off road, packs up beautifully and is easy to run and easy and cheap to maintain. A no brainer really. Some set up required, as with most any bike you chose for this trip.

    Stop by the big DR650 thread and start reading.

    DRZ400S ... very good Desert bike!

    DR650 on the way to Colorado via lots of off road through Nevada and Utah.
    Then a week in Moab, then the ride home. Loaded with camping gear.
    4 weeks/3500 miles.
  3. wemmons

    wemmons Adventurer

    Mar 27, 2012
    Thanks for the response. I think I definitely need to read up on some ride reports, but I am still under the impression that the DRZ can make the trip. My plan was to drop about $1,200 in the engine (big bore kit, cams, better carb), which are all very reliable, low stress upgrades that should take me to about 42-44hp at the rear wheel. This means the same HP as a 650GS Dakar, with 100 less pounds to pull. I think it will manage well, though mileage will drop to the mid 50's or so.

    That being said, I am still considering moving up to a 650, though am not convinced I need to. We'll see what comes my way, and I'll try to take a couple test rides if I can.

    The large front wheel has been echoed as well. Growing up riding dirt bikes, I know how much better that set up is. I was thinking I might swap rims out once I get to the border (I'd be surprised if I couldn't find someone to trade my sumo rims and tires with while hanging out for a week or two), as I plan to spend a month or two lapping the US first on some fun twisties.

    I live a fairly minimalist life style, I don't plan on having a ton of gear. I don't want to say much more than that though until I read up on ride reports and see some examples of the situations people really find themselves in; How long they have to go before replenishing supplies and so on.
  4. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Jun 20, 2007
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    Adv Grifter- yes, I've ridden the little Suzuki. Have you ever ridden dirt, 2-up, on a laden R1100GS? After 50,000 miles, even a 650 feels like a toy.

    A really fun toy. You feel like you can go anywhere. So you try. You forget that Ushuaia is your goal. You end up not getting past Panama. Or you crash and fuck yourself or the bike.

    Every time I've ridden dirt with guys on dirt bikes, the dirt bike riders just play and fuck around. They forget about destinations.

    I'm personally more interested in arriving alive. Simon, on his 150, with his suitcase and crutches strapped to the back seat- he doesn't break speed records. He takes time to smell the roses. I missed him in Panama, but Barb had dinner with him. Which brings me to KLRs.

    I am not a KLR fan, but I respect their utility.

    And I really hate loud pipes.

    Edit: I got your PM. I'll reply here:

    It's not that the 400 is too small. It just depends what you want to do. If you want to take six months, then the 400 is fine. If you want to cover any serious miles, then it's way, way too small.

    A friend of mine, Dave G., rode a BMW 650 to Ushuaia and back. He felt it was too big. When he got home, he started customizing a 400. The only thing stock, when he was done... well, it wasn't stock at all. Every bolt was replaced, improved, and lock-tighted. The frame was reinforced. He added a real seat. Bigger suspension. Huge gas tank. A real headlight. His goal: ride it around the world, especially touring the tiny countries, the out-of-the-way countries. I have long ago lost track of where the bike is. Maybe the phillipines? Maybe the US? He just got done spending about two years in Asia and Australia.

    When I did my big ride, I knew that I had to make a choice between riding to Ushuaia and just kind of riding around. For example, I had wanted to do Copper Canyon. But my experience in off-road riding and very-bad-road riding is that shit happens, and you risk injury to yourself and your bike, which then jeopardizes the entire ride. I knew enough riders who had failed to arrive at Ushuaia because of crashes, some from being stupid, most from just riding. The known risks are already significant: banditos, dengue, malaria, mechanical trouble, bad roads, corrupt cops, holes in roads, donkeys, etc. (Boyscout has a great thread, "Chickens hogs and other road hazards"). You have to take the advice Gandalf gave the Hobbits: STAY ON THE ROAD.

    No, you don't really have to stay on the road, but you'll need tons more time if you get off the road.

    It's about 12,000 miles from the Texas/Mexico border to Ushuaia. That's about 15,000 miles from New Jersey. If you ride straight, and don't fuck around, it'll take you a long time to get there. If you ride crooked, it'll take years. Literally years. Probably at least two. If you're on a tight budget, how are you going to last two years? In my case, I had four months. 120 days. I fucked myself in Panama, and then I had trouble at home (my house froze. Actually froze solid. Every pipe burst following a -50 cold spell. I had to fly home, get the house repaired, and then fly back to Panama to repair the bike I'd broken by riding it through a river that suddenly got too deep.) Since I had to be home, and done with the ride, by the end of April, I had to hustle.

    Having to hustle sucked. I wish I'd had one more month. And I wish I'd had a riding partner for Bolivia. No fucking way was I going to do Bolivia solo (Crashmaster has bigger balls than I do. Oh- he crashed. He just didn't crash bad.) On my ride, I was in pretty constant contact with the other guys out there. And they were crashing all over the place. One guy, a truly awesome rider, actually crashed twice, with the last one permanently ending his ride.

    There is nothing wrong with the 400. If Dave G can ride one around the world, then it's a great bike. But Dave is a careful rider. He rides his the way Simon rides his moped.

    Simon crashed his moped. When Barb met him, in Panama, he was on crutches. Still riding, sure; but off the bike, he had to hobble around on crutches.

    The biggest problem with any performance bike is, it's constantly begging you to thrash it. Don't think I didn't abuse the shit out of my 1100GS. I rode it like a fucking idiot. But I also rode it well within my limits. I dragged the pegs and dangly bits in the mountains, and I spent hours and hours on the pegs in the bad ripio, but I didn't ride quite as fast as I would have if I wasn't laden with extra tires, 11 gallons of fuel, and enough clothing and gear to be comfortable from -10 to 110.

    It gets really cold up there in the mountains of Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and Argentina. The only time I was actually hot was when I was waiting in line to cross from El Salvador into Honduras. The 400 is fun, but it doesn't offer any protection. Which means that when it's cold, you suffer. When it's raining, you suffer.

    Heated grips and ABS are required for me. Ask Nata Harli how much fun it is to try to stop short when you don't have ABS. The old "I had to lay her down" thing isn't very cute when you're under a bus in Guatemala. Or under a taxi in Guatemala. Funny, but I know two guys who survived not having ABS.

    Other than my R1100GS (Ushuaia-ready bikes like mine, with low miles, are available from a bout $3,500; I paid $4,500 for mine before I added $5,000 in non-essential essentials), my short list:

    KLR 650
    KTM 690
    KTM 990

    I think the KTM 990 would be the absolutely most fucking fun ever in the history of the world and I wouldn't give a shit if the water pump took a shit in Peru or Bolivia.

    I think the KTM 690 would get me to Ushuaia on all-dirt the most-funnest way but I'd wear full armor like if I was bullfighting.

    I think the Vee-Strom would be great for two-up or if I wanted to get there cheap.

    I think the Wee-Strom would be great for one-up if I wanted to get there cheap.

    I think the KLR would be the safest way to get there. I wouldn't ride a stock one, though. I'd do every mod ever invented, and then I'd invent some new ones.

    I'd do the ride in 4 months without having to fly home to fix my house and without having to hustle and it'd cost me $15,000, including getting the bike from Panama to Colombia, then home from Buenos Aires.
  5. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

    Jan 18, 2010
    Passing ADV Stalkers in California
    Hot Roding your motor is a huge waste of money for the trip you plan, IMO. I feel most experienced travelers will back this up. Power is NOT going to be your problem, it's not what you need. Leave it stock, work on getting Max MPG, best comfort, and total reliability. Make the bike crash proof and work out how you plan to carry stuff. These are what is important ... and don't forget to bring twice the money you think you need! :lol3

    There are two Brit guys prepping DRZ's for a major RTW ride right now and have a report here on ADV. These guys have some sponsorship but really have a good grasp on what is important, how to prep the bikes and what it really takes to make it on the LONG road. Check it out!!

    Read it for great ideas of how it's done:

  6. kpt4321

    kpt4321 Long timer

    Jun 25, 2008
    Philadelphia, PA
    Loud pipes lose land.
  7. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Jun 20, 2007
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    I agree. If you're taking a small displacement bike, then you should leave power home.

    Once you're on the road, power isn't what you spend most time thinking about (except for when you want to pass a chicken bus, or a truck, on a quick up-hill and you're already at 10,000 feet). What I obsessed about was staying warm and comfortable. For my bike, that meant spending about a week working on my seat, before realizing that the real answer was to improve the shocks. And the wind- in the end, I went with an aeroflow windscreen. The buffeting from the stock screen was horrible. And the lights. The stock light was about half of what I needed. And the gps. I hard wired my 60csx.

    What's really, really important, though, is the ability to tell stories and take photos. I like my nikon d40 but camera choices are very personal.

    As for finding somebody at the border who will change rims with you... good luck.