Central America Trip- What Bike to Pair with DRZ400

Discussion in 'Americas' started by UP Matt, Jul 7, 2021.

  1. UP Matt

    UP Matt Adventurer

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    Hi Everyone!

    My girlfriend and I are in the early stages of planning of central america trip. I currently own a drz400, which is what I plan to ride.

    I was thinking a second drz400 would best since we would have completely interchangeable parts for simplicity and the same power/comfort. However, my girlfriend is only 5' and maybe 120lbs if that. I think the drz might be too big for her comfort and convenience. I was thinking a dr200 might be around the right size for her, but having such differences between the bikes might add complications (perhaps speed, comfort, liquid vs air cooled, other maintenance).

    Is there any consensus on carb vs EFI and air vs liquid cool for travelling in central/south america? I imagine a carb is better for repair despite its drawbacks, but what about the difficulties of keeping an air cooled bike temps down vs maintenance of liquid cooling?

    What are some thoughts on what would be the best starter/travel bike for someone her size? Get a drz for convenience or get something smaller?
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  2. Yinzer Moto

    Yinzer Moto Long timer Supporter

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    Have a DRZ suspension lowered 4”. Then it would have about the suspension travel of a DR200 with the power of the 400.

    I would get a pair of the same bikes.
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  3. Natgeo14

    Natgeo14 Long timer

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    What is your girlfriend's previous riding experience?

    Are you training her from scratch.

    I think a Yamaha TW200 would be a good bike for her. It has nice small nice wide tires on it that would be great for someone short. It doesn't have enough power to hurt her if she messes up and its light enough that she can pick it up.

    The Yamaha XT225 is another option for a little more hp, but it has a 21" front tire and tall seat height I'm guessing.

    I think the DRZ is a good idea too, but see if its possible to change the tire to a 19" front and 17" rear. I don't think you want to go larger on tires then that.


    Have you thought about just getting a larger bike and going 2 up? With her only being 5' that might be the better option. All you need is a 650cc or greater and you could still have a lot of fun offroad.
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  4. UP Matt

    UP Matt Adventurer

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    Personally the stock drz was too tall for my comfort level when I started riding dual sport. Now it is fine since I have some experience and not being able to flat foot feels normal.
    She is new to riding all-together. She is excited to get started, but I fear if the bike is too big and she dumps it a lot while learning that she made get frustrated and scared off. Her inseam is about 27", so lowering it 4" would make it about the same height as the smaller bikes, but she would still be far from being able to flat foot.

    I have not looked into lowering the smaller bikes. But the difference in power and components really does seem like it would get frustrating.
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  5. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    Have a look at the You Tube Video series BY Noraly aka Itchy Boots , Season 5 . She is currently, as I write, touring all manner of remote roads and trails in Namibia after a couple of months doing back country SOUTH AFRICA on a Honda CRF 250L. See the first episodes when she buys the bike in Johannesburg and puts her baggage on it . A trail bike with lights , light and easy to handle , liquid cooling, fuel injection . She is carrying everything she needs and it is proving to be an excellent bike for the job.
    A 250 will not be at any disadvantage while accompanying you on the bigger bike because TOP SPEED is never a consideration . You aren’t going to drag race and run away and hide just because the DR is bigger, are you? You will both be travelling at sedate highway speeds , and speed in the rough stuff will be less .
    Fuel injection and electronics are not a problem .
    How often do you really expect to be tearing apart carburetors anyway?
    Same for liquid cooling , they are pretty reliable .
    But having an air cooled bike can also work well , the makers have those figured out well enough for all climates and lots of air cooled bikes run around in CA without overheating .
    Buying two of the same bikes might be an advantage or a disadvantage . What guarantee is there that you will need the same broken part Repaired ? Expecting a volume discount ? No point in butchering one bike to fix the other. What if they both blow up at the same moment and leave you stranded ?
    If you get two completely different bikes you can do actual comparisons between them and decide which is more suitable to whom and guide future purchases.
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  6. Yinzer Moto

    Yinzer Moto Long timer Supporter

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    As what was suggested above, maybe get a pair of XT250s. When they become more available, I am going to get a pair of Honda Trail 125s for my wife and I. We currently have a pair of WR250Rs. My wife’s WR suspension is lowered 2” and the seat has an inch removed, she has a 25” inseam. So, she is roughly at a 33” seat height.

    South of the American border, you’ll never need anything larger than a 125cc bike.

    As far as inseam and seat height, the two do not relate exactly, I have an inch more inseam than your wife, at 28”and I ride bikes with 36 or 37” seat heights. I am not trying to talk you out of lowering the bikes or finding a smaller bike, but with a 27” inseam, she should be ok on a 32” bike.
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  7. UP Matt

    UP Matt Adventurer

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    Hey hey I stumbled across your book and I am going to have to purchase a copy before I head out. Sounds like you have some experience down there!

    It sounds like we should just get her whatever small bike is cheap and make it work...not a problem in my mind or budget.

    Is there any reason I should switch to a smaller bike, or just save the money and ride the drz despite it being bigger than strictly necessary down there?

    Even after buying a bike the accesories for travel and still so expensive.. Still need to consider whether hard panniers and such are really neccesary or if I can get away with the cheap stuff I have
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  8. UP Matt

    UP Matt Adventurer

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    Interesting. I never really thought much about how applying inseam does not directly mean something larger will make it feel giant.
    How does the 33" seat height feel for your wife?
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  9. Yinzer Moto

    Yinzer Moto Long timer Supporter

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    Wide seats can make a low bike feel tall. I had a 28” tall bike that I had trouble touching the ground on because the seat was so wide.

    My wife is ok with the 33” seat height.
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  10. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    No need to buy a different bike than the DR Z400 you already have and the accessories are already purchased for it , right ? Money saved .!
    If only out of politeness , you can learn to not twist the throttle wide open in order to keep your girlfriend company on the road or trail if indeed you are a faster rider.
    That leaves only getting luggage for the smaller machine. What other accessories do you really need? Skip any idea of extra lights, highway pegs, performance exhaust system, air conditioning....
    Don’t just buy stuff because other riders have done it . Most any motorcycle can be ridden to CA the way it comes , properly set up , out of the showroom.

    Big-boxes luggage requires heavy rigid supports and that adds extra weight . And concern about broken brackets, hinges, locks .

    Do like Itchy Boots and stay with soft luggage . It is less costly than big aluminum cases and will not get as easily damaged. Big hard boxes have been known to break a rider’s leg if it gets trapped by a n edge in a trail accident . Soft bags are more forgiving and they surely rattle less. They will always be cinched snugly around the contents and are expandable as the contents are exchanged .A hard box must always be full , or any hard contents rattle about and grind themselves to bits.t
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  11. Addapost

    Addapost Been here awhile

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    What you're riding has nothing to do with what she is riding. Get her a bike that fits her, she likes, she can handle, you can afford, and is 100% reliable. Have a blast, sounds like a great trip.
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  12. UP Matt

    UP Matt Adventurer

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    Makes sense to me.

    For the drz I made some side racks myself and bought the cheaper nelson riggs. They work great, but from my reading it seems that hard cases that are lockable are the smarter option for security reasons. Have you not found the extra security neccesary?

    Maybe for her bike we will get something like the coyote saddlebag for simplicity. Still costs a fortune though. Other ideas?
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  13. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    No , you do not need locking hard cases for security.If thieves want your stuff they will likely take the whole bike and see what surprises are in there. Locks are pickable.
    Besides that you really should not be bringing precious stuff that might attract interest.Fragile stuff will get damaged rattling around in boxes.
    Your passport, DL , bank cards should not be stowed in any luggage, whether hard or soft . They should always be on your person , as in a document holding belt or pouch on a neck strap.
    I have travelled Mexico with several soft bags , and a blend of fibreglass side cases plus a big soft bag on the back seat/ luggage rack . In 40 years of trips in Mexico and CA I have never experienced a break in or pilferage off the bike.
    It should be understood that you take care to not park on streets in barrios and then leave it unattended for the day or a night . Don’t bring bling,
    I always find a hotel which provides secure bike or car parking . The room is yours until 1pm , so that means you can leave the bike parked securely there while you spend time as a pedestrian in town .
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  14. Yinzer Moto

    Yinzer Moto Long timer Supporter

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    ALT Rider hemisphere bags lift off the bike in about 30 seconds, carry the whole thing into the hotel at night. Then it takes a min or two to reattach.
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  15. Yankee Dog

    Yankee Dog Long timer

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    Couple f things.

    Have her take the MSF course before you start buying bikes. That will help determine her level of confidence. Also, from experience I can tell you that teaching a significant other to ride sometimes doesn’t go very well.

    Consider a hack. Inseam doesn’t matter if you don’t have t ouch the ground at stops. You could even hack another drz with an adv car. Solves the whole luggage problem as well.
    #15
  16. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    That hack , do you mean taking a car in addition to the ONE DRZ?
    That would mean having the girlfriend driving a chase car , HER registered vehicle, with added costs for fuel , insurance .
    TVIP for two vehicles whether bike or car remains the same after the refund of the security deposit.
    .Add the stress of her dealing with Mexican traffic in a cage while trying to follow a motorcycle , the stress of getting separated and trying to find each other again, finding parking for the car when bike parking is easily available.

    On two occasions I came across such a car- bike pairing . Once in Mexico a young guy from Germany was riding a motorcycle while his mother was following in a car , and once in Labrador when a guy on a KLR stopped for a talk and soon his wife drove up with a car hauling a bike trailer and extra gasoline cans.


    If you come to that stage of a decision you may as well leave the bikes at home and take the car. Then you will be able to chat full time, less expense , less stress and carry the coffee maker and a kitchen sink .
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  17. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra Supporter

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    I set up a poll in trip planning about soft luggage theft that can be viewed at the link below:

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/soft-luggage-theft-poll-should-i-worry.1071679/

    Got around 400 responses and around 5% of soft luggage users experienced a theft. That's what I use and have never suffered a theft. But I rarely leave my loaded moto somewhere for extended times where I can't see it.

    As for a moto choice, I know they sell a supermoto version of the DRZ400 which I believe had 17" wheels which should help with the seat height should you be able to find one for sale. Cutting down on spare parts carried is nice but even better is having motorcycles you've worked on before and are experienced with the service procedures.
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  18. Yankee Dog

    Yankee Dog Long timer

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    Actually I was thinking of hacking a 2nd bike for her to pilot. ALthough, now,that you mention it. They could hack a single bike and both ride the same vehicle. Although n that case I would recommend something bigger as the tug. The OP might even find he enjoys riding monkey.

    Two vehicles regardless of the number of total wheel should certainly include bike to bike communications.
    #18
  19. guitarfour

    guitarfour n00b

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    I second this. I ride with a friend who also has a DRZ. We've been in a couple situations where having identical bikes made it easier to fix any issues.
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  20. Yinzer Moto

    Yinzer Moto Long timer Supporter

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    If a bike fails, being able to swap parts to diagnose a issue. Also, there is only one bike model to learn about.
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