Right bike for Africa? (+ Poll)

Discussion in 'EMEA' started by kyleschutter, Dec 31, 2020.


Right bike for africa?

  1. DRZ

  2. 690

  3. EXC

    0 vote(s)
  4. Other

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. kyleschutter

    kyleschutter Adventurer

    Oct 2, 2017
    Philadelphia, PA
    I'm thinking about the right bike to go across africa, 50% dirt and 10% single track. I'm thinking it'll take one to two years. I have customers throughout africa so I'll visit them on the way while I work from my laptop when I can get internet. I'll drive for a week then stay put for a month, lather rinse repeat.

    The things I'm considering are:
    Low vibration
    Top speed enables me to go 75 mph comfortably.
    Repair parts possible to get in africa
    Low weight to make it be fun to take trails

    The options seem to be the Suzuki DRZ400S, KTM Enduro 690 or KTM exc500.

    for all of them I would need to get a custom seat that's comfortable, larger gas tank, cruise control and a new windshield. The EXC would need some dampening to remove vibrations. I'd need to add a top case and saddle bags and tank bag.

    The DRZ400S I could bore to 470cc, change the exhaust and change the sprocket so that it can get up to 45 horsepower (from 32hp) and 75 mph comfortable top speed without losing power on the bottom end. But at that point I probably spent as much as it would cost for a KTM and reduced the reliability below what a KTM would offer. EXC is the lightest at 240lbs while DRZ and 690 is 320 lbs.

    I have a BMW R1200R Which is 510lbs. The great things about it are the seat is ridiculously comfortable, the boxer engine is smooth and quiet. But it's way too heavy and I won't find inner tubes to replace in Africa. I also have a MadMax'ed Ninja 900 I drove SF to Peru over 3 years.

    Would love your thoughts on the matter!

    Yours, Kyle
  2. Mark Manley

    Mark Manley Long timer

    Apr 3, 2010
    Wessex, England
    Honda CRF250 or if buying new CRF300, you do not need anything bigger and if you get a DRZ400 keep the engine standard, it will be more reliable and easier to get spares if needed. I have done 20,000 miles across Africa on an R80G/S and it was much bigger than required and the trip would have been more fun on something smaller, as long as it will cruise at 60mph it is fast enough, you won't be going that fast most of the time.
    You will find tubes and tyres in Africa for just about anything but only in specific cities. I would not use a KTM for a trip like that, some people have no problems at all and others have problems the whole way, Japanese bikes are usually more reliable.
    More comfy seat and bigger tank the best and just about only mods you will need apart from luggage.
  3. Don T

    Don T Roaming Viking

    Mar 18, 2008
    ᛏᛅᚾᛘᛅᚢᚱᚴ - Scandinavia.
    I appreciate low maintenance and reliability.
    For that reason I would choose a Japanese bike.

    For a trip like the one you describe, I would choose either a CRF 300 Rally or a T7...
    kyleschutter likes this.
  4. BikeBrother

    BikeBrother Motorisch gestoord...

    Jan 5, 2008
    At the edge of the Veluwe
    Many, many years ago my brother and I travelled Africa on a DR600. Simple technology, easy maintenance, reliable. We had a strong frame for alu panniers, heavy but also secure for its content.
    Now i would choose a DR650 or a DRZ400s, like we have now. Also reliable and enough power. Put a 17 liter safari fuel tank on, some softbags good engine guard, maybe other seat, and ready to go. I would not change anything to engine or airfilter, DRZ already has 40 hp.
    I think you can forget 75 m/hr as speed. Probaly more roads are paved then in 1996, but still in poor condition, potholes, very busy, slow traffic (wagons with cows). Traveling speed would probably more like 40 m/hr.
    I still love Africa and hope to get back onces.
    chasbmw and MichaelJ like this.
  5. Hamamelis

    Hamamelis Inmate

    Oct 12, 2016
    RVA, Beast Coast
    I'd take a CRF250L or DRZ400. Maybe an XR650L or DR650. Definitely something reliable, light, with tube tyres