Trans America Trail - What bike should I choose?

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Made from scratch, Jan 22, 2018.

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Which bike do you think would be best for my Trans America Trail ride?

  1. XT 250

    9.6%
  2. WR 250r

    51.9%
  3. KLX 250

    4.8%
  4. CRF 250L

    4.8%
  5. CRF 250L Rally

    28.8%
  1. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    I'm a beginner rider who is looking to do the Trans America Trail (East to West). The three bikes that I really have in mind are the CRF 250L, CRF 250L Rally, and the XT 250. May I ask you what your opinion is on which bike would be best for me to do the TAT with? The X-Factor is that I MIGHT have to do this in two parts with the split in New Mexico with a 1,000 ride home on the tarmac. I don't know what kind of whether conditions I'll be experiencing, so I'm terrified of riding on the road without ABS. Here's my evaluation so far. On all the bikes, I'd have plan to change the exhaust, the tires, the seats, the sprockets and do something about the fuel capacity. The CRF 250L Rally is the heaviest, but it has bigger brakes and I like ABS for such a long distance on the tarmac. It also has an upgraded electrical system that neither of the other two have for charging all my electronics. The CRF 250L is the cheapest right off the bat (also has ABS), but lacks the stability on the tarmac and the electrical upgrade that the Rally has. The XT 250 would be the most fun, lightest, best seat height, and most fuel efficient with one less liquid to care about even though I'd have to worry about keeping those cooling fins clean and worry more about the oil. It would also be the least desirable bike on the highway (also doesn't have ABS). A distant 4th would be the WR 250r with no ABS and a crappy seat height as I'm not that tall. I'm aware that the WR 250r has the same seat height as the two CRFs, but the CRFs sink a bit more after I sit on it, and they have ABS. And a 5th bike that I'm considering is the 2018 KLX 250 (bad seat height, no ABS). I don't want to deal with carburetors, so the DRZ 400 is out of the question. Am I missing anything here? And again, what bike would you recommend for that situation? Is the extra 30-60 lbs of unwanted weight on the CRF 250L Rally worth it? I'd like to know what your reasoning is.
    #1
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  2. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Long timer

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    Look at the bright side though: He's not biting off more than he can chew on a huge-ass BMW or something
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  3. Bultaco206

    Bultaco206 Back-to-back motos suck Supporter

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    For a newbie rider, with limited skills, confidence will make you, and a lack thereof will break you, far more than anything else you can prepare for. That said, as a newbie you can compensate much better with a light bike on pavement than you can with a heavy bike off-pavement. It's an easier compromise. As your skills develop that will flip-flop somewhat to a point when you start looking for more power and larger bikes.

    For the ride you are proposing I'd go as light & low as you can. I think you'll have a better experience overall thinking that way. I'd look at the XT first, with the KLX second. But that's me, and my own opinion.
    #3
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  4. djroszina

    djroszina Long timer Supporter

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    I like the WR250. As far as abs, it’s only used on paved roads and then when pushing or trying to ride over ones head, and for those oh shit moments. I ride aggressively and almost never engage the abs and usually when it does I wish it hadn’t. How big of a break between legs? If possible store and maintain bike in NM and fly back and forth between legs.
    #4
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  5. Migolito

    Migolito Prognosticator and MotoYogi

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    Made From Scratch, do I have a deal for you! Here it is: http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/2018-death-valley-noobs-rally-march-22-25.1264350/
    You are 'local' which means you can ride out or truck your bike out. The folks who show up at this rally vary from RTW travelers to Noobs (hence the name). I am leading one of the rides http://advrider.com/index.php?threa...lley-warm-springs-ride.1264743/#post-33555011 Many Noobs have shown up at this rally, then go on to see the world.
    This event is set up for folks who are relatively new to Adv riding, so, no need to be intimidated. Tons of real world advice and hands on experience at this rally.
    Now for the "best" TAT bike. Get the one thats the lowest cost used. Because IF you continue on with ADV riding you will only be borrowing the bike before you move on to the next "best" bike. IMO, XT225, XT250 (I've had both and stupidly sold them), CRF250 (had it also, glad to have sold it-but also bomb proof) DR400, DR650, etc. One thing ALL these bike have in common is they are simple to farkel, simple to ride, and very difficult to break. BTW my "best" bike at the moment is a KTM500exc that is my dirt(single track) bike and my Honda CB500X slab/gravel bike that I'm farkeling right now for lunch with Heidiho somewhere to the north of here.
    #5
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  6. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    Thank you for your concern. I've been preparing for this for at least a few months already. I don't plan to just go out there TOTALLY inexperienced. But then, if you think about it, why would I ask people for advice in a forum like this if I was not concerned about myself and able and willing to recognize and face my own weaknesses? I do certainly appreciate your concern, and I am taking that exact thing into account. That's why I'm asking for advice from people like yourself. I respect what you and everybody else has to say. It's not that I don't like what you have to say, but rather, my living situation may force this on me. See, I work overseas from contract to contract. And when I come back home to America, it's only for a couple of months at a time. Why should I not use that time and money to live on the road and in campgrounds (or even stealth camping) while having an adventure? We have such a beautiful country, and I would love to spend my time enjoying it. For me, a TAT ride would not only be a good learning experience, but it's to soak up some of my time so that I won't have to pay rent elsewhere while looking at skyscrapers. It's also safer than being on roads with a motorcycle. I can control me, but I can't control other people. Therefore, if I fall, I'd rather for it to be off road than to have it from thousands of pounds of metal coming at me and crushing me.

    With that said, yes, the Rally is my top choice. I'd love to hear about your upgrades. I'm looking to upgrade to that 4.0 gallon IMS tank, but from what I've also heard is that aftermarket tanks have a tendency to leak. I have a partial suspicion that those cases may also be from improper installation.
    #6
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  7. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    I've thought about that option. The three reasons that I'm not considering it is 1) weight and 2) if I compare it to something like a Honda, it doesn't have the vast number of dealers across the country that the Japanese bikes do. And 3) parts will be more expensive. I've never owned a European bike, but I do own a 2005 Mercedes. I've spent a fortune (more than that car is worth) just on parts and special tools.
    #7
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  8. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    Actually, the XT is my second choice, and I do realize that I'll have the most control and fun if I choose this bike. However, if I get an XT, I'd have to do two extra things that I won't have to do on the other bikes: 1) Upgrade the suspension. That bike will bottom out too easily while carrying me, my gear, my luggage, tools, extra water, and extra fuel. And 2) I'd have to upgrade the headlights to LEDs, which is easy. The stock headlights take a lot out of an already-weak XT electrical system.
    #8
  9. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    Thank you for the invite, but I will be leaving back overseas at the end of February. As far as the bikes go, I would agree that the KTM would be an excellent choice if it were not for the lack of dealerships across the country if and when I need parts. Remember, my weakness is that I'm a newbie. I don't need the aggravation of needing to look and waiting for dealers to ship parts from hundreds (if not, thousands) of miles away. With that said, European bikes are out of the question for me. I'm actually almost on the same exact page as you are on bikes. We've both mentioned the XTs and CRFs. I was actually thinking about the CB 500x also, but I wouldn't feel comfortable taking that bike on the TAT without a Level 3 Rally Raid upgrade, which means putting an extra $3,000 to $4,000 (Dunno if I'm wrong about this, but I think it's an extra $1,000 for the spoke wheels) on the credit card. With that said, I think the CB 500x would have been an excellent choice for me if the upgrade wasn't so expensive.
    #9
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  10. ShooterF16

    ShooterF16 Adventurer

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    Hey @Made for scratch! I’m just ahead of you. I’m planning on doing the TAT this summer after a 15 year hiatus in riding. All my previous experience was on street bikes.

    I bought a 2017 Husqvarna 701 Enduro. Is it big? Yes. Is it too big? Nope. I’m 5’9” and can ride it fine on the street, although I can’t put my foot flat on the ground.

    What am I doing to prep? Well, first I’m riding a lot more, commuting, dirt roads and trails in the local area, etc. I also took a Motocross lesson to learn some basics about turning, stopping, basics jumps, and especially turning on the dirt.

    In the meantime I’m prepping my bike for the ride with racks, bags, installing a lowering link soon (for more confidence in the dirt), better lights, etc

    I’m further gonna prep by doing some longer camping trips and hopefully do some of the longer rides in the NE.

    Luckily, when I do the TAT it’s gonna be with friends with more experience and conveniently riding the same bike.

    Good luck!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  11. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    Yes, I've thought about the WR250 and storing the bike in NM also, and they're still viable options. The break between legs would be around 5 months.
    #11
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  12. Bultaco206

    Bultaco206 Back-to-back motos suck Supporter

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    Actually, for best results, I'd consider upgrading the suspension on any of the bikes on your list. Personally, I'd not set out on any class of a trip on any of them in stock form. But that's me.
    #12
  13. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    I'm 5'8.5, so we're basically the same height. The Husky is a great option, but there's not enough dealer support nationwide. From what I've heard (and you can correct me since you're an actual owner of one), there are actually only two parts outlets in the entire United States for Huskies. I work overseas, so I have a schedule with international flights to catch. Therefore, the Husky is out of the question for me (if my research is right).
    I agree with your recommendation of suspension upgrades for all of the bikes if I'm going to take on the TAT. The degree of urgency for the upgrade on an XT is far more serious than any of the other bikes though.
    #13
  14. djroszina

    djroszina Long timer Supporter

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    Can I intresting you in a Royal Enfield Himalayan? Just a thought, not very good dealer coverage, but maybe you won’t need one???
    #14
  15. Hi-De-Ho

    Hi-De-Ho Mad Scientist Super Supporter

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    Update: The Rally Raid level 3 kits are $ 2800.00. I rode with three of the CB500X bikes, while I was on my Rally, and all three of those CB500X's had the level 3 kits in them. One was Jenny Morgan, a Rally Raid rider, and former Dakar racer.

    The IMS tanks do not leak, unless....as you pointed out, have been installed wrong.

    But , "IF" you choose the Honda Rally, I would simply carry a 1 gallon Rotopax canister, in top of the rear rack then your day bag on top of that. There are other aux. tanks available, but for the money, the Rotopax tank is fine. Saves you a bunch of money, and mods.
    #15
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  16. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    Yeah. I'm afraid of the lack of dealer coverage. Especially when I'll be out in the middle of nowhere.
    #16
  17. shrederscott

    shrederscott Long timer

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    Hi

    I have NOT ridden the TAT ... not real interested in it personally.

    I live in Denver and I mostly ride Colorado, Utah and Arizona. I ride both day ride single track and multi-day cross country off-road camping trips.

    I ride a street legal KTM 350 xcf-w with a larger tank and other modifications for long-distance riding.

    Now that you know a little bit about me here are my views in response to your post.

    I respectfully disagree with others who suggests you're biting off more than you can chew.

    On a ride like the TAT motivation counts for a lot ! !

    The TAT is a LONG ride over a wide variety of terrain and weather conditions. Motivation and determination are critical in keeping you moving when the going gets challenging for you.

    I have ridden portions of the TAT that pass through colorado it is still big bike friendly dirt roads ... not very technically difficult in my opinion.

    As your rider skills are likely to be some what weak, I would recommend that you take a riding class or go to a track and practice for a bit before beginning the TAT.

    Keep in mine you will be crossing the United States of America a first world country you will never be far from high quality medical help or assistance parts will always be readily available to you no matter what bike you take or where you are.

    In my opinion two of the most important things to carry for this trip are a operational cell phone and a credit card with a good line of credit.

    Do not over pack. ! ! anything you need that you forgot you will be able to readily purchase on your journey.

    I recommend you invest in high-quality ultralight backpacking camping equipment and soft luggage no rack to keep your load as light as possible.

    I went to the Honda shop and checked out that 250 rally.

    Of the bikes that you have listed it most certainly would not be my first choice.

    That bike simply got way too much unneeded dakar look weight that will hinder your ability to ride the bike in more challenging conditions.

    My recommendation to you is to go with the Yamaha wr250r.

    I met a guy in Moab a few years ago he was 3/4 done on a round-the-world trip on a wr250r. He was VERY happy with bike.

    The wr250r really just hits all the right boxes for me.

    It's very reliable

    It's fuel injected so no issues from sea level to the high elevations in Colorado.

    Has great aftermarket support for adventure bike modifications lots of different tanks and saddle options.

    It probably has the best off-road suspension of the group.

    I think it's the lightest or one of the lightest bikes of the group.

    It has plenty of electrical power to run accessories like heated grips clothing GPS ....

    You had a concern regarding suspension modification.

    In my opinion any of the bikes on your list will require modification to the suspension to appropriately handle the extra weight involved in long-distance cross country camping rides.

    Your complaint regarding the seat height of the Yamaha has more to do with how the SAG is set. That is a relatively easy adjustment on the suspension.

    Given the way you describe your life I would also recommend that you simply store your bike wherever you end your first stage and fly back and forth from .

    Also in regards to a ABS I recommend you stay away from that system.

    You're looking for false security from technology.

    Those abs systems can often perform poorly in dirt conditions and as a majority of your riding is going to be on dirt I would want the bike optimized for that.... not ... wet street conditions that by your use description should be seldom encountered.

    In the end it's really more about the journey than the bike.

    Hope that info is helpful to you.

    Enjoy your ride !!

    Scott
    #17
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  18. Migolito

    Migolito Prognosticator and MotoYogi

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    Wasn't rx a CB500X for TAT...even with the RR3 kit. IMO, way, way too heavy(kinda like most ADV bikes). The KTM500 is about 250 pounds and north of 55 hp and if anyone doubts the RTW capability/reliability of the KTM500 they are not familiar with the crazy New Zealander who rode his stock one from TDF to Prudhoe and then some. Folks forgot to tell him it was impossible... However, I wouldnt rx the KTM500 bike, or the 701 to a new guy. Stick to a used lite thumper, leave the fears and anxiety about dealer support at home, and ride.
    #18
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  19. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    Jenny Morgan rocks! .... 'Nuff said. LOL! But I'm not as seasoned of a rider as she is. In fact, I'm just the opposite. I'm a newbie with lots to learn, and that's why I'm here humbly asking questions because after some extensive research, I don't feel that research knowledge makes up for the wisdom that I can gain from all of y'all with lots of experience. Y'all have done it. I haven't.

    Here's my evaluation on the Rally Raid Level 3 CB 500X. If I get one, it's definitely a keeper because 1) out of all the bikes that I've been looking at and considering, the CB 500X is definitely the most road-capable. This would come in handy anytime I need to head to my intended trails or head home on paved roads or even just for connecting trails. 2) It'll be the most comfortable. 3) I can carry more stuff on it than any of my current choices. And 4) It's also a Honda. It'll have the same number of available dealers to me as any other Honda bike.

    So here are the negatives for me: 1) I'd have to pay more just on credit card interest because if I owe $2,800 on a bike loan, the interest is cheaper than credit card interest. And 2) It's wet weight will be about 60 lbs more than the CRF 250L Rally, which is the heaviest of all the bikes that I'm actually considering.

    Between you and me, you're the CB 500X owner. So, if there's anything that I'm missing here, please let me know. I'd love to hear it from you and your experiences.
    #19
  20. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    Thank you, Scott. That's quite a checklist that you've compiled for me just off the top of your head. I'm impressed. And yes, it's helpful, and I certainly do appreciate it.

    All the bikes with ABS that I'm considering have switches that can turn off the ABS on the back wheel. Do you think that's still as dangerous as you've described? I'm humbly asking this because I'd like to draw on your knowledge.

    As far as the WR 250r goes, I'm well aware of its phenomenal reputation for reliability, fun, and just the overall feel of the bike. But even at its softest setting, I'm still not flat-footed. Although I don't have much experience riding a motorcycle on dirt, I HAVE been on motorcycles when I'm trying to balance on uneven ground. As I've said before, I'm not that experienced of a rider, so to me, it makes a difference. This is just a guess, but I think I'd drop the WR 250r a lot more than any of the other bikes.
    #20