Trans America Trail - What bike should I choose?

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

?

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. Scheffy

    Scheffy Been here awhile

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    I'll add some second-hand (or first-hand, or maybe like 1.5-hand...?) perspective on both the Honda 250's that may give you some peace of mind. I ended up finishing my own TAT run in 2015 with a British rider on a standard 250L who had virtually no offroad experience before shipping the bike to the States and riding the whole route including GPS Kevin's NY-to-TN extension. (I was on an XR650R and will wholeheartedly commend any choice you make that has electric start. I think I still have tendinitis in my kicker leg.) I also ended up hosting another Brit at the end of his run before he flew home and he used the Rally. In his case he actually bought the thing sight-unseen from a dealership in Florida, farkled the it there and at various hotel parking lots for the first week or so, and then just got on with it and plowed on through to OR. He too had extremely limited offroad experience, though he had some years of on-road under his belt. He posted some of his own thought process here and then went into a different RR thread afterward that you might find applies pretty well to you.

    Long story short, they both made it, they both did fine, and they both had a blast. Capability difference between the bikes can really just be measured in a few percentage points. Concerns about bodywork damage on the Rally proved to be mostly unfounded - he spent a few hours cleaning and polishing at my place after the trip and it barely looks like it's done a few trail rides, let alone 6k-ish miles coast to coast. The only mechanical issues I saw between them were leaking fork seals (get Seal Savers and be done with it) and the 250L needed new clutch plates after arriving. But I later found out that he bought the bike used from a guy who had already done the TAT on it before him... and then continued down to Venezuela. After a new clutch and new fluids everywhere, he picked the bike up again last year and spent 5 months riding down to Buenos Aires with no issues. Reliability and durability is really no concern with these things.

    The biggest complaint I heard from both was power, or lack of it. I heard it most about the Rally but that was completely stock mechanically. The 250L had an exhaust, but by the end of the trip he actually wanted the stock exhaust back on because the droning was so sharp and irritating on longer stretches. We put the dB killer in the muffler before he left for South America and it hardly did anything to help. Ultimately it seems if you want more power out of a 250 without mucking with stock reliability, you just buy a bigger bike. On the flip side, they were both far more maneuverable than mine was in the technical sections and had much sturdier rack selections.

    If you're already active on here and seeking advice, that to me means you already have the mindset to pull this off even if your on-bike experience is limited. You're not biting off more than you can chew because you've already started chewing. I also had embarrassingly low hours on the dirt before my trip, and I still made it on an oversized ex-desert race bike that was kickstart-only and refused to acknowledge the existence of even that if the engine was any warmer than a freshly peed-in wetsuit. I can say though that the eastern half serves as excellent training for the western half for a lot of reasons: it gets you used to different types terrain individually before you have to deal with them all at the same time out west, it gets you used to being on the road for weeks at a time, it gives you time to acclimatize to the bike, you get to practice picking up after tipovers in fairly even terrain, you get to practice rerouting on fairly benign routes before trying to find your way through the spaghetti clusterfuck of Oregon logging roads, and on and on.

    But as someone else has pointed out, you're still doing this in a first-world country. If you're anything like me, the stress of thinking about all of it and trying to perfect your setup is way higher than just doing it, and far less enjoyable. Keep in mind you're doing this for the trip and not for the bike. The bike is just the tool and they're all so good at this point we're just talking about different flavors of vanilla. My guess is you're already pretty well informed by now, so go with what settles best in your gut, get it in your garage, and then spend more time on the bike building confidence than listening to a bunch of monkeys like us converting molehills into monster truck ramps.
    #61
  2. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    I refuse to deal with carburetors. My first car was carbureted, and it had tons of issues because of it. I'm just gonna choose a fuel-injected engine and be done with it.
    #62
  3. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    Thanks for the word of encouragement. You've said just about everything that I had anticipated from the eastern half of the TAT being a good training ground for the western half to the lack of power to the exhaust.

    I've done research on the exhaust systems, and there are tons of options out there. However, the best one that I've found for my purposes is the Yoshimura. I'm in my mid-40's, so I'm not looking for a macho loud exhaust. I did find one guy who is like me on youtube, and he had just bought a Rally. He said that there's a band in the rev-range where there's a void of power. He tested out the Two Bros exhaust versus the Yoshimura. The Two Bros, although it pumped out more power, was too loud. He said the Yoshimura is just slightly louder than the stock, and it got rid of that void in power. Here's the video (Warning: You might get dizzy cuz he jars the camera back and forth a lot):

    #63
  4. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    Not a bad choice. While I don't mind carbs myself, they can flood when tipped over. Now you have a hard start issue, and you might run out of battery before the damn thing starts. With fuel injection, that doesn't happen. Although my bike has an ECU, fuel injection, and electric start, so the slightest drop in battery power and it won't start.

    I'm not a fan of ABS though. I like to be the master of my domain...

    [​IMG]
    #64
  5. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    LOL. There's a button on the two Hondas that I have for my choices that turns the ABS off in the rear. Also, if I choose something like the KLX 250 with ABS, I can always just pull the fuse on the ABS and put the fuse back in if I'm anticipating to ride on pavement for hundreds of miles or more.
    #65
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  6. avejoe

    avejoe Long timer

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    It sounds like your expectation is to touch both feet solidly at the same time. I'd recommend that whichever bike you get you practice sliding off to one side or the other. Lots of times stops are not on level ground and no matter if you're 6'+ you can't touch both feet.

    My vote for the best TAT bike would be......

    Envelope please...



    YAMAHA WR250r!!!!

    IMG_1112.JPG
    #66
  7. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    Actually, I plan to keep the bike well beyond just riding a TAT. I also want to go up to Alaska and perhaps to various parts of Latin America, but those plans are still being evaluated. I'd like to take it one step at a time. TAT first, then the rest. However, the Rally is much more of a road-worthy bike for those instances, and it can handle just about anything the TAT has to dish out.
    #67
  8. i4bikes

    i4bikes Been here awhile

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    As already posted all the bikes on your list will need suspension mods anyway.
    #68
    Made from scratch likes this.
  9. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    Right after you mentioned this two weeks ago, I emailed Sam right away asking him for the old versions of his maps with all the technical sections in them. He still hasn't gotten back to me. I guess that answer is a "no." ... LOL
    #69
  10. ShooterF16

    ShooterF16 Adventurer

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    Hey! Just gonna throw out that you should still consider the 701 Enduro. I can’t remember if you’ve thrown out a budget that would preclude this choice.

    The 701 is 100% capable of the TAT and all the technical sections. It has ABS. The ABS can be turned off. If crushes highways. It is fuel injected, it has easy electric power for accessories, and on and on.

    So, unless your budget precludes this bike, it is one that can grow with you forever! Street, dirt, trail, etc, you’re good


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #70
    i4bikes and djroszina like this.
  11. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    European bikes are great until they break and you try to get parts. I'll be out in the middle of nowhere, and there are actually only two major parts distributors for Huskies in the entire United States. They take weeks, and sometimes months, to get parts. I work contract to contract overseas with only a 2-month gap in-between. There's no way I can sit there waiting for that. Thanks for the suggestion though.
    #71
  12. ShooterF16

    ShooterF16 Adventurer

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    Oh yeah, forgot about that.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #72
  13. Tewster2

    Tewster2 Long timer Supporter

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    DR650.....simple and parts are everywhere....usually don't need repairs as they never break :lol3
    #73
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  14. Motomantra

    Motomantra Registered Lurker

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    Yea but...
    He's afraid of carbs.
    #74
  15. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    I'm actually leaning more toward the WR 250r now that the polls are so overwhelmingly for that bike. There are a lot of modifications that need to be done to that bike if I get it. I need to start with replacing the seat with the lowest Seat Concepts seat possible. Then, I'd probably have to modify the suspension to lower it even more. I don't know how much that's gonna cost to do it right. Hmm ... Tough decision ... But many of y'all are assuring me that I wouldn't regret it. The fuel tank needs to be upgraded too.
    #75
  16. Tewster2

    Tewster2 Long timer Supporter

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    That's too bad
    #76
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  17. Zubb

    Zubb he went that-a-way...

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    ... nailed it.
    #77
  18. shrederscott

    shrederscott Long timer

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    HI

    Wow ... super happy to hear your leaning towards the wr250r now ! !

    I feel that bike is an excellent choice for you.

    Settings up a bike to your speciic riding and ergonomic needs is a lot of fun .... so many cool modification to be evaluated ! !

    One of the best things about wr250r is the huge aftermarket support for the bike.

    You are right that your gonna have to shell out $$ to make the bike right for you ... but any bike on your list would have required modifications to one degree or another.

    For reference I spent over 2k on mods for my new KTM 350 before I took it on its 1st ride.

    My suggestion to you.

    Try the factory lowering link + spend the $$ to have supension front and rear resprung and valved for your weight + your camping / TAT weight. This is important ! ! It will make to the bike handle much better.

    Having a bike with a good suspension set up is really money well spent ... ride the bike a bit with just the lowering link ... then send the suspension off for rebuild. ..you will be amazed at how much better it handles when installed! !

    Seat concept saddle = happy rear for me .... but ... I ride a KTM .. known for 2×4 saddles .... I would run stock saddle for a bit .... you may find it works just fine.

    Gas tank .... yep you will want a bigger one ... I suggest the 4.7 gallon after market tank in clear color .... seeing your fuel level is anxiety reducing out on the trail ! ! In the USA it is hard to go more than about 150 miles without fuel that tank will give you a 200 + mile range !!!!

    Lights .... I would upgrade the headlight to a Baja Design squadron get one of 4,000+ lumen models. The factory light is junk in comparison.

    Also upgrade your front turn signal to LED ones mounted in handgaurds ... rear should be upgraded to flushmount LED

    For your luggage choice ... go with a rack less system.

    I use the wolfman system and am very happy but there are other good systems out there too.

    For your navigation I run the Garmin 600 with the rugged RAM mount .... highly recommend it

    Good luck

    Your gonna have fun fun fun

    Scott
    #78
  19. Made from scratch

    Made from scratch Adventurer

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    Yes. This is WAY over-budget for me. Keep in mind that I not only make very little money, but I also have to shell out huge chunks of money here and there for plane tickets. However, as I stated from the beginning, everybody here has a lot ton more experience than I do even though I've probably done more research than most people. There's no substitute for experience. That's why I came here asking questions. That's why I put that poll up. I wanted to humbly present my case and see what people with experience would say.

    I've previously posted a link on how I think a motorcycle should be lowered. It's only a 2-minute video. Could you check it out and tell me what you think of it?

    I might be wrong on this, but I was thinking of just doing the 4 gallon IMS tank since they seem to be the most well-made out of all the after-market tanks.

    I already bought the Baja Designs Squadron Pros. I plan on upgrading the headlights.

    Ok. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll look into that one.

    I was thinking of the Giant Loop Coyote bag to start with, and I'll see what else I'll need from there.

    I know I'm gonna need a Garmin, but there are lots of options now that there are lots of re-furbished ones out on the market for a fraction of the original price. Maybe I'll just buy to and carry both in case one breaks since they don't take up much room and they don't weigh very much. We'll see. I'm still deciding on that one.
    #79
  20. shrederscott

    shrederscott Long timer

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    HI

    The capital cost of entry into this game is mostly up front, personal protective gear, bike, camping gear .... the $$ add up quick.

    The good part is the low operating cost once your in.

    Take your time buying the bike, good used wr's will start to appear in about March.

    Buying personal protective gear is best done now off season deals are many.

    Giantloop makes a great bag. I have used their Mojave bag for years on all my day rides.

    I do prefer the flexibility of a three-piece system for camping/ overnight rides.

    A 4 gallon tank would be an ideal size. I run a 4.1 on my 350.

    Clear is the most useful color...the ability to alway known your fuel level is a big benifit.

    I like fuel tank designs that protect the radiator.

    Buying a factory rebuilt gamin is the way to go....don't skimp on the 600 models with the rugged powered ram mount.....this is a GREAT system it is powered by the bike so it is always on...and the large color screen is easy to read in bright sunlight....the quick release allows quick use as a camera....good topographic maps of the entire usa are available....you will be interacting with your GPS a lot you will appreciate the bigger screen and powered handlebar mount.

    Your gonna have fun buying gear and bike ! !

    Scott
    #80