Originally Posted by Ridge
Excellent information so far RTW, thanks!
I did not see this addressed and I apologize if it is a repeat, but how did you feel the bike tracked on high sustained speed slab? Did it ever feel loose or like it was going to wash out the front? Cross winds and large vehicles move you around at all?
I made the switch from the Wee to the '08 KLR and I found a world of difference in the low speed handling between the two. At low speed, the KLR is much more composed and easily positioned. The Wee never carried its weight well and slow maneuvering suffered, IMHO. My question is, how did the 800 handle in low speed turning, pause and throttle situations, etc? Mostly those you would find most common to encounters off-roading. I have come to the conclusion that the balance and weight distribution seems to have a huge effect in the real-world uses of an adventure rider. Many thanks for sharing your experience with us.
1. High speed slab - for most of the trip I was carrying a fair bit of luggage, sometimes a spare tire as well, so cross winds and trucks had a lot of weight to push around in addition to the bike weight of 197kg (sans fuel). In Patagonia, it wasn't slab but on the highway the winds are notorious for absolutely howling, gusts of 30, 50, and 70 km/h are not uncommon. It tracks well, feels very positive, but you will be more upright and higher with the 21" configuration than more street orientated bikes so will catch more wind. Not noticeable in most cases though, but you will notice that it would feel more at home and positive than your KLR on the freeway. A loose analogy is that KLR feels like a middleweight, the 800 like it's in between a middleweight and a heavyweight (welterweight?).
2. Handling - your conclusions certainly make sense to me, at slow speeds the stroms do feel like they might topple. Your skills get good though, almost like a mountain biker balancing at a stop light, and then you try a bike with standard off road set up and the difference is quite significant. Flickable is a word that describes it alright, but in reality it is more than just that. However, it is a bit more bike to move around at slow speeds so the tradeoff of it feeling more at home on the highway than the KLR is that it feels a tad more cumbersome when doing the stop and start, slow speed conditions that you describe. Not significant though.
Side note, the 800 in reality is not that much lighter than the 1200, I have heard a couple of people state that they actually prefer the bigger bike offroad but IMHO that is a function of what you are used and not reflective of what the vast majority of people would feel. In the vast majority of cases, lighter is better.
And to quickly comment, I would certainly expect a very broad range of experiences to come from the many different riders that will be buying this bike. This is just my opinion and based on my experience. It is a bit unusual because you get to ride almost every single day when touring and therefore things that you notice, other's wouldn't under more standard riding conditions and vice versa, things that one person ignores are very noticeable to the once a week or once a month rider.
Hope that helps:)