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Old 02-01-2014, 07:51 AM   #1
mikem9 OP
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Big bikes vs. Small Bikes

Let's discuss the trade offs of big bikes vs. small bikes during true Adventure travel, where a lot of rough dirt roads are involved.

mikem9 screwed with this post 02-01-2014 at 08:02 AM
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Old 02-01-2014, 08:04 AM   #2
tkent02
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Originally Posted by mikem9 View Post
Let's discuss the trade offs of big bikes vs. small bikes during true Adventure travel, where a lot of rough dirt roads are involved.
Smaller is always better when it gets rough.
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Old 02-01-2014, 08:22 AM   #3
OrangeYZ
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Everybody has different ideas of what's big and what's small. Right now there's a guy in Thumpers debating whether he should keep his big bike or his little bike, the little bike being a BMW 650.

Hell, I have different ideas from day to day. If I want to go dirt riding, the little bike is a 300 2 stroke and the big bike is a 540 RFS. For a street ride the 540 is the little bike up against an 800. When I bought the 800, it was one of the smaller bikes at the dealer.

My dad's little bike is a Norton 850 and his big bike has an engine bigger than my sister's Corolla and weighs almost as much.

For any given trip, I ride the smallest bike I can get away with.

EDIT:
Apparently the OP feels that smaller original posts are better than big ones where the going might get rough.
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Old 02-01-2014, 08:28 AM   #4
mikem9 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OrangeYZ View Post

EDIT:
Apparently the OP feels that smaller original posts are better than big ones where the going might get rough.
Ha! how did you know? I changed my original wordy post.
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Old 02-01-2014, 08:38 AM   #5
Dusty1013
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I used to do some nutty stuff with my KLR that I wouldn't even consider on my GSA. Of course I wouldn't want to slab it a couple states over on a KLR to get to some trails. Even on the KLR at times I was wishing for a 250 in the rough stuff. Like it was said above smaller is always better. Love my GSA but on Long way Around I bet they were wishing for something smaller most of the time, but that's another thread.
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Old 02-01-2014, 08:55 AM   #6
OrangeYZ
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Originally Posted by mikem9 View Post
Ha! how did you know? I changed my original wordy post.
Because it took me twenty minutes to type out and post my wordy post
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Old 02-01-2014, 09:21 AM   #7
mikem9 OP
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What kind of motivated me to write this post, is that I was reading a thread where 3 guys were adventuring to South America. One was riding a BMW F800 GS, one was on a BMW country 650 and one was on a Yamaha XT 225. Seems like the guy on the 225 was on a much better bike for where they were riding.

Also, the Long Way round film did influence my thinking on the subject - Just looked like those guys would have been much better off on much smaller bikes.

A while back I was on a a big dual sport/adventure ride event. A rider on a GS 1200 went up a slick little hill - not really a huge challenge to small bikes. He lost it. When everyone helped him pick his bike up, his foot was pointing the wrong way. Also saw a friend yesterday who loves to challenge himself on his big adventure bike. He crushed his ankle last year pretty badly when his bike fell on him. Took him a long time to recover.

I think big adventure bikes are very cool, but the more I think and read about them, I think I would just stay on pavement or graded gravel for the most part and ride smaller bikes (530 and below) on the knarlier stuff.

Thoughts?

mikem9 screwed with this post 02-01-2014 at 10:15 AM
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Old 02-01-2014, 10:38 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OrangeYZ View Post
Everybody has different ideas of what's big and what's small. Right now there's a guy in Thumpers debating whether he should keep his big bike or his little bike, the little bike being a BMW 650.

Hell, I have different ideas from day to day. If I want to go dirt riding, the little bike is a 300 2 stroke and the big bike is a 540 RFS. For a street ride the 540 is the little bike up against an 800. When I bought the 800, it was one of the smaller bikes at the dealer.

My dad's little bike is a Norton 850 and his big bike has an engine bigger than my sister's Corolla and weighs almost as much.

For any given trip, I ride the smallest bike I can get away with.

EDIT:
Apparently the OP feels that smaller original posts are better than big ones where the going might get rough.
for all that....

"rough dirt road" is also very subjective.
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Old 02-01-2014, 10:48 AM   #9
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For anyone who's ever been to Glacier National Park in Montana, there is a Forest Service road called North Fork Road, which is where my dad and I happened to end up on two rather unsuitable bikes. Last summer, my dad and I visited Glacier, me on my ZRX1100 and him on his GL1500. We arrived at the park a little late and all of the front-end, easily accessible campsites were full. We pulled out the map of the park and located a campsite at Bowman Lake, and headed for it, not knowing what the roads there and back would be like. Now, that road is probably not terribly challenging on a smaller DS bike, and probably not even that bad on a bigger ADV bike with some ground clearance, but it was quite an experience for us - me on a 120hp street bike with slick tires and next to no ground clearance, and him on his 900+lb behemoth. It was one of those experiences that was fun in retrospect but at the time we were both constantly worrying about being able to make it up a gravelly hill, or bottoming out and cracking an oil pan, leaving us stranded miles from help.

I would have much preferred to have been on a ~300lb DS bike and would have had a lot more fun, too. We did pass a group of riders (going the other way, we'd never have been able to overtake anyone) on KLRs and DR650s and such who were clearly having more fun than us.

The smaller bike is almost always going to be better suited to rougher conditions, and that's what I'd take in a heartbeat. The biggest bike I'd want to be riding on anything rougher than a graded gravel road is a 650.
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Old 02-01-2014, 12:58 PM   #10
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Simple thing.

In rough dirt, the lighter the better.
On the street, the more powerful the better.
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Old 02-01-2014, 01:16 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Wraith Rider View Post
Simple thing.

In rough dirt, the lighter the better.
On the street, the more powerful the better.
On a straight street maybe. Where I prefer to ride, give me quick and nimble handling any day over an overweight high-powered behemoth.
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Old 02-01-2014, 02:07 PM   #12
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If the dirt road is graded, even once a year, I'll pick a heavier ADV.
if the grader never comes through, I'll take a lighter dual purpose bike.
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Old 02-01-2014, 02:36 PM   #13
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The answer is simple; both, I mean all three. I've got an r100gspd for long trips that are on road, mellow two-track and gravel roads. The 650 Dakar is for medium length trips that have routes with on road, gravel, two- track, rocky terrain, and minimal single track. My new custom built 2014 KTM 150/200 xc is ready and waiting for me to come sign the paperwork and bring it home. It will be my singletrack assault weapon!

Every bike has it's benefits and drawbacks. If I were going around the world I would take the f650 Dakar if I had to choose from the bikes in my garage now. If I could take any bike at all it would be a well accessorized dr650.
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Old 02-01-2014, 02:58 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SloMo228 View Post
For anyone who's ever been to Glacier National Park in Montana, there is a Forest Service road called North Fork Road, which is where my dad and I happened to end up on two rather unsuitable bikes.
I think an R12GS would be perfect for this road. Piece of cake on the F8GS. Too many miles between home and that location for the CFR250X.

Like you say, it all depends on the person and the situation.

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Old 02-01-2014, 06:11 PM   #15
SteelJM1
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Originally Posted by neepuk View Post
The answer is simple; both, I mean all three. I've got an r100gspd for long trips that are on road, mellow two-track and gravel roads. The 650 Dakar is for medium length trips that have routes with on road, gravel, two- track, rocky terrain, and minimal single track. My new custom built 2014 KTM 150/200 xc is ready and waiting for me to come sign the paperwork and bring it home. It will be my singletrack assault weapon!

Every bike has it's benefits and drawbacks. If I were going around the world I would take the f650 Dakar if I had to choose from the bikes in my garage now. If I could take any bike at all it would be a well accessorized dr650.
Agreed. Three to me is the perfect number of bikes... number. TE300 for singletrack offroad shenanigans, DR650 for longer distance weekend ride/ campout jeep trail/ easy single track shenanigans, SV1k (which these days I wish I could transmute into a DL1k) for long distance all road street shenanigans.
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