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Old 12-11-2012, 12:26 AM   #1
OkADV OP
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Question Need Bike Advice for the Pan American! HELP!

A friend and I are heading down the Pan American for a post-grad trip in May. I am having tons of trouble deciding which bike will be best. I have a 1997 KLR 650 now but it just burns too much oil. I am looking for new options. Anyone have any advice with BMW F650s or 800s? I am looking at 2001 F650 Dakar with 9K miles on it for $3800. Is this a good deal? What are common issues with the bike?

I am new to motorcycles so I will know very little in terms of fixing them while on the road south. I have also looked at KTMS? New KLRs seem to burn oil still so I don't know about those unless you all convince me otherwise.

Please HELP! I need something that will get me to Argentina with very few problems
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:32 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by OkADV View Post
A friend and I are heading down the Pan American for a post-grad trip in May. I am having tons of trouble deciding which bike will be best. I have a 1997 KLR 650 now but it just burns too much oil. I am looking for new options. Anyone have any advice with BMW F650s or 800s? I am looking at 2001 F650 Dakar with 9K miles on it for $3800. Is this a good deal? What are common issues with the bike?

I am new to motorcycles so I will know very little in terms of fixing them while on the road south. I have also looked at KTMS? New KLRs seem to burn oil still so I don't know about those unless you all convince me otherwise.

Please HELP! I need something that will get me to Argentina with very few problems
If you know little of motorcycles, I would stay away from KTMs for the time being. They are getting better, but most of them are race bikes first. Your only options would be the old lc4s and the 690 (or maybe the 990 but thats pretty big..), but each of those bikes have their problems. I would suggest getting a bike you can easily let go of after the trip or if something happens- putting too much money in one chains you to the bike in a way.

The DR is basically a lighter KLR and is as reliable (it does have its own issues though). The WR250R is a great bike, but I would be worried about the poor gas you would be getting in South America- it has high compression and wants premium gas.

My personal suggestion would be one of the following: DR350, XT250, or XT225. These are all lower cc bikes then you are used to, but speeds are generally slower in South America with a few exceptions. Another option is the Honda XR650L, but the subframes need reinforcement and the battery trays cause some grief (and you better be tall). You could probably find an XT225 for 3k or less that would do the whole trip and only need gas, oil, air filter cleanings, and chain maintenance- it would also be extremely easy to ride considering you have little motorcycle experience. Be sure to know how to fix a flat with tubed tires and be sure you know potential problems with whatever bike you get.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:17 AM   #3
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Basically the same thing(s) pondered here:

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=847735
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:53 PM   #4
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Buying another used bike could open up new issues. Dance with the one that brung you. Top the KLR. It will be cheaper.
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:26 PM   #5
Sjoerd Bakker
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Hi OK
Just a few thoughts-
if you are really that "new" to motorcycling andyour KLR " burns too much oil"
what parameters do you use to make that determination of burning " too much"? is it because you see a cloud of smoke behind you causing cars to crash blindly off the road or is it because you have to top up the oil occasionally. Whatis the actual odometer reading on the KLR, a guess? This past summer I talked to another KLR rider who also claimed his bike was burning a "lot" of oil' On further questioning it turned out that the oil consumption he experienced was completely within the range of normal.
? How much is "too much"? is it running well otherwise ?
This would be a chance to learn some mechanical skills, or at least have some mechanic work his skills , by searching and remedying the cause of the oil consumption.... Will probably be cheaper than buying somebody elses used bike problems .. again. A new piston or overbore may be all that is needed to see you through the trip.
If it is a "post grad" trip does that mean you are a pair of monied post - graduates using the funds earned from a successfull business start-up to do an adventure trip or are you just graduating from high school or college and still looking for work , but want to have a wild fling before getting down to paying off the school debts?
The suggestions for a smaller but new and reliable bike all make sense too.
Not trying to discourage you, certainly people have dived into big huge long monstrous trips on their first ride, but Is your plan well thought out or are you just heading "down the Pan American" because you have heard about it and think it might be a gnarly adventure?
It could be as much fun to just do a less lengthy round - trip staying within Mexico and Central America, you would really be entertained and you would learn lots that would be useful later when (if) you decide to tackle the next continent. The PanAmerican runs through Central America and Mexico but there are lots and lots and lots of other roads and it would be a pity to not explore some of those too.
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Old 12-12-2012, 04:42 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Sjoerd Bakker View Post
Hi OK
Just a few thoughts-
if you are really that "new" to motorcycling andyour KLR " burns too much oil"
what parameters do you use to make that determination of burning " too much"? is it because you see a cloud of smoke behind you causing cars to crash blindly off the road or is it because you have to top up the oil occasionally. Whatis the actual odometer reading on the KLR, a guess? This past summer I talked to another KLR rider who also claimed his bike was burning a "lot" of oil' On further questioning it turned out that the oil consumption he experienced was completely within the range of normal.
? How much is "too much"? is it running well otherwise ?
This would be a chance to learn some mechanical skills, or at least have some mechanic work his skills , by searching and remedying the cause of the oil consumption.... Will probably be cheaper than buying somebody elses used bike problems .. again. A new piston or overbore may be all that is needed to see you through the trip.
If it is a "post grad" trip does that mean you are a pair of monied post - graduates using the funds earned from a successfull business start-up to do an adventure trip or are you just graduating from high school or college and still looking for work , but want to have a wild fling before getting down to paying off the school debts?
The suggestions for a smaller but new and reliable bike all make sense too.
Not trying to discourage you, certainly people have dived into big huge long monstrous trips on their first ride, but Is your plan well thought out or are you just heading "down the Pan American" because you have heard about it and think it might be a gnarly adventure?
It could be as much fun to just do a less lengthy round - trip staying within Mexico and Central America, you would really be entertained and you would learn lots that would be useful later when (if) you decide to tackle the next continent. The PanAmerican runs through Central America and Mexico but there are lots and lots and lots of other roads and it would be a pity to not explore some of those too.
I can't do more than 200 miles on the highway before I have to add almost half a quart of oil. It has been geared up too so it isn't running at as high of rpms either. To me that seems like too much, but what is your opinion? The bike has 22K miles on it so it is up there for sure. Thanks for the suggestions for a smaller and more reliable bike. I think you guys are probably right. I have spent a lot of time in South America, have connections in almost every country, and speak Spanish. The friend going with me is the bike mechanic so we compliment each other pretty well. Your concerns are warranted though. It has been a dream trip of mine and we have been planning for a year now and we don't leave until May so we still have some time.

From what I learned here, I am definitely going to look for a bike that I won't have any issues parting ways with.
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Old 12-13-2012, 11:41 AM   #7
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Go over to F650.com and ask Dachary about the 650 on a Latin American trip. She and her boyfriend have a lot of experience. The deal you described on the Dakar doesn't sound real bad.
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Old 12-13-2012, 12:21 PM   #8
Sjoerd Bakker
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Aaah , the good details.
The oil use you describe turns out to be somewhat elevated -- "almost half a quart " in 200+ miles works out as around 5 X 0.5 = 2.5 qt per 1000 miles Determine if it is leaking out somplace or if it is burning away. You may be well served by the simple solution of a new piston and ringset .
. Some engines if topped up too high will burn off the excess quickly and then sort of stabilze at a lower rate of use- someting to do with the overfilling forcing the oil into spots it ought not be. Those engines should not be constantly refilled to the top of the sight glass.
The lower gearing may have a contribution to oil use too if it causes the engine to lug more, heavy work for the rings.
And 22000 miles is not really anything , a KLR with that distance should still have lots of good life left .For instance my 2000 KLR had over 155500 km on it when I parked it ten minutes ago ,still on the original piston and rings and it uses only maybe 1 liter or so of oil between changes which I do sporadically at around 5000km intervals- or longer.
But I wonder ,is 22000 the actual mileage on that bike ? It is now 15 years old so that would mean an average of not even 1500 per year , a distance which could be accumulated In a few days If that is true it must have sat idle most of the time or have been ridden frequently on very short bits. All the while the valve stem seals and others have been aging and exposed to used oil , experienced perhaps many start ups with poor oil supply and heat/cool cycles . This all may have taken a toll and now they may be worn and tired despite low
mileage on the engine .
On the other hand, can you be certain of the 22000 mile figure? How long have you had the bike? In its
provenance, as the Antiques Road Show likes to say , are you owner 2 or owner 10 ?
KLRs if treated decently can be made to last a long time . If you bought the bike used from a stranger who
took good care of it
it is quite possible that the odometer had turned past the 99999 mile mark!
Get together with your mechanically proficient friend and have a research session.
It may be a question of a top end rebuild and you could have a good bike for this trip
at moderate expense and a mechanical education thrown in. And then you can sell or
abandon it in South America with no regrets .
Enjoy the trip ! a slower bike would l actually let you see more since you will give up on the idea of blitzing ironbutt-like days.

Sjoerd Bakker screwed with this post 12-13-2012 at 03:14 PM Reason: Add ideas
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Old 12-13-2012, 09:50 PM   #9
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tons of opinions. mine is from personal ownership and having lived in mexico for a year...south of the border keep it simpler. a DR650 is ideal for this reason.

this is how i roll. this pic was taken in central MX, Guanajuato...a must visit!

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