How do you choose the perfect adventure bike for a big trip?
Well, I can’t help you with the ultimate answer to that question, but I can tell you how I selected the bike for my adventure! What is a perfect travel bike anyways? I guess the trick is to find the perfect comprise since a long-distance motorcycle adventure will naturally throw a bit of everything your way.
I already owned a great dual sport bike: a 2002 BMW F650GS. A bike, that I was very comfortable riding. But as she was getting an elderly lady, I just wasn’t 100% comfortable taking her on a 60.000 km ride. I knew that I would be out of my comfort zone many times during this trip and I did not need to add a mental worry about the state of my bike. I needed something that I would trust to give me that ease of mind!
In order to choose my new bike, I listed a number of criteria based on my finances, my itinerary and my personal preferences. The fact that I would bring this bike to Africa, was a very deciding factor and I constantly had to remind myself that smaller would be better there. Also the fact that I am a very short lady did rule out quit a big number of bikes! The list of criteria was:
- A new bike.
- A bike that cost under 10.000 EUR in Denmark.
- A lighter bike – max 150 kg.
- Adventure style bike with an upright riding position.
- Low seat height (Preferably under 80 cm’s)
- 6 gears
- A simple bike – that I can repair myself for simpler issues, and that can be fixed by a road side mechanic most places in the world.
- A dual sport bike, that would be fun to ride on both asphalt and dirt roads: high ground clearance and good suspension.
- Minimum 250 km range.
- A bike with long service intervals: minimum 10.000 km.
- A brand with a good distribution of original and aftermarket spare parts.
- A proven concept: A bike, that has been used by others for long distance adventure rides.
- A bike that I could buy in Denmark.
I looked at a number of different bikes including Yamaha Ténéré 700, Royal Enfield Himalayan, KTM 790 Adventure, Suzuki DL 650 XT V-Strom, BMW 310GS, Honda CRF250L, BMW F800GS, Kawasaki Versys X 300 and the British motorcycle CCM 450 Adventure and I tested some of them. There were several bikes I would have liked to add to my list including African Twin, AJP PR7, Husqvarna 701 but they are all just way too tall for me!
I also had the wish to purchase my bike from a dealer that would support me with help during my travels. Someone who believed in me and my dream and who would be available if I had issues with the bike on the way.
My final choice landed on a new 2019 Honda CRF250L with ABS. “Honey” as I call her is a 250 CC, 24 hp, liquid cooled, single cylinder, four stroke motorcycle with 6 gear. She weighs 144 kg with petrol and was thereby the second lightest bike on my list. She has a 21-inch front wheel and 18-inch rear wheel and a ground clearance of 25 cm’s. In Denmark she cost 8.000 EUR but I did get a nice discount from the dealer. All in all I had room in my budget to buy additional parts, that would make her ready for a long trip.
I bought the bike from the authorized Honda dealer Jens Winther in Roskilde. They have been absolutely incredible from the very first day, that I walked in the store and they have supported me in the planning process and in getting the bike adjusted to fit me and my needs. They even allowed me to work on the bike in the workshop together with their mechanics – which I think was quite extraordinary.
Overall, I really love this little bike but surely it has been a compromise and there are things that could have been better: I would have liked her to be a bit lighter, a bit lower, seat wise, and ideally have a bit more power. However, as I rarely take her on the highways and go pretty slow anyways, I seldom feel that I lack any power. The suspension was pretty terrible on the stock bike, so that had to be upgraded. Also the tank is quite small and had to be changed to a bigger tank. She is also fairly tall, so I had 3 cm’s cut off the seat by a upholster, but I didn’t lower her.
Here’s a list of stuff I added to the bike, to get her ready for a long trip:
– Hyperpro suspension front and rear
– An IMS 13,5 liter tank
– A Renthal Twinwall Fatbar handlebar
– VPS Barkbuster handguards
– Barkbuster weighted bar ends (to reduce vibrations)
– Inpreda rear Rack
– Inpreda Radiator guard (protects both front and side of the radiator)
– Inpreda skid plate
– Outback Motortrek X frame racks for side panniers.
– Rotopax fuel cannister attached to the X frame.
– Cut off 3 cm’s of the seat.
– Bajaworx windshield.
– Puig wind deflector.
– Yamaha heated grips with build-in controls.
– Garmin Zumo XT GPS.
– Cyclops LED headlight bulb.
– Knight design lowered footpegs. Black Anodized with
replaceable Trakker tread
– SRCmoto brake master cylinder protector.
– SRCmoto rear brake container protector.
– Two 12 volts power outlets
– One double USB power outlet
– RG Racing engine case cover kit for both sides.
– RG Racing Aero crash protectors.
– RG Racing Cotton Reels protectors for the rear axle.
– ROX risers for handlebars to give a more comfortable riding position (short arms)
– A cruise controller from www.timetoride.de
– Kriega fork seals.
– I also had the side stand adjusted and welded a larger base to the stand, as the bike would very easily tip over when loaded with luggage.
For luggage I have:
– Giant Loop Diablo tank bag
– Giant Loop Front Fender bag
– Giant Loop side Pannier Pockets for tank bag
– Giant Loop Tillamook top rool bag
– Giant Loop Mototrekk Soft panniers
– Giant Loop Possibles pouches
– A tool tube from Amazon
Things I would change after more than 1 year on the road:
I would have liked to change the exhaust, in order to reduce the weight. However, I would not like that another exhaust would also have made the bike louder. I really like that the bike has quite a modest sound as the Honda first and foremost is a long-distance travel device. I like that she attracts less undesired attention with her modest sound and that I can pass small villages and animals with a moderate noice.
My preferred tire choices (the stock tires are 3.00-21 and 120/80-18)
For asphalt: Metzeler Tourance
For dirt roads: Front: Pirelli MT21 (90/90-21), Rear Mitas E-09 110/80-18 or Metzeler Enduro Sahara 3.
My previous bike was a 2002 BMW F650GS. The Beemer was previously an Orderly bike in the Danish military and features a radio rack, special panniers made specially for the military and a gun holder!
My Alaska-Argentina bike (Bunny Bike) a 2009 Suzuki DR650. Read the travel blog from the Alaska to Argentina trip here.
I bought my first bike in 1993: a 1970 Yamaha DT250MX, also an old military bike from the Danish military.