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Offline Anon

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Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« on: August 21, 2020, 02:49:51 pm »
Hi All

I am busy planning a trip through Africa and would appreciate some comments on what would be considered an appropriate engine size for the motorbike. I was concerned about the bike weight and was tending towards the mid range capacity however it was recommended by friends to go for a larger capacity bike. Potentially those individuals who have done trips to central Africa on larger capacity bikes can comment on the size bike they chose and whether in retrospect they would now take a lighter bike.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.
 

Offline sidetrack

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Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2020, 03:05:27 pm »
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Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2020, 03:11:45 pm »
It depends on the route you're going to take. For the main roads - big bike, the rougher the route the lighter the bike you want.

You can't go fast on the rough stuff anyway, so if you can do oil changes and other maintenance yourself, then a KTM/Husky 500 or WR 450 with a big tank seems to be the best tool for the job IMO.
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Online Lars

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Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2020, 03:30:16 pm »
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Offline Swazi Phil

Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2020, 03:52:09 pm »
I would go 650 like honda XR, or KLR650, yamaha Tenere 660, Something with the least amount of electronics and proven reliability. but like stated above completely depends on route, ect.
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Offline TeeJay

Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2020, 06:05:22 pm »
Lighter is better - people go round the world on 250cc bikes.

Stay away from fancy electronics. And for goodness sake - don't go on a BMW R1200GS or any such massive machine.
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Offline GravelFox

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Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2020, 07:17:30 pm »
It depends on the route you're going to take. For the main roads - big bike, the rougher the route the lighter the bike you want.

You can't go fast on the rough stuff anyway, so if you can do oil changes and other maintenance yourself, then a KTM/Husky 500 or WR 450 with a big tank seems to be the best tool for the job IMO.
Even main roads are so speed bumped and governed by speed limits that a big bike has little benefit.


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Offline billy-joe

Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2020, 10:06:31 pm »
I know there will be some haters but dont discount the Dakar 650.  More capable than you think,light on fuel, reliable and theyre getting cheaper as we speak.  the new 500's look fun too!
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Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2020, 11:08:37 pm »
I would pick a DR 650 with comfier seat and bigger tank.
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Offline BOZO

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Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2020, 12:59:05 am »
Mid range is good. Me I would take an old trusty one like a klr.


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Offline Mr Zog

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Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2020, 03:03:01 am »
Africa is full of the Chinese 125's and 250's.

As mentioned above, speed is just a rumour north of the SA border. Spares are readily available for the little Chinese bikes throughout Africa.
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Offline mark250gp

Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2020, 08:06:59 am »
AG200 - There’s plenty of them up there. Not that you’ll ever break it.
 
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Offline Casting from Turd

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Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2020, 09:35:56 am »
Being in the backpacking industry we have had our fair share of trans Africa travelers

I would say around 70% of them are on 650 cc bikes or smaller.
A lot are starting to use the little Honda CRF 250
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Offline Fuzzy Muzzy

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Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2020, 10:46:53 am »
I went through 7 African countries with a Transalp 650 with no issues. There are problems with an overloaded 650 with low ground clearance in some hectic offroad areas such as Northern Moz. Logging trucks dig ditches in the road after the rains ,but , did 12 000km and besides a leaking tappet cover I had no problems.

The best bike you can take is a reliable one, big or small. everyone will give you different opinions on bikes but the best bike is the one that gets you there. Personally I would stay away from excessive electronics and shaft drives

If i had to do it all over again I would take something that is more offroad orientated and lighter because we looked for offroad tracks to ride and avoided tar as much as possible, also getting through some sand in Moz or Malawi is not fun on a big bike built for the road... if you taking tar roads then something more tar orientated is better naturally.

The bigger the bike the more fuel you use & the more stuff you collect along the way because you have space to load it.. at one point I sent 30kg of stuff back to CT with an overland truck, even one of those carved Malawian chairs got strapped to the bike at one point.. the smaller the bike the more efficient your travel becomes.

I still think a 650 is the best weapon but if you can get a good DRZ400 or similar it will be just as good,

If you are in no hurry and don't get bored with the scenery then a 250 can do it, but for me once you put my 100kg body on a bike with luggage a 250 just wont cut it .. my2c

Don't let the weight of the bike be a deciding factor.. the way you intend to travel is more important, what are you taking with? What will you pack and where? will you take spares or source them along the way etc.. I see people complaining because one bike is 8kg more than the other but within 3 countries they have packed 15kg of trinkets on the bike.

Africa trip, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania & Moz rr http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=61231.0
 
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Offline ClimbingTurtle

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Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #15 on: August 24, 2020, 11:28:52 am »
As per Fuzzy above - I travelled through east Africa on a XT500 years back - was the perfect bike for the job at the time.
My mate did Southern Africa on a R1200GS Adventure a couple of years back and had an amazing trip - but he stuck largely to tar, or not far from it.
I would look at a 650 class if I did it again, allows some good long distance tar riding when required, but you can get pretty afr off the beaten track when you want to.....
Pack light is my only advice.....
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Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2020, 11:33:23 am »
Check out Itchy Boots,

She did her trips on a Royal Enfield Himalayan

https://www.itchyboots.com/
KLR650, KTM 950, KTM 950S, KTM 990, KTM 990S, KTM 990R
 
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Offline Fudmucker

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Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2020, 08:07:22 am »
Ted Simon has been around the world twice by motorcycle.
Once on a Triumph and once on a BMW R80 G/S.
When he was in ZA, he was asked the same question for a RTW trip.
His answer was... a simple, single cylinder bike between 350 and 500cc with conventional ignition that you can fix yourself along the road.

BTW he seldom did more than 250kms per day on his trips.
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Offline ClimbingTurtle

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Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2020, 09:44:52 am »
Ted Simon has been around the world twice by motorcycle.
Once on a Triumph and once on a BMW R80 G/S.
When he was in ZA, he was asked the same question for a RTW trip.
His answer was... a simple, single cylinder bike between 350 and 500cc with conventional ignition that you can fix yourself along the road.

BTW he seldom did more than 250kms per day on his trips.

And that is the correct way to travel!!
250km is a good distance, means you are not time pressured, you can turn down a dirt road and go look at a cow, or whatever, enjoy the expreience!
I was extremely fortunate when I was 23, I was "pressured" into building a XT500 for my cousin, he and I then took a year off and traveled up to Northern Kenya & back - it was an amazing time, you dont actually appreciate the luxury it was until you are much older. 27 years later I still think about aspects of that trip, and the privilege it was - and I still have my XT500, as does my cousin.....
« Last Edit: August 27, 2020, 09:51:29 am by ClimbingTurtle »
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Re: Ideal size motorbike for an Africa trip
« Reply #19 on: August 27, 2020, 10:00:39 am »
I would use a KLR if I didn't have an R80G/S. :biggrin:

What ever you do, do not take the BM650 singles. They are too soft. They are road bikes.
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