The Adventure Continues, Buying A Bike On A Budget
1. Suzuki DR650SE | What you get: A new bike!
You may recall it’s not so long since MT gave away a pair of these things, all set up for a cross-world adventure. The story is, a decent single will always be a better true adventure bike than a big twin (even though the latter has the profile) because it’s lighter, much easier to handle when the road turns to crap, and probably won’t crush whoever it falls on. And they tend to have much less expensive problems. Right, got that off my chest!
Suzuki DR650s were introduced in 1990 and underwent a massive redesign (including the now 644cc air/oil-cooled engine) for 1996. It must have worked, as not a lot – other than cosmetics – has changed since.
They’re pretty tough out of the box, but can benefit from upgrades to suspension and wheels if you’re doing something super tough, like crossing Russia – something contributor Dave Morley tackled on one not so long ago.
The big priority for anyone planning distances, however, is to fit a bigger fuel tank as the 13-litre stocker is not up to the job. We’re even seeing dealers selling them new with a Safari tank onboard. Oh, and you’ll need a decent seat too.
Power: 32kW at 6400rpm
Torque: 54Nm at 4600rpm
Dry weight: 147kg
Upside: Tough and very capable
Downside: Needs a bigger fuel tank, horrible seat
2. BMW R 1200 GS |What you get: circa-2004, 60,000km
It’s become the quintessential big adventure tourer and, frankly, will outrun a lot of allegedly faster motorcycles on real roads thanks to its stable manners and long-travel suspension.
For most of us mortals, they are excellent distance-gobbling mounts – one or two-up – which won’t cause the pilot to freak out at the sight of a dirt road.
Once you get your head around the slightly ‘floaty’ feel of these things, they can be ridden very quickly. Handling is not always precise, but is nearly always predictable. The only exception is they stop being fun over really snotty surfaces, like deep sand or bulldust.
That’s when 250-plus kilograms of rampaging motorcycle tends to sober up most of us.
The big boxer twin is an amiable road companion and becomes quite addictive while generally being easy on juice. This is the first of the 1200 line, a more powerful and lighter upgrade from the previous 1150 series.
Despite very good and honourable tilts at this sector, particularly by Triumph and KTM, BMW still owns it. That’s partly because you get a lot in the package, including ABS, heated grips, bags and so-on. A cared-for one will do very big miles and the approximately 60,000km we’re suggesting here is barely enough to raise a sweat.
Power: 71kW at 7000rpm
Torque: 115Nm at 5500rpm
Dry/wet weight: 199/255kg
Upside: Big, Comfy and quick
Downside: A handful in the rough