So you want to ride a motorcycle around the world, but you are on a tight budget. I’ll make a list of some of the best ”inexpensive” bikes for a RTW trip on an Adventure Touring Motorcycle.
I’m going to assume that you don’t already have a motorcycle and will be buying new. Lets have a bike budget of $7,000. I could (and probably will) make a list that included used bikes, but there is so much variation in the cost of bikes on the used market it wouldn’t be a fair assessment. For $7k you could get a beat up 1200GS and dump a few grand in making it ready for a RTW trip, but if I get into that it will be hard to follow and almost impossible to write. Unless I bought an old beater and fixed it up as I wrote about the problems and costs (hmmm). If you are mechanically inclined I can say with certainty that buying used is the cheapest way to get your hands on a RTW ready bike.
Keep in mind while you read this that it’s just my opinion. Don’t get your freaking panties in a wad if you disagree! Just call me out in the comments! Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s get started!
The list of “adventure motorcycles” that have an MSRP of less then $7,000 are:
CB500X $TBD (it’s not listed on their site, I’ll assume it’s under 7k)
That’s 12 bikes to beat up! Let’s start with what you plan on doing; or rather, what type of roads you plan on riding on. If you plan on sticking to paved roads as much as possible then there is already a clear winning brand. The two Honda “adventure” bikes ( the NC700 and the CB500) are the only bikes that are very street oriented. The others can be made very comfortable, but from a basic design standpoint, those two are just meant to stick to pavement. That’s not to say that they couldn’t handle some rough stuff, just that they aren’t designed for it.
But what kind of adventure is it if you avoid dirt? So let’s chuck those two off the list! Down to 10.
As much as I would love to see/do a RTW trip on a little bike, the TW200 and the DR200 probably wont be up to the task of carrying the weight of all your extra gear. They both have done some pretty epic rides, but I’m not convinced they could last a year on the road without major modifications. Or at least, some very friendly locals with welding skills! Another 2 bite the dust! Down to 8!
Let’s talk about the 250′s! WR, CRF, XT, and the KLX. Oddly the WR and XT are both from Yamaha. I’m not really sure why they would want two 250′s, but I guess one is liquid cooled (WR) and the other isn’t. That might make a difference in reliability, but I doubt it. It’s not like liquid cooling is a new invention.
But because this is a budget trip, I’m going to drop all the fuel injected bikes. The fact that we are talking about a budget trip means that you don’t want to have any expensive repairs on the route. Modern FI is very reliable, until it isn’t. Then it’s complicated and expensive to fix. So wave bye bye to the WR, CRF, and XT. That leaves only the KLX in the 250 class. The KLX is a pretty cool bike. The 2 gallon tank is too small for any real travel, but IMS makes a 3 gallon tank, and Acerbis makes a 3.7 that will fit with modification. Assuming loaded for touring you got 60 MPG that’s just over 200 miles between fuel stops. Acceptable, but barely!
Down to 5 for those keeping count!
The 650′s is really easy. The DR wins, hands down! I swear it has nothing to do with the DR being my current bike. *snicker* But really, this category is almost impossible to make a choice. The DR, KLR, and XR are all fantastic bikes. They all have strengths and weaknesses and I’ll just call the 650′s a tie.
That just leaves the DR-Z400… What a great bike. Too bad it’s the only bike in it’s cc range. There is the KTM 350 EXC-F, but at almost $10k, you gotta be kidding! Anyway, how could I drop the DR-Z from any list. The bike has so few problems, and such a huge following it would almost be sacrilege to chop it!
We have the DR650, the KLR650, XR650, KLX250, and the DR-Z400 left to choose from.
At this point you are on your own! They are all great bikes in their own right. If it was me, and I didn’t already have a DR650, I would probably buy another DR! But if that wasn’t an option, it would be a tie between the XR and the KLX. The Kawasaki for the lighter weight and better fuel mileage, the Honda because you don’t win multiple Baja 1000′s being a crappy bike! That’s the best I can do.
If you were really about to buy a new bike to go around the world on a budget, then I would suggest giving all these bikes a real test ride. Take at least an hour ride with a bike, even on the street you get a general idea of what you would have to modify to make you comfortable.
With that, this will be my last post of the year. I’m going to be taking some time off with the family for the holidays! I’ll be back January 2nd! I’ll post on Facebook and Twitter if anything cool happens. You can also subscribe (below, or in the upper right of the site) to get an email whenever there is a new post!