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Sport Tourer capabilities on dirt?

Discussion in 'Touring' started by jawntybull, Feb 6, 2009.

  1. I have a commuter / small tourer at the moment (GS500F) and am looking at a second bike, mostly for multi-day trips. On a recent trip down the snowys the GS500 was great except when we hit the dirt after Wee Jasper, just after a heavy downpour, resulting in the rear tyre caking up and me sliding about like a seal on satin sheets.

    So - your advice please. I'm not really looking for dirt, but the reality in Aus is any long trip will involve some dirt, if you want to get to the good spots. I'm trying to decide between:

    - a KLR650, dirt-capable small tourer, but not so good on long road sections
    - a dedicated sports tourer like the Sprint ST, great for the long road sections, and just take it easy when I hit the dirt
    - an older lighter adventure bike like the R100 GS BMW, but for my money these have done lots of kms

    As I will not be trading my GS500, I'm only budgeting around $5k so I'm looking at second hand obviously.

    I've looked at the big adventure tourers like the BM 1200 GS but don't want a big heavy bike - nor do I want this much money under me on a dirt road. . I do, however, want the option of doing some 2-up riding in the future.

    If I could buy a midsize sport tourer that could handle good dirt sections well, as well as 2-up touring, I'd buy it - but I can't find a bike that fits this description. Any suggestions? Who here rides a sports tourer on dirt? Do you really need an "adventure" bike for 90/10 riding road/fire trails?
  2. The R100GS is certainly older, but they are far from a light bike.

    High mileage is the norm for those, and not something to worry about. They will live on like grandpa's axe and are very easy to work on if and when they need it.

    Great things though. I'd love one one day.
  3. My Tiger's had its share of dirt and clay, well over 100km of it.

    The medium-travel suspension is nice for making the ride a little bit less rough, but the #1 thing for making dirt road travel more enjoyable for me would be dual-sport tyres, or dedicated knobblies. Sportsbike semi-slicks are slippery on loose materials, as you know, and they'll be slippery whether it's a pure dirtbike or a race-replica.
  4. +1 to what spots said. It's all about the tyres.

    Even an MX based dual sport is useless once it gets on grass, sand or wet clay. Certainly the lower weight makes an easier time of it, but the biggest factor is the tyres. Any bike/any tyres will be fine on smooth fire trails with dry hardpack.
  5. I've ridden my Sprint ST on some gravel roads and it handled it fine but I doubt it'd be enjoyable riding on wet clay, mud or any such slippery surface. As stated above, sports bike tyres just aren't suitabe for those things.

    One thing that turns me off riding on anything but tar is trying to clean it afterwards, with all that crap going in behind the fairing.
  6. there are some tenera';s around, one in shepparton at the moment, also the NX650 Dominator, a few around, check out the fle market on ADVrider, Aussie section, cheers al
  7. I know I'm bias because I have one, but the 650 Vstrom would fit the bill perfectly. Granted, they are fairly heavy, but by the sound of things, your not after extreme off road ability anyway. Great road tourer, very capable for tracks and trails, the only place they struggle is soft sand. Also, they are under 10 grand brand new, so you should be able to pick up one in your price range not more than a few years old.
  8. I agree with duffman weestroms are good value considering they are new another bike to consider is the 700 transalp. As for tyres i personaly would buy TKC80's or even Tourances because both are made for high milage on varying surfaces, if your doing alot of offroad TKC80's if your on the road alot tourances, but both will do either.
    I have a freind getting a bike to do some touring with me in a few months, he has the same budget and after riding everything with an asking price <5K he is going to spend the extra 700 and het a second hand KLE500 for a few reasons, engine is for more comfortable than a single, engines are cheap, good tyre options, cush drive(?) good ergo's and most importantly longer service inervals than a DR, XR, XT etc.
  9. Speaking from experience - dirt isn't much fun on a Triumph ST. The combination of street tyres, heavy weight and inappropriate riding position makes it challenging.

    When it came to riding unexpectedly on dirt trails with a road bike I always found it easier on upright bikes with gentle power delivery (such as your GS500).

    May I suggest checking out the BMW GS range for touring on mixed road surfaces, as well as the other twin cylinder models such as V-Strom. Anything from 650-800cc should do what you want and remain within budget. The big single cylinder trailbikes such as KLR and Tenere may lack the top end power you want for prolonged freeway riding. It's doable, but can be tiring - 50HP may not be enough for sitting on 120km/h with full luggage +/- passenger.
  10. Having sat behind one for 22 hours - during which time we covered 1,622 kliometres, I'd venture to disagree... It is more than capable of covering long road distances comfortably.

    You could also look for an F650 GS BMW - anything from $6,000 up depending on age and condition. They are also v reliable and more than capable for road riding.

  12. I was going to say Honda Transalp... but then I saw these other guys say WeeStrom. And I think they're right.
  13. You would be surprised where you can take a transalp guys........



    Not many people would want to, but I had to train a guy up who was riding from Melbourne to london acroos asia and russia, he hadnt been off road for a while, After reading the Book "the road gets better from here" I urged him to do some mudd and puddles as its high on the list of things to be able to cope with where I go riding.
    I took him out and he managed it all no problems, was a bit hesitant to start with but after the first puddle (bog) he felt better.......was a hard slog but we made it through, He couldnt believe I do it for fun.....
    :roll: :roll:

    Then I came cropper on a log........bike jumped out of gear whilst getting over, my little short ass couldnt cope with the distance to the ground.

    [​IMG] :grin:
  14. slightly off topic here but,
    Stookie did they guy mention anything about getting his bike license in china? becasue when we looked they didn't recognise internation motorcycle licenses, or will he just go with the international?
    Nice pics there too!
  15. As far as I know he has an international license for all occasions.
    He has a carnet and papers and visa's already organised so I think he has a pretty straight forward trip regarding being allowed to ride.

    I helped out with what you need to take and whats only going to take up space.
    He didnt want to take a tent as its too bulky, but when he arrived in QLD just as the floods started he used the tent everyday.... :grin:

    He got stuck in the floods, now he has his bike being shipped to Singapore and he is currently waiting on it arriving.

    you can follow his trip here...

    www.melbourne-london.blogspot.com :grin:
  16. I own a Blackbird. Prior to that, a CBR1000F, Kawasaki ZZR1100, Suzuki GSX1100, etc..

    These sports tourer bikes were or are not very pleasant to ride on dirt. Being a bit front heavy on the steering they tend to slide around a bit and they take a fair bit of work to keep straight.

    Plenty of dual purpose bikes mentioned here that will do the job nicely. Go for one of them if you're going to do a fair bit of off road or unsealed road riding. No need to make like more difficult than it already is.