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Best bike for 25K miles thru Africa

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Hey boys. First post, dumb question. I want a 400-450cc dirt bike to ride Africa – Morocco to South Africa, and north to Cairo. Ten months and 25,000 miles in all, much of it in BFE. Bikes that look good for this adv:

Yamaha WR450F

Suzuki DR-Z 400

Honda CRF450

Which do you think is best for this rip? I'm a veteran rider but don’t know much about dirt bikes. I don’t care about comfort. I don’t care about street legal aspects and don’t mean to open up that debate. What I am concerned about is:

Overall durability: About 25,000 miles, 70% of it in BFE dirt, mud, and sand. Tough going but a modest pace given I’ll be packing luggage.

Frequency of oil changes & other maintenance: Would the Yamaha and Honda need more frequent oil changes than the Suzuki DR-Z, being more finely tuned race-oriented machines? More finicky than the DR-Z? Anybody know the oil change frequency specs on these bikes? This is Dirt Bikes for Dummies, and I’m a dummy…

Weight: The Suzuki weighs in at 291 pounds, vs. 246 for the Yamaha and 250 for the Honda. A knock on the Suzuki – but …

Anything else?

I’m not so concerned about speed & track tricks but overall durability and good maneuverability in mud, sand, and dirt – or the best compromise possible.

At first blush I like the Yamaha WR450F but concerned it will require a lot of TLC. If the DR-Z requires less TLC I suppose I can eat the extra 45 pounds … yuck …

I rode a KLR 650 30,000 miles thru Central & South America, and at 331 pounds dry and geared up with a ton of aluminum panniers it was a PIG in sand and mud. :applause: And a Honda V65 Sabre to AK... no way that road king sees Africa...

For Africa I want a lighter bike and will be using fabric panniers not aluminum and toting less gear. Light makes right! :applause:

Thanks in advance ~~

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Zero experience regarding such a trip or its equipment, except for reading catalogs, Internet posts, and watching "Long Way Round."

Specification-wise, the Husky's impress me; well under 300 # for a TE510; at 300 # for a TE 610. These bike may be too "high-strung," out-of-the-box (e.g,, might require modifications to lower compression ratio, etc.), but . . . looks like they'd be easier to bulldog through the boonies than other choices.

Saw a video of a similar trip to the one you plan; some Polish lads went from Warsaw to Cape Town on lightweight Yamahas . . . view it if you can; might give you some ideas. (Weight was critical on the Polish guys' trip; the bikes had to be loaded in small boats several times for water crossings . . . ).

BTW, stay tuned for a sequel of sorts to "Long Way Round" (around the world on motorcycles, from London to New York), entitled, "Long Way Down," documenting a motorcycle journey from North Africa to the Cape, to be released by Goldhil Entertainment.

You live our fantasy; good luck on your African trip!

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Sounds like a cool trip. Do you speak French? From everything I've heard & read, something like a Honda XR400 would be best. Aircooled, reliable as a stone & mechanically simple. Unfortunately you can't get a new one anymore, but lots of used and can possibly get new in other countries. The Yamaha and Honda have frequent oil change requirements since they are really race bikes. Between the two, I've heard more positive reliability reports about Yamaha, plus I think they have better WW dealer coverage than Honda. I know some Yamaha WRs were in the Dakar rally. Don't know about CRFX's. Between the three you're probably best off with the DRZ since it's designed for more mileage, ie not a race bike.

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I was going to suggest a KLR till I read your whole post. The DRZ is a handsdown winner based on what you've described and your level of experience. You can do that ride without much motor maintenance and everything is pretty well time tested on the DRZ.

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My vote would be a DRZ400E with a DUal Sport kit. More power than the S, less weight, still dependable as a claw hammer. Look at Dirt Bagz, Wolfman luggage for your trip. Sounds like the trip of a lifetime. Are you going solo? Of the bikes you suggest the only one that will make the trip without a rebuild is a DRZ. If you go with a DRZ400E try to get an 06 the 07 has a smaller carb. You might think about buying your bike in Africa and just bring your other stuff. Then sell it there before you come home. That is what a lot of missionarys do because of the corrupt goverments in Africa. Some times they have to pay as much in duties as the stuff cost new . Good Luck!

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Go with the DRZ-s. Besides a far superior maintenance schedule, you never know what kind of gas you will be able to find. The S will run on pretty much any gas without detonation issues. Good luck, Ken

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DRZ 400 or XR 400, you don't need a race bike when you're a million miles from anywhere, if you had a truck for backup support, then you could try the more performance oriented bikes, the XR650R could also be considered trustworthy enough to make the trip, but your luggage options are limited, unless you had someone make you a custom heavyduty subframe. Also the TE610 would be an option. Dirtbags makes a pannier rack for it & IMS should have a tank ready soon, their first attempt was only a little over 4 gallons, everyone wants 5 or more, so they're trying to make good on it,,, good luck

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Joliet Has A piont. The DRZ E and all the otheres need 93 octane . The S can run on 87. Since that is true you will probably be better off though slower. I would still contact a dealer near where you are going to start and see what models can be purchased in africa and there specs.

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Great replies, thanks guys … looks like the DRZ400S wins it based on running 87 octane and not being high strung like the WR45F & CRF450. Was sitting on a DRZ at the stealership yesterday… nice. Husky might be good but concerned about parts availability in Africa.

Thanks for the tip on the bigger IMS tank in the pipeline. Actually I’m looking at the 7.4 gallon (28 liter) tank from Aussie manufacturer Safari. Teaming up with a friend here and we’ll ride from San Francisco to New York and fly the bike to Paris or Madrid and from there a boat over the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco.

Definitely buying the DRZ here to get it geared up with mods and luggage – lockable Givi top case hard-bolted on rear rack, Ortlieb waterproof side panniers. Doing the mods is half the fun … well, sort of … at least it beats studying French! :applause:

Another other ideas welcome. Thanks again.

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I would suggest the bmw dakar. can go 3k between oil changes. Still heavier than the DRZ. Either way have an awesome adventure. :applause:

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Holy crap! 25,000 miles, I wouldnt trust any thumper to get me that far in Africa, maybe pullin's China bike.

Seriously out of the three you mention I would highly recommend the DRZ400E, I owned one for several years and that thing was extremely reliable with close to zero maintenance. In 8000+ miles I replaced the counter shaft seal, adjusted the valves one time and replaced the throttle cables, thats it! They even come stock with a 250 watt stator so you have plenty of extra power for anything you might want. Good luck.:bonk:

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Sounds like a blast! I dont have any further suggestions other than to confirm the DRZ is the best choice. I would really like to see a picture of your setup tho if you get a chance. Have a great time!!

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Have you considered a Honda XR/XL?

Yeah what he said. I would consider finding a clean XR600 for a trip of this sort. Maybe an XR650r second, then the DRZs.:bonk:

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