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Old 1st July 2019, 18:18   #1
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Default Which big touring motorcycle should I buy?

I'm out to buy a touring bike and am grappling with the usual dilemma every biker goes through. Which one?

Background - Basically looking for something that I can ride everyday, everywhere and anytime.
I started out riding the Z650. fantastic bike but cant ride it everywhere and cant ride it too long, forget about touring and I cant even seat a pillion. Its a superb pocket rocket for the city and occasional intercity runs, nothing more.

Im about 6 ft tall getting back to riding after a long time and looking for a bike that is largely forgiving and isn't full of electronics, spare the abs and trc.
Indian roads for the most part are very unpredictable so the bike should have a good suspension. Im not a fan of full forward bias sports bikes. Been there done that, no more.

The following options are being considered:

I started out looking at the Versys 650 and after my wife told me I dont have the guts to buy anything and she is very sure I wont even end up buying anything, i've doubled my budget and now the following two are in contention.

Africa twin
Tiger 800

I just love the Africa twin. The very thought of an automatic bike.. a 1000cc offroad Activa is very heartwarming and from all i've read and seen of the bike, it definitely comes across as very forgiving for a new rider on a liter class bike.
The DCT feels like a wet dream.
Negative - Ive fixed countless tubeless punctures over the years but the thought of having to fix a puncture on a tube and getting stranded is downright scary.

Tiger 800 comes in second. Lots of gizmos on the bike and im not really sure I want to pay so much for the gizmos as much as I would want to pay for the DCT on the Honda.

Next is Versys 650. Ive read all the threads on this forum. The volume of data available on the Versys 650 is insane.
Im quite tempted to stick to the Versys budget and the thought of getting a touring bike at half the price of the other two options is sweet too, but whats making me thing is, can the Versys be taken off the road like I can think of going with the Tiger and the Honda?
Secondly, if and when I tour, it will be with pillion and luggage. How good is the Versys with a close to 200 kg payload?

I could not find much resource on the forum regards to the Tiger and absolutely no information on the Africa Twin here.

I saw one thread on the Suzuki Vstrom. Im not quite sure what I dont like about the bike and Im not sure If there is anything I like about it either, so I kept it out of contention.

Learned and experienced folks here please help me with this buying decision.

Thanks & cheers,
Jay

Last edited by moralfibre : 2nd July 2019 at 08:40. Reason: Changing all lower case i to upper case.
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Old 1st July 2019, 19:29   #2
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Default re: Which big touring motorcycle should I buy?

You have shortlisted the right bikes for your intended purpose. If its possible, take both the Africa Twin and the 800 for a spin. Try hooking up with local friends, dealers acquaintances etc and see if you can get on top of one and get a feel of what they are.

Coming to the 800, you cannot go wrong with it. It is a work horse. Usable power, impeccable off road credentials and very user friendly on road behavior. Can largely take abuse and is almost all the bike you ll ever need. Servicing it yourself will not be a problem so it should not be expensive to maintain in the longer run. The newer ones also well equipped and reliability is generally not an issue.

The Africa Twin on the other hand is a completely new ball game. I literally had to unlearn everything I knew about biking and start afresh. But once I got the hang of it, the convenience, control and ease of riding this thing provides is unparalleled. It is a proper adventure tourer, sure it lacks all those sophisticated gadgets that the more expensive bikes bring to the table, but as a simple cross-country tool this is second to none. Do remember, this is a tall bike with massive ground clearance so initially it can be intimidating but you get used to it. Also, its not really meant to go lean in the corners but as a regular highway machine you should see no problem. Do remember, this is far better off road than it is on road but as a regular rider you should see little reason to complain. Honda is known for its reliability and this should be no different. As a relaxed highway cruiser very few can match up to this.
So, in the nutshell, try taking some test rides. It will give you a much clearer picture than anyone else can.

Last edited by bigron : 1st July 2019 at 19:30.
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Old 1st July 2019, 19:53   #3
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Default re: Which big touring motorcycle should I buy?

Africa Twin - If you have big plans of off-roading then no other ADV can touch this at below 20L price points. However - its only so-so on the tarmac when compared to competition. BTW tube to tubeless can be done easily so you shouldnt worry about that.

Tiger 800 - Good balance between off-road and on-road if you go to XC variants. XR variants are onroad focussed but will do a bit of offroading as well without any worries.

Versys 650 / VStrom 650 - Brilliant bikes for the money. Both will do highways speeds with pillion and panniers all day without a worry.

Two more bikes you should consider - BMW GS750/850 & Multi 950. Multi will be a rocket on pavement with a stonker of a engine - while GS will be a more premium Tiger. 750 for mostly onroad and 850 for off-road use.

As bigron says - first go take a test ride of all the above bikes and see which one you connect to more.
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Old 1st July 2019, 20:12   #4
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Default re: Which big touring motorcycle should I buy?

Don't even imagine for a second that you can take any of the bikes on your list to a place like upper mustang or any where close to that kind of terrain. One drop, and you are looking at a long wait list for parts to arrive. Worse, if something goes wrong you will have to cart it back on the back of a truck. Have put this out, because i have read your travelogues, so watch out on the offroad bit. These bikes are massive beasts, and what looks easy on a youtube video is downright scary when you are on the bike. 99% of big adv bike owners neither have the skill to tame these beasts offroad, and therefore never use these bikes for the dual purported nature.

If you are sticking only to the road, a versys 650 will do very nicely indeed and there is no need to double the budget unless you feel like splurging. A vstrom is a better buy in that budget new.

Offroad = smaller (no road touring) , lighter (offroad maneuvering), cheaper (easy to drop, easy to fix, zero electronics), better.
Onroad = bigger (road touring petrol tank range), heavier (road stability, luggage pillion comfort), more expensive (road presence, brand value electronic aids), better.

Choose your poison.

Last edited by Red Liner : 1st July 2019 at 20:15.
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Old 1st July 2019, 20:25   #5
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Default re: Which big touring motorcycle should I buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysmokesleaves View Post
Can the Versys be taken off the road like i can think of going with the Tiger and the Honda?
Unless you have deep pockets for maintenance, the amount of off-roading you will do on all these bikes will be limited by your pockets - not the bikes as such.

Versys can easily do Leh - Ladakh or any such terrain with ease. Africa Twin or Tiger 800 just might do it little bit easier of course. Anything beyond will be a risk on all these big, heavy, machines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysmokesleaves View Post
Secondly, if and when i tour, it will be with pillion and luggage. How good is the Versys with a close to 200 kg payload?
Proof from a fellow member.

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...0-km-ride.html (Amazingly magnificent & enchantingly awesome North East India - A 10,000 km Ride!)

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 1st July 2019 at 20:27.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 08:44   #6
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Default Re: Which big touring motorcycle should I buy?

The beauty of superbike ownership also lies in the lateral upgrades one can make. If you've been a Z650 owner, the Versys will offer more or less a similar experience to your existing ownership. Only add ons would be a plush ride, comfortable touring and lesser wind blast.

Since you are well placed on the 650cc category, I'd suggest an upgrade to the liter class and the Africa Twin offers so much bang for the buck in this segment. It's an Activa on steeroids. Very planted, comfortable, easy to manoeuvre, automatic!!, cheaper on maintenance, et al.

If I had to choose between the Tiger and the Africa twin, I'd pick the Africa twin due to it's well balanced weight distribution v/s the top heavy Tiger. Do test ride it once and get a feel of the 21" front. Some are uncomfortable with that on the street but most don't notice.

Also invest in an outex setup or alternatives for a tubeless experience.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 11:49   #7
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Default Re: Which big touring motorcycle should I buy?

I have been riding a Tiger 800 since 16 odd months now covering close to 15000 kms. I have taken it to trails, traced through black ice in remote Malari in Uttarakhand, taken it to the beaches along the Konkan coast and have done very long highway rides through central and northern part of the country. I would personally rate it to be a very very enjoyable and a versatile motorcycle.

However, as RedLiner pointed out, these motorcycles are not meant for the kind of trips you do - chasing a cyclone or heading to Lo Manthang and beyond. For such occasions, a DR650 or a KLR650 would be the ideal tool. Sadly we don't get these in India.

I have had a good time with a friend's Africa Twin as well. I found it pretty complicated initially but it was a hoot to ride on trails. But the weight will again be an issue for the kind of adventure you do.

Out of the two, both the Tiger and Africa Twin will manage most obstacles you throw at them barring some extreme adventure wherein a light-weight motorcycle will triumph over these two. I personally found the Tiger to be more comfortable on long highway rides but the Africa Twin excels where the road disappears. Considering your inclination towards the DCT transmission, the Africa Twin would be an excellent choice.

For one-off extreme adventures, you may add a light-weight but competent tool like a XPulse 200 FI later to your garage !
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Old 2nd July 2019, 17:14   #8
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Default Re: Which big touring motorcycle should I buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigron View Post
You have shortlisted the right bikes for your intended purpose. If its possible, take both the Africa Twin and the 800 for a spin. Try hooking up with local friends, dealers acquaintances etc and see if you can get on top of one and get a feel of what they are.
Unlearning is not a problem for me at all. I switch seamlessly between autobox and manual and driving on the other side of the road as i travel to other continents. So I guess I wont miss using the left foot and hand to change gears, soon as i tell myself I'm riding a big Activa.
So, I am actively trying to get my hands on one to ride it, before i can come to a conclusion on the Africa Twin.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ethanhunt123 View Post
Versys 650 / VStrom 650 - Brilliant bikes for the money. Both will do highways speeds with pillion and panniers all day without a worry.
The more I research, the more technical I get with the options. The VStrom comes in as a contender but both the Vstrom and the Versys dont seem to have decent suspension travel if i ride with pillion and luggage.
The 800 and the Twin seem very strong there.

Planning to TD the Vstrom also and see how that long wheelbase and suspension take bad roads without bottoming out the rear suspension and sending a shudder up the pillions back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Liner View Post
If you are sticking only to the road, a versys 650 will do very nicely indeed and there is no need to double the budget unless you feel like splurging. A vstrom is a better buy in that budget new.
You are right. Initially I don't intend to ride too far off or too off the road as I will spend more time riding to know the bike and its limitations on road and before I venture off it.
But I don't want to find myself in a situation where, after a few thousand kilometers I find myself wanting to upgrade to something more capable.
Im thinking maybe its a better idea to ride something capable from the start and learn its capabilities while i teach myself some and then push further with the same horse.

Thanks for the TL link. Will read it.
I have no plans to " offroad". That's a special skill to have on 2 wheels which I yet have to acquire. (both the skills and the wheels)

Quote:
Originally Posted by moralfibre View Post
Also invest in an outex setup or alternatives for a tubeless experience.
Could you please elaborate on what is an outex setup?
If I get the Twin, the first thing i will need to do is get a tubeless setup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by //M View Post
For one-off extreme adventures, you may add a light-weight but competent tool like a XPulse 200 FI later to your garage !
You are right about the weight. That too is a concern. Answers to all these doubts will come once I ride the bikes being discussed and then finally the proof is in eating the pudding.
I rode the x-pulse once, I felt like the breeze will blow me away with it.. it felt so light. for now I have no intentions for any one off extreme adventures on a bike. That thought may cross my mind someday though, but that day is very very far off.
Thanks for the inputs.
Cheers.

Last edited by aah78 : 2nd July 2019 at 18:30. Reason: i-> I. Typos fixed. Please quote only relevant portions of posts. Thank you!
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Old 2nd July 2019, 17:19   #9
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Default Re: Which big touring motorcycle should I buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysmokesleaves View Post
Could you please elaborate on what is an outex setup?
If i get the Twin, the first thing i will need to do is get a tubeless setup.
Branded adhesive tape solution. On the expensive side though - around 14k for an Africa Twin.

Sample video -

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Old 2nd July 2019, 18:03   #10
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Default Re: Which big touring motorcycle should I buy?

The problem or rather most important thing with outex is the initial application and the tire/ rim set up one is running. The person putting it has to be very very patient and take his time.
Also, for the Africa Twin , AFAIK , outex works great for the rear tyre since its tubeless and the rim has a hump . For front, having spoken to folks who are into extreme adventure touring, recommend adding a tube and then applying the adhesive treatment. Even then its a hit or a miss thing.
There are folks on both side of the pond where some recommend it and some who stay away from the OUTEX procedure.

Last edited by bigron : 2nd July 2019 at 18:09.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 18:43   #11
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Default Re: Which big touring motorcycle should I buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysmokesleaves View Post
I'm out to buy a touring bike and am grappling with the usual dilemma every biker goes through. Which one?

I saw one thread on the Suzuki Vstrom. Im not quite sure what I dont like about the bike and Im not sure If there is anything I like about it either, so I kept it out of contention.
.......................

Thanks & cheers,
Jay
Hi Jay,

You'd be doing yourself a great disservice by not checking out the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT. It will be the perfect big adventure sports bike to get for enjoying the rides and doing that bit of off-road riding (not KTM 790 Adventure R hardcore but much further off tar road).

I'm not sure if it is the quirky looks or no projector/ lcd display etc. that is not appealing. But I've experienced it to have a stonker of an engine.

Why not ride it and give it a try? And then dismiss it if it still won't 'fit' your riding requirements. You still may end up not going for it, but yet give it a try. It will also be much easier to manage when things go south, compared to a bulky road bike like the Tiger XR series or the capable Honda Africa Twin.

Last edited by k_ajay : 2nd July 2019 at 18:56.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 19:09   #12
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Default Re: Which big touring motorcycle should I buy?

BTW if you are open to pre-owned - why not look at the big daddy of all ADV bikes - BMW 1200GSA ?
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Old 2nd July 2019, 22:30   #13
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Default Re: Which big touring motorcycle should I buy?

From what I read (between the lines) from the OP, I think he has touring in mind with a bit of trail riding thrown in to reach that last mile, or last 100 miles. I don't read hard core off roading in his use case, but then I might have misread.

If this is indeed the case, why not consider the extreme value for money Versys 1000? I wonder why that didn't crop up yet here....
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Old 2nd July 2019, 22:39   #14
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Default Re: Which big touring motorcycle should I buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post
Branded adhesive tape solution. On the expensive side though - around 14k for an Africa Twin.
Very interesting indeed. Will consider when the time comes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigron View Post
The problem or rather most important thing with outex is the initial application and the tire/ rim set up one is running. The person putting it has to be very very patient and take his time.
Looks like a very specific job. I will however consider the merits of having the tube setup only if offroading is a serious consideration.

Quote:
Originally Posted by k_ajay View Post
Hi Jay,

You'd be doing yourself a great disservice by not checking out the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT. It will be the perfect big adventure sports bike to get for enjoying the rides and doing that bit of off-road riding (not KTM 790 Adventure R hardcore but much further off tar road).

Why not ride it and give it a try? And then dismiss it if it still won't 'fit' your riding requirements. You still may end up not going for it, but yet give it a try. It will also be much easier to manage when things go south, compared to a bulky road bike like the Tiger XR series or the capable Honda Africa Twin.
For sure I will ride it and then take a call. I did see some positives comparing it with the Versys in the many utube videos I've scoured.

When you say - it will be much easier to manage when things go south - i did not understand what exactly do you mean?
Are you referring to dropping the bike or facing mechanical issues or something else?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ethanhunt123 View Post
BTW if you are open to pre-owned - why not look at the big daddy of all ADV bikes - BMW 1200GSA ?
New BMW is for deep pockets, preowned BMW is when u have deep 6 pockets and some more hidden pockets and a truck load of patience. I dont have any pockets. I have a small piggy bank which will run out after I buy the 1st sensor that goes kaput on the BMW.
Besides, a thumb rule I follow - stay away from preowned American and European marques, except if its a very select rare case of a vehicle from a known acquaintance.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 22:39   #15
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Default Re: Which big touring motorcycle should I buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysmokesleaves View Post
I could not find much resource on the forum regards to the Tiger and absolutely no information on the Africa Twin here.
As TBHPian ethanhunt123 has rightly pointed out, there are a wide variety of options in the Indian market and honestly, none of them are bad bikes. Its a question of finding which ones fit your requirements best and which ones click with you. Often all the online research and video watching makes you lean towards one bike but riding it gives you the opposite impression.

When I went around test riding motorcycles, I found that sometimes the dealership experience may be a deal breaker. So that might swing your decision as well.

I find the Suzuki V Strom a great choice for most buyers who want a do it all bike. But I suspect in your case, it will be the Africa Twin for the win!
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