A new bike

After a couple of days on the trail with the KTM, it’s obvious that the bike is not the right one for me, and that’s a shame. It’s a great bike – power, handling, suspension, reliability, easy to work on, etc. This will definitely be a reluctant sale. Even more than on the road, an off-road bike needs to fit. Having to select the places to stop based on the surface so that you can get the kickstand down, not being able to dab effectively at the necessary times, too heavy to pick up while loaded – these are all issues that make off-paved-road travel frustrating. And when you’re frustrated, you’re not having the fun that you should.

So I made the decision to buy a BMW F650GS with the factory lowered suspension. The seat height is around 30 inches, and the bike is 100 pounds lighter as well. The 4 gallon fuel tank is under the seat, the bike gets 60+ miles per gallon, and the 650cc Rotax engine is very reliable. Accessories are readily available, so setting up the BMW for the trail should not require a machine shop.

My main concern is the suspension. I know that the conventional forks up front are not the best, but there are a number of options. One of the better choices appears to be Yamaha YZ450F USD forks. With a respring and revalve, they reportedly transform the bike. There are some issues with the ABS, but they can be worked out to retain the ABS function. In the back, the choice seems to be a custom shock by Wilbers. You can specify overall length, stroke, and spring rate, so by using the appropriate suspension link you can set the rear suspension height where you like. Not cheap, but those options should get you not just a good suspension, but a really good one. And, the updated front and rear suspension is fully adjustable where the factory one is not.

This will probably be my winter project. The plan is to be ready for the western TAT next year, probably a July departure. The snow will have to melt from the Colorado passes before we can go, and the passes we will be riding over aren’t plowed. A busy winter is coming, methinks.

Leave a Reply