Swede in Bolivia looking for some tips.. - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-18-2013, 10:06 AM Thread Starter
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Swede in Bolivia looking for some tips..

Hi all,

I am a 36 year old swedish photojournalist, moving from Scandinavia to La Paz, Bolivia. I am trying to decide what bike to get over there, and I have made a shortlist.

First of all, this is what I will use it for:

It will be my work station, on which I will pack my photo gear, tent, food, etc, and go around Bolivia. I will travel light, and on my own. I will bring a tent

I will be in all kinds of terrain, altitude, jungle, you name it.

I am 196cm and weigh 105kg in the mornings.

So...what bike to get? This is my shortlist:

Kawasaki KLR 650 (Probably the one I will go for)

Honda Africa Twin (Hard to find in Bolivia)

BMW R1200GSA (I think it will be too heavy, and too "steal me I have money".

My riding experience is pretty intermediate. I grew up on motocrosses, and my family are all bikers, but I have not been on a bike for a very long time, unless you count scooters in cities.

So...I assume you will all tell me I should get a KLR 650, so tell me why.

Is it easy to maintain?
Is it reliable?
Is it suitable for my size?
Is it reliable?
Is it fairly easy to ride on crappy roads?
Is it reliable?
Is it easy to pack a fair bit of gear on it?

What modifications should I do?
What packing system should I use?
What tires should I get?

Bring it on...I am in desperate need to decide...

Regards
Anders
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-18-2013, 10:23 AM
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Have you considered the klr 250? Or the dr400? I ask because that is mountainous terrain and a lighter bike might be easier to handle and can still haul you and 50# of gear. Also the 250 (IMHO) is a slightly more reliable bike than the others, excepting the bmw. Check availability of those two Bikes and parts. How are your mechanical skills? tire changing and carb repairs in the wild can test your resourcefulness.
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post #3 of 11 Old 05-18-2013, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Bigswede View Post
...
Is it easy to maintain?
Is it reliable?
Is it suitable for my size?*
Is it reliable?
Is it fairly easy to ride on crappy roads?
Is it reliable?
Is it easy to pack a fair bit of gear on it?
In short, yes. As to the "suitable for my size", you and I are about the same, except you're probably better looking, being Swedish and all.

The bike is designed for an average size Asian man. You'd do well to consider an after market shock and some stiffer springs in the forks. I recommend looking at Cogent Dynamics. Simply adding a stiffer spring to the stock shock won't really do - it's not up to the task of damping our considerable weight and good looks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigswede View Post
What modifications should I do?
What packing system should I use?
What tires should I get?
Modifications - You'll get a lot of input. I'd attend to the doohickey (balancer chain adjustment lever), look to the aforementioned suspension mods, get a decent seat, put a good skid plate and set of crash bars on it, and ride the snot out of it.

Packing system - You'll get a lot of input here, too. Considering your needs for versatility I would look at the CycleRack. It gives you a very large platform and is strong like bull. They also offer side bags to work with the rack, but you can use most any bag. I like Nelson Rigg stuff for it's quality and the fact that it is not made in China.

I also like the Chase Harper Alaska Bag. It is good quality construction, huge, versatile, inexpensive, and made in America. You don't want to load it up with all your heavy stuff as it is mounted on the rack, but it will hold a lot of volume - tent, clothing, sleeping bag, etc. Put your heavy stuff down lower.

Tires - It depends on how crappy the roads are. You want tires that will give good service life. The Kenda K761 have a good reputation for lasting 16,000 Km. They are an 80/20 tire; I have run them through some pretty rough stuff, but not as an every-day thing. If you will need something more off-road oriented, you might consider a Pirelli MT21 or the Kenda K270. Kendas have the advantage of being inexpensive.

The CycleRack with Chase Harper Alaska mounted:


Tom

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“'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used.” -Napoleon Bonaparte

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Last edited by Tom Schmitz; 05-18-2013 at 10:35 AM.
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-18-2013, 10:43 AM Thread Starter
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I think 250 will be too small for me. I am heavy, and so is my gear...

Thanks for the tips. The suspension thing definitely sounds like a must. Mechanical skills...well...not great, but I am stubborn as a mule.
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post #5 of 11 Old 05-18-2013, 10:48 AM
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... but I am stubborn as a mule.
Det säger sig självt, Bigswede.



T

Tom [email protected]

“On the way downtown I stopped at a bar and had a couple of double Scotches. They didn't do me any good. All they did was make me think of Silver-Wig, and I never saw her again.” -Philip Marlowe

“'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used.” -Napoleon Bonaparte

Sting like a butterfly.
Noli Timere Messorem
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-18-2013, 11:16 AM
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Then the klr650 is a great choice. If you can rent one, before you buy, and take a camping trip to prepare. Doohickey upgrade definitely, upgrade the shock/spring also. Cogent Dynamic is a great option, there are other good ones tho. Whatever luggage system you go with, waterproof bags are a must! Moose rolie bags are a good option. Consider front crash/nerf bars as important too. Spare tubes for the tires. Get tires fit for the worst case roads rather than combo tires. Wear life will seem unimportant when you are stuck in the mud. Add some front lights too. Also get maps and a tank map holder.in case your gps fails. Dont rely on gps too much. And a GOOD first aid kit.
Other than that, have a good time and send us lots of pics
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post #7 of 11 Old 05-18-2013, 11:50 AM
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Consider what this guy had to say about why he chose the bike he did for his journey. It's quite the informative read.

http://www.expeditionsouth.com/p/klr...des-ideas.html

http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h157/acidman1968/avatars/vendetta-4.jpg
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.
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post #8 of 11 Old 05-18-2013, 12:15 PM Thread Starter
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Cool that he has been up in the Altiplano, where I have spent a LOT of time...it really is the most beautiful place I know.
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post #9 of 11 Old 05-18-2013, 03:43 PM
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to answer your most pertant question...YES it is a reliable bike.

it is cheap to work on and it is also a fairly simple bike to work on.

it is a bit heavy offroad but once you get comfortable with it you wont even notice it.
i have taken mine across this country more than once. crashed hard once been in desert 14 thousand foot mountains river streams rocks sand the klr goes through it all and keeps on chugging.

even after my gnarly crash all i had to do was stand it up and start it. (after i unbolted the shattered plastic) and i rode it another 1500 miles back home.

Never ride faster than your angels can fly
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post #10 of 11 Old 05-19-2013, 04:16 AM Thread Starter
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Another question...what jacket and pants should I go for, with temperatures varying from 5 degrees celcius to 25 degrees celcius in just a few hours...?
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