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askapro Determining the best bike for you By Lee Parks #162125


Q: I’m been wanting to get into


dual-sport riding and am wondering which size GS is the best option. What’s


the best advice for an aspir- ing off-road rider on bike choice? A: That’s a bit of a loaded ques-


tion so let’s break things down into digestible chunks on such a kaleido- scopic topic. The first question is, “What kind of dual-sport riding do you want to do?” For example, are you looking for long- distance adventure travel, high-perfor- mance extreme off- road or somewhere in the middle? The areas to consider are price, engine size, bike size, bike weight, fuel capac- ity, luggage capacity, suspension travel/valving/springing and tire choice. We’ll address each of


these


with different bike types. To use myself as an example, I cur-


rently have two dedicated dual-sport bikes in the garage, and my girlfriend has a third. Mine are a 2010 BMW G 450 X and 2008 Suzuki DR650, while my girlfriend’s is a 2011 BMW G 650 GS. I’m currently 5’9” and 190 lbs. As a motocross racer since I was 14 (I’m still racing at 46), I demand extreme performance from what I call my dual-sport dirt bike. Here the G 450 X is in its element. It currently weighs 283 lbs. with a full tank, makes 46 rear-wheel hp (32 was stock,) has pure off-road tires, off-road-race- modified suspension, no luggage and


92 BMW OWNERS NEWS March 2016


only 1.8 gallons of fuel capacity. It works great when I want to tackle serious off-road obstacles, but the seat is awful, the bike has a very limited range, and vibrates a lot at any speeds above 75 mph. I also like riding long distances on dual-


sport bikes, but I still want the bike to have decent off-road capability, which is where the DR650 comes in. It’s my dual-sport street bike. It officially has more dollars than sense in it, but most of my bikes suffer from that particular anomaly. It weighs 383 lbs. with a full tank, makes 42 rear-wheel hp (36 was stock), has 80/20 street/dirt tires, comfy seat, small windscreen, street- ish-optimized suspension, heated grips and accessory plugs, lots of luggage capac-


to the ground on her 44 rear-wheel hp, 424-lb. steed. There are no other adult- sized dual-sport bikes with a “real” engine and not too much weight that could fit her, so her option was limited to one. Basically the bigger you go, the more


power, luggage, range and comfort you get. Conversely, the smaller you go, the more off-road agility you get. Smaller bikes are also much easier to pick up when you’ve fallen, which may be important if you’re riding alone in a remote off-road area. Tire choices are another area to really


IT’S A GREAT LUXURY TO HAVE TWO SETS OF WHEELS WITH DIFFERENT KINDS OF TIRES ON THEM FOR QUICK SWAPPING WHEN YOU WANT TO TRY DIFFERENT TERRAIN.


ity and a 5-gallon fuel tank (stock is 3.2 gal- lons). The DR will happily cruise at 80 mph all day, can carry full camping gear and clothes for several days yet it is still able to hit some pretty big jumps and berms, should it need to on an off-road excursion. It’s not as comfortable as an F 800 GS or R 1200 GS on long rides but outperforms both when the road turns into a trail. I would love to add a new water-boxer GS to the stable, but with another street bike and several other dirt-only bikes taking up space, the garage is packed at the moment. My girlfriend, on the other hand is 5’0”


and 115 lbs. To get the G 650 GS to fit her, we started with the factory lowered frame, lowered and revalved/resprung the suspen- sion, cut the seat down and had a double- thick sole added to her boots. Even with all that she can barely touch the tips of her feet


look at when deciding on “going both ways.” The larger the front wheel, the better the bike will be when negotiating large obstacles as well as having the most options off-road, so a 21” is better than 19”, which is better than a


17”, etc. Conversely, 17”


wheels have the most street tire choices available. The dual-sport tread pattern for any size wheel can be 90/10 street/dirt, 90/10 dirt/street or anywhere in between.


Regardless of the wheel size, you want the tire that will have the most traction avail- able for the kind of riding you will be doing most of the time. It’s a great luxury to have two sets of wheels with different kinds of tires on them for quick swapping when you want to try different terrain. Suspension components determine how


the bike will react when you hit a bump or dip, as well as how much weight it can han- dle. For example, if you’re riding a R 1200 GS Adventure with almost nine gallons of fuel, plus have oodles of overstuffed lug- gage on board, and/or a passenger, you’re going to need very special suspension com- ponents (or highly modified internals) to safely and effectively handle the load. This is especially true if you want to also ride off-road over various conditions. Remem- ber that each suspension component


is


skills


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