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Author Topic: Tell me about your touring experience on small bikes and how it compares  (Read 769 times)

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Offline HawkGTRider

  • MSTA Executive Committee
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  • Lifetime Mileage: 757,625
  • Primary Motorcycle: '07 BMW F650GS thumper now over 100k miles
I nearly have a garage full of small(er) bikes, and they continue to put a smile on my face.

From oldest...
1970 Honda CL70. Yeah, this is pretty much a toy. With a top speed of 40ish, I'm hesitant to get it out on anything other than seriously little backroads. But then I look at the odometer of this bike and it has over 10,000 miles clocked. Wowza...someone put in some serious hours in riding this thing to put that many miles on it.

1975 Yamaha RD125. A little more than a toy, but...  As the only 2-stroke in the fleet, it's a bit different. One of the pistons disintegrated the last time I rode it, but it's being repaired.

1980 Suzuki GS450e(s). This is one of my favorite bikes ever. It's about as basic as they come, but it's got a great combination of comfort, reliability, ability to handle all paved roads from little to interstate, and gets pretty decent fuel economy as well. This bike has done several 1000 mile days.

1986 Honda VFR700. Ok, not exactly small, but also not a liter bike. It's the "sporty" bike in the garage and is also all day comfortable if my behind will take it. And that V4 wails!

1988 Honda Hawk GT (NT650). I've knocked down a bunch of miles on this compact little bike...so compact that it's not really an all day bike. But I rode it from TN to Florida for the Jennings track day a couple of years ago and had a blast. I feel like this bike pre-dates many later bikes with a torquey v-twin, stubby under engine exhaust, single sided swingarm, and so forth. But that peg-to-seat distance is certainly a limiting factor to longer rides...my knees just won't take 600 miles in that position like they might have once. I did back-to-back 600 mile days riding this bike to STAR at Lake Eufaula in Ok packed down like a mule with camping gear and such.

1997 Suzuki DR650SE. Yeah, it's a stone ax in a world of computers. And that's why I like it. It's not as smooth as some other 650s and doesn't get the fuel economy, but any shortcomings are known and spares can probably be carried on an adventure to far away and remote places. With an estimated 35hp, it's the right bike for a trip to the far reaches of northern Quebec next summer.


2007 BMW F650GS. Along with the Suzuki GS450, this is THE all time favorite. I've put 110k+ miles on this bike riding across the country on the interstate to get to gravel roads 7 states away. It's had some water pump issues, but now that issue is pretty much resolved.

2007 BMW F650GS Dakar. Just got this one a few months ago with less than 2k miles on it. The 19" front wheel on the standard GS is better all around, but that 21" Dakar front is better for the gnarlier end of the spectrum. I wouldn't consider this a "dirt" bike, but I bought a set of hard bags from a guy that was using his much rougher than I'll use mine. And I also got a spare front rim from a guy that replaced his entire front end with one from a KTM. Some folks are obviously using their Dakars much more aggressively than will I. It'll serve as a lightweight all-around bike for me. Both the standard GS and the Dakar get really good fuel economy...not unusual to see near 70mpg.

Lastly 2017 Honda CB300F. Last year for this model, it was replaced in 2018 by a sport naked model termed a Neo Sport Cafe'..the CB300R. They made it less angular, a little peppier, and decreased the size of the fuel tank. I'm happy with mine. I rode this one to the Big Lynn Lodge a couple of weeks ago and had a ball. It kept up with Doug Pippen (ok...he was taking it easy on us) but the light weight was super. Yes, I was doing a tap dance on the gear-shift lever while everyone else was locked into 1 or 2 gears, but I was grinning the whole time. And then when I filled it up, I averaged 77mpg (including 100 miles of 70mph interstate riding), next tank 86mpg, next tank 83mpg, and last tank 88mpg. Dang! I'm loving that. And yes, those big mileage tanks were at a pace that didn't include a lot of wind pushing. But I've gotta say I love those numbers.
Geoffrey Greene
MSTA Ride For Kids Coordinator, MSTA Secretary, TriSTAR Coordinator
Difficult roads can lead to beautiful destinations.