Choosing your motorcycle for a trip like this is not usually a straight forward process, though maybe it should be. There is a philosophy (that I thoroughly agree with, but did not have the conviction to follow myself) that just about any motorcycle can be used for an overland trip. The most important thing is just to get on the road and do it. Use whatever bike you already have.
Infact I am sitting in this Internet cafe in İstanbul, having spent the morning with a cheery French chap that is travelling overland from Scotland to Vietnam on his 1977 Vespa.(Cheery French chap is Jean-Yves Websıte Here..)
So back to the point.. I chose for this trip, to use a Honda XR650L.
During the process of making this decision, I went through various stages of being certain that some other bike was the perfect machine for me to use, but after more research (and in a couple of cases buying bikes and finding them non-ideal) I settled on this.
The things I was looking for, in no particular order are the following;
Well suited to off-road riding (something I love)
As light weight as possible
As tested and reliable as possible
About 600cc - Four stroke
Electric start or ideally combination
Adaptable to Overland travel
Capable of carrying luggage/weight
21 inch front and 18 inch rear wheels
Some of the other bikes I considered were the BMW F650GS, Suzuki DR650, Yamaha XT660 and other Honda XR`s.
The XR650L was never sold direct to the European market, so they are hard to find. I found one by random chance at a bike show, which I bought and later sold to a friend (who will be joining me in America if I make it that far). I then imported myself a newer one from the USA.
I have imported a few vehicles before, and this was relatively straight forward, and didn`t end up costing the world.
The version sold in the UK, the XR650R, is a different bike entirely, and similarities end with the name. It is a much more race orientated, highly strung machine. It also has an Aluminium frame, kick start only, water cooled engine, and no battery.
The photo above shows the bike in a pretty standard state, but I had changed exhaust, headlights and brake lines. See HERE for full details of the mods I did.
So far I have been extremely pleased with the bike. Time will tell.