Low-cost, modern and reliable, this 157kg dual purpose bike is perfect to go around the world. It's based on the tried and tested Honda CRF250L and has a larger fuel tank, windshield, and LED headlights. It was picked up second-hand for just under $5,000 AUD with 7,000km on the clock.
You can read more about why I chose the Honda CRF250 Rally here.
Update: 3/3/2020 I made the uncertain and unfortunate call to cancelled the trip after 6 months of dedicated planning and hard work. This is based on a projected spread of the virus and reports of border closures with Iran and China. I expect the virus to become pandemic with further uncertainty and closures.
Catching this early means I can stay at work and keep my house. Thank you all for your support.
The bike to take me 50,000km across the world in 6 months before Winter must be reliable, low-cost and built on a modern platform. Parts should be easy to come by and it must be capable of carrying me and my gear to some of the most remote regions on Earth.
It goes without saying. You don't want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere, especially in a foreign country. You're at the mercy of the environment, be that desert or mountain trail. It could be cold, wet or scorching sun. It's dangerous and carrying limited supplies does little to help you in a catastrophe. Double if you're alone.
Breakdowns and accidents are unpredictable. It can be an hour on the side of the road, an overnight stop or weeks waiting for parts to ship. Especially in remote areas of Kazakhstan or Iran, where U.S. sanctions make part availability hard. This can threaten my timeline and push me further into with Winter as I head North. Not ideal for a motorbike riding camper!
Problems are inevitable and I don't want it to sound like the end of the world. It's a great way to meet people. It's just not for this adventure. As my first trip through non-english and developing countries. I'd rather aim for smooth sailing and leave the real adventure on an old $1000 bike later in my life when I have more experience 😉
This makes the choice of a Japanese manufacturer is obvious. My experience finds them well engineered and parts are easily available in Asia as well as Oceania and Europe.
I'm not rich. I don't need 100hp. I only weigh 60+ kilograms. Riding from Melbourne to London will take me through some of the most populated and developing countries on Earth. The likelihood of travelling over 100km/h is low. Traffic Jams, narrow and unmaintained roads will slow me down. That and I like to go off the beaten track.
This puts me in a category of small capacity bikes. A 250 would be the smallest I would need to carry me and my things where I need to go. This is considered a 'big bike' in Asia and will be more commonly found than a 650. A 250 is also the maximum capacity allowed in Iran.Foreigners maybe exempt but it's easy to follow the rules.
Modern and reliable go hand-in-hand. I want fuel injection. Carburetted engine performance gets affected at altitude. They cough and splutter. Considering the trip follows most of the worlds mountain ranges: Himalayas, Kashmir, Caucus, Swiss Alps etc. I want something that's unaffected.
A fuel injection has other benefits such as higher power, better fuel economy, throttle response and reliable starting. I wouldn't trust an old EFI system but a new bike should run flawlessly. This goes with the rest of the parts being newer and less likely to fail from fatigue or overuse.
A modern bike gives you better features and technology. It also helps with support in terms of parts. Meaning, the factory still makes them and they can be looked up on a parts list instead of Craigslist.
The obvious choice hailed by forums everywhere is the mighty DR650. You'll hear others going on about the KLR or exotics like KTM or BMW. These bikes have their place. The DR is a great bike and I like that it doesn't look out of place anywhere in the world. The problem is altitude, cold starts and the risk of overheating in scorching summer traffic of India without a radiator. The KLR has one but it's still a 650.
This put me on two schools of thought. A Yamaha WR250R or a Honda CRF250L. The Yamaha was my first choice. It seemed lighter and more powerful, but taller and more expensive. Both would need a windshield and I didn't want to bother with modifications too much. Then I found out about the Rally. With it's LED headlights and fly screen as standard.
I travelled 35,000km over 89-days to see as much of North America as I could.
Most nights I camped, 10 in cheap hotels and a few with friends or strangers.
The USA is a naturally diverse place like its people. I enjoyed every minute of it.