Adventure Motorcycle Build Research

My first adventure bike setup. Not the best... 

Taking a break from other projects by doing some research for a future adventure touring bike build.

This is a Live post. I will continue to update it as I find more awesome donor bikes.

I currently own and am very happy with my 2012 BMW GS Adventure. I could go on and on with all of its great features and comforts. I could also go on and on with all the things that annoy me about it. Essentially, I have a love/hate relationship with my BMW and I recently realized that I will someday replace it. Maybe in a year. Maybe in five years. I don't know when but I know at some point I will move on. The point of this research is to answer one question, "What's my next Adventure Touring Bike?"

The short answer to that question is, it won't be new or stock. I really want to take an older air-cooled, carbureted, multi cylinder bike and modify it into the ultimate adventure bike. Natural seating position, comfortable seat, upgraded suspension, big gas tank, second gas tank... all the typical adventure mods. So, what qualities should the base platform bike have from the start?
  • Used
  • Readily available
  • Resonably priced
  • Carbureted
  • Easy to work on with basic tools
  • Engine between 600cc and 1000cc
  • Low seat height. (35" height for BMW GSA is too high for me.) 
  • Lightweight. 450lb range. (560lb for BMW GSA is a bit too heavy.)

The List:

This is my current bike so I figured it would be a good idea to collect some data. It's intended to act as a starting point for comparison with other bikes down the list.

Year: 2012
Base Weight: 564lb (Wet)
Seat Height: 35"
Wheel Base: 59.4"
Fuel Tank: 8.7 Gallons
Approx Used Sale price: $10,000
2012 BMW R1200GS Adventure

Harley Sportster, Stock:
The Harley Sportster is a great platform for any custom build. There are tons of aftermarket parts and they are very available all over the world. Its a bit low and heavy so that would have to be changed.

Year: 2002-2006 (Common cheapest years found on craigslist)
Base Weight: 491lbs (Dry)
Seat Height: 28.9"
Wheel Base: 60"
Fuel Tank: 3.3 Gallons
Approx Used Sale price: $3500-6000
2004 Sportster 1200 being sold on Craigslist San Diego
for $5000, September 2017

Harley Sportster Example Build:
This is what I would turn the stock sportster into. A very tall, lighter weight dual sport type bike.

Year: 2003
Base Weight: 465lbs (Dry) +39.7lbs for fuel = 504lbs (Wet)
Seat Height: 32-34"
Wheel Base: 62.5"
Fuel Tank: 6.3 Gallons
Sale Price: A Lot!! (If you have to ask you can't afford it.)

Carducci Dual Sport Bike

Honda XR650:
A good dual sport bike but not so good at long distance tours. It's very lightweight and has amazing Honda reliability though.

Year: 1993-?
Base Weight: 350lbs
Seat Height: 37"
Wheel Base: 57.3"
Fuel Tank: 2.8 Gallons
Sale Price: $2000-$4000

XR650 my friend rode for several years.

Kawasaki KLR 650
Similar to the Honda 650 in specs but its cheaper and more common. It's a tall dual sport bike geared more for offroad. But there is a huge cult following for adventure touring with cheap mods. The new model seems more street oriented than the old.

Year: 1987-2007 (Old Model) 2008+ (New Model)
Base Weight: 402lb (Wet)
Seat Height: 35"
Wheel Base:
Fuel Tank: 6.1 Gallons
Sale Price: $2800-$4500
KLR 650 I spotted in Alaska

Triumph Bonneville
I've always liked the Bonneville and I really like its parallel twin engine. Though it's not the most reliable bike, sits too low and isn't readily available. (56 listings in the San Diego area compared to 330 for Harley Sportsters.) It's also the most expensive platform to start with.

Year: 2002-2008 (Not too common)
Base Weight: 451lbs (Dry)
Seat Height: 30.5"
Wheel Base: 59.1"
Fuel Tank: 3.5 Gallons
Sale Price: $5000+
2007 Bonneville for sale on Craigslist
for $5200 as of September 2017

Honda CBR500
It's not exactly what I'm looking for. The CBR500 is just under 500cc, fuel injected and is a long way away from being an adventure bike. It would take a lot of work but I could see this turning into an awesome bike. (Loose the body panels, lift the suspension, bring the bars up and back... there's potential there.)

Year: 2013-Current (Possibly a bit too new...)
Base Weight: 428lbs (Wet)
Seat Height: 30.9"
Wheel Base: 55.5"
Fuel Tank: 4.1 Gallons
Sale Price: $3000-$5000

2014 Honda CBR500 being sold on Craigslist San Diego
for $3650, February 2018

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