6 months ago

Dirt and Trail July 2020

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  • Bikes
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  • Husqvarna
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  • Suspension
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  • Enduro
  • Motorcycles
  • Suzuki

So – a 500 is a bit

So – a 500 is a bit small, too off-roady and maybe a bit intimidating. An 850 plus is out of reach – and maybe a bit intimidating? Sadly, with our clever regulators we have lost some great entry level bikes in the last few years – Kawasaki’s KLR, Honda’s XL and Suzuki’s DR 650 were all affordable bikes for the masses. Simplicity has been replaced by bikes with more electronic trickery than you’d find on top of the line superbikes from a few years ago. Two bikes came to mind when we were considering this feature. Both of these are relatively affordable, every day comfortable, practical and more than capable. They are bikes that you can use everywhere to explore SA’s astonishing network of gravel. Suzuki’s DL650 V-Strom and BMW’s F750GS are two great motorcycles. We grabbed both of them and took off into the “Ver- Verlaate Vlaktes” for a great day of riding – Freeways, gravel – and even a bit of rougher terrain where the bigger adventurer we rode lost some parts… but that’s another story. Do you really need a big adventure? Well yes you do, you cannot beat the power! But these two proved that – well you don’t really. Do you REALLY need a 21 inch front wheel? Yes? Well no, not really. A 21 inch wheel does give better tyre options – and it looks meaner – and you get a bit more ground clearance – but most normal people will not do Dakar stuff on bikes like these. Both the DL and the Beemer are fitted with a 19” front and a 17” rear. I’d say that we rode them in some trickier parts than most would – and they ate it all up perfectly. A big advantage of a smaller front wheel, is the fact that the bike is a bit lower, so “normal” sized people can get their feet onto the ground before they tumble over. A consideration between these two is the fact that the Suzuki has spokes and the GS has mag wheels. Spoked wheels are all but mandatory on off-road bikes — dirt bikes, enduros, scramblers and ADVS — for one simple reason: Spoked wheels are more durable than single piece cast wheels. On the road and on good gravel, you (hopefully) don’t encounter large rocks or massive ruts — maybe the occasional pothole, but nothing as unrelenting as a gnarly singletrack, that’s for sure. Spoked wheels can bend and flex to a certain degree letting you tackle the rougher terrain. Because they are more rigid, alloy wheels, handle higher speeds and higher amounts of horsepower and torque with relative ease. The solid, unflexing nature also makes the single piece wheels more predictable in turns, especially at higher cornering speeds where stability and consistency are paramount. Modern suspension is generally more than the average person can use – in the terrain we took these bikes, we have no complaints. The fast gravel road we use had a horrible runnel caused by the rain and both riders smacked that at speed – and came out the other side without binning the bikes. So that was good! The stock suspension and brakes on both of these bikes was better than the skill of the riders. Other stuff: Engines: The obvious difference between these bikes is that Suzuki uses their tried and tested, Bullet proof 645cc V-Twin engine, with a focus on torque. It delivers usable power in a wide variety of conditions and puts out peak torque at 70 HP. The BMW is powered by their very smooth De- tuned 850 engine to a reduced peak of 77HP (The GS 850 produces 95HP). Why would they do that? Well – they say that it is so that their GS range will appeal to a broader variety of riders. Because it is marginally bigger (100cc’s), the Beemer is a bit faster at the top than the Suzuki, but we found the Zuk to be quicker off the line and it easily holds its own up to the top. It also seems to have a lot more personality through the rev range – but that’s what a V-Twin does for you. Both house very versatile twin cylinder engines, fuel Injection and all the mod cons that discerning buyers have come to expect from a modern motorcycle. 48 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE JULY 2020 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE JULY 2020 4 9