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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello all, I bought a baby Vara as my first ever bike. I'd knocked around on a Suzuki before years ago when I worked summer vacation on a local farm. Anywho, my intention was just to get a put-put CB125 second hand and keep it at my folks for fun whenever I was home from France. But then I saw a baby Vara in the window of Victor Devines in Glasgow. Bought it. Rode it home to Prestwick (folks house). Left my Audi A8 in the driveway and drove my baby Vara back to Paris.

So far, I've been run over (seriously black and blue and still require a small op for a broken bone in my foot) by a lorry and twice fell off ( A:bad storm blew down a bus shelter as I drove by and got floored by a piece of the roof and B: the other accident was only my fault, lack of attention, involving driving into a giant plant pot).

Anyways. The poor thing is in bits but still rideable and I am having the time of my life on her. Question: what do I go for next? Is a Varadero 1000 just too big a leap for me? A friend is recommending a F650GS BMW as a next step. Chain driven. Reliable. Good low gravity but maintains a good saddle height for a tall guy like myself 6'3". I need something nimble enough. Whatever I get next, it is likely it will get some abuse (limited off roading for campsites and the odd off-road trails around Europe. Mostly dirt tracks and gravel in Southern Spain and Highways in Morocco).

The Magazine "TWO" (Two Wheels Only) just slammed the Trans, the Varadero and the Africa quoting "Trans and Africa = old, sluggish" and the Varadero "zero off road capabilities". I have a funny feeling someone on staff at TWO is anti-Honda trailies/enduros. Help please? Honda is good on purchase price, good service pricing, nice folks in both workshops I've been into, quick & honest. Very good economical arguement for Honda. But what model is the next logical step?
 

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Welcome. Hope you find this site interesting. I don't think we have many other XL125V members (the Varadero UK site is popular with 125s). It's good to hear of a 125 being treated like a proper bike. Prestwick to Paris is beyond the range of some owners of bigger bikes!! :rolleyes:

The BMW F650 is a good bike. It is pretty good off-road and not bad on the road. Some F650s vibrate too much for me. When I was looking at that option some years ago there was no evidence of major gripes from owners on the web sites. However, I still think a Honda is going to be more reliable in the long run. The Transalp is probably as good or better than an F650. The TA is really smooth on road with enough power for almost anything (except maybe keeping up with sport-bike buddies and TWO journalists). :tongue4:
 

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I had a Vara125 for a year until I did my test, which did manage a round Ireland trip albeit at max revs most of the time. Borrowed an F650GS for the test (had it a week), lots of power/torque but the single thumper not to my liking at all - too vibey (even though owner was selling at a very good price). Now on an 03 Transalp which I love - like the Vara125 but with 'wahay' acceleration and much more comfort on long trips. I felt the Vara1000 too big a step up (and beyond my licence anyhow)
 

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Sorry don't know nothing about the subject
but carefull i thought i was tall'ish at 6'2 till i went to my first little meet at chalsea bridge and discovered i was the smallest one:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :D
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks DW for the warm welcome. I am a novice rider of only a year but the baby Vara has done everything right for me so far. I have bounced her all over the place and she's held up well (apart from cracked plastic guards and fairings - easily replacable). Including some bad gravel roads and potholes. Not that I would consider ANYTHING else more severe than that for the baby Vara.

I will try and test drive a F650 GS (lots of gripes on the web concerning the CS version) and see if I can feel that vibration.

Yes, GW_elder, I know what you mean. I was concerend a few times driving so far with the rev counter nearly off the end of the scale, but the bike never overheated, didn't burn any oil, never shook, never cut out and the full consumption wasn't so bad. Most of the trucks and buses on mainland European highways are forced by law to travel at 60Kmph an hour here. So at 75 "Milesph" I flew past some of the sluggish traffic with absolute ease. The only thing I don't like is 50cc/75cc/100cc scotters burning me off at traffic lights in Paris all the time. Those gearless wonders! It's a bit embarassing cause the baby Vara's only negative: it's sluggish from "0".

Despite the baby Vara being a baby, I will be driving her to Africa this summer. Can't wait!
 

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Hi & welcome.

First off - I'm biased. Buy an Alp.

It's the next logical step and continues the family bloodline, the GS650 may be lighter & therefore more manageable offroad, the Alp will be more refined for longer trips.

Test both & see which fit's you best.

Phil
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Thanks guys for the encouragement to go check out an Alp. I am heading back to Scotland in April and I just called my father (also biker) and asked him to call Devine's Honda dealership in Glasgow to set us up a test drive on an ALP when I leave France and get back to Prestwick.

The only thing is, I've been reading these message boards in depth over the last couple of days. Lots of bright and encouraging articles regarding Alps. However, the last major overhaul of an Alp was in 2005 and I've spotted a few commentaries regarding Honda potentially scrapping the ALP.

Now I am not one for whining and moaning and wasting my time. If I see a 2007 (2005) ALP and I like it, I will buy it. I don't waste time worrying about "how am I going to re-sell this?". Discontinuation does not worry me. I'll probably have the bike for a good 3 or 4 years.

BUT! From a technological point of view.........what is the word on the street? I heard that the 700cc Deauville engine will go into an all new Africa/ALP 700cc "hybrid". Is the 700 Deauville a good engine? What type of build/ability will the bike boast? I.e. Will Honda shoot for more road than off-road bike? What is the market pushing Honda to do? Maybe a more off-road than road bike this time?

WHAT WOULD YOU GUYS LIKE HONDA TO DO? If you're an ALP rider already, would you like to see a new hybrid favour on or off-road?
 

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Graeme, you are asking lots of questions that unfortunately we don't have answers to!!!

A few of us quizzed Honda at the NEC without success, emails have been sent to Honda (UK) HQ without suitable reply.....

My guess is (purely a guess mind) the Alp will turn into a 'mid' sized Vara with/without a namechange and will turn into a 'lifestyle' adventure bike with overstyled image, too much complication & too much weight but with the fuel injected 700 motor from the Deuville & probably appear at the end of '07 or beginning of '08.
This would be with mag wheels (17" fr/rr), little ground clearance, 'road' suspension, no engine protection guard (or plastic one), etc

If Honda had any sense they would do the above as a Vara, and a paralell true 'dual sport/purpose' bike to fill the gap of the Africa/Transalp.
This would have true long travel suspension, spoked wheels (21" front), decent engine guard, wrap around hand guards, not too much plastic & no 'gimmicky' styling.
Don't hold your breath tho.....

Good luck with the test ride, for more info try techtransalp.co.uk

Phil
 

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wecome aboard dude the alp sonds like the best option for you and will give you the same if not better durability than the baby vara...sound like you need it with your luck.. give one a try you'll love it ...and dont listen to the mags they are just spoilt bikers with a vast choice for toys to play with who have forgotten what its like to have to buy a bike:rolleyes: if it aint the latest spec they just aint interested


the alp is a great little bike and will do you a treat:cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hi guys,
much water has passed under the bridge since we last spoke.

I sold my Baby Vara 125 in May.

Victor Devine's in Glasgow gave me a 2000 pound trade in and I walked away with a 2007 all black Transalp.

I put on heated grips, Honda panniers and box, centre stand, Superbright bulbs, leather petrol tank protection from "Bagster" (including snap-on day bag. It's basically like a school bag) and took off to Edinburgh straight away after leaving the showroom!

Took the ferry to Zeebrugge and headed to meet friends in room. Thereafter I did about 10 mountain passes in the Italian/French Alps. About 8000 miles in 4 weeks. Great holiday vacation!

She was superbly behaved and took a lot abuse (and a lot of weight) but you get a good bang for your buck out of an Alp.

She got her first service in a mountain top village by an approved Honda dealer in Orvietto, Umbria.
 

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Hi guys,
much water has passed under the bridge since we last spoke.

I sold my Baby Vara 125 in May.

Victor Devine's in Glasgow gave me a 2000 pound trade in and I walked away with a 2007 all black Transalp.

I put on heated grips, Honda panniers and box, centre stand, Superbright bulbs, leather petrol tank protection from "Bagster" (including snap-on day bag. It's basically like a school bag) and took off to Edinburgh straight away after leaving the showroom!

Took the ferry to Zeebrugge and headed to meet friends in room. Thereafter I did about 10 mountain passes in the Italian/French Alps. About 8000 miles in 4 weeks. Great holiday vacation!

She was superbly behaved and took a lot abuse (and a lot of weight) but you get a good bang for your buck out of an Alp.

She got her first service in a mountain top village by an approved Honda dealer in Orvietto, Umbria.


GOod choice of bike, I love my transalp and if you look at what Mudwiz does with his you really appreciate how capable these bikes are. Do you have any photos of your trip, post them in the reports section for us if you do

Sharrie
xxx
 

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Discussion Starter #15
When I was Turin, I was 125kgs (about 18 stone) myself, and carrying in the top box and panniers a further 60kgs.

Out of nowhere, a cafe racer on a CBR600 ran a red, slipped sideways and basically chopped about 6 riders in my group of friends.

We all fell like dominos. We were doing about 40mph and the CBR was about 60mph (at least?). He hit us at a a right angle.

The guy was screwed up. He had flip-flops and t-shirt and shorts on. What a mess. I dropped my baby and she got scuffed on the fairing but no other damage to the bike.

However, the bike next to me fell on my right ankle. My bike fell onto my left ankle as we slid along the cobbles.

When I got off the bike I did a commando style crawl to the side of the road and I couldn't stand or put any weight on my ankles. I thought they were bust. After about two hours of drinking, I got a taxi to my hotel, I got in the bath with a bottle of wine and soaked for about another two hours later. My ankles were like melons.

Honda in Turin picked up my Transalp, gave it the once over, straightened the grips and break levers on the handlebars and adjusted my break cables which had got gnarled. Delivered her back to the hotel.

Woke up. Had breakfast. Swallowed a pint of coffee and two Nurofen and headed to Perugia to meet the family who had flown in for the week. I just popped Nurofen for two hours and then Aspirin for 2 and so on. Rotating.
 

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DILLIGAF
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I currently am a 125 Varadero rider, and in a month and a half will be picking up a brand new black Transalp. Reading what you have read is very encouraging, you seem to love the 'Alp after the baby 'Dero.

As I am only a "baby" myself (20 years old) I am unable to test ride (got to be 25 :() so would you mind posting up your thoughts and comparisons between the two bikes?

P.S Sorry to read about your off, hope you healed fully :dontknow:
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Sure.

If you had been on a small perfume burner like a CB125 you would notice a huge difference. But because the baby Vara is such a quality and "bigger" experience, you are going to find the Alp an easier transition.

Moving from red traffic light about 200m to the next red traffic light in town - (stop start stop start) - you will notice hardly any difference.

But on that nice straight piece of road you are gonna love it. The extra 500cc will feel like a jet pack after riding the Vara. The feeling is lush!

The other thing is this, the Alp with its excellent suspension and spoked wheels bounces over potholes and up kerbs with such smooth ease. Whereas the Baby Vara hits objects with a less sophisticated "clunk".

Passengers on the Transalp don't put a strain on your move-off. A passenger on the Baby Vara however makes you feel like someone has stropped on a ton of concrete to the back.

The Transalp will not be harder to drive/ride. It's heavier. Make sure your side stand is down properly. There is no more big vibration or big engine feel, but like I said, when you open her up - you're really gonna have a smile on your face.
 

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DILLIGAF
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Sure.

If you had been on a small perfume burner like a CB125 you would notice a huge difference. But because the baby Vara is such a quality and "bigger" experience, you are going to find the Alp an easier transition.

Moving from red traffic light about 200m to the next red traffic light in town - (stop start stop start) - you will notice hardly any difference.

But on that nice straight piece of road you are gonna love it. The extra 500cc will feel like a jet pack after riding the Vara. The feeling is lush!

The other thing is this, the Alp with its excellent suspension and spoked wheels bounces over potholes and up kerbs with such smooth ease. Whereas the Baby Vara hits objects with a less sophisticated "clunk".

Passengers on the Transalp don't put a strain on your move-off. A passenger on the Baby Vara however makes you feel like someone has stropped on a ton of concrete to the back.

The Transalp will not be harder to drive/ride. It's heavier. Make sure your side stand is down properly. There is no more big vibration or big engine feel, but like I said, when you open her up - you're really gonna have a smile on your face.
Thanks for that :thumbright:. Definatly can't wait to try the 'Alp out for myself.

I totally agree with your comments about passengers on the Vara 125. My regular pillion weighs sod all but the bike still feels stoneage moving off from a stop :p.
I did ride a Suzuki 125 (GN maybe :confused:, tiny little thing that would have cramped a midget, let alone me) for a day and found that even that accelerated noticably faster than the Vara, but then the Vara weighs so much, though I still beat cars at the lights. I guess as long as the 'Alp accelerated better than the Baby Vara I will be a very happy bunny :mrgreen:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Yes, it's a bit disheartening when you discover that the smaller 125ccs can burn you from stop. However, the Vara has given you a "bigger bike" experience and that will tide you well for the transition to a 650.

What I liked about my Baby Vara was I am a tall guy: and I felt good about sitting on the Vara. It is a handsome bike. And I got a lot of female friends complimenting me on my ride. A lot of guys at work had no idea what the bike was and were all over it thinking it was at least a 250, etc. Which gave me a laugh and a twinkle in my eye. Compliment city.
 

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If you're going to use the next bike more offroad (gravel tracks), then I'd consider a single rather than a twin. You'll do less damage to the bike and have a lot more fun if you get something lighter. I'd say the F650GS or XT660R might be okay, maybe even go for something more offroad like a DRZ400S, but this might literally be a pain in the butt on longer trips.

I agree with the concensus that Honda are REALLY falling behind in terms of technology, all the other manufacturers now build better dualsport bikes. Great bike that the Alp is, it's starting to look a bit silly compared to the Versys, V-strom, XT660Z ....
 
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