Hi everyone,

My name is Dan and I've been looking at buying an adv bike seriously for about a year now.  My background?  I am in my forties, been riding off-road on-and-off since I was 8 and on the road since my early twenties.  I've been through the Sports Bike era and survived, and came to adventure bikes via a slightly circuitous route.  I had done a fair amount of touring on sports bikes through Europe but it was only when I had to commute twice-weekly from London to Devon on a bike that I realised that a ZX-9R wouldn't cut it; and neither would just about any other sports bike.  My relationship with adventure bikes was born.

So, hooked on adventure bikes and having returned to the UK after 7 years in the Middle East I fully believed the hype that I must have a bike with a capacity somewhere north of 1000cc, if I wanted to go on any kind of adventure.  Over the last few months though, and prompted by the likes of Austin Vince, Walter Colebatch, and even Steph Jeavons, I have come to realise that you don't have to have a massive adventure stallion.  And in many ways they can restrict your fun.  In perusing this line of thought I had to examine what I would use the bike; what I wanted it for.  This boiled down to:

The bike will mainly be used on tarmac but I want the capability to take it on logging roads, green lanes, etc, and it needs to do all this whilst carrying a reasonable load.

In addition to this, I reckon it needs to be:

-  Light enough to pick up myself.

-  Comfy (I'm not getting any younger!)

-  Capable of carrying luggage and the occasional pillion.

-  Easy to mod (as that is half the fun).

-  Simple enough for me to maintain it myself.

-  Malleable enough in its design to allow me to replace the suspension, wheels, exhaust, screen, etc and for me to perhaps have additional welding done for luggage, power sockets, etc.

For me there is no rush to select the bike and I had been thoroughly enjoying the research phase when it hit me.  None of the current crop of bikes was what I wanted.  They all look great and I am sure are all very, very reliable.  However, none of them are ideal for me and their fault lines range across some pretty fundamental territory; weight, comfort, range, reliability, cost.  The interesting thing is that even if money were no object, there is nothing out there which is perfect for me.

So, sod it!  I'm going to do my own thing and build my own.

I'm going to start with a donor bike as I have neither the skills, time nor garage space to start assembling a bike from the frame up.  But apart from that I am going to start from first principles, source the right second hand bike, and gradually trick it out with the kit I want.  Make the mods I want and see what I end up with.  My thought process is that I will get it to a minimum standard: taller screen, intermediate tires, soft panniers, maybe bigger tank, and then just take it on trips two or three times a year.  As I gain in experience and do some bigger and bigger trips, I can mod and adjust the bike as I go along.

In sharing this initial blog I want to get as much feedback as possible from you all, as I think I'll need it.  I really am starting from the fundamentals however.  I don't even have a garage at the moment so will need to source some space in which to store and work on the bike!  Candidate bikes at the moment include:

Yamaha XT660R

Suzuki DRZ-400

Honda XR650L

Suzuki DR650

BMW F650 Dakar

But, any advice is well-received.  As this is a long term project - although I want to have something in the garage/shed/lock-up by late spring 2017 - cost is less important than the eventual result.  That said, the less I pay for the source bike the more chance I have of modding it as I want to.  I would like to stay below £4K for the initial cost of the source bike.

So, thanks for reading this so far.  I look forward to your comments and advice (if any) and I'll update this periodically as and when things start moving.