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I have to agree with Patrick on the V-Strom very underrated. I havn't ridden as far but I've ridden the shit out of it in the dirt. Took it to Baja for 3 days off road with stock Trailwings. We stopped at the border and weighed our bikes mine with me on it was 900 lbs. I weigh about 200 with gear. Rode the 900# beast off road for about 30-40 miles behind a BMW 100gsPD he crashed twice in front of me (he kept sticking those cylinder things in the dirt)I made it through unscathed. Next day (without all the weight) followed a 1150gsa and 950 KTM with much younger (and better) riders for a nice 6 hr dirt ride. The guy on the KTM said "I couldn't believe everytime I looked in my mirror you were right there".Now with Wlbers shock and right weight springs in forks it is even better, no bottoming out or hitting.Most fun bike I've owned.
I have a DL650 and love it and would take it over the DL1000 any day. The 650 has great power and the same frame as the 1000, but its lighter and costs much less.
Currently I am in Mexico and heading south to Chile. For such a trip the suspension is the main upgrade anyone should do if they are thinking of such a trip. I kept the stock rear shock, but upgraded to a stiffer Wilbers spring and changed out the front springs to stiffer ones as well. The bike is loaded on the heavyside, with my big butt, tools, spare parts, water, food, camping gear, etc. Yesterday, I did a 200 mile ride over 6 hours, on a very twisty, turny road with lots of hairpins and quick S-turns. I only averaged 30mph, put damn it was fun. For days afterward, I had a giant grin on my face that probably made the locals wonder what drug I was on.
The only down part of that day was being forced off the road by a truck swinging wide into my lane. Luckily there was a small shoulder before the 100 foot drop to my right. I came to a screeching stop. But since I was consentrating more on not getting run over or dropping 100 feet, I forget to compensate for the banking and uphill angle and dropped the bike and broke the turn signal. Damn! But hey, its better the bike than me, right?
On gravel/dirt roads it has handled really well. My only complaint is the ground clearance. With all the speedbumps in Central America, an extra inch or two would be nice. Which brings up the point that a Amotostuff or Pat Walsh skid plate is essential. After all the different roads I have been on and the weight I am carrying, I have not noticed any sway caused by the so called flexible sub-frame.
This bike is the best deal around and I don´t regret not paying more for a BMW GS.
I must disagree about the DL650 wheezing at altitude. I live at 9,500 feet in the Colorado Rockies and have taken my fully loaded Wee over 12,000 foot passes with no signs of power loss. I do admit, a 1000 has wonderful power at the ready. And yes, this is great for highway speeds, climbing, and head winds, but IMHO quite unnecessary for travel in developing countries where you are lucky to get above 60 mph. On top of that, you can go further on a tank of gas with a Wee than a V. I do not anticipate any troubles or wheezing with my 650 when climbing over 17,000 foot passes of the Andes. In the end, you are so right that both are great bikes!
Its full weight with accessories, boxes, gear, spare parts, camping gear, etc etc plus myself is pushing 900-950 pounds.
So far, the camping gear hasn´t seen much use outside of The States. There have been the occassional deserted beach or a time or two where I asked for permission to camp on some private land. But for Central America, camping gear is not worth carrying. The budget hotel rooms cost the same as the very few designated campgrounds. This was just what Chris and Erin from www.ultimatejourney.com told me at the last HU meet in Leadville and so far have been very right. I only brought it because I want to use it in Chile and Argentina. After researching the cost to have it shipped down to me via DHL or FedEx, I decided I could just as well spend the $300 it would cost for shipping on hostels or budget rooms and still camp. So I figured I had extra room on the bike, so what the heck, I will just take it with me.
The skidplate I have on right now is a piece of crap that SWMotech calls a skidplate. The front mountings are the biggest down fall and that fact that it has cutouts in it for the very exhaust pipes its suppose to protect doesnt help in my confidence in this product. Why do I have it and not the ones I recommended? Because the Amotostuff was still in the design stage and the release date would continuously be pushed further and further away. Got sick and tired of that. And the Pat Walsh was always on back order. With my departure date looming, I wanted at least some protection and so I settled with the P.O.S. SWMotech. I should demand my money back! My personal choice between Amotostuff and Pat Walsh....Pat Walsh hands down. Its belly protection is hands down the best and as a plus you can add some highway pegs. Its not the best looking add-on but it offers the best protection out there. Plus it is has both skidplate and crashbars built into one solid unit.
The Mexican road that plastered a grin on my face for days afterward was Carretera 195, straight south out of Villahermosa and takes you close to San Cristobal. It climbs over several mountain ranges and has amazing, quick s-turns that are very well banked, nice hairpins, and runs through a small but beautiful canyon with a rushing river to boot! This road should be in the top 10 best rides in the world, hands down. I have yet to find any paved road in The States that could hold a candle to this one.
One other thing I forgot to mention last time. I good thing to add to any Strom is a forkbrace. A definite must.
Well gotta go, still need to do some prep work for tomorrows ride to Copan Ruinas, Honduras.
There's a guy in Belgium that has developed some really good GPS mounts and other accessories. he does one for the V-strom too now. www.migsel.com I use one of his GPS mounts on my BMW GS and it's a great bit of kit. Worth checking out if you are looking for a good GPS solution on the V-S.
120,000 miles and zero problems! Just goes to show how well built these bikes are. Can't wait to get mine over 100,000 miles, but I have a long way to go and I know I will enjoy every minute of getting it there.
Right now, I am in Panama City and about to ship out to Columbia. So far in the trip, I have had one hard lowside off at 30 mph. A long story short, fresh oil in a hairpin from a truck down the road that blow a gasket or the like. The bike faired well enough considering the plastic fairing. Before picking "Lobo Rojo" up, I was anticipating atleast a cracked fairing and worst a shattered one. To my suprise, it was completely intact and fewer scratches than I would have thought. What ever they make the fairing out of is pretty freakishly tough. Though I must add, the crashbars did take a lot of the impact.
She has her battle scars, and still running like a young stallion. Did have to get the gearshift lever repaired, crashbars bent back and new turn signals ($6/pair for generics). The team of welders, yes team of 4, worked for 4 hours on my gearshifter(riveted a steel L-Bracket to original aluminum arm coming from engine case) and unmounting, rebending and remounting (20+ times) my crashbars and they only charged $10! That wouldn't even get me 10 minutes with ONE welder back in the states. When they were done, I bought the welders a round of cervasas as a thanks for a job well done. So in the end, it cost me $21 for all! Not bad at all.
Still must say, "Lobo Rojo" is holding up quite well after all the things I have put her though. GOD, I LOVE THIS BIKE!
The point behind this post is that the plastic, yes there is a lot of it, can take a beating and come out in one piece after a very hard off.
Well guys, gotta get her to the airport, Colombia here I come!
My faithful bike that has given good service and a lot of fun over the past 4 years is a CBR1100XX, not the ideal long distance tourer but a lot of fun all the same. It will be a few years before I get back to RCMP territory. Although they were very patient with me when we last met in Saskatoon.
I thought I'd jump in on the DL1000 conversation. In Sept. 2006 I traded my KLR in for a DL1000 V-Strom. While I thoroughly liked the KLR I found myself commuting about 200 miles a week by bike. One particularly windy day after a 50-mile drive back from work I got off the KLR with numb feet and hands. The KLR, while a tractor on back roads in Mexico, gets these micro-vibrations at highway speeds (enough to crack the seams of the alum boxes). I'd ridden a buddy's DL650 "Wee-Strom" and it was both more comfortable and had way better pick-up on the highway. Though a bit heavier and smaller than the KLR it was a nice ride. So, after that I had my eye out for a used Wee-Strom. A DL1000 turned up at the dealer down the street and I jumped on it even though the 650 is what I really wanted.
So, I know, this is an overlander forum, not about street riding...but I've been putting the DL1000 to the test slowly by taking short trips in all sorts of terrain with different types of loads. I'm not going to get into the "this-bike-is-better-than-that-bike" thing, but here are some of my observations so far:
Two up in Texas (back roads): My GF and I took an overnight camping trip just to test it out loaded. We road on street and well-graded dirt roads around Central Texas fully loaded. The bike handled great on the dirt roads two up. It seems more "solid" than the KLR did two up on dirt roads. And, Jeannette is more comfortable than on the KLR. So, I think it makes a great two-up bike on dirt county roads if you just ride slow and steady.
200 Miles of Texas Back Roads: I rode about 200 miles of a 370 mile, fast-paced Thanksgiving ride alongside KTMs, DRs, KLRs, and XRs (dropped out to get home before dark...deer, you know). This was the first time I'd had the V-Strom on anything worse than a well-graded road. It handled well in sand, water crossings, and rocky twin track (not loaded up though). Again, slow and steady. Several others laid over and a GS took a tank-busting spill in a river crossing, but the DL, once I got the hang of it, drove on through. The other guys were making fun of my "street bike," but mine was the only bike over 650 cc to last as long as I did (three GSs dropped out [one broke] and a Uly dropped and dropped out too).
Bad, Really Bad, 4x4-only back roads: I took the Beast (as I've taken to calling it) out to Big Bend National Park fully loaded (pics below) to see how it handled on really bad roads. I plowed through over 50 miles of roads a guy on an Africa Twin told me not to take (he'd dropped 3x). Again, slow and steady, but it was work. First gear it too tall I found on the places I wanted some more torque, like up rocky hills, but that should be an easy front sprocket switch to fix.
The next day it rained and what was soft sand testing me one day was slick mud the next. The beast made it out from my camp site to pavement (6 miles), but it was like work. I have a knobby front, so that saved me I think.
The Beast loaded for bear coming out of the mud hole they call Old Ore Road.
For street comfort I think it needs handlebar extenders (I'm 6' tall). It certainly needs a better bash plate. One that covers the oil cooler would be nice, as my cooler caked up with mud being directly behind the front tire. Acerbis guards or something similar are needed too to save the levers in a lay over. That's all the mods I plan so far. The Givi side bags came on it, so I'm keeping them 'till they drop off.
So, after 5 months that's what I've put the Beast through and she handles well so far. Heavier than the KLR, of course, but for two up it handles well.
Next test, a two-up ride from TX to CO for the July HU meet up. I've found a bunch of Nat'l. Forest roads from New Mexico to the Silverton area we're planning to ride on the way in.
The new bike now has over 5000km on the clock. One trip to the Hu Meeting covered around 3400km door to door. Now I feel that I can comment on a few things.
Nice and light to flick around, enough to scrape the pegs on mountain roads.
Comfortable riding position
Good tyre wear considering
Ease of riding on dirt roads
Staintune pipes give off a very pleasant sound
More than enough grunt to blow away an XJR1300
Not enough to leave an FJR1300 behind
Ease of dialing in the front and rear suspension settings
Obvious sprocket mis-alignment problem
Despite a Madstad bracket the buffeting problem is still there, all be it in a minor way. And it now looks like the screen is from another brand of bike.
Crazy place for an oil cooler. (sustained minor stone damage)
Centre stand leaning clearance RS
Big learning curve for me considering that this bike replaced a CBR1100XX. After it was run in and I could start to use the extra 2000 - 3000 rpm top end I found about 20 more ponies. A good all round machine that once set up correctly will make a good adventure bike for future travels.
What makes you think its mis-aligned? Is it noisey? Wearing strangley?
On most Vstrom's the chain adjustment marks are quite accurate. Have you been able to correct it? Sometimes adding a spacer either to the countershaft or rear hub can correct misalignment. Make sure its' out of line before you do this.
The chain lube indicates that the sprocket runs over to one side rubbing the inside of link end plates
Now that's poor, Suzuki should have been able to get it right after 5 odd years of production. Can't be good for chain and sprocket wear! Need to visit a friends lathe and turn down one axle spacer and make a thicker one for the other side.
Patrick I searched the Stromtrooper site and found this Learn from the Master... - Stromtrooper.com
Looks like others have noticed the problem as well, it's about 2mm out of alignment. There is someone selling modified spacers, while others just machine 2mm off one side then add a 2mm washer on the other side.
After reading all your great reports about the V-Strom, I just want to chime in. At the end of last year, I picked up a 2003 Yellow DL1000 with 3,000 miles for $4,500. No chudder and runs smooth as glass. I've only had a chance to put on 1,500 miles (long winter here in NJ) on it but I LOVE IT. It is one awesome bike.
If you see a yellow V-Strom comin' at you this year....wave
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