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Old 2 Oct 2010
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V Strom DL1000 CA to Panama and back

I rode 10k/mi on my '06 Strom and wanted to report my experience.

The bike was majorly loaded with allot more shit than I needed. Side and top case, seat pack for cloths and tank bag. I had tent, sleeping bag and giant free dive fins tied on my side cases. My guess on weight would be near 1000 lb gross w/ me.

The bike was heavy but handled very nicely on pavement or hard pack dirt roads. Rode with 2 riding mates untill La Paz ( rider lost due to him not checking oil on his bike and blew motor in La Paz) and then my major break down in San Jose, C.R.

Took long dirt road, very rough in Baja to Sea of Cortez. This was a brutal, long sandy, rocky road. I had to either go super slow with landing gear down and ready, or very fast. I had 2 low speed spills in sand. Bike was too heavy for this road.

Started having charging issues in GUAT. battery was drained. Suspected R.R. but could not pinpoint. Was dogged with electrical issues and was recharging battery as needed. In HONDO capital Tegucigalpa had major break down. Battery dead again and w/ overnight charge could not get started. About 2pm decided to un plug Power Commander after numerous Taxi ride and getting a Suzuki tech to look at the bike where I had to leave it. Bike started and came to life. Suzuki tech no help. These giant bikes are a marvel for these folks.

Back on the road with a large battery charger I bought in Tegucigalpa. Nightly charging untill I made it to San Jose where a BMW rider I had met came and took me to the largest Suzuki shop in C.R.

Guy's at Suzuki shop initially said the charging system checked out. I insisted they look further where they pulled the rotor / stator cover and found one of the magnets had come un-bonded from the rotor wiping out the stator with bits of magnet floating around. Repair time estimate was 1 MONTH while new parts were shipped from Japan. I thought I could speed things up by ordering parts from U.S.

After languishing for 3 weeks waiting for parts from U.S. the Suzuki GM tells me he revived the 2 shipments and BOTH the rotor and stator are the wrong parts! My U.S. mechanic got the wrong rotor and the stator from regulatorrectifier.com was also wrong.

Suzuki GM found a rotor in GUAT and they ended up re winding the stator. Back on the raod after 5 WEEKS with advise that the stator may not last.

Still with my battery charger I continued nightly charging and noticed battery taking charge at night on some days and others not taking on too much charge.

Long dirt road, 171 mi. in Honduras, way the hell out there working my way to the Atlantic side. Bike stopped working and sounded like I had blown a plug out of 1 cylinder. After 2 hour repair on dirt road with curious on lookers and one guy who stopped to watch / help I discovered that one of the throttle body boots had blown off of the trailing cylinder. I was bummed to find that Suzuki had a smooth surface on the rubber / aluminum surfaces w/ no groove or mating machined surface. Only a clamp holding it on the throttle body and air cleaner box. BAD DESIGN!!!! The bumpy dirt roads vibrated the T.B. off the boot. None the less, glad to have made the repair and back on the road.

Another dirt road in Belize the same thing happened with the T.B. coming off boot. Only advantage, I fixed in 20 minutes w/o pulling tank.

Guadalajara Mexico my charging system completely dies taking the battery with it. New bike battery brings everything back to life. Not wanting to be stuck for another 3 weeks OR MORE waiting for new stator I decide to buy a large Deep Cycle battery and wired it parel and secured in my top case.

Running hard back to the border (3 days) with very deep charging on the battery charger I carried I made it back ON BATTERY POWER! Stator replaced in U.S. and bike is sound again.

The stator / rotor issue is a 1 in 1,000,000 shot.

The T.B. coming loose is a design defect from Suzuki. No excuse to have not machined some mating surfaces in these components. The smooth rubber boots against the smooth T.B. is just plane wrong.

Would I take a V Strom on this kind of trip again?
Probably not.

Although it navigated the dirt roads it was very cumbersome and shook / vibrated allot. I wish I had coughed up the money for a GS that I was looking at before I bought the Strom. My luck was bad all around with the Rotor going down.

Overall I LOVED my adventure! Even though I ended up riding the majority solo I went places FEW white men have gone and saw so many beautiful and amazing places. The giant free dive fins came in handy in many places. I had no fear and NEVER had any dangerous events that I was aware of, except the animals in the roads.

V STROM OK FOR PAVED ROADS NOT AN ADVENTURE BIKE !!!!!

I'm pretty sure the magnet broke loose from the rotor on the sand road in Baja.

Last edited by robopie; 3 Oct 2010 at 01:37.
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Old 2 Oct 2010
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Nice compressed RR, thanks Robopie.
I have a personal interest in 1000 V-Strom since I just bought a new one this past April.
You had me stumped first with "HONDO capital Taligulapia " (sic).At first I thought you might be referring to some small obscure municipal seat
Then it dawned on me you meant TEGUCIGALPA - the national capital.
The rear cylinder intake rubber blowing off seems to be a common complaint, I was told. I actually experienced that myself last August on my visit to the Indy MotoGP as I was idling down the street past the Speedway. POP and SNORRRRRT !.An easy enough fix, and I really cranked down the retaining strap.
Parking on the Speedway backstraight another identical VStrom stops beside me and we get to talking. I tell him about the intake and he right away sez- you were idling along at about 2500rpm in a low gear and it back-fired?
Amazing diagnostic power, I thought. Then he explains that it is a common event on the DL 1000, due to an idle speed lean mixture setup in the FI computer program, to pass emissions regs.
Sure enough I noticed frequent muffled backpops at that speed/rpm combo. Solution was simply to keep it in a gear/rev range to work around that.
The rider said his solution was to install a Powercommander which also fixes the problem at higher cost.
How about it DL 1000 riders - is this such a common event?
As for the DL being only a pavement and well groomed gravel road bike, that is not a problem for me , no way would I want to take it onto dirt trails and rock jumping. I dont' want to hurt myself or the bike$$$$ So far I like it, makes nice sounds and goes awful fast in a hurry.This year I have seen 200km/h on the speedo surprisingly often.
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Old 2 Oct 2010
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Good report.

Hi Robopie.
That was a really good summary of your trip, I enjoyed reading it.
A cheaper fix to curing the lean fuel mixture/backfiring/throttle body popping off is to have te bike set up on a "Yoshi box".
Most Suzuki dealers use these box's in the workshop, this should only take a few mins and works really well if done properly.
I havent seen many DL1000's with a faulty charging system, looks like you really were unlucky with that one.
Would you consider using a DL650 for the same trip?
Much lighter and easier to manage on the dirt.
Take care.
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Old 2 Oct 2010
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I didn't like the low speed characteristics of the bike .
So I changed the gearing ,one tooth smaller on the countershaft sprocket and 4 teeth more on the rear wheel .

It transformed the bike , now sixth gear is so much more usable and first gear allows you to travel at something near to a walking pace .
I probably overdid it on the rear end and two more teeth than standard would have been better for most people.

Anyway the mods to the gearing meant that I was able to run at higher rpm in the lower gears and avoid the snatchiness that you experience at lower revs in "the lean zone".
Which maybe explains why I haven't had the throttle body rubbers blow off .
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Old 2 Oct 2010
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Nice story. I think you'll find the breakdown/repair rate on GSs is much higher then the V-Strom. They have way more electrical issues, to say nothing of gearbox/shaft drive problems.

Cheers bloke

Nigel in NZ
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Old 3 Oct 2010
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I think you were unlucky with the stator problem, I covered many thousands of miles of corrugations on the 650 and never had an issue.

As for the throttle body boot coming off, I guess a lip would have been handy, but I am thinking that it is better to have that actually come loose, than to rip or tear a hole in it?

Anyway, I still reckon the Suzuki is better than beemers, the number of failures I saw while on the road of those bikes sure made me smile, with a half priced bike under me

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