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I would keep after various shops until you find someone to help you learn basic maintenance. Got to be someone to help out ... maybe they could put you to work?
On the Vstrom the most you're ever going to have to do is to change tires and change oil/filter. Really, they need very little else ... unless you crash. Still, best to educate yourself about your bike and how basic systems function. You should learn to take off all the body work and put it back on. Pieces come off in a specific order, if you follow this you can strip the bike in ten minutes. (this includes the tank) If you do it wrong you'll break plastic and waste time. Get it right. It's easy.
Your very lucky you've chosen the Vstrom. Great bike. Do you have the DL1000 or DL650?
Both are basic and very simple to maintain. Main weakness as an ADV bike is ground clearance. They have NO mechanical issues. Just nothing to worry about. The F.I. is flawless and should need no attention. The motor is stellar ... easily a 1/4 million mile motor. Trans and electrics all good, suspension could be up graded but you can get by with standard items.
Wheels are tough as nails, so off road is no problem ... within reason. This is no dirt bike but quite capable off road.
Get a Pat Walsh bash plate. Also, fit hand guards. Guards will save your hands ... AND bars, levers and master cylinders. (brake and clutch) in a tip over. Very useful. The bash plate will save your cases going over rocks.
No one will believe this ... but the Vstrom is actually a NO MAINTENANCE bike. Seriously. Very little needs doing. Even if you never changed oil, The Vstrom wouldn't care. But of course you should change oil ... but only about every 6000 miles, filter every other oil change.
My two Vstroms (DL1000's), never needed valve clearance adjustments. So set valve clearances to middle of spec (they come on the tight side) and forget them. They will stay in spec for over 50,000 miles ... or forever. I did over 70,000 miles on my '02, only 15K on my '07. Now both sold. I just wanted something different. The '02 valves never moved in 70K.
I took my '02 Strom all through Baja and mainland Mexico. 4 different trips. One into Cent. America. My bike never missed a beat in the 6 years I had it. Hard use and abuse, lots of steady 100+ mph running. (Hard on tires .... but good crossing Nevada or Texas)
You're biggest concern traveling will be tires. But more and more, your sizes are readily available throughout S. America in most countries. I would use TKC80 knobblys for all the Andean countries. This will allow you to go to more rugged interior areas. TKC tires totally transform the Vstrom, making it safe on dirt roads, mud and rocky tracks. Go slow over bumps and dips to avoid banging down.
Resist the urge to overload your bike, even though the Vstrom can be packed up like a Mule. Don't do it. I never camp in Cent. America and very little in S. America. Motels are cheap, safer, easier and much more fun. Treat yourself. Camping takes a big chunk out of your riding day. Setting up/tearing down all take time. Cooking makes no sense, food everywhere locally.
You will need to carry a spare Air Filter ... at least on the DL1000. It's a paper and gets dirty quickly. I tapped mine out a couple times (never use water) and used a air hose to extend its life. But after 15,000 miles it needed changing, so bring a spare one. Some cars uses same paper filter ... find out which.
What the Vstrom needs before setting off:
1. New Battery - Get one from Suzuki - make sure its a sealed MF type
and is properly charged from new. (many numbnuts screw this up) Should last three years even if you run it dead a few times. It will come back to life. Healthy battery is KEY to keeping the Vstrom F.I. systems happy. Luckily its a Suzuki, not a BMW and electrics actually work. Setting off with a used battery is an amateur's mistake. Don't do it.
2. New Chain and Sprockets.
Only one chain to buy: DID 525 VM-2 X-ring, using Rivet link. Use a lesser chain at your peril.
Use OEM Suzuki sprockets. BEST. Cheapest. Carry a spare OEM countershaft Sprocket with you. This set up will take you 25,000 miles easily. I know, I did it. Twice. (Change to new front sprocket at 12K miles)
Keep the chain as clean as you can, but only lightly oiled. No sticky chain lube shit. Ruins chains. Use 90 wt. gear oil. Cheap, available worldwide, cleans up easily. Wipe off daily. Don't oil chain for off road riding.
I'd bring a spare rear, depending on where you start. New front should last 10,000 miles. Tourance, IMHO, is the best road tire ... longest lasting. Conti TKC80's are fantastic, last long, even work OK on pavement. Both of these are expensive but IMO are the two best ones for travel. On the road, get whatever you can find that fits. Mixing tires on the Vstrom is no problem, it does not mind.
Good luck and have fun with your planning and getting some training. It might be worth it to HIRE a Vstrom expert to walk you through your bike.
General knowledge is good, but specific "How To" demos are best.
Congratulations on the bike selection and the impending trip. A bit of maintenance backgrounder will indeed be useful for any rider going on any trip of distance, if for no other reason than to give you some general items to watch out for before you depart.
If you don't manage to fit in a course of get a lowdown from a current Vstrom owner, a very useful and comforting item to bring along on your trip is a copy of the repair manual. The one from Haynes is pretty user friendly and it will take you through everything from simple maintanence to more complex repairs in a step by step fashion with pictures to boot. If you are carrying a laptop and want a soft copy of the manual as opposed to the hard copy, drop me a pm and I can forward to you. Hands on experience is best, but as a fall back position it's not a bad thing to have access to refresh your memory.
In regards to specific mechanical issues for the Vstrom, the website previously mentioned by another poster is an excellent resource and will provide you with some of the problems that many different riders have encountered over the years so if you have the time to read through it, you will be familiarized with symptoms of various issues and hopefully this latent knowledge will assist you in diagnosing things as quickly as possible if should something go wrong.
As stated in previous posts, these bikes are very well built and have a loyal, almost cult like following among many. This is not only unique to this make/model but to most bikes and hence great care should be taken when receiving advice from the converted. They are typically well meaning, but sometimes their emotions can overwhelm them in their glowing praise of the bike, which tends to over emphasize the positives and gloss over the negatives.
I rode a DL down the east coast of Africa and up the west coast to Nigeria so have a fond admiration for the bike. Having said that, it has many positive characteristics, but also a some weaknesses, and of course it requires regular maintenance, as does every bike in varying degrees. Claiming otherwise would be ridiculous.
In regards to main areas to be aware related to the design of the bike, low clearance and an abundance of plastic in the front end have to be planned around. Your bash plate will take quite a beating due to the low clearance of the bike. Depends of how much on road and off road riding you are planning, but both the rocks and the speed bumps will lead to plenty of contact with your skid plate. I wouldn't recommend any of the thinner ones, such as the Pat Walsh, they just wont last the multiple bendings. I have a PW at home I could give you, but I would strongly recommend one designed in a similar fashion such as the one from amotostuff. The plate is thicker and can withstand much more punishment. The biggest drawback of this design was the rear bolts which protruded on the bottom and they would be mashed by rocks and pull/bend the skidplate back. The most recent version now has the bolts on the side so this should be reduced. I have the old version.
To protect the plastic, a great set of crash bars are required and the Hepco and Becker ones do a great job if you tip over at a gas station or dump it off road. There are many others to pick from as well.
You didn't mention it, but in regards to tires I used to ride a Tourance and carry a TKC80 and swap for long sections of dirt if for example you were intending on riding Ruta 40. The TKC is certainly a great tire performance wise, but I didn't find that it lasted long enough on highway so always just solved the problem by carrying a spare rear. Some of the riders here recommended the Heindenau K60 as a potential solution as it is a knobbie tire that is also very long lasting on pavement. I could only find a 140/17 (the 150/17 were out of production for a bit) so I put that on and would recommend it as another potential approach. It was fine on highway, and maybe a little less performance than a TKC80 offhighway, but with a fully loaded touring bike, it would be hard to discern any difference.
In any event, most things are only a matter of personal preference. If you have any specific questions, feel free to pm me anytime. Have fun planning
First, jump on this forum V-Strom Riders International - Index They have chapters all over the world. So, If you're stuck in America, someone from the local chapter should be able to help.
The moderators are a fountain of knowledge on the Wee and the Vee, and they are very friendly and down to earth people.
Secondly, I'm In Watford (NW london), I have a Wee which I'm preparing for a trip in October, I'm happy for you to bring your wee and we can do some "on the job training" even if you just watch what I'm doing and ask questions.
Thirdly, If you join the London strommers crowd, we do some tech days, where people bring along any specialist tools they have, and people turn up to do jobs on their bikes that they are not comfortable doing on their own, so there is plenty of tools and knowledge around. not sure when is the next one, but I can find out for you if interested. We're gonig on a ride out on the 18th if you fancy joining and meeting the guys.
I may be changing my tyres (and the wheel bearings while I'm at it) this weekend, if you want to join, call or text on 07753-970514.
Finally, get the service manual and get your hands dirty (best and quickest way to learn), and believe me, it's much easier than it looks.
Hamster, I think Mickey D and the rest of the lads have said it well there already, so I'll just add one thing. Mickey D is right about clearance, it's a bitch, you'll be scraping the arse of your bike, well your skidplate (essential) on every bloody home-made speed bump along the way. And there is a lot. And of course on some of those off-road rides too. Anyway, you can get raising links online, easily found with a search, and pretty cheap, which will give you a little bit more clearance for the V-Strom. It will stand to you. Only wish I'd thought of them before setting off, now I've no chance of getting them shipped to Central America....
Anyway, enjoy, you'll have a blast!
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