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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
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  #1  
Old 16 Apr 2008
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Did it with Vstrom650

Rode from Helsinki to Sydney with this bike, with my girlfriend sitting on the back, with a huge amount of luggage, and even a set of spare tyres on board. 6 months and 34.000 kms on the road, through 15 countries. The bike had done 16000, when we started, so its now done 50000 - and its one year old!!

Carried some spare parts with us, like wheel bearings and some critical electronic components, but never needed even one spare part. Of course you would expect an almost new bike not to break down, but I still think that´s quite impressive, because there was lots of very different kind of roads, different kind of weather, humidity, temperature etc. during our trip. The battery of the bike died strangely, when we were still in Europe, but I think it was just a faulty battery, and the replacement worked fine.

I was a bit sceptical before this trip, but now I am convinced that it is a lot tougher than it looks, and even its cast wheels can take a serious beating without significant damage. It needs a good bashplate under the engine, and some stiffer springs to the front&back suspension wouldnt be a bad idea, if being put under so much load as ours. As standard its ground clearance is too little.

Fuel consumption was very low (around 4.5-5L per 100km) considering how much load we had, and on good roads we were doing 120-130 kms per hour. The big 22L tank gets you a very good fuel range.

The engine is great, it can still pull strongly, even when the bike is practically overloaded. Even its handling wasnt totally screwed, and once you got used to riding with this load, it was still quite fun on the mountain roads (though you had to keep the weight in mind, of course).

We never planned to ride in the dark, but sometimes had to, and for that its got excellent headlights.

The ABS brakes worked as flawlessly as the rest of the bike, and especially with so much weight on board, they were a nice extra. Once a huge pig ran in front of us in India, and ABS probably saved the day, or even much more. Doesnt matter how good you are with your braking technique, when youre on a long trip, sometimes you just get caught out by the situation, and thats when ABS can really help you.

Couldnt have it serviced by an authorised Suzuki-dealer except in Europe and in Australia, the rest of the trip I just checked the airfilter and spark plugs every now and then, and changed oil+filter frequently (changed oil 10 times total I think!) Throttle body synchronization stayed ok the whole time, which is good because you need a laptop and software to sync them on this model.

Remains to be seen, if the new 2-cylinder BMW F650GS, or Transalp 700 will be able offer similar combination of comfort, reliability, fuel economy, and ability to carry a lot of weight and go far. Especially for the money, I think the DL will still be tough to beat.
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  #2  
Old 16 Apr 2008
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Thumbs up Now you turn around and ride back!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pecha72 View Post
for the money, I think the DL will still be tough to beat.

Pecha,
Congratulations! and that's a good report on your bike.

I've followed your various posts on here and your journey has certainly been a good test of the Wee strom.

You will know that it gets good write-ups nearly all of the time: at the price it is certainly a difficult act to compete with!

What happens next?

Safe travelling,
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  #3  
Old 16 Apr 2008
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+1

Sounds like you've really put the DL through it's paces!

Have you got a blog/diary online? I'd be interested to read it!

How did your partner like the rear seat? room, leg postion etc?
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  #4  
Old 16 Apr 2008
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What happens next is we wait for 6-7 weeks for the bike to return home by ship! Could´ve airlifted it, too, but spending something like 2500 US just to do that was too much right now (all travel and no work for half a year...)

Suzuki Australia helped us out by finding a DL650 factory crate, in which to put the bike for freighting, and they actually didnt let us do the crating but insisted they will do it. We already crated it twice before on the trip, so didnt really mind that we were able to skip the last time... I need to thank them for that!

Theres been some talk that my better half would get an own bike for herself (DR650 maybe, or something lighter than DL anyway) and she´d practice for some time, and then we would do round-the-world together, on 2 bikes. She used to have a bike before, so I think it would come back to her quickly. She would like to ride across Africa, and Ive done some trips in the southern parts of the continent in the past, so thats one place we would probably go to. Riding across Americas would also be a nice idea.. but at the moment, its way too early to even think about something like that...!

Oh, something I forgot to mention: We did the whole trip to Australia on one set of chain & sprockets, I put new ones (Suzuki original) on when we left. Now they are badly worn, but I was going to change them anyway, when the bike gets home. You dont really need a shaft drive - but of course I spent a lot of time lubricating&adjusting the chain, think they wouldnt have made it, if I´d been lazy with that.
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  #5  
Old 16 Apr 2008
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thanks for this great trip/bike report pecha72. i am saving money to get a bike and i was between second hand transalp 650 and dl650 wee. i've never ever heard or read something bad about dl and your report supports my previous investigations. i think i would go for for second hand 2006 low milage dl, preferable the black one if i could find.

first, i am planning to ride from Turkiye to Morocco through all Europa-Mediterranean coast. (my previous experience was from the UK to Turkiye)

and the question: do you think the dl can cope with piste and desert sand in Morocco with small mods like bashplate, etc? btw, most probably i'll ride solo and not with too much lagguage.
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  #6  
Old 17 Apr 2008
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stevesawol,

I only have a blog (sort of) in Finnish language, so unfortunately you probably cannot read much of it, and its lacking behind quite bad, too, because I needed to do some other more-work-like stuff on my laptop most of the time. But there are photos there. Its on a website of a mc-magazine:
w w w . moto1.fi/blog
If I will now have more time, which I hope I will, in a couple of months I could translate it, or parts of it to english. I was carrying a Canon 5D plus a smaller digital camera, and took about 6000 photos from our trip, so would be nice to be able to share them (ok maybe not all of them, because that might get boring!!) with other travellers. I will actually write a story from this trip into this same magazine where the ´blog´ is now, but that will also be in Finnish.

My partner Anne (165cm/50kg) could just fit nicely into the backseat of the DL. If she were any taller, we might´ve had a problem. There was a Suzuki 48L plastic bag as the top box, and Metal Mule 38L aluminium panniers on sides. Sometimes when starting off we had a little difficulty getting our feet to fit comfortably into the footpegs (she didnt have much space behind her legs because of the panniers.

BTW, the Metal Mules look brand new after the trip. There was a strange incident just last night in Sydney, when we were taking the bike to be crated the next morning, and found out it had tipped over the sidestand to the left, on level ground. It wasnt very windy at all, so still do not know how that is possible, maybe someone did that on purpose. It came to rest on the front tyre and left Mule, which didnt even get a scratch.

ozhanu,

Havent done any riding in the desert pistes, but that might be something that the DL is not the perfect choice for. It is relatively heavy and the 19 inch front wheel is definitely not the best for off-road. I guess you might be able to do it, if youre a real good rider, and dont have much luggage. But some lighter 1-cylinder bike could be much better. For that kind of riding, I would modify the DL´s suspension to get significantly more ground clearance.

But then its good to think, how much pistes and how much normal roads you´re going to do on your trip. Even if there were some sections on our trip, like in Pakistan and India, and later on in Sumatra, Indonesia, where I thought the DL was far from the perfect choice, 99% of the time it could handle the circumstances quite ok. Without the load we had, it wouldve been much easier to get along even on those worst parts.

About color, I got the 2007-model which is almost matt-black (I think the previous black was shiny) and I think this is by far the best colour I´ve seen on this model. Really makes it look like an adventure-bike!

About transalp 650 and dl650 wee, I´ve nothing against Honda, and in fact have owned several Africa Twins and they make great bikes. But the DL´s engine blows the Honda 650 away, even though theyre the same displacement, the Suzuki´s got so much more power, and its response to throttle is much slicker. Transalp is lazy compared to the DL, and especially if you load them both up with 2 people and stuff for their holiday, the difference will be even more obvious. Havent tried the new 700 version, that might be a different story.

Transalp is very reliable, too, and you can get older ones cheap 2nd hand. We actually met a couple of Aussies riding from the UK to Australia on two 650 Transalps, and they´d paid something in the region of 1000 pounds each for their bikes (they had UK plates). On a trip like this you risk losing your bike totally (very hard to find comprehensive insurance covering all countries) so it does make sense you havent invested a fortune on it. Would´ve hurt much more to lose a less-than-a-year old DL, but luckily that didnt happen.

Last edited by pecha72; 17 Apr 2008 at 07:36.
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  #7  
Old 17 Apr 2008
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So DL can be my second bike for tarmac use. I also didn't hear any bad commitment about it.

Ozhan, I guess you can go for it but front tyre is not "very" suitable for the pistes of Morocco. DL is more tarmac oriented bike. Anyhow if the pistes are not too long you can deal with it.
Does good men wear black Ozhan?
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  #8  
Old 17 Apr 2008
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hi all,

thanks for the advices and info. the reason why i am considering dl650 is long streching European motorways (autobahns). 2/3 of the whole trip (Turkiye to Morocco and back) will be in motorways and because i have time restriction i dont want to cruise 90-100 k/h. dl can handle 120-140k/h perfectly (i know speed kills). i have done UK to Turkiye with a single '97 make F650 and the power and speed was just not enough especially in France and Switzerland motorways.

i think the optimal solution would be to have the dl and not do too much sand and pistes. the only think related to sand+piste is, i would like to ride to erg chebbi. obviously, not climb the dunes by bike but go as near as i can.

and why black.... the signature of one of the HUBB'ers says something like: "black is the fastes and also look cool..

i'll wait for authumn, cause bike gets a bit cheaper in that season.

thanks again for the info!
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Last edited by ozhanu; 17 Apr 2008 at 21:33.
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Old 17 Apr 2008
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Hi, pecha72 . i just had a look at your blog , there are some great pictures there . i like the one of your girlfriend standing with some guys holding an AK 47 kalashnikov ! . i am planning a trip to egypt on my DL 650 so i am glad to hear that it can take some serious miles and road conditions and just keeps going .

Last edited by mr moto; 17 Apr 2008 at 10:59.
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  #10  
Old 17 Apr 2008
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If your going to ride mainly on motorways, there are better bikes than the DL for that. But for a 650 allrounder, it does a pretty good job even on the motorway, and compared to any 1-cylinder bike its just on a totally different level. If there is no luggage, you can cruise all day at 150 km/h, and still have a bit more in reserve AND the bike does not feel like its going to fly out of the road the next minute! Side winds do affect it a bit, though, but most bikes of this kind will be the same.

People who ride these on higher speeds often complain about buffeting (or is it called that, when you get a wind blast on your upper body, that you feel discomforting?) and seem to equip these with the biggest screens they can find, which make their bikes look just hilarious, and I wonder if they actually help, or create even more problems!

I went the other way, installed the Suzuki "sport screen" (which is black = cool, and so makes the bike go much faster!) Even kept it at the lowest position for the whole trip, and didnt feel bothered by wind at all. Sure there was some wind sometimes, but its part of motorcycling... and of course we rode most of the time in very warm climate, so maybe it would´ve been different, if the weather was very cold.

The AK-47 picture is from Baluchistan in Pakistan, we were stopped on a roadblock, and the friendly policemen agreed to come into a group photo with us (them giving the gun to Anne was a surprise!)
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  #11  
Old 20 Apr 2008
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Good Choice

Hi Pecha,
Good to read your story, I also have a 650 VStrom which I plan to ride from Saudi to the UK. Glad to see all went well which gives me more confidence for my ride home.
I have tried the bike in the sand at slow speed with the standard road tyres and it is not good, only good on hard packed sand.
Thanks for your write up.
Ian
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