Thanks for a good report. From other reports I've read, the 2012 pulls better than the older models which is a big plus. To be able to climb Port Stephens Cutting in third really puts the report in perspective. That piece of road is a terrific legacy of times gone bye and as a road, I would say is the most spectacular I've ridden. A spirited run from the top to the bottom is much like a ride in a theme park and the drop down really puts butterflies on the stomach. If the Staintune can change the bike that much they are on a winner.
Talking of exhausts, when I first purchased the Strom (650) and seeing posts on u-tube, I removed the polished end of the exhaust and cut of approx. 25mm from the exposed peashooter, leaving a stub of around 15-20 mm. Over time my exhaust has naturally deepened in sound and now gives a very pleasing deep, chesty note, not overly noisy. Performance, no noticeable change.