Off-Road Advice for a Wee - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 7 Old 11-03-2008, 07:51 AM Thread Starter
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Off-Road Advice for a Wee

I'm looking for advice for setting up my Wee-Strom for some off-road next season.

I'd like to give the ADAR a try in spring (assuming there is one), and to head out to the Ganaraska Forrest a few times, but to do it I need to make some mods to my bike and possibly my gear, so I'd love to hear from anyone who has already done this. I expect to be 70/30 onroad/offroad, perhaps even 80/20 and intend to be doing some pretty long road rides too, but I'd like ot hear from anyone riding a strom off road to help me figure out what to do here !!

Wheels & Tires:
New wheels or just new tires? What about that front mudguard, it looks a little close to the wheel for knobby tires.

Which wheels?
Which tires?
Where from?

Skidplate & Crash Guards:
SWMototech/Suzuki bars look as though they protect less of the bike than any other, they are a little low.
Givi Crashbars look to cover a bit more but I ahve heard that they may vibrate or break.
Hepco&Becker look to be the better option here, but I'd really like to know what people are actually using if they take their bikes off-road

Leaning toward the H&B's

SWMototech skid plate looks good, but possibly a bit weak?
ADVMotostuff Skid Plate, anyone using this?

Gear:
Was thinking of Sidi Discovery, but I have no idea how good these are for someone who is mostly on-road. Perhaps I should get 2 pairs of boots, one for onroad and another for the dirt!

What are you guys using, boots, jackets, pants.

Thanks,

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post #2 of 7 Old 11-03-2008, 10:12 AM
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Engine Guards / Crash Bars

I've got SW Motech, they're made for each other and fit nicely. Beware of mixing brands. Some people have vibration issues with the GIVI crash bars.

Tires / Wheels

Metzeler Tourance, Rear; Continental TKC80, Front, they'll each wear out at about 10,000 miles. This is a good combo for me on dirt and gravel ROADS. If by "offroad" you mean singletrack or less I'd put a TKC80 on the rear. You can get wire wheels but I think you may find that unless you are into really rough stuff where a street bike has no business you'll be okay with stock.

Gear

I've got Olympia Airglide Pants (with suspenders) and Olympia Bushwacher Jacket, both with thermal raingtight liners, plus I've got a set of cheap ($20) Stears raingear from WalMart for when it's wet and warm.

Unmentioned

Rox Risers, get a set, makes it a lot more comfortable for when you need to be up on the pegs. They're multi-adjutable I loves 'em.

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post #3 of 7 Old 11-03-2008, 11:43 AM Thread Starter
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Good point on the Rox Risers. Which did you get, Pivoting or Block. How much extension and were stock cable lengths/wiring long enough?

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post #4 of 7 Old 11-03-2008, 12:38 PM
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Talking

I have been adding things to my bike as the months/years go by. I've been doing more and more forest riding (2 track forest) and always ride on gravel/dirt roads. My wife and I did the Trans Labrador Highway on our Wees (1300 km gravel) this year and the TKC's were the best upgrade. We have the manditory sump/engine/bar/radiator guards
With these tires the bike is totaly transformed from a wimpy "Death Wing" equiped streetish bike to a competant dirt road/trail bike.
Tires are the first change. Followed by a sump guard and engine guards. I would change the pegs,bars and hand guards to motocross type next.
Do you work on the forks next then the rear shock? Depends on how far you want to go. I just changed the fork oil to something with a bit more quality. And that made a noticable differance. I feel comfortable with the bike at 160 kph on dirt concessions (don't tell the coppers!).
I love the bike more and more each year and am very happy with the dirt road capabilities of it. Next year may bring a trip up to Prudhoe Bay. Just my $0.02 worth.

DL 650 '05
Dl 650 '07 (Wifes)
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post #5 of 7 Old 11-03-2008, 03:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twistedpear View Post
Good point on the Rox Risers. Which did you get, Pivoting or Block. How much extension and were stock cable lengths/wiring long enough?
I got the Pivoting risers.

My bike has ABS and required a longer brake line.

The risers also work better for me when seated as well.

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DL650A K7 (Greywolf Moto Lab's R&D test mule) June 1, 2012 - present
DL650A K7 April 23, 2007 - January 6, 2012, RIP

"Look here brother, who you jivin' with that cosmik debris?" Frank Zappa, 1975
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post #6 of 7 Old 11-04-2008, 02:54 AM
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Advice from an expatriate expert.

No, not me.

Please visit the Florida section and communicate with Jet Jaguar. He has his Wee-Strom set up for various off-road situations, and has given off-road novices like myself lots of assistance.

Furthermore, he hails from Southwestern Ontario, so he knows the sort of sandy trails that abound in Ontario, and can therefore give you very specific suggestions concerning protection of the bike and tires and inflation.

I have only one little suggestion, and it's realcheap. Get a tin can just a bit wider than your DL650's oil filter, cut it to be just a bit longer than the filter, and use a magnet on the end of the oil filter itself to hold the can aboard. My tin can has protected my oil filter against being pierced by road debris, and has stayed aboard from GTA to NL and back, up and down the Atlantic seaboard, and around at least two Great Lakes. You can read the history of tmcgee in New England to learn why I installed the tin can.

Good luck!
Keith
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post #7 of 7 Old 11-05-2008, 01:27 PM
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As Keith mentions, I've set up my bike specifically for dirt (well, sand, really) and I'm originally from Windsor (though I live in Florida now).



I've done more modifications than most would be willing to do, but this is what I would consider the basics for prepping the bike for dirt:

Wheels and Tires

TKC80's are the way to go. I would definitely put it on at least the front, but I would do both. TKC's are much better in dirt than other, more street-oriented dual sport tires, it's like night and day. I won't run anything else. They also are pretty good on road and even work well in the rain, much better than you would think. But as with anything, there are trade-offs. To make them work so well on road they are made from a very soft rubber, so the main downside is that they don't last long. I get about 4k miles out of a rear, twice that for a front.

The stock fender has no trouble clearing the TKC's knobs, but if you ride in mud the front wheel will pack up fairly easily. There is a member on this site that sells a mount that allows you to replace the stock fender with an aftermarket dirt fender mounted to the lower triple clamp. I haven't done that mod (yet), but it requires rerouting the brake line that runs across the top of the fender. Stainless steel lines that run one line from the master cylinder to each caliper will solve that and give you better feel to boot.

Bring a small compressor so you can air down your tires. Airing down doesn't make much of a difference on hard packed dirt or gravel, so I wouldn't bother with those sorts of surfaces, just soft terrain like sand or mud. I have a Slime pump which I keep under the seat in the space behind the toolkit. I air down to 20 psi front, 25 rear. That helps the tires float through the soft stuff, and is about as low as you can go without risking loosing the bead if you hit something big. Use the compressor to bring pressures back up again when you reach a firm surface.

Wire wheels are not generally available for the V-Strom. There are a few bikes with them, but AFAIK they are all custom, one-off jobs. On the plus side, the stock rims are pretty strong. I know of a few riders that have bent rims, but you need a big impact to do it.

Protection, Motorcycle

Skidplate and crashbars are a must. I have the SW-Motech plate and bars. The skidplate is good enough (though I wish the mounting bolts on the bottom were countersunk), but the bars do not go up high enough to completely protect the plastics in a fall. They will save the important mechanical bits, like the radiator. I actually have a set of "beater" fairings off of crashed bikes that I've painted with bedliner that I install when I'm going to be riding in dirt. The tradeoff with the higher crashbars is serviceability. The SW-Motechs don't get in the way of removing the fairings, while taller bars can. The fairings themselves are actually fairly strong. They will get scratched in a fall, but it takes an awfully big impact to get them to break.

Another thing to consider is that the front turn signals will shatter like eggs the first time they hit the ground and are about US$45 each to replace. I would preemptively replace them with the signals from the Buell Ulysses, which are on flexible stalks and usually bend without breaking. Plus, you can buy a pair of them for less than one Suzuki signal. The rear signals are not as vulnerable. I've been down many times and was once even hit by an SUV and haven't broken one yet. I can point you to a how-to on installing the Buells if you're interested.

Last thing to think about is protecting the levers. I have handguards, but the ones I have are really for weather protection and not for protecting the levers. The best ones have a metal "spine" that wraps around to the bar ends. Acerbis is a popular brand, there are a few others. I actually carry a spare clutch lever and shifter (they're broken ones that are still good enough to serve as emergency spares). Touratech makes a folding shifter for the V-Strom that fits both bikes, but in the case of the DL650 it reverses the shift pattern.

BTW, I also have a mesh headlight grill from Touratech. You may want to protect the headlight, it's optional. I went with the Touratech grill because it's the only headlight guard I've found that bolts on, all the others attach with velcro. Here in Florida, it's been my experience that the heat of the sun tends to melt off accessories attached with velcro or double-sided tape, but that's less of a problem up north. Plus, I now have a way to cook onion rings while on the bike.

Protection, Rider

Good, protective boots are absolutely a must for dirt riding, almost on par with a helmet IMHO. It's real easy to break toes or roll an ankle, especially with a bike as heavy as a V-Strom. Disco's are popular compromise boot with the dual purpose crowd, but IMHO they are a bit lacking in protection. Personally, I wear MX boots whenever I plan on riding off-road, even if there are significant street miles while getting there. They take some getting used to and you do walk around like Frankenstein's Monster a bit, but it's better than ankle surgery.

I'm actually not a big fan of dual purpose gear in general. If I'm going to be riding in dirt, I'll wear my dirt gear. Besides the boots, that also includes an MX helmet and goggles, kneepads, padded cycling shorts, and a pressure suit (Acerbis Koerta) under an MX jersey. The only real crossover stuff I wear are Klim Dakar pants (abrasion resistant dirt-style pants) and Alpinestars SMX-2 gloves (MX-style, but built more like an armoured street glove). This setup is protective enough that I'm comfortable wearing it on the street.

I would recommend wearing goggles if you can because they keep dust out of your eyes much better than a face shield will. I also wear my dirt helmet on the street all the time (besides dirt riding, it's my summer commuter helmet). They catch a lot more wind than a street helmet so they are LOUD (wear earplugs). They can also be a bit turbulent at highway speeds, but taking off the peak helps.

Miscellaneous

If you think you're going to be standing up a lot (and you should be), bar risers and/or taller handlebars help. I see you already have risers, so I'd just make sure the reach is comfortable enough while standing. I actually still have the stock bars. I'd like some bars that are about an inch taller and a little less "flexy", but not enough that I'm going to do anything about it. For me, stock is close enough.

Also, metal cleat "offroad" style footpegs help with standing. The stock rubber pegs can get slippery when wet. I have a set of DR650 footpegs, which are a direct swap and were only like twenty bucks from the dealer. Any pegs designed to fit the DR650 or KLR650 should fit as the mounts are the same.

I would also get in the habit of travelling light and leave the luggage home if you can. The V-Strom is heavy enough, you don't want to be adding more weight than you have to.

I don't know how much dirt experience you have, but you should also learn some basic offroad riding techniques (I can give some pointers). Also learn how to lift the bike yourself. It's heavy, but there's a trick to it. Basically stand with your back to the seat, one hand on the handlebar and one on the grab rail, and lift with your legs.

Suspension

Up to this point sums up what I consider a basic, "Stage 1" dirt setup. You can stop here if you want. If you want to get more serious, then work on the suspension next. A plus is that these upgrades improve the bike on the street as much, if not more than, on dirt.

First thing I would recommend is a fork brace. A simple, easy to install mod that will help the front wheel track much more accurately. It gives the front a much more planted feel.

A steering damper is also a big help. It will help keep the bike tracking straight while riding through sand and ruts and such.

The front suspension needs work. New springs spec'd to your weight and matching fork oil are a big improvement. I have new springs but a lighter oil than normally recommended for street use (10W vs. the usual 15W) to get the lighter rebound damping you want for dirt. I then installed Racetech cartridge emulators with an extra turn or so on the adjustment spring to bring the compression damping back up. I find this to be a good compromise for street and frequent dirt riding.

The rear suspension in stock form really isn't that bad for what it is. I've got an Elka three-way shock on mine and it's a definite improvement, and I can dial it in to just what I want, but really the front needs work much more than the rear. Leave it for your last mod and only do it if you want that last 10% to make the bike as perfect as it can get.

- Jet Jaguar

It's not an adventure unless you need a tent, a passport, and a leather glove for your shooting hand.
'05 DL650
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