Having just ridden my new Veek home a few hours ago here are my first impressions while they're still fresh in my mind. As background, I'm coming off an '09 Wee ABS with 40K miles that I've put on it. Also, since I actually wasn't expecting my bike to be ready for pick up, I had just done a two-hour ride on the Wee earlier in the day and much the same roads that I rode the DL1000 home on, so I had a fair amount of time on both bikes today for comparison.
Starting the bike up, the engine sound & character is much more pronounced and baritone, with lots of cam gear whine but none of the friendly familiar Singer sewing machine tap-tap-clickety-clak-clack of the DL650 that we've come to know and love. You can immediately tel there are some much bigger jugs thumping up and down. Blip the throttle and you get a nice deep audible response compared to the Wee.
The bike definitely feels light and gets lighter once it's moving. Steering is very light and in general this bike feels more like a dirtbike to me than the Wee does, if that makes sense.
Letting the clutch out in first, there's a bit of a chug-chug as the clutch transitions through the friction zone compared to the Wee but nothing major and as I got used to the engine and clutch this became less and less noticeable. Clutch action is as light as the Wee if not lighter. Gearing is noticeable taller and in general running about a full gear lower than what you'd be on the Wee is about right. City streets and 25MPH speed limits, 2nd gear is all you'll ever need. The engine is smooth, but you can also tell it's a bigger bore so there is some slight more "chugginess" to it only because it starts pulling from low RPM and it's tempting to just let it idle there when poking around at low speeds. In time as the engine breaks in and smooths out I expect it will become more Wee-like in smoothness at low RPM.
A couple of reviews mentioned jerky/snatchy throttle sensitivity at low speeds; I didn't notice any on city streets or parking lots. Taking a detour down a dirt road that winds through some hills, on an uphill segment covered with deep gravel, I did get some throttle snatch as I stood up on the pegs, but nothing that was a problem. I like a little snatch now and then. Low-speed manners I found to be very good thanks to the very light steering and narrow bike, coming to feet-up stops is a bit easier than on the Wee.
Speaking of standing on the pegs, the reviews are correct that the bike feels very slim between your legs when you are standing up. Ergos feel great, I had no problems easily standing up and I see no need for a peg lowering kit like on my Wee (I'm 6'1" with 32-inch inseam, with 52-year old knees that have seen much better days). Going through deep gravel, I sat down to see how the bike composed itself and there was less wallowing than my Wee on a similar section earlier in the day. This is a fun bike to ride on dirt and gravel, at least I think so, and some ADV-type addons like a bash plate etc. are going to be called for. Pat Walsh where are you when I need you.
Brakes are quite good, I had no problems with the brakes on my Wee though, and I find both bikes easily to lightly modulate and trail brake going into turns. The rear brake was about the same as on my Wee, not a powerhouse but certainly enough to activate ABS when trying to. Overall, practicing a few emergency stops showed me this bike will come to a halt QUICKLY which is a great thing considering the way the power and speed sneak their way into the picture.
Ripping through the gears is just a total friggin' HOOT and I could care less about the upper RPM limit, with the throttle twisted into the Fun Zone things were happening too fast for me to dwell on the tach very much. I found power delivery to be consistent and linear, at no time did I feel like the engine hit a wall or 'ran out of breath'...just smooth consistent hard pulling and you run it through the gears playing in a powerband that covers a good percentage of the tach. By the time you've run through the gears and have time to look at the tach and the number on the speedo you're reminded of that tall gearing and OHMYGODIAMGOINGMUCHFASTERTHANONTHEWEE HOWDIDTHATHAPPEN! I was reminded of some favorite stump-pulling big-block cars from my youth; a '68 Buck Electra 225 with a 455-cube V-8, a '70 T-Bird with a 460, and my Aunt's '69 New Yorker with a Chrysler 440: each of those cars were great at just pushing you back into the seat foam and burying the radio knobs into the back seat upholstery, but none of them spin very high nor do they need to. This bike is very much like that, and after scrubbing the tires in a bit, hustling through some twisties I liked that I could just stick it in 3rd or fourth and run a nice smooth pace with lots of flexibility in the throttle.
What's kinda cool is that the cam gear whine at low RPM becomes kind of a faint whistle (hard to describe) at higher RPM's so as you are hustling through curves and accelerating out of turns it kind of sounds like a turbocharger whistle. Not annoying at all, and the kind of sound a true gear head would love.
I have never ridden with a slipper clutch before but I now see what the big deal is. Downshifting sometimes rapidly through the gears as you get ready for tight corner entries from high speed, there is no grabbing of the rear tire when you let the clutch out and although engine braking is present. I'm going to enjoy that part a lot, although with other things that make riding easier I hope it doesn't enable me to become lax in my ridecraft. The transmission is as smooth as they say, although I need to adjust the shifter pedal up a little bit since I have big boots, and after that it will be just fine.
Handling is good, a tad bit better than my Wee thanks to the bike being a bit more.. I hate to say "planted" since every reviewer has said that, but they're right...its just a bit more stable and composed. There were 15-25 MPH crosswinds on the higher-speed roads and freeway run that took me home and the bike was smooth and stable, during one big crosswind gust I got shoved sideways a few inches, that was it. My first ride home on the Wee after purchasing it was in similar conditions, but the crosswinds were pushing me all over the place and a fork brace went on ASAP and fixed most of that. No fork brace needed here, it feels like it already has one, thanks to the inverted forks and better setup.
Haven't touched suspension settings and don't think I really need to, but I will anyway since I go about 250 lbs. and need to properly make sure the suspension and sag are set properly. Might as well take advantage of the suspension adjustments that Suzuki gave us.
Windshield: My windshield doesn't seem to ratchet like the one I saw at the show, if I push it all the way forward it just keeps coming back to the lowest position. If I push it up a little way, it will stay at the next steepest angle, and if I push a little bit more (but not too much) it will stay at the steepest angle. The windscreen I played with on the bike at the IMS show truly "ratcheted" through the positions as you pressed fully forward. Might be a design change by Suzuki at the 11th. hour but I'm interested in how other owners find theirs to work.
As regards the windshield: I had no buffeting at all with the stock screen, which was in the tallest / full forward position; although I had a lot more air flowing around my helmet, it was all clean air. I run a tall MRA Vario touring screen on my Wee though, and I may get one for this bike if/when they become available just because I like them and I'd like to have very little wind hitting me in the eyes at speeds of 30MPH and lower - I wear contact lenses so my eyes are somewhat sensitive to wind and dust/dirt, with the stock screen there is wind blast in the face from fairly low speeds on up..
The seat is narrow but has deep, firm foam. The 57 miles rode home took about an hour and a half and I had no pain in my "sit" bones, other than in the first ten minutes and I'm not sure why, but I fidgeted and then everything was fine after that. My Veek came with the stock-height seat and the Wee has a Seat Concepts seat foam and cover mod, which is wider and more comfortable than the stock Wee for sure, this seat feels like it could be very comparable to the comfort of my modified Wee seat. One advantage of the narrower seat is that it's easier for us old guys to scoot over the required one-bun-width when setting up for hanging off slightly for an aggressive corner entry. The "grippy" covering on the seat didn't noticeably impede my ability to slide my buttocks around as needed.
OK, about The Beak:
I cannot see the beak at all when riding so I am completely over it. I even have an evil plan on doing something fun with the beak down the road, involving an oversize dental prosthetic and switchable "teeth".
Geez...what else....I'm really trying *not* to sound like a Kool-Aid salesman here but I'm stoked about everything I've experienced so far! One minor complaint, those damn grips are the usual skinny ones that are good for fine control when my Nicky Hayden alter ego comes out, but I like a more comfortable grip for my more usual ham-fisted style, so I'm going to go out in the garage now and put on the Grip Puppies I've been saving for this day.
Oh, in the complaints department - the horn: PATHETIC. As it always is with new Japanese bikes. A Stebel Nautilus isn't going to fit in the under-beak area where the stock horn is, and I have plans for that area, so a trip to Pick-A-Part is in order, I'm going to find a horn off a nice full-size Buick and go with that...
The Humongous Ignition Key (HIK): In a world where manufacturers are going with remote fobs, KIPASS and all that stuff, Suzuki has seen fit to arm us with the Mother of All Ignition Keys. I mean this thing is huge. Its a Samurai Ignition Key. I could easily do a good job carving up a Porterhouse with this thing.
For my fellow Stromtroopers waiting for yours, I'll tell you its worth the wait, you're gonna dig it! Best of luck getting on the road with yours soon!
EDIT/UPDATE: Just got back from a voluntary nighttime run to the store for SWMBO so I could check out the headlight output and much to my surprise and delight/relief it is VERY good. This was a pet peeve and major concern of mine when Suzuki decided to go with the Cycloptic Insane Cockatoo look for this bike and I was convinced the new headlight arrangement would SUCK, and I commute in the dark frequently. But the headlights light a very WIDE area of the road, surprisingly so, and really throw a lot of even light in front of you. Brights are good as well, and the bright/low beam toggle is built into the flash-to-pass trigger in front of the left handlebar controls, just flick it forward for brights and pull it back for low beam. If an Eastern Beaver headlight mod becomes available, good gawd I think you'd have to be Mr. Magooo to want anything better.