6 hours on a weestrom (long review) - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 19 Old 04-09-2008, 03:02 AM Thread Starter
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6 hours on a weestrom (long review)

hi there.
i've always had oldskool modified 1980s suzuki GS bikes, and it's time for something more modern and trustworty.

I fell in love with the v-strom when i first saw it and wanted one ever since.
I took one out at a suzuki demo-ride for about 30 minutes, and was very dissapointed by it. don't flame me for this, but the bike felt like it had no power. it took me about 10 minutes to realise that my current bike (a bored out and ported 1183cc 4 cylinder) had much more torque and gave a much stiffer kick in the pants.
i hummed and hawed a lot since then and have set my sights on the 650 version (the wee) as i'd read good things about it, but i had a nagging question: if the 1000 seemed anemic, would the 650 be even close to powerful enough for me, even considering the cheaper insurance, better fuel economy and reputed better handling?

there was only one way to find out, and the nice folks at Cycle BC Rentals made it happen. i took a 2006 wee out on monday and spent a day on it.

what follows is my review. i know there are lots out there, but i believe i have a new point of view to add (i seem to be the only one to exceed the speed limit, maybe because i'm german)

when i came back from my ride they asked me how i liked it.
my short answer was: "i couldnt tell what gear i was in and the bike didnt seem to care, so i just stopped caring also. it's a fabulous bike but can you please give me the address of whoever designed that windscreen so i can go burn down their village"

so here is the complete review:

the weather:
temperatures were below 10 degrees celsius and the first part of the day was rainy. i got some sun and dry roads in the afternoon.

me:
i'm 5'7" and weigh 165lbs.

the bike: a 2006 vstrom (dl-650) with the windshield set at the lowest position and a givi topcase. the rubber was michelin anakees (wonderful tires)

my riding style: i'm used to older musclebikes, i corner conservatively, but like to rinse the engine out thoroughly in the straights. i have never ridden a faired bike before. my normal cruising speed is about 130 km/h. i ride until i hurt (the strom didnt hurt. as a matter of fact, 6 hours on it felt like 2 hours in a car)

the gear: frank thomas aqua boots, frank thomas ballistic riding pants, tecnik hurricane jacket, hjc-symax modular helmet (very noisy) and alpinestars gloves (i used my winter gloves and the smx-6 which give great feel but were too cold for the weather).

i started off in vancouver in the pouring rain and it took me a while to get used to the bike. i hadn't ridden anything in a whole year and cornered gingerly at first, hardly leaning the bike over (wet roads for one and my personal bike will gladly spin the rear tire no matter what gear you're in).

i played around in downtown traffic a bit to get used to the mirrors (i have crg barends on my bike). the mirrors are fantastic, they just show the top of my shoulders and it's easy to see behind me. vibration is minimal.

i quickly found a minor problem with one of the controls: the high-beam-pass trigger. i hold my clutch close in, so i'd keep hitting that thing whenever i used the clutch. when i found out about it, i was able to adapt easily.
speaking of clutch, that thing is feather-light compared to the barnet heavy duty i have in my bike. finding the friction point is easy and the lever action is so nice that i found myself using the clutch to shift more often than not (i only use my clutch to get started and to downshift on my bike).

since we're into levers, the brake lever is 6 way reach adjustable. very nice! my winter gloves are bulky and i set the lever to the 6 position after about 10 minutes. it's the shortest reach and i did it because i didnt want to lock up the front wheel by grabbing too much brake.

the bike was smooth as silk and very easy to drive, until 79 km/h. at exactly 80 km/h i was hit with buffeting i didn't know was possible. i feel that the windshield was just put on there to improve on the bike's looks rather than to serve any kind of purpose. i've never had a faired bike before and it sucked royally. normally, the wind washes the rain off helmet, and i can see, but with the fairing, no such luck. rain was actually flying upwards behind it and entering under my helmet at times. i made a note to get a madstadt bracket for my bike when i buy one. more windshield woes later...

that bike felt seriously powerful. eventually, i was forced to conclude that it wasn't anywhere near as powerful as mine, but it took me about 4 hours before i noticed that (as opposed to 10 minutes on the 1000). everythign on there feels like it just works together so well (except the windshield from hell).
before i knew it, i was pulling away from lights and reaching 100-120 km/h in no time (100 is reached in second, and comes really fast. this thing accelerates like a late 80's gsxr7850). neutral was always very easy to find, and i only had to re-clutch to get into first twice during my ride.

i took the highway to chilliwack to see how the biek would do there (the hwy, not chiliwack). once on the open road, i was enjoying the ride, but not the buffeting. whenever i glaced at the speedometer, i thought hit had to be off, it kept indicating between 150 and 180 km/h... i'm usually pretty consistent about riding 120-130, but this bike is so smooth that you don't feel like you're going that fast (either that or the speedo is off by 50 km/h).

a note on the wind noise (it's really my only major complaint). it'd be great if it occured at say 120km/h, that'd be a great "watch out, you're going too fast" warning system, but it happens at 80. i wasn't wearing earplugs then and the noise was atrocious. i normally wear plugs but decided not to so i could listen to everything. i wore them on the return trip and tehy improved the noise a lot, but the helmet shake was still there, but i guess not much more than on my naked bike when going the same speed. please note that i have a very noisy helmet.

i just kept on twisting that throttle, this bike goes plenty fast enough. i found that it topped out between 190 and 200 indicated. but the wind noise... (i am sure you're starting to understand i hated the windshield).

at one point i stood up to see where the stil air was. bad idea! do not stand up at 180 km/h, the biek slows down way fast and the wind sits you right back down. i guess that fairing does do something... i had no idea i was going 180 at the time (duh! i guess i shoulda looked)

minor bad point: the tripmeter controls are hard to use with thick gloves at high speeds. everythign else makes perfect sense.

i got off in chilliwack at #3 road and took a few turns (still gingerly at that point, i was keeping the cornering tests for my return trip). turning left at intersections was weird, especially if i had to wait for cars (i still had this fear of spinnign the rear tire which my bike will do at 2000rpm and the roads are still wet).
here's the weird thing: i couldn't find neutral. i was sure i was in 2nd gear but i was really in 3rd. i guess the engine braking is something we can get used to, but it's weird coming from a 4 cylinder.

about the transmission: i only ever knew what gear i was in for sure if i was in 1st or in 6th, anything in between doesnt seem to matter to the bike. i more than once found myself on the hwy in 4th thinking the rpms were a bit high and trying to upshift only to find out i had 2 more gears to go.
i seem to remember the bike cruises at 5000 or 5500rpm in 6th gear at 130 km/h (can someone correct that if i'm wrong?), and that's quite reasonable.
the bike is happiest between 5 and 7000 rpm. if the manual says to break it in below 4000, i feel sorry for whoever will have to ride it, because there ain't much of anything there, sure the bike works fine and makes enough torque, but its happier above 5k.

cornering was a major problem, here's why:
my bike is low to the ground and a real brute, if you go slow on it, you feel like you're going fast and when you go fast you damn well knwo you're going fast.
the weestrom is so blasted smooth that i found myself going into corners way too hot, i had to look at the speedometer, the engine noise wasnt telling me, and neither were any of my other senses. i took 4 laps around chilliwack mountain and found myself comign into corners at 130-140, which was too fast. thank goodness the brakes work extremely well in conjunction with those anakees (you can hear the tires working and braking is very progressive).

omg: here i am wanting a slower bike and i actually ride the weestrom faster than my 150hp musclebike.

the suspension: i don't knwo where it was set; i didnt care, it worked very well. tha bike was stable at any speed (has anyone ever ridden a klr650 above 120km/h and kept their underwear clean?). as an experiment (do not attempt!), i drove over some slightly raised railroad tracks at 180 km/h and took my hands off the bars just before hitting them. not any sign of any kind of remote intention of performing even the slightest wobble.

i did find that for the first time in my life, i had to lean into the wind noticeably, but hey, it's a tall bike...

back to that stupid windshield (because by now i'm heading back to vancouver on the highway). so far i had been riding straight up, now i tried leaning forward and tucking in behind it (sportbike style). buffeting gone, but i can't see through the blasted scratches on the damned thing (by now i have the sun in my face), so i slow down to a saner 130 (i had found a comfy and steady cruising speed of 170km/h).
tucking in behind the fairing works, but the handlebars are in the wrong position for this kind of work (i might install clubmans on my bike when i buy it, lol). the bars are too high and wide to tuck in behind the shield, argh!!!! i'm ready to rip the thing off and pay the damage deductible on the rental.

(continued...)
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post #2 of 19 Old 04-09-2008, 03:02 AM Thread Starter
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6 hours on a weestrom (long review part 2)

(continuation....)

finally back in coquitlam, and to roads i know liek the back of my hand (i teach driving around that area), i went up and down gatensbury (if you don't know it, its a very twisty hill with a 30 speed limit). i went up that hill at 80 km/h in the curves, 120 in the straights. i think i touched one peg when i had to tighten a line because of an oncoming cager. that biek corners really well.

i generally never use my rear brake, but i tried it on the strom and it works perfectly. it might be that i just will start using that brake, it does after all have a purpose. i took a few more wider twisties uphill on gaglardi to sfu at an easy 150 km/h, and again the bike performed beautifully. by now the roads were dry and i was completely used to the bike.

it's a very easy bike to ride, extremely predicatable and willing to do whatever you ask of it. you don't even have to say please.

oh i almost forgot, i tried some gravel roads. nothing to write home about, the road might as well have been paved, i didnt feel like i was driving on marbles or anyting.

getting off the thing was nothign like i'd experienced before. usually after a long ride, i feel like i got off a horse and need to regain my walking legs. not with the strom, that bike is seriously comfy.

i found one other minor irritant: the seat felt like it was 1" too low and a bit too narrow (i guess i'll be buying a dl-1000 seat), but that only became a minor irritant afer the 5th hour of riding. too bad, because i'm able to put both my feet on the ground with the stock seat, and i'll have to give that up, ill have to see if i can learn to live with it (remember, i hadn't ridden in a year).

after my ride, i wasnt tired, i wasnt hurting, and i was very happy.

is the weestrom bike enough for me? hell yes. do i need more? no. do i want more? well, i am a power junkie, and was going to keep my modified gs 1100 for the adrenaline rush, but i don't need it anymore, the weestrom satifies plenty.

ah, i almost forgot. i ran into a vee on the hwy. hello if it's anyone on here. i was going to pass and stayed next to him for a while. the road opend up and so did we. i wanted to see if i could keep up with him. i did, no problem other than i went down two gears and he didnt, and the wee is soooooo easy to shift i didnt even have to think about it. he backed off at about 180, and i was in a hurry so i kept going...

in my opinion, the wee is as close to motorcycle nirvana as i have gotten in my 9 years of riding. there's only one bike i enjoyed as much and that's the xjr1300 i rode in the swiss alps (mostly the mountain roads i guess).

the seat can be fixed (vee seat)
the windshield (did i bitch enough about that) can be fixed with the madstadt bracket that i've been reading rave reviews on. i believe it's a combination of reach, height and angle. but i'll be making my own bracket or buying the madstad for the thing when i buy my bike and fix it.
that engine and transmission are a dream! i've never ridden anything that smooth.

i calculated my fuel consumption: 6.3 liters/100km. that seems a bit high to me, but i was rarely below 7-8000 rpm, and never below the speed limit (and usually at near twice that). and honestly, the bike works fine at 4000 or less. i was just out to test performance. i will learn to slow down once i get mine.

in conclusion: it's a great bike. never mind the windshield. that can be fixed (and the problem might be greatly diminished by wearing a different helmet)

that was it. i hope it can help someone who's in my type of situation decide that the weestrom is for them.
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post #3 of 19 Old 04-09-2008, 03:27 AM
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Fantastic review, hope to see you on the roads on your new V-Strom 650 !

Now flying the Team Orange colors (yes, I went to the dark Dakar side and bought a KTM...)

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post #4 of 19 Old 04-09-2008, 09:36 AM
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Great Summary

You definetly rode at the top third of the rpm range during your 6 hour jaunt. I'm back to riding after several years away and bought the 6 fiddy as it was so highly rated by all on this forum and others. After the first 100km of riding on this bike, I am totally happy with. Took it for a 5 hour spin on the weekend with most of that ass time. A few stops for photo ops, but back in the saddle and away we went. Got off at the end and couldn't keep the smile off my face for a few hours. Took it on some gravel roads last night and your analogy about " riding on marbles" was bang on, but I have the stock Trail Wings which aren't good for gravel IMO. Your rental had the Anakees so may need to look at them.
My gas mileage was 4.88 litres/100km but my riding was mostly 4500 to 6000 to range.
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post #5 of 19 Old 04-09-2008, 10:30 AM
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Holy Cow! That was quite a review. I know of several of the areas you refer to, and you sir, must be a very capable rider.

Good luck with your Wee whenever you get it. And if I am toodling along and get passed by a Wee at 150 kmh on Gaglardi Way, 130-140 kmh around Chilliwack Mtn, or by a guy standing up while blowing me off at 180 kmh on Hwy. 1, I'll know it's you and will be sure to give you a wave.

Last edited by WeThereYet; 04-09-2008 at 12:27 PM.
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post #6 of 19 Old 04-09-2008, 11:44 AM
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Nice! Thanks for the review.

[I][B]Flat Black Club Member #19[/B]
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[I]2008 Suzuki DL 650 V-Strom[/I]

Grip Puppies, Cramp Buster, Merphs' Brace, H&B Engine Guards, Twisted HWY Pegs, Blairs' Sliders, Optilux 1500 Driving Lights With Yellow Tint Mounted on a Pat Walsh Light Bar, JC Whitney Top Case, Sargent Saddle, GT Moto Tank Bag, OEM Hand Guards, OEM Center Stand, Bare Foot Willie Cup Holder, Hyper-Lite, Rox Risers, MadStad, $5 JC Whitney Fender Extender...So Far!!
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post #7 of 19 Old 04-09-2008, 11:51 AM
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You can see the reason for the popularity of after market windshields/mounts and seats.

Pat- 2007 DL650A was ridden to all 48 contiguous states. I didn't quite make it to 17,000 miles on the 2012 DL650A.
Nicknames I use to lessen typing, Vee = 2002-2012 DL1000s. Vee2=2014-2016 DL1000s. Wee = 2004-2011 DL650s. Glee = 2012-2016 DL650s
See https://www.stromtrooper.com/general-...nicknames.html

Please vote in the poll on what Strom(s) you have at https://www.stromtrooper.com/informat...-you-have.html
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post #8 of 19 Old 04-09-2008, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for the kind words guys.
as far as being a capable rider, not really, i describe myself as a big chicken, i always approach everythign cautiously, and never try any shenanigans until i've had a biek for a while. but that strom is so easy to learn, after a while you just forget it.

i'm glas i won't be getting a dl1k, because, well, because i need to keep my license. and the 650 is plenty fast enough. i can't think of one corner i didnt come in too hot in, it's just so unbelievably super comfy and smooth... i'll just take it very easy durign my first few months of ownership. maybe move the rev limiter to 5000rpm or get the horsepower limiter for it... (strange thing for me to say, but it'll give me a chance to learn the bike without gettin in over my head).

the bike is at absolutely no fault, it's just so willing to dance that the little bug in my brain keeps saying "faster,faster,faster"

i do like being able to flattfoot it though with both feet but will definitely want a higher/wider seat aka strom 1000 seat.
i wonder if lowering the bike 1" would make it any less capable...

no, seriously. it's the easiest bike i've ever ridden, and the easiest to go fast on, it's a total no-brainer (just don't try to reset the trip meter near an on-ramp, because some moron in a white volvo will change lanes into you)

after many years of dancing back and forth between the klr650, the dl1000/dl650, the versys, the ducati monster, the triumph thruxton, and now the new bmw 650 twin, i have finally found my bike. i think i can affort go go in debt for it around august or september. i look forward to joining the flat-black club.
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post #9 of 19 Old 04-09-2008, 12:22 PM
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Yup, windshield and seat upgrades are pretty much the best bang-for-the-buck for first farkles.

I went for the Madstad mount first and then added an MP shield to fix my buffeting problem. The Suz gel seat fixed things at the other end.

There are lots of other suggested tweaks. My list, FWIW, in sort-of-priority order:

- Givi luggage
- GPS + mount
- center stand
- 12v outlet
- handguards
- heated grips/gloves
- crash bars/skid plate (Pat Walsh combo)
- Stebel air horn
- corrected speedo face
- bar risers


I personally didn't have a big problem with the stock tires but went with Metzeler Tourance's when the time came.

Lots of people tweak the gearing as well but the stock setup works for me.

- Martin


2019 650X
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post #10 of 19 Old 04-09-2008, 10:07 PM
 
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Thanks for the detailed review. I'm a little bit confused as I've only ridden one DL650 which I completely babied, and one DL1000 (my current ride), but I didn't realize the Wee was actually much faster than the Vee. Still a bit confused because early in your review you say you left the 1000 very disappointed by its anemic power, but your rave review of the Wee sounds like your thrilled with its power. Then at the end you say, "i'm glad i won't be getting a dl1k, because, well, because i need to keep my license. and the 650 is plenty fast enough." So which is it that has more power?
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