Convince me not to give up my Strom for a more dirt-oriented dual sport - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 32 Old 07-15-2017, 12:20 AM Thread Starter
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Convince me not to give up my Strom for a more dirt-oriented dual sport

I've had my 2011 Wee for 2 1/2 years, put about 15k miles on it, and gotten it well dialed in for my ergonomic needs. It is the most comfortable, best riding, all-around my favorite bike out of the dozens I've owned during my riding career. I really don't want to give it up.

But I suck at riding on dirt. I've been a road rider for 30 years, with only a little dirt riding. I get nervous riding the Wee on dirt roads (using Shinko 705 tires), it always feels like I'm about to lose it. I'm sure I am too stiff and my instincts are wrong, and I'm not doing myself any favors.

Recently I got a DR 650 from a friend. Obviously that bike is much more comfortable on dirt, but I can't see making long cross-state freeway trips on it.

I have no desire to do hardcore off-road trails - just dirt roads, forest roads, etc. I'm hoping to make a trip up to Alaska next year, including riding the Dempster highway. I'm concerned that I may not get comfortable enough on my Wee to ride such roads. Also, I find that dirt roads tend to go from bad to worse quickly - so I could find myself beyond the Wee's abilities (or at least beyond MY abilities on the Wee). It makes me think a KLR might be a better choice for me, because it has (barely) tolerable qualities on the freeway, and more dirt capability than the Wee.

I got the DR to learn new skills, I'm just not sure if/when I'll get those skills so I'm comfortable taking my Wee where I'd like to go on it. Any thoughts? Former KLR riders who can compare the two?
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post #2 of 32 Old 07-15-2017, 01:10 AM
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There's only one way to get comfortable riding in dirt...go ride in dirt! I'm not saying ride your Wee in dirt right off (and the KLR is NOT the answer). I think it's best to do it in steps. Put your DR aside for a while and go buy an inexpensive 125cc dirt bike that you don't mind dropping and banging up. You need a bike that you can learn to dominate in the dirt quickly, not one that will dominate you. I think the DR650 is even way too much for somebody just starting out in dirt. When you're comfortable on the smaller bike, then graduate to the DR. Once comfortable on the DR, then you'll be much more confident with the Wee in dirt.

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post #3 of 32 Old 07-15-2017, 01:20 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, that's some good advice, but I have some practice on the DR already and think I will stick with that rather than try to justify yet another motorcycle. I took a training offered by a nearby sheriff's office for dual sport riding - they use their own trainers and their fleet training bikes, which for their off-road unit consists of DR650s. So I feel like I can wrangle the DR enough that I wouldn't want the cost of another bike. Plus if it was a pure dirt bike without a license, I'd have to haul it to an OHV park - which means I'd never end up riding it.
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post #4 of 32 Old 07-15-2017, 01:38 AM
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It's all in your tyre choice. I have not used Shinko 705's but I remember the OEM Bridgestones like a nightmare. Even just a small amount of loose stones or dirt would make my 2010 Weestrom bars wiggle nervously, and the rear step sideways.

Some might suggest lowering your pressures for better grip on dirt, and that is true, but as I ride on seal to get to those less travelled destinations I wanted to keep my pressures up - and occasionally you also find some big rocks and sharp edges, so that was not for me.

Try some 50/50 tyres. I first went to Metzeler Karoo 3's which were fantastic, and even more grippy on seal than OEM but the rear wore so fast - 5-7,000kms at best, and so I would recommend Mitas E-07's. They are every bit as good as OEM on seal but WAY ahead in grip and confidence on dirt roads (even unmaintained dirt roads).

There are other choices as well that some will surely recommend but the point is that tyre choice is crucial when taking one of these bikes off the sealed road. Dirt bike experience helps as well. Try and avoid the loose heaps of gravel and if you cannot avoid them then take a straight line through, with a bit of power on and unweight the front wheel. Good luck, but with some decent tyres you will not need to be an expert dirt biker to enjoy those dirt roads.

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post #5 of 32 Old 07-15-2017, 02:12 AM
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The difference between 50/50 tires like the Mitas E-07 or the Scout K60s is enormous,

The Wee is squirmy as hell on street tires on gravel and rock stable on the proper tires.

Your confidence will soar.

The Scouts are very popular for Alaska as their mileage is very good with reliable reports over 20,000 miles from a set.

I opted for Mitas in Australia as I'm not doing distance there and wet grip is reportedly a bit better.
It's K60s in Canada tho.

....

What Brockie said is dead on
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post #6 of 32 Old 07-15-2017, 07:53 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips. My 705s are close to being worn out, and after a lot of research I think I'm going to replace them with the 804/805. It's a lower investment and reportedly a good tire for these bikes in the dirt.

Agree with Brockie, even with the 705s it feels very wobbly and quick to jump around. I'm hopeful that the better tires and more practice will get me more confident.

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post #7 of 32 Old 07-15-2017, 08:58 AM
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I have been riding my 2012 DL1K on a lot of NFS roads in NE Ga (between Hiawassee, Blairsville, and Suches) these past few days. I have been on gravel before, but it was usually 2-up on my GoldWing. The Vee is MUCH easier to handle, despite 2 drops. It is MUCH HARDER to get back up than the Wing, just sayin.

I have 705s in very good condition. Gravel NFS roads are pretty easy, though pretty slow...like 10 mph slow. That is about the speed I am comfortable on. Faster than that for any period of time and you'll likely run into something you would prefer to take at a slower speed. I don't know from experience, but I woudl think handling on packed dirt would be similar. Loose dirt, not so much.

IMO, the only way you're going to gain confidence riding the Wee is to ride the Wee in all conditions.
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post #8 of 32 Old 07-15-2017, 12:16 PM
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You have already answered your question. If you want to ride forest roads, dirt roads, gravel roads not "roads" with deep ruts and mud your DL 650 is going to work. But you might need a bit of confidence and practice. Picture the money it takes to swap to another bike. Especially if you don't like a dirt oriented bike the first time you try to go 100 miles on pavement at speed. Suspension. That is a big difference between the DL 650 and the DR 650. You don't need the travel of the DR, but you do need the ability to soak up bumps without upsetting the tires. Front suspension modifications and a modified rear shock are going to settle the DL 650 down a lot in rough/dirt/gravel conditions. On hard packed dirt tires just don't make all that much difference. My BMW RT with street tires is MUCH more comfortable on gravel roads than my DL 650! So consider suspension work. Then the tires will make ALL the difference. While the Shinko 705 is a good all around tire, it is no more off road oriented than a set of all terrain tires on a pickup. The 804/805 will give you the front grip and off road manners that will add to your confidence. Air down the tires to 25 psi to start with when off road. Maybe go to a 14 tooth front sprocket to make the bike easy to ride slow in rough terrain. You could spend $800 on tires, suspension, sprocket and literally TRANSFORM the Wee!

That said, NO motorcycle goes down gravel or loose material without moving around. That part you have to learn. Body english, moving your body to transfer weight to steer instead of relying on the movement of the handlebars, is what you will come to learn in time. Push yourself into the not-so-comfortable zone. Like ride in the loose gravel instead of the packed gravel. Wow! I didn't crash! I actually was able to control that. Let's do it again!

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post #9 of 32 Old 07-15-2017, 12:58 PM
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Any type of lose stuff, gravel, sand, dirt what have you. The bike is doing to dance and move around. You have to learn to Let it move..let it find its way.
Use your weight on the pegs to guide it.

That said mud still sucks.

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post #10 of 32 Old 07-15-2017, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by realshelby View Post
You have already answered your question. If you want to ride forest roads, dirt roads, gravel roads not "roads" with deep ruts and mud your DL 650 is going to work. But you might need a bit of confidence and practice. Picture the money it takes to swap to another bike. Especially if you don't like a dirt oriented bike the first time you try to go 100 miles on pavement at speed. Suspension. That is a big difference between the DL 650 and the DR 650. You don't need the travel of the DR, but you do need the ability to soak up bumps without upsetting the tires. Front suspension modifications and a modified rear shock are going to settle the DL 650 down a lot in rough/dirt/gravel conditions. On hard packed dirt tires just don't make all that much difference. My BMW RT with street tires is MUCH more comfortable on gravel roads than my DL 650! So consider suspension work. Then the tires will make ALL the difference. While the Shinko 705 is a good all around tire, it is no more off road oriented than a set of all terrain tires on a pickup. The 804/805 will give you the front grip and off road manners that will add to your confidence. Air down the tires to 25 psi to start with when off road. Maybe go to a 14 tooth front sprocket to make the bike easy to ride slow in rough terrain. You could spend $800 on tires, suspension, sprocket and literally TRANSFORM the Wee!

That said, NO motorcycle goes down gravel or loose material without moving around. That part you have to learn. Body english, moving your body to transfer weight to steer instead of relying on the movement of the handlebars, is what you will come to learn in time. Push yourself into the not-so-comfortable zone. Like ride in the loose gravel instead of the packed gravel. Wow! I didn't crash! I actually was able to control that. Let's do it again!

What you say is true up to a point, a Strom it's about 150 lbs. past that point!

500 lb. bikes won't float through sand, they plow. The rider needs to be aggressive of course that means going faster. Going faster means crashing harder.

That is why every one with a dirt bike background says to start with a lightweight dirt bike. You learn technique on it so when you get on a heavy bike you know what to expect.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor 13:13
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