I've just completed 4,000 miles on my DL650 so I thought I'd take a few moments and share my thoughts on this machine. I started to explain things to my wife but she lost interest pretty quickly... she keeps babbling something about feeding fictitious animals on her farmville thingy and cooking virtual food for internet café people. (?)
Anyways, it's a 2009 DL650 (Non-ABS) that I purchased brand-new late last fall from Andrews Cycles in Northeastern Ohio. I was going back-and-forth between the Suzuki V-Strom and the Kawasaki Versys; both were on the show room floor, side-by-side, and both were comparable in price. I did not physically test ride either one, but I sat on both of them for a good long time and went through all the motions that can reasonably be done on the showroom floor. I sat on the V-Strom, sat on the Versys, back on the V-Strom, back on the Versys, taking into account the smallest details and differences between the two... the shop owner was very nice and entertained me rather nicely, and the curious customers probably thought I was insane. I did this over the span of a few days while pouring over all the online reviews and anything else I could get my hands on regarding the two bikes. Needless to say I eventually drove home the Wee.
SIZE: My very first impression of the Wee was the sheer size of it. It has a certain 'road presence' that a lot of other bikes don't have. Sure, it's no Gold Wing or one of those huge BMW tourers, but for the Wee being "only" a 650cc it is rather big and spacious, and there is an ample amount of room for me to move around the cockpit. BTW, it is a good bit bigger than the Kawasaki Versys. Being 6'3" and weighing 220 pounds the bigger Wee-Strom was a great selling point. I've noticed that my riding posture is very comfortable with my arms naturally reaching to the handlebars and my back is just ever-so-slightly arched forward. However, my long legs seem to be tucked up underneath just a tad bit too much, (34 inch inseam) and after awhile my knees start to ache and require a good stretch every now-and-then. I have a Suzuki Gel Seat coming in the mail which will add about an inch to the stock seat, so I'll see how that works on the knee pain, (more about the stock seat in a bit).
ENGINE: The Wee seems to hum along just fine and I guess the parallel V-twin accounts for this. I find my 650 has more than enough power (for me at least); whether it be the stop-and-go inner city/red light traffic ~ or the all out 6th gear highway travel, it scoots along just fine. My engine consistently produces 5100 RPMs @ 70 MPH and 6000 RPMs @ 80 MPH (indicated). Unfortunately, I have a daily commute of 150 miles round trip to work and back, and because of this about 90 percent of my daily riding is in 6th gear on the highway. I am strongly considering a 16T front sprocket and from all the reviews I've read it seems this gear modification will make good sense for me to do. Nonetheless, I'm pretty happy with the Wee's power and response.
FUEL USE: I've kept accurate records of all my fuel stops and so far I've averaged 53.9 MPG over those 4000 miles. The lowest being 48.8 MPG and my highest being 55.9 MPG ~ I tried the high octane stuff (93) a few times but I find the regular fuel (87) seems just fine. Maybe there is a difference, dunno, I just can't tell. Almost every single drop of fuel in my Wee has come from my local Shell gas station. They claim to have some type of fancy 'Nitrogen-Enriched' fuel that makes your engine happy... again, I don't know too much about all these claims but the bike seems to run just fine using their regular 87 octane.
SUSPENSION: I left the suspension completely stock for the first 2,000 miles and it seemed okay but I made some recent adjustments after reading suggestions from other Strom owners. I adjusted the front stabilizers to stiffen things up a bit and also increased the rear spring and pre-load. I feel these were all good improvements and the bike handles a bit better. Eventually I plan on getting a good fork brace too.
WINDSHIELD: Like everyone else, I had terrible buffeting with the original set up. I purchased the adjustable Madstad bracket from twistedthrottle.com and that has really helped quiet things down. I am still using the original Suzuki windshield and have it "all the way up" and tilted about half-way back. This position seems to be the best overall. However, I think I'm still catching some wind from the stock mirrors, but can't be certain. I plan on getting mirror extenders because right now I have to lean my head left-and-right to get a good view of what is behind me. If I don't do this than I'm basically looking at my shoulders.
SEAT: What can I say about the Wee seat that hasn't already been discussed? My daily commute to work is 75 miles each way and takes just over an hour. The stock seat leaves my arse hurting long after I get off the bike, and the return trip home just adds more pain. I get "hot spots" on my arse and can't find a comfortable position no matter how much I squirm around. I recently ordered the Suzuki Gel Seat from Oneida Suzuki and I'm hoping this seat fixes the problem. I'd love to try out a nice Corbin or one of those uber expensive Russell Day Long seats, but I don't think Mother will approve that purchase anytime soon. Anxious to try the Gel Seat.
FARKLES: I've already mentioned that I added the adjustable Madstad windshield bracket, BIG thumbs up and highly recommended. To add some light touring options to my Wee I got the Givi E21 side cases and I love them. Yes, they are a bit small but if you pack smartly than they are big enough. Besides, half the fun of planning a trip is preparing a good packing list. I can tell you from fist-hand experience that the E21's are 100 percent waterproof! I subjected them to 4 hours of constant downpour rain without a single drop of water getting inside. I have them mounted to the PL532 and this set up is really nice. The Givi PL532 racks went on rather easily and have held up very nicely. I also picked up a Shad SH26 top case for $75 from a local dealer. Just like the Givis, this top case is small but still big enough to fit my XL full-face helmet and a pair of gloves inside it. It is also 100 percent waterproof. Let's see, I've also added a SW-Motech center stand; it is really nice and makes chain cleaning/maintenance super easy. Installation was no problem whatsoever, (tip: have a really large screwdriver handy to pull back those strong springs). When I arrive at work and pull into the parking garage I still prefer to use the side stand. It just seems a good bit more stable than the center stand. Just saying... Future toys include: Stebel Air Horn, engine guards, power outlet.
CLOTHING: Firm believer in ATGATT. I won't ride without first gearing up properly. I've been told that I look like an astronaut and occasionally get asked "Ain't you hot wearing all that stuff". Whenever I hear someone complain about helmets and protective gear and their need to "feel the road" I cringe... one day they might end up "feeling the road" the wrong way!! ~ I have two jackets; First Gear Torrent Touring Jacket purchased on close-out sale and also a stylish Joe Rocket Reactor Jacket. My Tour Master Flex all-season riding pants were not cheap but offer everything I need. I got them from motorcyclesuperstore.com and if you go to their website you can read all the great reviews on them. For $90 I got a brand new Vega Summit II full face modular helmet and it seems to be working just fine so far. I still can't find the perfect pair of gloves, but I'm still looking.
FUN FACTOR: Although I just started riding at the age of 40 (wife says midlife crisis), I still plan on having many good years ahead of me and I am certain I picked the right motorcycle for my travels.
I've put my 4,000 miles on the bike all within the last three months and hope to finish the year with more than double that amount. Now that I got the bike all jazzed out it is TIME TO RIDE. My brother and I are planning a 6 day, 2500 mile trip around the Great Lakes in August and I'm sure the Strom will prove worthy. I find it has plenty of everything I will every need and nothing of anything I don't want. I already know you guys enjoy this bike as much as I do. Keep riding and stay safe out there. Peace.