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Well, I'm back from a trip I started Saturday, the day after picking up my new DL650. This was definitely a good break-in on the bike =)

The trip started in Ft Worth, TX. For those that aren't familiar with Texas, the Ft Worth/Dallas are in the northeastern part of the state. That portion of the state is mostly flat with few hills.

From Ft Worth, I headed south where the elevation changes in what we call 'texas hill country' in the area of Bandera. This area is a major biker haunt due to its winding roads, beautiful scenery, and hilly terrain. On this leg of the trip I was mostly staying around 65mph, as I had not yet passed the break-in period of the bike. Once I reached the Bandera / Medina area I was able to indulge in some really nice twisties. Probably the best area in Texas if you like varying elevations combined with many curvy roads. The DL650 did much better in cornering than I though it might. It's probably the most confidence inspiring bike in corners I've yet owned; it makes it easy. It was always predictable, and response to input was lightning fast. That quick response takes some getting used to - you dont mash down on the handlebars very hard on this bike to make it turn.

The route from there had me taking highway 90 along the US / Mexican border at Del Rio up to Marathon, a city north of Big Bend national park. At this point I had hit nearly 800 miles on the bike, a bit past the 600 mile recommended oil change mark. A quick oil change in Marathon and I was ready to start letting the bike unwind a bit. I also took the opportunity to raise the windscreen to its medium height position - a change that resulted in noticably less wind buffeting. Buffeting was not bad to begin with though. That 5000 rpm limit on break-in is very limiting on this bike - it really doesnt produce much power until it actually hits 5000rpm.


From Marathon, I headed south to Big Bend national park. This is a huge park on the southern edge of Texas, something like 120 miles across. I went through most of the paved and some of the unpaved areas of the park. Now that I wasnt rev-limited, I got a much better feel for the bike. The engine is real beaty - much more powerful and smoother than the small displacement would suggest.

The even power curve combined with lightning fast response from the bike to rider input makes this a true canyon carver. Steep grades and rapid direction changes are no problem on this bike. I weight in at 230lbs, and the bike had no problem maintaining 80-90mph on 30+ degree inclines.

There are a number of long gravel / dirt roads in Big Bend which you can take a vehicle on, so I took the opportunity to take the DL down one of the longer roads. It was 10-15 miles, quite a ways travelling at 10-20mph. The area is mostly broken and pulverized rock, so calling this a gravel road is not quite correct. In a number of araeas, the road was quite soft and I had some trouble from anything more than a couple inches deep. By soft, think 'sand', which is actually some kind of metallic ore (I found that out when I sat my tank bag down and found the 'sand' stuck the the magnets). Even so, the bike was much more composed on gravel and loose rock than any streetbike I've taken into such terrain. Still, it's not a dirtbike by any stretch of the imagination, it's much more at home on the street.

Eventually I came out on hwy 118 and headed to Alpine, then Ft Stockton, and around through the west Texas badlands back to Ft Worth. This was a long stretch, much of it flat and unpopulated. It was around here that I was able to let the DL unwind a bit, with some long runs at 85 and 90 mph. My impression here is that while the bike is stable and comfortable at these speeds, perhaps more stable than most bikes, the bike really isn't geared up for anything over 85mph (about 135kph) for long periods of time. Once you get over 85mph, the engine gets a bit buzzy, although it seems quite comfortable in the 80-85mph range. Despite the buzziness, these speeds plant you right inside the best part of the bikes powerband. Popping up to 100mph from 80mph in 6th gear is quick and no fuss.

I should add, much of this time I was beset by very strong winds from the south - hitting the bike on the right side. I would have thought a tall bike like this would've caught a lot of the wind making it hard to keep upright, but that was not the case. Controlling the bike in the strong winds was really an afterthought. I suspect this may have been due to the light handling of the bike, making corrections for wind easy and fast enough to nullify its effect. It was much easier to control in the wind than my old zrx1100, which itself was pretty immune to wind.


My overall impression with the bike is exceptionally good. It's comfortable, wonderful handling, stable at speed, and the engine is a real champ. I've never been on a bike with such a smooth power delivery before, and that's a true asset when hitting the twisties where a sudden power surge can be bad news. Once I got accustomed to the throttle, power was easy to control on this bike.

For the whole trip, there was only one big quibble Ive had. If you bring the bike to a halt without downshifting to first gear, it can sometimes be difficult to get back into first gear. I'm not sure why this is, but I had a number of minor glitches with shifting. On a couple of occasions, it seemed that pulling out after a stop and what shouldve been first gear (shifting down as many times as it would allow) I wound up in 2nd gear instead of first. Possibly my clutch needs adjustment, something I'll have to check on.


That one quibble aside, the bikes character and handling are exactly what the reviews have said it was. It's great fun, nearly the comfort of a touring bike with the light handling of a sportbike and the utility of a standard. With hard luggage, this could be a truly nice low budget sport-tourer that can eat up most of the touring bikes in the corners.

-Shady
 

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Welcome!

Good ride report! I live in Mansfield, TX (just south of Arlington).

PM me and I'll send you some contact info for a group that rides a couple of times a month.

I have an 03 DL 1000, by the way.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Fuel mileage

My first fuel up I got 45mpg, but thereafter I got right around 50mpg. My last fuel up, which was mostly 75mph flat riding with few stops, I got approx 53mpg. Pretty darn good, bikes usually arent designed with fuel efficiency in mind (excepting scooters)

-Shady
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It varied a bit, but mostly I was getting right at 4 gallons on a fillup, although one time I got almost 5. A couple of other times I just got 1.5g since I wasnt sure where the next gas station was :lol:

-Shady
 
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Have the same shifting problem on my bike. Went to the shop to get it checked out and they said it was normal. Just let up the clutch a bit then shift down. Do all the 650's do this?
 
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shifting

I know alot of bikes don't like to be shifted more than one gear at a time without releasing the clutch inbetween gears. If I come to a stop (coasting from third then downshifting to first while stopped) it is almost impossible to get back down to first again. Every bike I've had did the same thing, so just make sure and downshift one gear at a time and there will never be a problem.
 
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Shady, I noticed that you previously rode a ZRX. I have one too [the 1200]. I have a question for you, altho I think I already know the answer: Is the DL650 "easier" to ride than the ZRX? I find that bike a handful....there's something about the handling of the bike that's not quite right [and I've checked EVERYTHING]. It's almost like the motor writes checks that the chassis can't cash, if ya know what I mean.
Anyway, I enjoyed your report and hope you keep us informed of your ongoing experiences with your new DL650.
TIA Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #13
zrx comparison

Sorry about the long response, been quite busy recently =)


The DL650 is vastly easier to handle than the ZRX. I think it's parly due to it being lighter (by about 50lbs), partly because the handlebars are a bit wider and the greater height. That all gives the rider a good bit more leverage.

The dynamics of the bikes handling are really very different from most other bikes on the road though. The front tire is taller than the rear, the front handlebars higher and wider, and the suspension quite a bit longer travel than most bikes. For me, that's made the bike way easier to push to its limits. I almost never 'dragged' anything on the zrx because it was such a beast to maneuver quickly. This bike is REALLY easy to lean over and then go back upright. I can pretty much drag a peg in a parking lot at 20mph anytime I want. That may sound silly, but im just trying to illustrate how easy it is to do transitions on the bike.

It's a TON of fun, and I've actually gotten quite a few positive comments on the bikes looks. I think a lot of people (including myself) like the mad-max ugly but tough and useful look that the v-stroms have.

I can ride this bike through twisties way faster than my zrx. However, I wouldn't say that on the outside edges this bike handles better. I think its just easier to do transitions and push this bike to its limit for the average rider (like myself).

-Dan
 
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1st gear shifting

My 650 does the same thing with not being able to shift into 1st gear after you stop. I find that if it is in neutral you can let the clutch out and than engage it again and it will shift into 1st.
 
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Re: 1st gear shifting

gmcsierra2002 said:
My 650 does the same thing with not being able to shift into 1st gear after you stop. I find that if it is in neutral you can let the clutch out and than engage it again and it will shift into 1st.
Most motorcycles do that. It is not abnormal.
 

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Great Ride

I am 230 LBS also, it's good to know that the bike is still full of power with that weight onboard...

BOY if I could lose that 30 ... I bet the bike would kick even better..


I am still shopping.. I will wait till the 05's are announced then get an 05 or an 04....

The issue with first gear at stop lights...... I never have this problem on my KAW

But I think it's because the way I ride.....

As I approach a stop ... I downshift while the bike is rolling then as I come to the stop I am already in 1st ...

I dont just stop and then shift it into gear..

This is a habit I got into and have stuck with it... it seems to work great for me.. never a gear problem

just my .02
 
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