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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Guys, have spent the last 6 years touring around the world and currently on a 1200 ADV bike. It is time for something new and a downgrade to something smaller and lighter is what I am looking at, with a 2020 XT in mind. I would be very interested in advice and opinions of those with experience in long distance touring on this bike.

We are roughly right on the load limit, myself 100kg, wife 54kg and luggage at around 40+kg

What performance, suspension, accessories upgrades would you recommend? Any advice on pros/cons and changes that you would make?

Any additional thoughts would be greatly appreciated guys thanks.
 

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I have a stock standard 2013 Vstrom 650. Fork brace added. We ride only country roads and highways and the occasional good gravel road. A lot of our trips are 2000 km plus. All up weight of rider, pillion and luggage about 220 kg. Good enough as stock standard with max preload at rear.

Try it before you spend money on upgrades then decide.
 

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Have toured all over Europe fully loaded including Alpine passes etc. We usually tour for two weeks.
Stock bike plus Givi hard luggage and a Zumo GPS. Wind up the pre-load, thats it.
 

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The Vstrom really has no performance mods unless you want to start look at cams from a SV series bike. Even things like free'er flowing exhausts do very little in performance department. If 65/68 HP is going to be underpowered you better off now looking at something different vs trying to eek out what littles left in the 650. Also check the weights and dimensions of the DL. You may find its not be significantly lighter or dimensional smaller than what you currently are riding.

Many people can and do tour 2-up with no problem on the DL. Heck my friend and his lady friend rode across US-Route 50 coast to from the Atlantic to the pacific and back on a F650 single. He's over 250 ad she's 120 ish. Its not the ideal touring 2-up rig but they managed.
 

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I would definitely upgrade the suspension. It will make the bike much more comfortable when loaded. Good chance that you won’t like the stock seat or windscreen either, so plan on changing those too.
 
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Hi and Welcome,
I hardly ever get my wife on the back of my 650, and we've never carried anything more than lunch and a camera. We are planning a few short voyages this summer, however. We're probably similar in rider weight overall to you two. Just saying this to confirm that I'm at zero on the experience scale. But I do sort of think that I would find a bike that comfortably does what you need in terms of the fundamentals. Then your mods are smaller add-ons, and tweaks rather than significant engine or suspension changes. I ride more slowly than many others; 110 kph/ 68 mph is about as fast as I go two-up. For that speed, the 650 is fine. Your riding demands may be different, and you would have an easier, more relaxing ride with more power and better/ different suspension.

Over on the ADVrider site, look for a series of posts that are, 'Mike and Shelly Go To Europe'. They keep a Strom 650 in Serbia, and go over once or twice a year and do some really nice rides. You might get some feeling for the bike and it's suitability from that thread. Plus the trip photos and maps are great fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The Vstrom really has no performance mods unless you want to start look at cams from a SV series bike. Even things like free'er flowing exhausts do very little in performance department. If 65/68 HP is going to be underpowered you better off now looking at something different vs trying to eek out what littles left in the 650. Also check the weights and dimensions of the DL. You may find its not be significantly lighter or dimensional smaller than what you currently are riding.

Many people can and do tour 2-up with no problem on the DL. Heck my friend and his lady friend rode across US-Route 50 coast to from the Atlantic to the pacific and back on a F650 single. He's over 250 ad she's 120 ish. Its not the ideal touring 2-up rig but they managed.
Thanks for the reply. Weights are certainly very different than a 1200 mate! Dimensionally very similar. Power wise I think its sufficient. Nice to have more but its not critical.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I would definitely upgrade the suspension. It will make the bike much more comfortable when loaded. Good chance that you won’t like the stock seat or windscreen either, so plan on changing those too.

Yeah mate, suspension was definitely an item. No big deal, I own a bike workshop so everything I can do in house. Seat I have heard is an issue, though seats are always different for everyone. Ill either mod it or completely re-do i. Screen, probably a Givi.. Thanks for the reply.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hi and Welcome,
I hardly ever get my wife on the back of my 650, and we've never carried anything more than lunch and a camera. We are planning a few short voyages this summer, however. We're probably similar in rider weight overall to you two. Just saying this to confirm that I'm at zero on the experience scale. But I do sort of think that I would find a bike that comfortably does what you need in terms of the fundamentals. Then your mods are smaller add-ons, and tweaks rather than significant engine or suspension changes. I ride more slowly than many others; 110 kph/ 68 mph is about as fast as I go two-up. For that speed, the 650 is fine. Your riding demands may be different, and you would have an easier, more relaxing ride with more power and better/ different suspension.

Over on the ADVrider site, look for a series of posts that are, 'Mike and Shelly Go To Europe'. They keep a Strom 650 in Serbia, and go over once or twice a year and do some really nice rides. You might get some feeling for the bike and it's suitability from that thread. Plus the trip photos and maps are great fun.

Thanks mate. I have a very relaxed riding style so speed isnt a thing. My focus will be more on building an overland bike for the purpose I know suits us. Think Africa, Mongolia, Stans etc. After years in the saddle you have plenty of time to think about what your next bike needs to be trust me! Especially when you are wrestling a loaded 1200 thru some god forsaken mud road somewhere in Laos or Iran!
 

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Crank up the preload and if you are a reasonable person you will find the seat is the limiting item. YMMV

RLBranson
 

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@Hound_Dog
I realized, a bit late, that my post ignored the clear fact that you are a very experienced rider. I was only musing that if with crew & cargo aboard you are at the load limit, then perhaps the 650 may or may not be in the Goldilocks zone for you. Especially if you felt the need to do substantial & expensive mods.

Me personally, I ride like I'm still breaking it in. Granny-style, in other words. I love my 650, and it does for me, but I only wondered if, coming from a GS1200, it it might not quite be all you need.

Your location flag is very small, and my specs are quite up to the task, so I'm not sure where you are on the planet, but your travel locations suggest some serious adventure plans, and probably skills and guts to go with.

You'll get better advice from others here. But do look for some of the posts from @WingVetteStrom, who has done some enviable riding into Mexico, and has also an impressive list of mods.

Report back with your thoughts and findings.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
@Hound_Dog
I realized, a bit late, that my post ignored the clear fact that you are a very experienced rider. I was only musing that if with crew & cargo aboard you are at the load limit, then perhaps the 650 may or may not be in the Goldilocks zone for you. Especially if you felt the need to do substantial & expensive mods.

Me personally, I ride like I'm still breaking it in. Granny-style, in other words. I love my 650, and it does for me, but I only wondered if, coming from a GS1200, it it might not quite be all you need.

Your location flag is very small, and my specs are quite up to the task, so I'm not sure where you are on the planet, but your travel locations suggest some serious adventure plans, and probably skills and guts to go with.

You'll get better advice from others here. But do look for some of the posts from @WingVetteStrom, who has done some enviable riding into Mexico, and has also an impressive list of mods.

Report back with your thoughts and findings.
I am yet to even ride one so it is all guesswork and research at this point mate. The problem is there is a big gap between the Litre + bikes that weigh a ton and then whats next in line. Triumph 800 is my preference but the V is a definite consideration. Being 2Up and loaded brings a completely new perspective to what I need from a bike. Power, whilst great to have is simply rarely needed. We rode an Enfield Himalayan for a couple of weeks one in the northeast of India and had great fun on it...all 28 HP and 1980 Honda technology!

This all being said, there is nothing you can buy that wont require spending more money on for significant overland rides. Where I live in Asia new bikes cost a fortune. A new BMW GS1200 for example is over 3 time the price of a V. Add to that parts and accessories and its an extremely expensive proposition. For a few K I can get almost everything I need on the V and still have a ton of cash left over to travel.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Crank up the preload and if you are a reasonable person you will find the seat is the limiting item. YMMV

RLBranson
Seat will definitely need to be assessed No pun intended. Shock goes straight on the shelf mate, no way is it up to the task.
 

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I think a 2014+ DL1000 fits your needs better than the 650. Its almost the same weight but has much better stock brakes and stock suspension. Its very relaxed riding with a high torque lower hp engine tune. Disadvantage may be that it calls for 90 octane gas but if not available I fill up with low test and don't see any difference (I am not racing the bike). By now you should find used ones with reasonable mileage and price.

Consider the cost of a WERKS clutch upgrade and a GIVI Airflow screen. I ride stock seat with a Sit&Fly cover. That's good enough for 10+ h days.
 

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I am yet to even ride one so it is all guesswork and research at this point mate. The problem is there is a big gap between the Litre + bikes that weigh a ton and then whats next in line. Triumph 800 is my preference but the V is a definite consideration. Being 2Up and loaded brings a completely new perspective to what I need from a bike. Power, whilst great to have is simply rarely needed. We rode an Enfield Himalayan for a couple of weeks one in the northeast of India and had great fun on it...all 28 HP and 1980 Honda technology!

This all being said, there is nothing you can buy that wont require spending more money on for significant overland rides. Where I live in Asia new bikes cost a fortune. A new BMW GS1200 for example is over 3 time the price of a V. Add to that parts and accessories and its an extremely expensive proposition. For a few K I can get almost everything I need on the V and still have a ton of cash left over to travel.
For whatever it's worth, and that's probably not much: In 2018 I bought a new Triumph Tiger 800, rode it to the Arctic Ocean in terrible conditions in the NW Territories, came home, promptly sold it, and bought a 2018 650XT. Took the Wee to Central America and Mexico in Jan - March 2020 and loved it. So why did I sell the Triumph? Some reasons in hindsight I should have thought of before the purchase, some not.
1. Driving thru terrible mud and slime on the Dempster Highway the bike felt top heavy, Ms. Wee doesn't.
2. I do lots of riding in Latin America, and the thought of something going wrong with a Canbus down there unsettles me.
3. The Wee XT has tubeless spokes. Try prying off a heavy sidewall Heidenau (or other 50/50 ADV tire), tire in the Andes or the Sierra Madres, or the Rockies for that matter late in the day by yourself. Good luck with that now. Have a nice day.....not. And how about all the extra weight of tire irons, rim protectors, bead breaker, etc., compared to a plug kit?
4. The Wee is very cheap, and a very basic simple bike. Just an ECU and not much else. Build it like you want it like I did. In remote areas and countries, simple is better. And it's 25 pounds lighter that the Tiger and has plenty of power.
5. Google Triumph dealers in Latin America (or the US for that matter), compared to Suzuki dealers and look at the pin locations on a map, nuff said.

I'm 65 years old, have been riding since I was 16. I now have my three favorite vehicles of all time. 2018 650 VStrom, 2018 Honda Goldwing, and a 2015 Corvette Z51 Stingray.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I think a 2014+ DL1000 fits your needs better than the 650. Its almost the same weight but has much better stock brakes and stock suspension. Its very relaxed riding with a high torque lower hp engine tune. Disadvantage may be that it calls for 90 octane gas but if not available I fill up with low test and don't see any difference (I am not racing the bike). By now you should find used ones with reasonable mileage and price.

Consider the cost of a WERKS clutch upgrade and a GIVI Airflow screen. I ride stock seat with a Sit&Fly cover. That's good enough for 10+ h days.
Thanks for the reply mate. 2 points, DL1000 are almost non existent in the country I live in and if I was going into the litre+ range I would either keep the current bike or look at the much bigger range of brands that suit my needs in that class.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
For whatever it's worth, and that's probably not much: In 2018 I bought a new Triumph Tiger 800, rode it to the Arctic Ocean in terrible conditions in the NW Territories, came home, promptly sold it, and bought a 2018 650XT. Took the Wee to Central America and Mexico in Jan - March 2020 and loved it. So why did I sell the Triumph? Some reasons in hindsight I should have thought of before the purchase, some not.
1. Driving thru terrible mud and slime on the Dempster Highway the bike felt top heavy, Ms. Wee doesn't.
2. I do lots of riding in Latin America, and the thought of something going wrong with a Canbus down there unsettles me.
3. The Wee XT has tubeless spokes. Try prying off a heavy sidewall Heidenau (or other 50/50 ADV tire), tire in the Andes or the Sierra Madres, or the Rockies for that matter late in the day by yourself. Good luck with that now. Have a nice day.....not. And how about all the extra weight of tire irons, rim protectors, bead breaker, etc., compared to a plug kit?
4. The Wee is very cheap, and a very basic simple bike. Just an ECU and not much else. Build it like you want it like I did. In remote areas and countries, simple is better. And it's 25 pounds lighter that the Tiger and has plenty of power.
5. Google Triumph dealers in Latin America (or the US for that matter), compared to Suzuki dealers and look at the pin locations on a map, nuff said.

I'm 65 years old, have been riding since I was 16. I now have my three favorite vehicles of all time. 2018 650 VStrom, 2018 Honda Goldwing, and a 2015 Corvette Z51 Stingray.
Thanks for the detailed reply mate. If you think the 800 is bad try the 1200 Triumph which I am on now. Brutal heavy, especially 2up. Saving 30-40 kilos and having something with a lower CoG is a priority, power comes second. Point 2, I have had things go wrong in VERY difficult places and you are right, it is no fun at all and can be expensive AF. Point 3, I would just do a tubeless conversion. I agree, tubes suck bad. Point 4, exactly what I want. GS BMW for example have so much crap on them. More shit to go wrong. I want simple!
 

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I did a tubeless conversion on the rear wheel on the Tiger 800, the front wasn't possible due to the lack of the proper rim shape on the front wheel. I had it done by Woody's Wheel Works in Colorado. The problem with this is that you can never adjust the spokes, without breaking the seal. So you, or send it in, have to scrape all that stuff off, adjust the spokes, then do it all over again. Supposedly there are ways to avoid this, but Woody's said that particular method risks a leak. (Putting little discs over the spoke connections inside the rim before applying sealant.)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I did a tubeless conversion on the rear wheel on the Tiger 800, the front wasn't possible due to the lack of the proper rim shape on the front wheel. I had it done by Woody's Wheel Works in Colorado. The problem with this is that you can never adjust the spokes, without breaking the seal. So you, or send it in, have to scrape all that stuff off, adjust the spokes, then do it all over again. Supposedly there are ways to avoid this, but Woody's said that particular method risks a leak. (Putting little discs over the spoke connections inside the rim before applying sealant.)
I think the best thing is to do a set of tyres then do the conversion. Properly bedded spokes dont loosen (in my experience) but yes, you are correct, use small adhesive discs over the spoke end be fore the sealant and tape. Woodys definitely know their stuff. Actually , it defies belief that bikes marketed as Adventure Bikes still have tubes. Another + for the V XT!
 

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I think the best thing is to do a set of tyres then do the conversion. Properly bedded spokes dont loosen (in my experience) but yes, you are correct, use small adhesive discs over the spoke end be fore the sealant and tape. Woodys definitely know their stuff. Actually , it defies belief that bikes marketed as Adventure Bikes still have tubes. Another + for the V XT!
Yes, but on some bikes, like the 2018 800 Tiger, the front wheel doesn't have the proper shaped rim to accommodate a tubeless tire, so sealing it wouldn't work. Woody's told me that putting discs over the spoke nipples would eventually leak. Yup, I love my Wee Strom.
 
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