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APC Rally: Go VStrom, go!

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The APC Rally is almost over, 14 days, 7000 kms of dirt, sand, mud & gravel.
Over 100 riders, only 1 VStrom that I know of. Hats off to Scott Dyer for completing the course. Awesome effort!

Photo of Scott at the end of the rally, after washing the Strom.



APC Rally thread on ADV Riders HERE, or summary of the rally HERE (pdf).

A few of us were at Woodenbong, NSW, for the kick off. Short YouTube clip HERE

Most the other bikes were KTMs, a few Beemers, Triumph Tiger 800s, DR650s, DRZ400s, a couple WR250s.

So much of a bike's image comes from events. You know the saying, "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday" (or words to that effect). Of course the avg Joe (like me) can't ride like a rally champ but image is still a big part of the bikes we ride. BMW got a big sales lift from Ewan & Charlie's adventures, but I'm here to say:

"VStroms piss on GS1200s."

Tx to guys like Scott we don't have to feel like poor cousins to the Beemer brigade. Nor do we have to take crap from journalist reviews like "the VStrom is fine on the road and can handle smooth gravel ok but that's about it."

Not saying the VStrom is #1 off-road, but as a general all-rounder and more than capable off-roader I am saying that the rider is the biggest handicap. VStroms have big hearts, and with the right rider will go just about anywhere, as Scott has shown.

VStroms rock.

PS I've left a message with Scott and hope he graciously allows me a few minutes to ask about the bike setup and his experiences on the rally. Will post back here if that happens.
PPS If there were any other Stroms in the rally pls say so ...
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I think that Stroms are underrated because of the low price, more than it's true capabilities. Stroms have successfully tackled all the great outback tracks without a problem. I own a 04 GS1200 and a 07 Wee. I swap rides daily and find the wee is less cramped from seat down to pegs than on the GS. The result is that your thigh is higher because of higher pegs and therefor you tend to sit on the point of your butt.I'll write a full comparison when time permits but in short.....they are different and the GS is NOT over twice the Strom, only in price..the badge?? The Strom holds up extremely well with the longer suspension of the GS in heavy going being the only great difference. I love em both, it's a matter of difference rather than one being better than the other in every day life. Few of us ride on the limit so lots of comparison is irrelevant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yea, I don't really want to bag the GS. Great bike and good on BMW for what they've done for the adventure market.

I was just stirring a bit.

And saying Woo hoo for the VStrom, along with congrats to Scott.
 

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I think that Stroms are underrated because of the low price, more than it's true capabilities.
I love this line of thinking! V-Stroms are underpriced! Yeah, that's the ticket! If we could convince Suzuki of this, then the new 2012 would go up in price a couple thousand, and the resale value of our old ones would go up, it'd be a win/win situation!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Scott's mods to the VStrom for the rally

I called Scott to ask about his recent ride in the APC Rally on a VStrom 650. He kindly gave me a few minutes (actually a whole hour!) to ask about what mods he had done and his thoughts about the Strom on this sort of ride.

Refer to the photo at the start of this thread. It's an '07 model with about 25,000 kms on the clock (after the rally).

-----------------------------------------

Let's start at the front of the bike.

The VStrom usually has tubeless tires on a cast wheel. John, the organiser, strongly recommended using tubed tires with heavy duty tubes. Scott shaved the safety bead off the rims and used Continental TKC 80s. Didn't get a single puncture. Which means he wouldn't have got any punctures with the std tubeless tires either. I'll add some comments about this later.

And what did he think of the cast wheels? It was a bit of a worry before the rally started, but once underway he found them to be "as tough as." Several times he had big hits on rocks that he thought for sure would crack the wheel. "If it had been spokes it would have dinged the rim. These are better than spokes. Stronger than anything I've ever ridden on. I can't believe how strong they are."

ABS? "No. And I'm glad I didn't." (see multiple threads elsewhere for hearty discussions about ABS off-road).

Forks. Scott spent hours on the forks and this is where he lost me a bit as I know diddly squat about what's inside them, so forgive me if I misquote him. He changed the springs to Teknik 105s (from Penrith). These were shorter than the std ones and needed spacers. Put in 454 emulator valves, took ages to adjust, modified the dampers and a lot of other stuff, hours and hours trying to get it right. There are plenty of forums dedicated to this topic. For an ignoramus like me, the message would be to leave the forks as is, or get a pro to assist.

OEM windscreen set to lowest setting.

The handlebars are Renthals from a CRF 450 motoX bike, with 1" rise and 1" setback. They were too low when standing so he is swapping them for ATV bars, and lowering the footpegs. More about that shortly.

BarkBusters & heated grips completes the handlebar mods.

You can see in the photo he's got a radiator cover. "It was on the bike when I bought it. Well worth it to keep out sticks and leaves on the track."

Did you need to clean the air filter on the way? "No. I was only in dust for 1-2 days, then had clean air after that." (He stayed with a group for the first day or so learning how to use a GPS, then took off. Didn't see another rider for the rest of the course.)




Inserted blank space here to make it easier on the eye. Sooothing green.




Givi crash bars. B&B skid/bash plate. "The skid plate was good. Didn't use the crash bars." (He didn't fall once on the rally.)

Stock exhaust was fine. Perhaps a bit too quiet coz the 'roos wouldn't get out of the way.

Stock seat, sore bum at times. No Airhawke? "No, I've heard of them, but never used one."

Giant Loop luggage bag was good.

Did you carry extra fuel? "Had spare 4 litres in one side of the Giant Loop. Never needed it."

Std sprockets & gearing were fine.





More friendly blank space.





Scottoiler? "No. Just a small can of lube in the backpack. Gave it a squirt every morning (except for sand sections). The chain was not so good. Dealer didn't have the one I wanted and sold me an Izumi O-ring."

Foot pegs - Fastway F3s. Took a bit to get them to fit. "They were good but I'm dropping them 40mm and back 15mm to make it easier to stand."

Rear shock: Looking at the Strom forks and shock compared to a trail bike, "less travel and more weight is not good." Ordered a new shock but it didn't arrive in time. Put on a heavier spring (0.78?) to cope with the extra weight of the baggage. Bit tricky to swap out. Did the job alright. (Scott weighs 80kgs so if you're a lighter rider you might get away with the std shock.)


I'll finish this later. Coming up: where did the Strom struggle and where did it shine?
 

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I was out at Cameron Corner on a personal trip when Scott came through. I was very pleased to see a Strom on the APC (dissapointed too - I wanted to be the first).

My bike is setup fairly similar to his, just a bit more farkled.

He had suffered BADLY in the sand - was almost at the end of his tether, whereas this time I was ok. I was in a similar mental place out there last year too (I think he is much more experienced off-road than I am). The steering damper was the only real difference I could spot. In short - sand = mandatory damper I reckon, or some real bravery. I reckon I would have fallen where he had got through.

The most interesting thing I found was the similarity of knowledge. The suspension specialist he used wasn't anything special. The knowlege comes from here - the forums. Between all of us, we know far more than any dealer or specialist.

Bring on the recommendations.

FYI: I was also running TKC 80's - love em.

Well done mate - good to see there are lot's of ways of getting there.

Paul
 

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If anyone is talking to him - I'd love to know how the TKC 80's went for wear.

Most of the dirt bikes went throug 2 - 3 sets of tyres.

I reckon the tubeless TKC's would last the trip + some - be interested in the feedback.

Thanx
Paul
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
There are umpty-dozen threads on tires out there, but I could drop him an email and ask.

I think John from APC Rally will probably collect feedback about tires and a other stuff and incorporate into next years prep notes.

What about your TKCs, Paul? Were you using tubed or tubeless, and how many kms did you get out of them?

Cheers,

PS will finish off the mods notes soon ...
 

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I'm impressed.

Not just with him making it, though that's impressive enough - but the bike looks immaculate afterwards, I've seen photo's of some of the other bikes that competed and that DL came out really well.

And yeah. Agree on the steering damper, finally tried mine out on the surface I love to hate (deep coarse sand on a hard packed base) and it made a big difference - still had to feed it throttle when the front dug in, but both ends of the bike stayed more or less in line without the massive amount of work it used to take.

Pete
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Scott's mods to the VStrom for the rally, part 2

Just a few items left to add to the list on the previous page.

Q. Where did the Strom struggle?
A. In the sand. That was the biggest shock, in deep sand. It done me head in. The front is so heavy and the 19" wheel ploughs. I tried all sorts - backed off the preload, pushed the forks up - marginal improvement. In the end I went 50% faster - scary but helpful. Met another VStrom at Camerons Corner, Paul [that's me3 here on StromTroopers - has posted photos etc in this thread]. He told me to get a steering damper but I was through the worst of it by then so just carried on.

Q. Where did the Strom shine?
A. On bitumen! It works well at speed.

Q. Tent or swag?
A. Swag (Oz Trails Biker Swag). Bulky but quick to pack up. 2" foam mat is built in.



Q. Was your sleeping bag warm enough?
A. Yeah. It's rated to -10.

That's about it. He was real impressed with how strong the Strom is. I guess Suzuki didn't have to sacrifice strength for weight.

He didn't drop the bike once the whole way round, even on sand.

Tx again for your time, Scott, and congrats on the fantastic effort.
 

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There are umpty-dozen threads on tires out there, but I could drop him an email and ask.

I think John from APC Rally will probably collect feedback about tires and a other stuff and incorporate into next years prep notes.

What about your TKCs, Paul? Were you using tubed or tubeless, and how many kms did you get out of them?

Cheers,

PS will finish off the mods notes soon ...
Tubeless - 18PSI front, 25 rear.
I had a Heidenau rear this trip as I got it for free, but reckon the TKC is a better tyre on road and similar off road.
No rim damage despite carrying a lot of weight (20L fuel, 8L water) and other stuff.
I can't quote distances for rear wear, as I bought them 2nd hand from Stromtrooper :)
At a guess - 7500km for a rear and 15,000 for a front.
Mix of commuting (too much), touring and outback.

Paul
 

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I had a google and read all about the APC rally and what a great concept it is and congrats to Scott on his effort.It is not a race but a medal on completion,7000k 14 days by gee you would want a few months in the gym and a decent set to line up for that.Maybe you could put in a couple of big 800k days sleep in till 10 and then wander 200 :yesnod::mrgreen:be great if the fox people would give it some coverage.
 

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I don't see what the problem would be with running the Rally with tubeless tyres and carrying tubes for if the rim gets damaged. Any reasons why not?

Seeing a Strom complete it puts ideas in my head, though he may be lucky the Simpson wasn't part of it, though was the alternate route as bad?

Victorian Strom team anyone.........

Though being halfway through Lois Pryce's book Red Tape and White Knuckles is making me consider my ttr250 as a serious option (She rides a ttr250 from London to Cape Town solo). If I was going to trash a bike on a ride like this Rally, frankly I'd rather trash the ttr.

Anyway congratulations to Scott, who makes all of us VStrom owners proud.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Scott continues the mods, post Rally

Scott writes:

"Bit of an update on changes I have made since the rally and the TKC’s. I should have decided to enter the rally a month earlier to allow more testing, but now I suppose I now know exactly what the stock bike handles like.

"I took the rear TKC off at 4800 km, that was a bit of testing the trip to Wodonga from home and a bit over half the rally. It had about one more day left in it when changed (800 kms)

"The front has done 10,000 and all the centre three rows of knob are all worn on the leading edge down to the case, doesn’t look pretty but still works ok.

"I think they are well suited to the strom if you intend to do any off road and can be pushed pretty hard on the road also. They seem pricy though, that set cost me about $550 from a local bike shop.

"I bought a new TKC front and might put a T63 on the back, as it’s a bit smaller (130/80) I may need the extra clearance as I have moved the rear axle forward about 35 mm. This has moved the weight balance more to the rear, lightens up the front, plus with the pegs now back about 20mm and down 40 mm it made a huge improvement to handling when off the bitumen. You can now stand up and ride in with heaps more confidence, even can get the front to come up in first, while standing without clutching it. Still working on the forks and slowly I am getting them firmer with initial soft feel, looks like the final piece might be .95 fork springs, up from the current .85.

"I finally got to fit the Ohlins shock a few weeks ago. A quick ride up to Dargo, mixture of twisty bitumen and some fire trails, pulled it straight out and sent it back for revalve. Basically not enough rebound control even when fully screwed it. (The standard shock with the heavy spring was way better) I should be trying it out later this week.

"I ended up ordering a Scotts steering damper a few weeks ago so it should be here this week, starting to think I may not need it now. I’ll let you know how it goes."

(Have asked him for some photos of the rear axle mod, and the foot pegs.)
 

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tell him the scotts steering damper is well worth it....

It made this nervous dirt newbie on street tires able to travel through some quite loose gravel with some respectable grace.

I thought it was only worthwhile for the incompetent like me to make up for the lack of skills. But it has been confirmed by at least one experience dirt bike rider, that it was very good on the Strom.
 
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