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Bike Shopping / VStrom v KLR

10124 Views 53 Replies 40 Participants Last post by  Phinhead
I've been out of the bike game for a few years now and feeling it's time to get back. Several of us starting to plan an Alaskan trip up the Dalton Highway to Deadhorse. I've read a lot and watched all the YouTube videos. I've got it narrowed down to the VStrom 650 and the KLR 650. KLR wins for price and simplicity/reliability. Strom seems like it would be hands-down better on pavement but still do the job on 500 miles of gravel. Looking for input from those who may have done the trip or similar trips. Any ideas on add-ons or extras before taking this on?? Thanks all.
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That's a tough question to answer and to be honest it's one only you can answer. I've had both bikes and the Vstrom is way better on interstate and at speed. The KLR works better on gravel roads or no roads. The KLR with a heavy load at highway speeds does not handle well and can be downright scary. Without a load speed doesn't seem to be a problem. Most of my riding is on pavement so I went with the Vstrom.
 

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They're really very different bikes. One is a street bike with mild off-pavement capability, one is a dirt bike with mild on-road capability. Given 95% of your Alaska trip will be on packed roads you could drive your Accord on, the choice seems clear.
 

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I test rode a KLR before getting the Strom and it was pretty obvious which bike would be the better one to do longer tours on once I rode the Strom. Dirt roads and logging roads are no problem for the Strom. If you want to chase bears up trails and ride on glaciers then I suppose the KLR would work better for that. It will be painful getting there though.
 

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In May, I decided I wanted a bike with better road manners and longer legs. I sold my well sorted 02 KLR705 and acquired a wee. Hands down, the wee is better handling on big roads. Other than that, the klr did everything else just as well as the wee does.

Honestly, I am still getting used to the Wee and sorting it out. So, my comfort zone is expanding. The KLR is addicting. Ideally, I want both, and hope to have another KLR, DR, or something better on all these north georgia forest roads at some point. Till then, the Wee is a fine ride, even though I still miss my KLR.

From Georgia, I would take the Wee. I would never have enough time to go to AK on just secondary/back roads, so the Wee it would be. From WA? I truly think that either one would do fine.

As said earlier in this thread, your choice, dirt bias or street bias.
 

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starting to plan an Alaskan trip up the Dalton Highway to Deadhorse. I've got it narrowed down to the VStrom 650 and the KLR 650. KLR wins for price and simplicity/reliability. Strom seems like it would be hands-down better on pavement but still do the job on 500 miles of gravel.

Own a Vee (set-up for off-pavement) and a KLR. Although some folks would disagree, the KLR wouldn't be my choice for the trip you are planning. :beatnik:
 

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I own a KLR for severe trails and in-town commuting, and I also have a DL1000 for sport touring/long-distance touring, but it can do gravel roads like a champ. Between these two bikes I feel I have a great choice of bikes that will do any kind of riding with good competence.
The KLR has proven to be tough and reliable offroad, and very economical on pavement, and the Vee is a great tourer the way I have it set up with a large windshield--some of my friends call it my 'Goldwing'. Ha ha. Very funny. But I have had an 800 mile day with no worrys.
This is a very good combination of bikes if you are able to do two bikes.
 

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I have a Vee and a KLR... and if I was going on that trip with you, the KLR would hands down.... without a doubt.... stay at home! I love the KLR, but the Strom is so much better at touring and the larger frame and associated comfort is not able to be matched on the KLR. For maintained gravel road, there is no reason the Strom should not be considered for this trip. If you plan on going off onto the mountain 4x4 trails and need to start jumping washouts, the KLR would be the ticket. I don't expect you'll be doing many gnarly 2 foot washout jumps on the roads you will be covering.
 

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I have on 08 Wee and an 05 KLR. The KLR is lots of fun when banging around in the woods and trails. Much more dirt oriented than the Strom. On paved or packed roads for more than an hour or two, the Strom wins by a huge margin. Actually there is no comparison when it comes to everything but the very roughest terrain. I know a lot of people ride the KLR some very long distances but believe me, they would be much happier on a Strom. Oh, and by the way, there is a reason why my KLR has less than half the miles at twice the age of my Strom.
 

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just did trans labador highway on a strom dl650. 2 friends in my pack had klr's one new and one older style both with the 685 upgrade (borded out cylinder for power and no oil burning). On highway they had to stop every 2 hr's to let the feeling from the vibrating come back to there hands. better on the road then my bike but in what i considered dam scary so did the klr riders.

One even made a nice coment that for major part of his trip he wishes he had somthign else but is dam happy he had the klr for the dirt. But again I did the dirt.

I highly suggest a scotts stearing damper as when I hit some dam lose sandy stuff I did have steering wobble and had 2 full on tank slappers. Gave her gas and the wee got me out of them but ya wished I had the cash for one for this trip. But besides that (and we are talking REALY bad crap here) I would say the storm handled the stuff well. easily doing 80kph on that highway usualy in decent conditions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks

Thanks for all the replies guys. So far it seems the Strom is the definite favorite.....I was leaning that way myself. Still interested in hearing from more of you with any more thoughts, especially on recommended modifications or accessories for a trip like this.
 

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I have both... '09 KLR and just picked up a '04 Wee.

I do severe off road, short trips, some commuting, etc on the KLR.

The Wee filled in for the longer commutes, trips and higher speeds. Did over 700 miles in the Wee the day after I picked it up. No problem. Would not do that on the KLR and I love it and have done tons of work to customize it for me (full suspension, protection, seat, 685 upgrade etc.)

Gotta try both and see which fits you!!

:thumbup:
 

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The KLR with a 685cc piston kit is actually pretty nice. The deal breaker for me was the KLR's seat height, 35 some inches. I have a 29.5" inseam. so anything over 34" seat height is pretty rough.

I like the Wee but can't deny the ground clearance and suspension travel advantages to the KLR especially for off-roading.

Then again I did a 2500 mile round trip over 5 days Denver to Detroit and back, on the Wee and it was as happy as a clam doing 75-80mph actual all day long on I-80 and still had decent passing power.
 

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Yeah, I pondered the exact same thing last year while deciding on the right bike for me. KLR or Wee? Well, I chose the Wee and couldn't be happier. I checked out some KLR's, so my riding experience with them is just that; test rides. Put a fork brace on the Wee and some 70/30 tires, and you might get just the bike you're looking for. Don't take my word on it, though, it's up to you. Good luck!
 

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The guy that sits in the office next to me just got back from a Vermont ->Alaska->Vermont motorcycle trip on his...... wait for it... KLR650

His wife was on her BMW. They met up with someone who flew in to Alaska and rented a Wee.

Apparently it was quite the adventure... complete with the original KLR starting to burn too much oil and having to swap it for another KLR....to too-large innertubes which were pinching and blowing-out.

Not sure if this helps you decide or not...
 

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I've been out of the bike game for a few years now and feeling it's time to get back.

I've got it narrowed down to the VStrom 650 and the KLR 650.
I just got back to Motorcycle ownership as well last year, and the same two bikes were on my short list. I was only buying one bike, and had no desire to change afterwards. It had to be the right one.

I had never ridden a VStrom. I did, however, have experience riding my son's older KLR 650 ove a few years (we'd switch, my car for his bike - worked for both of us). I rode it on highways, paved secondary roads, dirt and power-line trails through hilly country in Quebec North of where I live.

I've had my DL650 for a year and a half (10500 Kms, 6500 miles) and have ridden it on all kinds of roads and a few trails as well.

The KLR works. I feel it wouldn't like the sort of weight I put on the back of my DL when I camp. The KLR, stock, is a bit of a pig in the really tight stuff. The DL more so. But that's not where I normally go. On dirt roads or wider trails they're both fine. On an open paved road, the DL wins, easily. On mud with stock tires the DL is scary.

There is one important reason that I wouldn't want to do long distances on the KLR. I had for a few years a Yamaha SR500 Street Single that sounded fine with the stock exhaust and great with an aftermarket one. The KLR, a slightly larger single, sounds like a larger Briggs and Stratton. The DL 650 doesn't sound much like a Ducati, but it's still a lot better than the KLR. Both my son and I really tired of the sound from the stock KLR exhaust. I don't know what the aftermarket has to offer for KLR exhausts.

I don't mean to knock the KLR, it's a good and honest machine. My son (and I) got good use out of it. For me (!), and for where I go (! again), the DL650 wins. My next tires will be a bit more dirt oriented, and I do have a rough idea to do a bit more dirt and hopefully the Trans Labrador route in the next year or two. From what I can tell so far, I'll be happy to have my DL to get there, and beyond.

You make your own decision. I made mine.

Good luck, and enjoy.

Marc
 

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The DL, I've ridden riders on KLR's into the ground on a Wee, yes, the KLR can go faster than a Wee on bad dirt roads, but you can keep going all day on the Wee, you'll be begging for death just so the pain will end after 12 hours on a KLR :).

A steering damper is recommended if you expect deep gravel or sand, but not necessary for decent dirt roads. If you are on the heavy side, firmer springs, if you have a bad back - an aftermarket or rebuilt rear shock. The stock shock will handle bad roads, but the ride is pretty harsh.

The KLR will definitely get places a Wee would have real difficultly with - but for anything that looks like a road, the Wee wins.

The big bonus with the Wee - tubeless tires, punctures become a 5-10 minute delay, not a half day ordeal ;)

Pete
 

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I sat on a KLR650 once. It felt like a was climbing up on a horse. It's very high, at least for me: 5'8" 32" inseams.
My vstrom DL650 was almost perfect height stock. I lowered it 1.5" and it's just awesome. Flat footed and very comfortable. For me there is no question that the vee is safer and more comfortable.
 
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