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I finally got around to picking up the leftover 2018 V-strom 650XT (yellow) that I bought. Incredible deal on a new left-over. Actually cheaper than some used units I've seen advertised, which is what I was going to buy.

I've put several hundred miles on the bike and, as I commented in the "break-in" thread, I'm a believer in following factory recommendations on break in. So they were easy backroad twisty miles, not high revving, lots of hills for varied throttle openings, and no dirt yet. Just rough broken pavement.

First observation, and a lesson re-learned. If you buy a leftover bike, ask the dealer to flush the brake system. I was well into the ride before I noticed that the brake fluid for the front is jet black from moisture contamination. I'll flush that out with new stuff soon.

After reading up on the reviews, I was prepared for a few things. Some expectations rang true, and others did not.

I was expecting a soft front spring. Initially I thought it was stiff, but later decided that the spring was soft, but the damping was very firm. Makes for a jackhammer effect on broken pavement. After about 300 miles, I think the front suspension is going to be the first thing that gets work. I don't do too much serious off-road riding, so that may come before a belly pan and crash bars. Even with the easy riding there were a few times when the damping was so harsh the front tire was losing contact with the roadway (riding over broken and patched pavement). I'll probably drop a few PSI from the front tire until I can address the springing/damping.

The rear shock isn't as bad as I was expecting it to be, but I tried minimum preload and maximum preload, and got exactly the same sag measurement! I thought that was very strange, and wondered if anybody else has had that experience. I also rode it maximum and minimum preload and noticed no difference. Very strange. I started the ride with rear rebound damping two clicks in from softest. Seemed fine to me, but I'll experiment and see if it makes any difference there.

I'd been led to believe that the brakes were wooden feeling compared to the brakes on the V-strom 1000. Maybe. They felt fine to me, but I have not done any serious stopping. For the kind of riding I was doing, they worked fine, and gave sufficient feedback. Initial bite is good, and I didn't work them hard enough to see how they function when really hot.

BTW, does anybody know if you can bolt up the DL1000XT front calipers to the 650? Any other parts that might swap? Like perhaps the rear shock? Just curious.

I'd previously owned a 2002 Suzuki SV650, so I was prepared for the motor feel. But the newer V-twin is a seriously improved engine. I haven't run it up to high revs yet, but I can already tell it's much more refined, smoother, I think the fueling from the injection is better than the carbs transitioning from idle to on throttle. Really nice; no complaints whatsoever. I don't know if that "take-off assist" is necessary or not, but I think at least once it intervened to prevent a take-off stall when I was initiating a U-turn. I liked it even though I'd previously thought it was a silly bit of unnecessary techno babying.

The dealer set traction control to "2" meaning maximum intervention. I didn't bother to change it, since I figured it would never enter into the picture during break-in. But apparently it did, as I noticed the light flicker on a couple of times. However, it was completely transparent to me, and all I can figure is it might have been one of those instances where the bike hit a sand or gravel strip that washed over the pavement during rain, and in ordinary circumstances the rear end might step out an inch or so before grabbing again. I'm just guessing there, because like I said it was totally transparent to me, other than the light flickering on.

The gearbox is probably the nicest shifting I've ever ridden, and I've had over 100 bikes. I have a 2007 BMW 800ST, and a 2016 KTM 390 Duke and those transmissions feel like you're moving a metal rod through a box of rocks compared to the V-strom. I've heard of a false neutral, but could not find one. Whereas the BMW has one before and after 5th gear, and you have to be careful not to hit it every single time. What an amazing difference. (Not to knock non-Japanese manufacturing, but that KTM has had a lousy transmission from day one. When the neutral light is on, you have to be very careful releasing the clutch, because about half the time it's still in 1st gear even though the light is on!)

I've ordered a pair of RaceTech gold valve emulators and springs to try to address that front end. I've tried them in the SV650, and Intiminators in my DR650, and I prefer the gold valves. The stock front end was just way too harsh and didn't give sufficient feedback for me. Granted, that fork oil might be just like the front brake fluid, not performing as if fresh because the bike sat around unsold for a long time. I think I'll leave the rear shock alone until I get the chance to ride it fully loaded, and see if that causes any issues.
 

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Congrats, and yes the 650 suspension in my opinion just ho-hum. After you get done with the front end, consider sending the rear to either Daugherty or Sasquatch. These guys actually take the non rebuildable oem shock, cut it open, re-valve and re-spring it before welding it back together for a very reasonable price and way cheaper than aftermarket.
I had Daugherty do mine about 20k ago and I'm still happy and it does not get babied.

1000 calipers will not fit, but some gixr 4 pots do fit with a adapter bracket. I had them on '07 DL but decided against them on the '15 after doing some head to head threshold braking tests. I also replaced the oem pads with Ferodo sintered and the fluid with Super Dot 4.....much more firm.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks!

Appreciate the advice on the rear shock. I'll likely wait until the colder months to do that, since it may require the bike to be on the blocks until the shock is done. Maybe I'll look around for a used shock and send that in.
 

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I finally got around to picking up the leftover 2018 V-strom 650XT (yellow) that I bought...I've ordered a pair of RaceTech gold valve emulators and springs to try to address that front end. I've tried them in the SV650, and Intiminators in my DR650, and I prefer the gold valves. The stock front end was just way too harsh and didn't give sufficient feedback for me... I think I'll leave the rear shock alone until I get the chance to ride it fully loaded, and see if that causes any issues.
Interesting.

Will you please update us with your view of change / improvement to the forks after you install the new parts? My bike's getting fairly close to 50K miles, and I know I need to, at a minimum, do a fork rebuild, using OEM parts. I might consider an upgrade, as you're doing, if yours works out well.

Thanks.

:smile2:
 

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I tried minimum preload and maximum preload, and got exactly the same sag measurement!
This is not right. Not the case at all with my 2017 and my neighbors 2007. Are you measuring sag with you sitting on the bike with all gear and luggage, upright with feet off the ground? It so, perhaps you need to make a warranty claim. How much do you weigh?

I've ordered a pair of RaceTech gold valve emulators and springs to try to address that front end.
Exactly what I did. At 165 lbs, the emulators, stock springs & stock weight oil was perfect for me.
 

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I agree that the front feels harsh when new, but after 27,000 km I only notice it at low speeds.
It could be largely to do with stiction on the new forks.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
This is not right. Not the case at all with my 2017 and my neighbors 2007. Are you measuring sag with you sitting on the bike with all gear and luggage, upright with feet off the ground? It so, perhaps you need to make a warranty claim. How much do you weigh?

Exactly what I did. At 165 lbs, the emulators, stock springs & stock weight oil was perfect for me.
I weigh around 170. I'm going to ride the bike and let it get 1,000 miles on it, get the shock beyond what may be factory stiction issues, as it was giving me barely 1/2" sag from unweighted to me sitting on it. The rear damper adjustment seems to be working fine, as I went through a few different numbers of rotation from soft to hard, and was able to feel a difference there.

I was just measuring from unladen to rider weighted. Some guys also measure with two riders (or extra weight), letting the weight be removed to get the suspension from "super" weighted to just sag with the rider, and average the two measurements. I'm not that picky. I just wanted to see the preload range, and from my initial measurements it looked like full and no preload gave me the same sag. I have a feeling that once the shock is worn in some, and seals soften up, that issue will disappear. And I'm likely to replace or get it rebuilt soon, so I'm not concerned about a warranty issue. I did check on buying a used one to get it rebuilt, then swap them, but darn people think these stock shocks are made of gold. You can buy GSXR fully adjustable shocks for less!

On that note, do any of the replacements or rebuilds have both compression and rebound damping adjustments?

I rode another short backroad ride today, and about 1/2 way through I thought "darn, I should have hooked up that gopro." But it did reconfirm that the front end is (in my opinion) undersprung, but way over-damped. Nonetheless, I'm super happy with the bike. Just looking forward to tweaking it in a few areas that mean a lot to me.
 

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After you get done with the front end, consider sending the rear to either Daugherty or Sasquatch. These guys actually take the non rebuildable oem shock, cut it open, re-valve and re-spring it before welding it back together for a very reasonable price and way cheaper than aftermarket.
Just a clarification on the 650's shock mods. The 650 shock isn't cut apart and rewelded back together. Rather, it's disassembled somewhat similar to the same method as a dirtbike shock. The main thing the stock 650 shock is missing, is a port to recharge the nitrogen. With the Ni port to recharge the pressure, the shock can be disassembled again and again.
 

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Tjosephtoo,

The rebuilds by Sasquatch and others, do not add any external adjustments for compression and rebound. The stock shock has a single rebound adjustment screw at the bottom of the shock. This adjustment also affects low speed compression dampening because this adjustment is a circuit for shock fluid to bypass the shock piston.

The stock shock only has so much capability and shouldn't be compared to higher end shocks with all the external clickers and stuff. But, if you're mostly riding street and rough gravel roads, the stock shock will be plenty good enough.

I had Sasquatch re-valve my shock for a stiffer rate spring (700 lb) for two up riding on mostly street, and the results were pretty good.
 

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My 2017 is my first Suzuki and here is what worked for my brakes. EBC HH sintered pads front and back made a noticeable difference. Try them first....
Yeah I always use sintered, best all around characteristics but you will replace rotors a bit faster but it still takes quite a while...Also think about braided brake lines
 

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Just a clarification on the 650's shock mods. The 650 shock isn't cut apart and rewelded back together. Rather, it's disassembled somewhat similar to the same method as a dirtbike shock. The main thing the stock 650 shock is missing, is a port to recharge the nitrogen. With the Ni port to recharge the pressure, the shock can be disassembled again and again.
Thanks for the correction. It's been years and I can't remember where I got that info on the rebuild. I had both front and rear done after the washboards in Moab rattled my spleen loose. The next trip out there was like night and day and I enjoyed those same trails much more.
On the pavement the bike no longer has sluggish transitions in the twistees.....nice and snappy.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Tjosephtoo,

The rebuilds by Sasquatch and others, do not add any external adjustments for compression and rebound. The stock shock has a single rebound adjustment screw at the bottom of the shock. This adjustment also affects low speed compression dampening because this adjustment is a circuit for shock fluid to bypass the shock piston.

The stock shock only has so much capability and shouldn't be compared to higher end shocks with all the external clickers and stuff. But, if you're mostly riding street and rough gravel roads, the stock shock will be plenty good enough.

I had Sasquatch re-valve my shock for a stiffer rate spring (700 lb) for two up riding on mostly street, and the results were pretty good.
Thanks much for the input. I was under the impression the stock adjuster was just for rebound damping, but this makes a bit more sense. I usually go for the cheaper solution first, and if it fits my needs I stick with that. So getting the stock shock rebuilt is somewhere in the near future (probably when the weather gets cold, the roads get salty, and the DR650 beater gets used more).
 

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Hit 600 miles, so I did the first oil change. I used Suzuki oil and filter, just in case warranty issues come up. The stock XT cowl really is a flimsy piece. I was surprised it wasn't more substantial. I wasn't expecting it to be like a skid plate, but it really is just a cosmetic piece! Skid plate on order. Mounted centerstand. Very pleased.

Gold valve emulators are in, but waiting on springs.

Took my trusty DR650 to the dealer for the oil and filter. A well tuned suspension really is a joy!
 

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It is a very beautiful ride in the eastern panhandle of WV. You get pretty good at spotting wildlife, and I've had a few close calls, and even one contact. A saw a deer running parallel to me through the woods out of the corner of my right eye, and grabbed the brakes. Just then the doe cut sharply left, ran right out in front of me as I was clamping down on the brakes, my front tire bumped her left ribcage, and neither of us went down! It just jostled my handlebars, and we each continued on our way, promising never to meet like that again. So far we've both kept that promise.
 

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Congrats on the purchase.

As far as the front suspension goes the stock suspension on my 18 DL650XT is much better than my 2009 DL650 stock suspension. However, I agree with you about the harshness over some of the rougher roads I ride. If I keep the speed down it isn't much of an issue but then again I know it can be improved. To that end I purchased a suspension kit for Cogent Dynamics which includes their Drop In Cartridges (also picked up a pair of fork caps with built in preload off an older Strom). I had this setup with an Elka Shock on my 2009 and I really liked it. Unfortunately Elka does not appear to make shocks for motorcycles anymore.
 

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Congrats on the purchase.

As far as the front suspension goes the stock suspension on my 18 DL650XT is much better than my 2009 DL650 stock suspension. However, I agree with you about the harshness over some of the rougher roads I ride. If I keep the speed down it isn't much of an issue but then again I know it can be improved. To that end I purchased a suspension kit for Cogent Dynamics which includes their Drop In Cartridges (also picked up a pair of fork caps with built in preload off an older Strom). I had this setup with an Elka Shock on my 2009 and I really liked it. Unfortunately Elka does not appear to make shocks for motorcycles anymore.
Like to hear about how the bike feels with the Cogent drop ins and their springs - also I like the idea about preload caps - will that work with the Cogent springs? Did you need to make spacers.

Thanks for any advice - almost upgraded to a 1000 just for the front end..
George
 
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