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the dl650 will take you down the freeway to explore off-road destinations. i agree the bike can power thru many challenges like a tractor. someday i'll practice off roading on a real dirt bike, or go to off road school. until then, i've outfitted the bike with shinko tires, a 14T front sprocket, a bash plate, barkbusters, crash bars front & back, a moto wench & tow line, tools, food & water, and a gps. a cdma phone is on my wish list. i drop the vstrom every 3rd time i go off roading, usually when i'm relaxing or going slow. apart from scraped crash bars, the moto's as good as new. it is such a tall and top heavy bike, plus i carry 35 lbs of gear in top box and pillion. i keep the tools in a 4 inch tool tube and two 2 inch tool tubes. the dl650 keeps up on the freeways and its a pleasure on country roads, but the best times are to be had going off road as far as you dare. i'll go back another day and dare myself to go even further. the blue ridge mountains in virginia and west virginia have a lot to offer.
 

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Sensible. Remember that word. It is key to the thread.

Replies stating a DL is better at hill climbing, and better going down sketchy downhill sections due to ABS make me cringe. Really? ABS is better going down a rocky, loose dirt downhill section? I wonder why then that off road riders want a switch to turn off ABS? Sloppy conditions are better on a heavy bike? Hmmmmm
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My experience differs from yours. ABS is a winner on downhills but you can't use the same riding style as on a non-ABS bike. Keep the speed really low, use the front brakes HARD because the front washing out is no longer automatic - release the brake once it locks and hit it again, repeat, use the rear brake just to keep the back of the bike behind the front. It's also just a controlled crash - but it's a much slower crash than without ABS. I've certainly slithered down slopes more or less under control where the guys on smaller bikes did crash at the bottom, as did the guys on the GS's who disabled ABS.

Sloppy condition yeah, DR's and KLR's sliding all over the place while I just chugged through. The weight helps because the pig sinks to the bottom and has enough power to just chug through, the smaller bikes have to go faster and with more engine revs or they bog down - which means more wheelspin, which means more sliding around. I mean if lifting DR650's out of fences is your thing, feel free but the weight of the pig isn't ALWAYS a loss.

Uphills similar, I don't have to just gun it, I can usually just pick my way up at walking pace without stalling.

Again, all that requires a different riding style but it works and works well.

If all those other riders can't be bothered to adapt their riding styles, that's their loss not mine.
 

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My experience differs from yours. ABS is a winner on downhills but you can't use the same riding style as on a non-ABS bike. Keep the speed really low, use the front brakes HARD because the front washing out is no longer automatic - release the brake once it locks and hit it again, repeat, use the rear brake just to keep the back of the bike behind the front. It's also just a controlled crash - but it's a much slower crash than without ABS. I've certainly slithered down slopes more or less under control where the guys on smaller bikes did crash at the bottom, as did the guys on the GS's who disabled ABS.

Sloppy condition yeah, DR's and KLR's sliding all over the place while I just chugged through. The weight helps because the pig sinks to the bottom and has enough power to just chug through, the smaller bikes have to go faster and with more engine revs or they bog down - which means more wheelspin, which means more sliding around. I mean if lifting DR650's out of fences is your thing, feel free but the weight of the pig isn't ALWAYS a loss.

Uphills similar, I don't have to just gun it, I can usually just pick my way up at walking pace without stalling.

Again, all that requires a different riding style but it works and works well.

If all those other riders can't be bothered to adapt their riding styles, that's their loss not mine.
The above (at least the ABS comments) seem inline with Clinton Smout's off-road training. He talks about it on the Adventure Rider Radio podcast. I think it was the episode titled "Its all Riding Down Hill From Here" from 3 odd months ago.

I have no comment as to the validity of it, not having ridden in these conditions, just suggesting that the use of ABS (for big adventure bikes) has some trainers advocating for its use off-road.
 

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This thread reminds me of a story told by a park ranger about a father and husband who killed his family. The father/husband took his little family on a hike up a mountain wearing nothing but shorts and what they had in the pockets. The family died of exposure when a storm blew in. The ranger blamed the father for not taking the appropriate precautions. His macho bravado killed his family.

One of the V-Strom gatherings years ago included a challenging off road ride. A young rider with a new V-strom decided to participate. The ride was lead by a professional level rider who could do just about anything on his V-Strom that the rest of us could do on a dirt bike and he set a fast pace fr the group. That young rider totalled his V-Strom on that ride. It went home in the back of a truck. At least he lived.
That is a valid point. Any of us advocating more challenging trails on a big bike also need to advocate the need of off pavement rider training.

But it's not just a big bike issue, I would not like to see a dirt bike handed to a street only rider and assume he/she could keep up with experienced riders on similar machines.
 

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My experience differs from yours. ABS is a winner on downhills but you can't use the same riding style as on a non-ABS bike. Keep the speed really low, use the front brakes HARD because the front washing out is no longer automatic - release the brake once it locks and hit it again, repeat, use the rear brake just to keep the back of the bike behind the front. It's also just a controlled crash - but it's a much slower crash than without ABS. I've certainly slithered down slopes more or less under control where the guys on smaller bikes did crash at the bottom, as did the guys on the GS's who disabled ABS.

Sloppy condition yeah, DR's and KLR's sliding all over the place while I just chugged through. The weight helps because the pig sinks to the bottom and has enough power to just chug through, the smaller bikes have to go faster and with more engine revs or they bog down - which means more wheelspin, which means more sliding around. I mean if lifting DR650's out of fences is your thing, feel free but the weight of the pig isn't ALWAYS a loss.

Uphills similar, I don't have to just gun it, I can usually just pick my way up at walking pace without stalling.

Again, all that requires a different riding style but it works and works well.

If all those other riders can't be bothered to adapt their riding styles, that's their loss not mine.
The statement in red confirms that you are not talking about the same thing I am. "Pick you way up at walking pace" confirms you are not on what I call steep grades. Far from it. Even on the best dirt bikes momentum and management of that has everything to do with making it to the top. So steep you MUST walk the bike down as I described before to keep from losing the bike. Riding down these slopes....there is NO way to not gain speed. That is where you must be able to control the bike till you level out and can slow down.

Statements about using ABS don't apply to this kind of terrain and surface material. Maybe down a hard packed dirt trail that is easy enough that you can "go up at a walking pace"!

I never said anything about lifting bikes out of fences. I said OVER fences, where they block where you are wanting to go. Again, my "off road" description is a LOT different from some others.
 

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We didn't have go pro cameras back in the 1970's. If we had, the video below is as close as I can find to what "off road" riding was to a bunch of us. We would get 8-12 of us together and head up the road to the old mine sites, pipelines that were so steep the bulldozers had to be winched up them to build them, swamps and just back country deserted timberlands. We had some really good riders, and some more novice types. Not everyone would make the hillclimbs, but you would learn by watching those who could. Why these guys don't have their feet on the pegs is a mystery to me. By the time your feet are coming off the pegs you are usually either trying to peddle the last couple feet or getting ready to get away from the bike. The sound of the two strokes sure sounds period correct! We would usually have someone with a truck with us to keep fuel and to haul back bikes that got broken. Utterly worn out after 4-5 hours of this.

Some language makes this not "work safe".

Youtube off road dirt biking

On none of this do you want a 500+ pound bike...........
 

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Sounds like violent agreement now.

Yes you can take a V-Strom down a challenging trail, but at a much, much slower pace than a dirt bike designed to sail through the same terrain. Yes you can take a V-Strom up a switchback trail on the steep side of a mountain if you are very very careful. However, the repercussions of messing up are much, much more severe. It's one thing to add a few scratches to a 240 pound dirt bike and lug it back up to the trail with the help of friends. It's quite another to destroy the body work of a V-Strom and have to rig winches to get it back up the hill to the trail.

Most of us are saying the same thing differently.
 

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Every time this subject comes up in a thread, it makes me think of that guy who rode a Harley FLH with a sidecar attached on the Transamerica Trail. Guys will use that as their baseline of capability, pointing to it and saying "see? A 1200 pound Harley combination rig can too be used off-road!". And indeed it can, provided you're willing to put up with the suffering that'll come with riding a bike that was never designed for the type of riding that you're doing. Saying "it's possible" is the same answer to the question "can I drive nails with a shovel?", or "can I put a trailer hitch on my Corvette and haul a hay wagon?". The answer is always "yes, you can", because the answer to many impractical scenarios is still "yes, it's possible...".

If you were able to ask a designer at Suzuki whether or not their design for the V-Strom was based on the idea of riding it on sketchy singletrack, rock fields, deep mud, etc, do you think their response would be "of course"? I'm asking this out of genuine curiosity; what is it about the design of the V-Strom that makes anyone consider it to be any more of a capable off-road vehicle than, say, a Harley Sportster, or an FJR1300? Because I don't think anyone here would be extolling the virtues of either bike as an off road machine, yet I've seen both being ridden that way; in fact, there's a video on Youtube of a guy riding an FJR1300 through the woods where there isn't even a trail. He's just busting brush on the thing. My Harley Road King only had two inches less of suspension travel than my V-Strom, and about an inch less of ground clearance. Is that a capable off road vehicle? It must be, because I've certainly seen videos of guys pushing big Harley touring bikes on muddy, rocky trails with water crossings, sand, etc. And since it can be done, that must mean it's a practical sensible choice, right?

The OP's question wasn't "is it possible?"; it was, "is a V-Strom a safe and sensible choice for riding off-road?". The answer really boils down to "what's your definition of off road?". If it's the actual definition, as in "there ain't no road there, but there's a lot of shale, dirt, sand, mud, steep hillclimbs, logs, rocks, etc", then how can the answer be anything but "no"? It's no more of a sensible choice than a Sportster, or FJR1300, or my Super Tenere, especially for someone with zero off-road skills. And if it is a sensible choice, then what motorcycle isn't? If a 500 plus pound low ground clearance six inch travel suspension motorcycle is a sensible choice, then just about every bike on the road is a sensible choice, excluding the sort of junk made by Orange County Chopper.

We all love this bike, or else we wouldn't be here. Telling someone unfamiliar with the bike that it wouldn't be the sensible choice for an off-road machine, if off-road riding is one of his reasons for buying it, isn't a slur on the bike's reputation, or engineering, or abilities.

If your needs for a bike are having enough highway capability to get you from your house to the off-road areas that you want to explore, I'd probably be leaning more towards something like the Honda CRF450L. It does have actual off-road capabilities.
 

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We didn't have go pro cameras back in the 1970's. If we had, the video below is as close as I can find to what "off road" riding was to a bunch of us. We would get 8-12 of us together and head up the road to the old mine sites, pipelines that were so steep the bulldozers had to be winched up them to build them, swamps and just back country deserted timberlands. We had some really good riders, and some more novice types. Not everyone would make the hillclimbs, but you would learn by watching those who could. Why these guys don't have their feet on the pegs is a mystery to me. By the time your feet are coming off the pegs you are usually either trying to peddle the last couple feet or getting ready to get away from the bike. The sound of the two strokes sure sounds period correct! We would usually have someone with a truck with us to keep fuel and to haul back bikes that got broken. Utterly worn out after 4-5 hours of this.

Some language makes this not "work safe".

Youtube off road dirt biking

On none of this do you want a 500+ pound bike...........
This looks like so much fun and about 700 x beyond my riding ability. Those hills are steeeeeeep, and the camera certainly doesn't do them justice. Just look at the angles the trees are growing at.
 

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This thread reminds me of a story told by a park ranger about a father and husband who killed his family. The father/husband took his little family on a hike up a mountain wearing nothing but shorts and what they had in the pockets. The family died of exposure when a storm blew in. The ranger blamed the father for not taking the appropriate precautions. His macho bravado killed his family.

One of the V-Strom gatherings years ago included a challenging off road ride. A young rider with a new V-strom decided to participate. The ride was lead by a professional level rider who could do just about anything on his V-Strom that the rest of us could do on a dirt bike and he set a fast pace fr the group. That young rider totalled his V-Strom on that ride. It went home in the back of a truck. At least he lived.

Think I remember the gent you are referring to, but pretty sure he went down at "speed"....not a very slow speed drop. :wink2: He made some mistakes due to arrogance and inexperience, that's totally on him and not the capabilities of the bike. I will say again, "there is always a compromise" when it comes to any motorcycle, and what it was designed/intended, while fully taking into consideration the expectations and abilities of the rider. Yup always a better tool for the job, but yes I do agree that the Stroms are not ideal off road/off pavement bikes "sensibly" for many riders. :smile2:
 

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This looks like so much fun and about 700 x beyond my riding ability. Those hills are steeeeeeep, and the camera certainly doesn't do them justice. Just look at the angles the trees are growing at.
I am getting all sentimental after what I posted above. Blackwater 100 race was held near where I used to live. No I never got to ride it. 5 twenty mile laps of the course. Finishing 5 laps put you in elite status. How guys like Scott Summers ( best off road rider ever ) managed to cover this terrain at the speed he did was incredible. The 93 river crossing is epic. The fans are called mud fleas and as you can see it was quite a party helping the participants. Liabilities killed the race.

Blackwater 100
 

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I have been trailing and racing off-road for about 50 years. Couple of Mexican 1000’s under my belt. As many others have stated the Strom is not an off-roader. Fireroads and some mild single track it can handle. A friend has taken his on some of the “highways” in Baja as well. (If you’ve tour ridden in Baja you’d understand.) He put knobbies on his just for those trips. There was even a guy who started the 2016 Mexican 1000 on a Strom. Note I didn’t say finished. And last year a team, Biltwell, even entered a Harley Sportster and finished. So yes, it can be done though it doesn’t sound like a whole lotta fun to me.

I bought my Strom because it sits like a vintage dirt bike like I grew up with. I have wound up on long, 30 plus miles, stretches of logging road in Northern California with stock tires that wasn’t to bad but wasn’t to fun either. Love it on paved twisty’swhich I bought it for.

The previous post regarding the “physics” of the bike is pretty much spot on. I would add that the weight distribution is to far forward.

Pig
 

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It was my beloved '08 KLR that got me through the "off road" learning curve and that makes my XT 1000 such a great fit for me know. Make sure you look at KLR & DR650 options if you're looking to ease into the life. IMHO... CE
 

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It was my beloved '08 KLR that got me through the "off road" learning curve and that makes my XT 1000 such a great fit for me know. Make sure you look at KLR & DR650 options if you're looking to ease into the life. IMHO... CE
Yes I love the DR650 what I consider a 50/50 dual sport. It doesn't do anything terribly well but it does things well enough to be a blast on back roads and when things get rough you can keep going (up to a point as it too is a bit porky). It's a perfect bike for some rides I've done which combine dirt and street and it's fun where the strom wouldn't be fun.
 

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I just got my DL 650 last year after 16 years on a Kawi ZX11. The Ninja was way out of its comfort zone on any type of gravel, and I avoided anything but pavement. For me, the DL is acceptable off pavement, having more trail, shallower rake and wider bars than my Zeke, but I am planning on an upgrade to a set of 50/50 or 60/40 tires for this year. The stock Battlax's have excellent cornering and wet grip, but are really a pavement-only tire, IMHO and will get squirrelly on]>]1 inch (25mm) gravel, and have inexperienced me down to 15-30mph (25-50 Kmh). Sand is not your friend on this bike. I look at it as an adventure road bike; pretty good on hardback dirt and pea gravel, and I stay away from the cross-terrain stuff.
 

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For me a lot depends on how physically fit and strong you are, I know all my ridding but especially my off road ridding improves when I'm at my best physically.

The Strom has two problems, ground clearance and weight.

They can be jacked up some but then getting a firm footing on uneven ground becomes the problem.

If you are physically fit you can overcome some of the weight problem but you can not beat gravity on steep hills.

When the terrain gets steep and washed out the Strom will struggle to climb hills and then you will struggle to keep control of it on the downward side just because of the bikes weight, good tires are the biggest help in that situation.
 

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Some peoples perception of "trail riding" differs

For those up north suffering from cabin fever, I attach a couple of videos of trail riding down under. And I agree - the camera always flattens out the steep bits.


So let's step that up a bit. To racing. The second is from New Zealand. I've joined this mob - but way back in the pack. Would you bring a V-Strom here?


Still suffering under all that snow? Take a look at the annual BMW adventure ride from a few years back.

Or perhaps Australia's premier off road race - the Finke Desert Race.
 

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Looks like dirt bike riding is the same all over the world

... and this morning I was thinking a DR650 would be the ideal bike for the trans america trail. Not based on brand loyalty, but its just that good a goldilocks bike.
I had an 05 and they are bulletproof, but imho the ole Honda XR650L is the better choice for that.
 

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I had an 05 and they are bulletproof, but imho the new Honda CRF 450L is the better choice for that.
There, that is what you meant I am sure!
 
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