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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,

Lately i've been watching a lot of motorcycle adventure videos. These videos are of guys going all through central and south america on ADV bikes (mostly klrs). The roads there were pretty bad and to get to some of those beautiful places they had to take some knarly dirt roads. Earlier this year i went to the Salton Sea and with my naked bike and all i wanted to do was hit all the dirt roads i saw. I have decided that i want to do some adventures like these. I want to travel mostly the western US and baja california. The thought of hitting up some random dirt roads and leaving society and setting up camp in the middle of nowhere excites me.

I'm thinking about buying a vstrom 650 because of all the good reviews and how it's the swiss army knife of motorcycles. I have a few questions though. The v strom would be my only bike, besides a grom but the grom is only for in town riding.

1. How is the power? I currently ride a honda 919/hornet and love the power. I used to ride a gs500 and was that thing slow. I know it won't be as fast as my bike but would it be enough to keep me happy and safe on the Los Angeles freeways? Freeways here run fast as 85 is the average speed but can go up to 95mph. I like hitting 100+ on my bike sometimes lol.

2. How does it lanesplit without bags? I love lanesplitting and do it every time i can. Will it be heavy in traffic? My bike weighs about 480lbs wet and i'm used to it.

3. How fun is it in the canyons? I love hitting up the local mountains here in Los Angeles. I do like getting wild in the twisties lol. Can the strom handle this type of fast paced riding?

4. How well can it handle dirt? I would most likely travel on long stretches of highway before i hit any dirt.

That's pretty much it. I know the bike is reliable and gets great gas mileage.
 

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Hey, SFR has a bunch-O-videos on the strom 650. Here is one on the highway.

SFR on Cali highway

Overall I find the 650 is a great road bike (paved or unpaved). I am not so sure I would want to spend much trail time on it though. YMMV
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hey, SFR has a bunch-O-videos on the strom 650. Here is one on the highway.


Overall I find the 650 is a great road bike (paved or unpaved). I am not so sure I would want to spend much trail time on it though. YMMV
yeah i watched his video and it did get to 100 quickly. I know it's not amazing on the trails but i've seen some people take their stroms through some crazy roads.
 

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Power is... adequate... It's not fast, it's not dead slow. Coming from a 919, you may find it lacking.

It's a big bike, even without bags. I don't feel comfortable lane splitting in it

It's a fun bike in the twisties, but it's not your 919

I have only taken it on gravel and hardpacked dirt, which it does fine, but then your 919 could do that too. The biggest deficiency is the lack of ground clearance, I scrape the bash guard going off a curb.
 

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My wife and I did the dirt roads around the Salton Sea all the way back to the mud pots......on a 2009 Harley Ultra Classic, you couldn't even tell what color it was haha. No doubt the Strom will handle it. Mine does 100+ easy and handles like a slot car.
 

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1. Power: I cruise at 85 mph and will get up to 95 for passing. I've touched 100 one time and don't plan to do it again. I've heard that the front end gets light above 100 and may start a nasty shimmy. These bikes aren't made for that and I don't need to find out if it's true.

2. It's not heavy once it's moving. 475 pounds. We don't lane split in TX so I don't know.

3. I think the limitation will not be the bike. It will be tires and rider skill.

4. It's heavy on dirt. It's no dual sport/KLR. I think smooth dirt and gravel roads are the limit personally. You can get more dirt oriented tires but again, it's a heavy bike and can be top heavy at very low (parking lot) speeds.

I think it's unrealistic to have a 100+ mile an hour canyon carver that is also good on the dirt.

Good luck.
 

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My previous bike was an FJR, so the 650 feels lighter and skinny compared to that.

I have lane split with the factory bags on the 650, and it's not cool. I only split without the bags now and it feels fine. I did not have the FJR in California, so I have never lane split on any bike other than the 650.

As for power, the FJR had over twice the amount. The 650 keeps up with traffic just fine in the Bay Area though. I regularly commute at 80+ mph and sometimes hold it at 90+ for a while. The 650 feels a little anemic up there with the motor spinning around 7000 RPM, but there's always more throttle available when I need it.

I also like to hit the twisty roads for fun every once in a while, and again, it's competent and fun to ride, but it's not a sport bike.

As for your last question, the only dirt any of my bikes have seen is on a dirt parking lot, so I don't have any frame of reference there.

Like you (and many others) have said, it's a competent bike at EVERYTHING, but it's a master of none. If you only can have one bike, it's the bike to have.
 

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Hey guys,
...
4. How well can it handle dirt? I would most likely travel on long stretches of highway before i hit any dirt.

That's pretty much it. I know the bike is reliable and gets great gas mileage.

Dirt capability is inversely proportional to road capability.

The Strom is a 500 lb bike. Anything more than a nice dirt road is a challenge for most.
 

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Mine has the bags on and it lane splits just fine. The bags are not much wider that the handle bars. What I worry about is bashing mirrors.
 

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I dabbled in motocross (100 cc class) in high school and in 2010 I rode a Suzuki DR650 on 2,000 miles of dirt roads while doing the Continental Divide Trail.

We rode hills, flats, steep hills, curves, and hills with curves. Surfaces included sand, rocks, hard-pack dirt, rutted and "corrugated" dirt, double track dirt, double track sand, double track w'rocks - and 3" deep powerdly dust on the south edge of Yellowstone that splashed like water and hung in the air so long the next rider had to follow at a 3/4's mile distance.

You get the idea ... it was diverse terrain to say the least.

At my level of rider skill the DR is as large a bike as I would take on that type of ride. In hindsight a Yamaha WR250 would have been ideal, but we also rode the bikes across country to get to the Rockies.

Yes, we're idiots - but I still would not do the dirt sections of the same ride on a VStrom.

That's just me, of course. If this thread goes long enough someone will eventually tell you it is the perfect bike for what you are describing.

PS: - I forgot to mention the water crossings...
 

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Power: Sufficient not exhilarating

Lane splitting: Much better than my Goldwing or Yamaha Raider with it's wide forward controls. Not near as good as my kids CBR600

Twisties: I have a blast but would be left behind against a competent rider on a sport bike. I'm running Mitas e-07 tires.

Dirt: Sketchy but capable for hard packed fire roads. Deep sand is difficult as are tight rutted out sections. I go Jeeping by the Salton Sea. The V Strom would not be my first choice for exploring that area.

Overall review: I'm very happy with my 650. I have come to accept it's shortcomings off-road yet still enjoy going off pavement when the right opportunity arises. I'm looking forward to many miles of pavement and dirt on an upcoming trip to Utah. If you're looking for an experience full of adrenaline at every little twist of the throttle, the 650 may be too tame. If you want a bike that will get through a wide variety of terrain in reasonable comfort, this could be just right.
 

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Hey guys,

Lately i've been watching a lot of motorcycle adventure videos. These videos are of guys going all through central and south america on ADV bikes (mostly klrs). The roads there were pretty bad and to get to some of those beautiful places they had to take some knarly dirt roads. Earlier this year i went to the Salton Sea and with my naked bike and all i wanted to do was hit all the dirt roads i saw. I have decided that i want to do some adventures like these. I want to travel mostly the western US and baja california. The thought of hitting up some random dirt roads and leaving society and setting up camp in the middle of nowhere excites me.

I'm thinking about buying a vstrom 650 because of all the good reviews and how it's the swiss army knife of motorcycles. I have a few questions though. The v strom would be my only bike, besides a grom but the grom is only for in town riding.

1. How is the power? I currently ride a honda 919/hornet and love the power. I used to ride a gs500 and was that thing slow. I know it won't be as fast as my bike but would it be enough to keep me happy and safe on the Los Angeles freeways? Freeways here run fast as 85 is the average speed but can go up to 95mph. I like hitting 100+ on my bike sometimes lol.

2. How does it lanesplit without bags? I love lanesplitting and do it every time i can. Will it be heavy in traffic? My bike weighs about 480lbs wet and i'm used to it.

3. How fun is it in the canyons? I love hitting up the local mountains here in Los Angeles. I do like getting wild in the twisties lol. Can the strom handle this type of fast paced riding?

4. How well can it handle dirt? I would most likely travel on long stretches of highway before i hit any dirt.

That's pretty much it. I know the bike is reliable and gets great gas mileage.
I think you'rte asking too much from one bike if you want it to be fast, nimble in twisties and able to pound desert into submission.
I'm curious if you've ever camped out in the desert - sounds romantic but in my experience there's a certain mental attitude required.
No offense intended but you come across very "hyper" - desert riding and camping isn't an impulse thing - it requires rigorous planning and preparation plus a certain amount of paranoia. I'd suggest a serious evaluation of reasons this would appeal to you.
Just my 2 centavos

BTW - if I were to be inclined to do this (and I have in the past) I'd pick a capable 4WD with plenty of clearance and storage space, with tires for the sand and pack in a lightweight bike that's *meant* to be used in that environment.
 

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I've road the Vstrom through woods and on some sandy logging trails. I wouldn't want to do it for more than a few minutes at a time/ it gets pretty stressful trying to control it in sand or ruts.

I have ridden several dirt bikes (250 / 400) on the same trails over the years and it is much more enjoyable. Even more enjoyable is riding a quad/ put in 1000s of hours on those trails since I was a kid.

I guess I'd rather own 2-3 tools than try to buy a swiss army knife that does it all.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
UPDATE!

Just test rode a 2017 v strom 650 and i fell in love with it. I thought it was going to be slow compared to my 919 but it didn't disappoint. It was great in traffic and the flick ability was nice. The Windscreen was pretty garbage as it caused a lot of buffeting. I thought my height would be an issue but it wasn't. The low end grunt was amazing and it got up to speed quickly. I don't buy any bikes new so i plan on getting a used one. What are the major differences between the previous gens and current gen?
 

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I'm still just a prospective owner -- although that should be changing this afternoon -- and your experience describes mine. I hadn't been seriously looking at the V-strom, but after a good test ride, I could tell it was an excellent fit. Its homeliness isn't visible from behind the handlebar, so we can be friends. :)

A site search will give you most of the threads describing differences between the first gen 650 (Wee) and second gen 650 (Glee). Most seem to think the second gen handles a bit better, and the engine delivers a couple of extra horsepower compared to the first gen. This may not be correct, but I think all second gens include ABS. On the first gen, ABS was standard on the 2011 (last year), optional from 2007-2010, and unavailable on 2004-2006 models. Additionally, many think the second gen's styling changes are an improvement. I don't see much difference myself, but YMMV. Personally, I can't say the V-strom is the most attractive bike ever, but I find its odd mix of lines endearing considering the pleasant and accommodating temperament of the bike.

I can't bring myself to buy brand new, either, if only for the rather excessive upcharges that run $1200-$1700 in most places and should be included in the price. Add instant depreciation, and you take a financial bath.
Not sure where you are in the country, but in cooler climates, this is as good time of year to buy, new and used both. Otherwise, be patient and diligent in your use of CycleTrader and Craigslist. I've found a 2011 in excellent condition, 15k miles, and the smaller Suzuki bags (not the ginormous Adventure ones) for $3500.
 

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FORUM GODFATHER.....R.I.P. PAT
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Yes. All DL650s from 2011 and later have ABS standard. The second generation is a bit better all around in stock condition. It's a little lighter, a little quicker, a little more comfortable and a little better suspended. The only negative I can think of is a slightly shorter range due to a slightly smaller fuel capacity. Suzuki claimed better fuel economy would account for that difference, but it was not enough in my experience. I still went for an aftermarket seat and windscreen for longer rides. Check the sticky threads in all of the forums for the most important information. Oh, the second generation had their stators recalled and the first did not, even though the 2008-2011 models had the same stators that tended to cause the charging systems to fail early.
 

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Wee Strom

You have gotten some pretty good responses to your questions, so I won't go back over all that. I will say that if I could only have one bike, it would be a 2015 or newer V Strom 650. The bikes have plenty of power for the task, handle well, are comfortable to ride, and there are lots of farkles to customize for your intended mission. I just got back from a trip that started in Alaska and ended in Portland. We rented 3 2015 Wees from Moto Quest, ran 3550 miles on all kinds of roads including the Denali Highway, the Dalton, state routes, interstates, and everything in between. The bikes performed well, were comfortable, and carried us and our gear all day every day without complaint. I own a 2004 Vee, and while I love it, consider the newer Wees to be a better bike in most aspects. I hope this helps.

Ride safe ...
Dave
 

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2015 or newer might as well be 2012 or newer. 2012-2016 is the same bike unless you want the XT with spoked wheels and a beak. They began in 2015.
 
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