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My V-Strom Journey

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I picked up a 2013 V-Strom 650 with under 8k miles last week. It's more or less stock so it will need some setting up. I am writing this to mostly document that process. It's not really going to be a serious "build" for a RTW or anything like that -- just merely buying parts and bolting them on.

So, to start off, how did I decide to buy a V-Strom? I got my first bike in 2019 and it was a 98 BMW oilhead. I really liked that bike and it was a great first bike. However, I shortly discovered the TAT and needed a bike more appropriate for that. I bought a DRZ and did the TAT in 2021. At the end of the TAT I sold the DRZ and flew back home to the east coast and bought a DR650. The DR was going to be my do-it-all, forever, high-mileage bike. It was really well set-up by the previous owner(s). I added a few things to it and did the MABDR and NEBDR. However, the DR is just about okay on the highway, especially when loaded down with luggage. I also realized that I didn't really like riding motorcycles on donkey trails, especially when there are perfectly well-graded roads available. The DR was great for bouncing up and down trails, and in fact, on some parts of the NEBDR the DR was more in control than I was.

Here's a picture of the DR.

Plant Tire Wheel Plant community Vehicle


Having finished the two BDRs near me, I realized that most of my riding would now be on pavement. There would be the occasional off-pavement riding and maybe some technical stuff, if I wanted to do portions of the NEBDR again, but nothing crazy. The DR didn't seem like the right type of bike for me anymore. I am also planning a cross country trip next year -- hopefully to Alaska -- and most of it is pavement, so I decided that the DR would have to go and another bike would replace it. I asked on advrider for advice and someone mentioned the V-Strom 650 to me. Until this point I was not very familiar with the platform. I was flirting with the idea of getting a 1200GS or a Super Tenere but the more I learned about the V-Strom the more it seemed to fit the bill, except for just one thing.

I absolutely could not get over how bad it looks!

After raging a never-ending internal battle about whether looks are really that important, I decided to see a 2022 model in person at a dealership near me. In person, the bike didn't look that bad. I decided that I could live with it. I also felt that the 2nd generation prior to the beak had a better face. But I wanted spoked wheels, because lewks, so it was either 3rd gen wee or a 2nd gen with a beak.

Meanwhile I posted my DR for sale. I wanted 5K for it, but the best I could get was 4.7K. It went to a very nice and very excited person, so I was happy to sell the bike to him. With under 5K to spare, I looked around on advrider and here on Stromtrooper, but XT models were very rare in that price range. Then out of nowhere I saw a white 2013 on Facebook marketplace about 2 hours drive from me. It was listed for $3,800, had under 8k miles and was pretty much stock except for a cheap top case and heated grips. Until this point I was sure that I would have to do a fly-and-ride because NYC used motorcycle market kinda sucks but this was local and well within my budget. Well, kind of. It needed a handful of aftermarket parts. And as for spoked wheels, I realized that XT models were more expensive and as much as I wanted the spoked wheels because of how good they look, I didn't truly need them. I told myself that I would set aside some money and be on the lookout for anyone selling them.

I went and saw the bike in person after work last week. I immediately noticed that the chain was too tight and there was chain lube everywhere. The seller said the bike was garaged but even so it was clearly neglected. He mentioned that he had a standing offer for $3,100. I offered him $3,200 and we settled on $3,300. It was a great deal for a bike with such low miles, esp one with a reliable reputation like the V-Strom. I didn't sweat the details too much and picked up the bike.

Here's the bike on the day I got it!

Tire Automotive parking light Wheel Fuel tank Vehicle


I put it on the trailer and drove home. And as I kept checking on the bike in the rear view mirror, I started to like the way it looked. It has this really friendly and approachable appearance about it. It reminds me of Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. I liked this bike!

So after registration and taxes, I have just about a thousand dollars left to accessorize the bike. Among big ticket items, I needed new tires, crash bars, a skid plate and luggage racks. I also needed some other minor things like a 12V socket and battery pigtails. I also suspect the battery is probably going to need replacing, since the seller says it's stock. I would eventually need things like a footpeg lowering kit, a side stand foot etc, but those things weren't essential, so I decided to focus on the tires and the protection stuff first. I estimate that I have just about enough to buy things from the used market and set up the bike properly.

The previous owner did not seem very mechanically inclined or interested, and the oil change was done "recently" and judging by how tight the chain was, I figured that I would have to baseline the maintenance on the bike. I also noticed the brake lever was a bit spongy. I know the wee has a reputation for it, but I expected it to be better than the lever on my DR.

I ordered a set of Shinko 705s from Revzilla. They are inexpensive and most people like them. For $270 a set, that's a deal! They're already here and I'll mount and balance them later this week.

On the marketplace I saw someone selling crash bars. I am in the process of acquiring them. $185 shipped. Pretty good deal.

I tried to figure out how to get a socket and plug it into the accessory port. It seemed like I would need to get an accessory cable from Eastern Beaver. And buying just one thing from EB is pretty expensive because of shipping costs. I looked into how I could get the right type of electrical adapter that would mate with the accessory port. Someone wrote about a horn lead. And while I was trying to figure that out, I saw a listing for an EB PC8 for $70. I figured I'd get that and connect everything to that and not mess around with figuring out accessory ports. The PO wired heated grips directly to the battery, so with the PC8 I could correct that. Another good deal and the member selling it is amazing. We're doing things the honesty way and he's already shipped the part while the check from me is on it's way!

With some parts coming, it was time to get a closer look at the bike. I have been traveling since I got the bike and just tonight I had some time to take a closer look. I started with cleaning the chain and wow, there was an incredible amount of grime on the chain and surrounding areas. For a brief moment I was wondering if I had bought a wee that was leaking oil everywhere. But I am pretty sure it's all just road grim. I think.

Automotive tire Motor vehicle Automotive exterior Rim Automotive wheel system


You can see how bad it is. I saw the bike around dusk when I was buying it, and I wanted the bike, so I didn't really do my diligence. Rookie mistake.

Anyways, I got to work with some de-greaser. I forgot to take pictures of the chain after I was done, but it looks a LOT better. I'll try to snag some pictures tomorrow. I couldn't get to the grime on the spring in the rear shock, but I got the rest and also adjusted the chain to about roughly 2 inches. I don't have the owners manual, and a quick google resulted in that number. I am going to put new tires on it so I can figure the right length later on. I just needed the chain to not be as tight and snug as it was previously. And also not as grimey!

Here's some grime that I picked up from near the countershaft sprocjet.

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Unbelievable! It was like putty.

After the chain, I decided to inspect the cheapo top box. And I was so pissed after I discovered that the PO had drilled holes right on to the rear rack to fit the top box plate! How can you make such an irreversible decision to drill into the bike's rear rack? Is this what most people who have a top box end up doing? I threw the top box and the plate out and put a 'free' sticker on it.

Automotive design Automotive exterior Automotive tire Rim Automotive wheel system


Oh the atrocity!!

Well, it wasn't over yet for me tonight. The bike came with a Puig windscreen. And it's a bit big, so I figured I'd adjust it to a lower position. What an ordeal that turned out to be! I took the windscreen off -- that was easy, but when I tried to get the plastic bushing insert like things with a brass fitting inside them, it proved to be very frustrating. I am talking about the part that attaches to the bike and has a threaded hole. The rubber on these fittings were brittle so I threaded the nut in partially and tried to take them out. Three of them came out easily, and one of them was a stubborn mofo. After WD-40, vice grips and a lot of cursing, it finally came out.

Automotive tire Black Wood Font Landscape


The two on the left came out easy, and you can see how fucked up the parts on the right are. The insert had bulged and it was very hard to get it out. I think it was over-tightened previously. You can see the marks my vice grip left on the nut that I threaded in partially for better grip. I had put a rag around it, but that didn't help.

Pretty terrible design, IMO. I am going to email Puig and see if they'll sell me these parts. I am completely unfamiliar with this brand so I have no idea if they'll co-operate. Right now the bike is without a windscreen. I was hoping to ride it this weekend but now I'll have to ride it without a windscreen. Quite annoyed by this. Should have just left the damn thing alone.

That's about it for now. I will post more as I do more stuff to the bike. Like I said earlier -- it will all be pretty routine. I am documenting and sharing the money numbers so it helps someone else evaluate their decisions about coming to the wee side.

If you have a frame mounted skid plate that's sitting around, let me know!
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2013 Wee-Strom
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Nice! just bought a 2013 DL650 with 6k miles, same color as yours. This is after riding a 1984 Honda XL600S with knobbies for what seems an eternity. Less than OK on pavement, and not really great offroad either. But light and torquey and nimble. I commuted through town with it for awhile. Good for that.

Paid $4200 for my Wee and one of the fork seals was leaking badly. It came with crash bars, pannier racks, engine guard, and that same Puig windshield (mine is light smoke) plus the stock windshield--which works well or at least I think so. The stock windshield was on it because the guy said the Puig mounting hardware was broken. I polished the Puig yesterday and got it mounted in the lowest position, which yours is not FYI. In the lowest position, it rubs the front fascia or whatever it is called. I'm going to add some spacing when the parts arrive. Left as is, the paint would be worn off quick.

My pannier rack is Happy Trails, and the crash bars and engine guard could be, not sure. The best advice I can give you at this point is to get a stout engine guard that allows you to lift the bike completely and with balance. My bike sat up on my el cheapo HF motorcycle lift for a week while I tinkered with this and that. Sure was nice. Makes modifying, chain lubing and sprocket changes a breeze.

I did the Shinko 705s too.

You could fill those holes with epoxy, then sand and paint. Or color match the epoxy and skip the sanding and painting.
 

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Yes drilling may be necessary, but looks better if the rack is metal like my Happy Trails. I would have kept the trunk, looked fine from the pics and highly useful. Black RTV sealant will plug the holes, the trim the excess when cured.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Nice find, even if a bit neglected. As a DRZ owner myself, what did you think of it compared to the DR650?
I found them both to be very similar. The DR felt a bit bigger the first time, but I got used to it very quickly. My DR came with Cogent suspension, which I gather is transformative for the bike. Unfortunately I don't have enough saddle time to fully appreciate good suspension 😬. That said, I'd always pick the DR over the DRZ if I had the choice because it's a much better bike on the pavement (and for me). If I couldn't have sold it I would have kept it and experimented with different size sprockets to make it more highway worthy.

Nice! just bought a 2013 DL650 with 6k miles, same color as yours. This is after riding a 1984 Honda XL600S with knobbies for what seems an eternity. Less than OK on pavement, and not really great offroad either. But light and torquey and nimble. I commuted through town with it for awhile. Good for that.

Paid $4200 for my Wee and one of the fork seals was leaking badly. It came with crash bars, pannier racks, engine guard, and that same Puig windshield (mine is light smoke) plus the stock windshield--which works well or at least I think so. The stock windshield was on it because the guy said the Puig mounting hardware was broken. I polished the Puig yesterday and got it mounted in the lowest position, which yours is not FYI. In the lowest position, it rubs the front fascia or whatever it is called. I'm going to add some spacing when the parts arrive. Left as is, the paint would be worn off quick.

My pannier rack is Happy Trails, and the crash bars and engine guard could be, not sure. The best advice I can give you at this point is to get a stout engine guard that allows you to lift the bike completely and with balance. My bike sat up on my el cheapo HF motorcycle lift for a week while I tinkered with this and that. Sure was nice. Makes modifying, chain lubing and sprocket changes a breeze.

I did the Shinko 705s too.

You could fill those holes with epoxy, then sand and paint. Or color match the epoxy and skip the sanding and painting.
Good idea on the epoxy! Sounds like you got a decent deal on the bike. The happy trails stuff is not cheap. Another member here had a white wee that he listed for $4,100 in OR and had a bunch aftermarket parts and suspension work done on it. If only the timing had worked out!

I am looking at the happy trails pannier racks, too and will buy them soon.

How did you mount the Puig if the hardware was broken?

Yes drilling may be necessary, but looks better if the rack is metal like my Happy Trails. I would have kept the trunk, looked fine from the pics and highly useful. Black RTV sealant will plug the holes, the trim the excess when cured.
Thanks for the sealant tip! I'll try it out. And the top box was trash. The locks didn't even work.

Congratulations! You bought the best year Vstrom in the fastest color, well done sir!

I bet the previous owner used chain wax. When I put off cleaning for too long I get plugs of goo like that in corners.

Good luck with those windshield well nuts and hope to see you at the eastern rally next year. www.easternvstromrally.com
Thanks! I went on Amazon and searched for the mounting hardware and found some. They are on the way, hopefully they fit!
 

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2013 Wee-Strom
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How did you mount the Puig if the hardware was broken?
I just screwed it straight in for now. There were other parts I didn't use and an accessary kit with brackets to extend it away from the bike. I'm still figuring it out. Without explaining too much here and muddling up your thread, I'm going to start my own and post some pics in the General forum. Aside from getting the windscreen mounted, I want some info on the physics of the windscreen placement. And this is the place to get that info, lots of smart bikers with info and experience to share.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Got the registration business done today at the NY DMV. I have a 10 day grace period to get it inspected. I know a guy who asks what the mileage on the bike is and prints the sticker out. 10 bucks.

I took the bike on a short spin today. I had driven it around the parking lot when I first saw it just to make sure it shifts into 2nd and that the brakes work. First impression is that it has a LOT more power than the DR650, which was not very surprising. In fact it felt a bit zippier than my old BMW R1100R and that was a bit surprising to me. I can’t wait to see how it does on the highway. The riding position was a bit strange, though. It's kind of hard to explain. On the DR I was just sitting upright and the BMW used to fit me like a glove. The wee is somewhere in between but also awkward. I think I just have to get used to it. I know some members here have lowered footpegs. That's something I'll explore down the road.

I planned to do the brake fluid flush today so I did some hard stops to activate the ABS pump. I think I managed to get the rear pump once but not the front one.

The flush on the front calipers was pretty straight forward. Access to rear reservoir required removal of the rear rack and the side panels. Judging by how the reservoir cap was stuck I don’t think this wee ever got a flush on the rear.

Tire Fuel tank Vehicle Wheel Automotive lighting


If it’s possible to do the rear brake flush without taking the entire side panel off, please let me know.

The battery terminals were looking real nasty and grimey so I cleaned them. There was a battery tender pigtail but I installed a “heavy duty” one. I have an air pump that pulls up to 15 amp so I installed a pigtail with thicker wires (10 AWG). It came with a 30 amp fuse so I am guessing the wires can handle 15. The tender on the bike had a 7.5 amp fuse. It might have been fine to use it with a 15 amp fuse but I didn’t want to risk it.

Before:

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The negative terminal especially had a ton of corrosion. The loose nut that lives under the connection is pretty much fixed in place because of all the corrosion. I took a tiny screwdriver to scrape off as much as I could and hit it with an air compressor.

After:

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Couple of pictures of the chain after cleaning it yesterday:

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I am sure it could be cleaner, but this is good enough for me. For now, at least.

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The swing arm had a lot of gooey chain wax. All gone now.

So I was going to install a marine 12v style USB charger by drilling a hole in the dash like most people do. But then I sat on the bike and realized that it'd be out of my direct line of sight. I got one that shows a voltmeter reading from the battery. At first I thought it was a gimmick but after having it on all my last bikes I've come to appreciate the reading and knowing where my battery is at. I know Adventure Tech sells a shelf type thing that puts everything front and center but I don't have the budget for it at the moment. I also don't have the need for extra switches so the shelf seems a bit of an overkill. So I ordered a charger that mounts on the handlebar.

The oil filter got delivered today. I got a HiFlo one. I had already left for the garage where I store and work on the bike, so I couldn't get to the oil change tonight. As for the oil type, I'll get something that makes me feel good -- most likely a synthetic kind.

I also plan on taking a look at the air filter. I can't believe that I have to disconnect fuel lines and take the tank of to get to it! But it needs to happen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The PC8 got here yesterday and I am hoping to install it later tonight. I took a look at the instructions and it seems pretty straightforward. My first question is -- what is the relay for? I looked into this a bit and I think I figured it out, but I would like for someone to validate it. Relays increase current, and since P=VI, and V is constant at 12, we get greater P with greater I. With greater P we can run more accessories. Is that reasoning correct? If so -- how much of an increase are we getting? I think I read somewhere that we have about 145 W left after the bike takes its share. So how much extra am I getting because of the relay?
 

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Your theroy is interesting, but not in this the case as far as I know.
The relay is to allow for the use of a light weight power cable to trigger the relay, which in turn carries a direct battery feed to the fuse box / aux lights / heated clothing / etc. The thinner / light weight lead is normally from a switched power source like the brake light, heated grip connector or the hooter / horn which turns off once the ignition switch is turned off.
Overloading the trigger lead may cause the cable insulation to melt and thereby cause damage to the surrounding wiring harness.
For an understanding of the relay, see #46 and #47 of Eastern Beaver PC-8 vs. Alternatives or Understanding Relays & Wiring Diagrams | Swe-Check
 

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@sr248 regarding chain cleaning/maintenance. I believe there are some on this site who never clean their chain, with no reported problems. I think there's a thread about that somewhere here. It's definitely a matter of opinion. I'll go out on a limb here and say that less chain maintenance requires a greater attention to the sprockets (the front sprocket, more so), but, in my opinion, that is also a matter of opinion.
Congrats on the purchase and on tackling the BDRs! Way to go!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Today was a rough one! My to-list for today was a long one and included mounting and balancing the new tires, changing the oil, cleaning the air filter, installing the PC8 fusebox and the new accessory charger. I was also going to try and see if the windshield hardware I ordered on Amazon would fit or not. I was hoping to be done in time for maybe a short afternoon ride.

The autozone near me ran out of Mobil 1 so I picked up Rotella T6. I went to the shop and decided to the easy one first -- check the mounting hardware for fit with the windshield. Unfortunately the hardware did not fit. The plastic bushing with the threaded inserts were just a touch too small. I used some electrical tape to increase the diameter, but it just wasn't secure enough for the windscreen. I still put the windscreen on, but I'm not fully comfortable with how it's mounted. This will need more work.

I then started taking the panels off to take the tank out. I figured I'd do the air box first and that would also allow me to run wires under the tank. That's when I discovered that one of the plastic trim bolt head was rounded. I tried to get the bolt out but the more I tried, the more rounded it got. Eventually it was pretty much rounded. After about 2 hours, I posted asking here asking for advice. I took a look at some of the other bolts in the area, and I noticed that a few were in bad shape. I made a mental note to order replacements. While I took a break from the bolt, I got to doing the other stuff on the list.

I tried to figure out a way to place the PC8 in a way that was neat and tidy but also did not require any cutting plastic pieces. Maybe I was still frustrated from the rounded bolt, I just could not figure out a place for it. Eventually I decided to just tuck it in front of the battery. It's messy for sure. I also wasn't sure how I'd attach my thick gauge battery tender to PC8. The accessory "ports" seem pretty small.

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After the PC8 was squared away, I tried to get back to the bolt and tried a few things other members here suggested, like a torx bit. Nothing seemed to work. I decided to put some epoxy on a throwaway wrench and the bolt, hoping to undo it after the epoxy settled. But I don't think I got the right kind of epoxy so that was a bust.

With frustration mounting about the bolt, I decided to tackle the tire change next. I started with the rear and it worked out pretty well. Putting the tire wheel back on took much, much longer than I had expected. Hopefully the next ones will be quicker. The front tire required some more planning and thought. I have a centerstand but it doesn't raise the front wheel. I was quite surprised to learn this as I had assumed that the center stand would raise both wheels. Thankfully the shop had two jacks so I used them on the two forks.

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I scratched up the wheels quite a bit during the tire change. To be honest I don't care that much. This wee will be ridden so these scratches don't bother me. And I can always paint over them.

After the tire change, I started putting the bike together. I took another shot at the bolt with a dremel to cut a slot into it. It didn't work. I took a big flat head to it and ended up scratching some of the trim pieces. This one hurt. Putting the white trim back was also very aggravating. I'm not really sure why the design with the velcro is the way it is.

I am going to leave the bolt as is for now. I will be traveling for a month. This will be a project for when I get back. Meanwhile I need to figure out a more permanent windshield situation and also how to fit a thicker gauge in PC8.

I ended up spending over 12 hours at the shop today. It was just one of those days where things took a little bit longer to get done. Hoping to get a nice ride in tomorrow or the day after!
 

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This is a pretty good thread. Interesting. What about an easy-out extractor for that ugly bolt?
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Did a ride up to the Hudson Valley from Brooklyn today.

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Few random thoughts after riding for a few hours:

The bike is cool! It's nice to be able to start a bike and get riding. All my previous bikes needed some kind of startup procedure that involved warming up.

The riding position feels a bit cramped. I think AdventureTech's footpeg relocation kit is in the near future for me.

I like the gear number indicator.

There's a lot of chain noise.

The Puig windscreen works just about okay. There's a lot of buffeting over 70/75 mph. I might get a clip-on visor type thing or just get a Givi Airflow since everyone loves them.

The Oxford grips get really toasty even at 30%.

While in traffic on the George Washington Bridge I noticed that there were 4 bars on the temp gauge. The center is 3 bars, so I had one extra bar. It worried me instantly and thankfully traffic let up right about then and once I picked up some wind the 4th bar disappeared. Cause for concern? I don't have the owners manual so I don't have a definitive source of info just yet.
 

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I can't find in the thread if that's a DL650 or 1000. It's probably mentioned 2 or 3 times and I still missed it.

Anyway, if it's a 650, I have a PDF of the Service Manual and the Owner's Manual I can email you. I think it's for 2017 and up, maybe, but a lot will still be relevant.

A member here posted a link a week or two ago where official Suzuki manuals can be downloaded for these bikes. By the year. Maybe he will see this and post again. I should have saved it.
 
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