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Sometime during the month of December 2011, after much thought and careful consideration I determined it was time to ride again. My first bike was a Montgomery Ward Riverside 250 mostly ridden on the steep streets of San Francisco. Later I purchased a slightly used 1983 BMW R65LS. I put close to 50,000 miles on that bike mostly in California and on tours. When I stopped riding the beamer I spent 18 years not thinking much about riding until last Dec. Which brings me to the Vstrom and this forum. I spent some time reading the many posts and gathering info and I would now like to give my impressions of riding again as well as some of the additions to the bike.

On riding again: I am happy to be riding again.

What I added to the bike:
Fork brace: Turned the bike into a slow handler, but more stable as a result.

Seat Modification: I really didn't like the stock seat. I cut the rubber mounts under the seat in half except for the mounts around the locking mechanism. Made reaching the ground a little easier. I wondered what to do about the seat for a while and found my answer at the local bike show a few months ago. A couple working the event talked me into adding the memory foam to the seat, but first he cut the existing foam a couple of times until it felt comfortable for me to sit on it. Then they placed a one inch thick pad over the cut foam and stapled the cover back to the seat. After having just completed a 4000 thousand mile road trip I can say that the seat never gave me any issues. My longest day was 730 miles. It works for me.

Additional Lighting: I went with the Hyperlights 3 way set up on the rear using their license plate bracket. I was pleased with the effect, but wanted more running lights so I purchased two more 16 led modules and added them to the existing set up. Really stands out and I believe the stock lights are simply not adequate for the road. Now I wondered what to do in front, but I could not find a suitable location until I installed the OEM handguards. I placed two amber modules under each hand guard, one running light and one turn signal. I now have 8 led modules on the bike and I feel they are worth the money as long as they hold up.

I made a few more modifications such as a tool bag bracket and a one liter cup holder, but I will wait until I post the pictures to show them.

My 4th of July Road Trip: I travelled from San Antonio to Rico, Co. From there I camped one night at Maple Grove campground in Utah. The next night I stayed in Austin, NV. on highway 50 on my way to San Francisco, CA. I spent a few days there visiting friends before heading to Santa Barbara for a night. From there it was highway 101 to Interstate 10. The bike ran very well and never complained. The stock trailwings now have over 6000 miles on them and they look like they could go another 6000. My only rain experience with them was on 10 when I ran into a storm. I could see the water cascading across the highway ahead of me. About all I could do was slow down, put on the flashers, and ride the shoulder. It lasted only ten minutes or so and then turned into a light, but steady rain. I approached 70 miles an hour in the rain keeping her steady and feeling pretty confident.

My only real complaint so far is with the way the bike handles in the wind. I was pushed around a lot and it made the ride uncomfortable. It also seemed to be windy everywhere. The wind became my latest obsession. At one point in California, facing strong cross winds on 680 and feeling stuck, I decided to remove the wind screen and attached deflector. I rode the next two thousand miles without them and really did not miss them. Not sure if the wind is the deal killer or not with this bike, but time will tell.
 

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My only real complaint so far is with the way the bike handles in the wind. I was pushed around a lot and it made the ride uncomfortable. It also seemed to be windy everywhere. The wind became my latest obsession. At one point in California, facing strong cross winds on 680 and feeling stuck, I decided to remove the wind screen and attached deflector. I rode the next two thousand miles without them and really did not miss them. Not sure if the wind is the deal killer or not with this bike, but time will tell.
Drop your front end down 1/2" and be sure and check the clearance of your front brace after you do this. I dropped my bike about 3/4 in but I don't have the fork brace. This made all the difference in the world, it is like riding a different bike and cost nothing and can be done in your driveway in 10mins. Another benefit is you will gain a little help in reaching the ground after doing this.

My bike went from being scarey to ride in the wind to where you don't even notice the wind now.:hurray:
 

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I just finished about 3400 miles to Colorado and back. On the second day going toward Raton, NM I ran into about a mile long stretch of 60-70 straightline winds coming across the road--on hwy 87 west of Dumas, Tx. I was leaned over to the left as far as I could get and it was still pushing me off the road. Ran out of about a mile further. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. I haven't dropped my forks or added a forkbrace but if those things will help any I will seriously consider them. The Wee is not real heavy and it naturally gets moved around on the road a little.
Passing big trucks on the interstate can be interesting sometimes also--depending on what the bigtruck is pulling. Normal trailers--no big deal. Some type of big equipment where a lot of wind is circulating through the equipment behind the truck can get kinda spicey. I passed one that was pulling a big motor unit that was mounted in it's own open trailer--a lot of open swirling through that one. Actually had to really think about passing that one.
 

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I'm not sure how much wind you're talking about, but all bikes blow around in the wind........My 2010 Goldwing is no better than my 2012 V Strom (650)..It's the nature of the beast.............TD
 

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I'm not sure how much wind you're talking about, but all bikes blow around in the wind........My 2010 Goldwing is no better than my 2012 V Strom (650)..It's the nature of the beast.............TD
I have had a bunch of Goldwings, including a GL1800 & I can tell you for sure they were a TON better in the wind than my 3 V-Stroms. However I have not had the new GLEE and am not doubting you, but I doubt I would find it better than a GL1800 in wind.
 

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Two more things help the wind situation.
...Don't overinflate the tires. The recommended 33 & 36 work well.
...A loose steering stem bearing will make the wind handling really bad.

By the way, if this is your first bike with ABS brakes, give them a try. Get on a road with a loose surface and hit the brakes to try to make the tires skid. You'll feel the ABS working for you.
 

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[...]
My only real complaint so far is with the way the bike handles in the wind. I was pushed around a lot and it made the ride uncomfortable. [...]
Hold on to the bike with your knees and stay loose on the bars.
Almost every control problem that people experience is due to the rider, not to the bike. Proof of this lies in the fact that when the rider falls off, the bike rides just fine (next time you're blown about by wind, try letting go of the bars; it's an eye-opening experience).

Keep your upper body loose (that means anchoring solidly to the bike with feet, knees and butt).

Keep your arms down and bent (forearms should be horizontal).

Don't fight the bike; trust it. It knows what to do; you don't.

Something you can do when confronted with strong crosswinds is increase the throttle opening; that'll help, whereas slowing down usually makes the situation worse.
 

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Frank,
Glad your back and on a Vstrom. Got mine 2 months ago after 4 years on a scoot.

I'm having the same issues with the wind.....just added a Madstad bracket yesterday. Did an hour ride on Loop 410 here in San Antonio trying out different windscreen angles. I'm still looking for the sweetspot. I may go with an aftermarket shield.

Just added my fork brace last night. Curious to see how it affects steering.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for your comments and suggestions. I am considering my options and working on a new screen set up. It appears there is little need for much more height in front so I may cut down the screen and maybe re-attach the Laminar lip.
I will now attempt to attach a few photos showing my improvised cup holder and the hyperlights.
DSC00085.jpg
The back side
DSC00081.jpg
The cup holder? Can't see them and don't remember them already. I purchased the stainless cup and bottle together on amazon. I attached them to the rear foot peg just above the exhaust using hose clamps. Indispensable for long distance ridings. The water reaches the same temperature as the air quickly.
DSC00083.jpg
This must be front with the amber running lights and turn signals.
If I don't get it right this time maybe next time.

As far as my riding abilities I have always been a fair rider at best who gets by being very careful. I can take a lot of time in the saddle however.

Riding apparel: I'm a guy with a hundred dollar a year clothes budget, until now. Since acquiring the vstrom I have purchased two sets of gloves, Tourmaster adventure gloves, and Sliders kevlar gloves for the winter.
Two pair of Slider cargo pants. I really like the 4 version with the knee protectors.
One Shoei Quest helmet.
Pair of Joe Rocket mesh pants.
Joe Rocket mesh jacket.
Shift Denim Jacket.
Existing leather jacket.
Two pair of boots and looking at the Tourmaster Solution 2.
Polar Breeze bandana.
And on it goes.
 

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Did you ride from S.A. to Rico in one day? On back roads?

On the wind, it might be my imagination, but it seems to me the entire western region has been windier than normal. In CO, it has been windy almost every ride since Labor Day last summer.
 

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Craigslist helps with the gear, it's just a matter of timing. Nice extra led lights in the pics, though I imagine you'd have to get creative drinking from the nalgene on the go with a full face helmet. :mrgreen:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Ok, here is my tool bag set up. It will probably be of concern to some having it so close to the rear tire. I attach it to the inside of the bag mount using the existing nuts and bolts. I used a piece of mild steel flat bar and attached the tabs with jbweld.
DSC00001.jpg

It took me two days to reach Rico, Co. The first night I camped at the KOA just above Albuquerque, Nm. In Rico I stayed at a friend's summer home. My accommodations:
DSC00032.jpg

When I first arrived in Rico I was confronted with the following hard pack and gravel road. Instead of riding up the scary hill I parked my bike on the main street and walked up. Later I conquered my concerns and rode up it and back down when I left. Piece of cake.
DSC00037.jpg

I left their home at 6 am and headed for the Great Basin National Park in Nevada, but I did not make that far after fighting the wind for several hours and winding up at the town of Salina, Ut. I asked around for a campsite (I had no maps or gps on this trip, just a couple of printed instructions for certain areas) and was directed to the Maple Grove campgrounds. Awesome place:
DSC00046.jpg

Metal object found between my front tire and rear in hotel parking lot.
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In spite of my wind difficulties I really enjoyed (mostly) forgetting about my domestic concerns and chores and focusing on the intensity of riding the highways. It was great visiting some of my California friends including an old riding buddy currently residing in Vacaville, My pal and his wife in Walnut Creek, another friend in Daly City, and my long time buddy and his wife in South San Francisco, along with a sister in Santa Barbara. It was a homecoming of sorts and a privilege to ride some of the same routes as before. I could do it again.
I'm really looking at Mexico for now. I am fortunate enough to have personal relations with a number of Mexicans as well.
 

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Frank, very tastefully done on the farkles you have added and thanks for the great pictures. BTW I see a bottle of Dupont Teflon chain saver on your work bench. I use this to carry with me on trips because I think it works OK and is small and easy to pack.
 
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