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Discussion Starter #1
I feels kind of wrong to bust in as I don't own a Vstrom, at least yet.

I am looking for a new bike and am in a hurry. Normally I ride about 15,000 miles a year, commuting around town and going on 100 mile trips when the weather is nice. In addition I sometimes do the crazy 2000 mile cross country trip every year or so. I ride in pretty much all conditions including heavy rain and wind, as long as it is above 20 deg F and there is not much ice or snow sticking to the roads.

My living circumstance recently changed and for the foreseeable future in addition to my usual I will be making two 450 mile trips at least once every two weeks. These trips will not be leisurely, but with the goal of bombing down the freeway at 75 to 80 MPH, the flow of traffic.

I have owned many bikes, the most recent being a Yamaha YZF 1000R and a YZF R1. I currently own a Suzuki Burgman 650 scooter which I have made trips of 2,400 miles at the rate of 800 miles a day.

With the need to make frequent high mileage trips I figure I will be putting on around 35,000 miles a year. I am trading in or selling the Burgman because I do not think it is the optimal bike for these distances as it is a bit of a pain to work on and has several high dollar repairs that are often required between 50,000 and 90,000 miles.

Here is the criteria I am using to select a bike:

Comfortable for 6 hour rides.

No pressure on wrists. (My right wrist is broken and will never heal)

Must have ABS.

Good luggage capacity.

Good for two up.

Good in bad weather, Stable.

Good fuel economy and low maintenance costs, low total cost per mile.

Easy to work on.

Reliable and able to endure high mileage 100+ K miles.

Fun :)

good for high traffic inner city commuting.

I am 6' and weigh about 180. After researching much, the two bikes still on my list are the Vstrom 650 ABS, and the BMW F800ST.

I need to make a decision fast as trade in value of my Burgman goes down sharply at 20,000 miles and I will hit that within a month at my current rate.

A local dealer can get me an 09 Vstrom 650 ABS for $8,000 out the door and seems like a genuinely nice guy and is the owner of the dealer. His service manager does not give me particular confidence, which is common in my experience with Suzuki. I do virtually all of my own repairs and service but it is nice to have someone talented and fair to fall back on, especially while in warranty.

A local BMW dealer owner also seems like a very nice and honest guy. He can sell me an F800ST off his floor for $11,000 with ABS, heated grips, heated seat, Driving computer, Tire pressure monitor, and hard side and tail cases (not oe but good quality).

Not all of these options seem to be available for the Vstrom, but the ones that are (hard cases, heated grips, heated seat, hard side and tail cases), I would have to pay extra for. So The BMW is more expensive but comes with more things, and is not THAT much more after parts and labor of add ons.

My questions are...... What is the output of the Vstrom alternator, can it handle heated grips, seat, jacket, driving lights?

What bike seems best with my requirements above?

What did I not think to ask?

What are the common failure points of the Vstrom 650, and how hard to fix?

Anyone here ridden or owned both? I will test drive both but a 10 minute test drive does not tell you much about how a bike feels after 6 hours in the saddle, let alone how ownership will be through 100,000 miles.

Any and all input greatly appreciated :D

P.S. I rarely go off pavement and have managed it when I had to on the burgman, I don't foresee this being a big factor, though it does look fun.
 

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The 09 model you're looking at would fit most (if not all) of your criteria.

Couple of things you may want to consider:

if you're coming off of an inline 4 Yamaha, you may be a tad disappointed in the 'off the line' power/speed of the 2 cyl wee.

Wind buffeting seems to be a common complaint at freeway speeds (can be remedied with mods). Get 'er up to speed on your testride to see if it bothers you.

The stock 650 seat is often mentioned as being hard on the backside--again, easily remedied with the 1000 seat or other aftermarket.

That's it--great bike--fits your criteria--just buy it man! :thumbup:
 

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Living the Stereotype
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JoelW,


Welcome to the board.

Based on your criteria, the only issue I see as a deal-breaker for the Suzuki would be the electrical capacity. I don't know the figures offhand, but you may be maxed out with all the things you need to run. Greywolf will hopefully chime in here before long. I'd look closely at this on both bikes.

Next up is the belt drive vs. chain drive. I'm willing to suffer the scorn of my Strom brothers and sisters, but based on your needs, this issue alone would nudge me over to favor of the F800ST.

I cannot speak to the relibility or maintenance needs of the BMW, but the Suzuki is notably unfussy with a large nation wide (if not gold star) dealer network. Major things are Trottle-Body Synchronization (dealer item) and valve checks at about 15,000-mile intervals.

In terms of fuel economy, the V-Strom takes 87 octane, the BMW requires 91. The Strom will have an edge in range with 5 useable gallons at a reliable 50 GPM = 250-mile range.

If this is your primary transportation, you will definately want a different seat on the DL650. A tailored seat like a Russel Day Long would be ideal ($5000+) which requires you seat pan for acouple of weeks..

You'll probably want a taller wind screen like a GIVI touring, ($120) with a Madstad adjustable bracket ($80).

A taller, 16-tooth front sprocket may be in order as well.

As for mods to the F800ST, I've only seen them and talked to their owner/operators. You'll probably want to consider a taller windscreen and bar risers.

I have to be honest with you, for close to the same money similarly equipped, the F800ST looks very good on paper. Find some owners and ask them to talk you out of it.

http://www.bmwmoa.org/forum/showthread.php?t=23405


Good luck,

Norm
 

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Both are fine choices. Each will most likely need some mods to suit you personally though. ie; windscreen, seat...
IMO the Suzuki would win out on the single point of dealer network and support. Ther number of BMW dealers is small and getting smaller each year, so when (not if) you need parts or emergency repairs, you may find yourself in the middle of BFE without a dealer within 300 miles.
The kind of mileage you are planning on putting on the bike will not be a problem for the V-Strom.
Best of luck, let us know what you decide.
 

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If you rarely go off road, I wonder if you wouldn't be better off choosing a pure street bike. Given your criteria, I think I'd be looking at something more along the lines of a sport touring bike like the BMW R1200RT or the new Kawasaki Concours 14.
 

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spend more time going thru stromtroopers forum section, there is so much info here, it is quite easy to make this bike into the bike you need, especially when those needs change. pretty much all issues can be addressed, especially the buffetting. there is the old trial and error method, or you can use the forums to choose the right accesssories for your size and needs. this is the most fun I have had with a bike, the low entry price makes it easy to add things as needed, maybe too easy $$$. I am not saying the BMW 650/800 is not also a nice bike, but it's no suzuki, with all that implies. the wee motor is award winning, efficient, sewing machine smooth and quiet on the highway (when you have the windshield issue solved for your size). I guess it's quite obvious after you find your way around this great website.
 

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>Comfortable for 6 hour rides.

The V-Strom probably needs an aftermarket windscreen and/or Madstad windshield bracket and seat to handle that, though some riders do fine with stock. With those, I do 14 hour rides easily.

>No pressure on wrists. (My right wrist is broken and will never heal)

Not a problem for me but handlebars vary by individual. It's a easy change for those with a problem. Using HotGrips with large Grip Puppy covers gives me a large, soft grip that is really easy on my wrists. Adding an Audiovox electronic cruise control makes long trips really comfortable for my hands and wrists.

>Must have ABS.

As long as you can find a DL650A

>Good luggage capacity.

Lots of luggage is available. Avoid Suzuki's. Givi is popular for the pavement crowd.

>Good for two up.

Aftermarket seat. Some people like more power, others are happy. Suspension upgrades are popular too. I doubt the alternators on either bike will handle heated gear for two people.

>Good in bad weather, Stable.

I like having a Scotts steering stabilizer. I had a tank slapper at 119mph indicated, 110 actual, running with full three piece luggage without one. It is a bad idea to do that with any bike as it exceeds luggage maker's specs by about 30mph. I've ridden the Wee in storms that had cars pulling off the road since mounting one. A fork brace is a good idea too.

>Good fuel economy and low maintenance costs, low total cost per mile.

Much better than the BMW.

>Easy to work on.

The chain requires more maintenance than the belt but isn't a biggie. I have 34,000 miles on mine and done all my own work. Valve clearance checks can get involved but are only scheduled every 14,500 miles and some have gone over 100,000 miles with no adjustments. Do one adjustment on the wide end of the spec and it will probably be your last.

>Reliable and able to endure high mileage 100+ K miles.

I don't think I've heard of any properly maintained Wees that have required major work before that.

>Fun :)

I think so.

>good for high traffic inner city commuting.

Right in the Wee's best behavior model.

>I am 6' and weigh about 180. After researching much, the two bikes still on >my list are the Vstrom 650 ABS, and the BMW F800ST.

You'll appreciate the Wee's large frame. I used to own BMWs. The expense and breakdowns drove me away.

>A local dealer can get me an 09 Vstrom 650 ABS for $8,000 out the door and >seems like a genuinely nice guy and is the owner of the dealer.

That's decent with the recent price hikes. Some dealers mark up the ABS bikes.

>A local BMW dealer owner also seems like a very nice and honest guy. He can >sell me an F800ST off his floor for $11,000 with ABS, heated grips, heated >seat, Driving computer, Tire pressure monitor, and hard side and tail cases >(not oe but good quality).

A heated seat is something I would avoid. They take energy and put it where it isn't needed. I have a heated jacket liner, gloves, grips and socks. Handle the torso and extremities and you're fine. The '09 Wee has a 400W electrical output, leaving about 125-150W available for accessories. That will not keep two people warm. I have a 375W alternator and have a cutoff switch to take out one headlight for long, cold daylight trips. Cranking up the heat on all my gear at once requires it. Shorter trips and temps above the 30s are okay with both lights.

>What are the common failure points of the Vstrom 650, and how hard to fix?

A headlight relay kit from Eastern Beaver is a good idea. The connectors in the stock system can get overheated. The kit also provides better light by getting more current to the lights. The '09 has a better rear axle nut that used to be a problem. Anything else would be nit picking.

>Anyone here ridden or owned both? I will test drive both but a 10 minute test >drive does not tell you much about how a bike feels after 6 hours in the >saddle, let alone how ownership will be through 100,000 miles.

I've mentioned giving up on BMWs partly for reliability isses. It's a lot easier to find a Suzuki dealer if you have trouble on a long trip. I've had that happen twice on a BMW but never on my present bike.

Check out http://www.vstrom.info/Smf/index.php http://www.advrider.com/forums/index.php and BMW groups too.
 

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This is a difficult question considering your needs. The problem is that neither bike is going to do ALL of the things you need done well. I recognise that you can't really choose a Concours (for example) because of the wrist. I have neck pain that similarly limits my choices.

If not for the need for huge freeway miles, I (meaning me personally) would go with the 800GS. The Rotax engine has a very good reputation, it's belt drive requires very little maintenance and there is a "cool factor" that you won't get with the Wee. The mentioned issues with the Wee (seat, wind, luggage, etc.) can be remedied with aftermarket parts, but by that time you have a price that approaches the deal you have on the GS. I don't see the GS as a good hour-after-hour freeway ride.

The Suzuki can be made to have decent wind protection (via large unattractive windscreens and the madstad bracket) but it's no Gold Wing. You will still get cold air up your legs, stomach and arms. But I think it would be a smoother cruiser on the long stretches of pavement and still be nimble on the surface streets. Note that a surprising number of Wee owners get fork braces and change the front springs/oil to improve streetability.

It's a shame you have to give up the Burgman. It would be nice to have both. How much maintenance/service can you get on the Burgman for the $10,000 (or difference thereof) that you are about to pay for a new bike? Rhetorical question. Just thinking out loud...
 

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If you do your own installation, You can put all sorts of goodies on the DL650 for considerably less than a stock Beemer which also needs help with things like suspension.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks so much for the information everyone!

Ancon, I am coming off of a heavy inline 2. The YZf was sold a while ago. The last 17,000 miles have been done on a Suzuki Burgman 650, I have already adjusted to not being able to power lift the front wheel in 3rd gear :)

Stromin'Nroman, Good info on the fuel. I had not noticed that the BMW was super only. I shall have to find if this is really the case or just text in the manual, either it will knock or it won't. Does throttle body sync require a scan tool or something? Why is it dealer only on the Vstrom? P.S. you were not by chance a great 4 star in the first gulf war were you :)

Wizzer, I am considering wrist pain as something that can be moded as long as the bike has a fairly upright seating position to begin with. As for other bikes, ABS is a deal killer. For the conditions I keep finding myself in, I want it above all else.

Goodfather, BMW dealer network getting smaller? that is cause for concern.

Satch, I WOULD be better off on a big bike for the long trips, but I also commute daily in ultra busy Saint Louis and a maneuverable bike is much better for that. Poverty forces me to chose one all arounder :)

tkad, I have spent a bit of time lurking here and if I get the the wee, I will be back very often. The Burgmanusa sight is one of the main reasons to own a burgman. The presence of this sight as well as the BMW sight is a large part of what I like about these two bikes: devoted fan bases willing to help!

greywolf, tank slapper on the wee at 110 mph, as in bars beating against the stops? Thats scary! was it jut luggage or were the head bearings loose or something? How did you fare? My only tank slappers have occurred on the track on race bikes and without exception I bonded with the asphalt at triple digit speeds. I would prefer to avoid that on the highway.

QuietMike, the 800GS has been suggested by a few. It is a big unknown for me because except for about 5 miles down a gravel road on a KLR, I have no experience with dualsports. The Vstrom seems like a dualsport 90% engineered for pavement. The 800GS seems 90% engineered for dirt. I might love off-roading but simply have no experience to know. No matter what I do I have to shell out some cash. My current Burgman has 17,000 miles and value goes down sharply at 20,000 miles. It also does not have ABS which didn't bother me when I lived in Oregon 4 months ago but I want it for Saint louis. $4,800 is trade in for my Burgman and $10,400 is the price for a Burgman with ABS. I love my Burgman and will miss it, I don't believe it is the bike to have economically for 35,000 miles a year.

Thanks again everyone, all your comments are very helpful!
 

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greywolf, tank slapper on the wee at 110 mph, as in bars beating against the stops? Thats scary! was it jut luggage or were the head bearings loose or something? How did you fare?
That kind of speed takes the bike close to the limits of its stability with luggage. A little wiggle can grow into the tail wagging the dog. I got spit off, broke my left hand and wrist as well as separated my left shoulder. I got my Scotts steering stabilizer for the next bike while still in a cast. With the Scotts, it can't happen. It also keeps potholes and road irregularities from being scary. It's a great addition.

Oh. The F800ST only has a 4.1 gallon tank and gets about 10mpg less than the DL650 which has a 5.8 gallon tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Glad you made it! I know how broken wrists feel. I did 9 months in a cast and two surgeries and one bone never did heal :(

Duly noted: If I get Vstrom, get steering stabilizer!

I tend to overload bikes and ride fast from time to time. Thanks for the advice. I would hate to learn the hard way.
 

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Living the Stereotype
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Oh. The F800ST only has a 4.1 gallon tank and gets about 10mpg less than the DL650 which has a 5.8 gallon tank.
I've talked to F800ST folks, who claim to get the same milage as DL650 riders claim to get. But it's still 91 octane in a 4.1 gallon tank.
 

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Any bike ridden fast with luggage needs a steering stabilizer. My BMW R90S needed a steering stabilizer and a fork brace. You can just see the stab under the fairing connecting the lower triple clamp to the bike's left frame down tube. The fork brace is more obvious. It also needed a frame stiffener later model years had but was not yet purchased when this picture was taken. You can see a frame brace on the bike at the top left which has its windshield touching the picture border. The stock brace in later years was between the front down tubes whereas the after market brace connected each down tube near the steering head to the swingarm pivot brace for an even stiffer chassis. Some said it was overkill but I had to reweld one that broke a weld it got so much movement force.

The test reports I've seen on the F800ST say it gets 45mpg. That's what I get with loaded luggage and high speed runs out west and is as low as I've ever gotten. I normally get 55 and have seen 60 on a few occasions.

 

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Just wanted to correct myself: The F800GS has chain drive, not belt. I'd still like to have one. I watched some great reviews on ewetoob today. If I lived in Utah, I'd make it happen. I can't justify the change while living in Ohio.
 

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Have you considered the Yamaha FJR1300? That's what my other bike is. It meets all your criteria and more, plus you can get a good low mileage used one for less then $10,000, some with extended warranties.

Similar service intervals as the Wee, lower cost to buy, maintain and service than some of BMW stuff, and guys are getting 100k miles on some.

Check out the FJR Forum, and fjriders for some good buys.
 

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I am in St Louis, University City, specifically.
I'm in Poplar Bluff, if you ever plan on passing by this way, PM me. If your in the area and need any help I have truck, trailer, small shop(limited tools). Could possibly help you out, or anyone else for that matter. I can PM my cell number for an emergency.
 
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