Good luck, see some info inline below
[*]Other than dealers, where should I look other than here and Craigslist for a good used Vstrom?
[*]When looking at a Vstrom, are there any specific things I should watch for? Like, "The 200X's flibbertygibbet sometimes goes wonky, so look at it for cracks" or some such?
I am always worried about how other "mod" their bikes so pay attention to what addons are there and how they appear to be done.
[*]Are there any particular vintages I should avoid?
Check out wikipedia, there were changes over the years and some may be important to you, like ABS became an option in 2008 on the 650 and included after 2011.
[*]I'm a total math/computer nerd, so I put a bunch of Craigslist entries into Excel and crunched some numbers. Seems that on average, a 1000 has about a $470 premium vs. an equivalent 650. Seem reasonable?
Depends on your needs. I run 260 lbs and feel no need for the bigger motor.
[*]Speaking of 1000 premium, how much heavier is it than a 650? The Wikipedia articles for each say the 1000 is 236 kg/520 lb wet, while the 650 is 220 kg/485 lb wet. Is there really only a difference of 16 kg/35 lb?
I think that is correct, yes.
[*]I'd want hard top and side cases. If I get a bike without cases, what's a typical price for a set of bags that'd be waterproof but not insanely expensive?
There are a lot of options and often people sell them here used. but you can go from a few hundred to 1.5K new. for a few hundred is the 22 liter givi cases and racks.[*]I'll definitely have a mechanic check any bike I'm about to buy before closing the sale. Does anyone know any good mechanics in the San Fernando Valley who are very familiar with Vstroms?
can't help there, sorry
There are 10 types of people, those who know binary and those who don't.
What I ride now:
2013 Honda GoldWing (The Lady)
2014 V-strom 650 (The Mistress)
Previously: 07 Ultra Classic, 95 Softail, 80 gs450l