I've been searching for a bike for commuting and occasional touring. Some friends have Hondas and Beemers. After reading through reviews, the Strom really seems to fit my needs almost perfectly. I've completed the first MSF course and earned my endorsement. Last spring, I briefly had a Kaw ex250 but the riding position was not very comfortable for me (6'0", 235#, 34 inseam) so I want something that I'll sit upright. I'm perfectly happy buying used and enjoy wrenching.
The 250 was owned by friend of a friend. He rode it a little but then parked it in his garage and it sat for three years. He then had to move and with no mechanical inclination, offered it to me for free if I could come and get it in the next 12 hours. So I did. Brought it home on a trailer, drained and flushed everything. Thorough cleaning of everything. The tires were brand new when it was parked. They were flat spotted but held pressure. New battery. Fresh fluids for everything and chain lube. New spark plugs. etc etc. Rode it some after all the freshening, but caved to pressure from my wife and sold it, yet I was bitten by the bug and after some negotiating, she's given the OK.
I'm impressed with the longevity people are getting from the 650s. Having owned cars that required quite a bit of attention to keep on the road and track, a bike that starts up and can go (given proper maintenance) is very appealing.
The good/bad thing about the Strom is that it is so good at so many things for so many people that it is not perfect at anything for hardly anybody. That "so close, but so far" aspect of it brings out the sniveller in some.
With a few "farkles" you can adjust foot peg height, bar reach, fender height, wind management ... I could go on and on and on. And make the bike perfect for you.
The wind management is poor compared to a fully faired road bike, but if you take to an unpaved road or trail on a road bike you will trash it. Its off road capability is poor compared to an off road oriented dual purpose bike, but then, try riding 600 miles a day on a KLR or any other thumper and your fillings will be loose, and your vision will be blurry for three days.
The motor on the 650 Strom is silky smooth and torquey to a fault. The handling is awesome for such a "tall" bike with a such great seating position. I get 55 mpg commuting at 70mph, and smile - the - whole - stinking - way - to - work - and - back. On trips 2 up with 90lbs of luggage and gear, I'll get ~48-50 mpg, but it drops to 39 or 40 if I have to do 80 on the slab.
With a good 50/50 tire and a skid plate, you can have some fun on the trails if you leave your luggage in camp. I've found that adjusting the preload and dampening made what I thought was a mushy, dive prone suspension, quite sporty and fun handling.
There are other good bikes out there, but I don't know of one that could replace my Strom as a single bike solution.
If you make a list of all the things you want to do on a bike, then make a list of all the bikes that will do it and test ride them, you may end up getting the most smiles from a Strom. I rode the Strom last, and liked it best. I'm sure you can find a good one in your budget that needs far less wrenching than the 250 did.
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