Is the DL650 easy for a beginner to ride/control? - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 21 Old 04-07-2009, 06:39 PM Thread Starter
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Is the DL650 easy for a beginner to ride/control?

I started riding last fall by picking up an 88 zx600 as my first bike. Probably a bit overpowered for a beginner bike, but I love it. Seating position is excellent and butt comfort is top notch. I want to get something newer since I am in a constant battle of fixing things after each ride and I started visiting dealers last week. The newer sportbikes like the sv650sf look great but the seating position is horrible compared to what I want. The seat is narrower and you are forced to lean so far over the tank that it hurts my back. The V-strom on the otherhand has a plush wide seat and an upright seating position. The seat sits about 3" above my zx600, but both feet still touch the ground when sitting on it.

From what I have heard the V-strom is a top-heavy bike which for a beginner could mean crashing it sooner. How much of this holds true in practice? The V-strom sits a few inches higher than my zx600, and only weighs about 20lbs more. If I am use to the zx600 would it be that much more of a change? I would need to drive 30 miles home from the dealer on the interstate which would be the last place on earth I would want to run into any handling problems. Any comments would be great if any of you might have gone from an older sportbike to the V-strom.
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post #2 of 21 Old 04-07-2009, 09:20 PM
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Hi. I've had my DL650 for about a month. I've previously ridden 4 cylinder bikes 20 odd years ago so have some history with riding bigger bikes. I had a S40 650 single for about 4 months prior after I decided to get back into motorcycling.

Yup, V-Strom's are noticeably top heavy but for me this is only an issue when stopped or wheeling it / parking it. Once you're under way the bike is pretty nimble. If you're short I think you may have problems with the bike. I'm 5' 11" and 95 kg so tall enough and heavy enough to man handle the bike without too many problems.

While seat may look plush as you may have read many people find it uncomfortable. I can go about an hour before my bum starts feeling numb. I've got an Airhawk inflatable seat cover and this helps me go a bit longer. Ultimately I'll have to get a new seat or get mine rebuilt so that I can ride all day. Although I've been able to go 3-4 hours with a couple of short breaks without too much bum pain.

I love my V-Strom. It handles great. Very smooth engine. The upright riding position is great. You'll probably need to invest in a few extras like Madstad brackets and another screen as the buffetting with the stock screen is awful or it was for me.

One thing, I certainly wouldn't recommend a V-Strom as a first time bike. Too top heavy and probably too powerful.

Hope this helps.

Nigel

Last edited by 3DKiwi; 04-07-2009 at 09:22 PM.
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post #3 of 21 Old 04-07-2009, 10:19 PM
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If you have gotten to the point that you are firmly in control of your zx600 then I don't think you would have a problem with a DL650. I'm not familiar with your bike, but most 600cc sport bikes are faster than a DL650. The Strom is a much more measured smooth application of power than a sport bike.

Yes, it is more top heavy, but again if you have control of your current bike it unlikely to be overwhelming. Important to put crash bars on it immediately. Good chance the bike will hit the ground and crash bars will save you money very quickly.

If you don't have control of your current bike consider something smaller for a while. Learn how to master a bike before getting the bike you really want. You'll appreciate your move up bike much more and you'll be ready to take on the challenges that come with a bigger bike. Good luck.


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post #4 of 21 Old 04-07-2009, 10:20 PM Thread Starter
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Well I am 6' 2" and about 230lbs right now. The seat felt pretty nice sitting on it for a while at the dealer. For my butt it gave support across the entire surface, whereas the sv650 seemed to have a contact patch way more narrow.

Now when you say not recommend as a first time bike, would you say that applies to someone coming from a zx600 in terms of weight and power?
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post #5 of 21 Old 04-07-2009, 10:24 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirt_Dad View Post
If you have gotten to the point that you are firmly in control of your zx600 then I don't think you would have a problem with a DL650. I'm not familiar with your bike, but most 600cc sport bikes are faster than a DL650. The Strom is a much more measured smooth application of power than a sport bike.

Yes, it is more top heavy, but again if you have control of your current bike it unlikely to be overwhelming. Important to put crash bars on it immediately. Good chance the bike will hit the ground and crash bars will save you money very quickly.

If you don't have control of your current bike consider something smaller for a while. Learn how to master a bike before getting the bike you really want. You'll appreciate your move up bike much more and you'll be ready to take on the challenges that come with a bigger bike. Good luck.
Well mastered in the sense that I can crawl along at an almost dead stop at lights and can feather the clutch from a stop on a hill without putting my feet down. Still working on turning without dropping speed significantly, really nervous about gravel making me slid out. I probably have about 3-400 miles on my current bike, with about 100 right before snow hit and 300 since it all melted

What are crash bars? Are they the same thing as frame sliders or am I thinking of something else?

EDIT: Think silver or orange matches my attire best?
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post #6 of 21 Old 04-07-2009, 10:43 PM
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I think the DL650 will be easy for a tall beginner, but not for a short one.
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post #7 of 21 Old 04-07-2009, 11:19 PM
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At 6-2, 230 lbs the top heavy nature of the DL650 shouldn't be a problem at all, even for a somewhat new rider. You are aware of the condition and will handle the bike accordingly at slow speeds and while moving the bike around in the garage and parking lots. I don't really notice the top heavy nature of my DL1000 once I am moving faster than probubly 15mph or so, and it weighs about 50 lbs more than the 650. I only notice the weight at all when traveling at a crawl or moving the bike manually so don't worry aboout it to much.

Engine guards are essentially a bolt on cage that attaches to the frame and protects the engine and gas tank somewhat from damage from simple drops and milder impacts. An engine guard will probubly not be the deciding factor in whether the bike would be considered "totaled" by an insurance company in the event of a significant crash or lay down/slide but if you drop the bike at a light (ooohhhh, never done that... so emberasing) or in your driveway in front of your friends or sweetie (doohhhh!!!), then the cage/engine guard will take the hit and you won't scratch things up or poke an expensive hole in your fairing or gas tank. Allot of people put engine guards on, they don't detract from the looks of the bike at all (in my opinion). Scan some of the ride report threads and you will see that most strommers have some sort of engine guard on their bikes or link to amotostuff.com and you can see pics of some engine guards for the Strom (I don't work there).

For the sore butt issue, many DL650 owners swap out there stock seat for a DL1000 seat and find that quite a bit more comfy. The DL1000 seat is 1 inch taller so only do this if you have the leg room, and at 6-2 I would assume that you would have the leg length or you are a genetic mutant with an unnaturally long torso and short stubby little legs.

Best of luck, the DL650 is a nice bike and will very likely give you years of trouble free service and miles of smiles. Take it easy for the first couple of months, practice low speed manuvers in a large parking lot, and maybe some panic stops, and then some higher speed breaking and by the time summer is here, you won't be a newb anymore

Last edited by dakarrider; 04-07-2009 at 11:23 PM.
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post #8 of 21 Old 04-07-2009, 11:36 PM Thread Starter
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Well I have just started to work up courage to try the interstate for a few mile loop and a heavy traffic city road. The two dealers that I could buy the bike from are about 30 miles through heavy interstate traffic away, so I will probably pack on the miles on the zx600 until I feel safe enough that I wouldn't crash a new bike riding home from the dealer .

Does the DL650 suspension settle any over time? At the dealer sitting on the bike my legs were almost perfectly straight to get both feet flat on the ground. On my zx600 I have about 3-4" of bent knee padding to work with for balance. If the seat upgrade picked me up another inch, makes me wonder if I would even be able to walk the bike out of my garage and turn it around without problems. :-?
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post #9 of 21 Old 04-08-2009, 12:57 AM
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dietcokefiend:

I left dirtbike riding some 20 years ago and since then I had only been on a street bike a few times. This past summer I finally made the decision that it was time to transition back into riding (I guess once I turned 40 I decide that I could finally trust my impulses). So after reading a ton and testing a variety of bikes I settled on a Vee. At 6'4" 285 lbs the size and the weight of the bike did not bother me at all. The only time I came even close to dropping the bike is when I didn't quite get the sidestand all the way into position and it collapsed as I went to put it on the stand. Caught it without much trouble though.

From what you have described I don't think you would have any problem making the transition to the Wee. You will find it much smoother than the Ninji. I would however encourage you to really make sure you are comfortable on the Highway before going to pickup the new bike. You are correct that you don't want to be on the Highway on a new bike if you are not comfortable. I bought mine from a dealer 300 miles away and there was no way my first run was going to be a 300 mile super slab ride. I picked it up in the back of my truck and it was a very pleasant ride home :-)

Take it easy and slow. It would even be worth it to take a Motorcycle Safety Course. What ever you decide enjoy the ride!

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post #10 of 21 Old 04-08-2009, 09:53 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SittingDuck View Post
out of curiosity: when you say "I have just started to work up courage to try the interstate for a few mile loop" how fast did you go?
75-80. Wasn't really the speed that kept me back, just getting used to the traffic. My normal nearly traffic-less route to and from work takes me on a 60mph (70) state highway and a few side roads with tons of curves.

So far I have been taking the same 24 mile loop as I have been building up confidence. Every pothole, patch of gravel, and curve memorized. Still odd thinking about just a few months ago I was too scared to leave the school parking lot across from my house and venture down my hill, and last weekend I could handle heavy bumper to bumper city traffic without breaking a sweat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vee4Me View Post
Take it easy and slow. It would even be worth it to take a Motorcycle Safety Course. What ever you decide enjoy the ride!
Already signed up for one, was a few days late and got into a class early July. Depending on how well that turns out will be the deciding factor on a new bike.
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