Another unhappy KLR owner! I'm here doing the same as you- shopping for something better, and educating myself completely before buying. I have the '06 KLR, dead in my back yard. The exhaust fell off 2 weeks after buying it- dealer would do nothing, said owner abuse. A month later I got a recall notice about exhaust fastener issues. The steering didn't feel right from day 1, dealer said its normal, I'm not used to a dirt bike; I was raised on them. I found the steering stem bearings were very loose; tightened them, and retightened them every couple weeks as long as I rode the bike. Stock seat foam was destroyed the first season, subframe started loosening up, and the stock rear rack broke off with an empty Givi E32 on it. Every fastener on the bike kept loosening, until I bought a locknut kit. 5 rear tires and 3 front tires in 17k miles, some of those included street-only rubber (tried battlaxe). I did the Doo 1000 miles after buying the bike (2 weeks) and the spring was already broke.
I bought the bike because every owner said the KLR was a bulletproof machine. Once i was on the KLR forums, I found that most of my problems were very common. Very common to have internal engine problems? That's not bulletproof. Not to mention the bike was heavy and slow for what it was. I avoided the more powerful XR650R because they were wound a little tighter and didn't have the engine lifespan of what the KLR should. Its irony that I avoided the Honda because I didn't want to do a top end at 20k, and bought a KLR thats dead at 17k.
From what I have seen on here so far, any possibly common "necessary" work I might have to do to a Strom would be some minor tuning and a PCIII. I can easily live with that. I don't mind spending time and money on my bike- heck, i WANT to, to personalize it and add farkles- not because I HAVE to just to keep it going or repair a poor design.