Bike and Bike-kit
The Bike; 2011 Suzuki V-Strom 650 (also known as DL 650)
Exhaust: Two Brothers Racing Carbon Fiber with quiet insert; awesome sound great looks (the quiet insert is a must)
Motech Skid plate: Good looks, but I am skeptical of its durability
Hand Guards: Barkbuster’s are the best in the business, functional and good looking (keeping your hands warmer and away from flying gravel off the road)
Givi Engine Guards: Great guards, strong, right location for protection and look good (they really protect body work and the gas tank in the event of a fall) let’s hope I never need these
Givi side cases (luggage): if you like a sleek look you will like them if you like a rugged look then not so much.
- The design helps cut through the wind and keep drag to a minimum (better MPG)
- I would prefer a top loading case because a side opening case is harder to pack or repack when it’s on the bike and they tend to fall over when you set them down “scratch”
Why a V-Strom 650?
I have owned about 40 motorcycles of all types and sizes; my longest trips have been on the KTM 950 Adventure, VTX 1300, CBR 900RR and the V-Strom 650.
The upright riding position of the Adventure bikes is the most comfortable for long trips and provides excellent visibility of your surroundings, with a taller bike you can also see over traffic and other obstacles for a better view and you, the rider, are more visible to other drivers on the roadway.
For long trips the 650 V-twin is smooth and fuel efficient, delivering up to 70MPG. Power is surprisingly good and the seating position as well as the seat is great for long distance riding. When it comes to winding roads the V-Strom holds its own quite well and can handle all of the off road conditions I’ve come across. The 650 provides the right combination of light weight, reliability, economy and good road manners for a trip like this.
A few words on the weight of an adventure bike: Considerations need to be given to outside elements such as wind, Air displacement of a passing semi-truck and ability to maneuver the bike in tight situations as well as the eventuality of needing to pick it up in a difficult position.
- At 300lbs the bike starts to become too light, the effects wind/air pressure of other vehicles starts to impact the stability of you Motorcycle each time you pass or are passed by another vehicle.
- At 600lbs the bike becomes too heavy to pick up if you drop it on a down sloping hill (handlebars and seat facing downhill) sure anyone can pick up a heavy bike in a parking lot using the right technique and some proper leverage, but get yourself on a dirt trail fall to the down side of a hill and you may need to leave it and go get help on foot.
- The right Mix for a bike that will be ridden many miles and will likely see some off road use should weigh between 400lbs and 500lbs
Wind and Fairings
Fighting cross wind (wind hitting you and your bike from the side)is always a challenge to motorcyclist, a heaver bike helps but is not always the answer;
- Bikes with full fairings (plastics that cover the entire bike) tend to be impacted more by a cross wind than bikes without.
- Bikes with no fairing at all will not protect you from the oncoming wind as you go down the road (this will become tiring)
- You want a good mix of enough fairing to keep the Majority of air off your body at speed and not too much fairing that a cross wind pushes you into another lane.
The right fairing for me is the half fairing: I want to keep the wind off my body and keep it from pulling my legs away from the bike, this is Bad wind. I do want some wind hitting my shoulders, face shield and passing the outsides of my legs and feet, this is good wind.
The wind at your shoulders and face shield does two things; one, allows you to open vents on your jacket and your helmet letting cooler air in on a hot days; two, puts slight pressure on your body keeping you upright without putting pressure on your arms (you’re not fighting to keep yourself upright).
The wind passing the outsides of your legs can work in the same manner it keeps your legs in, and can help keep you cool on hot days.
Some good options in this category are the BMW F800GS, Suzuki V-Strom 650 and the Triumph Tiger 800. Picking between these bikes is difficult if you have an unlimited budget and long legs! The decision becomes easier if you’re missing one of the two! And even though the Suzuki is lower I did lower My wife’s bike by 2” to make that reach to the ground easier.
Camping gear and tools next: