I never test rode a V-Strom before I bought one. I read every review I could find, dived through ride reports, and talked to people that had owned them. The consensus is that its a great, reliable, comfortable touring platform built on a solid dead-nuts 100,000 mile motor. At the time I was tired of keeping up with all the maintenance on my KTM and decided it was time to simplify things a bit.
Several weeks later, I started conversing with a chap in Tennessee who had a well-loved, and well ridden V-Strom 650 he was looking to part for, and would I be interested in trading my KTM for it? A deal was struck, and on a trip back visiting the motherland (Connecticut), I swung south into TN with the KTM lashed into the back. A short time later, I was heading west again, back to Montana with a V-Strom in the bed.
The first ride
My first ride with the V-Strom felt great. Large wide bars meant effortless steering, and the high seat didn’t fold my legs up like an origami crane. I had high hopes for the V-Strom as being my “everything” bike. The future was so bright, I had to wear shades.
Things I added
- SW-Motech Quick-Release Racks (with 40mm military surplus ammo cans mounted)
- MadStad Adjustable Windscreen Bracket
- SW-Motech Centerstand
- PVC Tool Tube
- Michelin Anakee2 Tires
Falling out of love
As I rode the strommer more and more, over greater distances and more varied terrain, I started to notice things that had eluded me in those handful of first rides. The more I rode it, the bigger the list grew, and I found myself eyeing expensive parts in an attempt to make up for its deficits.
- The suspension sucks. Even with full preload, it sags like an overloaded toyota pickup (and pogos like one too).
- The brakes are complete shit. They’ll stop you, but not very quickly. Pulling the lever doesn’t inspire confidence.
- Even with dirt-oriented TKC tires, the strommer is a washing machine on dirt roads. Hit some serious ruts and it starts to float around. Do this at speed, and its usually followed by pant-crapping.
- Ground clearance isn’t great, especially with a sump/oil guard fitted (which you’ll need if you plan to ride dirt).
Tempted by the fruit of another
Despite all these issues, I was still quite enamored with the V-Strom and did some nice rides with it. I was planning on keeping it and taking it to 100K if I could. One day at the local moto shop, I saw a yellow BMW GS sitting outside. Used, for a decent price. I took a test ride (big mistake). A week later I listed the V-Strom for sale, and started looking for used 1150GS’s.