Perfect for Groceries, Or 40mm Mortar Shells

Perfect for Groceries, Or 40mm Mortar Shells

The beginning

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.


I didnt like to wash it often.

I didn't like to wash it often.

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.