These are some videos of me goingdown my favourite
roads (you can open them in youtube and watch them in 720p HD if you
have a fast internet connection);
After having the trusty Honda Dominator for a little over a year I found myself not taking advantage of the offroad ability enough. I now do more travelling to and from work and touring around the place with a pillion, plus a bit of playing in the hills with sports bikes. So the dommy was no longer suitable.
I then made a decision to buy a Suzuki DL650 V-Strom. The DL1000 V-Strom has been around for a couple of years, but the 650 version is brand new. I bought it Saturday (27th March 2004), and have just started running the beast in. It's a new Suzuki V-Strom DL650. A liquid cooled 90 degree V-twin, EFI, 6-speed, adjustable windscreen, comfy seat, and heaps of fun to ride. It's just a pity it isn't a Honda.
My modifications so far include removing the excessive warning stickers plastered all over it, removing the silly reflectors mounted on the front forks, and temporarily mounting the dominator gear sack on it until I make a new rear bar to mount the new bigger sack I bought for it. I'll probably make the new rack this weekend, and will most likely post the pics here.
So this page will have some pics of my beast, the places I go, the mods I make, and any other info I think is useful. Plus a list of links that I commonly use (mainly for my own benefit).
the global Suzuki website;
I am not 100% sure of the performance yet, but here are figures I have have been able to find.
http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/DL650/ - Yahoo users group, got an excellent links page
http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/aussie_strom/ - Aussie V-strom site, DL650 and DL1000's
http://11109.rapidforum.com/ - V-Strom forum, mainly DL1000 guys but some 650 guys
|As you can probably see in the two pictures above I already had a small dririder rack-bag (32L expandable to 42L) mounted on my bike. Unfortunately it was temporarily borrowed off my Dominator, which I have now sold. The dririder sack was an excellent little sack, very well made and good looking. But I wanted a bigger sack with more room on the V-strom, so I bought an Rjays Explorer Rack-bag for about AUS$120. It's a pretty big bag, but it doesn't look out of place on the V-Strom as it's a fairly big bike.|
I only bought the bag, and figured I would make my own rack. To buy the rack would've cost me ~$300, something to do with having to buy another bag that comes with it or something weird I didn't quite follow. Anyway, making one is easy and cheap, and you can make it to suit the bag perfectly.
So I bought 4m of 13x13x1.8mm SHS, and 4m of 25x3mm flat. This was twice as much metal as I actually needed, but it's cheap. The metal and a few grinding discs came to about $30.
My friend Brad set me up with an easy method of bend the SHS using some old scrap pipes. Just stick the SHS between the pipes and bend around.
A few quick measurements and a few quick bends and you get something that looks like a rack.
Simply trim and weld it together, add a few supports to bolt it to the bike and it's looking pretty good. I made the angle between the mounting face and the vertical section less than 90 degrees to make the rack more comfortable as a back rest.
After a few trial fits to the bike, checking the back rest angle and adding some supports for the back padding, and your ready to paint. I wanted to paint it black but had none handy, so painted it blue instead. I'll probably repaint it black another day if the blue annoys me. You can see there are two nuts welded to the top of the rack (the occy-strap hooks are in them), these are so I can bolt the rack-bag onto the rack semi-permanently so no-one steals it.
I wired some 20mm high density foam onto the back rest across the entire width, and then added another layer on top of that but only about 1/3 of the width, in the center. I pressed some canvas eyelets into the rack-bag where it was going to bolt to the rack. I then slide the rack-bag onto the rack, and bolted through the eyelets into the rack. And there we have it, a nice secure rack-bag. It has a suitcase style double zip that I put a padlock on to stop people helping themselves to the bags contents. As you can see, the bag makes a very comfortable backrest too. * New info * - I'd also advise gusseting the bends where the base meets the backrest, if you read the trip report below you'll find out why.
|I found out you can fit a dog in the rear bag,
and zip the
double zip up to secure the dog properly.
That's my dog Pepsy, as you can see she trusts me and didn't mind posing for the photos. I actually rode around the yard a little and she didn't mind at all!
Weekend Trip To Monteville
The above pics are from a weekend long rider with Meegan. We went up to Montville and stayed there for the night, then took the scenic way home through Obi Obi, Kenilworth, Maleny, Woodford, Mt Mee and home. As you can see the bike is loaded up like a Camel. The expandable Rjays bag holds quite a lot of gear!
The bike still handled really well even with all that gear and a pillion. I've been really happy with the bike's performance. The good fuel economy and the 22L tank give a good fuel range. I do most of my riding with my pillion. Touring around on weekends and riding to and from work together.
Then occasionally when it comes time to go for a ride by myself the bike feels relatively like a rocketship! It's so much fun. I was riding through a favourite set of twisties and managed to scrape the peg feeler, which is very surprising given the bikes clearance and my light weight. When it happened I didn't know what the hell it was. I was cornering fast and then all of a sudden I heard a horrible scraping noise and my foot started vibrating, I crapped myself! I quickly stood the bike up and ran wide, looked around thinking "wtf?", and then I realised it was just the peg feeler. Phew.
I'm planning a long trip this coming weekend, along roads I haven't been along before. So I figured what I needed was something to clip my maps to. So I went down the shed and made a quick map holder out of scrap bits and pieces.
So the first thing I needed was something to attach it to. I had an old BMX handlebar cross brace lying around, which seemed to be a good size.
I cut the end brackets through, so I can unbolt and detach the holder quickly when it's not in use. I wrapped some electrical tape around the handlebars to protect the powdercoating from scratches. So that was easy so far.
I then used a bit of aluminium checkerplate off-cut I had lying around as a backing plate to clip the maps to. I layed it in place to check it won't interfere with anything. I decided on 210mm x 210mm as a good size (the width of an A4 page). I wanted to still be able to get to the fuel filler and also get a clear view of the instruments (as well as enough clearance to get to the ignition).
A few holes, some bolts and some brackets, a bit of rubber and it's fitted. I put some C section rubber along the bottom to protect the tank, in case the plate moves on the brace and touches the tank. I won't use the holder without a map, I'll remove it from the bike when not in use. Riding without a map would blind me from the reflection of the sun anyway . I'd paint it if I wanted to leave it there.
Nice flimsy brackets made of checkplate off-cuts. They are flimsy but they do they trick. I also put some pieces of rubber on top of the brace to give a bit of friction and stop the plate rotating around the bracket. It is very stable and shouldn't move.
And there it is all fitted. I will just put the maps in a plastic pocket, and clip it to the board. Should work great. I'll give a quick update next week!
Well it's been nearly 3 weeks, so I thought I might write a quick trip report about my first long ride on the V-strom.
So my plan was basically to ride from Brisbane to Valla (near Nambucca Heads) for a VW car show, crash there in a mates kombi for the weekend, and then ride home. Some details of the exact route are on the aussie_strom yahoo group. I basic plan was Brisbane > Beaudesert > the Lions tourist Rd over the border > Kyogle > Casino > Grafton > towards Armidale then left to Dorrigo > Bellingen > Valla. It was meant to be about 500km one way, and due to it being mainly backroads the RACQ travel planner was predicting an 8 hour journey.
So I headed off Friday morning (8:30am?), the weather was cloudy, but pretty good otherwise. The trip across Brisbane city was ok, the morning traffic had died down a little. The map holder was working well and I was keeping to my predicted travel times.
The highway through Beaudesert is a little bit too straight and boring for my liking, but it's nice scenery and not many cars. I eventually got to the Lions Tourist Rd turn-off, I was excited as it is a favourite section of road. But unfortunately I was met with this.
This was strangely ironic because the RACQ route planner I was using was not showing the Lions Touorist Rd as going over the border. I figured it just didn't map such a minor windy road, but I guess it knew the road was closed for bridge repairs. So that sucked. I then set-off on the detour to Kyogle, which went inland towards Woodenbong and added about 50kms to my journey. This wasn't going to help my tight schedule.
I hadn't been the highway to Kyogle before, and thought it would be straight and boring. I was wrong, thankfully. Not far after the Lions Tourist Rd turn-off, some beautiful mountains start appearing. The next thing I knew the road has turned into an extremely windy mountain road. The recommended corner speed signs were reading 30-40kph, I was managing closer to 60-90kph. It was alot of fun! The road was in pretty poor condition, with lots of pot hole patches. In fact the entire road was just a bunch of patches. I was glad I was on the V-strom and not a pure sports bike. The V-strom didn't really get unsettled when the going got rough. I stopped to take a photo of what I figure was Mount Lindsey covered by a single cloud.
The rough windy road continued to the QLD/NSW border, where the road turned into a much wider much better condition NSW road. This is typical of alot of the QLD roads near the border. I pressed on to Kyogle, trying to make up lost time from the detour. The road got really rough again for a relatively short section, I found the faster you go on the V-strom the smoother it tends to be.
I eventually made it into Kyogle, and went looking for the local look-out. It is very overgrown and obviously hasn't been maintained by the council for a long time. The track up to the lookout looking more like a 4WD track. The wasn't too bad over the small town of Kyogle though.
I continued along the highway to Casino, and then onto Grafton. The highway stretch from Casino to Grafton is a little boring, but again there are no cars so it's not too bad. I stopped in Grafton for a late lunch and a little rest before the final section of the journey. The double layer bridge across the river to south Grafton is pretty cool, but you have to watch trucks coming the other way, as the bridge has a tight bend in it, and the trucks need both lanes to make the turn.
The road from Grafton to Dorrigo was fantastic. I basically headed towards Armidale from Grafton. Apparently a section of this used to be dirt, but it is now a fully sealed road. The 100 or so km trip from Grafton to Dorrigo was along a windy hilly backroad. Most of it is like a forestry logging road, but bitumen. There is very very little traffic, lots up and down hill sections, and plenty of fantastic corners. You can ride the 100km flat out if you like, just watch out for logging trucks.
I really improved my corner style on this section of road. You see I come from a dirt bike background and as such don't normally hang off the bike. This presented the problem of meaning I was scraping my boots and pegs far too early, so I started getting the hang of hanging off the side of the bike, and allowing me to corner much faster. The V-strom is just perfectly suited to these roads, a very enjoyable ride indeed. Eventually I made my way to Dorrigo.
Dorrigo is a pretty little town at quite a high elevation (~1000m). There were some nice farms on the way, and some kind of strange old train graveyard. I continued to the Dorrigo NP office for a look at what they call the skywalk. A platform built out over the trees with views all the way to the ocean.
After returning to my bike I had noticed the gearsack rack that I made had broken! It seems that all the weight in the bag, combined with hard riding over rough roads caused the weak bends at the base of the rack to crack through. I always knew they would be the weak point, but didn't think it would break! Oh well, back to the drawing board. Luckily I had the gearsack strapped under the rear carrier so it didn't fall off when the rack broke. I put my coil lock (I use it for my jacket) around the pillion handles and the sack to ensure it didn't fall off on the remaining ride. Next stop was Griffith lookout at Dorrigo, just down the road from the skywalk.
I headed down to Valla, the ride down the Dorrigo range would've been better if I wasn't stuck behind cars. It was still scenic though, with some nice little waterfalls flowing just beside the road.
I eventually got into Valla, and pulled the gear sack and rack off the bike. The sack and rack would be going home in the kombi. The VW weekend was fun, it was good to catch-up with friends. We used the bike as a camera vehicle to tag along with the convoy of VW's into Nambucca Heads. You can see some of the pics, and the video here (the video is the first pic in the gallery) - http://picspot4u.biz/gallery/album07
We ended up heading home Sunday around lunchtime (we'd had enough of spooning together in the pop-top of a kombi camper). I didn't want to be riding on backroads in the dark so I took the highway home. Well almost, I did go the back way from Coffs Harbour to Grafton (thru Glenreagh?). It too was an excellent bike road. Lots of hills and corners, and not many cars. I think if you live in the area, a round trip from Coffs to Grafton to Dorrigo and back to Coffs would be a great Sunday ride.
Oh, and I've fixed my gear sack rack too. Version 2 has gussets where the backrest section meets the base. It is now much more rigid and doesn't flex when I push and pull on it. And I painted it black too.
Drag Racing the Suzuki DL650 Vstrom
So some mates were taking their cars and bikes out to the drags for a bit of fun (Willowbank) and wanted me to take my car. I said I'd rather take my bike as then I don't have to worry about breaking the driveline etc. We were to meet out there and get organised before we started racing, but I was the first to arrive. So instead I waiting around I went through scrutineering and lined up for my first race.
As you can see I decided to run in full street trim. The DL650 is only rated at about 60HP so I knew I'd be the slowest bike, so there wasn't much point removing stuff in order to try and be fast. I got the nickname of the pizza delivery boy with the gearsack on the back. First run I still had my gearsack full of camera, clothes, water bottles, etc. So I ended up wheelstanding too much off the line and had to back off a little. That and a strong head wind led to a 13.9 @ 150kph. 60ft was my worst at 2.113 due to the wheelstand and having to back-off. But it was my first ever run down a drag strip so there was room for improvement. So the other guys rocked up and I emptied the crap from my gearsack, but kept the gearsack fitted to keep that daily commuter look :)
So my next run I lined up beside my mate on his R1 track/race bike. The lights went green, our reactions were identical but I got the hole-shot with a 1.9s 60ft and had him for the first 1/4 of the track, but shortly after the 330ft mark a blue blur came past already travelling at least 40kph faster than me. By the end of the track I was doing 150kph and he was doing 220kph! I ran a 13.4s run that time.
Over the next 3 runs I slowly improved. A 13.3, a 13.2 and finally a 13.06. Best run 60ft - 1.904s 330ft - 5.198s 660ft - 8.101s at 134.01 kph (83.27mph) 1000ft - 10.744s ET - 13.062s at 154.71 kph (96.13mph) I was happy I constantly improved, and my 60ft times were quicker than 4 of the 5 more serious bikes I went up against. The only thing quicker was a low and long drag bike which ran a 10.1 ET. By running less than 3/4 a tank of fuel, removing the gearsack, mirror and maybe screen I'm positive the little baby strom would be somewhere in the 12's.