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-   -   Suzuki VX 800 (http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=671380)

M@gneto 03-24-2011 06:42 AM

Suzuki VX 800
 
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The first time I laid eyes on a BMW R100GS in the late 80's, I wanted one. I thought it must be the perfect all-around bike that will go anywhere, but it wasn't at the very top of my motorcycle purchase priority list. When the R1100GS came out a several years later, I again thought I needed one, but other bikes kept it from being the one I purchased. Same thing happened with the 1150 and 1200s. Finally, last year when returning from my third, year long, deployment to the middle east (this time to Afghanistan), I found a few year old R1200GS at Engle Motors in Kansas City. The price was good and it had been fairly well farkled by the previous owner, but not ridden much. I pulled the trigger and finally received my long-sought-after adventure bike. My wife and I spent most of a week on the bike, visiting friends and taking the long scenic route home. I was surprised at the bike's highway manners, especially two-up. Shortly after getting home to mid Missouri, my dad and I took off on one of our epic rides. This time we were going to Las Vegas. Since neither of us are gamblers, we had no real reason for going there other than I wasn't aclimated to weather in the mid-west yet and I wanted to go someplace warm. There was also a bike-fest going on there during that time and we thought it sounded like fun. Our longest one day ride up until that point had been 750 miles when we rode from my house to Deal's Gap. We decided we would like to try to break our record and go for 1,000. That first night we slept in a KOA on the west side of New Mexico. That BMW is just fantastic. After goofing around in Vegas, we decided we would go see some of Utah and Nevada, since going there we burned through with minimal stops and sight-seeing. One place we wanted to visit took us down a long dirt road. It was curvy, hilly and barely more than a two-track. This is when my dad and I both really noticed how much better the adventure bike handled the dirt, even with Metzler Tourance tires than the 1400 Intruder he was riding. At one point we realized he had lost his sleeping bag, so he parked while I made a "spirited" run back to retrieve his lost item. That's when Dad decided he needed an adventure bike.
We have been planning a trip to Alaska for several years now, but my deployments (3 in the last 6 years) have put a damper on the trip. We decided we were going to do it next year (2012). Dad spent some time looking at Wee-Stroms and even some older Honda Translaps and TDM 850s, but just didn't come up with anything that fit him well and he liked. Basically, he was uninspired. Having both been mechanics for several years, we discussed converting a bike into an adventure bike. There is a great post here about guys doing that very thing: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=330726
When looking through our colection of bikes, we tried to keep a few things in mind. The bike needed to have mid-controls, less than 1,000 cc, preferably a twin, something we could mount bags on, a 7/8" handlebar for easy swapping with a motocross bar, some kind of wind protection and the ability to mount knobbies. The bike we both stopped on was an old Suzuki VX800. We picked it up for next to nothing a few years ago. We never were really sure what we were going to do with it, but it was unusual and rare. We have both owned Suzuki Intruders and this is the same power-plant the company used in their cruisers. Once we started looking at it, it was obvious that this was going to be our adventure touring conversion.

M@gneto 03-24-2011 06:51 AM

Vx800
 
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One of the things we had to decide on was how much money to spend on this adventure conversion. Since we only had a few hundred into the bike to begin with, we were curious to see if we could keep the entire total to under $1,000. That means not buying a lot of new stuff for it. We figured tires alone will be around $150, and the bike needed new handlebars, some kind of hand protections, like bark busters, some kind of luggage, different foot-pegs. This is going to be a challenge.
Here is the start though. Dad had this old windshield laying around. Just to see how it would work, he mounted it to the sport fairing that came on the bike. Our budget adventure build begins!

M@gneto 03-25-2011 10:23 AM

Luggage
 
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We figured luggage was going to be a problem. At first we thought about soft-luggage, but for long distance trips the way we like to do them, some kind of hard luggage would be preferred. We knew we would have to build the brackets to mount them anyway and although the aluminum boxes look and function really well, another option is a plastic box like the pelican case. This set is a cheap knock-off, but seem to be well made and aren't very expensive. Not positive this is the way we'll go yet, but it's an idea.

M@gneto 03-25-2011 10:25 AM

Trunk
 
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Extra fuel was a concern. This is an idea. It might make the bike too "top-heavy", but it would be nice to have the extra fuel tucked away and protected. My guess is we'll go with a smaller top case, but at this point, we're still exploring options.

paul56 03-25-2011 08:39 PM

My VX800 story
 
I bought a 1990 VX800 in 1995 with 30,000 miles on it. I sold it in 2006 (when I got my Uly) with 96,000 miles on it. I had very good luck with it. The only time it left me stranded was when the voltage regulator shorted and killed the entire electric system (blew the main fuse). I learned that this was a pretty common failure in these and their sister models. Wasn't too pricey to fix.
I always liked the styling, and the performance and operating economy were adequate. I last rode it about a month after getting the Uly and couldn't resist a last ride on the old faithful steed. Wow- after a month on the Uly the Suzuki felt like a truck! Still brings a smile, though, when I (rarely) see one.

M@gneto 03-26-2011 07:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by paul56 (Post 15509810)
I bought a 1990 VX800 in 1995 with 30,000 miles on it. I sold it in 2006 (when I got my Uly) with 96,000 miles on it. I had very good luck with it. The only time it left me stranded was when the voltage regulator shorted and killed the entire electric system (blew the main fuse). I learned that this was a pretty common failure in these and their sister models. Wasn't too pricey to fix.
I always liked the styling, and the performance and operating economy were adequate. I last rode it about a month after getting the Uly and couldn't resist a last ride on the old faithful steed. Wow- after a month on the Uly the Suzuki felt like a truck! Still brings a smile, though, when I (rarely) see one.

Thanks for the note Paul56. I am still yet to ride the bike, but I have an update from my dad I'll post shortly. He does have it running now. I love the Uly too. I was thinking about picking up one or two while they're still obtainable. It'll be a shame in a few years when you can't get one.

M@gneto 03-27-2011 04:50 AM

Running
 
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Some new notes from Dad:
By cutting out the inside corner of the fender mounting area, I am able to raise the fender 1 full inch, leaving plenty of room for adventure tour tires with mud and stones. When we got this bike, there were a lot of parts missing and broken. For one, the complete rear brake system was missing. Thank goodness for Ebay, I got the complete system and rotor real cheep. Had to put on all new fuel hoses, vacuum and vent hoses because they were either missing or broken. The carbs were beyond rebuilding, again thank goodness for Ebay. Got it started yesterday, starts and runs great. I'm sure it's too loud for a lot of riders but I, LikeItLoud.

M@gneto 03-27-2011 04:51 AM

Fender
 
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A shot after install.

M@gneto 03-27-2011 05:24 AM

Before stages
 
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Here are some shots of the bike after dad got it running. Now we'll see how "Adventure" we can make it>

M@gneto 03-27-2011 05:26 AM

Exhaust
 
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Not a stock exhaust, but probably better. It seems to be tucked away nicely and is high enough that it shouldn't drag under most circumstances.

M@gneto 03-27-2011 05:28 AM

height
 
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Dad mentioned looking for some shorter shocks, but I think the way he sits is is just about right for an adventure bike. I can't stand "flat-footed" on my GS. I wouldn't want to give up any suspension travel or ground clearance if not absolutely necessary.

M@gneto 03-27-2011 05:31 AM

Street Version
 
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Here is the bike completely set up for the street, except for the front fender mod. Now the conversion really begins.

M@gneto 03-27-2011 05:32 AM

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Another shot in full street decorum.

Stromdog 03-27-2011 05:41 AM

Looks like a cool project! Suzuki's are bullet proof bikes. I've not seen this model, though.

I'm subscribed!

Also, wanted to thank you for your service. Welcome home!

M@gneto 03-27-2011 05:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Stromdog (Post 15517651)
Looks like a cool project! Suzuki's are bullet proof bikes. I've not seen this model, though.

I'm subscribed!

Also, wanted to thank you for your service. Welcome home!

Thanks for the note. I'm glad to be home (again).
Suzuki only made these for a few years. 90 - 93 or something like that. They use the same engine as the Intruder, which is why it interested us in the first place. At the time, my brother, my dad and I all had 700 Intruders. We have a lot more bikes too, but that is the one we all had in common. Come to think of it, we all still have our little Intruders, but mine is in about 1,000 pieces waiting on me to get around to rebuilding the engine.
Anyway, dad and I have seen one or two of these and they intrigued us a little. I like a sport mount sometimes and figured that torquey little Suzuki motor should make for a great little sport tourer. When we came across this one, needing some work and at a great price, we couldn't resist and just had to add it to our collection.
We never had decided exactly what to do with it, but now with Dad wanting and adventure bike, there is no turning back. We'll keep the posts coming as long as people are interested.
Now you just need to convince Dad to post something. He has the bike in Boise, so I won't even see it in person until it is done, or almost completed. Maybe he'll drag it down to Missouri this summer for some fun in the Ozarks.


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