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Old 03-24-2011, 06:42 AM   #1
M@gneto OP
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Joined: Jul 2010
Location: Fort Leonard Wood, MO
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Suzuki VX 800

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.
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M@gneto screwed with this post 04-14-2011 at 11:16 AM
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Old 03-24-2011, 06:51 AM   #2
M@gneto OP
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Vx800

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!
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It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things super-human, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, That form ever follows function. This is the law. Louis Sullivan

M@gneto screwed with this post 03-24-2011 at 07:08 AM
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Old 03-25-2011, 10:23 AM   #3
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Luggage

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.
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Old 03-25-2011, 10:25 AM   #4
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Trunk

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.
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It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things super-human, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, That form ever follows function. This is the law. Louis Sullivan
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:39 PM   #5
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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.
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Old 03-26-2011, 07:30 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paul56 View Post
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.
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It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things super-human, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, That form ever follows function. This is the law. Louis Sullivan
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Old 08-03-2011, 07:13 PM   #7
MIXR
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Front Wheels

Hey Mag,

Only just stumbled across this. Great build, and a lovely torquey engine for the job. I ran a VX800 for quite a while, and did some big trips on that miserable standard plank of a seat! Couple of things that may have come up that I didn't spot in the thread concerning the front wheel:

These things are near impossible to replace as the model run was short and not a lot made it to the end of the production line. The stock front wheel is a very scarce item if you ever damage one. However, in case you don't know, the alloy front wheel from the Suzi 250 'Across' bike is a straight slip-in fit. Different spokes, but you'd be hard-pressed to spot that at a glance. Size is 17" instead of 18" (yeah - I know - Wrong way for an adventure bike) but gives you a much wider choice of dual-sport tyres (or does here).

I still have a slightly damaged but still usable VX800 front wheel sitting under my house. Has had some metal taken off the rim edge that has been blended smooth. Took a long time to find a replacement, and I found out about the Across modification afterwards! The smaller front wheel makes handling much better. Anyway, if you ever need a spare VX800 front wheel and can get it to your place, it's free! Too pretty to throw out!

Have fun with the beast. Strangely unpopular here in Aus, but I loved mine. Cheers, Mick.
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Old 11-27-2011, 10:37 AM   #8
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Very nice VX800 for sale here in Seattle ( mech perfect) owned by a good friend who is soooo in to maintanence that he works on it every weekend.I think he wants
$1,300 OBO
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Old 11-28-2011, 06:51 AM   #9
M@gneto OP
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Dl1000

Quote:
Originally Posted by NortwestRider View Post
Very nice VX800 for sale here in Seattle ( mech perfect) owned by a good friend who is soooo in to maintanence that he works on it every weekend.I think he wants
$1,300 OBO
North, nobody jumped on your VStrom yet? If I was a little closer and didn't already have one, I'd be all over it. Hopefully it'll sell soon.
Mag
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It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things super-human, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, That form ever follows function. This is the law. Louis Sullivan
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:46 AM   #10
Drunk_Uncle
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I have to bump my departure for Alaska to the left a couple of weeks. My family reunion is in Galcier national Park the Weekend of July 15th. So I am going to ship off from there on like the 16th or 17th, whatever that Monday is. If ya'll don't mind bumping the same, I can meet everyone at Bonner's Ferry or any other crossing between the two.
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Old 12-09-2011, 01:00 PM   #11
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Guys,
I have some bad news. I just found out I have a unit to train in July. I won't be available until the first of Aug. Suggestions?
Mag

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I have to bump my departure for Alaska to the left a couple of weeks. My family reunion is in Galcier national Park the Weekend of July 15th. So I am going to ship off from there on like the 16th or 17th, whatever that Monday is. If ya'll don't mind bumping the same, I can meet everyone at Bonner's Ferry or any other crossing between the two.
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It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things super-human, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, That form ever follows function. This is the law. Louis Sullivan
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:47 PM   #12
LikeItLoud
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July 16th

Actually I don't mind hooking up with you in Glacier, either Sunday evening the 15th or Mon. morning the 16th than head north from there, In fact I think Mag and I might like to see a little of Glacier Park, neither one of has been there yet.

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Old 12-09-2011, 05:00 PM   #13
Drunk_Uncle
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I don't know. I will be in the middle of a cycle so getting away is going to be rough enough, so getting two seperate leaves is a no go. The reason I am getting leave at all is I am close to use or lose. So I have to head up after the reunion. I am sorry about that.
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Old 12-14-2011, 11:39 AM   #14
Drunk_Uncle
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Proposed dates

Hey Brian got your text. Right now I am planning on setting off from Glacier National Park on Monday 16 July. I have to be back in Ft Leonard Wood on 08 Aug. So we can meet at Glacier National Park or in Bonner's Ferry. Just let me know what you would like. I am going to start laying down the GPS route when I am on leave end of December. Now this is still fluid as I have not received my next assignment. So is mid June to mid July still good for you as the back up plan?
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Old 12-14-2011, 10:45 PM   #15
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VXA new tank bag

Got a new tank bag today, I haven't even considered one until M@gneto suggested it. I started looking at them on ebay and decided that if I were to get one, it would have to be something like this, but no way was I going to spend $150 for one. There were a lot of bags available, but all the real nice ones were from $125 to $150. Got this one used, but still had the tags on for $50 and free shipping.

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