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Old 01-10-2007, 12:35 AM   #1
cantrell OP
F650GS (twin)
 
Joined: Aug 2006
Location: Northern Virginia
Oddometer: 136
V-Strom vs. KLR650

I ride a KLR650 around the city (San Francisco), and I love it. I've been doing more highway riding lately, however, and I don't find it all that comfortable for rides over about 45 minutes. If I continue to commute from San Francisco to San Jose, I might think about getting a V-Strom, instead, but I have a few questions:

1. Is the V-Strom 650 a better highway bike?
2. I'm still a relatively new rider (about 9 months), so is the V-Strom 650 an appropriate bike for me?
3. How does the V-Strom do around cities? The KLR works well since it's so small and light, and I'm wondering if the extra size of the V-Strom will end up working against me.

Thanks,
Christian
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Old 01-10-2007, 01:12 AM   #2
txgryph
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1. Yes
2. Conditional Yes
3. Fine, but it may feel a bit top heavy, especialy when full of fuel in the city.

If you're already doing that commute on the KLR you'll be racking up more miles in a 9 months than many do in 5 years.

If you sit the KLR comfortably I wouldn't expect you to have any problem with the size, just keep in mind the Strom is a big bike, there will be an adjustment period especialy for lane splitting.

Welcome to the collective.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cantrell
I ride a KLR650 around the city (San Francisco), and I love it. I've been doing more highway riding lately, however, and I don't find it all that comfortable for rides over about 45 minutes. If I continue to commute from San Francisco to San Jose, I might think about getting a V-Strom, instead, but I have a few questions:

1. Is the V-Strom 650 a better highway bike?
2. I'm still a relatively new rider (about 9 months), so is the V-Strom 650 an appropriate bike for me?
3. How does the V-Strom do around cities? The KLR works well since it's so small and light, and I'm wondering if the extra size of the V-Strom will end up working against me.

Thanks,
Christian
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Old 01-10-2007, 01:47 AM   #3
PeterW
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1. Yes. A lot better - 1 up it's as good as you need on the highway. (Maybe not as good as you want - but as good as you need.).

2. See if you can find a second hand DL. They seem to wear well, and you'll probably drop it . That's the only "new rider unfriendly" aspect. Tall bike, and more cumbersome than the KLR - if it tips you'll be lucky to stop it - balance is everything.

3. As good - but different. The engine is a lot smoother and has a better gear range. When it gets busy I just leave the DL in 2nd or 3rd and don't bother changing gears - one less thing to distract me. Moving it's close to the KLR in handling - very nimble for a road bike.
Disagree on the fuel comment - it's already so top heavy that the extra weight doesn't matter. (See 2).
Better rain/wind protection, worse turning circle, heavier to push (parking),

I don't lane split unless nothings moving, but yeah, it's a wide pig.

I've driven that route (San Fran -> San Jose) - personally I'd go for a light tank .

Cheers
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Old 01-10-2007, 02:44 AM   #4
BRUNO BOTELHO
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Cantrell, i have only one thing to say to you: V-STROM!!!
The guys before me said it all, no need to continue saying the same things, get one

Ride safe
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Old 01-10-2007, 02:50 AM   #5
Prairie Dog
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cantrell
I ride a KLR650 around the city (San Francisco), and I love it. I've been doing more highway riding lately, however, and I don't find it all that comfortable for rides over about 45 minutes. If I continue to commute from San Francisco to San Jose, I might think about getting a V-Strom, instead, but I have a few questions:

1. Is the V-Strom 650 a better highway bike?
2. I'm still a relatively new rider (about 9 months), so is the V-Strom 650 an appropriate bike for me?
3. How does the V-Strom do around cities? The KLR works well since it's so small and light, and I'm wondering if the extra size of the V-Strom will end up working against me.

Thanks,
Christian

Christian,

Quite interesting questions you pose. Perhaps I can provide some insight.

In my stable there is both a KLR650 and a Vee-Strom. I was commuting 50 miles one way into work via mostly expressway riding at high speeds. In that environment, the Vee-Strom is in it's element.

Recently, my commute has changed to 50 miles of mostly backroad riding. I use the KLR650 at least as much as the Vee-Strom as the KLR650 is a fun bike to ride. Yes, I have done some "Comfort Mods" to the KLR650, Corbin seat, Kawasaki Plus 4 windshield, moving the footpegs down and back, added a good tankbag, dash clock and GPS. The fuel economy of the KLR650 is great and the maintence costs are one of the lowest around.

At low speeds, the KLR650 is a much better handling bike due to the lower weight. However, that is not to say that with some saddle time and a lot of practice, the Vee-Strom can do some impressive slow speed manuvers.

Perhaps the bottom line is to solve the problem in the manner I did - one of each!
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Old 01-10-2007, 06:13 AM   #6
rider33
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I've put thousands of miles on both of these bikes and they are both wonderful. The KLR is the perfect urban assault vehicle, light, easy to handle, never met a pot hole that would give it a minutes pause, sneers at speed bumps. It also is great on gravel roads. On the open highway much above say 65 it gets old fast tho. It can do it, it's just if you've ridden just about anything else you know there are things that can do better. It's basically and old school enduro, about 20 yrs old to be exact. The DL (wee/650) is much more modern, smoother and more of a street bike. It's fine in the city, can do gravel but it really lives on the highway where it rivals much larger, more expensive bikes. If it were just city, I'd stick with the KLR. If you are going to be on the highway getting there more than say 50 miles a day, I'd go with the DL. You can't go wrong with either really, which one fits I think depends on where you are on the city to highway continum. If you fit on a KLR by the way, you should have no problem on a Wee. If anything, the KLR is slightly higher I find.
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Old 01-10-2007, 07:22 AM   #7
jdub
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rider33
I've put thousands of miles on both of these bikes and they are both wonderful. The KLR is the perfect urban assault vehicle, light, easy to handle, never met a pot hole that would give it a minutes pause, sneers at speed bumps. It also is great on gravel roads. On the open highway much above say 65 it gets old fast tho. It can do it, it's just if you've ridden just about anything else you know there are things that can do better. It's basically and old school enduro, about 20 yrs old to be exact. The DL (wee/650) is much more modern, smoother and more of a street bike. It's fine in the city, can do gravel but it really lives on the highway where it rivals much larger, more expensive bikes. If it were just city, I'd stick with the KLR. If you are going to be on the highway getting there more than say 50 miles a day, I'd go with the DL. You can't go wrong with either really, which one fits I think depends on where you are on the city to highway continum. If you fit on a KLR by the way, you should have no problem on a Wee. If anything, the KLR is slightly higher I find.
What he said! Couldn't have put it better myself.
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Old 01-10-2007, 07:31 AM   #8
Uncle Pollo
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Keep both bikes ... friends don't let friends sell their KLR
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Old 01-10-2007, 07:43 AM   #9
i_4ce
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Some questions for you:

Whats your top speed for this commute on your KLR?
What part do you find uncomfortable after the 45 minutes (ergos, vibration, lack of power, wind protection?)
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Old 01-10-2007, 08:54 AM   #10
cantrell OP
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Location: Northern Virginia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by i_4ce
Some questions for you:

Whats your top speed for this commute on your KLR?
What part do you find uncomfortable after the 45 minutes (ergos, vibration, lack of power, wind protection?)
1. I usually cruise at about 70.
2. Ergos, mostly, and vibration. At the end of the day, I'm really wiped out, and my legs get achy (I have long legs). I don't find the bike lacking in power, considering I try to stay at 65-70, and I have a taller windshield which does a pretty job of keeping the wind off me.

Thanks,
Christian
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Old 01-10-2007, 08:57 AM   #11
Kawidad
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Quote:
Originally Posted by txgryph
1. Yes
2. Conditional Yes
3. Fine, but it may feel a bit top heavy, especialy when full of fuel in the city.

If you're already doing that commute on the KLR you'll be racking up more miles in a 9 months than many do in 5 years.

If you sit the KLR comfortably I wouldn't expect you to have any problem with the size, just keep in mind the Strom is a big bike, there will be an adjustment period especialy for lane splitting.

Welcome to the collective.
Well said, I agree with this assessment.
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Old 01-10-2007, 09:01 AM   #12
cantrell OP
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Other suggestions?

Thanks for all the great advice so far. Let me expand a little on my last reply.

I find the KRL fast enough. In fact, it's faster than I expected it to be. There's a lot of vibration, though, and since it's so light, it gets blown around a lot (280 from San Francisco to San Jose gets a lot of wind). I have a taller windshiled which is nice, but I still expend a lot of energy
fighing the wind. My legs also get achy after about an hour of riding, and I don't really know why. I have long legs, so it might be that an hour of them pulled up in one position is too much for them.

Does anyone have any other suggestions? Any other bikes I should be considering? Maybe an F650? I was thinking something heavier with a V twin would be best, but I already find the KLR pretty top heavy, so it makes me nervous to get something even more top heavy for the city (though I'm sure I'd get used to it).

Thanks,
Christian
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Old 01-10-2007, 10:06 AM   #13
markjenn
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If you don't care about the dual-sport aspect, you might look at the new Ninja 650 which appears to be targeted to novice riders and has a relatively low seat height. This would make a fine commuter and be a lot less subject to winds than any of the taller bikes.

The ultimate commuter is still the Honda PC800 Pacific Coast, but they've been out of production for eight years or so and few were made to begin with.

- Mark
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Old 01-10-2007, 10:29 AM   #14
nr552
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cantrell
Does anyone have any other suggestions? Any other bikes I should be considering? Maybe an F650? I was thinking something heavier with a V twin would be best, but I already find the KLR pretty top heavy, so it makes me nervous to get something even more top heavy for the city (though I'm sure I'd get used to it).

Thanks,
Christian
I purchased my first bike in 1994-- a 1993 DR350s Dualsport. Light, easy to ride... Wasn't too fun on the highway-- but it would run 75 mph without too much effort. Eventually punched it out to a 435-- hauled xss... crashed it on the LAB2V-- broke my back in 1997. Sold it that year. This year, got the bug to buy a bike. Asked a lot of people their opinion... friends, people online, looked at the different manufacturers. I've been around motorcycles for over 20 years (I work the AMA Supercross races in SoCal/Las Vegas-- this is my 18th year)--- have friends in the motorcycle industry, and after narrowing everything down to what I wanted--- DL650 Vstrom was the only thing that fit the bill:

1) Affordable
2) Reliable
3) Good power
4) Versatile
5) Easy to ride
6) Good MPG
7) Low Maint / Cost

The VStrom DL650 scored
1) A -- cheaper than true sport bikes, about the same as a DR400 in price.
2) A+ - The same engine used in the SV650, which is the "Toyota" of V-twin engines. Have a friend with one, and over 75k miles (hard miles) and still running strong-- valves never have needed to be adjusted, just checked.
3) B+ - Not a barn burner-- a 600cc sport bike will eat it's lunch-- but, you're still quicker than 99% of the cars on the road, plus can ride 2 up easily.
4) A+ - I use it daily for my work transportation, my 'parts' runner vehicle, weekend getaway vehicle, and recreation. Make's going to work less of a chore.
5) B - there's a bit of a learning curve with the height of the bike (I'm 5'7", 280-- and I can only tippy toe it on one side @ a time...), which is easy to master (or lower it if you want to be able to flat foot it). The riding height for me is excellent-- swallows up the bumps, plus gives a commanding view of the road/traffic. Thus, I haven't lowered mine, and wouldn't change a thing about it.
6) B - After 12500 miles, I am finding the limits of speed vs. mpg--- running 65-70 mph -- the bike shines-- high 40s, low 50 mpg even on the California Junk they call fuel here. Running it in the 75-90 mph range though, with the stock gearing it'll drop to 40-30 mpg quickly... I'm going to add 2 teeth up front and see how that suits me for mpg vs. power. I lane split, run 75-80 mph regularly (that's on GPS, not on the factory speedometer---), plus city/back roads--- and I'll give a detailed report of the gear swap impressions after I do it.
7) A -- was quoted $257 to have the valves checked, change my oil, new air filter, new plugs, throttle sync, tps, tighten/lube everything... @ 14k miles. To me that's cheap. Change the oil every 3-4k miles, major service every 14k--- lube/tighten the chain. Wash the bike. Ride the bike.
That's all it needs--- tires every 5-10k depending on how you ride, where you ride and what tires you chose.

No surprises.

People may get tired of hearing people say how good the Vstrom is--- but here's a shining example on WHY it is THAT good:

I've got friends with Harleys-- that I ride with (hey, it's a V-twin!)---
I've got friends with dual sports that go off road/trail riding (I can keep up for the most part--- within reason, and at least I can hang with them)
I've got friends with sport bikes--- ride the twistys--- and I can do that too.

It rides better than the Harleys-- more comfortable, quicker, much better fuel mileage when I ride @ their pace ( only need gas every 2nd gas stop when I we go out-- )

When going out with my buddies with DRs/XRs... I'm a little slower-- but then I don't need to haul the bike to the riding area-- I ride it there while they mostly trailer/truck theirs. Plus I don't need to carry extra gas (I have double the range they do!)-- maybe should work out a bike to bike refilling service for those guys .

When going out with the sport bike guys--- I can keep the same pace 1/2 the time--- plus don't seem to be as fatigued or need to stop as much to stretch as they do... OH-- and double the gas range once again. Plus the wind protection is better.

Again, I think the swiss army knife of motorcycles statement fits the Vstrom (just gotta chose 1000 or 650cc depending on your needs/wants for power vs. weight).

Confused yet?

Sam
06DL650
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Old 01-10-2007, 10:30 AM   #15
flying_hun
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cantrell
and since it's so light, it gets blown around a lot (280 from San Francisco to San Jose gets a lot of wind). I have a taller windshiled which is nice, but I still expend a lot of energy fighing the wind.

Thanks,
Christian
This may be counter intuitive, but sometimes a taller windshield acts like a sail and make the bike harder to ride in the wind. Just a thought.

Also, this time of year there tend to be lots of questions about riding in the wind. Finding a way to relax my upper body and let the bike deal with the wind rather than wrestling with the bike works for me. YMMV

Cheers,
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