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Old 05-28-2012, 02:40 AM   #1
Ludocrator OP
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V-Strom 650 greatly suffering on windy days

Just wanted to know your experience on this issue and ask for advice.

Tha background: Riding a V-Strom 650 (old 2004-2011 model) for 18 months now. 23.000 km on the clock as of yesterday and not a single problem. New tires (Battlewings) at 18.000 km. Always carry a 46-liter topcase attached to the rear rack.

On windy days (you can easily notice the branches of the trees moving) it really becomes difficult to ride this bike. I am not scared but my wife does, so she gets tired earlier (not to mention she enjoys the trip much less) and becomes reluctant to ride with me the following couple of weekends.

I am probably not the best rider out there, but, hey, I have seen many bikes passing me and not so worried about the wind. I thought it was mainly because of the chassis configuration, as they often were HD-style custom bikes.

But then a BMW R1200GS passed me too. The guy even greet me with his right foot as he passed. He certainly seemed way more relaxed than I, and he was riding a "trail" bike, like mine.

Any ideas of what's happening here? Is it simply that my bike is worse in windy conditions?

Any suggestions in case I decide to change bikes? I guess big expensive tourers (like BMW R1200RT) don't suffer from this problem but, besides an obvious economic problem, I just can have one only bike at the moment.

Please, this is not about trashing bikes. I think the V-Strom is a versatile machine, but I want my wife to feel comfortable on day-long trips.
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Old 05-28-2012, 03:04 AM   #2
mith_03
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Your experience is the same as mine and many others, just do a search for wind buffering. I've done 42K on the 650 and did 20K on my 1000 and they are both terrible in the wind.

Some have suggested dropping the front end a bit to make a difference, I've done just that but it is still pretty ordinary.

Have you got a Madstad bracket? They make it a little more bareable.

If you plan on taking the wife often I'd be looking elsewhere for something she will feel better on.
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Old 05-28-2012, 03:08 AM   #3
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Thank you, mith_03. I had heard about wind buffeting, but thought it was related to the windscreen and the annoyances at the head/helmet level.

Just to be sure you know what I mean, I am suffering the wind pushing the whole bike like it was a sail, especially side winds, of course.
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Old 05-28-2012, 03:11 AM   #4
mith_03
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludocrator View Post
Just to be sure you know what I mean, I am suffering the wind pushing the whole bike like it was a sail, especially side winds, of course.
Yeah know what you mean, I was referring to the wind in general but the bike movement is definitely a strom thing.

I don't think there is a solution apart from not riding on windy days (with your wife).
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Old 05-28-2012, 03:18 AM   #5
markjenn
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Have you ridden the bike without the topbox? Are you heavily loading it?

Topboxes de-stabilize any bike and 46L is awfully large for a 650 Strom. And things get worse if you start getting serious weight in the box as this weight is high and behind the rear axle so it actually reduces the weight on the front end. For stability in windy conditions you need as much weight on the front wheel as possible.

The 650 Strom has a bit of a reputation as handling poorly in windy conditions. Many have theorized that the shape of the front fairing causes lift at speed. I owned one for a few years and it was acceptable, but I never liked being behind trucks, especially in windy conditions - the bike felt like it would swap lanes if I didn't catch it immediately.

And both problems (poor aero and too much weight rearward) are further aggravated because the 650 Strom has a marginal rear spring for single riding - if you're riding two-up with a topbox, the chassis attitude is probably very tail-low which is aggravating the tendency of the front end to lift with wind gusts.

So my guess is that you've got a bike which is a bit aero marginal to begin with, and you've added a very large sail in the back with this huge topbox. Then you've aggravated the problem further by putting weight in the topbox and riding two-up giving the bike a lousy chassis attitude. The perfect trifecta for poor handling in windy conditions.

I'd begin by eliminating or reducing the size/weight of the topbox, then try and get weight forward and down with a tank bag and panniers. You probably also need to re-spring in the rear to get the chassis attitude correct for two-up riding. This MIGHT solve your issue.

A bigger/heavier bike that can better solider the heavy loads you're carrying would help too, of course. But I think your main problem is that huge topbox. Topboxes are pure evil with respect to bike handling.

- Mark
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Old 05-28-2012, 03:33 AM   #6
Chuck in Indiana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludocrator View Post
Thank you, mith_03. I had heard about wind buffeting, but thought it was related to the windscreen and the annoyances at the head/helmet level.

Just to be sure you know what I mean, I am suffering the wind pushing the whole bike like it was a sail, especially side winds, of course.
Buffeting and being pushed by the wind are two indeed different things.

For the buffeting -- I have a Madstad Bracket and Madstad 20" Adventure Windshield on my '09 Wee. Has improved the situation very much but a quartering wind (one that is from the left or right quarter) will still get by the shield and hit me in the arms/chest. Now, since I ride one-up all the time, I don't know what my changes would do to help a person behind me. By the way, I also ride with Aerostitch Tank Panniers, which protect my legs from the knees to about the boot level and push the lower wind force outboard of my legs.

For the pushing from the wind -- the fact that you're frequently riding two-up and with a rear top case (probably somewhat loaded) means that the front end is running a bit "lighter" than normal. This alone will make the bike tend to wander. Add a side wind and things are even looser. You may want to consider raising the forks 10-12mm in the triple clamps. That will drop the front end that much and tend to stabilize the front end a bit. Plus, it can be done at no cost to you. Also, consider adding a fork brace if you have not. A brace will tighten up the front end. However, the Wee is a light bike and riding in a heavy cross-wind will always be somewhat of an adventure. The other bikes that you are seeing are somewhat heavier to start with and will be more stable in cross-wind situations.

Ride safe and enjoy it.
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Old 05-28-2012, 04:03 AM   #7
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I have often been riding with the bars turned just to keep going straight. If you feel the bike pull to one side just correct it with the handel bars, counter steering is the key to windy riding. Or just tell the miss's to have a cup of cement an harden up
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Old 05-28-2012, 04:04 AM   #8
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Thank you all for your advice, guys.

The topbox is usually empty while riding because we use it to store the helmets on destination and thus enjoy better our walkaround. But I guess it adds "sail estate", yes.

I feel somewhat curious about four-cylinder bikes, and when I think of "cheap" alternatives I keep myself looking again and again at the Suzuki GSX1250FA, the Honda CBF1000F and even the Kawasaki Z1000SX (Ninja 1000). The main problem is that, in spite of the ads, they are probably not very suited for the rear passenger.
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Old 05-28-2012, 05:28 AM   #9
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I'm sure you're doing this, but be sure to keep correct tire pressures as well. The Strom is more susceptible to squirreliness if the pressures are off, particularly if the rear is low.

I've had 3 Stroms, and ride in Kansas. Kansas knows wind. At first it was unsettling and I thought something had to be fixed. Now I don't think about it much. I don't ride much 2-up but have ridden some distances heavily loaded. FWIW, it's much less of an issue on secondary roads, which tend to follow natural contours and are less likely to be on elevated (exposed) terrain.
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Old 05-28-2012, 05:40 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludocrator View Post
Thank you all for your advice, guys.

The topbox is usually empty while riding because we use it to store the helmets on destination and thus enjoy better our walkaround. But I guess it adds "sail estate", yes.

I feel somewhat curious about four-cylinder bikes, and when I think of "cheap" alternatives I keep myself looking again and again at the Suzuki GSX1250FA, the Honda CBF1000F and even the Kawasaki Z1000SX (Ninja 1000). The main problem is that, in spite of the ads, they are probably not very suited for the rear passenger.
I had a GSX650F, the baby brother to the 1250. It was the smoothest, most planted bike I have ever owned. I rode across Kansas in a stiff crosswind and the bike never came off its line. With the stock windscreen, the GSX delivered a steady stream of air to the helmet with NO buffeting. It is the antithesis of the Strom that I had. I sold my strom because of its wind management issues.
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Old 05-28-2012, 06:40 AM   #11
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Wind management is one of the most common topics on www.stromtrooper.com. I have had my 2012 Wee for two weeks now, and I am surprised by the wind sensitivity. More so than my earlier bikes. I am currently experimenting with a MRA X-creen spoiler blade. I am using this as a work commuter, so I have to be able to safely take it onto the freeway without being blown around too much.
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Old 05-28-2012, 06:48 AM   #12
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My Iowa commute always seems to be in a crosswind. The DL handles it but I do get blown around. I think it is just a characteristic of the bikes height and weight. I also ride with a top box.
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Old 05-28-2012, 06:50 AM   #13
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Do you have a fork brace? It helps a LOT.
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Old 05-28-2012, 06:52 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
For stability in windy conditions you need as much weight on the front wheel as possible.

And both problems (poor aero and too much weight rearward) are further aggravated because the 650 Strom has a marginal rear spring for single riding - if you're riding two-up with a topbox, the chassis attitude is probably very tail-low which is aggravating the tendency of the front end to lift with wind gusts.

So my guess is that you've got a bike which is a bit aero marginal to begin with, and you've added a very large sail in the back with this huge topbox. You probably also need to re-spring in the rear to get the chassis attitude correct for two-up riding. This MIGHT solve your issue.

- Mark
IMHO, I've ridden many bikes with top boxes (I don't like wide loads), while carrying way too much weight. While not optimal, they worked fine.

Expanding on the excerpts from Mark above, I would get a new spring for the rear shock, usually around ($100 USD) and/or a new shock set up with a remote pre-load adjuster you can set for solo or two-up riding. ($1000 USD). I really like the suggestion to lower the triples 10mm to keep the front more planted, but that will not help as much as it could if you just got a heavier spring for the rear shock.

In short - seek out a suspension pro and get the springs that match up to your weight(s). This alone, front and back, will make a world of difference in the stability of the bike.
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Old 05-28-2012, 07:05 AM   #15
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My motorcycle riding experience is limited to the last 4 years on my Wee Strom, but I have experienced the issues that you describe with strong cross winds. I have probably made matter worse with a big top case and a larger windshield too.

I installed a Super Brace fork brace and loosened my grip on the handlbars. I use my shoulders and hips to control the motorcycle instead of trying to constantly correct with my hands. I have also installed heavier springs in the forks and raised them 10 mm in the triple tree.
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