How to prepare a V-Strom DL650 for a Round-The-World journey

Discussion in 'Land of the Rising Sun: ADV Bikes from Japan' started by kuhjunge, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. kuhjunge

    kuhjunge 3wheel enthusiast

    Aug 5, 2011
    Howdy folks and I start with a disclaimer: I am a beemer fan and yet I have the pleasure to be the mechanic for Milady's bike for our RTW journey. She loves and rides her V-Strom DL650 (MY04, 60tkm). This pleasure includes the preparation before the and maintenance during the journey.

    We will ride through exotic places where the everyday V-Strom driver will not go. I hope to find here those brave souls which have taken their Weestrom beyond the "recommended" terms of use :evil

    Besides some usual stuff like watercooler protection, engine guard, oil cooler guard, crash bars (Suzuki), headlampprotection I was wondering how to take of following things:
    - fuel with low quality e.g. 80Oct
    - leaded fuel
    - deep watercrossings - besides air-intake what are the critical points where water would enter to parts where it does not belong
    - bearings: which bearings besides front and backwheel might be critical and should be either replaced upfront or taken with as spare?
    - anything around the injection system?

    I already contacted Suzuki Europe. They provided some ideas, however, I guess they do not put all cards on the table either neither do they seem to support modifications beyond the usual.

    Now I wait for your answers ... :1drink

    p.s. changing bike is not an option. It will be Milday's V-Strom :deal
  2. brstar

    brstar Been here awhile

    Aug 17, 2007
    Shoalwater Western Australia
    I have had fuel of uncertain quality in my Dl650. It contained some muddy water (probably salty) from I would say a rusted underground tank. It stopped my bike for quite some time.
    The thing is modern bikes cannot handle bad fuel. The fuel injection system on mine has a filter the size of a small teabag. And the fuel pump is actually in the tank.
    So amongst other things I would be looking to fit maybe an external pump ( calibrated to the correct pressure of course)
    Along with in line filters between it and the tank. Other than that I reckon its a great machine if set up properly.
    Hoe it works out for you.
    Cheers, Bruce.
    Rob barnes likes this.
  3. XL-erate

    XL-erate Been here awhile

    Mar 30, 2008
    Personally I would want at least a second fuel filter, preferably with a sediment trap.

    Another thought is to carry a spare fuel can, with an auxiliary fuel pump with filter. You can fill up the spare can, then pump from the can through a filter into the bike's tanks, then inspect the last bit in can to use or toss out. Sounds like a hassle but that's nothing compared to the hassle of a breakdown because of clogged filters and fuel injection, plus possible damage to injector pump.

    I would also carry along a drinking water filter! In some places there's no telling what the heck is squirming around in that water!?
  4. BornAgain

    BornAgain Been here awhile

    Aug 31, 2008
    Rosenberg, TX
  5. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

    May 5, 2008
    Helsinki, Finland

    I went Finland to Oz with my girlfriend on one DL650AK7 half a decade ago. Sometimes we had some engine knocking, when fuel octane was probably a bit low (the DL does not have a knock sensor) but just changed to a lower gear, and it was fine. I specifically talked about possible issues and fuel filtering with an experienced Suzuki-mechanic before we left, and he told me to _not_ mess with it at all, because it´s fine as it is, and in the worst case, you may create some problems, that were not there. In our case he was right, we never had a problem. But also worth noting, that the K7 has different fuel pump from the K4-K6, so I can´t comment on those models. And the strainer inside the fuel pump actually was almost clogged with dirt, when I inspected it after the trip. Changing it during travel would not have been a big issue, though, and I had one with us as spare. I think a portable extra filter (like a "sock") that you just simply put between the tank opening and fuel canister, when you start pouring, might be a good idea, and very simple to do.

    Aftermarket suspension parts is also another area, where people have created new problems with the bike. Stock parts may not be very fancy, but they get the job done, especially if the bike is to be ridden solo. But you can, and maybe even should, tweak the suspension, just be careful you install only parts, that will last, and that can be serviced outside Europe.

    Make sure you have a sturdy bashplate underneath the engine, it´ll certainly get some beating!

    Interesting, that you plan to do it with dogs. Wonder how that´ll affect your border crossings, etc.

    edit. Bearings, at 60k, before a world trip I´d replace all wheel bearings and steering head bearings, and at least have a look at the swingarm and rear linkage bearings as well. Some of those I´d also consider to maybe carry as spares (though most of them could probably be found almost everywhere, if needed). Valve clearance & throttle body sync check, as well as replacing all filters and fluids are also things that I would do before setting off.
  6. kirb

    kirb should be out riding

    May 18, 2010
    Musky, MI
  7. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

    Oct 17, 2006
    Denver, more or less.
    My first suggestion would be to leave most of the bike as factory. It's been my experience both with cars and motorcycles that aftermarket stuff and accessories are the parts which fail on a long trip.

    My experience with wheel bearing: replace as necessary. They come factory sealed and should handle water crossings fine. I think I changed my wheel bearings at 60,000 or 70,000 and they still felt fine, and that included lots of dirt and gravel roads and a handful of water crossings. I've gone through water almost as deep as the front tire.

    I changed the swingarm bearings on my bike at about 100,000 miles. They still looked factory fresh. It was a waste of time.

    I changed from ball bearings to tapered roller bearings in the triple clamp at about 25,000 or 30,000 miles. They were fine, and I haven't touched the new bearings since. I just prefer the feel of roller bearings.

    For water crossings, just make sure you keep the chain lubed up.

    The V-Strom has a reputation for running fine on crappy fuel.

    Before you leave, do the standard maintenance. New chain. New sprockets. New brake pads. New tires. New air filter. Change the oil and oil filter. Fill up with gas and go.

    On the road, change the oil when required. Lube the chain periodically. Check your air filter every 10,000 miles or so.

    I think you'll find that the Suzuki gives you fewer problems than the BMW.

  8. Jeathrow Bowdean

    Jeathrow Bowdean Been here awhile

    Nov 12, 2012
    Western Canada Dream
    Years ago, I ran into a fuel sock that was set up to catch water and sand from contaminated fuel "Gasoline." It came in small micro mills so even the smallest of particals would not pass through. I haven't seen them around over the last few years, but a hand full of them would be nice to have.

    The water and mud that you talked about could put your bearings and seals at some risk, and I have heard of some folks taking the time to some how re-fill them with better grease. You might even be able to find what they call double seals for your wheel axles, if there is room to put them on so they do not stick out. They are not much thicker then the factory seals, but they are a few millimeters wider. The seals and bearings are pretty good on the V Stroms, and I would think that they have a very good track record. If you put new bearings in before your trip, I'm sure you will make it around the world, so long as you don't nick a seal...

    You can add more electro grease to your wire plugs to keep the water and mud out, but be carefull that the prongs don't get damaged well doing this. I'm sure that you folks know more about this them me.

    V Strom International is a good place for this information. johnofchar has lots of knwoledge on stuff like this, and he can point you in the right direction I;m sure. Good luck on your quest, and I can't wait to see what your up to. I'm doing the same thing with my wee-pig for off road, travel, and if I find any more info, I will let you know. Then you can get small micron line filters with add on hoses so you can catch any thing and every thing. Automotive folks can order them in for you. They are cheap to buy, and you can back flush them with clean gas, and use them agian, once they get good and pluged, you can dig out the next one. Pick up about 3 or 4 of them. They are small and low coast. Make sure you pick the smallest MICRON you can possabely get !!!.

    Like one fellow said, put the gas in a can, threw Mr. Filter, then with your small filter in line hose thing that you make, fill up your bike. Jamey Z is bang on !!!

    You can pick up some cloth socks to go over you foam air cleaner if you hit some areas that are dusty with sand, and at the end of the day you can peal them off and clean them or put on a new one, Only use them when your crossing the desert in a dust storm, other then that, your good to go.

    From Jeathrow Bowdean in Western Canada
  9. cug

    cug --

    May 31, 2009
    Sunny California
  10. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

    Nov 11, 2005
    Gold Coast
    Visit Stromtrooper and VSRI.

    I would recommend suspension work, just to avoid wear and tear on the rider. Fork brace, Intiminators up front, aftermarket rear shock and if you are serious about nasty roads, a steering damper.

    Crash bars, belly pan (not the suzuki one). Barkbusters or similar. Just to reduce damage and lever breakage from low speed tipovers and random rocks.

    Otherwise, have someone lined up the courier you parts should the need arise.

    There's a lot you COULD take with you, but it's likely to be dead weight. Being able to get spares quickly and reliably seems to have been the worst problem long distance travellers have had.

  11. kuhjunge

    kuhjunge 3wheel enthusiast

    Aug 5, 2011
    Howdy and thanx a lot for the great ideas, comments and suggestions. I will look into them.

    Besides the regular maintenance, I will change the wheel bearings also as an exercise to get familiar with the V-Strom.

    I already changed the steering bearing last summer. Based on hints from others, I took the better aftermarket part from here: :deal

    Oilfilter is from Scotts and airfilter from K&N - again less parts to take with :wink:

    Which bike will last longer on this trip: well the answer will come one day :evil

    Personally I like the V-Strom a lot, besides the unnecessary plastic parts - however I like the GSA even more :lol3
  12. Jeathrow Bowdean

    Jeathrow Bowdean Been here awhile

    Nov 12, 2012
    Western Canada Dream
    Good find cug. I figured it was out there, and they are easy to pack. Yes on the what to take along with you on the bike on a world trip. I would imagin that you will have stuff in your back up, set up to ship to you where ever you are in the event that you need something, well at least some of the small stuff that is.

    The 2 dudes that did the world on DRZ 400's in 2011 had Suzuki shops in some areas for repair when they got to curtain cities, and this seem like a good idea. Plan Plan and Plan will save you from thinking to much when in route, at least things are well thought out, and delays could happen anyways that are unexpected.

    A person would be suprized how many places there are to hide stuff on the bikes you are taking, and if you plan it right, then every knok and cranny will have something hiden in side the hollow handle bars, and along the side pannels and under the seat. Ha Ha, don't hide or mount any thing under the rear fender. Ha Ha. One fellow tried this and the tire ate up what he had straped up in there... being that rough roads shake many thing loose.

    From Jeathrow Bowdean
  13. C-Stain

    C-Stain Long timer

    Jul 9, 2009
    There are a few that have traveled extensively via V-Strom. These two chaps from the UK did it a few years ago and even had a video on YouTube.

    Currently, there are a couple of Ride Reports where folks are using DL650s to get the job done. Mind you, these aren't RTW trips, but they are traveling in areas where the fuel could be suspect and repairs are not readily available.

    These fine folks may have some suggestions for you...
  14. GrahamD

    GrahamD Long timer

    Oct 11, 2009
    Blue Mnts Ozstralia
    Been riding the Stroms everywhere for years...Surprised no one mentioned him.

    He blogs the whole lot. Warts and all and does presentations at Horizons Meetings about it.


  15. OsoADV

    OsoADV Oso

    Jul 4, 2010
  16. owlarry

    owlarry n00b

    Jul 14, 2010
    My wife and participated in the first guided circumnavigation by GlobeBusters and Edelweiss. Had to take our own spare parts because GB is a BMW partner and everybody else rode GS bikes. Oil filters, brake pads, chains and sprockets were all that were needed. Bearings are available world wide, but you have to have the specs in metric. I had the electronic service manual which gave me the part number for rear-wheel bearings. Wasn't much good in Russia when we need them. Fortunately, a a couple of posts got me the info, went to a bearing store and swapped them that night.

    From our experiences on the trip, the beemers need more work than the V-stroms. All the F800s had to have their front wheels replaced after we finished South and Latin America. My wife bent her front rim in Ruta 40. Put a tube in until we could get the rim pounded out in Santiago. No further problems.
  17. TeneRay

    TeneRay Just glassin'

    Aug 16, 2009
    I had a 1000 but just riding Canada and AK:

    -Brake pads (Do not use organic! Stick with OEM!)
    -Fork seals (stick with OEM!). You may want to fashion up a seal installer
    -The wheel bearings are a pretty common size (can't remember the conversion number but it's out there). I could get them at an auto parts store. However, the sprocket carrier is a special size readily available through Suzuki. You may want to carry an extra carrier bearing.
    -Spare emergency chain. I just stuck with a roller, non sealed.
    -Little, tiny squirt bottle of K&N filter oil.
    -I burned a little oil after a 1000 miles so I carried a quart. Not sure about 650's but in a serious tumble, crankcase oil gets into the airbox, i.e. you lose some oil and need to replenish. That's another good reason to carry an extra quart.
    -Spare throttle cable
    -TOOLS! I beefed up my toolkit. I went to Lowes and got a mini-ratchet and all of the sockets needed. I also picked up one of those tire spoons with an axle nut spanner on the end.
    -Tire patch is pretty mandatory
    -Spare oil filter. You can usually retain the filter after one change. So, you'll be good for 6k-8k miles; depending on how frequent you like to change oil.

    Things I did beforehand:
    -Tapered steering bearings (A must)
    -Stiffer front springs (I ran with aftermarket fork seals and they blew out going up the Dalton. Stick with OEM!) This is owner preference but the stiffer springs did help on the nasty roads. The rear shock handled fine on all the bumpies.
    -Organic brake pads (Again, stick with OEM! The solution they spray on the Dalton ate my pads. I had no brakes by the time I arrived back in Fairbanks) Who knows what roads are covered with RTW.
    -Barkbusters. OEM's can handle a couple light spills but the Barkbusters can handle more. If something goes out of whack, just manhandle it back in place. If you run OEM levers, might as well shave the ends off. In the event of a spill, you'll bust the ends off anyways.
    -Centerstand. We all know DL's don't come with one so get one.
    -Route your vacuum ports on your carbs to be accessible from the side. Especially without having to lift the tank. I had extra long pliers to reach the adjustment screw.
    -Either buy or make the dealership switch. If your bike gives you a CEL, you can at least find the code.
    -Manual on digits. If you have a small PDA, smartphone, tablet, etc. get a digital copy of the manual.
    -I never had protection and did fine. I never bottomed out nor crashed hard enough to bash the sides. However, it's still a good idea to protect the bike.

    The best thing to know is your bike, inside and out. If you changed everything once, you should have an idea on what to do in the field. Best change everything using what you'll be carrying; not your home tools. Practice makes perfect and the last thing you want to do is rely on something you won't have and then be stranded.
  18. castle-of-teck

    castle-of-teck DL1000 A

    Aug 3, 2007
    South of Germany
    Sorry, that´s BS. They are open on one side and tend to lose their lubricant.

    On the 650, wheel bearings are 6203 and 6204. Get 2RS C3 ones, double-sealed.

    07-11 models tend to have the starter button going bust, and the clutch is only designed for ROAD usage. Be careful with the clutch basket, getting blue quite fast.

    Switching lever also breaks really quick, you may want to have a tread in it to fix a broken lever with a bolt.

    Replace the steering stem bearing against the tappered one before you leave and forget about it.

    Some people report a broken speedo sensor, no big deal but annoying.

    Remember to travel light, if you have (way) too much weight like "Travellingstrom" you will get into trouble again and again.

    And - maintenance. You can easily do oil changes every 10k miles, but check the air filter (and its GASKET !!!) frequently.

    You may consider the eastern beaver headlight relay kit, as the connector between the main harness and the headlight harness is designed to fail frequently, especially the yellow and white wires for the main beam.

    That´s it, IMHO, have fun with the 650, my 2nd one has 150k km by now.
  19. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

    Nov 28, 2006
    By the Great Lakes
    Go darkside for long stretches of mostly pavement. Use a car tire on the rear. They can be much cheaper and last much longer than moto tires.
  20. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

    May 5, 2008
    Helsinki, Finland
    Good advice in general.

    The DL650 does handle serious overloading much better than many other bikes, though. I had an Africa Twin and boy, did some weight on the back destroy handling on that bike! Not so much on the DL, the frame design is really strong. But of course it would be good to do some suspension work for very heavy loads.