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'07 V-Strom 650 - review

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by gegvasco, Oct 1, 2006.

  1. Was looking for something a bit more attuned for touring and that had some basic off-road capability. After doing all the research and comparing prices(Beemers :shock: ) the V-Strom 650 seemed the way to go. Picked her up last Wednesday.
    First impressions - a truck. Compared to the CBR600 it seemed huge and while keeping it under 5000rpm and no WOT, very sedate. But after putting some kays on it and doing some twisties I realise it wasn't an appropriate description. Despite it's size and not being know as a real performance bike, it is very nimble and a whole lot of fun. In fact, assuming that the problem is my rudimentary skill level in twisties, I think the bike is more suited to my size(6' 1'', 110kg) and skill level. I have found that I can go much faster through the twisties on this bike and seems easier to turn in than the CBR. It is also more rounded for me because while the CBR turns real well around faster corners, I still haven't found the groove for tight hairpins. With the Strom, I found the groove in the second corner. This is no slight on the CBR because I'm sure in the hands of a more qualified rider, the CBR would crap all over the Strom in tight corners. I guess this really illustrates the pointlessness of quibling over the different handling characteristics of modern sportbikes for the average rider as the rider is never going to fully appreciate what they can do.

    The seating position is very relaxed, although it will take some getting used to as I have only ever riden sport bikes and have some aching muscles after the 450k's I did yesterday. However, given I would have been starting to get in all sorts bother after 450k's on the CBR, the Strom's riding position seems to be exactly right for touring because I could have done many more kays that day. A gel seat might have helped with a bit for a sore bum though.

    Speaking of which(mods, not bums) I am amazed at the number of "farkles" as they are called that the strom has available. You could spend the cost of the bike again on mods. The 139dB air horn is my favourite :shock: .

    The Strom has a 22L tank and a proper fuel guage. So far(using run in power ie. very little) that is going to get me about 450k's on a tank.
    The bike could do with a different exhaust as while it sounds good under compression braking, it sounds like a sewing machine until it gets above 3000rpm. It sounds awful at idle sitting at the lights(not as bad as a Duke though :LOL: ) - although this might just be a personal preference.

    Given the very cheap price of the bike new(especially compared to the Beemers), very little comes with the bike. No centre stand and no panniers/racks. If haggling with a dealer, you should be able to at least get a centre stand thrown in and may even get a chunk taken out of the panniers - essential additions. I had it on the road new for about $12k compared to the BMW 650GS which started at about $14k. Givi pannier set is about $900.

    The bike has about the same under seat storage as a sports bike(without under seat exhaust) ie. enough room for the toolkit, manual, tire repair kit, small torch/first aid kit.

    The mechanical side is still running in but the gearbox already feels very sweet - positive and solid. I have found a few false neutrals between third/fourth and fifth but that is just a matter of me getting used to the lever which requires a little more travel than my CBR.

    Only thing that I find a little awkward is the feet pegs when stopped. I find that when I go feet down, the pegs end up pushing in against the side of my calf. I'm not a short ass so I imagine this might be worse if you were struggling to reach the ground. If you are prone to putting out your feet a bit before you stop and you foot was to catch on something, it could get pretty painful.

    The infamous windscreen is adjustable and just as well. At the standard position of low, the air was hitting my helmet right on my visor causing a huge amount of noise. I raised the windscreen to the top notch(about 1 inch higher) and it helped immensely. The air now hits my helmet just above my visor. There are heaps of after-market options for full windscreens or add-on lips which the direct the air more upwards. There is even one bloke that reckons if you get one of those plastic binders with the 30 small teeth that you can easily prise open, and put that across the top of the windscreen, it will reduce the noise significantly.

    So, after a weekend's riding and 700k's I can already see that I am going to be extremely happy with this bike. And sadly, that means the CBR might start getting extremely neglected.
  2. Thanks for review. Makes the point about the effect of bike/rider "fit" on quality and safety of the ride. A good read.
  3. Congrats mate - I had a good ride on a wee-strom a while back and loved it. They're great in the twisties aren't they? Such a tall bike, it feels like you're leaning over a million degrees!
  4. Yeah. On a few right handers with oncoming 2-ton trucks, I was taking the same line I would on the CBR and got a bit of a start because in the lean, I felt so much closer to the oncoming traffic. Had to move my line a bit further away from the centreline for "comfort" ie. an unsoiled posterior!
  5. Is this definitely 07 model, or just 06 in a new colour? I know last year ones were all blue in Australia, but Suzuki offered more choices overseas... From what I've read on the web only small changes were made for 07, but there were some... I seem to remember reading about something different in fuelling, and in Europe VStroms now come with ABS. Was there any mention of ABS when you were buying? I'm very curious if they are going to install ABS on our VStroms, as that could possibly push the price higher than the market might like...
  6. I didn't really ask because I didn't want it but I believe the Australian 07 Stroms have an ABS option. The '07 model has "new dual spark plug heads for improved combustion and reduced emissions" (from the suzuki website). I believe this has led to some ECU changes. Some of which include more functions being done automatically ie. less manual adjustment.
  7. Hi Greg ,good review.
    Enjoy the new ride.
  8. awesome review man. Am very interested in the 650 storm myself and i've been doing the same as you in comparing the F650 BMW but the price is a stumbling block as you quite rightly mentioned.

    I am really interested in how the storm goes "off road" and how far it can be pushed in the dirt. I see from your photo that you obviously took it straight out to some gravel roads - how did it go off the tar? and have you test ridden a BMW and if so how did it compare?

  9. Howdy Duffman. As far as off road goes it was only about 10km of well packed dirt so wasn't much of a test. I've never done any dirt riding before(apart from a 20km stretch at 20kph on the CBR which I am trying to forget) so I don't have any experience to compare it to. On the little bit we did, it seemed very surefooted but I took it real easy.

    As for tar, it is brilliant. As long as you don't want to break the land speed record or give it to a monaro at the lights, then it seems that this bike will do it all. Very stable at high speed - have done 110 on the freeway - although look out for the wind noise if the windscreen is at the low setting. Very good around corners - did Bells Line of Road easily at at least 30kph over the recommended speed and it had heaps more to offer.

    Only other comment that I have seen in many reviews is that if you plan on doing a lot of touring with a pillion, you may need to go for the 1000 instead of the 650. But for mainly single person stuff, the 650 was the way to go.

    Didn't test any Beemers because 1. no-one would serve me in the Beemer shop and 2. they weren't worth the money. I could buy the strom and spend the savings on mods.
  10. Congrats on the Strom - great bike.

    I was told no ABS options for Australia, but you know those Sales guys :p

    Strom and BMW 650 two pretty different bikes, single as opposed to twin with around 15kg weight penalty.

    Two basic riders - the BMW is far easier to ride off-road. Stroms can go well off-road but there are better bikes to do it on.

    Also what BMW 650 - Dakar or GS? Dakar has longer travel suspension

    Rode a Dakar for a few days but no off-road, fine for highway cruising, but not as smooth as a twin with six gears.

    BMW not that bad value, as they inlcude aluminium panneirs and heated grips plus you get fuel injection as opposed to carbs on the Jap 650's
  11. Good info there Alex. Good that someone with dirt experience is able to add comment to my very unqualified comments. I figured I woul spend most of my time on the road touring with some occasional detours down established(maybe muddy) dirt roads so that I didn't have to turn around while exploring. That is why I thought the Strom was better - more focused on touring. Not a trail bike but could do the job off-road. As far as EFI goes, the Honda Transalp has carbies but the Strom has EFI.
  12. From what I've heard and read, the Strom is a great "all-rounder" bike.

    It's possibly one of the most practical bikes on the road, but a little bit dull to look at (sometimes not a bad thing). Would be nice to be offered at least one more choice of colour though. Still the red looks GREAT in direct sunlight and I guess thats better than looking good in the showroom only.
  13. Oops, I meant the Jap Thumper 650's are all carbed except the newer BMW's :oops:

    Strom still in a class of its own at the moment with great touring ability and most importantly a vibe free engine that loves to rev and fine for dirt roads and as you've seen on advrider, some guys there take their Stroms to some crazy places.

    Enjoy and look forward to some more off-road pics :wink:
  14. Greg

    did you test ride the TDM 900 at all? I gave a 2nd hand one a ride in the weekend, not bad, but the square tires had a lot to be desired when it comes to cornering :shock:

    Off-road seemed OK, well at least it handled a hell of a lot better the the FZ6. The TDM is also narrower and lighter than the V-strom 650 and aimed at the same market.
  15. I like the 650 Stroms they are a very good concept.

    Sort of the bike equivelent of a soft roader like a RAV4.

    Comfort, good handling and the ability to handle most roads and some offroad.

    Congrats on the new bike :)
  16. I've been commuting much more regully in the last few years and I'm starting to see the appeal of bikes like these.

    They look very top heavy. How does it feel in that respect?

    Also how does the engine feel across the rev range?

    I rode a Ducati 750M once and have been very skeptical of mid-capacity twins since. It vibed down low and didn't really respond to the throttle. It just sort of gained revs and went forward rather then accellerated. Is the 650 Suzi like this?
  17. The wee-strom sits high - you notice it when you swing your leg over, and when you've got a foot down at the lighs. As soon as you're moving, it's impeccably balanced. And in the twisties, very composed, even though the extra height does make it feel like you're leaning a lot further than other bikes do.

    The engine.... Well, you're on a carbed inline four with the 1100. The 650 doesn't have a top-end buzz or the power of what you're riding now. It does have plenty of go though, and it's crisp and immediate like all good injected bikes. It feels woofy and breathless at the top end, but the urge is there down low and while it won't match a big four in a drag race, its brilliant manoeverability puts it right on the pace in the tight stuff.
  18. I don't use the top end power of my bike anyway. I would like my next bike to be one I could use more of it's rev range.

    I'm just a bit worried that a 650 twin wouldn't quite be enough to haul my fat arse round.

    If they made a 825 (exact split between the 1000 and the 650) I would be very keen indeed.
  19. I don't know how fat your arse is, but I'm roughly 120kg and had no problems with the wee-strom - in fact, I didn't like the 1000 and was ready to dislike the 650 but ended up being very pleasantly surprised.

  20. No, didn't have a look at the TDM. No particular reason, just didn't get around to it. Was out looking at a few different types, was starting to lean towards the beemers but then a trip around the bike shops fixed that! BMW shops wouldn't serve me and the strom was sitting there begging me to buy it.