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 ) the V-Strom 650 seemed the way to go. Picked her up last Wednesday. [img:800:578:b7d426960b]http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e121/gegvasco/800578DL650K7-Red-Anglesm.jpg[/img:b7d426960b] 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 . 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. [img:800:600:b7d426960b]http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e121/gegvasco/IMG_0085.jpg[/img:b7d426960b] 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 ) - 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.