So you've got the most versatile bike in the world. But, you can make it better, right? In part one, we covered service and crash-worthiness. Now, we cover comfort and weather protection. This is how to upgrade a Suzuki V-Strom 650, part two.
It’s been a while, but we’ve been quietly plugging away at our DL650 long-term project, bolting up bits and pieces as the miles have worn on (over 10,000 so far). Compared to the first part of this series, where we installed all the key things that bike really was missing, this time around we’re focusing on the area that really matters when the miles begin to add up: the cockpit.
Ergonomics and topics such as wind protection and seating triangles are often considered boring modifications performed by older riders looking to save their weary limbs from fatigue, and in any case, such mods aren’t nearly as sexy as a new exhaust, wheels or fancy suspension. The simple fact is that dialing your bike in for you will make every mile more enjoyable, and often can add a level of control that might be missing from the stock setup.
Before we could do any damage to the bike, we first called the folks at Twisted Throttle. Purveyors of many things adventurey and toury, they displayed their own fully kitted-out 2012 DL project bike at trade shows across the country. If you decided to buy a stock model DL650 instead of the Adventure model, you’d have $1,500 burning a hole in your pocket. Let’s see how far that money can take this bike. Because stock is no fun.
First up was sorting out the contact points. Suzuki actually did a pretty good job on the ergonomics straight from the factory. The original seat is decent and the stock handlebar is a good height and bend, but the bars could be a bit higher for taller riders standing on the pegs. Instead, we decided to focus on the pegs: they’re in a good position, but are a bit narrow and slippery for dirt running. SW Motech makes a wonderful combination on- and off-road footpeg set that fits the bill nicely. For a slightly steep price of $147.99, you get chunky, all-metal spiked pegs ready for both mud and dirt boots. As with the pegs found on some of the up-market adventure bikes, a rubber insert comes standard that converts the aggressive metal cleat into a more comfortable, vibration-absorbing street peg. And the icing on the cake is a choice of two mounting positions, stock, and a 15mm-lower position, by simply swapping bolt-holes. Cornering clearance isn’t fantastic on the DL650, so we kept the pegs at the higher stock position. (For the record, the new SW Motech pegs handle dragging on the road with minimal wear—these things are tough.)
Next up was getting the wind protection sorted for the touring side of the adventure-touring formula. Again, Suzuki did a good job with the updated 2012 V-Strom screen. The prior model was only good for testing your personal headache tolerance, with a loud and buffeting windblast, but the stock 2012 is at least 50% better. Of course, the end goal is more wind and weather protection for minimal noise, so we tried something a bit different than simply bolting up a new screen. The MRA X-Creen ($212.99) is a variable-geometry spoiler that bolts up to your existing windscreen.
Essentially infinitely adjustable, the X-Creen allows you to find the exact balance between effective wind protection and noise by adjusting both angle and effective height. The results are dramatic, giving the DL a smoother, quieter airflow that brought the wind blast over our taller test riders. And thanks to the range of adjustment, it’s easy to tune for a passenger as well, as most sit-up riding positions can create additional turbulence with the addition of another body in the saddle. The coolest thing about the X-Creen is how truly universal it is, being able to bolt to most any style of stock screen, at least within certain basic dimensions. We’d easily recommend bolting this up to a variety of machines, and it’s definitely one of favorite products on the market right now.
Joining the new windscreen is a set of Suzuki’s own accessory handguards ($59.95). The OEM parts were a bit finicky to bolt up, but provide total wind protection. If proper impact protection is needed, stepping up to a full metal-framed enduro guard might be a better idea. Twisted Throttle also sent along a set of SW Motech Mirror Wideners ($70.99) to try out as well during the installation. While nicely machined, we weren’t very fond of them. They do their job just fine, but they look goofy, especially under the blocky OEM Suzuki mirrors. A lower-profile mirror design (such as the stock mirrors from the NC700X) might work out better, style-wise.
Finally, with the extra protection afforded by the screen, we opted to add some navigation to our V-Strom. More specifically, we added a clever SW Motech Quick Release GPS mount ($77.99) that allowed us to mount our iPhone in the cockpit, just above the stock dash. Thanks the to magic of Google Maps for iPhone, we have turn-by-turn navigation, as well as having our phone and music player up front and center for Bluetooth helmet connectivity.
As the bike sits now, it’s ready for a bit of dirt abuse and is also more than capable of traveling across multiple states to get there. All you have to do is decide what type of riding you want to do and mount tires to match.
In the first round, we spent $607.48, and this round of mods adds another $639.95, for a running total of $1247.43. We’re still well under the $1500 budget and the bike is pretty much ready to do most anything with the addition of some soft luggage. A set of hard cases might blow the budget, but not by much. Still, we’re thinking our last stop might be new brakes…stay tuned.
What do you vote for when it comes to upgrading the brakes?