Tweaking my Suzuki V Strom 650

DavidFL

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A start .......today......brand new from Saha Phanich in Chiang Mai

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a lot more to come as it goes..
 

DavidFL

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Wow first tank of petrol. The fuel light comes on at 375 kms.

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Fueled up for 440 Baht @ 382 kms for 15.5 litres = 24.5 kms a litre. That's economical ++.

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KenYam

Ol'Timer
Nov 2, 2007
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Congratulations on new bike David, a wise choice IMHO. That's 69 MPG in the old language very impressive mate, a lot better on fuel than the African Twin hey?

I suppose you're going to pimp it up with some red and white colours as well?

The V twin configuration is more attractive than the parallel twin me thinks !!!

I will be very interested in your impressions etc, etc re: the Vstrom as it seems to be a great general purpose bike for Thailand.

Good Luck and trust you have many safe and joyful rides.

Cheers Ken F
 

Moto-Rex

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Jan 5, 2008
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Congratulations on your new bike David.

The Suzuki V Strom is a great bike,..a friend of mine has one in Australia, and he raves about how good it is. Will be interesting to see what you think of it.
I think you rode 200,000kms on the big African Twin, lets see if you can better that on the Suzuki.

Happy motoring,

Moto_Rex
 

DavidFL

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1,000 kms up..after 2 full days use

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So what does it feel like compared to the Versys (& Africa Twin)

Funnily enough the first time I rode the bike was out of the show room!

I had never even test ridden the bike......but the Vstrom always felt so good, comfortable sitting on the bike that I knew it would not be a problem to ride.

So after plonking down my cash & signing the papers it was time to ride the bike for the first time!

Out of the showroom & into R107 we went.

When I first sat on & actually rode the bike I felt as if I was sitting on top of the bike, not on it or in it.

The handlebars are a wider feel a bit like a chopper.

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1,000 kms up & it no longer feels like you’re sitting on top of the bike, but the I'd prefer narrower bars & will research what the options are.

The instrument panel set up is superior to the Versys & you hardly need to lower your eyes to see what is going on.

The horn is pathetic & would not even move a mouse.

I love that Vtwin motor – the sound, the low down torque, smoother power delivery than the Versys, although perhaps not as quick acceleration wise.

Amazing miserly fuel consumption = 24.5 kms to the litre. My dear beloved Africa Twin only used to get 12-15 -17 kms a litre. On the Vstrom the fuel warning light came on at 375 kms & I fuelled up at 382 kms for the first tank of fuel = you can get 400 kms per tank, which is enough for me in this region. No need to carry extra fuel whatsoever.

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The fairing in standard set up was / is poor & it needs tweaking. In the rain I found it pretty much useless. On the Versys the MRA fairing was perfect & riding the Versys in the wet you hardly seemed to get wet; despite looking smaller than the AT fairing the MRA fairing on the Versys performed a lot better than the AT fairing. Whether I get an MRA fairing for the Vstrom remains to be scene, as I will first have a go at adjusting the standard fairing & then if that does not work try a MadStad Adjustable Windshield Mount. And if that does not work an MRA fairing will be the way to go.

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The Vstrom has fantastic lights & it looks like I’m going to enjoy some night riding again. The lights on my AT were brilliant, but not on the Versys, despite fitting better bulbs & extra lights – I never felt the lights on the Versys were good enough. But the lights on the Vstrom are a winner.

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I was forced to take cover for 45 minutes from a frightening electrical storm & torrential rain in Chiang Muan & never got into Mae Sai until 9pm that night, but with the Vstrom lights cruising at 120 kph I still felt safe with a clear view of the road ahead. I already have some LED driving lights to go on, so night riding is going to be awesome once again.

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Seat height seem to be lower & require less effort to lift your leg over. But I note that my knees seemed to ache a little more than usual after a 3-hr nonstop ride from Doi Mae Salong to Chiang Mai & I sincerely hope this is not going to be a problem. The Africa Twin was a big winner here.

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The bike frame on the Vtsrom is bigger than on the Versys & is going to be more suitable to touring & carrying luggage.

The seat is bigger more comfortable & going to be nice for some two-up touring.

Oddly enough with the wider handlebars & slightly different position the palms of my hands seemed to ache a little – time to toughen up a bit more perhaps. Or get some softer grips.

The Vstrom gearbox is a slick & totally unlike the Versys clunker. What a pleasure that is, snicking it up & down through the gears with that Vtwin motor.

The bike does not have a radiator temp gauge or a voltmeter so I will be getting a TrailTech striker gauge.

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The 19 inch front wheel is superior to the Versys 17 incher, absorbing most the bumps without a whimper. Oh for a “real bike - Africa Twin - with a 21 inch front wheel” again. The steering is not as quick & I note that I ran slightly wide quite a few times in some corners.

More top come as time goes by..but so far all good. There is no doubt too that the build quality - made in Japan - is better than the build quality on the Versys.
 

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Russ McDermid

Active Member
Sep 25, 2009
41
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Chiang Mai
David

I concur with all you say - after 18,000 km on mine, it truly has been a good bike.
The only problem I had was a faulty fuel sender unit after about 14k - Suzuki replaced it under warranty immediately (with a unit from their demo bike). Very impressed.

One other pleasant surprise was tyre life - on the original Bridgestone Trail Wings, they were good for 15,000 km...

Bridgestones_zps1hkhelsl.jpg.html
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.... arguably they would have gone on a little longer !!

:happy2:
 

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DavidFL

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An update ....with a few more bits & pieces tweaking.

First I forgot to mention before - the mirrors - BIG ones so that you can clearly see

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much better than the Versys

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How she is shaping up.

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The extras so far.
1. Centre stand

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brilliant. Makes it easy to check the oil, check & adjust the chain, check your rear tyre for nails. You could not do this so easily on the Versys.
The Versys did not have one & you could not fit one because of that exhaust set up underneath.
Bought from Suzuki at a cost of 5,400 baht, but I should have bought from Jacket Boy for almost half the price!

2. Radiator Guard

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sourced from Jacket Boy in Bangkok. 3,200 baht.

3. SW Motech Crash Bars

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Look smart & should do the business & IMHO much better looking than the Givi ones
Sourced from Panda Rider in Bangkok . 6,900? baht.

4. Givi sump bash guard

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Sourced from Jacket Boy. Considerably less than the SW Motech one at Panda Rider.

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5. USB Phone power supply

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sourced from Jacket Boy. 700 baht

6. Sidestand shoe - Foot enlarger

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sourced from Jacket Boy. 750 baht.

7. Kappa windshield

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made in Italy & a beauty.
Trick height adjustment.

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The above is at a low setting

Below is at the highest setting

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adjustment is simple & on the inside so it can be done sitting on the bike.

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sourced from Jacket Boy.

starting to look good

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only that large exhaust

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is a nuisance fitting side boxes & keeping the bike narrow. More research is needed.

But I’ve already decide it is a no brainer between buying a Vstrom & a Versys. The Vstrom is a winner every time. The price difference is minimal & only Suzuki really do need to up their marketing game, because once you’ve ridden a Vstrom you won’t want to tour on a Versys that is for sure. It is Vstrom all the way!

The best place for Vstrom accessories
https://www.facebook.com/pages/jacketboycom/200974706716602?sk=timeline
 

David Learmonth

Ol'Timer
Apr 23, 2006
513
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18
All looking good. I'm happy with my Honda 500X so far but might be open to alternatives whenever I decide to change. Once of a day a main stand came as standard equipment. My Bonneville bought here in '07 had it as an optional extra, the only other bike I've had in 46 years of biking without one (until I moved here) was a Yamaha Genesis Exup 1000, which if I remember correctly, was a 1991 model. Honda I have now only has side stand. Crazy really.
 

Johnsy

Active Member
Oct 7, 2012
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I was going to buy another 500X but couldn't bring myself to go through the drama buying and owning another Honda here in CM! I've had my V-Strom for 4 months now, love it....Done over 6,000 klm's solo, two-up, with gear, off road, on road, on the straights and through the twisties and it's an awesome bike for the money and capacity 650cc. the Suzuki dealer is also much better to deal with. Tons of grunt, excellent gear ratios, great fuel economy, comfortable, quiet and a lot of fun. The only thing I am changing is the tires, not happy with the trail wings so going for the Michelin Anakee III.
 

John Aero

Ol'Timer
Jul 20, 2013
87
2
8
Johnsy;305912 wrote: I was going to buy another 500X but couldn't bring myself to go through the drama buying and owning another Honda here in CM! I've had my V-Strom for 4 months now, love it....Done over 6,000 klm's solo, two-up, with gear, off road, on road, on the straights and through the twisties and it's an awesome bike for the money and capacity 650cc. the Suzuki dealer is also much better to deal with. Tons of grunt, excellent gear ratios, great fuel economy, comfortable, quiet and a lot of fun. The only thing I am changing is the tires, not happy with the trail wings so going for the Michelin Anakee III.
What was the drama buying and owning a Honda in CM? I am tempted with a 500X but was given bit of a run around by a small bike dealer regarding first service valve check on my CRF250M.
John
 

John Aero

Ol'Timer
Jul 20, 2013
87
2
8
David Learmonth;305877 wrote: All looking good. I'm happy with my Honda 500X so far but might be open to alternatives whenever I decide to change. Once of a day a main stand came as standard equipment. My Bonneville bought here in '07 had it as an optional extra, the only other bike I've had in 46 years of biking without one (until I moved here) was a Yamaha Genesis Exup 1000, which if I remember correctly, was a 1991 model. Honda I have now only has side stand. Crazy really.
As a general rule sports bikes which your Exup would be classed as do not have centre stands for weight reasons while normal street bikes and tourers should. Your Triumph's lack of one as original equipment driven by profit - UK Triumph's do not, according to a mate, have any tools as standard. Honda appear to have caught onto this as a centre stand is available as an optional extra for the 500X. While on the subject confused why my current model PCX has a heavy and expensive centre stand but no kick start - on a bike with potentially battery draining idle stop, odd.
 

David Learmonth

Ol'Timer
Apr 23, 2006
513
15
18
I hadn't thought of that John! Exup was bought whilst I was having what might be called a 'mid-life' crisis. A moment of madness perhaps. Kept it for 18 months then went to triumph Trophy. Better altogether. Sanity restored. Bonnie I bought over here didn't have any tools either - also an optional extra. The two Trophy's (900 & 1200) I owned in the '90's did come with some 'free' tools. I didn't/haven't had any problems with BigWing Honda in ChiangMai - as yet. Sometimes a little slow in replying to emails but other than that service etc has been OK so far in 13 months of ownership.
 

Johnsy

Active Member
Oct 7, 2012
29
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0
John Aero;305914 wrote: What was the drama buying and owning a Honda in CM? I am tempted with a 500X but was given bit of a run around by a small bike dealer regarding first service valve check on my CRF250M.
John
nothing wrong with the 500x it's a great bike for the money but I will never deal with Honda Big Wing in Chiang Mai again, that's all I'm going to say about it!
 

DavidFL

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Progress....tarting the VStrom up to be more photogenic & eye catching.

Not being one fond of dull black bikes, it was time to do away with the some of the black.

1. The black beak

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The side of the cowling

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this included the black mudguard

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The side covers

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to end up like this.

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for the time being.

There will be a bit more tarting up once some more green sticker comes in.

Laugh, but originally I wanted a white VStrom - no stock.  2nd choice was a red one, but while I was completing my purchase the remaining red one on the showroom floor went out the door right in front of my eyes to a buyer in Lampang (I was told.) So blue it was. & with the doctor on a roll this year + Suzuki starting to perform well in MotoGP it was a no brainer what colour scheme to try. Just a bit more blue & some fluro green to be noticed on the road & in the photos.

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& lets hope the new forum tweaks work out ok - in the end; & yes we've got a bit of tweaking to go folks.
 

DavidFL

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Update 22 JUly 2015

Fitting goodies on...

Spotlights - sourced from Ambassador Bungy at the X-Centre

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mounted with SW Motech brackets sourced from Jacket Boy in Bangkok.

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An adjustable handle bar cross bar for carrying my handle bar pouch

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sourced from 320 SP in Bangkok.

Electric 5-tone horns

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sourced from Flamingo motorcycle rental in Hanoi, Vietnam.

A Scottoiler - automatic chain oiler.

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sourced from Sunny Oh at Sunny Cycle in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's oldest big bike store.

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I swear by Scottoilers for oiling your chain. 320,00 kms on the Africa Twin, 100,00 kms on the Versys - & I used a Scottoiler all the time!

and the luggage masterpiece

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a combination SW Motech soft bag rack + a Givi box plate.

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trick because it gives me the best of both worlds.

With the small shopping Givi box

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Or with the SW Motech soft bag

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located on the tail for two up riding.

Or located on the seat for one up - single riding.

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Now fitting this was not at all straight forward. The SW Motech plate was from off the Versys & needed a separate Alu rack to bolt straight onto the Vstrom rack; &   I had ordered one from Panda in Bkk 6 weeks ago, but it turns out it came in & they sold it to someone else. So would I wait until the end of August for the next shipment & would I like to buy a complete luggage system instead. Errr no thanks, you've lost me. Bye bye. In the meantime I bought the Givi box + Givi plate for 2,500 baht from Zeromet in Chiang Mai because it would bolt straight onto the Vstrom - and it didnt. But for the price I wasn't complaining.

I still wanted to use both systems but not have to be bolting on & of different plates. The solution - bolts the Givi Box plate to the SW Motech plate & then make a bracket  for underneath the SW Motech to bolt straight onto the Vstrom rack.  The job was beautifully done by German Joe at Joe's Bike Team. Thank you Joe for exceptional work & being able to think out the box - improvise.

So this is how she is shaping up now

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Next step get it all the accessories wired up properly using a Fuzeblock, already in hand.

Fuze-Block-with-Harness-425x350.jpg


sourced from Twisted Throttle in the USA.

Does anyone have a recommendation for the best - a good automotive electrician in Chiang Mai?

& I've got 5,700 kms up on the Vstrom already.
 

DavidFL

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6,666 kms up & it's finally all wired up with everything working nicely.

The Trail Tech Striker gauge

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a volt meter, radiator temp gauge, air temp gauge, speed - maximum / average,clock - hour ride, travel time, accumulated ride time, maintenance reminder - oil , service .

The Fuzeblock is mounted under the seat

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all the electrical accessories are connected to the Fuzeblock, then it connects to the battery

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A note on the Scottoiler

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beautifully mounted,m by Joe at Joe's Bike Team,  under the seat where it is  protected

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exiting under neath to run down to the rear sprocket & lube the chain nicely

New number plate

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Cost 5,800 baht in Chiang Mai.  Picking numbers in Chiang Mai number is cheap & fast compared to Bangkok.

When I first got my bike I was told 3 months wait for # 1 again; but I could have any plate / number in a couple of weeks & later on request a special number & wait. So in a couple of weeks of buying the bike I had plate # 7228, then Suzuki applied for plate # 1 & a month later I had plate # 1. Suzuki tell me it easy to change plates in Chiang Mai, so if you fancy a special number it is no real trouble to apply for another number that you fancy. Take anything first to get a plate, then later on apply for a new number.

Cheers.

My VStrom is now set up how I want it & it's time now to ride, rock'n roll here we come.
 

DavidFL

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The MotoCentric touring saddle bags
2012-MotoCentric-Touring-Saddlebags-Black.jpg

Small 21 litre bags for travelling with the GF & the alternative to unnecessary big wide dangerous car clipping side boxes. Priced at US$89 = steal at that price. How they sit on the bike
DSC_0374.jpg
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How it all looks - goes together on tour with the GF
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the left side flops down a little & I will install a small bracket to hold them up nicely. & if you don't install the rain covers in thunderstorms, the moisture soon gets in
IMG_4298.jpg

Enjoy. 8500 kms up now & totally happy with the bike. Between buying a Vstrom & a Versys - it is a no brainer for me. After riding both bikes you would only consider the Vstrom 650; & I did 100,000 kms on a Versys. The Vstrom is so superior. Japanese made, V-twin motor - torque, 19 front wheel. A genuine comfortable touring bike.
 

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DavidFL

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30 August 2015 & 9,350 kms - - finally  blessed for good luck by a good Shan monk.

Wat Ka Kham, Thoed Thai.

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Thanks Scotty 007 for the pix & accompanying me  on the trip.
 

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DavidFL

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An experiment - a  new handlebar bag  - in an attempt to set up a hyrdration pack on the tank, rather than a back  pack.

The handle bar bag

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Marketed by Gears

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Dodraugen

Ol'Timer
Aug 19, 2012
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Comgratulations with the new bike. Looks great!

I saw that you mentioned price compared to the Versys. How much is the V-strom here in Thailand?
 

DavidFL

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The next little improvement - handlebar risers

GTR-IMG_5912.jpg


that enable the bars to be come back just a little closer & so have a better grip & control, something that I felt was not quite right in standard form.

Sourced from JacketBoy in Bangkok. Cost 1,000 baht. They fit straight on with no necessity for changing cables either.

A saddlebag support bracket

GTR-IMG_5915.jpg


fitted to hold the bag up on the left hand side only, & so stop it from flopping under towards the wheel.

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Sourced from Somchit's Daeng Klong Pratu. Cost 800 baht.

& we have 16,000 kms up on the bike so far.
 

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DavidFL

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DavidFL wrote:

The next little improvement – handlebar risers
GTR-IMG_5912.jpg
that enable the bars to be come back just a little closer & so have a better grip & control, something that I felt was not quite right in standard form. Sourced from JacketBoy in Bangkok. Cost 1,000 baht. They fit straight on with no necessity for changing cables either. A saddlebag support bracket
GTR-IMG_5915.jpg
fitted to hold the bag up on the left hand side only, & so stop it from flopping under towards the wheel.
DSC_03731.jpg
GTR-IMG_5917.jpg
Sourced from Somchit’s Daeng Klong Pratu. Cost 800 baht. & we have 16,000 kms up on the bike so far.
The first big test heavily loaded up with bags all round.

GTR-IMG_0912.jpg


Chiang Mai - Houei Xai - Luang Namtha- Luang Prabang - Vientiane absolutely no problem.

And then Vientiane south of the fast R13S.

Carrying a bit more speed I discovered the right saddlebag had the bottom rear corner of the bag touching on the exhaust.

GTR-BurntSaddlebag.jpg


GTR-IMG_0962.jpg


My conclusion was that the extra speed - sitting on 140KP - was generating more airflow & causing the bag to tilt out at bit at the front & in at the rear.  There was absolutely no problem from Chiang Mai to Vientiane, only after Vientiane south on the fast flat open road.

The solution came from Louis Motorcross in Savannakhet.

GTR-IMG_0963.jpg


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450 baht & I think Louis is a genius.

7 months gone & 20,500 kms up & the Vstrom is cruising nicely still.

I'm a very happy customer.
 

DavidFL

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Doing the original sticker job 8 months ago, the guys at Panda ran out of the lemon - green fluorescent colour.

Now a mere 8 months later we are back on track to finally finish off the job

It was just the front of the cowling that needed tarting up

IMG_40461.jpg
The unfinished sticker job

so now the last little bit is done

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all i need now is Vinales on the Suzuki or the doctor to win a few MotoGP races.
 

DavidFL

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Jan 16, 2003
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Chiang Khong
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9 months & 27,800 kms up = the suspension is a bit weary.

Off to CMS Chiang Mai Motorsport in Star Avenue by the arcade bus station on the super highway.

CMS are an authorised Ohlins dealer & know how to set up your suspension.

Öhlins suspension By Chiangmai Motorsport

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The CMS workshop is small, but clean & well organised

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In a matter of minutes the guys have the front off

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the oil is changed & all the parts cleaned & checked. In no time I'm called back in to sit on the bike to test & measure the sag. All done I get to head of for some coffee in the aircon shop next door, while they do some fine tuning.

The front end is calibrated properly.

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45 minutes later I'm called back, the suspension guru takes the bike for a short ride around the Star Avenue car park & we chat about the back end. The spring is too soft already & at its maximum adjustment. Yes I agree totally, that's why I'm here. Suzuki where are you - it's an Asian spec spring for a 60kg rider & not for a big fat 99kg farang! A problem to sort out later on...

So. The CMS Service fee is 1,500 baht with a fork oil change. I get on the bike & ride home. And it feels almost like a new bike again - a plush ride, eating up the bumps & ripples in the road, except for that soft spring on the back.

But I'm highly impressed with the guys at CMS - let them check our & set up your bike's suspension. The change is incredible when done properly - precisely measured & calibrated all in a flash. Top marks guys. 10/10 for excellent service.

CMS is mentioned here in the GTR Chiang Mai Motorcycle shops

Chiang Mai Motorcycle Shops

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Highly recommended.

Now what to do about that weak spring on the back...
 
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