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Old 10-23-2010, 02:02 PM   #1
TeeVee OP
His mudda was a mudda!
 
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Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Miami/Managua
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Wink Yes. Central & South America in Pieces

So folks, here we go. You may have spotted my post a while back about doing south america in pieces. Well, I've decided it is going to get done.

I'm new to the whole writing about the ride, but Ive enjoyed so many of yours I almost feel obligated to do the same. Mine will never come close to some of the reports here, as I think I lost all my creative writing skills the second I started law school. but who knows...

Anyway, two months ago, i purchased an '07 DL1000 from a fellow inmate in Birmingham and rode it down to Miami. Awesome machine even with its flaws. it came lowered (good for me), with SW Motech crash bars, unknown bar risers, madstad bracket, two power outlets, wimpy piaa fog lamps mounted to fork, accessory fuse box, volt meter, and um uh, i think that's it.

Since purchasing, I've spent entirely too many hours reading the various forums and articles on modding/improving the beast as well as learning about its various failings, nearly all of which are suspension and the various burps in the FI system. until i added 3 hepco & becker gobi bags, i thought the suspension was ok. now, with the weight of the empty bags and two rotopax 1 gallon fuel cells (plus my fat ass) the suspension is revealing its limitations.

here's a few shameless glam shots:










I've purchased but have yet to install footpeg lowering kit from RichlandRich on vstrom.info. (yeah i'm short, but i have bad knees that don't like to be bent for too long.)

remaining mods are as follows:

1. I will most likely have Sasquatch rebuild my rear shock and add a custom wound spring, as well as swap out the front springs and go with a heavier weight fork oil.
2. install SW Motech light bar and add some hella xenons
3. Akropovic bolt ons
4. SW Motech bash plate
5. Pro taper Contour Raptor bars
6. Real barkbusters
7. possibly cruise control (kaoko?)
8. new sprockets and chain (will probably stay with stock gearing but will wait to test the bike out fully loaded before i decide)
9. flush mount turn signals
10. new GPS: Big Blue came with a garmin nuvi 200w, which is no good. old, slow, and not waterproof. i have yet to decide on which unit i will buy, and i may even borrow the 60 csx from the DR650. i've also been toying with the idea of getting a gpsmap 620, but it does not support tracks and is bloody expensive
11. not sure if i'm gonna swap out the seat yet but was thinking of going with the DL650 seat since it's a tad lower.

i've also purchased a bags connection GS tank bag, which has yet to arrive.

i have not decided if i'm gonna purchase a DSLR or take my trusty canon D10..waterproof, shock resistant and compact. oh, and like 10 megapixels so not a slouch.

i also have a contour HD (720i) with the waterproof case which generally documents my riding (read: falling) on the DR.

schedule, route, and companeros are all up in the air at the moment. so, i'm open for suggestions, comments, flames, etc.
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Old 10-24-2010, 09:19 AM   #2
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TeeVee,

Sounds like a good plan! I'll be following your report as I'm addicted to all ride reports about going from North to South America.
And nice bike by the way, I like the gas cans mod under the panniers!
Keep posting!

na2sa
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Old 10-24-2010, 03:49 PM   #3
TeeVee OP
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Thanks Na2SA. Honestly, i got the idea for the fuel cell mount from another inmate, endurorazor. keeps the weight down low where it belongs
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Old 10-26-2010, 12:23 PM   #4
Adv Grifter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TeeVee
until i added 3 hepco & becker gobi bags, i thought the suspension was ok. now, with the weight of the empty bags and two rotopax 1 gallon fuel cells (plus my fat ass) the suspension is revealing its limitations.

remaining mods are as follows:
1. I will most likely have Sasquatch rebuild my rear shock and add a custom wound spring, as well as swap out the front springs and go with a heavier weight fork oil.
2. install SW Motech light bar and add some hella xenons
3. Akropovic bolt ons
4. SW Motech bash plate
5. Pro taper Contour Raptor bars
6. Real barkbusters
7. possibly cruise control (kaoko?)
8. new sprockets and chain (will probably stay with stock gearing but will wait to test the bike out fully loaded before i decide)
9. flush mount turn signals
10. new GPS: Big Blue came with a garmin nuvi 200w, which is no good. old, slow, and not waterproof. i have yet to decide on which unit i will buy, and i may even borrow the 60 csx from the DR650. i've also been toying with the idea of getting a gpsmap 620, but it does not support tracks and is bloody expensive
11. not sure if i'm gonna swap out the seat yet but was thinking of going with the DL650 seat since it's a tad lower.
Unless you're really short, I'd stick with the DL1000 seat. Much better. I'd also put the bike back up to stock height. I'm 5'6", never a problem for me on a loaded bike. Get used to it. A taller bike will have more ground clearance ... one of the Strom's biggest faults. Bash plate good.

Doing the suspension is a good move. I would not go with heavier fork oil Ask Sasquatch why ... better to re-valve, re-spring and stay with 5 weight oil. PLUSH. You have cartridge forks, not DR650 non-cartridge.

Carrying those fuel cells is extra weight you don't want to carry IMHO. I doubt you'll be doing any serious off road, middle of nowhere exploring. The stock Vstrom will go over 200 miles on a tank. This is more than adequate for most all of Latin America. The only exceptions might be the northern Atacama in Peru' and Northern Peru' interior areas. Also the Uyuni Salar area in Bolivia ... which I doubt you will go onto on your Vstrom. For the Atacama you would only need carry an extra gallon (or two) of fuel. A few other areas would require this too, but you can always find a suitable fuel container whenever needed. No need to carry them all the time. Maybe leave them on, but fill only one ... or leave them empty. No where in Mexico or Cent. Am. will you be far from fuel ... unless you really screw up. (which I've done!)

Weight is really the critical thing. The more you have the tougher the bike will be in any sort of off road situation. Also, I can just about guarantee those fuel jugs will tear apart your pannier racks/mounts over time, maybe even tear open the panniers. (corrugated washboard, potholes, Topes)

Real bark busters are smart, crash guards/bash plate too. I would be careful of driving lights. The Vstrom has the best headlights in the industry.
Stunning. Are you sure you really need Aux lights? The AC output is very modest on this bike ... so manage this carefully. I would also start the trip with a brand new, stock MF battery, new 525 DID VM-2 X ring chain, new stock Suzuki sprockets (good for over 20,000 miles). Change countershaft sprocket only at 10,000 miles. (carry with you) Other chains/sprockets won't come close to this.

The Akro's are great, save weight, but is it worth the $1000 or so? They will likely get trashed after a year or two ... just so you know.

Gearing. If you plan any off road at all I would go with lower gearing. The Strom is geared super tall with its overdrive 6th gear. (5K rpm @ 92 mph indicated) The problem is getting a quality countershaft sprocket. I think you can use a GSXR sprocket, one tooth less. Check the Vstrom forums for that. In any case, bring a spare front sprocket. Lower gearing will make going off road and doing slow, steep road a bit easier. You're cruising speed will still be unlimited.

Check link bearings, especially the lowest hanging one. Mine rusted out after rain riding (20K miles). Easy to change. Keep them greased. Rear brake pads wear early. Keep brake fluid and clutch hydraulic fluid fresh, especially clutch, which can be problematic.

Other than that the Vstrom is basically maintenance free. The valves rarely move. The bike runs a bit HOT but never a worry. The electrics are reliable if not pushed and the wheels are Hella strong. Ditto for the Chassis, which I could have sworn I broke in half on a couple of occasions ... NO damage other than dented wheel. The bike is tough as Hell ... just try not to crash it and it will last to 200,000 miles.
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Old 10-26-2010, 02:34 PM   #5
TeeVee OP
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Thanx ADVGrifter.

yeah, been reading bad things about the 650 seat so i'll probably stick with the 1k for now. as for the lowering kit, i can barely touch the ground with both feet, so putting it back to stock is just about NEVER gonna happen.
I will have to wait and see where she sits once new suspension is in and i fully load her. honestly, i don't plan on doing too much serious off-road stuff...i have the DR for that.

i'm sure you're right about the fork oil, as i haven't really discussed specifics with sasquatch yet--not ready to drop 3/4 of a grand on boing boing just yet.

what makes you say that about the akras? are they that cheap that ill only get 1-2 years? 15 lb. savings is a big reason why i chose them. enlighten me!

i've been reading about the gearing issue and haven't made up my mind yet. i dropped 1 tooth on the CS of the DR and it changed the bike enough to make me quite a bit happier on off road hills. but since my route planning for the V will attempt to avoid anything other than gravel...am I being too optimistic or naive? lowering the gearing increases fuel consumption.

The fuel cells only hold a gallon a piece so having both might be the order of the day. i'm sorta gonna cheat a little since i have so many contacts in south america, i don't need to carry much with me. anything heavy will be shipped in advance and will be waiting for me at strategic points. i'd rather carry some extra fuel than say to myself "nice move jackass. only 6 pounds per gallon..."

the fuel cells are held on with 4 bolts and there is a thin aluminum plate inside the bags so any down force is distributed over a much larger surface area. i don't anticipate carrying anything all that heavy in the panniers. i have a pretty decent collection of lightweight travel clothing, so overall weight should be on the light side.

the hella xenons are low wattage high output. 70 watts total for both lamps. although this will be my first "adventure" ride, i'm no stranger to lights...more is better. but, i haven't quite made up my mind on them in any event. since my plan is to avoid night riding altogether, this may be overkill.

all points are well taken and i appreciate you taking the time to respond.
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Old 10-26-2010, 02:57 PM   #6
Adv Grifter
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Newly revised Suspension/Springs will likely raise the bike an inch or so. But once loaded should compress some.

No worries on the Akras. They are fantastic pipes, best quality. But RTW type riding is tough on things. I'm just saying they will get shop worn in S. America. They won't fall apart. If you can afford them, go for it. My Remus Ti's saved 18 lbs.

Lower gearing should not negatively affect fuel consumption so you'd notice, but may make slow going, crawling less stressful on your clutch hand and less wear on the clutch. No big deal. Try it, easily reversible on the road if needed.

A bit of extra fuel is soothing I know. I'm a bit anal about knowing where fuel is located on the road. Down there sometimes there are questions. I traveled with 150 mile range and only screwed up a couple times. Sometimes they are just OUT of fuel! Or a Strike going on. Rare but happens. Leave them on ... but I'd probably only fill them in Peru' and Bolivia ... and never miss a chance to fill up

Night riding is best avoided but sometimes you have no choice. Stuff happens. Just like you "don't plan" to ride off road. But guess what ... sometimes you have no choice. Closed roads, landslides, Detours, Alternate routes ... and just plain fun exploring can lead to off road you didn't plan on. Rule of thumb for me on the Vstrom: If a Chicken Bus can make it ... you can make it ... except Mud ... unless you are very talented.

70 watts isn't bad. Its just that I see SO MANY riders get into trouble with AuX light issues. Usually BMW guys. BMW's have crap electrical systems, so no surprise. More switches, wiring, fuses to worry about. K.I.S.S. !!
Install them early and shake them down. Watch for issues. Should be fine.

Enjoy your planning. Easiest part! NOW is the time to be ON THE ROAD!!
Wish I could go ....
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Old 10-28-2010, 01:41 PM   #7
srileo
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You simply do not need extra lights! not a vstrom. It has the best lights in the business. I see so many electrical issues coming up with people tapping into the stock circuits with the doodads. JayJammin can attest to that ;-)

fuel - your call, but keeping it simpler is better. i'd hate to take a fall with the fuel cells loaded.

Like ADVgrifter says: Keep it simple. really. other than the suspension, grip heaters and some added protection for the belly and sides, i wouldnt spend a lot of time or money on the vstrom. Put that towards fuel :-)



Quote:
Originally Posted by TeeVee
Thanx ADVGrifter.

yeah, been reading bad things about the 650 seat so i'll probably stick with the 1k for now. as for the lowering kit, i can barely touch the ground with both feet, so putting it back to stock is just about NEVER gonna happen.
I will have to wait and see where she sits once new suspension is in and i fully load her. honestly, i don't plan on doing too much serious off-road stuff...i have the DR for that.

i'm sure you're right about the fork oil, as i haven't really discussed specifics with sasquatch yet--not ready to drop 3/4 of a grand on boing boing just yet.

what makes you say that about the akras? are they that cheap that ill only get 1-2 years? 15 lb. savings is a big reason why i chose them. enlighten me!

i've been reading about the gearing issue and haven't made up my mind yet. i dropped 1 tooth on the CS of the DR and it changed the bike enough to make me quite a bit happier on off road hills. but since my route planning for the V will attempt to avoid anything other than gravel...am I being too optimistic or naive? lowering the gearing increases fuel consumption.

The fuel cells only hold a gallon a piece so having both might be the order of the day. i'm sorta gonna cheat a little since i have so many contacts in south america, i don't need to carry much with me. anything heavy will be shipped in advance and will be waiting for me at strategic points. i'd rather carry some extra fuel than say to myself "nice move jackass. only 6 pounds per gallon..."

the fuel cells are held on with 4 bolts and there is a thin aluminum plate inside the bags so any down force is distributed over a much larger surface area. i don't anticipate carrying anything all that heavy in the panniers. i have a pretty decent collection of lightweight travel clothing, so overall weight should be on the light side.

the hella xenons are low wattage high output. 70 watts total for both lamps. although this will be my first "adventure" ride, i'm no stranger to lights...more is better. but, i haven't quite made up my mind on them in any event. since my plan is to avoid night riding altogether, this may be overkill.

all points are well taken and i appreciate you taking the time to respond.
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Old 10-28-2010, 03:50 PM   #8
TeeVee OP
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Location: Miami/Managua
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thanks for the reply. i'm curious why people are so worried about fuel cells. honestly, of all the adventure riders' setups i've seen on this site and others, the rotopax are probably the most secure. those cheapo 1 gallon fuel jugs that people strap onto various points, like makeshift footpeg mounts, on the OUTSIDE of their panniers, forward of their topcases, etc etc, all present more of a hazard in the event of a spill. think about it--if my bike falls, there is a 99.9% likelihood that it will fall to the side while moving forward. the part that juts out the furthest are the panniers. the fuel cells are tucked in some so it is doubtful that they will impact. so, how is it that they present any added danger?

not being argumentative here, just trying to understand.

tia
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Old 10-28-2010, 04:45 PM   #9
Adv Grifter
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Yea, they seem to be well located. Probably survive OK in a minor fall. I'm guessing they come off easily when you want to remove them? And can you remove panniers and leave the Rotopax in place?

The bike looks good. I'd get on the road and see how everything works on the road. No better way to test things. November is Magic Month in Mexico.
So much cool stuff going on. Nos vemos y
que le via bien!
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Old 10-28-2010, 04:56 PM   #10
TeeVee OP
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ADV, if you go to rotopax.com you can see how they are held on. super secure, but relatively easy to get off when you want them. i doubt they will come off in anything short of a catastrophic event, in which case i probably wont be around to give a shit. and yeah you can take the panniers off with them in place. the panniers don't stand up perfectly straight because the rotopax mounting piece is the lowest point. they do stay upright though.

i've been doing a bit of local riding here in the miami area gettin the feel for Big Blue now that she gained about 50 lbs. dying to get my shock and springs re-done by sasquatch, but gotta wait a week or two more for some $$$$.
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