Why have a long-term tester if you don’t mess around with it? The 650 V-Strom has been in production since 2004, but despite the changes on the new 2012 model, there is a boatload of aftermarket accessories available for our long term project.
So we made a shopping list to make our long termer more dirt/adventure friendly and contacted the good guys at Twisted Throttle as they had most of the stuff on our list. Erik and Kevin happily supplied us with whatever we asked for. Suzuki Canada also offered some Strom accessories, and a few other parts came in from small suppliers.
We also had a set of spoked wheels on that list and were planning to include those in this update. Due to unforeseen issues the wheels weren’t ready in time and will now be part of a second build story, focusing on the more dual-sporting mods we made.
Because of these delays we’ve decided to carry over this project into 2013; we’ve got to properly test the damn thing n’est pas?
So, here’s part 1 of what we got and how it all fitted (or didn’t fit) together (part 2 soon):
Why – The kit comes with two aluminum plates that move the footpegs and controls one inch lower and 3/16 of an inch forward, giving lanky riders (like me) more legroom.
Fitting – is relatively easy, you remove the peg mounts (and gear change/brake arms), attach the plates to the backs of the mounts, then remount. There is some adjustment to be done to get the levers into the same position (take a pic of it before) but the kit comes with an extender to the brake rod to allow for the lower pegs.
It’s pretty easy, though I had just enough free play on the brake light cable to fit it.
Usage – Brilliant! Combined with the taller seat (below) I now have ample legroom., though the pegs do scrape a little easier in the twisties! Now I can also stand up and have the bars perfectly placed, negating the need for bar risers for dirt duty.
Why – Same reason I got the lower peg kit – I’m lanky and need more room.
Fitting – This is the easy part. Remove regular seat, replace with tall seat. Job done. The lower peg kit gives you more legroom, but if you have gargantuan legs, adding the high seat will give you 20 mm more peg-to-seat space.
Usage – Still as comfy as the standard seat, just taller, with more legroom!
Higher Screen – a) Suzuki Vario Touring Screen
Why – Suzuki claims to have spent a lot of time testing the 2012 screen in the wind tunnel, presumably due to the horrible reputation that the previous model had for buffeting. But the new screen doesn’t fix the issue. Suzuki also sells an accessory touring screen that comes with a foil bit bolted on the top, which we got to try out.
Fitting – Unbolt the stock screen (four bolts) and bolt on new screen with longer bolts and spacers (supplied)
Usage – It still has a tendency to buffet; only a little higher up the speed chart (as in 120 km/h plus). Of course, I’m tall but add the tall seat to the equation and you still have the original issues. So, it’s better and may solve the problem for shorter riders, but it’s still not perfect, so we went for …
Higher Screen – b) Madstad (brackets and screen)
Why – The only thing that fixed the buffeting issue with our 2005 long-termer was a pair of Madstad adjusters that fit between the screen and the fairing mount, allowing you to raise, lower and tilt the screen to your desired angle. Thankfully Madstad has made them for the 2012 model as well, only due to the new screen’s shape you can’t use the original screen so they sent us their (rather large at 18”) Adventure touring screen too.
Fitting – the brackets fit straight to the original holes on the fairing and the screen bolts directly to the mounts. Easy.
Usage – You have many possible heights and angles but I like to be able to just look over the screen. That determined the height, and a few tweaks of the angle had a setup that not only looked the part (really, I think it looks great), but does a stellar job of killing the buffeting AND gives the rider a nice pocket of still air.
Why – The original system is ugly, heavy and has no sound. We don’t like loud pipes at CMG, but a little sound from a v-twin would seem appropriate.
Fitting – The system fits pretty easily once you wrestle the old exhaust off (unless you try to fit it with a bashplate – see later). Hindle uses a system of springs to hold the pieces together (they include a spring hook to put them on) but you need high temp silicone to smear in the joints. The result is a cool-looking and significantly lighter exhaust system.
Usage – Oh dear, it’s too loud!
Scott at Hindle reckoned that they could quieten in down a bit with a different muffler , so we stopped by Hindle in Port Perry on our Fall Tour and they not only fitted a better silencer (an 18″ euro tip oval with a stealth core and noise reducer insert to be precise), they also made a custom connecting pipe to bring everything back into shape after I ‘tweaked’ it all to get the bash plate to fit (see next).
The new set up gives a healthy V-twin rumble, while keeping it all at a respectable level – I think we have a winner!
Why – When I ride gravel, I don’t want any rocks to mangle the undercarriage.
Fitting – This should have been one of those 10 minute bolt-on jobs but when you install parts from different makers, they don’t always play well together. That certainly happened big time with the Hindle exhaust system and this bashplate. But you can read about that in the Comedy of Errors section below.
Usage – No gravel roads done to date, but I think it’ll do the job nicely. Looks great too!
Why – I intend to ride this in gravel, so when I inevitably drop it, the crash bars will protect that expensive bodywork.
Fitting – Pretty easy. The bars mount into existing holes on the Strom’s frame, joining together in front of the radiator for added strength.
Usage – Since I haven’t dropped the bike yet I’ve not been able to test them. Long may that remain so!
I also had a set of Suzuki’s crash bars (or more politely, “Accessory Bars”), but went for SW Motech’s as they’re larger in diameter and tougher. The Suzuki ones aren’t bad by any means, cost about the same and look good to boot (see photos).
Why – These are the same piece used on the KLR project, and now my default for bag mounts. They can be removed easily and quickly to leave just nubs, if you don’t want to ride with bags.
Fitting – The indicators need to be moved back on supplied brackets to make room for the carriers. The instructions suggest you to cut the original wires and add an extender, but it’s a bit of a rough job, so I drilled a couple of holes in the Strom’s plastic and threaded the non-extended wires through there.
The bag mounts themselves are easy to fit, thanks to crystal-clear instructions with useful diagrams. The kit comes with the additional longer bolts and spacers to accommodate the mounts. Be sure not to tighten them all up until the side carriers are mounted, as it needs to line up with the mounts precisely.
Usage – Love ‘em.
Why – This is the first time I’ve tried the popular TraX bags, but they’re relatively cheap for aluminum bags, mount easily and have a good reputation. The makers used to claim they were waterproof, but they aren’t, so now they come with drybag inserts that double up as a handy carrying bag when you get to your destination.
Fitting – You’ll need an adapter kit from SW Motech to fit these to the mounts, but it’s an easy job, and the TraX bags slide and clip securely into place. Oh, don’t forget to order locks too as they don’t come with them.
Usage – The bags are great and with the bag inserts are a breeze to pack and unpack. The only issue I’ve had is with the locks; which I had some trouble fitting. When I impatiently tried to lock one case the key broke off! Lucky for me, the kit came with a spare.
Why – For offroad duties! Pro Taper Seven Eights bars are stronger and less likely to bend in a simple drop, and also a little higher. Barkbusters are a little overkill as I won’t be doing any single track trails, but they come with Storm covers that keep the wind and rain off your mitts.
Fitting – The bars were quite tricky as the switchgear is pegged to the bars requiring you to drill holes in the bars, requiring you to get everything perfectly aligned first. Barkbusters clashed with the clutch cable and brake line and so had to be mounted lower than ideal, but still offer okay protection (will have to get some different mounting brakets for them).
Usage – Love the Pro Taper bars as they are the perfect height while seated AND standing (thanks to the peg lowers too)! Barkbusters in combo with the heated grips keep my hands pampered in the cold and wet.
Electrics – Suzuki 12 Volt Outlet, Denali DM1 lights and Oxford Heated Grips
Why – Who doesn’t like being able to plug in a heated vest and have warm mitts to boot? The Denali lights should help to illuminate up the road edges for moose too. It is Canada after all.
BTW, I think the 12V accessory plug is one of those things that all bikes should have as standard equipment in order to power heated vests, GPS, etc, but that isn’t the case for the V-Strom so I ordered the Suzuki accessory. It’s priced rather steep at $64.30, but it’s designed to fit into the existing wiring and won’t void your warranty either.
Fitting – Who’d have thunk that fitting a seemingly simple power outlet would be such a palaver? Instead of an instructions sheet for installation, the outlet came with a book! The epic details how to remove the seat, tank plastic and front fairing, to mount the plug inside the fairing next to the regulator/rectifier.
In order to avoid burnt fingers when in use, there’s a heat shield to fit over the reg/rec and once the fairing et al are off, the plug is a pretty simple fit, connecting into a blanked-off plug in the wiring harness.
With the fairing removed, I also put in the wiring for the Oxford grips and the Denali DM1 driving lights, both jobs that would have required the fairing to be removed to route the wiring from the front of the bike to the mid-section where the battery is located.
Fitting is relatively simple, the tricky part with the grips being getting them on the bars at the right angle so that the wires do not interfere with clutch, brake and throttle. The Denali lights suggest you drill a hole in the fairing to pp the wires through but the plugs are too big to fit so I routed them through the fairing vents, which looks a little messy.
The Denali lights also require a switched powered feed wire from the wiring harness so they only come on when the ignition is on, unlike the heated grips that can be turned on or even left on after the ignition has been turned off.
NOTES: If you’re a little adverse to stripping so much off the bike to do this, then it may be worth getting your electrical trinkets and handing them over to your favourite mechanic to save the stress.
If you have the plug and Suzuki heated grips, since they use the same harness, the grips will limit the plug to a maximum of 12W instead of the usual 30W. The Oxford heated grips plug directly to the battery, so I’ll have the full 30W available.
Usage – The 12V outlet is on the wrong side of the bike as my heated vest wire comes out on the left and the plug is buried lowdown on the right. Sigh. I’ll use it for my GPS, but I ended up adding a simple plug directly to the battery and drilling a whole in the panel by my left leg to mount it. Easy fit, and perfect for my vest.
The heated grips were a godsend on the Fall Tour but the controller is an on/off button and a pair of high/low buttons which are hard to use with thick gloves (which you’ll be wearing if you need heated grips). Since they also plug directly to the battery it’s easy to forget to turn them off at a stop, something I’ll have to find a solution for or risk a flat battery one morning.
So far I’ve not ridden in the dark, so the Denali’s remain untested to date.
A COMEDY OF ERRORS
Projects always have their moments, but this one seemed to have more than its fair share. For this update we had a grand old time getting the Hindle pipe to play nice with the SW Motech bashplate and Suzuki Centrestand.
We got a 2011 complete unit from Hindle but they didn’t know if it would fit the 2012, so I said we’d be happy to be the guinea pig. It lined up fine but came with no oxygen sensor hole. Scott at Hindle made two sections with holes for the sensor so I could choose which one fitted best, and they’ll include that in the 2012 system.
The issues came when it came to fitting the SW Motech bashplate. The Hindle’s front header pipe comes out further than stock and then mounts slightly out on the right hand side. This meant I had to adapt the pipe to fit tighter to the bike (chop saw!) and then move the bashplate forward by a couple of inches to clear the header.
Since the front of the plate and the bottom of the SW Motoech crashbar cross piece now lined up I made a plate to join the two for added support and four steel (and painted) brackets to move the plate forward.
Both pipe and bashplate still looked good, though the muffler looked a little offline. When we dropped into Hindle’s on the Fall Tour, Scott fixed it all up for us, but the standard Hindle system will not fit with the SW Motech bashplate – be warned.
That brings me to the Suzuki accessory centrestand that we figured would be very handy for chain adjustment and lubing. Unfortunately, the Hindle pipe also interferes with the stand, meaning it won’t fully retract and so sits a good half inch lower than designed.
Since the kit comes with a LHS footpeg scraper extender, I assume it already reduces cornering ground clearance; being half an inch lower will do this even more so we took it off. Sigh.
THE GRAND TOTAL TO DATE (supplier in brackets)
- Tall Seat (Suzuki) CA$179.47
- 12V Power Outlet (Suzuki) CA$64.30
- Oxford Heated Grips (Twisted Throttle) US$79.95
- Trax Bags – 37 litre (Twisted Throttle) US$364.99
- Trax Bags – 45 litre (Twisted Throttle) US$379.99
- SW Motech mounting kit for bags (Twisted Throttle) US$284.99
- SW Motech locks for bags (Twisted Throttle) US$49.99
- SW Motoech Crash Bars (Twisted Throttle) US$219.99
- SW Motech Bash Plate (Twisted Throttle) US$259.99
- SW Motech Bag Mounts (Twisted Throttle) US$26.00
- Denali DM1 lights (Twisted Throttle) US$209.99
- SW Motech brackets for Denali DM1 lights (Twisted Throttle) US$55.00
- Barkbusters (Twisted Throttle) US$155.00
- Pro Taper Handlebars (Dual Sport Plus) CA$59.99
- Hindle exhaust system ($499.99) and muffler ($324.99) CA$824.98
- Madstat brackets ($97.95) and touring screen ($120) US$217.95
- Adventure Tech Footpeg and Control Lowering Kit US$55.00
- *TOTAL ACCESSORIES $3,487.57
* based on US dollar at par. Does not include shipping and taxes.
All the suppliers listed above for sending us their stuff so that we could test, critisize and abuse for your entertainment, especially the folks at Twisted Throttle, who jumped on board with all fours and offered us anything in their extensive catalogue.
Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.