My Motorcycle: 2007 DL-650 Suzuki V-Strom (non ABS)

November 11, 2012

I purchased my Suzuki DL-650, V-Strom on, March 31, 2007.  The day that I rode away from my local dealership, there were zero miles on the motorcycle’s odometer.  I had arrived at the dealership on a 2006, Kawasaki Concours, that I had purchased from the same store the previous spring.  I needed to have the Concours inspected so that it was “road legal”. Upon conclusion of the inspection, the Service Department Technician told me, “Your motorcycle needs new front and rear tires to pass the Maine State Inspection regulations.” At that moment, I didn’t have the money for new tires to be mounted and balanced. So, I began sitting on different motorcycles in the showroom… It was the only way that I could legally ride away from the dealership!

When I slipped my leg over the V-Strom, and grabbed hold of the handlebars, I felt an immediate connection with the motorcycle. It fit. It fit me perfectly! When I looked ahead, imagining a ribbon of tar spun out in front of me, I felt very different then when I rode my Concours, or previous to that, my 2003 Kawasaki ZZR-1200, (The ZZR was my very first motorcycle. I purchased it used in 2004, then traded it in on the Concours in the spring of 2006.). As I sat on the V-Strom, in the showroom, I clearly remember a comment that I made to myself; “I can do stuff with this bike. I can do stuff with this motorcycle that I can do with no other motorcycle. It is different. It is different in a good way!” So, I bought it. No research was done, and no test ride was needed. I just flat out bought the bike “untested” by me, in any way.

When I rode the V-Strom home, I had to weave my way around and over, many frost-heaves and pot holes that, pock marked the back roads leading to where I live. As I did so, I was grinning a very large grin, and even laughing at times! Maneuvering the motorcycle, slinging it this way and that way, through the bumps and pot holes of that early spring day, I sort of felt like I was on a set of downhill skis. The bike had “edges” to it; edges that I could carve deep turns with!  I loved the feeling! I was hooked! Unfortunately, for four days after I got my new motorcycle home, there was snow on the roads. Even though I am pretty good on a set of downhill skis, I know that any street motorcycle, including the V-Strom, is not a good traveling companion in the snow!

Five seasons later, with 110,537 miles clicked over on the odometer, I would like to share a more personal view of my motorcycle.  Below are some of the details that have evolved over the many trips I have taken with my V-Strom.

I have lost count of how many times I have dropped my bike. I have nearly lost count of how many times I have laid the bike down in the street! The first time was in the Fall of 2007 when a deer jumped out of the woods, and slammed into the right rear passenger footpeg. The deer, the motorcycle, and I, all skidded up the road on our sides. By the time I got up to survey the situation and damage, the deer was gone. She left a whole bunch of hair in the road though! Follicles of hair were also stuffed into the right passenger footpeg and the hinge area of my Pelican sidecase. The most serious laydown was in northwestern New Hampshire on an early November morning back in 2010. At a speed of 55mph, I hit frost in the road, and the bike slipped out from underneath me in a split second. The motorcycle and I skidded, and slid, close to 120 feet down the road; both of us coming to a stop in a ditch on the opposite side of the road. I picked the bike up, started it, and rode away!

All of the miles and riding experiences, on my V-Strom, helped to shape me into a better rider. The same is true for the motorcycle itself. The miles, and the experiences, shaped my bike into what it has become; a reflection of my riding style, where I like to ride, and simplicity of maintenance.

Here is a photograph of my 2007 V-Strom as it currently sits; battle scared, but ready to set out on a new adventure!

A closer look at the front wheel will reveal the following:

Custom front fender; SuperBrace Fork Brace; and Fork Boots. What can’t be seen are, a set of Race Tech Emulators sitting inside the bottoms of the fork tubes themselves.

I chose to install a Buell Ulysses headlight assembly to streamline the fairing, and to eliminate the notorious “buffeting” the V-Strom is known for. The fairing is welded sheet metal that I purchased at my local Lowe’s hardware store.

The crashbars I fabricated out of ½” Black Iron Pipe, also purchased at my local Lowe’s.

I also installed a SW-Motech skidplate. I modified it a little bit, after hitting a few rocks with it.

On one trip, I lost my oil reservoir cap. I ended up whittling a stick down to size, then wrapping the newly tapered end with electrical tape, and jamming it into the oil filler hole. I rode to a nearby motorcycle dealership, (I was on the southern shore of the Gaspé Peninsula.), with the sole of my boot, holding the temporary plug into the engine case hole. I was lucky that, the parts manager was able to find an oil cap that fit my bike! When I got home, I swore that I would never have something like this happen again! I attached the new oil cap to the frame of my motorcycle with a modified Mackerel fishing jig.

Tucked in behind the right crashbar, there is a Fiamm brand automotive horn.

In the BIG laydown I mentioned above, I ripped off the right rear passenger footpeg, and I destroyed the lower exhaust shield. I made a plug and fabricated a new fiberglass exhaust shield. I also modified both rear passenger footpegs, so that they would work with what was left of them.

The rear exhaust shield has been coated with a rubber undercoater spray paint.

In 2009, I fabricated a custom luggage rack out of steel tubing scavenged from discarded cafeteria tables from my local high school. The rack is large and strong enough to carry a Pelican 1550 case, and two, one gallon gas cans on either side of the Pelican case. The gas cans are supported by the luggage rack’s “wings” on either side.

The taillight is a LED unit I purchased from my local NAPA auto parts store. The license plate light is from a marine parts store. It is a light that a person would see on the stern of a small motorboat.

Tucked in behind the left crashbars is another Fiamm brand automobile horn. I have two of these horns mounted on my motorcycle. And, they are both wired “hot”. That means, the bike’s key does not have to be in the ignition switch for the horns to work. With the motorcycle parked, turned off, and the key in my pocket, I can “tap” the horn switch, and a loud noise will emanate from the bike. This has been particularly useful to me in getting someone’s attention quickly!

One of the fist aftermarket parts that I purchased for my V-Strom was, a decent set of “dirt style” footpegs. These have been a wonderful addition! I have always been “sure footed” while riding my bike!

Every rider eventually experiences the effects of trying to set a sidestand down on top of soft ground, (Or, soft tar for that matter!). The foot of the sidestand buries itself into the soft turf. If the rider isn’t quick enough, over the bike goes! I took care of that problem by welding an old countersprocket gear on to the base of my sidestand. After that, I never had any problems with parking on soft ground. (I don’t have any clearance issues with the SW-Motech centerstand I installed too.).

Incidentally, I modified the bottom feet of the SW-Motech centerstand. I welded short “stilts” to the feet, so that the centerstand would lift the rear wheel higher off of the ground then what the centerstand was originally designed for. I had to do this because, one season, I mounted up a set of Metzeler Karoo tires. The profile of the Karoo tire was so high that, with the motorcycle up on the centerstand, the “knobs” of the rear tire still touched the ground. I didn’t like that because it interfered with chain maintenance.

I mounted a fuse box underneath the seat.

I installed a set of Suzuki handguards that I painted to match the rest of the bike.

On the left handleguard, I installed a Datel volt meter.

At 63,080 miles, I burned out the stock Suzuki instrument cluster. Water got up inside the case that houses the gauges, and shorted the circuit board out. After doing some research, (And continuing to ride the bike about 1,200 miles without any instruments!), I settled on installing an Acewell 3901 instrument cluster. It satisfies all of my needs! Particularly important to me are, “Trip 01”, which I set and reset during each fuel stop. “Trip 02” keeps track of cumulative mileage during a trip. Currently, the Acewell odometer reads, 47,457 miles.

As a “back up”, I installed a very generic marine fuel gauge to inform me of rough gas usage. I had to electrically “trim” the gauge with resistors to obtain a workable reading. When the tank is “Full”, the fuel gauge will read at the ¾ mark. When the gauge reads “E”, the tank IS empty!

There is a 12 volt accessory socket stuffed in between those cables and wires up front. And also, the switch to operate the “High” and “Low” settings of heated grip elements I installed.

It has been one heck of a cool bike to ride all of those miles!

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10 thoughts on “My Motorcycle: 2007 DL-650 Suzuki V-Strom (non ABS)

  1. When I look at the nearly pristine ’07 650A parked in my garage/basement, I can’t imagine the experiences you’ve had with yours. My first bike was a Honda 305 Superhawk back in the late 60’s. Was without for over 20 years until I too picked up my Wee unridden but for a super price, farkled and 4-year warrantied. I’m a bit too old for true ‘adventures’ any longer but relish every ride on my Wee. It’s ready for a long trip to somewhere this spring and I need to take it on one. Keep it upright, BL!

  2. Thanks again for the starter/headlight problem advice that I obtained today.
    I went from a fast one (the awesome 1985 Honda VF1100S) to the 2005 Concours and eventually to the 2007 Wee and how I love it. About 15,000/year in the western states.
    Make it to northern California one day and I’ll have a bed, shower, laundry, internet, and dinner waiting for you.

  3. Alek Hosage

    I have the honour and privilege of owning and commuting on this bike currently. I purchased it in the fall of 2017 and have been riding it ever since, save for 6 or 7 snowy days. I’ve always wondered where such a machine came from. If you’d like to see it again in its’ current state, shoot me an email- I’ll ride out to you.


    • Congratulations, Alek! I appreciate you getting in touch with me. Anthony Gagnon gave me a “heads up” that he sold the bike last year. My friend Tom McGee saw your Facebook post last night and gave me a “heads up” about that. The first thing I have to say is, I would like “first refusal” if you decide to sell this machine. It has carried me MANY, MANY miles. From as far north as James Bay, Québec, to as far south as Crossville, TN; as far west as Sarnia, Ontario, (That was an 864 mile day!), to as far east as Cape Breton. What you will see on this site is about 40% of all the work I did on the motorcycle, (and documented with photographs and text. I just never got around to posting the rest of the stuff!). If you have any questions, I will try to answer them the best that I can. It’s now been awhile since I have dealt with a V-Strom. I gave my bike away in a charity fundraiser, and that is how Anthony ended up with the bike.

      I will come visit you! I have a sister you lives in Exeter, NH and I visit her on a somewhat regular basis. We will stay in touch and I would love to see the “Black Beast” again!

      Take care and ride safely!

      Barry Buchanan

      • Alek Hosage

        Of course, I would certainly honour your request- although I don’t know that there is a force in this universe that could compel me to part ways this bike. If that day ever comes you’ll be the first to know. It’s carried me through a particularly difficult time and we’ve become quite close.

        I’d very much like to meet sometime; I’ve always been curious about the person that modified this machine and I’d also like to hear your thoughts on its current state (currently running but in the garage for a snow day). Why don’t you shoot me an email?

        I look forward to hearing from you.


      • Aleksandr


        Do you have an email I can reach you at? I assume you can see mine as the comment fields ask for one, so if you are able just shoot me a pm. I have a few questions about this bike and I can think of no one better to guide my efforts than you.

        If you had the time I’d like to pick your brain, so to speak

  4. You sir, are a savage XD

    I don’t think I’ve seen a Wee with this much soul poured into it yet.

    I am currently in the process of introducing first modifications to my 2005 V-Strom acquired last year, painted exhaust cover matte-black. Installed handguards, heatgrips, USB charging socket hotwired behind a switch, thinking about Voltmeter and a compass somewhere above the instrument panel.
    I am looking at the machine in this post and I am inspired.

    Thank you.

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