The V-Strom 650 is a tremendous do-it-all middleweight bike you can throw pretty much whatever you want to at it, and this bike will keep going. However it’s built to be a road bike, not specifically an off-road bike. Therefore, if you want to take your 650 offroad a lot, perhaps overlanding through rough conditions, you should look at these modifications to get it offroad-ready.
This is the first thing you should be changing. The V-Strom is built as a road bike and has road tyres, and these are not going to cut it offroad. The right ones will depend on your riding style and what you plan on doing, but tyres are an essential change.
Some people would think these are a no-brainer; others might be wary. The downside is that they add weight to the bike, which can be a problem for handling the bike as you go offroad. On the other hand, they add protection to the side of the bike – meaning in a crash, there’s less likely to be severe damage. Many people also use them to attach extra luggage, which can be handy on longer journeys.
This is non-negotiable if you want to take the V-Strom 650 offroading. The bike’s setup exposes many delicate parts on the underside. It’s not usually a problem on smooth(ish) road surfaces, but as soon as you have rocks and mud flying around, you could quickly have some expensive damage. Quite often, these need crash bars to be mounted properly, so consider that when choosing. Also, make sure you know what happens when you need an oil change – whether there’s a hole or if you need to take the whole thing off.
Having your radiator leak or overheat when you’re in the middle of nowhere is probably not how you imagine your epic adventure going. So get a radiator guard – even a small rock flung back by the front wheel can damage the radiator. You can get them relatively cheap, too; just make sure there’s still enough airflow.
The standard hand guards that come with the V-Strom 650 are flimsy. They’re suitable for what the bike is built for, but one knock on the road, and they’re cracked. Get replacements with a metal bar in them, which should last your trip. They’ll also give your levers a bit of protection – and you don’t want any of those to snap at the base and be unusable. You’ll waste days heading somewhere to get replacements.
The standard that comes with the bike is totally fine – but you may want to upgrade to something more suitable for offroading. You’ll need something that can stand up to muddy conditions and heavy rain – so an offroad peg that is generally broader and might have a spike in it will be more useful. There are also pegs that compromise in the middle if you’re doing mostly dual riding.
Getting risers will depend entirely on your size, but you need to remember that offroading might involve much more standing riding than you’re used to – raising the handlebars means you’ll be in a much better position if you’re a taller rider. You might also want to consider raising or lowering the seat to fit you best – it’s a small tweak that isn’t essential but can make all the difference when riding for miles day after day on difficult terrain.
With a few bits of protection and some comfort tweaks, the V-Strom 650 is an excellent bike to take offroading. You can go further with extra panniers and grip warmers, but these are the essentials you should consider.
Lastly, and this really deserves its own blog, suspension.
Upgrading your suspension system will greatly improve comfort, especially if you’re getting a setup designed for off roading applications. This consists of better damping, sometimes it involves replacing your bike’s fork springs to progressive units, which make for a more compliant front end. The same goes for the rear, aftermarket options can offer things like gas-charging and progressive springs.
More control – faster, safer off road riding.
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