Suzuki V-Strom DL650, the first 100.000km.

After clocking up 100.000km on my V-Strom DL650 I thought I’d share the experience with others.  Included is a complete record of all fuel, servicing, tyre wear and modifications, so it’s a pretty good record of what to expect along the way.

I purchased the bike in June 2011 with just 5,067km on the clock. It’s a 2007 K7, the first of the twin plugged models and had been sitting in a shed barely clocking up 1,000km/year. I’d just spent 30 odd years on a 1983 BMWR100RS but decided a change was is order, the Suzuki DL650 was a perfect replacement, lightweight, fuel injected, low maintenance and well suited to New Zealand riding conditions.

New to me in 2011, just 5,000km on the clock.

Before making the purchase I’d test ridden a number of bikes including the DL650, and it’s bigger brother the DL1000, so I knew what to expect, but after a couple of weeks riding I decided some modifications were necessary, so out with the toolbox and;


1.  Installed Madstadd bracket and Laminar lip to smooth out the air flow, now I can ride visor up in nice clean air.

2.  Remodeled the seat – removed seat cover and added/removed/reshaped the foam to suit my particular butt.  The original seat cover was then put back on after being softened in the sun.  A fantastic result, I can now ride 1,000km + days in comfort.  See DIY Motorcycle Seat for instructions if you want to give this a go, it’s really quite simple.

3.  Modified front suspension with the addition of cartridge emulators – I’ve played around with different springs/oils/settings, too much to go into detail here, but sufficient to say I’m happy with the front end.

4.  Elka rear shock fitted to the rear, probably not necessary but seems to have gone the distance.

5.  Handlebar risers ‘up and back’, I’ve gone about 25mm up and 40mm back.  I managed to use the existing cables/hoses with a little creative thinking.

6.  Footpegs lowered approx 25mm with the addition of dropper plates.

7.  Tutoro chain oiler fitted. I made a custom bracket so it fits neatly out of the way with just enough room to get the filler cap off.  Will go around 1,500km between fills.

8.  GiPro gear indicator (the beemer was five speed, after 30 years of riding it I couldn’t count to 6 so kept forgetting to use top gear).

9.    Givi V46 topbox and mount added.

10.  Oxford heated grips added along with Suzuki hand covers to keep the wind off.


The bike had been lowered prior to my purchasing it as the rear wishbone is 150mm centers rather than the standard 140mm, this would lower the bike approx 30mm.  I’m 6’1” and find the height and layout good for me.

Very early on I decided to keep a complete record of all fuel and servicing consumed by the bike.  This was to be my own personal bike with me being the only rider, I was keen to see what the figures would look like.   You can download a complete record below but here are the highlights.

Fuel, oil, servicing.

The bike has averaged 4.52 liters/100km (62.5 mpg UK, 52mpg US) over the last 95,000km.  The consumption has varied with each tankful ranging from a low of 3.76 to a high of 5.27 lt/100km.  I can’t really explain this variation other than the usual factors such as speed, riding style, weathers conditions all playing their part.  The fuel consumption has gone up marginally as the mileage has increased but I’d put this down more to ‘enjoyable’ riding on my part rather than engine wear.

Service intervals.  I’ve stuck to the following;

Oil change every 5,000km.
Oil filter change every 15,000km.
Air filter change every 15,000km.
Spark plugs replaced every 15,000km.

I’ve always used genuine Suzuki air and oil filters, Spectro 10/40 mineral oil and NGK CR8E plugs.  I can do a complete service on the bike – plugs, oil filter, air filter, oil change, valve check (not adjustment), coolant change, brake fluid change, general grease and adjust – in around 3.5hrs, this includes removal/replacement of all plastics.   

Valves.  I checked and adjusted valves at 17,500km, since then they haven’t moved and are still in spec at 100,000km.  Good going. See my tutorial DL650 Valve Check & Adjustment if you want to learn how to do this yourself.

When checking valves I also remove the radiator, back flush it with clean water then replace the coolant.  The brakes fluids are replaced at the same time.

I give the bike a good clean every 2,000km and check/adjust/grease anything which needs it at the time. Adjustment is usually pretty minimal, sometimes the chain would need a tweak, or maybe the clutch a slight adjustment. I also fill the Tutoro chain oiler as required, this is usually every 1,500km or so.

The brake pads have never been replaced although they are now getting close to the wear limit, particularly the rears. I’m pretty light on the brakes, generally adapting speed to the road conditions and making use of the engine braking. Most of my runs are relatively long ones which I guess is another factor in the long pad life.

Tyres. I’m using Bridestone Battlewing front and rear, the front seems to average around 20 – 24,000km, the rear around 14-17,000km, all run at standard pressures of 33psi front, 36psi rear (I hardly every take a pillion). I’ve never had a problem so have no reason to change plus they are relatively affordable in NZ compared to some other brands.

Chain and sprockets.  The original chain lasted just short of 46,000km at which point it was replaced, along with new sprockets. The second chain only managed 17,000km, mainly due to wear in the rear sprocket cushion rubbers allowing the rear sprocket to ‘wobble’ a little.  The current chain is now up to 42,000km and going strong.  The pattern seems to be new front sprocket every 25,000km, new chain and rear sprocket every 50,000km, I keep an eye on the riveted link and replace it if it appears to be getting tight, so far this is once per chain at around 23,000km.

At 50,000km, a beautiful day on the West Coast.

Suzuki V-Strom DL650

Unscheduled service/replacement items.

I’ve changed the fork oil a number of times but mainly due to experimentation with different setups, viscosities etc. The fork seals have been replaced once, I think it was at around 45,000km.

The original battery died when it was about 7 years old, I guess minimal use by the original owner in the first four years of life may have helped it on it’s way. I replaced it with a Motobat gel type which has given no problems so far.

The steering head bearings were replaced at 56,000km, mainly because I had the forks stripped for a fork setup change and I’d read of problems with the standard bearings so decided on a pre-emptive strike. 

The rear sprocket cushion rubbers were repacked with rubber spacers at 64,000km after experiencing excess chain wear, I replaced the carrier bearing at the same time, just in case.

At 75,000km I dismantled the ignition barrel and removed some of the wafers which were making the key difficult to turn. The wafers are made out of brass and wear pretty quickly, especially with the key jiggling about on rough roads.  Note to self, take some photo’s and post as this is a neat trick to share.

The internal fuel filter and strainer was replaced at 82,000km.  I don’t think this would have been necessary if it hadn’t been for a particularly dirty tank of fuel I picked up late one night from a remote fuel station.  Next time I’ll do the filter bypass modification and use an external filter rather than replace the OEM filter which is ridiculously expensive.

When I write it all down it seems to add up to quite a lot of maintenance but my impression of the bike has been mile after mile of hassle free riding. A lot of the maintenance has been preventive rather than reactive, the bike starts first touch of the button, has never let me down and purrs along like a kitten.  I’ve had none of the issues listed on forums such as stator burn outs, TPS failures, wheel bearings issues or error codes.  At this stage I can’t see why I can’t get another 100.000km on the clock, I’ll certainly give it a good go.

All of the maintenance has been done in house apart from a throttle body sync which was done at 18,000km by Avon City Suzuki, Christchurch (and was probably unnecessary). 

7 years later and exactly 100.000km on the clock, photo taken on the West Coast road just short of Porters Pass.

Suzuki V-Strom DL650 2

The Riding/Ownership Experience

I’ve really enjoyed the V-Strom.   My old beemer is a great workhorse (246,000km and going strong) but the little DL650 brings a smile to my face every time I ride.  I appreciated the reliability, easy maintenance and relative comfort – the front suspension is still not perfect, even after lots of changes, but I think it’s as good as I’m going to get without doing something super drastic (expensive drastic). 

I’ve completed several TT2000 rides, (2,000km/48hrs, see TT2000) as well as Iron Butt rides and can’t fault the bike on performance or reliability.

For solo riding I’ve found the bike suits me very well. To start with I struggled to make the change from the low revving boxer engine with its five speed box, it just didn’t seen right revving past 3,000rpm and always having that extra gear available.

I quickly discovered the V-Strom just loves to rev and comes alive at 5,000rpm, I’ll often drop a gear to overtake and don’t usually change into 6th until 5 or 6,000rpm is on the dial. I find the handling good, brakes more than adequate and the wind protection with the laminar lip makes a long days riding pretty relaxed.  

I’d have to say that the few times I’ve taken a pillion haven’t been my favorite rides, a couple of hundred km day trip is fine with a passenger but more than that takes the fun away.  Maybe I’m spoilt with all that solo riding as I’ve had customers hire DL650’s and tour NZ two up with all their gear and have really enjoyed it, but personally I’d prefer something a little bigger.

But for me, at 99% solo riding, the bike is just about perfect. To date I have no intention of swapping to another ride so I guess that’s a testament to how much I like the bike.

The rear wheel has been turned approx  48,000,000 times,

I have spent around 1,500 hrs in the saddle.

The engine has completed around 500,000,000 revolutions (500 million!).

Possum population reduced by 1 confirmed, 2 possible.

I have now spent more on fuel that I did to purchase the bike 🙂

You really can find happiness at the bottom of an empty fuel tank….. then you can fill the tank and go find it again.

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