V-Strom Mid-life Maintenance

I took my 2007 Suzuki V-Strom DL650 to the shop this week for some mid-life maintenance. It now has 53,000 miles and other than a faulty TPS sensor, it’s never had a thing go wrong with it. Think about that for a second. That’s the equivalent distance of riding twice around the planet with only a single electronic sensor going bad.

I’m having the coolant flushed and the radiator, hoses and clamps inspected. It’s getting some new shoes, another pair of Metzeler Tourance tires. I prefer Shinko 705s, as they have quite a bit more grip, especially on wet pavement, and a bit more off-road traction. However, I can only get about 5,000 miles out of a rear Shinko; the Metzelers give me 10,000 miles, which will last me all season.

I’m also getting the battery replaced, not because of age but because I ran the current unit down by leaving my Garmin Zumo 220 GPS plugged in over night. It draws current even when powered off. Speaking of which, I’m having the shop re-route the GPS’ power cord to a switched circuit. This will prevent power from going to the GPS when the ignition is off.

Finally, I’m having braided stainless steel brake lines installed, replacing the factor rubber hoses.

Fixing flats and Shinko 705’s

Back in September of 2010 when I was in Frenchglen, Oregon I picked up a fencing nail in my rear tire. I was able to fix the flat using a plugged tool and my DC powered air compressor. The tire — a Bridgestone Battle Wing — held air until today.

When I went into the garage to ride to work, the tire was flat. I fired up my air compressor, added some air, and headed into work. The day before I had dropped off a new set of Shinko 705 tires at Yamaha Sports Plaza in Fairview — my go-to service shop. All I had to do was ride there after work to get the new tires mounted. Except my rear tire had no air in it, again.

I pulled out my 12v DC air compressor and began filling the tire up. It took a while, mostly because the leak was still active. Hsssssss. I acted quick, suiting up and jetting over to the shop. I made it safely and an hour later my bike had new shoes.

The Shinko 705’s are more of a 75/25 tire whereas up to now I have been running tires biased more toward street riding — 90/10’s. My first impression was dramatic. The Shinko’s feel slippery and squirrely on pavement and I notice a distinct tread vibration at slower speeds. Everything I read about them says I’ll get used to their behavior, but initially there will no doubt be an adjustment period. I’ll post a formal review after I’ve got some miles clocked on them.

[Update 6/7/2011] I’ve put several hundred miles on the Shinko 705’s and really like them. They provide better grip on non-paved surfaces and corner very well in both wet and dry conditions. They are a great value.

Bridgestone Battle Wings compared to Metzeler Tourance

Once I got the stock Trailwing tires off of my V-Strom (after less than 6,000 miles) back in 2007, I switched to Metzeler Tourances and loved them. I’ve had three sets on my bike and got between 8,500-10,000 miles per pair with outstanding grip on dry pavement and reasonable performance on gravel/dirt (although I didn’t exactly put them through their paces off-road). They are a great tire and I highly recommend them, but they are expensive.

For my latest set I switched to Bridgestone Battle Wings (BW502 rear, BW501 front). I’ve put 5,000 miles on them so far, a few hundred on gravel (including a flat tire in Frenchglen, Oregon) and quite a lot on wet pavement, and feel they equal the Metzeler’s in performance but at a lower cost. I fixed my own flat using one of those mushroom plugs and it’s held air ever since.

The Metzeler’s seemed to flatten in the center fairly quickly while the Bridgestone’s are maintaining their rounded shape. I’m not riding at extreme lean angles, and in fact have probably put more straight-ahead miles on this set than any of the Metzelers.

The Battle Wings have excellent grip on wet pavement, and although I don’t push my tires to their performance limit they provide a grip that inspires confidence.

I expect to get a full 10,000 miles out of this set of Battle Wings and have felt they are a great value — very good performance and capability at a very reasonable cost. Just like my V-Strom.

New parts

My 2007 V-Strom has 34,000 miles on it. So far this summer I’ve had the brakes replaced (for the first time), new tires put on (third set, not including the Trailwings that came with the bike), and just yesterday I had a new chain and sprockets installed (second set). I also had the radiator fluid flushed about a month ago.

So far the bike has proven to be rock-solid and reliable without a single mechanical failure. Everything I’ve had done has been normal wear-and-tear kind of stuff, other than the front-right bar end and turn signal from when I dropped it in the parking lot at work.

Back side to Timothy Lake

It was a pretty good Labor Day weekend. The weather wasn’t too hot or cold, it was dry, and I had a nice mix of productivity, rest, and recreation. Of course, that means I got a good ride in. This time I headed up the Clackamas River road to Ripplebrook Ranger Station, where several government vehicles were parked at a forest fire staging area (presumably there was a fire nearby but I saw no smoke or flames). Instead of heading south to Detroit as I usually do, I headed east on FS57 past Harriett Lake and up the gravel road to Timothy Lake.

The road up the back side emerges at the lake’s outlet, a man-made dike that flooded Timothy Meadows back in the 50’s or 60’s. The water shoots out in a dramatic spray below the dike and flows west to the Clackamas River.

Once I crossed the dike I rode around the various campgrounds on the southern shore of the lake, then got onto Skyline Road for about a dozen miles before merging onto Highway 26. Once up and over Government Camp I stopped at the Dairy Queen on Rhododendron for lunch (avoid the mushroom swiss burgers; they’re nasty). Fed, I left 26 in Zigzag and headed about a mile up Lolo Pass Road where I then cut west again on Barlow Trail Road and followed my favorite “Marmot Run” into the back side of Sandy and home.

My new Bridgestone Battle Wing tires were broken in and performed great, riding nice and smooth and providing plenty of grip. They’re supposed to grip really good on wet pavement. It’s supposed to rain most of this week so I may commute one or two days to test it out.

Here’s the route I took in Google Maps:


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