MMM Picks Accessories to Make Your V-Strom Adventure Ready
by Thomas Day
Some folks can’t leave a good bike alone and feel that they can “improve” both its looks and performance. I wasn’t too interested in chrome, but I did want to improve the off-road capabilities of the Wee-Strom. I researched each of these items, and chose them based on durability and function; not style and pizzazz. It is worth noting that I paid for all of these accessories with my own hard-earned dough. The only one cheaper than myself is our fine publisher, making each decision fiscally painful. Despite this fact, I was happy to field test each of these items as designed, and not simply polish them in the garage.
First up for me was a set of Suzuki hand guards. There are several options for guarding your hands on the V-Strom, but I think the Suzuki solution is the easiest, most practical of the lot. Installation is simple, requires no mangling of the levers or brake reservoir, and is easily removed or moved for servicing the brake, grips, and levers. The guards provide decent protection for the levers and excellent wind and flying projectile protection for your hands. They aren’t as durable as Acerbis Rally Hand Guards, but the ease of installation and serviceability makes up for some loss in sturdiness.
My second necessary add-on was a center stand. Again, I went for the Suzuki stand because of price, quality, and availability. Installation of any aftermarket center stand is a life-threatening exercise and the Suzuki was no exception. All of the bolt-on parts installed easily and precisely, but hooking up the two stand springs was more garage-floor, upper-body exercise than I’ve suffered in a while. Find a good pair of safety glasses before you even think about messing with those springs. If you’re going adventure touring, I don’t know how you’ll survive with a bike this heavy and no center stand. Fixing flats, doing regular maintenance (chain lubes, for example), parking securely with full luggage, are all made possible by a center stand. Otherwise, plan on spending a lot of time looking for “just the right rock” in a pinch.
From my experience, this is a no-brainer. I replaced the stock filter with a K&N. I have had K&N filters in every vehicle I have owned since my 1973 Rickman 125 and my 1973 Toyota Hilux pickup. Call me “superstitious,” but I think those filters have added something to the incredible reliability I’ve experienced in my vehicles. I don’t consider a K&N filter an aftermarket “accessory.” I think the lack of a K&N filter is simply an incompetent motorcycle design that has to be rectified before the bike is a reliable vehicle.
While I wasn’t convinced that the V-Strom’s windshield was as worthless as some have claimed, I thought it could be better. Apparently, Suzuki does, too. Suzuki offers a “tall windshield” (3” taller and 2 1/2” wider than stock) with a plastic wind deflector strip. First, I tried the Madstad bracket, which allows for a variety of height possibilities and a range of angles of deflection. It provided minimal improvement and not enough to make my Shuberth C1 helmet tolerable. So, I added the Suzuki tall shield to the Madstad (madstad.com) bracket. I have the tall shield set on the Madstad’s highest setting, angled back as steeply as the bracket will allow. I now have a substantial “calm zone” behind the shield; considerably better weather protection, and a little less wind noise at the helmet. Honestly, when I’m wearing the Shoei X11 I don’t notice any difference in noise or turbulence, but it’s definitely noticeable when I’m wearing the Schuberth lid.
Case (Crash) Guards
Finally, considering my general clumsiness, tendency toward exploring roads that are more technical than my abilities, and the expense of replacing body plastic, I installed Pat Walsh Design’s Motor Guard (patwalshdesigns.com), which adds so many features to the V-Strom’s frame (additional lights, oil filter guard, skid plate, highway pegs, etc) that a whole new industry of customization options become practical. If this thing came in chrome, Mr. Walsh would sell more Motor Guards than Suzuki sold V-Stroms. I’ve never used highway pegs, but I’m tempted to now that I have a place to install them.
When I was looking into frame and plastic protection, I almost blew off the Motor Guard because it looked so massive. So I was surprised and happy when the box arrived to find that the shipping package was so light. Installation was fairly painless considering the garage floor was about 10F when I installed the Motor Guard. The whole installation took about an hour and a half, including Locktite’ing every bolt and screw I was near during the installation. The all-stainless steel hardware was a surprise bonus, and the actual Motor Guard is heavy steel construction, securely bolting to the DL’s frame at the top and the front of the skid plate at the bottom. The skid plate is equally well secured
Immediately after installing the Motor Guard, I carefully lowered the bike into the crash position in my driveway. The bike lies resting on the guard, barely past the plastic bodywork, and the handlebar ends. Motor Guards wouldn’t save the bodywork in a high speed crash, but in a typical low-speed, off-road spill you might avoid having to replace a few hundred dollars in plastic. Getting the bike back up again took all the leg strength I own and the Motor Guard gave me a wonderful handle for lifting the bike back onto the kickstand.
For my riding purposes, the biggest advantage provided by Walsh’s design over the competition is the bashplate. The V-Strom’s low, unprotected pipe and oil filter makes me nervous off pavement. I’ve already drilled a hole through an SV’s oil filter on a long gravel road stretch and I expect to be doing a lot more of that kind of riding on the V-Strom. The screened filter and oil cooler guard is additional gravel protection, but it may be a problem when the front tire fills the screen with mud.
I, unfortunately, tested the Walsh design on the Dempster Highway in Canada. I crashed on golfball-sized gravel at 40-55mph, sliding on the GIVI cases and the crash guard for about 25’ before grinding to a stop. The Walsh design is not magic, but other than fairing scratches and a busted turn signal, the bike was unharmed by the crash. The crash guard did not bend, break, or damage my bike frame or engine in the crash. I rode back out of that piece of hell, which probably wouldn’t have been the case without the protection provided by Pat Walsh’s Motor Guard. Another V-Strom rider suspected that the perforated engine and radiator guards would jam up and prevent air flow in deep mud or clay. I tested that, too, and found no such problem. Some serious dents in the perforated plates proved that the additional radiator/motor protection provided was necessary on my trip.